Saturday, July 31, 2010

Practically perfect in every way...

“When you realize how perfect everything is
you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”

Friday, July 30, 2010

Husband and Life

My neighbor was out front washing his car as I was taking my trash cans out the other night. "Bet you wish you had a husband to do that for you, huh?" he yelled out.
I looked around. "Are you talking to me?" I asked. I continued, "I had a husband for 23 years...I took the trash cans out then too!"
We laughed. Of course, I wasn't kidding. But wheeling the trash bins out once a week is the last thing I need a spouse for! Come on, it takes a total of 12 seconds and requires no strength and/or brain power whatsoever!
But I will say now, after five years of being single, there are a few things I wouldn't mind having a little help with:
1. The remote controls. Seriously, I have three televisions, two DVD players, a DVR, a VCR (and a partridge in a pear tree!) For some reason, I STILL need THREE remotes to watch a freaking movie. I KNOW, right?!
2. My finances. For the love of God, I hate keeping track of money! I hate bills, checkbooks, credit cards, recurring debits, the stock market and all things attached to the word 'account'. I have taken financial education classes, downloaded Suze Orman to my iPod and have spent multiple lunches with my tax man and my investment broker. It's still a struggle. (I will say though, I have succeeded in turning my investment guy into a baseball fan, and he did let me drive his 911 once, so it hasn't been a total loss.)
3. Car maintenance. Oil, water, coolant. Belts, hoses, filters. Fuses, cylinders, spark plugs. Inflated, rotated, balanced. Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Oh, and car insurance, registration and SMOG CHECKS?! Thank God for 'Mac' down at the Jiffy Lube. I stop there once a month or so and he happily fills my tires or changes a fuse. Oh, and he asks me out on a date every single time. (PS I always kindly say no. But he keeps asking.)
4. Yeah, you know #4. I would LOVE to have someone to kiss (a lot) and maybe watch a little baseball with. And then kiss some more. Yep. THAT I'd like.

But as far as taking the trash cans out...Please! I will gladly take the trash out, make dinner, do laundry, clean the house and call his exchange for a little help in the other areas.
Especially #4.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's all about the journey

Although they each had what they wanted the whole time,
it was the journey that helped them discover what they had.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fairly Reliable

Took my nephew, Elijah, to the Orange County Fair for his very first time!
A little snack at the Heart Attack Cafe? No way!
But, damn, it sounds delicious!
Riding the elephant is ALWAYS the highlight of the OC Fair!
(And Elijah liked it too...)
SUCH a great day.

Headed to the Fair!

Wanna share a funnel cake?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

If I were a man...

a. I’d never wear a Hawaiian shirt (or a tee shirt under it!)

b. Make sure my toe nails looked good before I wore sandals (and never wear socks with them!)

c. Get rid of my moustache!

d. Update my glasses

e. Figure out a way to grow hair thicker

f. Watch my weight

g. Never wear jewelry

h. Put the toilet seat down

i. Never show up empty handed at someone’s home

(And, I would NEVER wear a Hawaiian Shirt!!!)

Interestingly, as a woman...I already do all of these things.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I can't get no...oh, yes I can!

