Stretching Beyond the Land of Oz

As we count down the final days of 2018, I once again realize that my writing goal has fallen short of the expectation I created for myself 363 days ago.  Not that words don’t fill my head daily or that I don’t have countless half completed posts scattered among many electronic devises, it is that to write for me is more about the staunchness I give to the process.  An inner confidence that shuts the world out allows me to share my thoughts.

On Christmas Eve, during candle light service, Pastor Amy reflected on the world today and how we as people can continue to have hope.  One of the words she used to demonstrate her point was capacity. Capacity the maximum amount that something can contain or the ability or power to do, experience, or understand something.  The word struck a nerve.  The ability or power to experience something, is poetry to my ears.

Literally my focus at work has been all about Dorothy and her fateful journey to the Land of Oz. Complete with a trip to the mid-west and a visit to the Wizard of Oz Museum in Kansas.  One of the major differences between Baums’ writings and the MGM movie, is the Land of Oz is a real place in the books, not a dream.  Over the years (usually when I am flying) I have started numerous posts that tell the tale of the “fly over states” and how the area in between the coasts really offer a unique perspective. To a California girl, the people, the scenery, the pace of life (not to mention the price of gas) is like visiting another world. Driving through Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, encountering new people, examining the country side the new visions began to come into focus.

Exploring the adventure of Dorothy and her friends, the central themes of Home, Heart, Courage and basic Smarts, have lead me on my own journey.  Believing in good things come when we stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones, being more courageous has been my goal.  And not in the jump out of an airplane type of way, but more in being brave in decision making.  At first this concept was aimed as a new mantra for managing people in my professional life, but I soon discovered that it spilled into every nook and cranny of my world. As I sat there on December 24, with the nagging feeling that the universal has been talking to me the past few months, and it wasn’t about being courageous, but more about my capacity for the “stretch”.

You may wonder, what exercises am I using to extend my comfort zone.  The first and by far the hardest for me, is not to take everything personal.  When your decision isn’t popular, but you know it is the right one, don’t take it personal when others disagree.  I could never be a politician.  Think about it, even if you win, there is still huge population of people that didn’t vote for you.  My ability to take things to heart has served me well, but it also has caused me to suffer for no reason at all.  A key for me has been not to feel the need to defend or get in a debate, but hold steed fast to my choice and move forward.

Living alone, after years of having people under your roof, is another new journey.  I am discovering that courage to venture out and not feel alone.  Having a meal out or going to the beach, I find taking something to read, a note pad to write, or anything to distract my attention away from the fact that I am sitting there by myself, really helps.

But I think the two biggest concepts that I have adopted (and they tend to work well together) is time and perspective. Allowing yourself time to react or to pass, while trying to seeing other’s perspectives can really ease the stress on the next step.  I am not the most patient person and expression of my thoughts is important.  I have discovered pulling out my cell phone and writing down in the note section everything I want to say at the moment, helps me through the time and takes the rashness out of the final message.  If the message ever even happens at all.

Dorothy found her way with a little help from her friends.  Making my way down my own yellow brick road, the relationships I develop along the journey have given me all the lessons that Oz can teach.  From learning new things to creating a home, experiencing love to hearing my inner self roar, I am only a flying monkey away from a complete novel.  Although life breeds the best fiction, I can’t wonder if the course of events that have transpired since the first of October were written in the stars, sent for content for my best-selling novel or me stretching my capacity to be the authentic me?  Check back next year at this time and we shall see what happens.


Happy Birthday to Me.. One Decade at a Time

I Always said when I Turned 40 I would go to Italy, Instead I went to France…..There it is, reading audience, the title to my future best selling novel.  It will be a an epic, page turning piece of literature that will land me many interviews across multiple networks.

