Monday, November 18, 2013

I figured out the women of Paris

And it isn't that they don't get fat!

I like to observe people and how they live. I find people fascinating! Why do they do whatever it is they are doing. What ARE they doing?
Recently, I was in Paris with hubby. Traveling with a husband you normally spend only half of your time with can be interesting. We haven't spent this much time together since our honeymoon. And, a beach/chill honeymoon is very different than a hurried and less romantic trip to Amsterdam and Paris - but that's another story. Back to people of Paris.

Paris is full of fabulous people. Even the garbage men are attractive in a way only a Parisian garbage man can be. The women and their looks, shoes and overall air is remarkable. Then there are the men. Handsome and pretty metro-sexual in suits or jeans- and make both options look fabulous! Even the children make us Americans feel less fabulous. The clothing ads show children with their pouts. The toddler in his stroller with his fabulous hat and scarf being walked by his equally impressive parents.

Everyone is slightly fabulous, this is obvious. But after a while I could help notice differences beyond their obvious fabulousness and my lack thereof.

Parisian women and American women in my opinion have differences in three main areas:
  • Makeup
  • Jewelry
  • Expressions
The makeup - I couldn't help but notice how beautiful all these French women looked (and very similar to how beautiful the women in Amsterdam were too). Yes, they may claim to wear less makeup, but it is really HOW they wear it that makes the difference. They do not wear eye makeup the way we do; if they wear it at all, and I don't mean some of the women, I mean all of them from high school aged to adults. Mascara...yes. Eyeliner...sometimes. Eyeshadow...almost never unless they all wear a secret nude shade that makes them all look marvelous. No, I'm pretty sure my eye makeup gave me away, unless my other faults did so first.

The jewelry - They wear it, just not like us. Not many gaudy necklaces or blingy watches. Don't get me wrong, I love my sparkly Michael Kors watch and the necklaces that seem to say "Hello" without screaming it; but even that was much more than the Parisian women. Then there were the wedding rings. You know how "bigger is better" for rocks in the US? Well, not at all the case in France. IF a woman wore a ring, it was just one and more often than not it was a single gold band. No comparing sparkles with friends, no "Oh let me see that rock!" after an engagement. Just simple and still beautiful rings on the fabulous married women of Paris.

Then the expressions - the one thing I could never change about myself. They aren't very expressive. Sure they can do that Paris-pout but what about laughter, excitement or disgust and not the Parisian's disgust with American tourists we all imagine, but the lip-curling, eye-rolling, head-turning disgust we Americans do not even try to hide? I see none of it! I watch and listen and wait -  on trains, at restaurants and elsewhere I see and hear none of it! I laughed out loud (LOLed if you will)  at a cafe and felt immediately embarrassed! With Americans, we laugh, we giggle and yes, we even roll our eyes with not much worry that it is inappropriate. I have a very tough time not showing my feelings on my face - even when I am actively trying (just ask my former boss who had multiple sit-down meetings with me about my involuntary facial expressions and her disgust with them...I HAVE TRIED!).

Ah well, I guess my Midwest-Cowgirl hybrid of America has no interest in turning French although I do like the makeup style. But I liked that first and most in the Amsterdam pancake restaurant when the beautiful women were so friendly and beautiful. But my subtle bling and facial expressions are going no where!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

How the other half fly

Actually, it is probably more like the other 10 percent. I say 10 percent because there are like 200 seats in coach and about 20 in business or first class. So yes...10 percent sounds right for a lot of reasons; but I digress.

I have flown first class before; going from AZ to OH or NY. Don't get me wrong, it's nice, but nothing so outrageous that I would actually consider pay for a first class fare...ever!

Then we went to Europe first class. From Seattle to Amsterdam, we sat in Business Class on Delta. First off, Delta won my heart on a recent trip to OH when the gate agents were so kind it made my long day much better, followed by the flight attendant asking if I was old enough to sit in the exit row! Delta rocks in my book!
We walk in the cabin and are greeted with mimosas, which is always a quick way to my heart. Then hubby - who had been dreaming of a first class international flight since we went to the airlines - showed me how to recline my seat so I was lying comfortably flat. Oh Happy Day! 

Then the on-demand TV in my seat welcomed me to the aircraft. After the four-course of not-too-bad food, good drinks, and putting on my slippers, eye covers and ear plugs, I was ready to get our 30th Birthday Europe Trip underway!

We had the same deal on the way home, plus the AMAZING, UNREAL views when we flew over Greenland! Breathtaking!

So no, I don't think I can ever fly coach on a long flight again. A nine hour flight is bad enough, but if you are a nervous flyer who cannot sleep unless you are lying down, the 10 percent experience is pretty amazing. Delta, you may have ruined me for all other airlines!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Annnnd I'm BACK!

