A quick note

I originally made some quick notes about my three loves, in hopes of later using these notes as I wrote more about it all.  Hugo’s grandparents, Polly and Bob, were the first bullet point on the list and about them I included phrases about being married for 70+ years, Bob always loving and admiring Polly, and ‘you don’t see marriages like theirs’.  I also jotted about Hugo’s mom’s recent frustrations with caring for an aging mother and the short story of putting Polly to bed (the evening I wrote about just last week).

The second of my 3 couples was Mark and Pat – ‘crying about Mark, crying together’, in reference to the two of them telling me during his cancer battle, they would spend long stretches of time sitting together and just crying.  My only other note about Mark was that he doesn’t deserve it because he is one of the good ones.

My third and final couple is titled ‘Me and Him’.  That’s how we have gone through the past 16 years, together and as a team, both of us equals.  My whole reason behind posting these notes was because I stumbled upon them today as I riffled through my binder, in search of real estate study material.  My short note sums up what Hugo and I are so I thought I would share it:

My story is littered with other stories.  Stories that co-mingle with our own and teach us about ourselves.  Everyone always loves our story…it’s one of growing up and intending to grow old together.  A story of the ability to forge lifelong friendships, and, most importantly, a story of fierce and beautiful love.

I will end it on that.  As I reread those words, I still feel the beauty in writing them.  It is the same beauty I have in living it.  And I don’t kid about how everyone thoroughly enjoys our real-life love story when we tell them about it – from meeting by chance in high school, to our cross-country adventure, to all the choices that ultimately led to me sitting on the couch typing tonight, missing Hugo while he works during this light rain on the weekend’s eve in Los Angeles.

One day I will get around to writing my short stories or maybe my book.  I am sixty hours out from taking and passing my state real estate exam so once that is checked off my list, I will have more time after work and in the evenings to pursue yet another passion project.  I know, I know, sounds like a bunch of excuses, but I only have so many hours in the day and so much fight in my heavy eyelids as they close on me nearly every night after a mentally and psychically exhausting work day.  Anyways, I love you Hugo ♥

Can’t breath (and I mean that in the best way possible)

Stuffed doesn’t begin to sum it up.  If there was a more severe word for being stuffed to the gills with insanely excellent food, I would be that…plus a molten lava cake.

Since my hubby and I were sick for this year’s Valentine’s Day, we were forced to cancel our dinner reservations.  Little did I know, this was a major blessing in disguise because, as a result of not going out to dinner and staying in, Hugo planned a ‘multi-course’ dinner for me tonight.  He continually labors in the kitchen for me on a regular basis and I am beyond appreciative of his attention and care towards my nourishment and health.  But this time was different.  Tonight’s ‘multi-course’, which I will explain in a bit, was a ten hour process, experience and endeavor, filled with hard work and a whole lot of love.

When he wrote his handmade card for me, Hugo asked me to join him for a multi-course meal.  I, of course, smiled and happily agreed (I mean, who wouldn’t?!?) and we joked about what the definition of multi-course actually was.  I poked by replying that five, if not nine, courses could be found under the multi-course umbrella.  Hugo enjoyed my little jokes, later divulging that tonight’s culinary quest would be a total of four courses.  And let me tell you, four was more than enough.

It started with king crab legs with garlic butter.  It could also have stopped there because that kind of course alone makes even a vegetarian happy.  What is it about garlic butter that speaks to the soul?  Oh, that’s right, it’s the garlic butter itself. – purely perfect in both the garlic and the butter.

Next, we moved on to a palate-cleanser of watermelon granita with mascarpone cream.  Never had it but it was pretty amazing.  The cool, refreshing watermelon did just as intended as my tongue was cool and refreshed.  The garlic butter was sadly washed away, but that was the point, right?

Next, mushroom carbonara.  And here, dear reader, is where I yet again realize Hugo is my soulmate.  I know it every day but let’s be honest, anything mushroom related truly has the key t my heart.  Rich, creamy and decadent, it hit all the right spots and satisfied my belly.

Finally, molten lava cake.  From scratch.  And it was perfect.  To think, my husband was nervous that it wouldn’t come out correctly or was even mildly overcooked, which it wasn’t.  When I tell you this cake was perfect, just imagine the ideal dusting of powdered sugar covering a slightly warm, freshly baked, personally-sized bittersweet cake.  Oh, with oozing chocolate ganache on the inside.  It was a great meal but that damn cake, complete with a large cold glass of milk, just made the night.

I have said many times how cooking for someone is truly the ultimate expression of love.  I believe that because of the way I was raised and the man I was raised by, as my father grew his own food and slaved away in the kitchen to feed my mother and I.  I believe it even more when I am greeted after a twelve hour day at work by a beautiful multi-course meal that my husband knows I will enjoy so much.  He knows this because he knows me, he listens to me, and, above all else, he aims to make me happy in life, as I do him.  This man must love me and I certainly love him, probably more than he knows and I deserve.  Happy Valentine’s Day ♥♥♥

PS – Josh Weissman gave Hugo his date night meal cheater for this special occasion.  He subbed king crab legs for steak, and a few other small alterations occurred along the way, but otherwise, bravo Josh and Hugo for a tummy full of goodness and a job well done.

Coming out the other side

What an awful last ten days my body has just experienced.  While Hugo and I still believe we have some form of Coronavirus, due to the fact we got insanely sick right as this worldwide pandemic began, in reality the two of us have been infected with a brutally aggressive viral infection similar to this year’s flu.  I was tested for the flu so I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I don’t have it, although my symptoms at times mirrored what I have come to know of the flu almost to a ‘T’.  Hugo is about five days behind me with his sick status, as I was Patient Zero, making him Patient One…?  Long story short, our household has been down and out for the greater part of two weeks and we are both ready for this nonsense to be over.

That is about all of the energy for a post I can muster together for now.  As a final thought, I will provide a quick update in regards to the other 99% of my life as of recent:  My real estate exam is eight days away so I am in crunch mode now.  Gunner is getting neutered tomorrow so no more food or water for him until he is post-op tomorrow night.  We have an upcoming trip to Hawaii in March, in celebration of our 11th anniversary, but I am a bit nervous since COVID-19 is slowly scorching our globe like wildfire, including one new recent case on the island we intend to call home for the whole of our vacation.

I realized as I wrote those update points that all of them involve nerves in some sense or another.  A lot to look forward to and a lot to be serious and focus about.  We will nurse little Gunner back to full strength after his surgery, I will study hard and succeed at my state exam, and we will have a love-filled and healthy trip together.  The power of positive thinking, people! ♥

Three loves yet it’s all the same

Love is love is love.  It all develops with similar circumstances, out of fondness and friendship.  It ends one of two ways:  falling out of love and moving on or when we take our last breath and depart this world.  I pray the deep relationship Hugo and I have will afford us the opportunity to part ways after decades of love and life shared, holding hands as we snuggle in bed, both of us simultaneously falling asleep never to wake again.  I want us to go out as we have lived together, as a team.

Well, that was somber.  Not my initial intention when I began writing this.  Despite how dark I just got, I meant it all with the fullest intent of love.  My love realized in life, through having Hugo, is probably the biggest unexpected aspect of my life.  You dream of finding a Prince Charming as a young girl but when it actually happens, you can’t help but question if your reality is, well, for real.

Then you realize it is and as you marinate in the perfectness of that perfect moment you also realize nothing else really matters.  As I always say – easier said than done – but seriously folks, what other nonsensical, annoying, ‘not worth my time or energy’ BULLSHIT matters in the least, or even stands up to something so magnificently beautiful?  Not that hard to answer.  Nothing.

Now, all of these thoughts and feelings come on the heels of yet another couple nights of frustration and angst, as I sit alone while Hugo works, letting my mind run circles around the things that cause me grief.  I am stressed and Hugo knows it all too well, because I continue to pester him about it every chance I get.  He is my best and most trusted outlet for over-analyzing all the things that make KK (yup, that’s me), KK.  It felt like the right time to speak in the third person – it adds effect, ya know?  Anyways, I bug Hugo until I can’t bug him anymore and I bug myself too.  I wish I could turn my feelings off when it gets too heavy and I have had enough.  I wish I didn’t care about most of the things that I do but then again, if that was the case and I didn’t care so strongly, I wouldn’t be me.  I am sensitive to the words that are spoken to me, in front of me and about me.  I am hyper-critical of myself in every way and when I perceive a misstep on my part, I circle back to the moment, the decision, the very word I stupidly said, until I can’t bear to think of it one more time.  I am sure there are others out there who engage in this behavior, right?  I presume I am not alone in this and, quite frankly, I think we all do it on some level, whether we’d like to admit it or not.  Personally, being my own strongest critic is also a strength and I only care as much as I do because I seek to improve and develop as a partner and friend.

As I have said way too many times, just writing this down makes me realize how asinine the excessive, critical behavior really is.  None of the recent moments I have been upset about are even noteworthy, if you can call it that.  The girl drama at work has mildly improved but still persists.  Today I received an update from an old co-worker about a scandalous, problematic, and damn-near criminal employee who we both used to work with – this stellar individual, who is still causing problems, is voicing his dislike of me.  I have said many times how I not only call it like I see it but I also can’t wrap my head around the fact that others are blind to his ludicrous ways.  I am stressed and nervous about submitting my transfer to another unit of assignment.  While I know these things should just roll off my shoulders, they don’t and I am here.  Getting better at being strong, keeping my priorities straight and focusing on the things that truly matter, but I am still me and me hurts a little.

Transitioning to bigger and better news – I am on the two week countdown until my real estate exam date!  Studying like hell and surprising myself with my retention level (I got a 92 on my progress exam today), I am cautiously optimistic about taking the test that will plunge me into my new second career.  Hugo has been so wonderful about the whole thing – encouraging me along the way, listening to me blab about the things I am learning and the things I still don’t know, but want to, and helping with everything in between as I forge tirelessly through vocab review and video lessons.  I can really feel his love when he spends hours cooking a vegetarian meal of my choosing, so he can take care of me by nourishing my mind and body, all while I sit on the couch studying for my passionate pursuit.  To be honest, one of the most exciting aspects of pursuing this new career is the excitement of sharing my success with him.  In the end, if not for sharing it with those we love, what is it all for?

I started this post off by speaking of similar loves, three of them to be exact.  My beautiful neighbors and my grandparents-in-laws (is that even right?) are both half of the couple they used to be for many years.  The male portion of both equations has since passed away, while their widowed wives finish out their earthly time alone.  Of the three relationships I strive to document further, I am the only woman alive and that makes me sad.  I think about the love I have for Hugo and I presume my neighbors and Polly & Bob had such a similar bond, which makes me hurt for their loss that much more.  One day soon, if I can finally get around to carving out some serious time, I fully intend on writing these three love stories for you to enjoy.  I have thoroughly enjoyed watching them unfold, celebrating in their existence, and cherishing the fact that they even happened, so I know you will feel the same.  You already know a little bit about Hugo and I so now it will be time to learn about the splendid people who came before him, making my love bug even possible.

 

Full circle

I remember her laying in bed, being tucked in by several members of her family as if she was a child exhausted from the day.  She was just as vulnerable as a young girl but her ninety-year-old body was weathered and experienced, yet she needed to be minded nonetheless.  During one of our last trips back east about two summers ago, Hugo’s extended family rented a home in the country, large enough for all of them to sleep and roomy enough for everyone to gather in the evenings.  The purpose of the trip was the overdue celebration of life for Hugo’s grandfather Bob, who had passed away a couple months prior.  That event was a beautiful release for everyone, providing a loving gathering filled with many moments of happy reflection on the full life Bob lived during his 94 years.

One particular evening at the country rental house during that trip, Hugo and I stopped by to enjoy a couple extra minutes with his parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and Polly, who is Bob’s widow and the subject of our short tale.  Exhausted from this day and the thousands of days she had lived through thus far, Polly was ready for bed around 8pm.  With love, we all escorted her to her first floor pull-out couch, where she found privacy in the rear den and comfort in the presence of her extended family all under one roof.  With one table lamp lit and the aged comforter tucked into the flimsy couch mattress, Polly sat down on her temporary bed as we all funneled into the room.  Everyone wanted to enjoy this moment of tucking their mother and grandmother into bed, just as she had done for the majority of them at one point in their lives.  I may have been the only one present who hadn’t been mothered by Polly at one point, although the love she had shown me during the time I have known her felt as if I was a member of that group.