Today I turn 50.  Ten years since my fateful trip abroad.  And it got me thinking about the events that have marked those pivotal age milestones in my life.  When I turned 20, I was  studying Agribusiness at Cal Poly and living in a one bedroom apartment with my long time side kick Shawna.  I don’t recall anything special or memorable about the day.  Truth be told, I have always disliked having a birthday so close to Christmas. As a child I asked my parents if there was anyway I could just celebrate it on April 5, their answer was typical for the time, a flat no.  It wasn’t the getting holiday combination gifts (although my mother seizes the opportunity whenever the option arises), but the pure fact my birthday often got forgotten.  Which in hind-site has allowed the celebration to trickle throughout the month of January.

(side bar – My mother is reading this and at this very moment is saying she made a huge deal about my birthday making individual chocolate pudding cups and cookies when I was in kindergarten for my entire class)

Getting older has never really bothered me.  It wasn’t until I turned 30 that my birthday really did start to matter.   More to the tune of how much each year really brought about a stronger, more self assured Jacky.  My 30th birthday was spent at Sierra Vista Hospital on full bed rest with Chris and my third child John.  My mother brought me a pretty red satin set of pajamas and wrote a lovely sign on the door “Today is My 30th Birthday”.  I didn’t realize at the time that this birthday would bring to me the greatest gift, hardest feat, and most pivotal moment in my life. On January 21, I gave birth to our son at 27 weeks, weighing in at a whopping 1 pound 10 ounces.  We were told not to worry when he didn’t cry or move at birth.  But that little blonde haired guy came out and proceeded to swing his arms around and kick his legs.  John Carl Hildebrand wasn’t with us for very long, but he left our family with a forever reminder of faith and goodness.  And he taught me that I was stronger than I ever imagined.  I have learned that sometimes talking about John, makes others uncomfortable, like the sad stuff should be forgotten, but acknowledging him makes me feel better.  He is part of our life that will never change.  Finally John gave us the final piece of our family, little miss Lilly Ann Hildebrand.

Jacky’s I want to do in my life list

I will never forget Nolan’s first parent teacher conference in Kindergarten.  His teacher seemed a little unsettled while showing me his work.  She had asked Nolan to draw a picture of his family.  The drawing was of Chris, Nolan, Kayla and myself playing in a field and then up in the sky was another little figure.  Poor Mrs. Wishon went on to tell me that when she asked Nolan about the person in the sky, he said “Well that is my dead baby brother, in a rather matter of fact farm boy tone.”  Needless to say, after a brief explanation and further discussion of Nolan’s take on his world, she understood completely.  Refer back to lesson number two above for clarification, it is okay to talk about sad things.

When I turned 40 all I wanted to do was go to Italy.  It began five years earlier when I created “My List”.  Long before the movie Bucket List, I felt the need to qualify tasks I wanted to accomplish in my lifetime.  Nestle in notebook full of 2002 CMSF sponsorship parking pass numbers and Jazz Night table requests, is the road map to my goals.  Over time I have checked off lines, as one would a grocery list.  But, by the time I turned 40, Italy was still out of reach, but France was right in front of my eyes.  It was ten days of soaking up the French country side, experiencing amazing Rhone wines and gathering stories like a squirrel collecting nuts.  And oh yes, I have them all stored away for the winter feast. I promise that I will take any spare moment afforded me in 2017 and begin the tale of I Always said when I Turned 40 I would go to Italy, Instead I went to France.

Over time I have come to believe that celebrating ones birthday is a really BIG deal.  I afford every opportunity to spend my day doing something fabulous.  Because when you think about it, there is nothing more important than the day you were born.  It is the day you entered the world, changing it forever.

Waking up this morning in a new decade of my life, what is on the agenda?  No I am not headed to Italy, nor have I made it to the land of my dreams yet (maybe when I turn 60?)  But I have traveled to many states in the past ten years and was lucky enough to live for three months in Australia.  (Actually, Lilly and I visited a rain forest Down Under, must check that off my list!)  Today I am going to actually live by one of my all time favorite sayings All you need is Faith, Trust & a little bit of Pixie Dust and spend the day in Never Never Land with all my Lost Boys & Girls sharing the love with the mouse himself and if we are truly lucky a few glasses of bubbles!

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe. . . . . .

My last birthday lunch with George.
To George .. The man who believed I was smart enough to achieve anything I set my mind too!