The last month or so has been a blur. I met my good friend in Portland, OR for a fun girls weekend. That was followed by the long-planned 30th birthday trip to Europe with hubby. I can't believe it is halfway through October. It sounds so old, but serious, where did the time go?

Portland was pretty fantastic. I had some long days that week so I was able to sneak out of work early on Friday and take a flight to the rainy city. Only problem was, the flights looked terrible! I've learned to chill (the f#$^) out when flying standby, but even hubby was stressing from whatever airport he was stuck in due to bad weather. It was my first time doing the ZED fare (paying a fee much less than a ticket to fly standby on another approved airline) but I was a fan! It was a direct, albeit very bumpy, two hour flight.

It is amazing how much I still freak out when I fly. My logical side wants to point and laugh, but the second the bumps start to get a little bit bigger, I go white-knuckle.

Anyway, there I am in rainy, friendly Portland! I found our amazing hotel (great location and I would seriously hire their interior designer if I had money) and one of my best friends who I hadn't seen since my wedding! After downing a bottle of champagne (I claim 2/3 of it) and talking so much we had to force ourselves to stop so we could actually have dinner before the restaurants closed.

After our long and amazing dinner at Andina (seriously amazing Tapas restaurant in the hip Pearl district) we both decided that if forced, we could happily move to Portland, OR.

Day two brought a few more fun things, and one not so fun. A slight, but lasting, champagne headache. Cruse you, Champagne! Our brunch at Mothers Bistro was equally awesome as our dinner the night before, but had one additional piece of awesome - our waiter. I was sure he was taking the (seriously, not joking) outrageously good press coffee intravenously he had so much energy and was just "on it" with everything. He didn't miss a beat; he was funny, cool, charming, energetic, knew everything, honest, etc. So when we ask, he tells us he is into this energy "thing" and I say "thing" like this because I can't remember or articulate what exactly it was, but I remember it triggered something in my brain. I realized what makes Portland so unique.

Now I only spent 1.5 days in Portland, but I am pretty sure I nailed one specific thing about Portland locals. They are are serious about their passions. It doesn't matter if it is press coffee (ya, that definitely got that right), natural energy, candles, furniture, beer, food, interior design, mass transit, or happily dealing with downpours, they know what it is that they care about (and it may not be mainstream) and they go all-in every time.

This is probably why Portland is so endearing. The food scene is nationally known, and rightfully so. But don't let it fool you. The rest of Portland is just as alert and focused as their chefs. They are working hard and making whatever it is they care about shine like a diamond.

On our last and fittingly perfect evening, we dined at Blue Hour, a highly-recommended spot from my NYC foodie brother. It did not disappoint. The food, atmosphere and staff were so warm, surprising and delightful that I wish I could go back without a flight.

Go to Portland; discover its wonderful people, and find out what this one-of-a-kind city can mean to you.

I will leave you with this lasting comment from a Saturday morning lady about my age...
As my friend and I were leaving brunch, my champagne headache still hanging on, two ladies were walking behind us when one said, "I didn't drink enough last night!," to which I leaned over to my friend and said "...said no one ever," followed by the girl catching our attention and saying the exact same thing to us and laughing...then we all four laughed about it. The two hungover ones (me and chatty Kathy behind us) and our two alert friends who wish we would snap out of it!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

12 Years and a World Away

September 11, 2013 isn't a particularly special other than being the 12 year anniversary of 9/11/01 when the Twin Towers fell, the Pentagon was hit, and a commercial airliner was brought down in a Pennsylvania field by some courageous passengers, and our country felt exposed, violated, seriously wounded and more patriotic than ever before.

I was a college freshman at Kent State University in northeast Ohio on this day 12 years ago. I sat through my second week of freshman English with about 15 other freshman - all of us oblivious to what was happening a few states away. We all walked from that class on to what was next - for me it was a break so I stopped by my dorm room. My roommate was like a statue; shocked and on the phone with her parents she pointed towards the TV which was playing the only thing on any channel, the smoking tower of the World Trade Center that had been hit. At this time the thought was it was a freak airplane accident. As we watched, we learned along with the rest of the world, that it was no freak accident when a second plane slammed into the other tower. The rest literally is history, but those crystal-clear memories are etched into all of our minds.

What I never could have expected 12 years ago is where I am today. I do remember thinking what the horror must have been for those airplane passengers as they realized what was unfolding, or in the case of Flight 93, the courage of those passengers to protect the rest of us by making the ultimate sacrifice. How did their families feel when they got the call on-board and hung up the phone before storming the cockpit to take back control? I never thought of the crew. I never knew I would have to think of the crew.

