I Think I Can, I Think I Can

Thoughts from the little writer that could…

“If I could be anything, I would be a writer.” If I have said that once I have said it a thousand times. Actually, if I  wrote every time I uttered those words the best seller list would be full of my handiwork. You would all be saying, “I knew her when”, yet instead I struggle over and over to get the words from my head to the written page.  But as another November creeps into our world, I am reminded that there is no better time to introduce new formations into the playbook.

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The object is that participants must write an average of approximately 1,667 words per day in November to reach the goal of 50,000 words written toward a novel.  The writer in me longs for that daily word count.  Searching for a hobby, maybe this is a good place to start.  Regardless,  I figure what do I have to loose. My ambition is the word count, not so much a novel.  This gives me the freedom to change topics, story lines, and trains of thought on a daily basis.

a little bit about a lot of things  generally focuses on my thoughts, perceptions or people or places experienced.  There has been little evidence of fiction (or my life in a story).   As I embark on this pilgrimage, I am going to set some boundaries, rules and general boosters to aid in my process.

1 – There is no limit on the subject matter to write about.  Trying my damnedest to truly write fiction/ stories is my goal.  So my narratives may have some truth, the timelines might be skewed, there could be make believe or tales borrowed from others.  Seriously, shouldn’t a great yarn encompass all these traits?  However, if a crazy thought or a great trip happens to make the page, then so be it.

2 – Daily count of written word isn’t as important as accumulation of the total.  (refer https://alittlebitaboutalotofthings.com/2019/01/05/math-doesnt-lie-the-key-to-accomplishing-your-annual-aspirations/)

3 – Using my twenty minute exercise will be key in the discovering success and getting my mind in the practice.  (refer https://alittlebitaboutalotofthings.com/2016/03/27/twenty-minute-sundays-me/)

4 – Not all my written work will land on the blog, but I will share a weekly progress report and spotlight great writing or snip its.

5 – Finally, I need your help.  It is hard to write.  It takes work.  When post is shared with the world, the feedback, “likes”, and acknowledgement go a long way for encouraging the next chapter or at least another day of 1,667 words.

Where to start……the novel I began writing in grad school, one of my countless trips  to Maui, when I turned 40 and went to France (I truly feel that story is worthy of a screen play) or just a another day at the office?  The possibilities are endless.  If you have every hung with me, you know there is a good chance something odd will occur if you just give time some space.

So let’s start with the time my friend Brandy and I decided to go to Maui in 2004.IMG_8438

It was one of those crisp October mornings, that the Central Coast of California reminds you that fall has arrived.  Preparing for a full day of teaching, I was just about to head out the door when I remembered it wasn’t just any day, but the day of Brandy’s birthday. Back before Facebook told you to be on the lookout for your friends special day or before texting was a standard form of communication we had the good old fashion form of correspondence, email.

 I opened my laptop, hit the “on” button and sat and waited for my hp to go through its processes.  Looking out my bedroom window, I couldn’t help but feel the weight of the last year fill my soul.  Just four months earlier my kids and I had moved into our home.  Being a single mom, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of pride of my purchase and yet the responsibility of a one household income loomed in the back of my mind daily.  “How did I get here, and where am I going?”  The ding of my inbox brought me back to reality and the task at hand.

 I quickly scanned the documents and noticed an entry from United , titled “Hawaii Deals Await You”.   Two clicks later I was reading the message of a  golden opportunity, for only 500 dollars you could book a round trip ticket and lodging to Maui.  Knee deep in teaching two sections of Introduction to Agriculture Business and one of Agriculture Economics, nothing sounded more blissful.   Fall quarter had been rough, dealing with over a 100 college students, add my three darlings at home, and didn’t the sandy beaches of Hawaii sound like a dream come true.

As on cue, I forwarded the email to Brandy with the simple message, “Happy Birthday, wish we were headed to Maui to celebrate your special day!”. 

 One of my favorite sayings to my students is, “if it doesn’t matter in five years, it doesn’t matter now.”  We send thousands of emails, many with one or two words.  Who could have ever guessed that this simple birthday wish would impact my life for years to come.  But this single act was a changing point and pivotal to the person I am today.  Until this moment, this revelation never crossed my mind.  Just be warned that email you delete, forward or send this morning may just change your life.   And so the tale continues.

There you go, the beginning of a story and the start of my NaNoWriMo project.  Even though after four days I have only completed 3,685 words and are already behind the eight ball, I couldn’t be happier.  The choice to write daily is going to be deliberate, but I have zero expectations of the end product. I may or may not finish one piece, before I start another, who knows the goal is just to write. The road I am on is full of directional choices, track changes, speed limits and numerous obstacles, buckle up readers this could be a bumpy month.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World …. Searching for My Big W

(This blog is for my dear friend Shelly Sottile, my inspiration for more than just the words)

Keeping with my mission to travel and write I have a little story to share. But instead of being a new location or the sights and sounds of the destination, this tale might have a lesson or two interwoven in the tapestry.  Playing off the theme of searching for a fictional story to use as my muse wasn’t easy.  Looking for a movie to use as my motivation the possibilities were obvious as they also lead me to take the trip.

It all started on a Friday evening mindlessly flipping the channels and stumbling upon the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Those of you unfamiliar with this piece of cinema mayhem, Jason Segal’s character gets dumped and runs off to Hawaii only to discover his ex-girlfriend in the suite next door. Seeing the white beaches, palm trees and surf made me miss my favorite escape in the whole wide world, my happy place, Maui.  When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer back in March the one thing I promised myself was that come hell or high water I was going to Maui by the end of the year. So a blog titled Forgetting Breast Cancer became choice number one.

