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

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

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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)

The Big Exhale

Last night I was preparing my second bedroom to welcome the contents from my home up north and relocate Lilly’s room to the beach.  I know, I know, you will all say “Jacky, you have been moving for the past two years”, but I finally bit the bullet and agreed to allow long term renters into my home. Turning my Paso Robles address into a house and my Cardiff pad into a home.

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The view last night from my porch in Cardiff.

In true fashion, I have reorganized each and every inch to make way for the new belongings that will arrive here on Sunday. The temporary queen size air mattress that has welcomed all my guests was next on my list to pack up.   Looking at this giant volume of air, I was a little perplexed of the ease to deflate and store.

Upon opening the nozzle, I decided to expedite the process by stretching across the surface.  Soon the contents were bellowing out filling the room with the sound of progress.  Laying there I began to feel the bed give away and slowly my body floated to the floor. As I sank deeper and deeper into my surroundings, I realized that I too was letting out a big release.  The room was quiet and for the first time in five months, so was my mind.

For the past, few months I have been going full steam ahead.  At times, I felt like the hamster on the wheel, no time to eat, sleep or even breath.  Literally there have been days that the sound of my cell phone would trigger the instant thought of “What is wrong”.  I accept that I am a natural worrier and tend to struggle with the ability to turn off my mind, but this was a whole new level of being on constant alert.  In that state of mind, without even realizing, one can very easily forget to exhale.

But laying there on the floor, listening to the mattress deflate it wasn’t the unfinished tasks that crossed my mind, but of all I have accomplished. Professionally and personally, I have been clearing hurdles on a daily basis.  The biggest was moving out of my house.  Reliving every moment of my three kids lives through photos, awards, toys and stories.  As hard as it was to let go, it wasn’t near as bad as I imagined.  And the distance has given me a better perspective.

Grandma Treva always says, “This too shall pass”, and Beth Wonson loves to use the phrase, “Grace is in the space”, these two women are really on to something.  Time and distance really are the best medicine for a new perspective.  As I laid on the floor last night I decided to give myself a much-needed vacation from …… me.  Keeping with the 2018 resolution schedule, I am going to switch August and September.  I am going to make August all about me.

Putting yourself first, surely doesn’t sound like the most humble and popular idea.  Like lining up a daily chore sheet and remembering to add your name at the very top.  Who does that?  But, maybe one can do it, by being clever in the way they go about their day?  Instead of feeling the urgency of answering every question that come to you like a carefully served tennis ball, let the emails, texts, interruptions fall to the ground.  Pick up the ones that need solving and kick the rest to the curb.  Give yourself some space.  Spend time doing things you enjoy.  Don’t go around holding your breath, let go and open your eyes to your surroundings.

One of my favorite exercises when I taught marketing at Cal Poly, was the tea cup lesson.  Asking the students to draw tea cups, both simple and ornate would produce some real artistic qualities across the classroom.  But when you showcase all the work and ask if any one drew the cup from looking down, the room would fall silent.  Getting your mind to change it’s perspective is a chore.  But allowing your mind the time to expand and reposition can really help one see a whole new world of possibilities.  And who knows, maybe a change in perspective might be the best reminder to remember to open your mouth and exhale.

Houston, We Have a Problem… Status of 2018 Resolutions

Captain’s Log, Stardate March 10, 2018.  In route to completing mission “2018 Daily Modifications”, my ship has hit a string of unexpected turbulence and seems to be veering off course at warp speed. 

At first I blamed it on the time change. Springing forward has never been my cup of tea. It could have been how the sun was hidden behind the clouds that week or maybe the fact that the Pokes were overlooked for a tournament slot, but whether it was stormy days or March Madness woes, my desire to do anything was slowly coming to a complete halt.

Up until then I was rolling right along with my monthly goals and staying pretty consistent with my progress.  Although I anguished over how I was going to keep track of consuming 8 glasses of water a day, in the end, it was fairly easy.  Yet as the Ides of March begin to approach, all of a sudden, my daily steps decreased, water consumption dried up, and it would take me all day to text my kids.  What happen to my 69-day run?  Why did I hit the wall?  Madness had really taken over my March.

By the following Saturday, the white flag was waved and I surrendered to the mood.  A morning lounging around in my pjs might be the ticket to get back on track. The inner debate, in my head, of when to start the day began around mid-morning.  As the clock ticked away, 10am, just thirty more minutes, 11am ok after this episode of The Office, noon just one Doris Day movie, the cycle was in full swing.  Needless to say, I had to do something to jump start myself.  Because, let’s face it the only thing worse than being in funk, is the anxiety you cause yourself with the thoughts of all the things you think you should be doing, while doing nothing.