But now half of my world is the crew and I freeze with the horror thinking of what EVERY commercial pilot and their loved ones felt on that day. They lost their loved ones, their colleagues, their passion for aviation. I can't let myself imagine it too much without coming undone.

Then I look around my desk at work and feel an enormous sense of pride for my colleagues. I work in PR for first responders. Paramedics, EMTs and firefighters are my colleagues and I have tremendous respect for them; not just on 9/11 each year. But I feel a sense of pride that they allow me to be part of their world. They sacrifice so the rest of us can be safe.

Today, I cherish my conversations with my pilot before and after his flights just a little more. Today, I can't say enough about what first responders give so the rest of us may sleep at night. Some of us are just lucky enough to sit on the sidelines near these people and closely orbit around their humble greatness.

I hardly doubt my generation will grow old without another "Where were you when..." moment . I hope we can reach old age without one. I hope our children can grow up in a world where they don't have one. I know for the most part all of that is out of my control, but what I can control is living today, tomorrow and the next and not taking for granted what so many others were robbed of, or what they gave so the rest of us may live. 

Respect your first responders, thank them for working 24 hours straight and not seeing their families for Christmas or birthday's, and for always answering the call. And fly with kindness because that crew is someone's whole world and you never know when they may become more than a hassle to your day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A 25-minute flight

Last week hubby and I decided it was necessary to get a different vehicle; time to get rid of the Corolla and get something we can load our pups in and go camping, and a Corolla just won't do well off-roading. We found a great Subaru but it was in Flagstaff and we live in Phoenix. I am definitely more motivated by a great vehicle than a long drive. So, I assumed we would drive together to Flagstaff, get the car, and each would drive back to Phoenix. Long day, but worth it. I was wrong.

So we flew...from Phoenix to Flagstaff. I didn't even know there were flights from Phoenix to Flagstaff, let alone several flights every day. So at 6 a.m. we woke up, headed to the airport (through some serious rain) and hopped a flight to Flagstaff to look at a car. Who does that?!?!

After a very long, very bumpy, very rainy 25-minute flight, we arrived in cool and cloudy Flagstaff. Thank goodness we loved the car because I was not looking forward to flying back through those bumpy all! While hubby sleeps on bumpy flights, I cringe and grip to anything...not sure why I think grabbing something will help stop the bumps, but driving two hours in the rain sounded way better than the flight!

So the flight was totally worth it after 15 minutes with hubby driving his new-ish vehicle. He loved it and that made it all worth it. That, and the fact we made it back home in time to watch football!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Let's drive instead!

Five years ago, when hubby and I had just moved in together, we decided it would be a great idea to buy a 11 p.m....after drinking a little bit. Most of my best decisions happen with that type of lead-up. So for five years, our little tent waited, and waited and waited to go camping. This past weekend, it finally got its chance.

Seriously, how did it take us five years to go camping? I may never fully understand. So anyway, hubby gets home from his trip on Saturday afternoon and starts to pack up everything we will need for our one-night camping expedition. Who knew you needed SO MUCH stuff to camp for one night?

Sunday morning, at 5 a.m., hubby wakes up (picture a little boy on Christmas morning...he couldn't sleep the night before and woke up with so much dang energy I about smothered him with a pillow) and our dogs, our loaded car, and the two of us hit the road. We didn't get too far before I had to stop for a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks since they just became available, but after he realized how important it was for me to be properly caffeinated, we were happily back on the road.

The drive was about 2 1/2 hours from hot Phoenix up to beautiful and cool lakes outside of Payson. I can
honestly say the drive was amazing. Plus, being able to roll down your windows in Arizona is sooooo nice!

I'll admit it, I was a little nervous. Hubby can be a bit OCD and I can be a bit "ah - whatever" and I was a little worried I may not have taken it serious enough. But alas, we found a camping spot, pitched the tent (successfully on the first try) unpacked everything and found this amazing lake within 45 minutes of arriving!

He wanted to fish - and I humored the idea. He has now gone fishing twice and yet to catch a fish, but one day he will. I should probably explain here how much he adores our dog, Ruby. This dog is basically his soul mate and vice versa. He couldn't WAIT to throw Ruby's ball in the lake and let her swim around. She loved it! But, I kept telling him, little fishes don't so much like 50lb dogs jumping in the lake near them so they aren't going to be around. No big deal - he continued practicing his casting skills, Ruby swam to her hearts content and I sat next to our boxer who is afraid of swimming.