Then United sent me an email sharing the discounted fares to Hawaii.  And the movie Something to Talk About popped in my head. A classic, Julia Roberts flick about a woman who is struggling with work, family and personal life trials and tribulations. Her sister played by Kyra Sedgwick has a line that resonated with my current mind set “do something,  do something drastic”.    Clicking the link and finding that the prices were truly discounted keep the idea on the top of my mind.  “Do something, do something drastic”,  the voice I kept hearing in my head as I pushed the “book” button on the United website  Saturday morning. And let’s be honest, running off to Maui with two hours notice is definitely something to talk about?

And then I board the plane at LAX (six hours after booking the ticket)  and one of the movies to view was Eat, Pray, Love.  Which also (oddly enough) stars Julia Roberts.  Her character struggling with all the ups and downs of life shares a line shortly into the movie that also hits a little too close to home.

“There is a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man that goes to church every day and prays before a statue of a great saint begging dear saint please, please, please let me win the lottery finally the expropriated statue comes to life and looks down at the begging man and says my son please, please, please buy a ticket so now I get the joke and I have three tickets.”  Maybe a blog titled Eat, Pray, Maui, would be the ticket?

Photo Aug 26, 3 31 33 PMMy friend Brandy always teases me what a big believer I am in signs.  All three of the above references truly stood out as large directional arrows pointing me west.  But the unplanned detour at the end of my August self-title blog came to me as I lay on the beach of Kapalua Bay.  Looking up in the sky at the palm trees through blue sky, there was my answer, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. An epic tale circa 1963 about a groups of strangers who all revert their plans to chase a fortune to be found under the big W. Which spoiler alert was made out of palm trees. This movie has been one of my all time favorites and spurred my love of palm trees at an early age.  And I was reverting my plans and searching for treasure.

So my mad, mad, mad, mad adventure began around 9:45am on Saturday, August 24, after a movie, email and life said “go for it”.  Note, the key to feeling successful and at peace with the unexpected, was searching multiple travel sites at once. Meaning just because the plane ticket is cheap make sure you can find a reasonable place to lay your head at night. Somehow I managed to use all my favorite search engines and point making sites (serious time restraint) I walked away with an upgrade with miles, AAA discount on a condo and car rental deals, and all earning points.

I didn’t discount the “sign”, each time something fell into place with ease, I knew I was headed in the right direction. Packing was rushed but I managed to grab two wine skins and fill them with product, get my teas and honey in a bag, favorite beach towel and every bathing suit I owned shoved in a suitcase.  So where is the travel advice for Maui?  This post it is more of how not to do anything and find good “happy hours” than the adventure seekers guide to bliss.

Landing in the evening, wasn’t as big as challenge as I expected.  Before long, I was checked in and safely tucked in bed.  I woke up Sunday morning and truth be told it took me a few moments to realize I  wasn’t in my cozy little home in Cardiff by the Sea.  Morning tea with the view of a golf course and the ocean, is the perfect way to start the day.  Expecting to feel panic of “what have I done”, surprisingly  I instantly felt peace and bliss. Not an ounce of doubt or loneliness.

I threw on some clothes, brushes my teeth and headed out to get some staples for the condo. Once I parked, surveyed the little store and decided it would do for selection and price. Side note, things in Hawaii are expensive be prepared. Food for the most part is shipped from the main land, think about it people the supply chain cost money.

Next on the list was breakfast.  The first and only low point of the trip was the discovery that my favorite restaurant the Pineapple Grill was closed. A moment of silence.  But the nice girl at the Ritz spa suggested I try out Merrimans. And I was starving. Looking back on had not taken much time to eat on Saturday so there was a grumbling in my stomach.

Photo Aug 27, 6 21 37 PM (1)A great piece of advice – Merrimans for breakfast. Hell, Merrimans for Happy Hour or Dinner too. First off you can’t beat the view. I dare you. Second the food is very farm to table and service is superb. The Happy Hour Mai Tai is only $9 and may be the best on the island if not the prettiest.

After breakfast I took a swim and then a much needed nap. And I mean a nap in the truest sense of the word. The only reason I even got up was that there was something I wanted to encounter that I could only do on Sunday at 4pm.  What amazing Hawaiian culture ultra-only in Maui activity might that be?  Lei making class, surf lessons, snorkeling with the turtles in the bay, nope … it was the pop up bar for Veuve Clicquot at the Cliff House.

Talk about a sign that I made the right choice. My favorite bubbles planted a tasting experience in the middle of Kapalua Bay?   Add the opportunity to finally see the Cliff House, double win. Discovering inspiration in the decor and installation of the experience and sipping bubbles was one of the top five things I have ever done in Maui.  Of course it got me thinking why don’t we create pop areas at the Fair for people to experience, hang out, and  over brand ourselves.  But that is for another blog.

Speaking of the Fair, I have been obsessed with creating a coffee exhibit so I took a few moments and emailed Ka’anapali Coffee Farms, in hope of a tour.  Stopped by Sansei for sushi dinner, the Ritz Carlton for a night cap (Brandy’s request) and off to bed to watch the Golden Girls. For some cosmic reason it seems when I am in Maui the Golden Girls are on 24/7.  Side note, one of the treats of staying in Kapalua Villas you get use of a free car service that takes you from place to place, no parking or worrying about over serving yourself!

Monday was a quiet day, but I did receive a response from the coffee farm and arranged a private tour for Tuesday.  I took Nolan’s advice and tried something way out of my norm and signed up for a golf lesson.  In between these activities I laid on the beach, swam in the ocean (my kids would be so proud), ate fish tacos and enjoyed every Happy Hour within my walking radius .  My morning at the coffee farm wasn’t just educational, I connected with a fellow Cal Poly Mustang graduate only to discover many of the key players in the operation also share our alma mater.  Most of my hours were either poolside, on the beach, or taking a nap, but here are a few new Hawaiian activities worth sharing.

photo-aug-28-5-41-43-pm-1.pngThree Activities New to Me on Maui:

1 – Golf Lesson at Kapalua Golf Academy  – Expensive, but if you enjoy the game and want a quality lesson with an amazing view, this is a must do Maui activity.  Chris, my instructor, was equal parts fun and educational.  He did manage to teach me a few things and improve my distance.  I taught him the meaning of a “cocktail shot”, if you hit the ball perfectly you quit while you are ahead and have a cocktail.  By the end of our hour, when I would hit the target, he would exclaim, “well that’s a cocktail shot.”