A couple of the young kids continued playing in the other room, uninterested in a seemingly mundane task at their age.  A couple others, who sounded moderately inebriated, stayed outside on the patio – their loud stories and guttural laughs bellowed inside but it didn’t bother us because all of these sounds made the songs we have all come to know as summer nights.  We held her frail, bruised arms as she sat and fully reclined onto her back, relieved that the tasks of the day were done.  Her skin was paper thin and translucent, dark purple in certain places due to easy bruising from recent falls at her age.  Her eyes were always watery and sometimes she looked lost within her own gaze, as if she was looking off into the distance or right past you.  This was probably from battling cataracts and glaucoma over the past two decades – she was a warrior in her own right, going through laser eye surgeries, among other procedures, to right her senses and continue improving, never accepting a declining body or weakening capabilities.  She gripped my hand really hard, finding a sense of safety and security in my youthful strength and presence.  Polly knew she could rely on all of us to get her into her restful position and off to sleep, something that didn’t come easy to her when she was alone, as she often found herself since Bob’s passing.

For some reason, I really enjoyed this short moment in the rear den with my husband’s grandmother that night.  Something about the magic of the summer evening, with the windows open and warm air lofting in.  Knowing she was safe in the back room gave me peace and feeling as if I contributed to that safety made it a little bit better.  My own eyes teared up as they often do when I am around our elders or any old people for that matter.  I never try to think about any of them dying but just watching them maneuver through life in slow motion and with constant struggles always breaks my heart, particularly when I reflect on the magnificent lives some of them have lived as they are now fully engulfed in their final chapters.  I get so sad but somewhere inside of that sadness is a real happiness and love for who they are and what they have created.  With Polly and Bob came Hugo’s mother and siblings.  Later, Hugo and his brother were born.  Polly’s life and seven decade long love story with Bob gave me my soulmate so despite only knowing her as an old woman, a true grandmother, I have loved her completely and deeply and I owe her a thank you.

That summer night had an impact on all of us, not just me.  I know Hugo enjoyed a special moment like that, something he doesn’t get the chance to do often since we live so far away from them all.  I know Hugo’s mom and her sister felt the heavy love of it all too.  They had just recently lost their father, the patriarch of the family and Polly’s better half, so they were still moving through their grief as they tried to maintain their strength for their mother.  As we said goodnight to Polly and slowly shuffled out of the room as a group, she said goodnight to Bob out loud, as she said she always had since he passed.

Polly is still alive today, as she lives alone in an assisted living community near our hometown in the northeast.  Hugo’s mom visit regularly and we should be going more often, but life and distance gets in the way.  I pulled out a cute card with giraffes on it tonight, thinking how Polly would enjoy receiving it in the mail with a short note from her west coast grandson and family.  We always make an effort to think of her, not just because she is alone but because we truly love her.  I personally like sending her a short note from time to time so she has something loving to experience before bed, similar to when she had her Bob, tucking her in and holding her hand tightly as they both fell asleep side by side for all of those years.

Oldie but goodie

As I sit here watching Dumb & Dumber, one of my absolute favorite movies ever, I realize two things are true.  This cult classic is an oldie but goodie and so is Hugo.  After nearly sixteen years together, this man is my cult classic.  I provide his cult following and he is the classic example of a loving human being with a kind, beautiful heart.  He is enjoying a new video game for a few minutes before we watch tonight’s new episode of Saturday Night Live (another one of my all-time loves).

I find it funny when people say they don’t enjoy SNL.  Right now I happen to work with several people who claim the humor on the show doesn’t appeal to them, which I really can’t understand.  When they say such riot-inciting nonsense, I find it difficult to believe they aren’t a little stupid because they just don’t understand the jokes, skit dialogue and overall concepts.  Maybe that is just because I have grown up with the show, watching the early 90s seasons with my father.  We basked in the glory of Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, and Will Ferrell, as they all started their careers there.  As the years went on, I watched the likes of Tina Fey and Kristen Wiig develop strong and hysterical female characters.  Now, Hugo and I religiously watch every season, enjoying some more than others, but always appreciating the history and nostalgia associated with Lorne Michaels’ baby.

So tonight, I will enjoy a night of smiling and laughing, alongside my best friend.  Can’t ask for a better Saturday night ♥

I am on fire

So mad right now.

Starting to get mad about allowing work issues to get me this mad.  Getting even more mad about being mad this late at night, on the eve of the start of my weekend.

All I can say is that I am thankful I will not be at work for the upcoming four days (three of the days are my regular days off while the additional day is my gratis ‘work from home’ day).  If I had to go in tomorrow, I might just drive right past the hell hole and never look back.  Instead, I will enjoy coffee with Hugo and hugs by my dream team, comprised of a kick-ass husband and two pooches to boot.

So, here we go and before we do, might I add that I had a feeling it would go down like this.  Just last night, as I sat at home anticipating an uncomfortable confrontation between the members of my work team the following morning, I told Hugo how I felt like it wouldn’t go well.  I hate to say it but I fucking nailed that one.  Something inside of me knew my partners and I had issues that had begun to simmer months ago.  Those very issues were now boiling over and someone was about to be burned.

As 7:30 am rolled around this morning, five male coworkers, one female coworker and I took our seats in our conference room and shut the door.  Our objective – discuss a couple matters that affect all of us, such as recent changes to carpooling with our communal work vehicles, schedule changes and the needs of our organization, and a variety of other relatively small, yet critical, tasks.  Right out of the gate, it went bad.

As my coworker Jim (obviously not his real name), who was sitting directly to the right of me, began speaking on our first matter, some of our work adversaries were chomping at the bit to attack.  Just as soon as Jim finished explaining that we need to share vehicles in a more friendly and equitable fashion, Robert (also not anything even close to his name) and Stacie (you get the point) started yelling about all of the things they had pent up inside of them for the greater part of the past year on the issue.  They rudely condescended Jim, another partner and I as they pressed their point even further.

The discussion/argument/battle royal continued as time and topics passed, with my face further reddening and the divide widening among my formerly close-knit group.  They weren’t open to change, our concerns, or compromising in the least.  They wanted all of the perks and none of the teamwork involved.  They also felt as if any of the issues we were experiencing in our work environment were a direct result of Jim’s and my arrival a year ago.  To paint a better portrait of the rude dynamic of our morning meeting, during the entirety of Jim’s speaking points (which were necessary because he facilitated the meeting, unbiased, eloquent given the circumstances, and straight to the point), Stacie slouched in her chair, armed crossed at her chest, with her eyes completely shut.  Everyone in the room could feel her closed eyelids giving Jim the finger as he spoke.  It was a rude, bitchy move and, to be honest, rather embarrassing behavior for a 48-year-old professional to engage in.

My biggest take-aways from the event include the following:  First, I am not friends with several people I work with and they made that very clear based on the way they spoke to me during that meeting.  That decision is mine and mine alone because I make a very conscious choice to not engage or entertain sharing any moments in my life with those who are rude or disrespectful as well as anyone who treats me less than how I deserve to be treated.  Bottom line, I am kind so I don’t deserve to be shit on.

My second learning lesson from my awful Thursday morning was something I already knew but simply had reinforced – people are selfish jerks, a lot of which only care if and how something affects their lives.  If their world is not interrupted at all, then they are fine, but as soon as a decision, compromise or change may alter their perfect little existence, then they have zero tolerance.  The problem with these people (and sadly, there are way too many of them out there) is they are not team players because they only want to take and seldom give.  By definition, a team is founded on taking fair parts of good and bad, so that everyone gets a little of everything as we all work towards success.  In my workplace example, I happened to be giving and taking with a 90/10 split, while others reaped the rewards and always failed to compromise for the greater good.  I wasn’t the only one who was being treated less than stellar so Jim addressed it in the meeting on behalf of us. Sadly, his points fell on deaf ears, as Stacie and Robert defensively yelled and completely failed to grasp his simple point.

In the end, I am the one who is suffering from this nasty work encounter because I take my work home with me.  Case in point – I’m still sitting here bubbling over with frustration and anger.  While I am not quite on the verge of having a heart attack yet, I can see how additional years of allowing work stress to fester in my chest could ultimately lead to my demise. Hugo cautions me about it whenever I vent to him and I love him for it.  I love him even more (if that is possible) for always supporting and defending me, despite not being present or involved.  It feels so good to know my significant other trusts my opinion and believes in my heart to the point that he knows, deep in his gut, that my words are true and intentions pure.

I can’t help it but I am sensitive and I expect more from people, so when those around me disappoint or disrespect me, I take it to heart.  Thinking about it right afterwards, through lunch, all afternoon, on the drive home, as I watch TV, and later, as I begin writing this, is a typical example of how I am not only hard on myself but sad for these types of negative situations that transpire in life.  I would much rather exist in happiness and love, even if we need to have tough conversations.  Everything that occurred this morning, between the hours of 7:30-8:30 am, could have happened with mature, professional individuals discussing their issues, while maintaining composure and actively listening to their coworkers’ concerns.  When the maturity, professionalism, composure, and attempt to listen were thrown out, we all lost the opportunity to actually make progress.  And, although they don’t know it, those people lost me as a friend.  Life is too short for nonsense and bullshit – I have never engaged in any of it in my personal and professional life and I sure as fuck am not about to start now.  But regardless, I am still sad about the whole mess and I can’t wait to move on.

Speaking of moving on, it may come sooner than later.  Just before midnight yesterday, my cell phone buzzed with an incoming email from the California Department of Real Estate – my application has been approved and I am clear to schedule my state exam.  So I did.  Now, tonight, as I sit here typing about all the things that upset me today, I realize that this couldn’t have come at a better time.  Onward and upward my friends ♥

The Costco Effect

Oddly enough, the title of this post was something I have mulled over for awhile and tonight felt like the appropriate time to discuss it.  The reason being – developers are breaking ground on a new, very sizable Costco complex in our city as I type.  My ignorant coworkers are wildly excited for even better access to awful food and useless crap.  I am sickened by the sum of its parts, from the food, to the hoards of dolts the establishment attracts, and let’s not forget the heinous ripple effect of traffic congestion on our surrounding streets.  Finally, I realize more and more how we have completely lost sight of what real, good food is, where it comes from, how it is grown and why the fuck all of the answers to those questions are actually important to our bodies and our world.

I could go on and on about the importance of organic food, sustainable farming, the benefits of primarily eating plant-based, and the need for major changes in our world.  In fact, I think I already have in prior posts.  My heart aches for anything less than success in all of those realms, for all of our animals and all of our people, primarily the little ones that are being born into a world that is slowly killing itself.  Because of all this, the idea of yet another Costco, where the wool is pulled over the mass consumer’s eyes even further, makes me sad and a bit ill.

Despite not trying to be that person at work (you know, the one who has strong opinions and pushes them on others), my coworkers periodically ask me questions.  These questions usually stem from them observing me eating, drinking, or doing something that appears foreign to them.  They normally look and watch, then either ask what it is or make fun of it for what it isn’t.  Either way, I respond with the facts and I always make sure to use that brief moment to teach them a little something about food and its source, without coming off as a cocky, know-it-all bitch!  Sounds easy but you straddle a fine line while doing so.  Sadly, despite the age, formal education or income bracket of the inquiring party, the statistics I have observed are as follows – plain and simple, the vast majority of people are completely clueless about their food.  They couldn’t tell you how it is grown, what chemicals are applied, what the hidden words in their ingredient list mean, and they certainly couldn’t explain the difference between the terms natural and organic.