Since the beginning of the year, focusing on walking, drinking water or just about anything healthy, was a true motivator.  Not only did it physically make me feel better, but mentally it did wonders for my soul.  How funny that a few days of falling off the wagon, would cause the snow ball effect the lack of accomplishment had on my motivation.  To jump start my enthusiasm, I needed a serious bolt.  Test driving a local exercise club might be a step in the right direction.  Allowing zero time to change my mind, I booked a trial for the next morning at 9:30am.  This proud moment deserved a reward, bring on the second movie and a bag of popcorn.

Sunday morning came and I pushed the go button.  Although, I have zero coordination, I completed class and left with the commitment to return another day. (Wednesday will be my fifth visit).  Yet it wasn’t enough, back at home I had to take action quick or risk going back down the rabbit hole.

Time for the basics.  When the kids were young we did “5 things” to tackle tasks.  Just put five dishes away from the dishwasher or just pick up five things in your room.  Slowly but surely progress is made, like rolling snake eyes in Monopoly and working your way around the board.  Once, I hit the magic pass go collect $200 of my game, I was in the mood to step up the pace.  So, I graduated up to an all-time favorite around my house Twenty Minute Sundays (see blog post March 27,2016 for complete instructions).

As the sun rose on Monday morning, the clouds had parted, the Sooners had lost, and time didn’t really matter. That week I walked over 70,000 steps, drank enough water for a camel, and spent the week physically telling my kids how much I loved them.

Captain’s Log, Stardate March 31, 2018.  The storm has cleared. Ironically, April’s pledge is to confront one uncomfortable task or obstacle a day. which is fitting as March ended with me tackling each day as it was hurdle.  But as the month came to an end and I marveled at the Blue Moon, I couldn’t be happier to welcome the first of April.  How foolish am I?

Just Go to the Water

Thalassophile – (n.) a lover of the sea, someone who loves the sea, ocean.

In my new home, I have yet to install a traditional form to stream TV content.   Netflix and Amazon Prime are the go to sources for viewing entertainment.  But on Super Bowl Sunday, I was curious to watch Mr. Timberlake‘s half time performance.  The quest for live television became my afternoon mission. Considering my earlier blog regarding my monthly goals, I factored in accomplishing steps and consumption of water. Combine my latest discovery of purchasing Chart House gift cards on-line and earning points, and my destination was determined.

Sunset Cardiff Super Bowl Sunday

As I strolled down the hill and across 101, I marveled at how stunning the ocean was that Sunday afternoon. My mind began to ponder how ironic that without really trying, I ended up living within walking distance of my happy place. Now I don’t surf, actually I have very little need to venture out in the ocean past my ankles. But the beach and the sea are my prize winning superfecta of senses. Yes, I know there are five senses, but taste really doesn’t excel in these surrounding. The temperature of the water, the smell in the air, the feel of the sand on the bottom of your feet and finally the sound of the waves. Nothing is more calming or offer more clarity to my mind, heart and soul.

I arrived at my destination 2,640 steps later and found a couple of Eagle fans at the bar invested deeply in the second quarter. Otherwise the place was empty and the perfect ticket for my plan.  I ordered a glass of wine and ice water (by the way the bartender measured for me and a glass of water was 14 ounces). My JT pilgrimage was proving to be a great help in accomplishing my objectives.  As we waited for half time the sun began to set and I went outside to capture the image. One of the Eagle’s fan followed me outside with the same goal in mine. As we both stood there absorbing the moment, the calm sea and the tranquil opportunity, he looked over at me and said “when we need a life lift there is always one answer, just go to the water.”

Talk about an aha moment. A complete stranger basically stated in five words the mantra of my life. I wake up every morning, walk to my sliding glass door, open and look at the ocean and it makes me smile. Looking back over my life, my love as a little girl to go to the coast for fish and chips on Sundays. My fascination with Maui and playing in Kapalua Bay for hours. Why when I first moved down here I would go sit on the beach and wonder why I was so afraid to take this leap of faith. My place to find inspiration and answers is along the coast. My favorite night’s sleep is with the window open just to hear the waves crash all night long. (Yes it is true I once told Tisha I felt bad for the ocean as it never gets to rest, it is constantly moving in and out).

Talking Rocks

When my daughter and one of her friends and I walked on the beach one night this past summer, the tide was high and the ocean would roll in over the rocks and as it washed back out the rocks would rattle. I looked at them and said “Can you hear the rocks talking? I am sure it is a message.” I was answered by blank stares. But looking back maybe the shiny stones were trying to tell me the same thing, just go to the water and find your answers.