2 – Visit a Coffee Farm – Agriculture is my passion and learning the production cycle of any product thrills me beyond belief.  From the fields to the tasting room in Lahaina, I have gained a new appreciation for the coffee cherry and its journey to your morning cup.  Long story short, coffee is very much like wine, from growing, varietals, to what the roaster does to the bean, my fascination with the commodity has only increased.

3 – Actually Swim in the Ocean – Shocker I have never really swam in the ocean.  I am more of a wade in waist deep and occasionally float kinda gal.  But there was something calming on this trip, maybe lack of tourist in the water or the perfect temperature, but I just started swimming.  A+ activity for the books.

Maui has been a staple in my world for the last 15 years.  The fall of 2015 was the last time my toes touched the sand in the bay. Wondering if the lack of flying west in recent time was moving to the beach or change in my personal space.  Like chasing a treasure under a secret marker, my big W will always be hanging over Kapalua.

My take aways on this adventure can’t be found in a guidebook.  Sometimes you just have to say f$@k it and do something drastic.  The contentment felt was unexpected. I never had a moment of remorse or loneliness, and that was a shock. Maybe my take on life has shifted over the past six months.  Cancer is an ass kicker, no matter what stage or the course of action, the unknown and lack of control will try your patience.   Reflecting how I view and react to things have changed so much. Don’t get me wrong I still have my moments but the overall outlook is I can only handle me. I can’t change anyone else.  If I don’t care for the energy in the room or a conversation, I have the ability to pack my bags and head west (so to speak).photo-aug-26-2-30-21-pm.jpg

There are turtles that live in Kapalua Bay.  They have to deal with the tourist gawking at them, but otherwise I think they have a pretty good take on life.  They don’t have to worry about time commitments, financial worries, or doctor appointments, they just let the sun of the day roll off their back.  Being more like a turtle, with a slower paced, less worrisome approach to life isn’t such a bad idea.  Or maybe the secret to their bless is they get to live under the big W of Kapalua Bay?

Love … A Story from the Heart

“A dream is a wish your heart makes” – Cinderella

Photo Sep 28, 2 34 14 PM
Fairy Godmother sharing wisdom

I love, love.  A hopeless romantic. The person that cries at the happy parts of the movies and not the sad.  Finding joy in discovering that perfect gift that is all sentimental and not superficial.  Searching for that face that makes you smile when you a walk in a room.  Believe it or not that is me in a nutshell.  But lately I have been struggling with my belief in love and looking for that break in the clouds.

My mother always says, “Jacky, life isn’t a Doris Day movie.” I get it, I am a smart girl.  The pages out of a great Disney story don’t magically happen.  That all the great love song lyrics or movie scripts are just some persons vivid imagination.  Yet, I struggle to accept this as a truth.

My argument goes something like this.  How could someone create these prose without first experiencing the feelings in real life. There has to be inspiration from day to day life, or at least your mystical muse?  Let’s take a stab at fairy tales.  The story starts off with a dream, then there is thrill and excitement, obstacles, pain and hardship ALWAYS come along the path,  and ultimately joy is discovered.  Show me where that doesn’t happen in real life?

As I struggle to find that place of peace there are a few givens I have learned to accept about love; perfection, availability, and respect.

I remember the moment I realized that nothing is perfect.  I was actually sitting in a movie theater watching the flick “Kate and Leopold” and in the end Meg Ryan’s character must decide to travel back in time to be with her love, or stay in the present with her family and friends.  She had to give something up on her check list of true love.   Nothing is perfect and it is the imperfections that you are willing to live with that makes the decision to stay in a relationship.

Love isn’t a choice, it isn’t learned, can’t be earned, or even wished for upon a star.  The feeling is  just there, a big ole multi-dimensional monster that either fills you will warmth or wrecks every ounce of temperature from your being.  Needing time and tending just like the tomatoes in your garden and if ignored it will wilt.  If you are not available to love, it will have no home to nest in your heart.   We all grow up checking off boxes of accomplishments, finish school, get married, have kids, buy a home, get a great job, fly to France, you get my point, but does anyone ever teach us that love needs a box on our daily list of “to-dos”.  I can safely say I have managed to navigate through two marriages and the common loss on both is that we did not work on the love.  Everything else came first.

Here I am 52 years old and I have to say, love has kicked my butt.  So many times I can’t even count.  But I can’t help with every part of me that screams pack it in, go get a cat and settle with the loss, I believe and I yearn for that feeling.  What is my number one common flaw in these loosing battles, my lack of respect for myself.  “Why wasn’t I enough”, I am the champion of holding all the blame and fighting to be heard.  What the heck is wrong with me?  Sometimes I think it is my competitive nature or the fear of failing.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a true believer that it takes two to tangle and neither side is right or wrong.  But in my gut, why do I continue to hurt, hold all to the end of the earths, for someone that doesn’t love me?  Well that is all on me and my respect for myself.

Funny how it takes half of your life, maybe having cancer, who knows, to see that there are bigger things in life and not to get wrapped up in the rights the wrongs.  And guess what when you wake up in the morning the pain isn’t going to bring you tea.  Judgement is not going to run Saturday morning errands with you.  The righteousness of being correct isn’t going to hold your hand as you walk on the beach or sit around binge watching Netflix.  Past is the past and I haven’t found a single soul that has ever been able to go back and change their course of action.  All we have is the future, the journey ahead, one step at a time.

princess
Kayla and Lilly with the glass shoed princess herself!