I have to say, bathroom situation aside, it was a pretty wonderful 24 hours! So much so, that we decided we have to go camping again in a few weeks to another beautiful corner of Arizona. Don't worry, after that there are a few fun trips planned that include airplanes, amazing cities and no swimming dogs!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I'll fly home

I'm a bit jaded about my stand-by flight benefits. I've had some definite downs along the way, with a few positives mixed in (like getting to my destination around the time I planned). But this past weekend was a big step for me. I ventured from Phoenix to NE Ohio on a Friday and back on a Sunday, which most in the commercial airline industry would say are the busiest times to fly. So hubby said, "just try it - your bad luck isn't the norm and you need to give it a shot," so I did.

Now, let me preface this story by saying that there are zero direct flights to and from the Cleveland area, meaning I needed good luck twice to get there, and twice to get home. I felt like I was tempting the stand-by Gods into a bad outcome, but maybe I'd sneak out and back without them noticing.

I was totally prepared to spend a lot of time at the Phx airport. I had my work computer, log in info to list for different flights when I didn't get on one, great places to eat (seriously, PHX has the best restaurants!)...I was ready! So flight #1...didn't get on. I am pretty sure the gate agent called someone lower on the stand-by list than me (because I was anxiously watching the list as she called names), but alas, the door closed and I was standing there sad. No worries, my next option is a short walk away, so off I go!

Next flight I also didn't get on...but I was the NEXT PERSON! Ugh - so close! Thankfully, while this was happening, hubby (in between his own flights) found a direct to ATL and from ATL I had a few options to get home. So I headed to my third gate of the day and thankfully got on! Middle seat in the very last row...but I was headed home!

By the time I landed in ATL, I was worried I wouldn't make my connection option and furiously started up my iPhone when we landed to find out where my next gate was, where I was landing and mapping my route. However, hubby again came to my rescue! There was a flight to the smaller airport that was only 10 minutes away from my parents house...and I might make it. I RAN (well the terminal train did a lot of the work, but it felt like I was running) and made it. The nicest gate agent EVER! He was friendly and gave me an exit row seat!!! Once on the plane, the flight attendant asked, somewhat embarrassed, "Ma'am, are you...old enough for the exit row? have to be an adult," to which I burst out "OH my gosh....I just turned 30!!!! You made my whole day!"

After a short flight to my hometown, my brother-in-law waiting to pick me up because my trip was a surprise to my sister, nieces and parents, I decided my bad stand-by karma had been lifted!! Now, this could all change before my next trip in September...but I'm going to be optimistic and hope to fly away with happiness and little bit of good luck...and sweet flight attendants who think I'm 10+ years younger than I am!

Oh, and I made it back to Phoenix on Sunday!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I took another trip this past weekend. Seriously sad how infrequently I travel given my flight benefits and amount of friends and family who live in cool places. I'm working on that!

So Los Angeles...I have a growing affection for this city. It was never my favorite city, but it slowly is showing its many sides to me and I find more to like each time I visit. The thing I like the MOST? My wonderful friend, Sarah, who was also my wonderful maid of honor. So I went to play in LA on Saturday - just for 24 hours! I need to take more trips like this to improve my attitude about flying stand-by. It was pretty great! I hopped on a very early flight on Saturday morning, enjoyed a fun day of eating, shopping, catching up, meeting new friends, hiking and cooler weather.

We actually successfully hiked up a pretty decent trail with some amazing views. Spotted this little guy as we neared the top.

So with my non-rev (no revenue flying) confidence up a little, maybe I'll try another trip soon! Who knows where or who I may try to see next!

Thank, Los Angeles, let's do it again soon.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What's your "currency"

Everyone has their motivation - motivation to work out, motivation to save money, motivation to work harder. I've been thinking a lot lately about my motivations. Like a lot of things in my life, I understand it but cannot always put what I think, feel or know into a nice little gift box because I try not to be so limiting. I envy people who can be clear and direct about what will motivate them to reach their goals because I think it would help me reach mine.

So, in talking with friends and other professionals, I have found what motivates them in hopes I will understand what can motivate me and help me become more successful in my career aspirations.
Some people, actually many people, are motivated by money. They see their paycheck as that benchmark of their success and that makes sense. But money doesn't motivate me. Don't get me wrong, I like having money as much as the next person, but beyond taking care of my necessities, money doesn't get me out of bed.

Other people I've found are motivated by the work they do. Now, I would hope most people enjoy their work, but I mean people who are so in love with what they do, that they would get up at 3 am, drive hours in a blizzard to a crap office with zero pay and no benefits just to get to do their job. I do love my job and have way too much fun sometimes to call it "work" but I don't know that just the job itself does it for me.

I think I may be a little closer to the next group; people who are motivated by what their job gives them - freedoms, benefits (hello free air travel), access to great people/parties/things, etc. I don't get a whole lot of this category, but I am definitely motivated by free time. I will work my butt off for an event or a crazy few weeks if I know I get to check out and get time back afterwards. But still, this isn't my currency.