Not very poetic, lacks inspiration and certainly not the way to begin a blog focusing on the new year.  But as I sit here and reflect on 2016 and look forward to 2017, I feel like a child choosing the very best one using a method as simple as a nursey rhyme. If you would have told me 365 days ago that my life would look like it does today I would have told you to put away the tarot cards and get a grip on reality.  But the more I reflect on the past 12 months the more it seems like it was written in the stars all along.

Rereading the past January posts I discovered that in true Pollyanna spirit I give the new year the full benefit of the doubt. Anything is possible. Blogs filled with messages of change, reflection, experience, and creation The world is my oyster.  And 2017 seems to be no exception to the rule.

But this new year brings with it something that I have never experienced before.  It marks my 50th journey around the sun.  That alone causes one to stop and reflect, who begins a new project at this age?  Being in the classroom for fourteen years, I have watched countless bright eyed, hopeful, smart as hell twenty somethings go out and set the world on fire.  Why am I so confident, is it just my crazy free will or is there actual proof that one can achieve greatness at any age? So to the internet I journey for some proof and inspiration.

At 49 Julia Child published her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Not only do I love that cookbook, I must begin writing my best seller.

Ronald Reagan switched careers and was elected to his first public office at the age of 55.  No political aspirations in my future, but Reagan was a quint essential human being with classic quotes, wisdom and an all-around intelligent goodness that is missing in today’s political environment.

In 1947 Christian Dior introduced the “New Look” and changed the way women dressed forever.  This fashion moment caused my style icon to come out of a 15 year hiatus at the age of 70 and reintroduce the world to the House of Chanel.  Establishing a timeless look that is continued today under the direction of the very youthful 83 year old Karl Lagerfeld.

And lastly, it was a woman of the age of forty-seven who was the brave soul to take on the construction of a lifetime and help a fifty-six year old man start to construct “the ranch”.  Better known to all as Hearst Castle, they spent the next twenty-eight years building the “La Cuesta Encantada” or “The Enchanted Hill”.

For once I don’t know what the next year holds for me. It is a blank canvas nestled in a new land and my bag is full of fresh art supplies.  What I hope is to write more (I know I proclaim this annually), worry less, stay in the moment and above all color my new surroundings in vibrant memories and growing experiences.  And twenty years from now, if I come close to Coco Chanel or Julia Morgan, well that will be very delightful indeed.

“Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.’ And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying.” – Ronald Reagan

Down the Rabbit Hole & Around the Lake

File Apr 10, 7 02 18 PM“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 I woke up early this morning in house full of sleeping beauties, 6,250 ft. above sea level, with nothing but pine trees and snow outside my window. With my eyes barely open, I had two option; roll over and go back to sleep or I could take advantage of this quiet moment for some much appreciated me time.

Fifteen minutes later, cup of tea, iPad, and glasses in hand I journeyed outside to discover the optimal place to read and enjoy my favorite morning beverage. A few short steps and I was on the bank of Lake Tahoe with mountains full of trees lightly dusted with the over nights sprinkle of snow in the horizon. As I sat looking up at the stillness of the world around me I noticed that on my mug was a hedgehog. My mind quickly turned from reading my book to pondering the work of Lewis Carroll and a world full of noise and nonsense.

Here I was in this peaceful, majestic, green and white landscape, not a sound, complete stillness, but was my world truly quiet? Or were there sounds, voices in my head that keep it full of clutter and noise? Is my mind a ball like the hedgehog waiting to be batted through another set of obstacles?   Yes, I do have a tendency to use my quiet time to think about many things. But it is my nonsense  that inspire some of my finest work. It makes me want to write. Maybe the key to a quiet mind, is not less thinking, but using the space for a purpose?