Today is my youngest 21st birthday.  She is a darling girl who I hope finds all the love and light that any young person her age should experience.  Miss Lilly, here is my advice to you, respect yourself and your boundaries, be available to the process and the feelings, no one and nothing is perfect, and by all means if he shows up with a shoe that fits, wear it!

Career Path 101

“When I was five my mother always told me happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up? I wrote down “Happy” they told me I didn’t understand the assignment, I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

IMG_7101June gloom is a real thing in Del Mar.  To energize during the long Fair days, an afternoon walk backstage to grab a foundation soda on ice, is a quick cure.  On one of these pilgrimages, headed down the Exhibit Department hallway, a thought came upon me, “How did I end up here?”

Not in the physical sense, but more in a who says “when I grow up I am going to be an Exhibits Director at the San Diego County Fair?”  Pretty sure no one ever. Who even thinks that is a career? Doctor or movie star, lawyer or a teacher, but a fair employee, give me a break.

I am not complaining it is a pretty cool gig for a country girl who likes to create things and organize them at the same time.  Sprinkle in some analytics, budgets and ten key, it is the makings of a dream come true.   Growing up, we were given such a defined linear scope of career opportunities it gives pause to modern day attitudes toward work and business environments. As a freshman in AGB 101 at Cal Poly, I had no clue what I wanted to do when I “grew up”, not like today’s youth who can conjure up opportunities we never could imagine. This isn’t a blog about discovering how to reinvent yourself in the tapestry of today’s job market, no it pretty much is just a road map of my journey.

Jake Owen preformed at the Fair this summer and his recent release Homemade, really sums up my career path. Looking back one could argue I am a text book product of my environment. I grew up being a fair junkie. Combine with my desire to play office, design my own paper doll clothes and organize everything in sight, you have my job. (We can note I also played school, shocker)IMG_7099

Let’s start with my earliest Fair memory. My cousin Kelly showed her first steer at what was still the San Luis Obispo County Fair in the summer of 1975.   I recall my brother John, cousin Stacy and I hanging around the barns waiting for Kelly and her beef buddy to march in the ring. Watching her interact with the judge and receive a ribbon it was magical.  All I could imagine was when can that be me?

My first livestock experience was a Duroc hog named Felix at the Salinas Valley Fair, circa 1977. My best friend Shawna and I were novice showmen and encountering our first outing with a show cane. Our parents were sure we would not only embarrass ourselves but the entire town of Templeton. “You two silly girls pay attention to your 4-H leader”, they would echo.  Low and behold not only had we paid attention but one would say we were star pupils. Driving those red hogs into first and second hole. Maybe it was winning novice showmanship that infected me with the Fair bug, but from that moment on there was no looking back.

IMG_7102
If you know the players this photo is priceless. Templeton 4-H

And it was not just the years of raising farm animals (a term of endearment from the one and only Papa Bob Cumming) that built the foundation of my passion, there have been other future career clues.  Did the decades of styling the ultimate ladies lead outfit, not only for me, but my sister, and my daughter, and telling the story of wool, play a hand?  I am wicked bad with florist wire and a glue gun. (nod to Mr. Johnson, Carpentaria FFA, for teaching me how to make a bow and wrap floral tape). And let’s not forget that time I built an entire 10ft X 10ft feature booth for Templeton FFA in our game room or assembled custom stall cards for the entire Chapter.  Oh, the memories, the pieces of cut burlap, shafts of barley, the electric train. Good times.

Dig deeper and I can recall the two years in junior high I decided to write to every livestock breed association to inquire about literature and photos. Our mailbox began to over flow with large envelopes and over size packages.  Did you know the Angus association will send you posters larger than your wall?  Then I would sort all the information in binders and files.  I took a recipe card holder and organized all my contacts, not by desserts, appetizers, main dishes, but by specie, beef, sheep, swine, etc. you get the point.

But wait it didn’t stop there.  When I ran out of associations, I moved on to Agriculture Colleges and livestock equipment companies. My mother lived in fear that one day a sample cattle chute or actual live beast would be delivered to our condo in Carpinteria. And it gets better. A 13-year-old Jacky received a rejection letter from the Veterinary College at Purdue, due to the fact that I was from out of state (California) and a female, did they even realize I was only searching for facts to collect and display or I was in seventh grade?

Today, I realize I was building educational agriculture exhibits before I even knew that was a “thing”.   Who knew there was a career that actually embraced all my madness?  Career coaches of today express the need for “doing something you love.”  In the 80’s life was more about getting a job and financial reward.  The joy of the day was not a talking point, work was work.  But somehow, I have seemed to resonant with modern day theory and lucked into spending my days doing a job that was actually my hobby as a kid.  Maybe Jake Owen is on to something, I will always be the (wo)man homemade, but at the heart, I am a blue ribbon product of my environment.

PSA: As Fair season is among us, be sure to visit your county Fair.  The people that work there don’t do their jobs for a season, it is a life long passion.  They spend hours planning ways to inspire, educate, entertain and celebrate their fairgoers.  The art of competition and the memories made cannot be experienced anywhere else on the planet.

What “Clicking” My Heels Has Taught Me

“You have always had the power my dear.  You just had to learn it for yourself”

~ Glenda the Good Witch

RPhoto Jun 05, 5 39 22 PMecently, I was deleting photos from my cell phone and discovered, I take an excessive amount of pictures of the view looking at my feet. Taking a pause at this habit, was there any significance to this point of reference. A couple of photos had importance to where I was standing or who I was with (example of the track at Churchill Downs), maybe I enjoy sharing my current view of my surroundings with others or possibly  it is because I take really horrible selfies?  Upon further thought (imagine Winnie the Pooh in his thoughtful spot) I dug a little deeper and the results of this quiz were surprising, my intentions are to want to look forward.

Now there are many clues that provided this hypothesis. One, I have little patience. And when I say little patience, we are talking measurements at the subatomic level.  Two, I am happiest when I have something to look forward to, or better yet an upcoming trip or fun outing.  Three, I thrive in an environment of structure and order, and knowing what is happening next is chapter three of that book. And finally, and most importantly, I hate looking back.