I don’t write this to mock anyone and I sure hope it doesn’t come across that way.  To be honest, my heart breaks for this lack of knowledge among the masses because those are the consumers that support poor farming practices, by purchasing heavily sprayed veggies, and sickening animal welfare standards, by stocking up on bargain meat from Sam’s Club and the like.  To think, those animals were raised in captivity, provided with pathetic living conditions with the cheapest, nutritionally-absent food, confined to small spaces without bright sunlight or free movement of their bodies, and possibly never knowing what touching grass to their hooves or toes feels like in their lives.  Those are the same cows and pigs you may see piled high in the stainless cargo compartment of the tractor trailers speeding down the freeway past you during your morning commute.  Next time you see them on their first and final trip out into the world, take a moment to think of what their life was like and how it impacts yours.  After those animals have experienced that life (if you can call it that), you purchase their meat on sale by the pound for consumption by your entire family.  Imagine what you are putting into your body and to be honest, it is almost all in vain.  Not only did that poor soul give their life to ‘you’, but you don’t even understand it, you don’t appreciate it, you don’t deserve it and even if you did, it wasn’t good for you.  The whole thing wasn’t good for anyone and that makes me cry.  When I see the tractor trailer on the freeway, I cry for them and I continue to pledge to never support that sickening cycle.

Ok, I ranted.  I promised I wouldn’t rant but I can’t help that I care so deeply about these topics.  As my mom and I always say, if we won the lottery we would buy a huuuuuuuuuuuge piece of land, adopt all of the shelter pets and set them free.  After writing the above paragraph, maybe I would try to educate people just a little bit more.  Rather than allowing people to idly muddle through life, uneducated about the very choices they are making on a bi-weekly basis at Costco, maybe I could offer a little glimpse into a solution.  To me, the solution is a combination of better choices regarding how we farm, better choices with what we regularly eat, and better thinking about this planet we are slowly killing.

Needless to say, Hugo and I won’t be getting a new Costco platinum membership upon our new store’s grand opening.

Oops, I almost forget.  I didn’t totally explain what ‘The Costco Effect’ meant to me.  So not only do my coworkers frequently ask me about my kombucha, spinach-powder colored pasta, or fermented hot sauce, but they also constantly flaunt the outstanding ribs they grilled (Costco brand), chicken they baked (Costco brand), or cake they devoured (Costco brand).  Somehow these people brag about this food as if it was not only delicious (which it isn’t, I have tried it guys), but it was also the best choice solely due to the price tag attached to it.  Somehow people have become so blinded by a price that quality and content have not just fallen at the wayside, they are not even present judgement factors during a purchase for them.  If the chicken is $2/pound, then it must be the best chicken.  That fucking chicken could be soaked in cyanide but if it is $2/pound, it will always beat my $10/pound organic, heirloom chicken any day.  I laugh at it for many reasons, one of which includes my argument that if you are going to ingest such low quality food, whether that is meat or not, you also always have the choice of opting out of eating crap and opting in to eating something else.  In this case, rather than the chicken, you could just eat a veggie salad with tofu or beans (I always choose beans).  That would require breaking this weird addiction many people have to eating meat in almost every meal, as the center of these meals, and that is an entirely different blog post (or book) all together.

I may be preaching to the choir and I may be preaching to no one that cares.  But I don’t care.  I just wanted to write about something I think about every day because my heart is in it.  I also know that I would rather spend $10/pound on anything in life, than compromise my body and the body of the man I love by cooking and eating garbage.  I also sleep soundly knowing I respect the land we all call home, my choices provide for healthy farming practices, and my $10/pound chicken gets to feel the sunshine on her beautiful feathers during her time on earth.

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PS – Thanks for listening because I really enjoyed writing that.  It felt like a therapy session and I could cry today, just as easily as I have many times before, about the poor animals.  Because of this, I included a picture of a truly beautiful little lady in this world, my mom’s mini pony named Brownie.  I took this picture during a trip to visit my parents last year.  She lives on their ten acre, organic farm, with her horse sister (from another mister) Shasta.  The two ladies cruise for fresh alfalfa grass in spring and summer and get doted on by my mom all year long.  Brownie, as all animals do, deserve every minute of it.

Leap of faith

Something came over me today while sitting idly at work on a gloomy Thursday morning in downtown Los Angeles.  After a brief group meeting with my coworkers and supervisor regarding a couple issues on our team, I decided to pull the trigger by submitting my transfer request to actually make a move I have been contemplating over the past several months.  I realize I am constantly marinating in entrepreneurial juices and dreaming of more independence, a shorter (or non-existent) drive to work, and more personal satisfaction so today I chose to throw my name in the theoretical transfer hat.  By doing so, I am now eligible to relocate my work location to our local office, which is all of 17 minutes from Hugo’s and my humble abode.  Additional, hugely positive perks to this move for me include not having to drive on a freeway, should I choose to avoid it, being centrally located just a few short blocks from Whole Foods and other stores we frequent, and working in a more stimulating and rewarding environment.  You can’t go wrong with any of those points.

Once I announced this radical change to my closest coworkers, I received a lot of kind backlash about my decision.  As one of my dearest partners physically ripped up and destroyed my original paperwork, in a loving gesture to avoid my departure, my other friends expressed their anger at my decision and sadness about my future absence.  Not going to lie – it felt really nice to realize just how loved I am amongst my small, close-knit group.  It is pretty cool how we travel through these small circles in life, inside some of which we form true bonds and friendships with a select few special people we encounter.  I also shared my plans via text with my other friends from my prior work assignments; they shared in my excitement and reflected on the fun times we have had working together in the past.  While I sometimes grow frustrated with work in general, it is nice when these sweet moments creep in, humbly reminding me of the good that does exist in this environment.

Just prior to submitting my transfer paperwork today, I knocked on my supervisor’s office door and stepped inside.  I asked him if he had a moment to chat, to which he agreed, so I stepped forward to approach his desk.  I was nervous because of the nature of the situation.  I could feel my heart pounding heavy in my chest, neck and jaw, leading me to believe it was visible from those around me.  I pressed on because I wanted to take a moment to explain why I was about to submit this surprising piece of paperwork to this man that sat at his desk before me, respecting the fact that he deserved a short explanation rather than silence on my part.

I told him how I had been contemplating the career move for quite a while and today’s meeting made the decision for me, as he, being my supervisor, was now implementing some drastic procedural changes that negatively affected our work schedule and conditions.  Because of this, during today’s meeting, the decision was easy and essentially made for me.  Since then, Hugo has expressed how proud he is of me, for being bold by voicing my reasoning for requesting a change to my supervisor, which was no easy task.  I too am proud of myself, mainly for making this morning the last moment I dealt with being upset about things I had the ability to change – instead, I made this morning the time I made a bold move to improve my life, one less crappy, Los Angeles rush hour commute at a time.

Fear of failure

After arriving home from a morning work meeting, that ended up lasting over four hours and sucking the literal life out of me, I just flipped on my favorite local radio station, which is 88.5 FM in the greater Los Angeles area.  It is by far the best radio station Hugo and I have ever come across, throughout our life journey in several different states.  Great local shows that feature fun and progressive new music, as well as classic tribute hours devoted to the likes of the Beatles, Grateful Dead, and more.  If you trust me and click the above link, shows to check out include Americana Matinee and Saturday Morning with the Beatles.

As always, I strayed from my reason for this post with my side thoughts.  The meeting drained me to the point that I am sitting on the couch, enjoying a piece of Costa Rican mint chocolate, all while wrapped in my favorite Coyuchi wrapped in a blanket.  Mind you, it is only 2:21pm on a Tuesday but I don’t care.  After turning the radio on before, I was thankful to have tuned in at that exact moment (right around 2pm) because I got to hear the new Sea Wolf song entitled Fear of Failure.  Got me thinkin’, as these things tend to do – I no longer possess a strong fear of failure in life and I have to say, it is a very satisfying realization.

Maybe that isn’t completely true, because we are humans and we all have an inherent fear of true failure in life, at work or in love.  But I guess what I mean is this – I have reached a point both personally and professionally where I feel like I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  It might also have to do with the fact that I am ready to transition into a new career, so the thought of saying the wrong thing at my work meetings, pissing someone off or messing something up to the point of no redemption (which is incredibly difficult, if not nearly impossible in my government-run line of work), doesn’t frighten me in the least.  In fact, I might welcome it!  I also have a sense of comfort and confidence in my work ethic and work product, which takes a lot of the fear out of it.  I know I can do the job and I know I do it better than a lot of my counterparts, so what should I be afraid of?

Personally, I have no fear either.  Hugo and I have reached a momentous point in our marriage, which isn’t characterized by a huge moment in time where we reached “the top” or the successful equivalent.  I think we collectively understand, appreciate and respect one another better than most relationships we have ever seen and we find solace in being firmly rooted in the happy and loving nest we are in.  There is a warm sense of comfort and peace there, one that doesn’t allow for fear to creep in.

So it was a little ironic when Sea Wolf’s new song came on today because I had to take pause as I connected with the lyrics for a moment, and then quickly realized they don’t resonate with me as much as they used to.  While heavy nerves about the impending unknown used to bog me down and tangle my insides, now I notice myself not really giving a shit.  I don’t care what anyone else thinks – the only other souls on this earth that phase me are in my house right now (Hugo, Koa and Gunner) and at our family’s houses across the country.  Everyone else I can either take or leave…and between you and I, I do a lot of leaving ♥

All while watching the Golden Globes

“Who are you wearing?”

The question of the red carpet Golden Globes pre-show.  It’s all about what designer, what accessories and what arm candy.  I have to admit (just between you and I) – I happen to love awards pre-shows, quite possibly more than the actual awards shows.  In addition, I love anything on E! and Bravo (yes, Real Housewives of ANYWHERE fans, I am with you).  Sorry if your respect for me just went down a rung.  You can’t help who you love, just as you can’t help what awful reality shows you get sucked into.

The funny thing about all this is, as I was about to begin my post for the evening, I realized I have the polar opposite concept occurring on my TV screen right now.  As Ryan Seacrest interviews Dior-clad celebrities, many of whom are dipped in Harry Winston-like jewels, I was about to delve into my 3am thoughts from a recent early morning in Costa Rica.  Since Hugo and I got married in 2009, we have visited Costa Rica once, sometimes twice, a year, to visit my parents, who also fly in, or my aunt and uncle who live down there post-retirement as ex-Pats.  During our annual trip this past December, I lay awake one night, restless and thinking as I find myself from time to time.  On this particular occasion, I found myself gazing through the window shade crack, out into the full moon night sky of the Guanacaste Province.  As I did so, I thought of myself as an ant.  A single, minuscule ant, clinging to this overwhelmingly large planet, as we hurl through space and time, chasing the sun and being followed by the moon.  The ant is so small, as we all are, not only on our own planet but in the greater scope of the universe and well beyond.  I enjoy this concept and here’s why.

Life can be too much at times.  Too much good and hopefully not too often, too much bad.  Most of the time we ride somewhere comfortably in between, but even then we can feel a little suffocated by things that, quite frankly, really don’t matter.  The unnecessary stress we put on ourselves, whether it is because we are too critical or because the world isn’t always nice, can be burdensome and difficult to navigate.  We are also less important than we make ourselves out to be and no better or worse than any other creature on earth.  I am sick of watching those around me operate as if they supersede an insect on their window screen or an animal trying to cross the street through traffic.  That’s why I like to always remember that I am the ant.

Actually we are all the ants.  The clothes and jewelry don’t matter.  The silly comments don’t matter.  And the worries that seem important at the time, but easily fade after a little time has passed, really don’t matter.  What truly matters is who we are as human beings and fellow species on this planet, how we love one another and what we choose to do with our lives.  I like to remember the importance of this perspective as often as possible because it centers me and allows me to quickly prioritize my feelings about whatever is happening in my life.  If I am overwhelmed with nonsense, I remember that I am one of many ants on this giant planet, just trying to survive and thrive, and none of the chaos really matters.