Spring is the time for cleaning, starting fresh. Just like the clean white new blanket of snow, my thoughts need a good dusting to add some sparkle and freshness. We clean out our closets, pack up all the items we no longer need, use or serve us no purpose and drop them off at the local donation center. Maybe we need to do the same with all our past thoughts. Round up your worries, issues you can’t change, and all the excuses from yesterday, and just pack them up for removal. Then fill your world with nonsense. The good kind of nonsense, the nonsense that allows one to dream and believe in the impossible. Basically nonsense is the cholesterol of the brain. It is okay to high levels of the good stuff, but the bad kind can kill you.

Alice said it best, “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense.” Embrace the nonsense and learn to tuck and roll with each swing of the mallet. Or better yet, pick up the flamingo and stop being the hedgehog. Nothing is impossible, I believed I would actually post this blog today. The good news is that breakfast comes every day, so dream away, for tomorrow the impossible will be waiting for you at dawn!



Twenty Minute Sundays & Me

Spring Break is over and the beginning of a new quarter lies 22 hours in my future. I would love to be a couch potato and watch Doris Day movies for hours on end, ignoring the blinding light of the speeding train headed in my direction. But my mind forces me to the realization that this is a golden opportunity of time to get my life in order for the next three months. Not only does school appear in my horizon, but also I have two major competitions to coordinate and my youngest child will graduate high school in June. My ducks need to be in a row and swimming along the straight and narrow just to keep my head above water.

sunday blog
Whitsundays Australia

Enlisting my go to practice of time management, work begins. I have a method for accomplishing a “to do” list with structure (my family and even co-workers shake their heads at my process) which is affectionately known as 20 Minute Sundays. In the truest definition, 20 Minute Sundays is a process of tackling a set of chores in twenty-minute intervals. It starts with pen and paper, jotting down general headings, usually four or five, and then rotating through the categories every twenty minutes. And yes I use a timer. I find it helps me stay on task and not get consumed with any one activity. Today I had four categories, Housecleaning, Cal Poly, Organize/Bookkeeping and Me. I really wanted to write and without a Me moment I might not ever finish this post.

So off I started, timer set, projects outlined and I decided to put The Office on Netflix for back ground noise. The Office is not only an iconic television show, but also one I have related to over the years. Themes and story lines that were funny yet piquant, resonated with me as an educator and office employee. Michael Scott could very well be the poster child of what not to do as a manager. Working through the morning the final season paralleled my movement through the list. Kitchen cleaned, syllabus complete, closet organized, blog writing, laundry started, and so on (you get the point). When the final episode aired it was time for a lunch break.

As it came to a close, Pam reflected on the series and how she didn’t watch their PBS special because it was just to hard for her to see herself.

It took me so long to do so many important things; it’s just hard to accept that I spent so many years being less happy than I could’ve been. It’d be great if people saw this documentary and learned from my mistakes. It would make my heart soar if someone out there saw this and she said to herself, “Be strong. Trust Yourself. Love Yourself. Conquer your fears. Just go after what you want, and act fast ‘cause life just isn’t that long.” – Pam Halpert The Office

And there it was, The Office connecting with me once again. Lately I have felt like I am afraid, unsure and basically worried about everything. Putting others first leaves one feeling unappreciated, tired and at times pretty unhappy. Am I being true to Jacky or am I being what everyone else expects me to be? This past year has been full of change and I have seen it as a sign. A message from above that I am missing out of opportunities that I am not opening myself up to experience.

Do I know exactly what I want to go after, maybe not, but I am going to build the strength to trust my feeling and conquer all obstacles. More time for writing and less time jumping to others demands.  Exploring more and allowing adventure to replace fear.  Allowing myself to relax and not be scared.

My timer just went off, and I must move on to another chore. (or maybe it is time for a little Doris Day) But fear not, my list starts with Me and that is a pretty strong heading.


Saturday in the Park, I think it was the Fourth of July

For My Love of Farmer’s Markets & Great Stories

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there lived a inquisitive girl with an endless imagination. Exploring her surroundings she encountered both friend and stranger. And when faced with an unanswered question she found it much easier to dream up a solution than trek through the woods in search of the truth.

Although this little known phrase may start timeless tales of childhood wonder, and  eventually be followed with the ever so popular “and they lived happily ever after”, life seldom is this clear and simple. Is dreaming up outcomes and making up stories the best way to start solving a problem and achieve that ultimate perfect ending to the story?