I say currency because most people are motivated by the financial reward. Why shouldn't they be? Their is one glaring reason we aren't all laying out by our giant pools having our hired help bring us champagne every day...we need to work! So, by default, the more money you make the better you must be at your job and therefore, if you are a career-minded person like me, the more value you have - for your family, your employer, your future and for yourself.

I had to fill out a bio form once for a leadership academy so we could all get to know our classmates. There was a question on there relating to this and I answered that I am driven by happiness. It sounds so corny, but I think at the end of the day, I have no other way to say it. I am driven and motivated by happiness. I probably define happiness differently than everyone else, but I think deep down, that sense of contentment with what I am doing is what drives me to do more, do better and to take pride in what I am doing.

I had a job once that from the outside should have been "my big break" and I was SO excited. But from the inside, the job killed me. It sucked every ounce of happiness out of me to a point I couldn't find myself in the great titled job, at the well-known company, with the good pay and amazing benefits. I left, cut my salary by more than anyone should...every! And, what I got back was my happiness. Maybe there is a more definite way to articulate what it really is deep down that equates happiness to me professionally. But I guess I'm just OK going with a feeling I get about the job, the people and the possibilities. The happy employee always works harder anyway so I guess my currency isn't really an odd concept.

But thank goodness I also earn enough to get by, love what I do enough to just now accept an invitation to be at work at 6 a.m. tomorrow, and know that I have the freedom to leave early enough to take Ruby to the vet!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sex and the City 10 years later

At 18, I learned to love Sex and the City. I imagined myself being that fabulous, successful and definitely single in an amazing city like New York when I was in my mid-20s and likely 30s. I could actually relate to some of the crazy single girl drama (minus the designer clothes) and thought it made sense. Clearly this was pretty accurate, and definitely funny.

Fast-forward 10 years (because it seriously feels like that is what fast-forwards like crazy!) and at 29 I popped the entire Sex and the City series into my TV and enjoyed these fabulous ladies while Kyle has been away on trips.

Only something is different. I find I roll my eyes a lot and answer their silly men questions out loud - my dogs agree with me so it's ok - and start to wonder if too much SATC could have been bad for me... probably!

I think I tried to be that fabulous, but I fell in love with a non-drama guy, have a job that doesn't require any fancy clothing (in fact it's better if I don't dress up too much) and got lost on my way to being that fabulous! But I think it worked out. Watching what I thought made so much sense as a 20-year-old is definitely fun and brings back so many fond memories, but I hope someone tells the soon-to-be-fabulous 20-year-olds, that life isn't nearly that tough!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Married, 30yo, mother of zero

What happens when you are in the midst of or moving through some very significant things in your life?  You get lots of questions, advice and other fun things to make you talk about personal things you don't even know about yet.

I'm in that, "Have you guys talked about having kids yet?" phase. Sure, it is a natural question. You get married, you buy a house, you have babies - period! That is the order of things and happy parents can't wait for you to join them on the baby side.

The problem is that for some people, having kids is an easy, no-brainier; others not so much. The first group is usually overrun with women, but still, it's the 200% certain group of "there is no other option" that can be intimidating.

What about the rest of us? What about those childless women who are teetering between kids or no kids? Now, I don't have a baby, but I respect those women who have babies, toddlers, teenagers or grown children (I am a grown child and my mom still has a lot to deal with). However, those of us in my boat have it rough! The constant barrage of questions. The silent judgement - we can hear it! - from others who want to know about our family plans. When we say "I don't know" it doesn't mean we don't know, it means I don't want to talk about "it" whatever "it" may be.

I have heard and witnessed new moms, and mothers-to-be receive lots of unsolicited advice. But so do the childless who choose not to explain their personal plans to everyone.
"It's good to wait" "You  will know when you are ready" "Don't wait too long" "If you do want kids, how many do you want? You have to have more than one!" "Having one is the best" "Don't have kids!" "In my next life I'm just having fish" "Kids ruined my life" "Having kids is the purpose for life" 
Oh my goodness! 

I had a very heart-warming moment with a colleague recently. He is probably late-fifties or so and never had children. We were talking and something came up and he mentioned how he doesn't care for kids and I laughed (if you knew him, you'd laugh too) but then he said something that I appreciated. 

He said that people like me have it rough - those married women, of the baby age, but without children. And, without us talking about it, we knew that we completely agreed and appreciated each other for understanding. It is hard being where I am. Because I'm not even sure where it is that I am right now.

Please understand, those of us in my group don't get mad at someone when they pry into our personal lives like this. Hell - I probably ask people things like this too - "Hey you - you lady who has been with the same guy for 3 years - when are you getting married?"