For years I remember always wishing I was the woman sitting alone in the coffee house reading a book. Having been the oldest of five kids and having two of my own by 21, I don't think I could have thought of anything more relaxing and enjoyable than drinking a cup of coffee and having time to read--and being by myself.
As years went by I would see a woman sitting alone in a restaurant reading the paper or going over notes or writing in a journal and I always admired these women--they had their own life and they were taking care of themselves. I envied them.
Self nurturing is bit of a struggle for most of us who were raised to admire our grandmothers who had 8 kids or our parents who "sacrificed their own happiness" for their childrens'. We were raised to believe that taking care of ourselves on the inside and the out meant that we were selfish or self-serving. Of course, it was rarely really an option anyway.
The last five years has been a journey of self discovery soaked in self nurturing for me. That doesn't mean that I sit in a bathtub with candles glowing in the room (though I do.) It means I have taken small steps toward finding out what truly makes me happy...and that I have (joyfully) allowed myself to take those steps every day.
I've finally learned to take care of myself on the INSIDE too. I have been able to take the time to recognize and forgive myself for ignorant actions in my past, which has allowed me to live calmly, constructively and cheerfully in the present.
I have learned to work both the successes and the disappointments in my life for good! I have dreams and goals and hopes and desires--for ME--and I not only allow them happen, I work toward those goals on a daily basis. I am my own biggest cheerleader!
I have love and joy and peace...and I know how to live life to the fullest. Every single day.
It starts by realizing that it's not only OK to take care of yourself, but that it is VITAL! When I feel good physically and mentally I am full of happiness and joy which leads to peace and, harmony and, ultimately, deep satisfaction.
So these days, I take long baths--often with a glass of wine--(ok, usually a beer), I go to yoga or take a walk. I sit on my patio and read or take my self out to coffee or breakfast with the Sunday LA Times. And I think and breathe...and I smile.
This is exactly where I always wanted to be.
I am healthy. I am happy. I am very well taken care of.
And oh so satisfied.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010 on my side

I've spent most of my life around lots of people and staying really busy. I am the oldest of five kids and by age 21 was married with two kids of my own. I was always taking care of a house and a family, and was constantly working as well as going to school. I YEARNED for spare time...for free time...for time to relax! I had lists of things I wished I could do if it weren't for the laundry to wash, the meals to cook, the camps to run, the house to clean and the kids to drive from here to there. forward to January 2005 when I was PLUNGED into a valley--no, a desert--of free time. It was as if God said, "You want time alone? OK, my dear, get ya go."
I have likened it to being at the mall and you see a million things you want to buy...but you don't have any money. You tell yourself, "When I get the money, I'm coming back and getting this!" Then you receive a generous gift card, and you head back.
And you can't find anything you want!
And so it was for me at the beginning of this new season of life. My friends would say, "You can do anything you like now!" I would scream, "I have no idea what I like!" They'd ask me what my hobbies were. Seriously? I had not had a "hobby" since I did one needlepoint project in 1978...what did I do in my free time since then? Sleep!
This new alone/spare/free time was absolute torture. I was totally bored and completely lost. I did not have any idea how to live alone, because I never had. It was painful to shop and cook for one. And it was nearly impossible to fill the empty hours and days! For me, it was a whole lot easier and more comfortable to run a household and be really busy.
My counselor kept telling me that this time was a vital part of my healing process (DEAR GOD did I hate hearing that) She'd say, "I promise you, you will not regret this day you will look back at this alone time and see it for what it really is--a gift."
It took several months of adjusting...but I gradually began to understand, and even appreciate being on my own. Six months into single hood and I began to kinda LIKE it! I was just taking care of ME and I had never taken care of me at all before. By the end of that first year, I really was comfortable being alone. I started going to the movies in the afternoon, grabbing a book and camping out at Starbucks and I became a master of the "single person's dream dinners": Pop Tarts & Pinot, Cheerios & Corona, Peanut butter & Patron, Hotcakes and Heineken. No recipe books, no prep time, very little clean up and easily eaten in front of the TV--and totally fun to blog about.
So now, after five years of single living, this life feels very normal. I pretty much do whatever I want to do. I go for a walk, or I don't. I clean the house, or I don't. Sometimes I put my pajamas on at 4 in the afternoon and sit on the balcony and read a whole book. Other times, I sit and watch an entire season of TV on DVD. I've learned to be more spontaneous and, though I still don't totally enjoy it, I even know how to relax! I have hosted multiple holiday gatherings, showers, dinner parties (SO much easier to cook for EIGHT!) and have made a meal in my beautiful home for nearly every person in my life! I have not only figured out what I love to do--I now do it! I've become a regular at the gym and the local restaurants, I sneak off for a movie in the middle of the afternoon, I go to as many baseball games as possible and have literally traveled the world! More than anything else, I have fun and I laugh...and I truly enjoy every single day.
I've gotten really good mileage out of this "free time gift card" I was given. And I don't have to wait to look back...I already appreciate it much more than I ever thought I could.