My frequent flyer miles have really diminished since my relocation and my trips to the airport don’t mirror the past 15 years. There are many reasons why this occurrence has taken place, but I believe the fact that I can stand on my balcony and see palm trees and the ocean, might just make the voice of Maui calling a little fainter.  I do miss the excitement and happiness of having a destination to look forward to in the future.  Plans for at least one real, relaxing, do nothing, Jacky “one activity a day” trip in 2018 needs to become a priority.

In this fast pace world where people focus on achieving success at work or being the perfect parent running around aiding their child in becoming yet another generation of stressed out, anxiety driven humans. Maybe we need to focus more on that gift that sucks the stress out of our bodies. The thing that puts your soul at ease and re-balances your mind and your heart. Maybe it is going to the garden or creating a masterpiece with your hands. From reading a good book to listening to your favorite tunes. Or is it going to the greens and allowing a little round ball to challenge you for 18 holes. Whatever it is, animal, vegetable or mineral, inside or outside, near or far, I say discover your “water” and just go to it!

Creating New Habits, One Day at a Time

“There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.” –  Ronald Reagan

chairWhen one looks up the meaning of resolution, you quickly discover that it lends itself to both positive and negative connotations.  Although, I may not always be successful in the practice, I do try very hard to always to see the glass half full.  Approaching a mission from a positive perspective, has a far better chance for success.

The first month of the new year is complete.  As previously noted in an earlier blog, I am ready to reveal my resolutions for 2018.  I know your day would still come and go without reading my challenge to grow.  But, by publishing my annual aspirations, I have committed to giving this list the old college try.  Luckily, the first 31 days have been a success so I am off to a good start.

This year is dedicated to improving some of my daily habits.  Research has shown that establishing an action into your routine, one must do it for multiple days in a row (one of my favorite books The Happiness Advantage suggests that the magic number is 21 days).  Each month I have chosen a theme and will attempt to change my behavior by simply tricking myself into doing it automatically.  This brings me to the fine line of obsession and habit and their perpendicular cousin procrastination.  However, I elect to address these traits after tackling this list for a few months.

2018 Daily Modifications

January – Walk 10,000 Steps Every Day Measurement Device – Fitbit

My kids gave me a fit bit for Mother’s Day and I have become obsessed with my daily steps. Falling back to my educational training as an economist, I will grant myself measuring success by a weekly average of 70,000 steps. My love of breaking down dilemmas into an average might be my next blog topic.

February – Drink 64 ounces of Water a Day  Measurement Device – Undecided

Keeping track of intake has proven to be an obstacle four days into this exercise. If you visited my living space, one would discover water bottles with sharpie notes.  So far my life becoming a camel is working.  I also have denied myself my friend the average, every day counts.

March – Tell my Kids I love them Daily  Measurement Device – Chart

I am a big fan of charts, just ask my mother.  I love my kids more than life itself.  As they have grown up and headed off to college, I tend to communicate with them less and less. Between calls, texts and an occasional facebook post the day to day banter has diminished.   Be warned my lovelies you will be hearing from your mother in the month of March.

April – Confront One Uncomfortable Task or Obstacle Measurement Device – Undecided

We all have that chore, unreturned phone call, or nagging item on our to-do list, that is just plain unpleasant.  But, as time has proven again and again, once you suck it up and complete it, you feel like the world just got a little brighter.  April is the month of Nike, “Just Do It”.

May – Eat Breakfast Everyday Measurement Device – My Belly

June – Eat One Healthy Meal a Day Measurement Device – See Above

The San Diego County Fair opens June 1st and runs through July, 4th.  Working in a fast paced environment with long hours, daily healthy meals become a luxury.  Hopefully, May will help establish good breakfast habits that will spill into June.

July – Hand Write a Personal Letter or Thank You Note Measurement Device – 31 Envelopes

The old fashion use of pen and paper is not only kind, but sends a message of sincere appreciation.  Rekindling the lost art of penmanship is a step toward better human to human communication.

August – Read 30 Minutes a Day Measurement Device – Page Numbers

Building off July, this task will be sweeter accomplished if the content read comes from an actual magazine or book.  On-line or digital reading is good, but there is a connection when you hold a book in your hands. If you don’t believe me, visit your local library and browse.  It will do you good.

September – Do Something for Myself, EVERYDAY Measurement Device – Calendar

A basic belief of mine is, happiness starts within.  To be the best mom, wife, friend, or employee, you first have to be the best you.  What defines you is not your career or your family, but who you are at your core.  Take care of you and the possibilities are endless.

October – Write 1,667 Words a Day Measurement Device – Word Count

November is National Novel Writing Month and challenges the would-be author to compose 50,000 words.  Breaking that down to a daily average, that would be 1,667 words a day.  Need I say more.

November – Prepare for the Holidays One Day at a Time Measurement Device – List

December – Appreciate Family & Friends Measurement Device – My Heartxmas

If I conquer my quest for November, the most wonderful time of the year should be smooth sailing.