 

Keepin’ it 100

While some of my posts are short and sweet (maybe just a quick thought or short poem), I reached 100 posts and I am proud♥  I am proud of myself for engaging in something I passionately love, writing.  And I am thankful for anyone out there reading this, anyone in this universe (or maybe another universe) that connects with my voice and the words I write.  Those same words that mold my thoughts and feelings into sentences, later paragraphs and stories of my life.  Sometimes I feel like my life is simple and uneventful but as I review my first 100 posts, I realize something – my life is wild and amazing, filled with love and adventure, and my brain is alive and well, pumping with thoughts that are chomping at the bit to be put to paper.  It feels really good to sit and write either about whatever comes to mind or about a topic I have been dwelling on for days.  It feels even better to realize you have found something in life that makes you happy and feel like yourself when you do it.  The definition of contentment, to me, is when I am both happy and relaxed as I dive deeper into a passion project such as this.

So please join me as I continue into the next one hundred posts during this 35th year of my life.  My mind is still brewing up more writing ideas, including one of my larger goals of writing either a series of short stories or a book of the three loves I know of and admire.  The first love story is that of my neighbor Pat and her husband Mark.  Mark, as you may know from my recent updates, passed away from this earth, relieved from his painful bone cancer battle.  The best of friends in every way, Mark and Pat were a beautiful couple who we enjoyed having in our lives for the past eight years as neighbors.

The second love story is that of Hugo’s grandparents, Polly and Bob.  Married for over seventy-five years, they weathered every type of storm imaginable, with both of them living into their mid-nineties (Polly is still chugging along at 95!).  As husband and wife, they traveled, raised their four children into confident, successful adults, and worked in various industries, including Bob’s time in the Navy during World War II.

The third and final love story is my fairy tale with Hugo.  In my opinion, this is the most beautiful love story of all.  We are the best of friends and he is the true puzzle piece to my life.  As I reflect on the three stories, side by side, I can see the common threads of friendship, trust, loyalty, and deep love running through them all.  Stand by for my series of love stories, coming soon to a blog near you ♥

What is socially acceptable?

Hugo and I have always found it rather funny how drinking alcohol to excess is completely socially acceptable yet using and abusing other drugs, or other destructive behavior, is absolutely not.  It is laughable and strange yet I believe this phenomenon only exists in this country, and possibly a few others.  In the United States of America, I can buy beer at 6am and start my day.  I can arrive for an outbound flight and enjoy a mimosa or two at the airport bar.  I can giggle about it being ‘happy hour somewhere’, as I pop a bottle of wine mid-afternoon in reference to it not being too early to start drinking if I were in another time zone.  And I can crawl into work or to a kindergarten conference the next morning, chalking up my hangover to a rough office party or night on the town, all while everyone looks on, doesn’t judge and understands because they have most likely been there before themselves.

Now just imagine if all of my above scenarios involved heroin.  If I hit the street at 6am to score a bag of heroin or shot up in the airport lounge before boarding my plane, we might not be giggling about it being ‘happy hour somewhere’.  Or worse, if you dragged your ass into your children’s school, with a hoodie and dark shades on, looking like hell because you used too much heroin last night and your body was struggling to come back to life.  What would the commentary be then?

Well, for starters, I bet those children at that kindergarten conference would be taken away from you.  And your employer for the office party may not be your employer for much longer.  And every relationship would suffer and all respect would be lost as you were now labeled as a heroin addict with a pathetic problem.  A gross person who had slid below the moral and ethical threshold, who lacks common decency and is completely socially unacceptable in the upper middle-class, suburban bubble.

It doesn’t make sense, particularly when you look at how outrageously destructive alcohol is for everyone it touches.  From elevating some imbibers to yelling, fighting, violent individuals, to causing those behind the wheel to take another human being’s life, alcohol is an awful, oddly acceptable drug.  While it is perfectly legal in most areas of the US (I say most because there are still dry counties), it is also responsible for some of the most horrific domestic violence incidents and murders, whether by someone’s hand or a drunk someone’s car.

We have been affected by alcohol in our own family and this is partly why this topic comes to mind for me.  Hugo’s pregnant cousin and unborn child were killed by a drunk driver in Florida – she was just 22 years old with her whole life ahead of her.  Her father, a now-retired air traffic controller and Hugo’s uncle, never recovered from the loss.  Since that tragic night, he has begun and ended every day with a travel mug full of straight vodka.

Both of our families through the years have also been heavy drinkers, with some members of the family drinking more than others.  Hugo’s mom drinks vodka like water after 4pm every day and since she was raised in a drinking environment, she knows nothing different and thinks nothing of it.  My father, right before being diagnosed as a type II diabetic, was overweight, depressed and drinking heavily, at times to the point of passing out in his underwear while sitting on the basement stairs.  Or better yet, passing out while seated at the dinner table, resting his head on his hand, in front of 16 year old me, my mother and maybe a friend I had over for dinner that night.  Thankfully that embarrassing and sickening behavior came to an abrupt end when he became sober a few short years later.

Our close friend Andy has been a struggling alcoholic for almost two decades now.  Just this month (January of 2020) marks his 15th or so round of rehab and yet another shot at reaching and maintaining sobriety.  We hope and pray to our spaghetti god that Andy can make it out of his nightmare alive.  He deserves better than barricading himself in a cheap motel as he downs quarts of cheap clear liquor and nothing else for days on end.

And finally, as I believe I have written on before, Hugo and I were affected by the nasty effects of alcohol.  Luckily and thankfully our experiences were nothing more than arguments over nonsense when we drank.  Arguments that we didn’t want to have but somehow always found ourselves in.  We made the decision to treat one another better and not engage in that lifestyle so I can now proudly say we no longer drink to excess.  The occasional glass or two of wine or beer (and by occasional, I mean once or twice a year) is our new, healthy routine and it works well for us.

I bet if you looked at most American families, their stories would be littered with similar experiences about the devastating effects of alcohol.  Too many relationships have been compromised, too many lives have been lost and too many people have lost themselves to addiction, yet this drug is completely legal, readily available, and actually celebrated in many ways.  And it is all relative and based on geography because heroin, in contrast, is legal in other parts of the world.  I am sure people in those areas have tales of how heroin has affected their family members, but I imagine it isn’t quite as ‘Category 5 hurricane’ as alcohol is here.  While there are always extremes and every drug carries its own set of issues with it, I do believe that particular intoxicants are more devastating to human beings than others.  There is also something to be said about how drugs are craved, abused and respected when and once they are legalized.

 

 

The best panic attack

I can’t put words around my feelings

that fit the wholes inside my brain

I try so hard to find the meaning

of what is going on with him.

 

And then I lost my fucking mind and feared I’d never get it back

Crawling outta my god damn skin, caught in the best panic attack.

 

Sitting frozen on the couch

Waiting for him to come carry me

Out of the feelings that I’m feeling

and back to me just being me.

 

Thoughts flooding my confused emotion

A million fears keep creeping in

If I can’t stop this flooded ocean

I might drown right now, I’m dead.

 

And then I lost my fucking mind and feared I’d never get it back

Crawling outta my god damn skin, caught in the best panic attack.

 

Now several weeks have passed us by

And I still feel just all the same

Grateful for him beyond all words

Wouldn’t wanna thing to change.

 

Right before I lost my fucking mind and feared I’d never get it back

Crawling outta my god damn skin, I escaped the best panic attack.

 

 

Writer’s note:  This poem was written on November 29, 2019, in the midst of a very transformative experience with Hugo by my side.  I can still hear the music that goes to the words as I sing it out loud.  If you, the reader, happens to be a singer and/or musician capable of strumming a simple guitar chord, please message me.  I would love to hear this set to the beat I have in my head.

Happy X Nature Skyglow Jumpsuit

I was so excited by my recent order that I had to share this immediately.  Kate Hudson just debuted her new brand, Happy X Nature, which is an eco-friendly fashion line that nicely compliments her other outstanding lines that I have already fallen hard for, including Fabletics (don’t even get me started on how much I love those damn leggings!).  Anyways, upon opening my shipping bag, I immediately fell in love with my new Skyglow Jumpsuit in Recycled Polyester.  My beautiful jumpsuit arrived in size 8 today and I can’t believe how well it fit.  It is almost as if it is tailored to my body and meant to be worn by yours truly.  I am ecstatic with the purchase and looking forward to wearing it at Hugo’s cousin’s wedding in July ♥

Maybe it is right in front of me

As odd as it may sound, what I have been whining about seeking, while on my quest to find my true passions and a possible career change, may be right in front of me.  Literally, it might be the keyboard I am typing on and the screen I am staring at on a daily basis as I grind away at my loving blog.  Moaning on and on to you, my loyal readers, I have continued to explain in detail about my heartfelt pursuit of self-employment, meaningful work days and something to motivate and excite me again.  Maybe, just maybe, what I have been looking for is right here.  What I am suggesting is this – maybe I am supposed to be a writer.

Let’s face it, I like to write and I am not the worst at it.  Whether you enjoy listening to me vent about my random feelings, thoughts and dreams, I really enjoy jotting it all down, packaging it up and slinging it onto the information superhighway that is my mildly trafficked site.  I have been writing for the entirety of my life and it has always originated from a place of honesty and rawness, only done whenever I felt the need and about topics that came from my inner being.  Because of this, it is one of the most enjoyable activities I have in my life and I realize how true this is, even more so now, in 2020.

While I can’t make any money off doing this (because, let’s be honest, who is going to pay me to chat about how much I love my Hugo and how much I despise all of the ignorant ridiculous things I observe every day), I intend to continue doing what my long fingers seek – type away as if I was a trained pianist, sometimes not fast enough to keep up with my racing brain’s output.  Just the fact that I came a little bit closer to realizing what makes me happy, well, that’s a pretty great thing.  And boy do I have something to say (about nine topics in my queue as of tonight) so stand by…

Twenty twenty

Happy New Year (plus three days) to anyone out there in this vast universe that is reading this.  As I always appear to be doing, I continue to marinate on all of the tasks I have left undone, all of the places and opportunities I want to explore, and, most importantly, how I want to devote the remainder of my time here on Earth.  I am about to receive an email from the California Department of Real Estate, that will allow me to schedule my state exam, and I am very excited about that finally happening.  With a new chapter of my life looming in the near future, I am antsy to begin.  Part of me wants to quit my job, jump head first into the real estate ocean, and give it everything I have.  The other practical part, which also has Hugo’s voice of reason anchored at the core, knows I should get licensed and begin working, while maintaining my current career.  Basically, see how it goes before fully committing and risking everything I have worked extremely hard for.  In short, it is tough because I feel this entrepreneurial fire burning in my soul and I am resounding to not grab the proverbial fire extinguisher.

Hugo and I finished out 2019 as strong as ever and that is my most proud accomplishment of the year.  After nearly sixteen years together, we grew even closer this year.  Not an easy feat after so much life together.  He has impressed me since the day I met him but the fact that he continues to age so beautifully, both on the inside and on the surface, is astonishing.  He has a heart of gold and he pours it into everything he does.  He showers me in kindness, care and love in everything he does, from cooking me gourmet vegetarian dishes to listening to me go on and on about my thoughts, fears and goals, on a daily basis.  I am so happy to have met him and even more thankful to call him my husband.

As the year drew to a close, we discussed what our collective relationship resolutions would be for this new decade.  We celebrated how far we have come and expressed the deep love we have for each other.  Love is the most vital aspect of existence and it permeates every culture and all species – we relished in the fact that ours is strong, healthy and meant to be.  He is my soulmate and I am his.  We looked into each other’s eyes and gazed upon the bodies that house the person we love the most.  As we did so, we resounded to continue trying to be better for one another, to communicate more effectively, to finish discussions respectfully rather than destructively engage in arguments, and to always make one another the top priority.  I am so impressed with having a partner who wants to keep growing, both personally and as a couple, with me.  If after 16 years together we have gotten to this place, I am excited to see where we go from here and lucky to be his wife and partner ♥

My hopes for this year, beyond my career and relationship aspirations, include the following items (some of them may appear cliche and to that I say, yeah!…cliche just means that a lot of people strive for similar things and that only makes me feel more united with those around me):  Take better care of myself, physically, mentally and spiritually.  Pursue my dreams of having more animals in our family.  Garden better and more beautifully around our home, for our visual pleasure and for the love of the thriving hummingbirds and others who call our organic acreage their home too.  Explore more of what Los Angeles, the United States of America and our globe has to offer.  Try new activities like falconry (we just discussed our plans for this today).  Visit more museums and read my unfinished books around the house.  And, finally, write more often.  All of my wants are positivity-fueled pursuits that are fun to me.  In fact, over the past couple weeks, I found my brain  dribbling out writing ideas that just kept coming to me – as they did, I jotted down notes on my cell phone, scribbled on scratch paper I have in every room of the house, and typed up email reminders of must-have blog post ideas.  My brain and heart want to speak so this audience better get ready to listen.

