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. (

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 ( and 2018 (  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.

IMG_0990 copy
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.

File Oct 09, 9 35 19 PM
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.)

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