Over the last year I had the opportunity to work with a very talented lady on the subject of team building and communication in the work place. The most significant take away for me was the concept of “making up stories”. The concept is pretty simple. When faced with hear say, situations with holes in the details, or the art of reading another’s mind, just stop, open your mouth and ask the clarifying question. Start with the truth instead of your mind’s version of the tale.

Sounds fairly simple.  From my professional life to my to personnel relationships, I find myself constantly reminded not to make up a story. This valuable lesson has come in handy in the classroom as students toss ideas around instead of doing the research and asking the questions. And surprising enough I have discovered for most of us it is easier to make up the story than to actually take the time to form a clarifying sentence. Why is that. Are we just lazy? In a hurry? In need of entertainment? Or just stuck in a cycle of story telling?

Although it can be hurtful and down right frustrating having imagines dancing around in your head that are completely a figment of an outcome created in the space between your ears. It can also be fun. For example, who hasn’t sat at a restaurant and made up the fairytale story of the couple sitting in the neighboring booth? I decided to take this practice to the streets so to speak, and get to the bottom instaed of creating a tale for some unsuspecting stranger.

I love going to Farmer’s Market each week. It makes me happy. The thought of buying fresh goods and creating a culinary gem is truly a joy. After years of attending Templeton Park on Saturday mornings, the location of my favorite vendors and their products are second nature to me. Yet, there is one stand that I have never visited but is totally fascinating. Do I have my story all made up? Guilty as charged.

A single commodity stand with the same gentleman standing behind his table can be found park side come rain or shine. He sells squash and his product is perfectly presented, polished and uniform in size, shape and color. However, his inventory is always very low, sometime less than 15 vegetables. The economist in me just can’t wrap my head around how he can afford to continue to maintain his stand week in and week out. He is a perfect stranger that I insist on writing his biography. So I decided last week to change this pattern.

When I told my mother my plan to set the story straight so to speak, she was concerned that I would be arrested for stalking the poor squash salesman. But I am happy to report my findings and assure no security had to be called.

James DeWelt is a second generation farmer from Atascadero. His parents actually helped start the Farmer’s Market and he felt the need to carry on the family tradition after their passing. He grows one of the finest strands of zucchini. He plants five, 30ft rows which he starts a new batch of squash every three weeks to insure proper pollination. When a plant starts to show sign of age, he will replace with a new baby squash vine. He offers a very competitive price of $3/ pound. And he had clients lined up once the opening bell rang.

After our nice, educational chat, I purchased a pound of this exquisite vegetable. That night as we dined on our fact finding zucchini I couldn’t help but wonder, was it really the best squash I had ever cooked or did it just taste so good because I knew the real story?

We Will … We Will … Rock You #CPAGBROCKS

my grad
My Dad & me June 1989

As we approach June, I recall what I was doing nearly 26 years ago, getting ready to graduate from Cal Poly with a degree in Agriculture Business Management.  Fast forward to 2015 and the degree has changed to Agribusiness. I now sit on the other side of the desk witnessing a fresh crop of students getting ready to hit the work force. From technological advancement to the leading crops produced in our state the playing field has changed in so many ways.  The one thing that hasn’t changed is how important Agribusiness is to not only California, but to the world.

What is Agribusiness you might ask?  Wikipedia defines Agribusiness as the business of agricultural production. The term was coined in 1957 by Goldberg and Davis. It includes agrichemicals, breeding, crop production, distribution, farm machinery, processing, and seed supply, as well as marketing and retail sales. All agents of the food and fiber value chain and those institutions that influence it are part of the agribusiness system.

In Introduction to Agribusiness, taking a lesson from Ag In the Classroom, I would use a loaf of bread to illustrate the industry. Imagine every job that went into producing the product, from the farmer to the retail outlet, one would find sales, marketing, finance, accounting, policy and human resources were occurring. Agribusiness is a complex, broad area of study that represents many specialties and skill sets. But what makes Agribusiness special? Why a unique discipline? Seriously, what is the big deal?