Last week at work there were some balls dropped on a very important task.  With the staff together to discuss the situation, predictable outcomes began to happen, impulses to start rehashing the past, placing blame, and wondering why the situation existed at all. None of these reactions solved the problem. None of these responses caused any sort of positive energy.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe at some point, recapping facts and devising a plan for the future is necessary.  But not at this time. In the here in now, all I wanted was a resolution. How do we travel to point B from point A using our resources at the current moment and achieve the best outcome.  We needed to move forward.

 

I struggle with looking onward in so many aspects of my life. Especially when hurt, disappointment or anger are present.  But let’s face it living in the backward is an energy sucker. I can’t think of one time that it ever made the situation better. If anything, the act places you on a turntable with the needle stuck playing the lyrics of negativity.  When the record keeps skipping it is impossible to change the tune and move on down the playlist.

And here is the kicker (only took 50 years for this to finally sunk in) as soon as you look forward and focus on the positive facts, everything shifts.  What you believe or imagine only gets clearer. It is like the universe rewards you with that unanswered message. Maybe not always in the way you assumed would be the result, but something good happens. In the blog I wrote about change, there is an underlying theme of expectations. ( https://alittlebitaboutalotofthings.com/2017/10/10/taking-a-que-from-a-fork-in-the-road/ .) The broader you leave the answer to be defined the better the outcome. Think of it as fishing, if you only toss out a big hook with a night crawler, your pool of fish to catch is relatively small. But if you cast out a net, the bounty is not only bigger but you have more choices of what to catch and what to release.

My “Ah- Ha” moment came one Thursday in the midst of the Fair, Lena got a bee in her bonnet that we needed to take a girl’s trip to Santa Fe, NM. I brushed it off like a passing fancy and went about my busy day. But she didn’t, Lena was tenacious on the subject.  Emailing us all dinning tips, tours, art galleries and VRBOs, like a 1980s-travel agent.  Sunday morning, I walked in the office, and here she sat in my chair with airline information in hand and how to book. At that moment, my mood shifted. Not just a trip, but a city I have never visited, a check mark on my goal to write about travel, and time with people I cherish.   I had something to look forward too.

Photo Aug 11, 7 26 26 PMI am not perfect and at times I do drudge up the past. Side effect from having a great memory. The key I have found is digging out the facts, solve the issue and move forward. Leave emotions for all the good stuff in your life; loving your kids, enjoying the perfect kiss, sipping the finest champagne or laughing with your friends. Tomorrow I visit the radiation oncologist for the final steps in my breast cancer journey.  A process that I can honestly say I have approached in a text book version of this blog.  Very fact based, very forward motion.  And for the life of me, I am not even sure why. But rest assured I am looking onward and upward and if you aren’t careful I will prove it with a photo of my feet.

 

 

Crazy, Not so Rich, Jacky

DSCN2662Opportunist- a person who exploits circumstances to gain immediate advantage rather than being guided by consistent principles or plans

Photo Mar 09, 3 14 01 PMMy mother might consider my travel habits somewhat opportunistic.  Have I made spur of the moment decisions based on the outcome of me ending up on a jet flying over an ocean?  Absolutely.  We do not share the same travel gene (nor do I get this trait from my father) I credit my wanderlust nature to my Grandmother Roberta.  Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel’s sake.  The great affair is to move.”  There is a basic underlying need in me to experience, see new things, pack a suitcase, have a reservation in my Hilton account, basically I yearn to move.

I am a firm believer in if a door becomes open along your path, you always walk through. In early February, a door was presented to me.  And as it continued to open, fate was also dealing me a new hand of cards to play.  I knew just one thing to be true in the time of uncertainty, I needed to run through the door.  For no other reason, then for travel’s sake.

This journey actual began in the fall of 2018.  Last September, I took my Saturday stroll down the hill to visit the local library.  There I discovered the book Crazy Rich Asians.  Little did I realize six months after reading this novel, I would be on United 29 out of San Francisco headed across the Pacific to the lush land of Singapore.  Not much of a geography buff, nor a historian of Asian cultures, this trip was almost as big of shock to me as to my immediate tribe.  But on March 7, (my Grandmother’s birthday) I boarded a plane to a new land and a fabulous adventure.

Abundance. Agriculture. Architecture. Allure.

An avid reader of travel posts and articles I have toyed with the notion on how best to share my visit.  Filtering through the photos I took over my five-day tour, it was clear to me that I captured moments that revealed my passions.  From pictures of fresh fruit in China Town, to stunning displays of orchids in the airport, from the amazing architectural canvas of the city to the perfect bite, my focus was truly on the attractions that were unique to me and my eye.

My tip when traveling internationally to a strange land, make the journey there as pain free as possible. To using miles to upgrade to hiring a driver to meet you upon arrival, there is no need to stress out before you even set foot in your hotel lobby.  I struck the jackpot with my driver Adrian. Not only did he speak perfect English (he was born and raised in Singapore and informed me English is common as the British had an influence on settling the country) but he had an answer for every one of my 237 questions on our drive to the hotel. We instantly became connected on What’sAp and he shared ideas for my visit.

The first thing I noticed was the vegetation. Singapore is lush. From a living wall by the parking structure at the airport to the amazing Rain trees that lined the road into the city, the landscape was pristine. There is no tropical over growth, no bare spots, no dead leaves, each and every plant appears perfectly groomed. I sat and watched a man care for the orchids in the hotel lobby one afternoon.  He carefully trimmed and cared for each plant like one would a new born infant. To say I was green with envy of the flora and fauna, would be an understatement.  I did manage to walk the Gardens by the Bay, visit the Sunflower roof-top garden at the airport but I never made it to the Singapore Botanic Gardens or the National Orchid Garden.  I guess I need to return someday?