Still, I gotta be honest...I'm really hoping that one of these days...the card runs out.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Empty nest? Come fly with me!

I always tell people that my children are great, grown, and gone. College graduates, living out on their own--one in Los Angeles, the other in either Newport Beach or Africa! They are independent, productive members of society--and on top of all that--they are really enjoyable people to be with.
If I do say so myself, “I done good.”
Each of them also has their own hopes and dreams.
And I have mine. Not for them. For me.
I haven't experienced a syndrome of “empty nest." Although I was the one who ‘flew the coop’ a few years ago--my kids were already in their 20s. At that point I realized that my happiness had to be independent of my children’s lives. And they appreciate this too, by the way. They love knowing that in addition to the great joy I have in being their mother, I am enjoying a rich and incredibly fulfilling life.
I would go so far as to say that I believe this freedom is somewhat of a reward for a job well done! I don’t think the second half of life has any sort of syndrome at all. Along with most women in my stage of life, my days are filled with an enjoyable and highly rewarding job. My evenings are filled with experiences at new restaurants, fun classes and being a part of a variety of events with my good friends. My vacations have taken me out of the country three out of the last four years and I'm busy planning this year's European excursion already. I am loving the fact that I now have the time to cultivate friendships and relationships like I never could before.
Empty Nest Syndrome? Come on! There's so much good stuff left to do! We've only just begun! No syndrome should even be allowed! Just the term “empty nester” sounds depressing to me. Like you're sitting in the nest hoping that the little birds come by for a worm. That’s just not me. I'm rarely at the nest...and God knows, even if I am, I'm surely not sitting.
I am wondering if perhaps the syndrome might just be fading away with my generation. The generation who always worked, had careers and were encouraged to have outside interests as we raised our children. Seems like we are far healthier and (dare I say) happier than our mothers and grandmothers were at the same point in their lives. We have more direction, deep desires and the determination to live the next half of our lives pursuing our own dreams! Our new dreams! We are re-feathering our nests with what makes US happy and patting ourselves on the back for encouraging--and allowing--our kids to fly on their own.
And, man...are we are loving the feeling of our own ride!
My children are--no doubt--my greatest accomplishment in life. They now have their own nests, their own flight paths, and their own destinations. They know that the nest is still here, though a bit smaller now (and really clean) if they ever need a place to land and a quick worm or two. But in the mean time, I know that they really love the fact that I am out there flying high and soaring on my own.
Empty Nest? No way!!
This nest is FULL of great things!'s just a place to land in between beautiful flights. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A cut above the rest...

When I was little, my mom was an expert seamstress. She made beautiful dresses and outfits for me and my sisters. We loved to match and, of course, we always looked adorable.
What this really meant though, is that we spent a lot of time in fabric stores...and THAT, I really liked. I loved wandering through the stores, looking at the endless bolts of colored and patterned fabrics. I immersed myself in the 'pattern books', enjoying page after page while helping my mom pick out the outfits I wanted her to make for us! (Some had matching head scarfs--Hello! STYLE!!) But what I loved the most was watching the ladies who worked at the stores as they cut the material.
After running the beautiful, fresh-smelling fabric through the little machine to be accurately measured, they would take what seemed like 'magic scissors', gliding them through the material to cut the fabric with perfection.
...I freaking LOVED watching that! Wish I'd had a camera back then--you know I would have blogged about it.
But I did something even better. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said that I wanted to be "a lady who cuts material." Yep. Big dreams for a little kid. For years I watched and took mental notes on how I would someday hold those magical scissors in my own hands.
And, at 14, my dream became reality! Taking a job at the local five and dime (that's a line that doesn't get written too often anymore) I was first a stock girl, then a cashier and then...a lady who cuts material.
It was everything I dreamed of. It really was! I helped people choose patterns, I assisted them in finding appropriate fabric and then...I cut their material! Seriously, I freaking loved it.
Funny thing is, I took sewing for one semester in high school and got a C in the class. I only made one thing that was wearable and never could quite figure out sleeves or zippers or button holes.
But damn, could I CUT that material.