I wish the world more of what I am blessed to already have.  Hopefully you can understand who I am well enough by now to know that I do not intend to appear pretentious when I say that.  I only wish love for those without it in their hearts and lives.  Many people are walking alone in this world and they crave friendship and romance.  To them, I wish them a 2020 filled with new beginnings that will lead to love in their lives.  And to those in the world who do not treat others with love, by being unkind, rude, disrespectful, or, even worse, with hate, bias or violence, I wish more love into their hearts as well.  If we could all just learn to lead with love, many of our collective world problems would naturally dissipate into a thing of the past.  Finally, I wish more love onto all corners of our planet because we abuse her with toxic chemicals, deforestation, hurting the animals and ruining our oceans.  As everyone hears every day, we must act now to make significant changes in our world and that begins by loving the place we call home.  Let us all resolve to take better care of one another and our beautiful Earth as we embark on this new decade.

The thing about fights

Writer’s note:  This post was written in late October, 2019, before I took an unintentional hiatus from writing and posting.  After marinating on what is important to me over the past few months, coupled with the fact that I was wrapping up my real estate work, travelling with Hugo for the holidays, and continuing to focus on life in general, I decided to get back into one of my true passions – exploring my inner dialogue and writing on the topics that matter to me.  So here you go and sorry for the delay.

 

Everyone has one from time to time.  The only difference between all of us is the words that are spoken and to whom they are spoken (or yelled) at.  Thankfully, Hugo and I don’t bicker or squabble too severely but we are human and it does happen.  In a funny kind of way, I actually enjoy an argument from time to time.  The mere act of going head to head, like two rams fighting for ownership of their steep hillside, reminds me that we have different opinions and are deeply passionate about them.  It also reminds me that the little things really don’t matter. Of course at the time we feel like whatever minor, dumb topic we are fiercely defending is worth its weight in gold but whenever we turn a little difference of opinion into a shouting (and in my case, crying) match, we normally come full circle, just in time to remember how none of it means shit.

Case in point:  Sunday, early afternoon, 89°, Southern California.  Hugo was washing dishes while I sat on the couch, laptop in lap, working on my second real estate license course.  Meanwhile, the dogs lounged in the air conditioning on their recently-washed beds, enjoying a reprieve from the heat.  Hugo began asking me all sorts of questions and repeatedly interrupting me as I tried to read and take notes – questions about what I was doing and random anecdotes about life.  Now, don’t get me wrong, this is one of my favorite qualities, among many, about him, but on this particular occasion, I was making a real effort to focus and absorb my class material.  Because I was trying to remain focused, my fuse was a little shorter than usual (and let me tell you, my friends, I am operating with a half inch fuse on the regular).  After the fifteenth interruption, I got a little snippy – Hugo tells me I am part ‘snip’ so maybe it is just in my blood.  If that’s the case, is any of this really my fault??!?

I digress.  We talked a little more and an argument ensued over something dumb.  Hugo was asking me about washing his truck and I wasn’t as nice as I should have been.  In my defense though, I was trying desperately to focus on my task at hand.  So, in turn, Hugo called me a liar, over a statement I made about a car wash coupon.  That was his way of pecking at me.  The altercation ended with a few nasty words and some time apart, as Hugo washed his truck and I continued working, in complete, slightly blissful, silence.  As I sit here typing, I realize even more so just how ridiculous this all was.  But like we all do, in the moment it felt worthwhile and we bickered until the point of getting truly angry at one another.

Now, at this point, I have to advise you, the reader, that Hugo and I are all good.  We are better than good, actually, because not only are we chuckling at how merit-less our ‘fight’ was but we are also appreciating the fact that we both engage in similarly annoying behaviors to one another.  And that’s the best and most real part – we are just two people who love each other and are trying our best.

As fire literally rages all around us today in SoCal, it is important to remember what is truly important in life.  We all know that while we are in the moment, the littlest of things can appear monumental.  We all also know, or should after entering adulthood, that life is fleeting and none of this is guaranteed.  While a squabble from time to time happens with those closest to us, let’s continue trying our best to be better partners for one another.  I know Hugo and I are, one day at a time.

 

 

A great feeling

I am sitting here on the couch, marinating in candlelight, a Real Housewives of Atlanta rerun and the fact that I just finished my third and final real estate course, as required by the California Department of Real Estate for salesperson licensing!  Wow, that was a long sentence but boy it felt good to type out!

Now my upcoming plans entail submitting my application and required documentation for my state examination, which appears like it won’t happen until after our December trip to Costa Rica, due to a high volume of applications being submitted to the CalDRE (their words, not mine).  Oh well, it will happen eventually.  Really wish it would happen on the sooner side, so I could finally put all of this studying behind me and actually start learning about buying and selling properties but I know it will all come together in due time.  Thankfully I am not relying on this new real estate pursuit as my sole income-producing career so I don’t have that kind of stress on me right now.  While I wouldn’t mind leaving my day (and night) job right now, real estate will be essentially a supplement to my life at this point.  If and when it turns into something more, I will reassess and make those vital decisions then.

Thankfully, I have the utmost support from those around, just as I do for every decision, crossroads or hiccup I have ever had in life.  Not only do my parents always support and cheer me on through it all, but Hugo also pushes and encourages me, despite the current goal on my plate.  I have said it before and I will continue to say it again – I am so thankful for the love and confidence they have in me.  Without them, I would be nothing and I truly believe that.

Day 1 – Back in the saddle

I did it! ♥

I didn’t do it perfectly but I did what I set out to do today – eat light, not consume sugar, meat, or heavy carbs, and start my journey out strong.  I am rounding my day out with finishing one of my last real estate courses online, feeding my two favorite Rottie pups a tasty dinner, and mellowing in the fact that I kept my promises to myself today.  I accomplished all this while having a very stressful day at work, filled with clenched fists, a furrowed brow that occupied my forehead for the majority of the day, and a strong desire to quit by way of eating chocolate with my co-workers (it is post-Halloween season in our workplace after all).  But in the end, I didn’t quit on myself and for that I am proud.

I have found that the key is truly taking it one day at a time.  Anyone can do anything for one day of their life so I chose to focus on that.  I vow to do right by my body for just today.  Tomorrow doesn’t exist and I can’t erase the heavy mistakes of my past so I chose not to dwell on them.  I chose not to defeat myself based on prior transgressions.  By focusing on today, and today only, I can simplify my existence and tackle the present.  Whatever you do, focus only on today and by tomorrow, the process will have begun and success will be your new reality.

So for today, I won.  I conquered what I set out to do and tomorrow I will wake up and do it again.  Just for that one day, and that one day after that.  Until what I have vowed to create has taken on a life of its own and I find myself a changed woman, one day at a time.

I have to do this

Not to take away any of the seriousness of my feelings but, and I quote my all-time, favorite movie Dumb & Dumber when I say, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  No words have rang more true than those do right now.  November 5th, 2019.  Los Angeles, California, United States of America.  I am thirty-five years old and happily married.  I have a solid, stable career that, while it may be frustrating at times (let’s be honest, whose career isn’t?), provides for a wonderful life.  It didn’t come easily and I have earned every moment of it.  Irregardless of that, I am pursuing yet another professional advancement for myself.  Rooted in a genuine interest in real estate, I am mere moments away from finishing my third and final required course in pursuit of my California salesperson license in real estate.

After tackling and completing my Bachelor’s degree this past Spring, I am proud of myself for striving for my real estate license and happy on the inside that this new pursuit is almost complete.  Once my classes are done, I will get fingerprinted (which is then run through the FBI database to ensure I am not a murderous, raping thief), identify if I want to be signed on with a broker from the beginning, and provide the details behind my college-age DUI arrest.  While I regard it as one of the lowest and most shameful moments in my life thus far, it certainly pushed me to learn and make significant behavioral and mental changes.  If not for my DUI, I may not be where I am today and, for that, I am oddly thankful.

Needless to say, I have been busy during the past year.  Just prior to my return to college in the Fall of 2018, I had my fifth knee surgery in July.  And just prior to that surgery, I had gotten into the best shape of my life.  What started out as a weight-loss challenge among co-workers, turned into a breakthrough journey of personal triumph.  For years I had wanted it and last Summer I finally got it;  ‘it’ being a substantial weight loss and, more importantly, the best version of me.  I became disciplined, focused and inspiring to myself.  I forged a path on my own, creating a meal plan, a rhythm, and an entirely new life.  I lost 22 pounds and I gained a renewed vision of happiness, sexiness, and joy in achieving my goals.

And then I threw it all away.  Not right away and not all at once but, maybe even worse, I tossed it out slowly.  I went back to my old ways of doing things, I gave up my focus and all of the positive, self-taught lessons went with it.  I quit on myself, despite telling myself so many times that I wouldn’t, not anymore.  It angers and saddens me because we should be our own biggest supporters in life – after all, we only have one body and one life.  Such an easy principle, yet it is outrageously difficult to abide by.

So here I am, on November 5th, 2019, weighing more than I would like to.  Here I am, putting it all out there – on the scale, on the blog, and off my conscious.  I know that I found my motivation before and I will muster it up again.  I also know that I developed a plan that worked.  If I am able to implement my plan again, I will once again prove that I am strong and capable of anything.  I will also prove that my plan works and if it works for me, it just might work for you.  But before I get ahead of myself, let me officially kick off my journey once more.

I will weigh in tomorrow morning and many mornings after that.  I will follow my diet, track my intake, make wise choices and keep pushing forward.  I will invest in myself and, in turn, I will invest in my relationship, my family, my job, my friends, and my future, because by being the best version of me, I am able to give that best version to all of those that I touch.  By loving me and continuing to improve my existence, I will be better equipped to love those around me (that means you Hugo).

So, I leave you with my excitement and fear, as well as my will to succeed.  I will take it one day at a time and keep you updated along the way.  Trust and believe that I will succeed – we only have one life to live and one body to live it in so why not make ’em the best we can.

P.S.:  Sorry for the long hiatus.  Pray for rain in California, success on my journey, and more frequent posts to boot!

Sleepy but still studying

Another long day at work, followed by an afternoon of puppy-sitting (which isn’t a job but it is work), dinner, and real estate coursework until bedtime.  I am really enjoying being busy these days, as I inch closer and closer towards being a licensed agent in California.  At the end of all this, I will have not only completed my Bachelor’s degree this year, which happens to be my 35th on the planet earth, but I will also be able to add real estate licensee to my list of professional accomplishments.  And please don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to brag or come across as being cocky – I am just happy and proud of myself for pursuing my dreams, sticking to it all day after night after day, and accomplishing the things I set out to do.  Like everyone in this world, I have failed many times on countless other endeavors so this time, in addition to many more, I intend to get it right.

With one class completed and my second class 37% finished (that’s an approximation folks), I am finding peace and excitement with the process.  Nervous to take the state test in a couple months and there is literally not much I can do to quell my anxiety about it.  With a high failure rate, the test is mildly intimidating;  if real estate was my sole pursuit right now I would be much more scared of the impending test date but since I am still employed with steady income, I can rest a little bit easier.  My whole life isn’t hinging on this new chapter so it is all elective, which makes it much more calming and fun.  I like to push myself so even if I have to take the final California Real Estate Licensee test a few times, I will just chalk it up to solid practice and a good story to tell later on down the road in my upcoming lucrative real estate career.

But for now, I am going to log out of my online course website, enjoy a final cup of tea, and drift off to bed.  Need to grab a couple hours of sleep before I start my Thursday morning at 3am in downtown LA – even the rats don’t get up that early…goodnight!