For the record, I did not complete 10,000 steps each and every day in January, but I did easily achieve over 70,000 steps a week.  As Ronald Reagan so eloquently stated, “there are no limits of human intelligence.” I hope by the time we ring in 2019, I discover there are no limits to emotional intelligence, wonder and new habits.

Happy New Year

2018 …… A Time to Groove

Nolan, Kayla & Lilly, not only are you my greatest joy, but three people who just so happen to enjoy music as much as me.  May your 2018 airwaves be full of happiness.H-Fam-48

Today I watched the movie Begin Again… again and it reminded me of January 2015.  I landed in Australia on a new, unknown adventure and found myself a little lost trying to start a new year in the over achiever, goal oriented manner that makes me comfortable.  Feeling under the weather, I splurged on a movie and proceeded to watch it over and over. At one point the music and message inspired me to compose a New Year’s Blog post.

Fast forward three years and here I sit.  Words, better yet, thoughts fill my head (like visions of sugar plums, just kidding).  I challenge myself each year with setting sites for the upcoming 365 days.  Feats of purpose, new skills, and discovery are all items up for grabs.  Focusing on the positive is always a must and in 2015 I even veered off track to write myself a recipe for a successful year.

So where is my head for my 51st New Year?  Well, I have an idea on what I would like to achieve, complete with a formula (math and averages will help accomplish the goal). But today, I am not going to share my 2018 ambitions, no I have something better in mind.

Just like the movie Begin Again, music inspires my soul.  Being a believer in that your day is as good as the music that plays on your way to work, I find energy in generations of tunes.  If you don’t believe me ask Skyler, she sat across from me for years, and 6 am is a great time to turn the speakers up and take a “Smoke Break” or reflect on the “Record Year” you might be experiencing.

So here is my remedy to insure a smile on your face, an extra skip in your step and a perspective of this world that isn’t always so bright to help you discover the sun. Grab your device, get on Itunes, and construct the following playlist, hit repeat and if you aren’t dancing around your room then well, I give up!

2018 Playlist of Happiness

1 – Can’t Stop This Feeling – the one and only JT – Just Imagine. Hit play and I dare you to stop that feeling.

2 – Play That Song – Train –Train has been one of my true favorites and brings back many memories.  When the right song is played, it surely makes my day, so hey Mr. Dj when you gonna spin it?

3 – Come Fly With Me – My boy Frank Sinatra – Life is about experiences and nothing is better than a trip (anywhere).  I hope to fly to new and old places in 2018.

4 – God Only Knows  – Beach Boys – It has been a rough couple of months for the Central Coast of California.  The heartbreak you watch others experience remind you of the real gifts in your life, people.  Your family and friends are your everything, make sure they know it each and every day.

5 – Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters – Elton John – Every play list needs some Elton and a little whimsy.  Not the most upbeat song, yet I do thank the Lord that there are people out there like you.

6 – Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey – Never, ever, ever stop believing.  Dreams, beliefs and faith keep this ole planet circling the sun.

7 – All the Pretty Girls – Kenny Chesney – I have three special young ladies graduating this year from high school (Payton, Julia and Hannah). My wish is you go out and set this world on fire (I know Kenny sang that song too, but I like All the Pretty Girls more). Actually, it is a pretty cool tune too, feel free to add it to your playlist.

8 – That’s What I Like – Bruno Mars – Champagne on ice, need I say more and I dare you to listen and not find yourself moving.

9 – You Don’t Know How it Feels – Tom Petty – We never truly know what is it like to walk in anthers’ shoes.  Trust me the grass in hardly ever greener.

10 – Dancing in the Moonlight – King Harvest – There is nothing better than dancing in the moonlight.  Be it with others or alone, it gets your final steps in for the day and guarantees a good nights sleep.

11 – Still the Same – Sugarland – New song with a fabulous message. “I feel alive, and can we try, to leave it better than how it came, don’t be afraid to change, our love is still the same.” Face it not to many vocals are as powerful and unique as Jennifer Nettles.

12 – Do I Make You Wanna – Billy Currington – Basically I hope my little writing exercise made you ponder doing something daring, spontaneous, and delightful in 2018. Do I make you wanna?

I am so excited to see what 2018 has in store for me and “my” people.  And in the famous words of Dr. Seuss -“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

 

Taking A Que from a Fork in the Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Navigation Tools for Change

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

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

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

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

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Before and after chairs.

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

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

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

Hau`oli Lā Hānau Bubba

(translation – Happy Birthday Brandy)

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

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

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

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

The Playlist of Brando

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just Another Night

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

#PFN – Potential Future Nonsense

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The beach below Cardiff is my new desk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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