But we may not want to talk about it. Imagine how someone feels when asked "why don't you and your husband have any kids" when that woman has been trying for 10 years to have a baby, is on treatments and cries frequently because all she wants is a baby. It is DEEPLY personal and some women are comfortable talking about all of it, and others are not. Just think about how excited, confused or even nervous about a recent positive test a women may be when you want to ask that question. It isn't a life step we are all required to take, it is a lifelong commitment. From the moment you decide you want a baby, you become someone new. You become a mother in training. It is a VERY big deal and a very big and important decision to some women, more so than just flipping to the next chapter.

As for me...we are constantly in training for the next big or small step in our lives. We don't know anything for sure other than we love each other and love the life we have right now, in this very moment. We are happy and if that happiness grows to include more with our family, great! If it doesn't, we are no less happy and no less a family than we are today.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Take me away.....

It's been months since I hopped on a plane. Kyle does this daily - both flying himself, and going to and from home - but not me. I have had a few interesting experiences to say the least so I am somewhat apprehensive about flying stand-by. But, in order to get to and from Ohio in one weekend, I must get on a plane.

This time wasn't too bad. Kyle wanted to "give it a shot" at trying to fly Delta red-eye flight on a Thursday night into Atlanta or Detroit. It didn't look good online, but I trust him in this area. So we drove to the airport at 9:45 p.m. to try and get on one of two flights out at either 10:30 or 11:40 p.m. We sat at the gate (the two flights were right next to each other), met another stand-byer who needed to get to a tiny town in the midwest who was planning to sleep at the airport since it was obvious none of us were getting on these flights.

So we headed home at midnight and decided to take a 6 a.m. flight to Newark and then to Cleveland. This meant we had about three hours of sleep before the 4 1/2 flight. But we made it! Sleep-deprived, hungry and slightly cranky, but in Ohio for a weekend with my family.

Next trip on my/our planner...Sacramento, Seattle, Portland, LA, many decisions!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Everything has its time

I've learned the hard way that life tends to hand (at least me) some of each. What I mean is, when something bad happens, like really bad, it is usually accompanied by something uplifting and it reminds me of how cyclical life really is.

When I was getting ready to celebrate my 12th birthday, my grandma (and my hero) was getting ready for her final goodbye. She passed two days before my birthday and my birthday party had to be rescheduled because it was the same night as her calling hours. It was the hardest thing I had experienced at that time, and still at the top of my list, but even my young, almost teenage brain saw the connection. That death, while sad and unavoidable, is as natural as new life (or a sweet girl becoming a teenager - AHHHH!!).

I see the same things happen with losses and joys and with happiness and heartbreak frequently. Today I learned of a difficult sadness a friend is dealing with while I am still overjoyed for my recently married friends - both happened the same day. They may not be tied together at all, but it still reminds me that with the bad comes the good in life, and that it is all around. We cannot stop it, we cannot change its course, we can only be part of the ride and know, like waves in the ocean, there will be highs and lows, but it is supposed to be this way.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pace yourselves, it's gonna be a long, bumpy ride!

Five Ways to Climb the Corporate Ladder, Pronto! Woah, "Pronto"? Does that mean that I am falling behind every moment I'm not climbing? Or, maybe it doesn't matter because Why Women Still Can't Have it All - wait, nevermind, Women CAN have it all - but only if their man pulls their weight, HA! I knew there was a catch!

It is no wonder I feel slightly stressed and like there is an ever increasing pressure to not just succeed in career, home, personal life, but that if I don't, I am short-selling my potential. So, I guess I will just sleep when I am dead, which, with this kind of internal and external pressure should be about five years away.

We don't turn off our phones, even on vacation. We check our email, social media outlets, work and cell voicemails...all before getting out of bed in the morning. When do we give ourselves a break?

To anyone else who feels like this describes their daily life, let's get off the hamster wheel!

I attended a public relations luncheon today where a panel of successful and well-known public relations professionals shared some valuable experiences and pieces of advice learned over their careers. Many pieces stood out as good ideas to take back to the office, and one that stood out as something to take with me always.

Learn how to turn it off - all of it. A room of proud "news junkies" who are addicted to the constant stream of news, many of them checking for updates about the new Catholic Pope that came during the discussion, like this idea. Sadly, most know that it isn't realistic.

Our generation has had cell phones since high school and were the first members of Facebook. We are programmed to never turn it off, but we should. If we want to climb that corporate ladder - and quickly - we need to find a pace. Our career, and life, shouldn't be a constant sprint, it is a marathon and we are going to need to take breaks. Maybe for a week here and there, maybe for a few years when our priorities change, whatever it is, we need to pace ourselves to reach our goals whatever they are.