All I can think about

Yesterday, while finishing up my lunch break at work, my least favorite supervisor walked into our conference room, sat down, and proceeded to ruin the remainder of my Wednesday and, so far, all of my Thursday!  The jerk was single-handedly able to do this by being rude and condescending, two things I really haven’t experienced from a coworker during my twelve year tenure on the job.  I am happy to say I am not familiar with being treated poorly but it broke my heart nonetheless.  I felt angry and sad, as well as embarrassed, although I had no reason to be.  He made me feel very uncomfortable in my own skin and all I wanted to do was leave.  And leave I did.

The short few minutes, that resulted in hours of anxiety and anger for me in the following days, were all the result of my supervisor telling an awful story, for the 3rd time, about how he ‘beat’ his mildly aggressive Rottweiler with a baseball bat when he was younger.  He described in lurid detail how the adolescent dog, whom he had essentially ignored by gifting it to his son and leaving it to live outside during its formative years, growled at him when he went to feed him his dinner.  Being the alpha male that he is and was, my violent superior grabbed his nearby bat and hit the dog a couple times – when he described this moment, he even yelped out to reenact how the dog screamed while being beaten.

As I heard this frightful story yet again, I stood with a straight face, refusing to laugh alongside him as my other two moronic coworkers did (which struck me as a desperate attempt to seek the storyteller’s approval).  My supervisor noticed I wasn’t amused by his awful actions so he proceeded to tell me how beating a dog is necessary to training and how I would never be able to handle a canine of this caliber.

I didn’t know where to begin and I found myself, as I do in these scenarios, not saying exactly what I would like to say.  While I told him I would have handled things differently (to put it lightly), I wanted to tell him how he is an asshole.  I also wanted to tell him that he is a pathetic excuse of a man, I have zero respect for him, and I cannot wait for him to leave our place of work when he retires at the end of this month.  Finally, I wanted to hit him with a baseball bat while I provided some dog training tips to him for the future.

The whole thing made me so mad – knowing the pup was treated inhumanely, watching people laugh about it as if it was funny, and his condescension and outlandish ability to actually flip the script on me, as if I was in the wrong.  Things like this will bother me for days, as it already has.  I struggle with being around people who make me upset, in any shape or form, because all I want to do is separate myself from stress, anger, sadness or worry.  Life is too short and there are too many wonderful people to consume ourselves with (like Hugo ♥) – no one needs a negative, evil human being in their midst.  I sure as hell don’t.

I believe the Statute of Limitations in California is up on this story, since it happened a couple decades ago.  Plus, the victim has since passed away – makes me sad for him, just knowing he had to go through that, all alone in the world, with his trust in the very man that hurt him.  It pains my heart that it happened and it hurts to watch him laugh in unison with others, as he reminisced about his brutal tale.  He ruined the following days in my life, as I cried inside for the dog and for the way he made me feel.  I know I shouldn’t feel badly but I do.  Hopefully a little more time, some hugs from my own loving pooches, and his upcoming retirement will make it all better.

 

1/3rd done…almost…

Nearly five weeks into my real estate coursework and I am about to complete my first course.  And now that I am on the verge of completing my first, 45-hour class, I can say, based on experience, that the three required courses of study in California are no joke (Thank goodness I chose the fabulous online format that I did – Real Estate Express has been easy to navigate and a breeze to use for several hours on a daily basis).

Now, that’s not to say that the material is incredibly difficult or taxing to learn but it is just a little bit more time-consuming than I had initially imagined it would be.  Regardless, I am genuinely enjoying learning about a new topic; for the entirety of my adult life, I have been fully engrossed with and consumed by my present career, meaning that all of my learning and focus has been on that sole topic.  Because of that, it is overwhelmingly refreshing to be soaking up something fresh.

I am also proud of myself for doing just that – soaking up something fresh.  At a time in my life when I could easily sit back and become lazy, both in terms of my personal growth and career, it is satisfying to my soul to not do either.  And to top it off, Hugo wrote me a beautiful card the other day, which was accompanied by a bouquet of colorful flowers and a delicious dinner, that said how proud he was of me and that I am an inspiration.  While that isn’t my goal, it makes my internal smile shine bright knowing that my partner is impressed with my pursuits.

As a parting, extremely girly, side note – I was about to spell check this post and sling it your way when a tv ad fulfilled its mission and caught my attention.  Within seconds I found myself scrolling through the advertised website – FabFitFun.  It is actually a really fun idea, that I may just order for myself.  In a nutshell, for roughly $50 per shipment, four times per year, a young lady, or young man (or old folks for that matter!), gets a box delivered with a varied assortment of premium products, such as makeup, clothing, and accessories.  The unknown factor is what always interests me about business ideas like this, because it exposes the recipient to items they may not otherwise discover through their routine shopping excursions.  Anyways, that was a little off topic but I thought I would share it because it looks like fun.  Oh, before I forget, the ad mentioned using code PARTY for $10 off…enjoy! ♥

Insecto del amor

Time stops for no one,

time eventually runs out for all.

Before I truly started life, I found you,

into an enthralling world of love I fall.

 

We grew and thankfully grew together,

like a vine I raveled tightly on

the sturdy shelter found in your shoulders,

my solo wander and lonely existence was gone.

 

It isn’t always easy and I wouldn’t want it if it was.

You push me with your passion for me, for life,

have shown me how strength in character, purpose and love

feels on my skin.  Thankful to be your wife.

 

♥ Written on Thursday, August 29th, 2019, at 8:45pm – missing Hugo as he worked a sixteen hour shift at work.

 

Love & nourishment

I am sure you have gathered that Hugo is nothing short of a fantastic, near -perfect husband by now and you wouldn’t not be wrong in that assessment.  I only say ‘near-perfect’ because we are all human and none of us are perfect; should one come close though, it would be my Hugo.  Throughout the past fifteen years together, he has only grown more loving, thoughtful and caring, about both my wants and needs.  One of my recent ‘wants’ has been an easy transition into vegetarianism and thankfully Hugo has also embraced this lifestyle change with open and willing arms.

Because he loves to cook (and I love to eat), Hugo has been making some delicious, meat-free meals for his love bug (yes, that’s me).  I decided it would be nice to share some of those recipes here, in hopes of bringing a little more vegetarian love into your home this weekend.

A few weeks ago, Hugo made Chef John’s Mushroom Burgers and they were to die for.  Pan fry and pair them with some sliced avocado, sauteed onions, melted cheese and a toasted brioche bun and you have yourself one of the best and healthiest burger options possible.

After basking in mushroom burger-goodness for three solid days, Hugo decided to make Bon Appetit’s version of Ratatouille Pasta.  This perfect blend of late Summer veggies transform into a decadent and satisfying dish, unlike any other veggie pasta meal we have had.

My hope in sharing these recipes is that someone, or a few someones, out there, in the great big world, will find some joy and healthy nourishment out of food that is both good for the body and our struggling planet.  Just this week, one of the largest headlines concerns the fact that the Amazon rain forest is burning down, due to farmers clearing land to raise cattle.  While we all know growing food and raising animals require cleared pastures and fields, it is disturbing and sad to see our of our most bio-diverse areas, that is responsible for producing 20% of the world’s oxygen, disappearing at an alarming rate.

If not for your health, or the animal welfare aspect, of choosing to be vegetarian, maybe, just maybe, do it for our planet.  We are all in this together and if we don’t start making decisions as individuals for the greater good, we are all going to be royally fucked.

 

My beautiful puppy

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Her first bath after arriving at her new home – December 23rd, 2018.

Koa is already nine months old and while we have only had her for seven of those 9 months, time has certainly flown by.  Last year at this time, Kaiser and Nala went downhill fast, back to back, and by the Fall of 2018 we were without our doggies.  It is incredible how we are all capable of loving, suffering loss, grieving and eventually, however hard as the while process may have been, moving on.  I longed for little Koa, and later Gunner, in our lives and I am thankful every day for their love and companionship.  So for today, here is a little tribute to my beautiful puppy – Koa the Boa (or so she was dubbed when she got feisty as a 15 lb armful at twelve weeks), born November 5th, 2018.

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You have filled a hole in my heart.

Sharks in the ocean = KK is a land animal

I need to start out by saying that I love and respect sharks, as I do all animals.  I can’t say the same for all human beings, who can be inherently evil and nasty to one another at times.  Animals, on the other hand, are innocent and just trying to survive, without any malicious intent.  With that said, I have a couple of fears in life.  None of my fears are truly debilitating but I do get extremely anxious and uncomfortable in water deeper than my boobs.  Ok, maybe my belly button…but who’s counting.

Something about the unknown of what lies beneath the water line or just out of sight.  I am the person that gets wildly freaked out when a small branch brushes their leg in waist-deep water, immediately panicking and believing I am being attacked by a sea monster of sorts (again, I would still respect said sea monster).  Seconds later, when the culprit is identified as a sunken, 3-inch branch, I not only feel foolish but I also feel safe.  Needless to say, the ocean is not my jam and I am okay with that.  Everyone has their likes and dislikes and I have come to find out, after my thirty-five solid years of walking on terra firma, that I am a land animal, tried and true.

Hugo and I have spent many day trips and relaxing vacations at the beach and I enjoy every second of it.  As most people do, I enjoy the fresh air, the scenic beauty, and the calming sound of the methodical ocean.  Hugo lives to fish (and would fish to live if he had to) so he spends most of his time doing just that.  I am happy when he is happy so as he fishes I normally lay in the sun, walk the beach or stand by his side, simply pleased to be close to him and the ocean.

Now, with all of that said and done, it is important to note that Hugo loves to swim in the ocean and he will swim, dive, snorkel, explore and even paddle hunks of shark bait 100 yards out on a boogie board, so he can effectively shark fish from the Florida shoreline when there with our family.  Yes, this happened…and it happened in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, which I have recently come to find out is known as the Shark Bite Capital of the World.  At the time of our beach house rental with Hugo’s family and my mother a couple of years ago, I had no idea.  If I had, I would have gone into protective mode of my prized Hugo and really tried my best to keep him safe and out of the water.  He probably wouldn’t have listened but it would have been worth a shot.  After all, I happen to like the guy and want him around forever.

This came to mind as we have rounded out Shark Week 2019 and I realized as I wrote this post that I fashioned a similar excerpt last year at this time.  For someone who is scared of the ocean depths, I have a tremendous amount of love for the magnificent predatory animals that call the ocean their home.  Now if only we could choose who the sharks bite (maybe one of our recent murderous mass shooters), the world would be a little closer to fair and just.

Back to reality

Hugo and I just returned from a fun-filled, super relaxing week at a five-star resort just north of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  After cancelling our pre-planned Hawaii trip due to inclement weather as a result of westward moving Hurricane Erick, Hugo trusted my judgement and we rerouted South.  I found the Westin and, better yet, their cliff-side outcropping of private, deluxe villas called Baja Point, and what an amazing find it was.  So many wonderful things to say about this place and to be quite honest, pictures just don’t do it justice.

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It was our first time back to Mexico in a long time, after a much younger Hugo and KK spent a drunken night in Tijuana many moons ago.  This trip to Mexico was a complete 180° from our prior trip in more ways than one – the resort was absolutely breathtaking, the food was phenomenal and our emphasis was on mindful resting and recuperation of our spirits, as we took a short, six day jaunt away from work and the bustle of Los Angeles.

As my blaring alarm went off at 3:30am sharp this morning, for a brief, fleeting moment I thought, “What is that hideous, annoying noise?”  It was right at that moment that I realized it was time to return to work today.  I dragged my sunburned ass out of bed, into the shower and off to meet my annoying carpool partner Mouse I went (you may remember Mouse from a prior post of two – if not, read up).  I parked my car at our meeting spot, just shy of an hour after waking up, and got into the passenger seat of our shared, work vehicle.  As soon as I opened the car door, the gross smell of Mouse’s cheap cologne wafted out of the car and I remembered just how much I hate carpooling.  More importantly, just how much I dislike carpooling with him.