AGB Gala 2014 ~ Student Hosts
AGB Gala 2014 ~ Student Hosts

Agribusiness enables one to not only learn by theory but apply it to an industry. One could even say “Learn by Doing.” Agribusiness is an industry that feeds and clothes the world. An industry that employees millions of people. An industry that is celebrated across our nation at fairs and festivals. An industry that involves generations of families, creates a passion, and connects people.

My blog is my content platform.  Those that read the posts get a glimpse into my mind set and thought process.  Once posted, my words are spread across facebook and LinkedIn with the magical click of a button.  However, the readers are basically my friends and family.  Many who have a similar background, knowledge base and lets face it a love of agriculture.  My reach is narrow in the quest to expand the importance of Agribusiness. Or is it?

The other night I had an epiphany.  What if I started a grassroots quest to spread the importance of Agribusiness.  More specifically, Cal Poly Agribusiness.  I have the skill set, the resources available and students full of content.  What was my call to action, the battle cry? #CPAGBMAKESADIFFERENCE was too long and #CPAGBKICKSASS was inappropriate, thus #CPAGBROCKS was created.

In the final month of spring quarter a group of Senior Project students are launching Thirty Days of AGB Champions across on the Cal Poly Agribusiness social media sites. With the #CPAGBROCKS as our inspiration, our goal is to showcase each and every senior.  Using simple mathematics if every student shares our post our message will spread faster than a juicy Hollywood rumor.  And while you are at it, feel free to use #CPAGBROCKS in any and all posts related to the world of Agribusiness.  As I watch the Class of 2015 cross the stage on June 13th, I can silently sing, We are the Champions.. No time for Losers ‘Cause we are the Champions of the World.

Follow our posts either on facebook Cal Poly Agribusiness Department or blog Cal Poly

bowling wfa 2013
WFA Convention 2013 – Cal Poly Fair Progam

While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters Turn Around and Say Good Morning to the Night

Betty’s Beach Whitsundays Australia

When we began our Senior Project Australian Adventure and I challenged the students to write weekly blogs, they stared back at me with blank looks on their faces. Daunted by the task of writing was a definite draw back, but expressing their true, inner thoughts was the real monster in the closet.

Putting on my teacher hat, I attempted to find an example of how best to tackle this new chore. And then the light bulb appeared above my head, music. We all have some sort of musical “go to” place. From old school sources, yes I still have all my 45 records from junior high school, to digital accounts; it is likely that a soothing tune is no more than a finger tip away. A place we store all our favorite tracks that help us guide the many ups, downs, twist and turns of our daily life. Our playlist is a true glimpse into our souls. And maybe not something we are willing to share with the rest of the world.

Writing a blog is like exposing your playlist to the universe. It is scary putting your thoughts out in the public and opening yourself to the feedback of your readers. Or worse yet have a new post met with an empty void. I used songs to start each of my blogs down under, to keep in theme with my original playlist lesson. But now that I am back and my loyal readers (all 10 of you) are demanding new content. I found myself looking to music for my inspirations.

Attracted to the less straightforward lyrics, multiple outcomes and endless puzzles were quickly becoming a theme. Returning to my daily life six weeks ago I was instantly greeted with many new obstacles and or changes in my world. Some I had control over and others were just happening. I began to feel like Alice chasing the White Rabbit down the hole. Did I have to follow, expose myself to the change or could I sit back and wait for the outcome? And if I didn’t follow, would I be missing out on the best adventure of my life.

Maybe embracing the confusion and anxiety you experience in your daily life, although frightful to admit, will pull your world into perspective? By exposing your weaknesses you will only grow and expand as a person. Just like writing a blog post, you get braver which each and every word published. Maybe every time we turn the music up loud we are actually opening ourselves to a truer self?

Standing still and watching the rest of society try new things will never get you to the ultimate tea party. Personally, turning at the corner of “lets try something new”, always seems better than stopping at the crossing of “what might have been.” I am not saying we shouldn’t be cautious of giant pink cats with grins or eating unidentified food, but moving forward through the journey is the only way to find home.