So if you need an afternoon to unplug, find a way! If you need a week's vacation after eight months of no days off, take that week and tell your colleagues what constitutes an emergency to call/text you, and let them handle the rest! We are no good when we don't take time for ourselves once in a while, a mental health break if you will, can be very refreshing and leave you more productive and ready to do whatever you have to, pronto!

And for a fun little end to this, I bring you the Top 10 Most Stressful Professions and I love that my hubby and I are both on this list!

Good luck! Take a vacation, even if it is just 15 minutes to grab coffee!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I love a man in uniform

A pilot uniform to be exact! Being the wife of a pilot isn't a job for sissies, that is for sure! I am my husbands #1 fan - whether that is literally cheering for him on the soccer field, or in his professional pursuits. When he said he wanted to be a pilot, I cheered him on, having no idea what that would look like.

First things first, yes I get to fly for "free" KINDA. And, yes, that is great KINDA. But you can go ahead and feel jealous if you want, that is fine with me. I'll share the small print on that perk later.

Being a pilot is tough. The education is fast-paced, intense and constant. And it should be. But during school when he had to leave the house at 4 am for a flight, I thought, "This is just temporary" and went back to sleep. Actually, no, I never sleep well when he is flying, EVER. When he was a flight instructor manager, one of his employees crashed a plane with several students on board. Nobody survived. When that 6 am call came in to him, it shocks you back to reality - those poor families, the phone calls that have to be made to them, they were so young, this happens in this industry... I sat in the bathroom at work and cried for a while when this happened. My heart broke for everyone who lost a loved one, mourned those lives lost too soon, and confronted my worst fears a little too close for comfort.

Back to me not being a sissy.

Fast-forward a few years. He left that flight instructing job that had a decent paycheck and benefits, was in town, and had no future. We knew the career he wanted meant he would have to become a commercial pilot. The week after our honeymoon (per the deal we made) he began applying for commercial jobs. He got the job he wanted with a great company. But, this meant he would be going back to training. This intense process took him out of state for several months, only seeing him at Christmas. Months on end without my hubby, with no family around, during the holidays when everyone is doing coupely/family things...ya that sucks!

My hottie hubby flying us to beautiful Sedona for my birthday!
Then the first year started and the pay is terrible! Oh my goodness. We sold his car and he got a beater. We cut back on EVERYTHING. Then there were other adjustments.

I cried when he left for the first time because it would be the end of us living together full-time. I force him to unpack EVERYTHING when he comes home because I feel like he isn't really home if he doesn't. He leaves for three, four, five, sometimes seven days at a time and I'm alone. You adjust, though.

I've learned to not care that I go to 75% of social things alone. I've learned to juggle my busy work life, with home responsibilities with my personal life on my own. It's a good thing I'm a planner because I would never get things done!

But he loves his job - like LOVES it! Plus, when he comes home I always get excited. Those few days together aren't wasted so there are some perks you don't expect. We enjoy every minute, plan fun things every time he is home (or plan to ignore the world for two days before he is gone again). Plus, seeing him happy, grow and succeed in a career he loves is the most rewarding part. It is also fun to drop into conversations, "....and since my husband is a pilot..." as often as possible and get to talk about how proud I am of my man.

Then there is the travel. Yes, I kinda fly kind. We pay an annual fee to fly domestically for $0 per trip...if there are open seats, and if I don't get bumped by someone with more seniority which happens A LOT. My first experience flying for free I got to my family in the Midwest easily. Coming back west I spent nine hours  in Philly, only to get bumped from every flight back west they had so I jumped on the last flight to San Francisco. Then, I ran through the huge airport to give my hubby a kiss as he boarded his flight for the night (hi and goodbye!) and curled up on a bench and slept until 5 am when I could finally get home. So, ya, free??? KINDA. None of this is for sissies!

Friday, March 8, 2013

I have an popcorn!

I love popcorn - like serious addiction. Hubby bought me a popcorn popper one year for Christmas as a last-minute, "I hope she likes this" kind of gift and I LOVED it! After seriously nailing savory popcorn that I like early on, I started thinking about what else I could do with popped corn.

My first batch was peanut butter chocolate popcorn! Wow was that yummy and Kyle ate way more than I did! I'll post that another time.

I love some sweets, but am much more of a salty or savory type of person. When salted caramel became popular, I was in heaven.

Now onto my caramel popcorn. Do NOT think of that funky cracker jacks stuff - which is fine, but not my thing - this is caramel carried to your mouth lovingly by little while popped corn kernels.

Here is my first original popcorn recipe, Salted Caramel Popcorn.

Air pop about 8-10 cups of popcorn - set aside in bowls with enough room to mix!
Combine 1/2 c butter, 1 c brown sugar and 1/4 c corn syrup in sauce pan - melt for 5 min. Add 1 tsp vanilla, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp baking soda. Coat popcorn! You will have to stir quickly before the caramel cools so that everything is coated.