Monday, July 19, 2010

(Almost) Nothing makes me happier...

EVERY SINGLE DAY, when I get home, I run down my front steps to see if there is anything for me out on my front porch. (I come in the back door.)
Seriously, I LOVE LOVE LOVE having a package waiting for me!

My African American Daughter...

returns today. I am sure she's already planning her next trip "home"...
Check out her Kenya blog HERE

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Go forward in the direction of your dreams...

...I've marked every one of the places I've seen (so far)
....only about 800 more to go...
Spent time tonight planning my September trip to Europe...
gonna (very happily) click off MANY MANY more...


My friend, Sharel, sponsors a fund raiser each year for her CHEERS Charity. CHEERS stands for Combining Hearts & Efforts to Empower, Rebuild and Serve. Sharel and her team assist orphans and refugees in Uganda.
This year's event was a wine tasting and art show...
...ok, enough wine for you!
Sharel, Elisa and Kathie and I all went to high school together!
Sharel actually took the photographs that are on the wall behind us. And Elisa took home BOTH top prizes--a trip to New York City and a trip to Ohau! Sharel does such a great job with these events and assists so many through her efforts. And, hey, if I can lend a hand by tasting wine, I am always there to do my part. Love these night. Love these people!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Knock knock

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities
brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”

~Charles Swindoll

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ch ch ch changes...

If I am ever asked for advice, and for some reason, I often am, "stop complaining" is usually the first thing I offer...followed closely by, "and make a change."
I found out I was pregnant in February of 1982. I was 18. Within a couple of weeks, I was married. And the rest, as they say,'s history for sure. My history. Two kids by 21, working the 6am waitress shift for 15 years while gradually chipping away at my bachelor's degree, keeping the cleanest house on the block, making dinner every night, being the gracious hostess, hardest working wife and NO DOUBT the best mother on the planet. Well, in South Orange County, for sure.
I was married from the time I was 18 til I was just a few months shy of my 42nd birthday. Sounds like no big deal when you look back at it as one big piece of time. I remember though, the many days, months and years of getting up at 4am (I still do this today and it NEVER gets easier), running through an 8 hour shift at Coco's, getting off just in time to pick up the kids from school, arriving home to start homework and then get my son to little league or karate and my daughter to dance or girl scouts....then get home to make dinner, finish homework, start baths, get the kids to sleep and fall into bed to get up at 4 am and do it all again.
I am sure I complained. It was tough. But it was my life...and, overall, I really loved it.
The key is, even if you can't change a situation, you can always change your perspective. You can definitely change your attitude. You can change the way you look at things and find that there's SO much good and so much to be gleaned from every season of living. I learned to accept where I was, and made the very best of it.
I loved my exhausting and not-so-glamorous counter waitress job. I loved that I was able to go to school a couple of days a week and had HOPED to graduate before my 40th birthday. (I was 37 on graduation day in 2000.) I loved keeping a clean, organized house and being the very good wife. And, I absolutely enjoyed every minute of being mom to my two intelligent, fun, happy, friendly, active, incredible children.
I made the best of the cards I was dealt. I played my hand well. No regrets.
Then the kids were grown, and I started to complain. I knew it was time to make a change.
And it was a big one.
As I look back on the five and a half years since I left my marriage I realize that I have, no doubt, complained a bit about things. It's not exactly what I thought it would be. It's been tough. Learning to really enjoy living alone has been the most difficult part. But it's my life! And, overall, I really love it!
And what is my choice at this point? To complain? To blame the past for where I am? To cry, to whine, to bitch, moan and wish it different?
If I have learned anything in at this point, it is that you can accept where you are right now, without complaints, with just a little change in perspective and attitute. I have made a change in the way I look at things. And it makes all the difference in the world.
I can do anything I want at this point in life. I love my job. I love my home. I really love my new car. I control the TV, I eat (or don't eat) what and when I want to. I can sit and read a book all day, go to a movie in the afternoon, or spend two hours at Target or TJ Maxx or Barnes & Noble. I can pay someone else to wash my car, spend too much money on baseball tickets and fly to Paris for a Fall getaway. And I can sit in front of the TV in my PJs --with a beer--watching the Dodgers at 4 in the afternoon. I'm telling ya, it ain't a bad deal.
Hey, I'm making the best of those cards I was dealt. No regrets allowed at this point.
And, I know too, that when I start complaining, it's time to make a change.
Sometimes the change is major and life altering. But most of the time, change is just climbing over to the other side and looking at things in a different way. Either way, if you're going to complain, it's time for a change.
Oh, yeah, and remember too, no matter what...
this, too, shall pass.
You may as well enjoy it while it's here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Light up the halo!