The hardscape of the city ran a close second to the beauty of the green space.  The skyline at night is lovely, but the view is just as stunning during the day. It has an inviting nature that makes you want to go stroll among the buildings. But unlike amazing metropolises in the US, the street level is refined and approachable. Upon close inspection, one could spot gardens growing among skyscrapers or on top buildings.  If a Paris fashion house could design a metropolitan brand, it would be the spotless, unspoiled, perfectly manicured concrete jungle of Singapore.

Many things reminded me of my time in Australia.  The vast number of people from around the world was parallel to my “down under “encounters. One evening, we dined outside of the city limits and the cultural differences became obvious.  More from other guests at the restaurant, than the local visitors.  However, the majority of the people I met were kind and helpful.   I am a big fan of exceptional customer service, but the level of care that was offered from the hotel staff, Adrian or anyone of the many service industry members met, could be better explain as an art of hospitality. From remembering an order from the morning before to answering one of the countless questions I posed, the people were gracious and welcoming.

The funky vibe of the food scene mirrored travels across Australia. From taking an old church and turning it into a hip row of eateries, to creating decor out of everyday objects, my five senses were inspired by every meal.  Although I had limited opportunities with street food or hawker fare, I did experience local dishes and a tremendous amount of seafood.  Shrimp seemed to appear at the table during every meal, I also got to enjoy dumplings.  The black peppered crab was good, but very messy.  Singapore, seemed to have a soft spot for Gin.  From the Gin and Tonic tasting at the lobby lounge to enjoying an original Singapore Sling, I can’t say I didn’t fall in love just a little myself.

But by far my favorite outing was the morning we spent in China Town.  The first key to the success of the adventure, was hiring Adrian.  He not only provided car service, but was the perfect tour guide.  He didn’t even think twice when I went bananas over the Pig Décor for the Chinese New Year.  I managed to capture a few photos, but I so wanted to take one of the larger than life pigs home.

Color, inspiration, and wonder would best describe my visit that morning.  If I was ever the atypical tourist, it was walking the streets of China Town, with Kayla’s camera around my neck, snapping photos circa 1970 Uncle Howard.  I was in awe.  And Adrian, knew all the inside scoops.  From the best BBQ pork stand (BBQ pork is like a super moist piece of jerky in a variety of flavors) to discovering my signature Christmas ornament keepsake, he even found me durian fruit.  Have I mentioned driving in circles to get pictures of the pigs?  I could have spent hours strolling up and down the streets, except for the humidity.

What I didn’t like about Singapore?  That is an easy one word answer, humidity.  To say it was humid, doesn’t do the weather justice.  Each day I would muster up enough energy for a morning of taking in the scenery before the pool was beckoning me to submerge myself.  The temperature never tipped over the lows 80’s, but the wall of stagnate heat was waiting every time one left an air-conditioned location.  Probably why the land is so lush and green.Photo Mar 10, 4 12 40 PM

Keeping true to my goals of 2019, one down two to go, I visited a new place and turned the journey into a blog post.  To be honest, I marvel at the past 30 days and the stamp I added to my passport.  Singapore was more than a destination to travel.  I began the experience with zero expectations, and walked away with countless lessons about myself.  As I tackle this next hurdle in my life, there was an abundant of energy gained by this trip.  I am not the same girl who walked through the door in February.  Watch out world, because I am on the move and with each step I am picking up the pace on a bounty of good health.

 

 

Not Gonna Happen….#BeDavidStevens

“If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door.” – Unknown

I am a true believer if a door is open, you walk through it.  Opportunities are life’s little positive gifts that so many don’t take advantage.  But as I view the world today, not only are there people who just bulldoze down doors, but individuals that express all the reasons why you should never even walk up to the welcome mat.

Back in the day, I worked with a man named Richard who was, by the best description, the “painter” in the Operations Department at the California Mid-State Fair.  He was a text book California fair maintenance department employee. First, he wore the same uniform everyday, with the name Louie on the chest.   He smoked one too many packs of cigarettes, never stopped to plan his yearly goals at the first of January, feed all the black cats on the fairgrounds and had a heart of gold.  His claim to fame (at least in my world) was to respond to any one of my many requests, “not gonna happen”. He would sit across from my desk, with his devilish grin, shake his head, and proceed to explain why he just didn’t have the time to complete my request.  This would be my que to give him the borderline shake your head look, which would generate him to pull out from his front shirt pocket a note pad and jot down my wish.  In the ten years I worked with Richard, it always happened.  Sometimes, not completely as planned (I have a few Richard stories that are priceless), but we were a team and there was a common goal to achieve.

A fun game, I loved to play, was to send our yearly college intern out to find Richard and inquire when XYZ sponsor’s sign would be hung.  They soon would appear back at my desk bewildered and perplexed as Richard gave them his standard answer “not gonna happen”.  This would trigger the Jacky/ Richard dance of me explaining why it was going to happen and Richard pulling out his small pocket notebook to make notes of my request.

These encounters took place in the late 90s well before 9/11, school shootings, and the housing market debacle of 2008. Before social media was the platform for one and all to share their dislike of anything from the POUS to the lady that had too many coupons in front of them at the local grocery store.   Richard’s intention was never negative in nature, he wasn’t leading the conversation with all the ways it wouldn’t work, it was just his character to make the process a little more playful.    The other day I began to wonder when did Richard’s “not gonna happen” became many peoples first response?  Why as a solution based society do want to focus on all the ways something will not work?

The writing wheels began to turn and I began constructing a blog about how I am simply over people that lead with a “No”.  What happen to words like solution, opportunity, “if there is a will there is a way”?  I am not sure if the absolute negative is a quicker way to move past the work or if as a culture, we have become sensitized to be downbeat and depressing.  The “try” has left the station. For some it is a power move, for others it is a lack of faith and then for a select, I truly believe, it is pure laziness.