Maybe it is because I got a new job offer via text from a prior supervisor during our Mexico trip or maybe it was just the rough harshness of returning to work after a week out of country but either way, I wasn’t having it this morning.  To be honest, I inch closer and closer to not wanting to have any of it anymore, day after day.  The job offer entails transferring to a work location that doesn’t require carpooling and gives me a bit more flexibility with my schedule but my only hang-up right now is the risk of leaving a comfortable work environment that I may regret.  Hugo and I will have to discuss it further over the weekend as we marinate on yet another life choice together.

I digress.  Cabo San Lucas, or the small portion of it that I experienced from our luxury resort, was outstanding.  We rested and slept, sometimes in the fluffy King bed and other times on the cabana couches poolside.  We ate, most of the time in the high-end, rooftop restaurant and always a lot.  And we soaked up each other’s company – Hugo enjoying time with me and I with him.  Sometimes with our work schedules we can go up to five days without more than 5 minutes together so trips where we enjoy us are beyond important to our happiness and health as a couple.  Most importantly though, there is no one I would rather travel the world with, experience new and routine things with and rest my head on while taxing down a runway towards a new destination and adventure in this thing called life.

 

A new pursuit

After months of tossing and turning over professional development ideas ranging from entrepreneurial pursuits to working with my mom to countless other pipe dreams, I kept coming back to the idea of real estate.  I have always loved and admired home searches and sales, most notably enjoying the personal process that Hugo and I went through during our own sales and purchases.  After a recent conversation with an elderly neighbor who has had her ranch property on the market without any interest, I chatted again with my close friend Meg about the ideas we have discussed in the past.  Meg had previously offered to take me under her wing as a partner and to teach and mentor me if I chose to get my real estate license and work with her.  While the idea is to pursue it part-time at first, it may possibly morph into a full-time job should things work out. So for now, I have signed up for my online coursework, met with representatives at Keller Williams to sign on with them, and arranged to hit the ground running with Meg once I am licensed and good to go!

I am excited to begin this new chapter, which comes on the heels of finishing my college degree and my promotion last year.  I am also proud of continuing to push myself professionally and to learn another skill.  Life is short and there isn’t any reason not to work as hard as possible for both personal success and the hope that one day, just maybe, I can buy Hugo that big, brand new fishing boat that he deserves ♥

July 13th

It breaks my heart to have the recurring thought that the relationship with my father is actually falling apart.  I don’t want to admit that its the truth but time after time, it proves to be reality.

Here I am, visiting my parents on the east coast, spending nearly ten hours traversing to and from airports, spending hundreds of dollars and traveling thousands of miles, all so I can come temporarily live under the roof of the people who raised me.  As much as I miss them living far apart, there is a reason that I left nearly fifteen years ago.  Part of that reason was the fact that I was growing up and growing out of our small town.  Another part was that I wanted and needed my independence and to decide what direction I would go in life.  And, as I have discovered over the years, the third part of the reason is that I really can’t handle my parents for too long of a time.  After a short couple days of visiting, whether they come to me or I visit them, after day two or three I am ready to return to my sense of normal – Hugo, our lovely, quiet house, the pups and no one else.

It makes me sad to feel as distant as I do from my father.  And most of it has to do with him, despite the fact that I usually blame myself and feel as if I have done something wrong.  I know, deep down, that I haven’t and I shouldn’t feel badly for having moved cross-country.  Regardless of the shadow of blame he casts on me, as if I have done wrong or performed poorly in life, I know I have done well.  Thankfully, my mom, who I am as close as ever to, reassures me of such and Hugo eternally supports me in what I do.

It has been a strange reality coming to terms with being disconnected from my dad.  The relationship we used to have, when I was much younger, has slowly faded away over the years.  That fade, coupled with his distant personality and real lack of interest in what I do, who I have become and the life we are living on the West coast, makes for the great divide I am experiencing.

Sometimes I don’t know if he feels it like I do.  I do know that he has always wanted me to move back to my hometown so I could buy the lot of land adjacent to his and build a home there.  Well, that’s not happening Dad so get used to it.  I feel harsh saying it but rather than focus on the fact that I am not moving back home, I just wish he would support my life as it is.  Maybe show an ounce of interest in where I live, what I do and who I have become.  That ounce would go a long way.

 

 

 

Sad and pathetic

Every time there is an active shooter incident in our modern world, we all take a moment to reflect on the tragedy and the somber reality that this is life as we know it now.  You can’t go anywhere without the possibility of being a violent crime victim anymore and while some may argue that since the introduction of gun powder into our world there has been the threat of gun violence, I do feel that it has increased over the years.  Whether that is due to the media sensationalizing it or the fact that we share more by way of the internet, social media, and 24-hour news outlets, it seems like no public setting is safe or truly secure anymore.

What a sad and pathetic thought that you can’t attend a garlic festival in a small, northern California town on a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon.  The world we live in does not allow for even that seemingly docile and lovely of a place to be free from burden and sorrow now.  Not sure if there are any answers or solutions to this phenomenon known as mass shootings.  Some side with the need for increased gun laws and others speak of mental illness but regardless of what is causing it or who or what weapon is to blame, it happens all too frequently.  Enough of the “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims” – it doesn’t do anything and is a load of bullshit for the real people affected.  Your thoughts and prayers won’t bring back their loved ones and it certainly won’t heal the wounds that the maimed will be recovering from.

A beautiful day

Yesterday was an outstanding Saturday in my life.  I smiled for 90% of my waking hours, high-fived hundreds of lovely people, ran into a variety of old coworkers and new friends, and even cried with overwhelming happiness on several occasions.

What initially started out as a day where I felt as if I was being forced to volunteer and wouldn’t have very much fun, pleasantly transformed into easily one of the most rewarding and beautiful experiences of my entire life.  Several weeks ago, an upper executive at my place of work asked for a volunteer to spearhead the coordination of the upcoming Special Olympics portion of the Law Enforcement Torch Run in our area of Los Angeles.  In addition, whomever volunteered for this assignment would also be involved with the actual Special Olympics event in Long Beach this weekend.  Being new to my unit and the type of person who likes to help out when someone asks, I stepped up and said that I would take the handle on this side project.  What I first assumed was a side project quickly turned into a semi-main project for the next couple of weeks, as I unfolded the details of what would really be needed to make this large ceremony, charitable run, and multi-organization event possible.  After pulling together all of the moving parts that made Thursday’s speaking engagement, ceremony, media event and subsequent run a success, I breathed a sigh of relief that it was over and I could go back to just handling my primary job.  I took pride in the event running smoothly and my organization receiving a plethora of compliments on the execution of it.  Long story short, Thursday was over and my required presence at Saturday’s Special Olympics was all that was left on my to-do list.

After sleeping in until 5am (truly feels like sleeping in when you wake up at 3:30am every day), I showered and dressed, prepped the pups for my departure, and embarked on my sixty-seven mile drive to Long Beach.  Upon arrival, I met my hardworking female coworkers and we walked towards the event entrance.  As we approached the group meeting area, I began to notice the large volume of volunteers, young and old, who too had woken up and gotten ready for a day of giving back.  And that is just about when I started to feel the compassion, empathy, sense of community, and love that began to boil up around me.  By the end of the day, these feelings swallowed me whole.

There was a short speech by several leaders in our various participating agencies, as well as a couple words from Special Olympians, before we all posed for pictures.  Then it was time for the opening ceremony – I had been hearing about this portion of the program for weeks, as it was the most dynamic portion of the planning and logistical aspect of the event.  Over a hundred uniformed personnel lined the inner and outer lanes of the outdoor track as upbeat music played on the portable speakers and the Special Olympians lined up just outside.  The energy was building and I was beginning to feel a true sense of unity and love, as I stood shoulder to shoulder with strangers.

And then, one by one, Special Olympics athletes of all ages, races, sizes and varying disability level entered the track – some walked, others skipped and a select few had to be pushed in their wheelchairs.  Some parents escorted their child, regardless of their age, because they needed a hand making the long trek through our welcoming gauntlet.  As everyone in the stands and across the track cheered and shouted for the athletes, the energy was high for all those who were moments from competing that day.  We slapped hands with anyone who wanted a high-five and applauded the bravery and fearlessness that every single one of them embraced.

About halfway through the opening ceremony, a middle-aged African-American man, with light facial hair, thick glasses and a crisp basketball jersey walked past me, as he too entered the track for the event.  Just as he past me and our hands slapped mid-air, I yelled, “Hey, I know you!”  We locked eyes and he exclaimed, “Yeah!”  For a quick second I couldn’t quite remember where I knew him from but then my memory flooded back into focus – his name was Colbert and he was a Special Olympian, with whom I had worked a charity event with about eight years ago.  During that event I spent several hours working side by side with Colbert, as we waited tables at a local restaurant, all while promoting the Special Olympics and attempting to raise money from the evening’s patrons.  Seeing him again made me so happy because he has a beautiful soul and strong, resilient energy, despite his circumstances in life.  I reconnected with him after the ceremony and later watched him play an incredibly skilled basketball game before lunch.

I am not exactly sure what it was about that moment, where I was a part of the ceremony and saw Colbert again, that brought me to tears.  A part of me felt so sad seeing this large group of disabled children and adults, who have to fight through life just to survive.  Some of them aren’t able to care for themselves without assistance and others will never experience some of the small portions of life that far too many of us take for granted.  From driving or cooking a meal for yourself, to getting married, living independently and having children, some of the men and women who walked past me that day may never get the chance to do one or all of those things.  But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to or that they don’t try their hardest.

Maybe my tears were a result of watching the large groups of parents, volunteers and coaches who selflessly dedicate their lives to helping, teaching and supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our society.  The stress, money and commitment that comes with that significant job is definitely underappreciated yet on this past Saturday, for a brief moment, I could see them sharing in the happiness and success of just being there.  For some of the supervising adults, and most likely all of the participants, this weekend may have been the highlight of their year, or possibly their lives.

While I don’t intentionally have experiences where I want to learn something from them, when I do feel transformed by a particular event in my life, I really try to soak up all of the lessons that lie right below the surface.  I implore anyone who has never volunteered for a charitable cause, particularly with groups of people with special needs, to get up and do so.  Maybe you won’t be impacted as strongly as I have been but your response may surprise you.  At the very least, you will bring a smile to someone else’s life and it will give you a greater appreciation for humanity as a whole.

Don’t live as if you have the time

I can’t believe I am about to say this…but…I might have actually taken a very deep learning point away from a cheesy reality show yesterday afternoon.  While watching one of the many Real Housewives sagas, I observed an older couple visiting a cemetery monument store, where they picked out the headstone for the woman’s recently deceased parents.  Both parents died within the prior seven months and during the headstone selection process, the woman talked about hoping she would have another twenty years with her own husband.

I sat and processed the moment.  I reflected on my own life.  Most people are living as if they have unlimited time left on this earth.  Time to be with the ones they love, which usually results in taking people for granted.  A lot of people (myself most definitely included) put off major changes they want to make because we feel as if we can tackle certain issues tomorrow, or the next day, or the next year.  I don’t think I am alone in that but the mere fact that I acknowledge it allows for improvement.  Also, days drift along and we are all sometimes guilty of wanting time to rush by, in order to get closer to a vacation or a promotion.  Sitting here writing, I realize how precious time is.  My most recent reminder came from my neighbor Mark’s cancer battle.  Although he was initially told he wouldn’t live past Christmas of 2018, he is still above ground and fighting.  He is self-admittedly living day by day and I truly believe there is a lot to be learned from that style of appreciation for our loved ones, our experiences and our beautiful planet.

As the woman on the RHOP (Potomac series, the true Real Housewives fans get it) said about her own relationship, I too have the same recurring thought from time to time about having my spouse around for the remainder of my life.  Hugo is the most wonderful person I know and love and I sincerely hope that we have at least fifty years or more left together on this crazy planet.  I can’t imagine what life would be like without him so he better be there to keep me centered ♥

A day

Wake up.

Quick, turn the blaring alarm off before he stirs.

Rush to shower, dress, do chores, time is ticking before you are late, but you’re early for another day of the same.

You watch the clock and wait until the hours tick by and the day is done

Just because it’s work because if it was good or filled with love, you wouldn’t want it to end.