While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky
But they can’t and that is why
They know not if it’s dark outside or light

Some of God’s Greatest Gifts are Unanswered Prayers

Just stop for a moment.  Stop and think.  How many times did you want something so badly and it didn’t happen?  How many times have you (it is okay to admit it) looked up above and asked God for something and it just didn’t occur?

I confess, I am as guilty as the next guy.  From my kids successes to my own personal gain, I have peered above for some sign of what will be the outcome.  Guess what, I might as well as, flipped a coin to determine what would happen with that wish, hope or maybe even a prayer.  I do firmly believe in the power of prayer, I just think he saves it for the really BIG issues.

In the fall of 2009, I applied to be part of the 2011 Study Aboard experience in Australia.  I discovered in January of 2010, I was accepted and happily took on the role of getting students excited about the program.  But with the economic crisis and the exchange rate working against me, my dreams were shattered come October.

Fast forward to January 2014.  I sit in my university office, overwhelmed with planning the AGB Gala, class, and the dreary nature that winter quarter delivers and yo and behold I discover an email searching for professors for Australia Study Abroad 2015.

Was it a dream?  Was it a sign?  Lets face it the name Adelaide has had a soft spot in my heart since childhood.  I have actually longed to live in Adelaide (the area at home) I guess God does have a funny way of answering your prayers.  And well if the truth be told, if Nolan would have been a girl his name would have been Adelaide.  So I responded, crossed my fingers, and kept it to myself in fear it would fail.

Fast forward 12 months later and here I sit.  Call it “better late than never”, refer to it as “answered prayers”, but I will tell you the proof is in the pudding.  I can’t imagine experiencing this journey with anyone else but the twenty-eight Cal Poly Mustangs that I share Adelaide.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few other bonuses in this unanswered prayer.  The exchange rate ROCKS! Luckily for my wine, fashion and “perfect bite” habit, it continues to improve the more I shop.  And did I mention the weather? Summer in Australia can be a day at the California Mid-State Fair, hotter than h#%$! We have had a few days over 38c (100 f).  It has been in the mid 80’s (non metric talk) and we have experienced cool, wet and windy weather. Which makes my thyroid so very happy.

Today starts our finals week.  Tomorrow we have our last supper as an entire group. Am I sad? Uh, yea, hello, have you not been reading my blogs?

I am going to miss those twenty-seven faces looking back at me in class. Their questions about wine, marketing and the look on one’s face when I actually teach a non business student something new. I am pretty sure they will never see a teacup the same again! I have always said to my classes, “I have three kids of my own, I don’t need anymore”, well I think I just adopted a whole ship full.

I will miss my conversations with my side kick Tom.  I seriously could have NEVER done this without him.  Tom’s experience in traveling can only be topped by his knowledge in teaching abroad.  I am not sure if we are the Mom and Dad of this group or the crazy, cool uncle and aunt.  Probably a combination of the all four.

But as much as I hate to admit it, I am going to miss our weekly outings with senior project the most.  They force me to do the one thing I have been pushing myself for three years to do…write in my blog!  And well to be perfectly honest, they have made this experience unforgettable.  They are all very unique people and have so many hidden talents.  I only hope I have had 1/10th of the impact on them, that they have had on me.  And worse case, God made sure we had some unforgettable adventures.

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

Maybe Garth was sending the world the right message.  Just because things don’t always turn out the way you want, plan, dream, wish, pray, or whatever religion you embrace, it is OK.  Because sooner or later, and trust me sometimes it might be later, that great gift of hearing that non answered call makes perfect sense.  And it is f&^($@g unbelievable.