And as I was pondering this topic and subsequently heading down the pessimistic rabbit hole, something marvelous happen.  I was reminded that not everyone behaves this way.

This past month we hosted our wine and spirits competition at the San Diego County Fair.  As the usual suspects of judges begin to arrive at our little community, years of great memories and times began to fill the void of the day.  At the opening night judges gathering, it was very apparent that one of my all-time favorite judges was absent, David Stevens.

David Stevens, passed away shortly after last year’s competition.  To say he was a marvelous human being, that was one in a billion, wouldn’t even scratch the surface.  The man was a savant on the topic of wine and had an impeccable palate.  Yet, if you met him on the street you would never have known.  In an industry that if filled with ego and self-loathing, David didn’t possess an ounce of these qualities in his being.  He was the happy guy, he had delightful stories, he was the man that would never say “No”.

As buttons that read #BeDavidStevens were handed out, it occurred to me to stop wasting my energy on a topic that doesn’t deserve the time of day.  Adverse comments, and I don’t just mean from others, but from myself, were simply not worth giving the ear space to register in my head.  If you are given an opportunity, take it.  If you see an open door, walk through it.  #BeDavidStevens.

Shortly after the competition, I was sitting listening to another day of pounding rain, feeling down that my Sunday was dampen by the weather.   And I light bulb went off above my head #BeDavidStevens, and seize this opportunity to work on this blog. And I started writing.  Then came a call that offered me chance to visit Singapore for a mini vacation, and I thought #BeDavidStevens.

Both David and Richard, left me with great life lessons, that at the time I never embraced.  But as I continue to journey into 2019, I have adopted a few new mantras.  You want to come after me with all the reasons why not, my take is #NotGonnaHappen.  You offer me a golden opportunity, I am going to say #BeDavidStevens.  In the infamous words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  And that is a door, I am not going to miss walking through.

You Only Get What You Give

What Energy Do You Bring to the Universe?

“You’ve got the music in you….One dance left…..This world is gonna pull through
Don’t give up…..You’ve got a reason to live….Can’t forget….We only get what we give” – New Radicals

IMG_3969A few years back I began making notes for a post on bar coasters.  I don’t know about you, but so many times in my life, things begin to happen around me that I feel why am I getting a front row seat for this moment.  Life acts, played out like a carefully scripted reality TV show.  Is the universe calling, does life place us in the process, do we mindfully end up in these moments, or is our energy bringing us the show?

In this one situation, I was a bystander, sitting at a bar having breakfast and sipping on a mimosa.  This moment, encompassed both a personal and professional conjunction that announced an ending to decades of relationships.  And it began by a simple delivery of product from a beer distributor inquiring to the bartender if they knew why an establishment wasn’t open that morning.  As the server also worked at the other location, he quickly made a call, only to find out that it had closed last night without any notice at all.  All of sudden the wheels were put into motion as the phone tree began to spread the news and link the evidence.

I knew just enough about the situation, to sit and wonder, why now, what was I to gain to be placed here eating Eggs Benedict?  But it was the energy that I felt that really hit home. Why was I absorbing all the hurt, confusion, and dismay of the strangers and even care enough to eavesdrop on the scenario?

For my birthday I decided to treat myself to a Tarot Card reading.  A long time fan of this art form, I firmly believe that money spent on a yearly reading is a far better investment (and frankly more positive) than consulting with your corner psychologist. Thanks to google and yelp, I stumbled upon a very nice Japanese woman, who in my opinion, not only gave a great reading, but treated the visit more business like and less hocus pocus.  Not only did she shed light on many key issues, but really hit the nail on the head of my current life position.

One concept that she brought forward, is that she told me I was an empath.  Having no clue of the definition of an empath, I quickly inquired what characterizes such a person?  She then asked if I was a sensitive person.  I quickly responded not really.  I am not one to sit around and cry or get emotional at every sappy commercial.  But that wasn’t the type of sensitivity she was referring to, it was do I pick up on energy?  A giant light bulb went off in my head.  Being a believer that we all carry energy, I have always noted to my close friends that I can read others energy.  More like if your energy is negative or false, I put out a vibe to stay clear as I will see right thru your nonsense.  Basically, there is a zero protection field surrounding me.  Each and every situation I experience, I am invested 110%.

Hasi, my reader, suggested a few books for me to read to find out more on the subject.  Being the resourceful girl that I am, I quickly went to my library app and requested a copy be delivered four blocks down the street.  This weekend I spent some time reviewing the topic and a few things came to light.  Some of the “ah ha” moments include:

1 – Empaths need sleep.  As you are built with basically no filter or boundary to block out energy coming or going, your body needs time to rejuvenate.  I have always required a good eight hours sleep and closer to nine is ever better.

2 – Water, empaths love water.  Read the following blog post from a year ago.  The calm that is gained from time on my balcony is unmeasurable. (alittlebitaboutalotofthings.com/2018/02/19/just-go-to-the-water/)

3 – Crowds of people make me uncomfortable.  I always thought my need to sit in the back of the room and be able to see the landscape, came from a lifetime of being with my Dad.  But, after doing a little research, I believe it is also one of the coping mechanisms that I have introduced into my life to protect my energy.

4 – Set limits and boundaries.  After a few years in the classroom, I began to develop the habit of controlling my day, instead of allowing the day to just unfold randomly.  Being productive and having the feeling of completion results in self-satisfaction in my world.  It is uncomfortable to have the day “hijacked” by interruptions and drop in meetings.

After absorbing all this new information, the subject matter got me thinking.  In the today’s world there is so much negativity.  Scan your social media sites, watch the news, or listen to the conversation next to you at the local café, people today focus on the bad.  I am not saying that there aren’t events that have happened to lead people down this path, but if all our energy stays focused on the negative, how can we ever feel the good?