My dad and I at Angel Stadium...before the gates even opened!
Got to watch BOTH batting practices!! I honestly had tears in my eyes at several points during the day...I was so very happy!! I am SO glad we were able to be there.
A FABULOUS night for a ballgame! For a baseball lover...sheer heaven.
Great seats, great game, great company...
It was all I thought it would be...and more.
Oh, plus the National League won...and Broxton got the save.
I'm a believer again.

I've gotta feeling....

Tonight's gonna be a good night...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Goodbye Jose...

Our Banquet Director, Jose, will be leaving to join the team at the Deer Valley location!

No secret to why I love my job.
We will miss you, Jose

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Letter to my younger self...

It yet another of my 'self healing' books, the author suggests writing a letter to your younger self. After working on it for a couple of days, I have realized that it is actually a list of things I wish someone had told me when I was a little girl. Amazingly, they are things I still need to tell myself today.
Here goes:

Dear Julie,
I am writing to you from the year 2010! Oh yeah, it's awesome here in the 21st thing you'll really love is that all your albums and 45s will be on a pocket-sized gadget called an "iPod". No, I'm serious! You'll be able to play any song you want in the press of a button! You'll also carry a phone in your pocket and will be able to communicate with people in any part of the world in a split second through your home computer (which you will hold in your lap!)
Enough of that...I don't want to ruin all the mystery. But I would like to tell you a few things that might just help you become even stronger and happier than you are right now.

1. Oh Julie--you are so beautiful! You are so smart! You are loveable! You have an amazing sense of humor and people really like you!
(Did I mention that you are beautiful?!)
2. Trust your instincts! If it doesn't feel right, it's not.
3. Be in the senior class play and go on the Hawaii trip after graduation.
Trust me, you will regret not doing these two things for the rest of your life.
4. Say NO when you want to say no. Don't do ANYTHING you don't want to do! You can DO and BE anything you want to be!
5. Keep that nickel between your knees.
6. Ditch the baby oil and wear sunscreen!
7. If he's a jerk at 17, he will be a jerk at 37.
(Grumpy old men were grumpy young men!)
9. If you get a tattoo-for the love of God get the Dodgers logo. Please!

10. Take care of Julie-she is spectacular!

Love, Your future self,

PS Seriously, put the Pop Tart down!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

10 things I DON'T like about myself...and will begin to work on immediately!