Let it Go….It’s Time to See What I can do to Test the Limits and Break Through

      This One’s For the Girls

My Daughters Kayla Jo & Lilly Ann

And My Nieces, Carly Treana, Payton Marie, Julia Rose, Hannah Rose, Marileigh Grace, Lylah Rose, and Carly Rose

Audrey Hepburn is my film heroine. From Roman Holiday, to How to Steal a Million or the original Sabrina, I can literally spend hours watching her movies and admiring the fashion. The other day I stumbled upon the book Fifth Ave, 5am, which tells the story of the making of the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The historical importance of the movie was eye opening. The struggle of old Hollywood censorship and the empowerment of the 1960’s female was a story of an evolving model of the modern woman. Oddly enough, when I visited the Fashion Icon exhibit at the Art Gallery of South Australia, the history of fashion followed much of the same storyline. No matter the form, women look to find their voice in film, fashion, or sometimes within.

And it got me thinking about being a girl. In any era, and being able to discover the inner you. As a professor I get the privilege to watch many young girls start and complete their college careers. And thanks to Facebook, have a front row seat as they go out and develop careers, get married and have babies. From tears to laughter, and countless heart to hearts in my office, I have witness the growth of their female spirit. Combine this with my own 48 years of having two x chromosomes and I have discovered; it is not about finding that inner voice, but being brave enough to share it with the rest of the world.

Don’t misunderstand, I come from a long line of strong minded women. My grandma Darlene married my grandfather and instantly was the mother of five boys. As a little girl I would always marvel how she could run a household, with a husband that was on the road, and still manage to feed the entire family (and half the neighborhood) huckleberry, homemade muffins every Sunday morning. Grandma Darlene is the satin binding that holds the Coon family quilt in place, so to speak.

And then there was my Grandma Roberta, who I know wasn’t perfect, but might as well be Mary Poppins in my eyes “practically perfect in every way.” She taught us everything from how to chop up night crawlers for fish bait to threading a sewing machine. And we really didn’t want to cross her, yet I believe her grand kids did little wrong in her eyes. Case in point any nonsense Stacy and I would create, she gladly went along with and probably secretly encouraged.

And if you want to find a lady who will kick ass and take names, well meet my great auntie Myrt. She was cool, before cool was cool. Auntie Myrt always looks perfect in matching outfits and jewelry. The fashion houses in Paris would be so lucky to have their season collections have the ease of coordination. She even let Stacy and I try our first cigarette when we were 10 years old, probably why we don’t smoke.

Then there is my Aunt Diana. The lady who gave me a fighting fish for my 16th birthday. She evoked in me my sense of experience and wonder. And why I HAVE to order the flaming dessert on the menu, try that specialty cocktail or hold a Koala. Her love of travel and ability to beat to her own drum made her Aunt Diana. She would be very proud of my study abroad experience.

And then I have two mothers, who basically could run the world. There really isn’t anything between the two of them that is unachievable. I could write for days about Mom and Trish, and never fully do them justice. Our family is lucky to have these two mommy bears back in the cave,  because even though they can tell you what you are doing wrong, no one else better ever cross your path. Mommy Bear will be making them Sunday night stew.

As you can see, I have more amazing role models than any girl could dream. But lets face it, there are times that it is just plain tough to be yourself. And I am here today to say, “Let it Go.”

Disney has helped us create these wonderful princess like images in our heads. Who doesn’t want that perfect pair of glass slippers? (That would be me and my little designer shoe addiction.) But when Disney created Elsa, they really hit the nail on the head so to speak. Lets face it, this chick has some issues. Talk about being comfortable in your own skin.  Her touch will turn one into ice.  Yet she discovered how to be true to herself.  Elsa stopped worrying about what others had to say, trying to please everyone, and decided to love herself, now there is a powerful message.  We should all take a page out of her playbook.

Many of you have heard my little Jackyisms.

“If it doesn’t matter in five years, it doesn’t matter now”
“Faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust”
“Be Nike, just Do it”
And the ever popular “Make Good Choices”

But I think it might be time to add a new phrase that sums up the story of Elsa and embracing the inner you. It might be the late 1940’s when Dior designed the “New Look”, or Audry Hepburn playing the part of Holly Golightly, or even Elsa letting her hair down, the point is embrace who you are and celebrate it from the inside out.

Besides, the cold never bothered me anyway

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