Now, line baking trays with parchment paper or a little corn starch to keep from ruining your baking tray.

Finally - I added another drizzle of caramel. Melt some more butter and brown sugar with a pinch (seriously a pinch) of baking soda. Drizzle this all over the popcorn, sprinkle with some coarse salt and cool.

Then the hard part....waiting....and waiting until it is cool - like an hour or two!


Thursday, February 28, 2013

What to do when your husband calls you fat!!

Riiight, like I would be with anyone so stupid. However, I had an experience that made me think about this idea and our collective outrage at anyone so mean, rude, hurtful and just plain stupid as to call a woman FAT!

An acquaintance of mine, I'll call her Irene because I don't know anyone named Irene, and I were talking about all kinds of worthless things. Now, Irene is a smart, successful and very dedicated woman. She is also a highly-awarded athlete! She is pretty, fit and very active. During our conversation, I mentioned something funny Kyle said regarding me not working out, or eating something crappy because we were / are trying very hard to be healthy. We have always been somewhat healthy, but we really kicked it into high gear. I can't remember exactly what my amazing hubby said, but it was something like, "You shouldn't have had that donut at the office. You better go to the gym tonight," or something. Irene looked at me surprised when I told her about the silly comment. Her reply was something like "Really?" with a look that didn't need any explanation. By Kyle saying whatever he did to me, he apparently had crossed into the realm of calling me fat!

I need encouragement. We all do. My two favorite things to do are eat delicious food (not CRAP food, I mean food worth eating) and sleep. I love my bed and snuggling with my dogs and hubby on a cold rainy day in my bed, only getting up to eat. So, obviously, I need encouragement! I wanted to get in shape and be healthier. That was what I, me, Katy, wanted. Kyle simply knew how to not let me fail. He used the same techniques I had used on him (more on that later). But why is it SO terrible for a husband to encourage his wife in something she wants? I want to run a 1/2 marathon and if Kyle DOESN'T annoy the crap out of me until I run out of the house just to get away from him, I will be upset. Why is this so terrible?

Like I said, I taught him how to do it. Kyle went to flight school. Oh, and it was so simple!!! What could possibly be hard about a 24-year-old college drop-out, bartender making a lot of money, getting motivated to go to flight school? It took probably eight - twelve months of nagging (I'll call it what it was) for him to finally get there. Time was spent by me searching school options, him calling several places, then losing interest, then finding it again, looking into loan options once he found a school, filling out paperwork, and more paperwork; then came the actual school!

Why is it not just acceptable, but acknowledged and awarded for me to annoy the living S*** out of him to go back to school, but he is an evil, controlling husband who is trying to tell me I'm not pretty enough when he makes me regret the F****ing donut I didn't want anyway? I want him to encourage me to be the best version of myself and that includes health!! Why shouldn't it?

It does! I encouraged him to quit smoking! WOW - talk about a weird social double-standard. A vice that will kill you - smoking and obesity (bad eating habits mixed with sedentary lifestyle). We make smokers drive three miles to smoke a cigarette during work hours, charge them more for healthcare, don't allow them anywhere in public, and yet on Friday's I find 25 boxes of Dunkin Donuts around the office (the culprit of this terrible donut of  my story). Kyle quit smoking after several attempts. I encouraged him, I hounded him, I guilted him (you spent enough on cigarettes that we could have gone to - insert nice resort in Hawaii here - in six months?!?). But if Kyle tries to keep me accountable for my fitness goals, he is what is wrong with men!

Now, I know Irene didn't say this is what she thought of Kyle. But it was written all over her face. And you know what, six months ago I would've had the same expression had I been listening to the story. But why? Why do we (all of us) complain about our health and try crazy diets and envy the skinny girl and hate ourselves the moment we order the cheesy fries with bacon, but yet we don't want anyone to encourage us and hold us accountable? Why, sorry ladies, do women in particular shoot down and punish our #1 fan and supporter the minute he tries to keep us on track to OUR OWN GOALS?

I never once take Kyle's comments the wrong way and always defend them. I told Irene I wanted him to keep on me so I reach my goals. That is what married couples, friends and family member do - we encourage each other because we love that person and want them to be successful in school, diets, exercise, quitting smoking, saving money...whatever! But we have to stop be afraid to give the encouragement and not be angry to receive it.

I'm going to eat another donut. It is going to happen. And when it does, Kyle will let me know he expects me to have some restrain, and that I will regret it (which I will). But, I will tell him how well I've done the past few days on my workouts and diet, and how I'm going running later. He will smile (cuz he loves me and knows I can't tell a lie - even about working out), and then he will order two glazed donuts to eat next to me.