Part two of the exercise is making a list of 10 things you don't like about yourself. Actually, it's really an awareness thing--acknowledging things about yourself that you want to improve on, then writing them down and then--at least--becoming aware of when and why you do them.
Ultimately, these are things I don't like about myself:
  1. I cuss WAY too much. It's really not funny and FAR beyond excusable. The 'f' word is nothing but an adjective to me and is used to describe everything from the weather to my house payment to the Dodgers. I need a damn thesaurus. (oops)
  2. I am EXTREMELY defensive. If you tell me that I am doing something wrong or that I made a bad decision or even that the American League is better than the National--I WILL become defensive. Oh Lord. I know. I need to work on this one.
  3. I interrupt people. In my defense (joke), let me tell you, my brain never stops. I have so much to say and I want to be sure you don't miss it. I am REALLY aware of this and PROMISE to get better at keeping my mouth shut.
  4. I have a VERY hard time letting go, getting over things and moving on. I beat myself up and am upset for weeks, months, YEARS! Then I beat myself up for taking so long to let go. I am learning to 'detach'... and that, I think, is the key.
  5. Along those same lines, I WAY over analyze and over think EVERYTHING. I look at the same old issues in 50 alternate ways wondering what went wrong. I recall every word of every single conversation trying to figure out what I could have said that would have made things different.
  6. I can't seem to get into a regular workout routine. I will go REALLY well for a couple of months and then I go a few times a week, then once or twice a week. Sometimes, after running 10-12 miles at work, I just freaking collapse when I get home. I KNOW a regular trip to the gym is the best thing for me. Gotta get back on that horse.
  7. My butt and thighs. Seems no matter how much weight I lose or how much I work out, there will always be junk in the trunk...and in the saddlebags. Perhaps a certain amount of ACCEPTANCE is what's needed in this area. I mean those areas.
  8. I am too nice. I avoid confrontation. I don't say what I really want to say sometimes because I don't want to hurt anyone...and so they will LIKE me. Believe me, being too nice can come back and bite you in the ass. Maybe just a little advice from John Mayer on this one: Say what you mean to say.
  9. I am often afraid to trust my gut or to go with my instincts. SO often, this becomes a regret that I can't get over. And I'm too nice to do anything about it. Damn it!
  10. I trust too quickly, fall too hard, and love WAY too much. I know that when balanced with a little less defensiveness, a lot more honesty and better use of my instincts, these things are actually admiral attributes.
Gonna print this out and glue it in my journal...
I feel better already.

Tomorrow--10 things I wish I could tell my younger self.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

10 things I like about myself

I have read SO many 'self-healing' books in the last few years, you would think that I'd be absolutely PERFECT by now.
Not so.
There was an exercise in one of my books today that I thought was pretty interesting: as a bit of self reflection the author suggests writing down 10 things you like about yourself.
And, in a little self improvement project, a list of 10 things you don't really like about yourself--or would at least like to work on.
Here's part one--things I like about myself.
  1. I am a very strong woman. I can build anything, fix anything, move anything, learn anything, cook up anything...and I keep on keeping on.
  2. I'm a good aunt, daughter, sister and friend. And a GREAT mom.
  3. I am the healthiest I have ever been. I am very disciplined with my diet and I'm back in my size 4 suits.
  4. I have a terrific memory--everything from songs to dates to people's names and more.
  5. I own my home and have zero debt. My car is paid for.
  6. I have incredible energy.
  7. I'm a pretty good writer. And a very good reader.
  8. I love adventure, activity, going places, doing things and LOVE traveling!
  9. I am genuinely happy 98% of the time. And I'm really nice!
  10. I have a good sense of humor. I love to laugh and make people laugh.
OK! Yeah! I like this list!
A little self-love goes a very long way.

Tomorrow--things I need to work on...

Life is Good

These are the good ol' days!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Everything is fine...

Yesterday I had one of the best days at work--ever. Yep, it was July 4th, another holiday that I had to "suit up" for...but I loved every single minute of it. We were super busy, everyone was really happy, the weather was almost perfect and I was in my element.
You know that feeling you get after being sick for a long time? You feel a little bit better each day and then you finally wake up one morning and say, "I'm not sick anymore! I feel good again!"
I'm there.
Oh, and I'm going to the Dodgers game tonight with some old and new friends!
Ahh, the icing on the cake!
It is, indeed, a brand new day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Root root root for the Dodgers.
(It's so much more fun when we're winning!)