I avoid large groups, conflicted conversations, and areas that wreak of lots of noisy energy.  Some think I am unfriendly, I have been told I am intimidating (which makes me giggle, as I am the biggest marshmallow inside), or that I am hard to approach.  When I am working, there are times I am in deep thought, and these characteristics arise.  But for the most part, it is just my energy trying to stay in the zone and not bounce around collecting all the particles of useless matter floating in the universe.

My life will continue to have countless “reality TV” show moments.  I attract it and, at times, secretly love it.  But in the end, I have learned to own my outwardly vibe.  The energy you bring forth everyday matters.  Be aware and own it, I dare you.   On my way to exercise this morning, the above song came on the radio, and the lyric “you only get what you give” just seemed to sum up all these thoughts.  If you constantly state the glass is half empty, then guess what you are going to get pretty thirsty.

 

 

Math Doesn’t Lie – The Key to Accomplishing Your Annual Aspirations

“Lets get the girl to check the numbers” – John Glenn (Hidden Figures)

first birthday
First Birthday with my Grandma, Mom, Kelly & Stacy.

Today is my birthday.  Five days into the new year and I am already another year older.  A great date to be born if you are a thoroughbred racehorse, and one I have come to appreciate.  It is also the time of year when mankind ponders the expectations of the next 365 days, plots their aspirations and has an unlimited capacity of hope of new beginnings.  Being a huge fan of a good list of goals, I am no exception.  I took a few minutes before composing this stimulating body of work to review my mindset over the past five years.

True to form, I strategically tried to come up with a fresh approach to the concept of New Years’ Resolutions annually, yet keeping with my underlying notion of learning, growing and improving my general condition.  My favorite two posts with regards to this subject matter were in 2015 (https://alittlebitaboutalotofthings.com/2015/01/03/begin-again-please-dont-see-just-a-girl-caught-up-in-dreams-and-fantasies/) and 2018 (https://alittlebitaboutalotofthings.com/2018/02/04/creating-new-habits-one-day-at-a-time/).  One was more of a prescription to cut myself some slack and the other expanded my tasks over the 12-month period.  The later even went so far to offer a metric and timeline.  The measurement element got me thinking, my standard, go to tool for problem solving is breaking down the numbers.

I love math.  It doesn’t lie.  There is one right answer.  It essentially allows one to place things in a series of checks and balances.  (Don’t even get me started of the beauty of a good Excel spreadsheet).  Living with my math minded thought process, I found at the root of all I do is the concept of averages.  I break everything down to a per “this or that”.  A great example is my step counting.  The target is 10,000 places my feet travel daily, however a 70,000 step week is the success mark.  The average allows me to spread the attempt over a week.  Glancing through my catalog of blog posts, one can easily find traces of the art of the mean sprinkled through the content.

I started going to an exercise program called Orange Theory last spring.  By no means am I a model student, actually I have one of the trainers believing I am a secret shopper sent to make sure he is doing his job, that is how uncoordinated my performance appears.  However, I have found true success because of the ability to track numbers.  The option to wear a heart monitor and calculate calories is my metric.  Each class, once 500 plus calories is hit, success bells go off in my head.  The also send me weekly and monthly reports, the data is music to my ears.

Not one to float through life with no form of accountability, I developed a plan for 2019, one formula at a time.  Staying true to my initial mission of my blog, I have been challenging myself to look at writing from a new perspective. Increasing my chances of success, I have broken the chore down by the numbers.  Here are three forms of writing that will be adding to my blog in the coming year.

1 – It occurred to me that developing a short story would be a new channel of writing. Google states a short story can be anywhere from 1,000 to 20,000 words.  Seeing how this prose is already over 500 words, my goal is going to be 15,000 words.  Breaking that down in a thirty-day period would be 500 words a day, or if I g myself the full year and did a weekly average, I would only have to jot down 288.46 words a week.  Being a realist and building in some cushion, deadline to post the first short story is March 1, 2019.  Are you wondering what will my subject matter be; love, life, adventure?  Nope, I am going to the source of my knowledge, work.  Experiencing 25 years in the fair industry, there is a blurred line between fact and fiction.  Focusing on transcribing a single day of events, will be a twenty-four-hour escapade that will seem beyond the latest science fiction thriller.

2 – Six Degrees of Separation Cookbook. There it is folks.  The title of my collection of recipes from my family and friends.  I collect and connect people all the time (Kevin Bacon has nothing on me). The concept of six degrees of separation is a generalization to the average social distance being logarithmic in the size of a population. There is some math for you to all mull over. I have always wanted to preserve the traditions of our family and the meals we have shared.  As I grow older my family expands exponentially by the number of friends that are adopted into our circle.  This is a dream of mine to share photos, stories and recipes of my tribe.  Early estimates are 36 -40 entries.  Breaking it down over a nine-month period is an average of 4 -5 pages completed monthly.  Goal of completion is early fall as this will be my 2019 Christmas Favorite Thing.  Keep an eye on your inbox, because I am coming to collect your content.

3 – Finally, I need to travel.  I miss logging into my United account and finding a reservation waiting for me.  How is she going to spin this into writing?  I would like to visit three new places in 2019.  Planning the trip and sharing the experience, must include a writing element.

Checking goals off a list is similar to keeping score.  But who decides what counts, who determines if it is out of bounds, who calls the penalties?  I love the movie Hidden Figures (not to mention how much I would adore a giant black board with a ladder).  Not only does it tell an amazing story, but the significance of math  to the success of space travel.  At the end of day, before John Glenn went up in space, he wanted the flight data confirmed by a girl over all the NASA engineers, scientists and mathematicians.  Girls and math, that might be a whole other post, but as a girl who lives by the numbers I find it inspiring.  Math has no emotion, it isn’t sensitive, doesn’t worry about being politically correct and can’t create a spelling error.  It is an internal scoreboard that calculates the truth.  Ultimately, we are our own referee, we get to call fouls on ourselves, we get to keep score and if you just calculate a little math into your life you will always get the right answer.

(By the way this post is 1,083 words)

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