When it’s all over though, you will have watched all of these days drift away all because you needed to work for a purpose, or what you thought was important or worth it.

You only work to afford all the things that you think that you need but do we really need any or half or a quarter of what it all is?

Could we downsize and minimize and compromise and possibly help one another a little bit more in this world so we all didn’t have to…

Wake up.

Clueless with cancer

As I wrote the title of this post, I felt a little bad, but not nearly bad enough to discontinue putting these serious thoughts on paper, so to speak, on this overcast, rather gloomy Sunday morning in California.  Not two days ago, I was down on the lower half of our property, letting our juvenile pups run around and get some fresh air.  As we walked towards the fence that borders the street, I saw a red 4×4 utility vehicle with my older female neighbor, Patty, driving, their elderly golden retriever Tommy on the middle seat and Mark sitting shotgun.  Mark, who is riddled with devastating bone cancer, had his old flannel shirt on, a smile on his face, and a three-foot sprayer wand in his hand.  As the threesome cruised along their curbline, Mark vigorously sprayed commercial-grade herbicide from his lethal contraption, as he has probably done multiple times a year for the whole of his life.  I immediately had several thoughts flood my mind – ‘Holy shit, that is disgusting!’, ‘Where are the dogs?’, ‘Are we downwind?’, and ‘I hope that shit doesn’t get on any of us or our property’.  Thankfully, he disarmed himself as they approached and they pulled over to chat for a moment.  Tommy and our pups played for about five minutes, Mark gave me the regular dreary update about his health status (just finished more chemo, feeling pretty terrible, but hanging in there), and I enjoyed a couple minutes with the two very sweet, but sadly clueless, neighbors in my life.

It breaks my heart that there isn’t an easier way to tell those you care for about things that matter or impact them.  Case in point – I want to scream from my rooftop to Mark’s that the chemicals he is using are poisonous, not only to him and his family but also to his poor dog, the deer who eat our grass, the rabbits who run through our open fields, and our suffering honeybees who pollinate our flowering hillsides in spring.  I also want to tell Mark about all of the recent court cases involving cancer patients winning their suits against Monsanto/Bayer, in which a judge determined the plaintiff’s cancer was caused by their exposure to the noxious product RoundUp.  Although it is sadly too late in Mark’s case, because he almost certainly cannot cure himself of his brutally aggressive disease, it pains me to think of someone ignorantly exposing themselves and those around them to something that is harmful, to say the least.  I also do not want that stuff anywhere near myself, Hugo, the dogs, or any of the other lovely creatures out there.

Sometimes there is a part of me that just wants to share what I know with those around me, regardless of how they interpret or digest it.  And that’s not to say I know a lot but I am conscious of what I use in my home, on my body and in my small world on our three-acre plot of earth.  That is all I have control over in this world so I make every effort to make smart, healthy and earth-conscious decisions wherever I can.  Because of my knowledge and consciousness, I want to help others, which in turn helps the rest of the world.  I wish I could just email them and tell them not to use certain products, with a detailed explanation as to why, but unfortunately, a lot of people (Mark and Patty included) would not only look at me sideways but they would also retort with ten reasons why spraying is better (cheaper and faster than manual labor, kills all of the weeds for the whole year, etc.).  I know the reasons because I have heard them before and when I do hear them, that is usually when I stop talking because clearly the battle isn’t worth having.  Especially between two sets of neighbors, one of which is fighting for their life, with an herbicide sprayer in hand.

A pledge to figure it out

Last night I rifled through my blog notes that I originally wrote down about nine months ago when I started this wild journey.  Notes about writing topics, hopes, dreams, wishes and fears, things that interest me and things that I dislike, place we’ve gone and places we intend to go, and a whole slew of other random blurbs about where I want to take my life.  That seems to be my free time thinking topic these days – where I am going and how am I going to get there?

Yesterday, as I muddled through another mundane Thursday on the 7th floor of my downtown Los Angeles high-rise building, I once again had the recurring thought of a different life.  Well, not completely a different life – don’t get me wrong, I am not leaving Hugo, the pups, my beautiful home, or the remainder of my close family.  I mainly just want to change my job and how I spend my time, as I strive to find something that excites me and pushes me both mentally and spiritually.  The spiritual side of it pertains to my wish to pour my heart and soul into a passion project that I could spend my life doing.  And I keep looking around at the world and all of the different people and professions that comprise this massive planet and I can’t help but wonder – what else is out there?

Maybe I am being a little selfish thinking about what more I can do for myself and never being completely satisfied with my current position in life.  Don’t get me wrong – I have worked incredibly hard to get where I am and I am very thankful for the wonderful benefits that come with my current employment.  Regardless, I can’t deny my feelings, my gut and my heart.  In my opinion, no one should.  Thankfully, I have an insanely supportive spouse, as well as parents who always want the best for me, so I really don’t have anything to lose.

It might just me a weird phase, as I continue getting adjusted to work life in the big city.  After all, I am a country girl at heart and maybe I will never get used to a long commute, spending ten to 12 hours a day in the concrete jungle, and the overwhelming amount of human interaction that comes with a large organization with tons of moving parts.  I probably tell Hugo on an almost daily basis how I want, need and crave a change.  At this point, he is sick of my frustration and uneasiness with my current situation.  Maybe sometime soon I will either find peace with the present or decide to jump into the deep end of the entrepreneurial ‘pool’.  But first, I will need to buy some swimmies.

Torn but not broken

Try to stop the distance from tearing us apart.

Been away too long and we just aren’t

From strong, to fair, to fading

No matter how much we fight for a strong love, we end up with fringes.

 

Try to stop the distance from tearing me apart

When we talk, its not the same

We want to fight the inevitable but sometimes the world happens without our permission

Your cold lack of interest in my life, wants and dreams

Hurts my heart, doesn’t matter if you mean it or not

You only care about yourself, I don’t care what you say

You only think of what you want, need and feel – I am an afterthought, don’t care if you deny it.

 

This smothering blanket of uncertainty and, and, and

You are selfish and sick, sad in the head and ill in the chest

Your only child keeps screaming out for something more

Your only wife tries hard, you just ignore.

 

Try to stop the distance from tearing you apart

We are all you have

You don’t love yourself

You taught me to be depressed and insecure and to not love me

Just like you don’t love you

Now I struggle with the same pain

And I hurt my partner, just as you’ve done

Thank god for reflection and change so I don’t repeat the same mistakes as the generation before.

 

Try to stop you from tearing me limb from limb

The mind corrupts, the body follows

The father leads, the child learns

I’ve gotten good from you but also all of the dark

Deep, lost and broken puzzle

As you fall closer into.

 

Familial friendship

Just because you are family, doesn’t mean you are friends.

My mom and I have uttered that phrase many times throughout the years.  We normally mention it when we are chatting about the fact that we are such close friends and how we find our tight relationship to be quite a rarity among family members.  Among all of my friends, coworkers and outlying family, none of those people share the love and bond that my mom and I have.  We see a lot of surface-level interactions, where people are cordial, polite and relatively kind to one another, but nothing that remotely exhibits real friendship.  Maybe it is just our family, although I believe these types of things occur in a lot of other family circles, but I see more fake bullshit, jealousy, arrogance and rude behavior than I see genuine kindness and love from some of my aunts and uncles, not only to myself but more so to my mother.

Throughout the years, I have seen several of my aunts and uncles, including my mother’s only sister and her dorky husband, treat my mother as if she was less than in every respect.  Despite my mom being the older sibling, who has always cared for and loved her little sister, my aunt has routinely spoken condescendingly and disrespectfully both to and about my mother.  As my mother’s daughter, I hate this.  I am really sickened by anyone who mistreats my mother, who is such a kind and loving woman.  My mother would give you the shirt off of her back (in fact she has with children in need in South America) and she exudes love and happiness every day that she walks through life.  She greets all those she comes in contact with on a daily basis with a smile, generosity, friendliness and a feeling of genuine realness that is too often lacking in human interactions these days.  I believe that my aunt acts the way she does because she is an insecure person who is unhappy with herself and jealous of the beautiful relationship that I have with my mother.

Despite the lack of relationships that I have observed in both my own family and countless others, I am so thankful for the lovely mother that I have.  From the love, guidance, grace and endless support she gave me as a growing girl, to the friendship and pure fun we have during our visits throughout the year, I am so grateful for her in my life.  As both of my parents are in Poland right now, and I am even further from them geographically than I normally am cross-country, I am sending love to those two wonderful people in my life.  May their bellies be full with fresh perogies and their hearts full of happiness…and should they choose to order the pig cheek from the room service menu for a late-night snack, I hope it brings a smile to their face.

 

*6:59pm update:  I almost forgot.  My intention with this blog post of the next was to make a commitment to write a little more and to truly make this one of my more important and present priorities.  Now that school is done and the pups are getting older, and therefore mildly more independent, I have a little more free time that I want and need to devote to this passion project.  So join me on this journey as I pledge to write more frequently – don’t hold me to it if I miss a day or two though, ok?

 

Crossroads

Is it a mid-thirties crisis, the fact that I’m fed up with my current office job, or the stark realization that life is too short to spend anymore time than you have to doing things you aren’t dying to do?

Not really sure what I intended with posing that question but all three of the above options are how I feel and what I am currently debating in my sunburned head.  Yes, I am mildly sunburned after spending a beautifully relaxing weekend at the beach with Hugo and the pups.  It was their first time staying by the ocean and they spent the majority of it learning about seagulls, big waves and just how much sand in your belly and up your nose makes you feel sick.  This weekend did so many things to me, and they were good things at that – I once again realized just how much I love Hugo as my partner in life, I reaffirmed how obsessed with and thankful for our two new pupster additions I am, and, finally, I circled back to all my continuous thoughts about doing something different concerning work and really pursuing my dreams.  This quite time by the Pacific made me realize just a little bit more how life is constantly fading away, with every passing minute, so why waste it commuting into a heartless city to engage in work that doesn’t excite or reward you, when there are so many opportunities lying right outside of your comfort zone, just waiting to be explored?

Tough questions with even more difficult answers, because the answers require great risk and no guarantee of reward, success or happiness.  But I think that is part of the thrill and appeal.  If we knew it would work out, most of the anticipation and our ability as humans to pour our blood, sweat and tears into an endeavor might subside.  Also, our ability to create sometimes hinges on a fire being built right under our ass, leaving us with no choice but to jump up.

Regardless, I still want a change.  I am not sure where to go from here and I can’t just make these feelings go away.  Some people easily work thirty years, from 9 to 5, in an office or not, just plugging away at their job, only to finish their tasks at hand on the day of their retirement party and pension check.  Others (and I might be in this group) struggle from their hire date with inward questioning about if the job is for them, if something else would make them happier and pondering what it would look like if they were to quit, today.  Now, throughout a long career, some might fall out early on, while others may grumble and moan, yet remain, until the bitter end.  It is probably just a matter of time, personalities, pressure (both on oneself and from family), and the size of that fire under one’s ass.  Hold on, I have to go…the flame is burning my bum.

Speaking Up

Saying what’s on your mind, telling a loved one tough news, and standing up for yourself can be some of the most difficult words that we utter, if we even say them at all.  I have always been someone who preaches the importance of telling those around you how you truthfully feel and emphasizing how much you love someone, because we all never truly know how much longer we have together on this Earth.  In addition, I place great importance on admonishing those we care about, in an effort to correct potentially destructive or dangerous behavior they may be engaging in before it is too late.  I always fear the idea of failing to remind a friend, subordinate at work, or my loving Hugo to either wear sunblock or to slow down while driving on slick roadways, because it could possibly result in them being injured, or worse, and I would know in my heart that I could have and definitely should have said something.  If I think it, it is worth a couple caring words to try to help those around you.

So, that leads me to tonight’s topic – speaking up.  There have only been a few times in my life where I have decided that my fear of some particular dangerous thing, and the potentially enormous associated risk factors, outweigh the social stigma and nervousness around being the person who ‘said something.’  A lot of people think things and, better yet, most people with sound judgement know better, however, very few will actually speak up.  From telling someone you are engaged in conversation with that they have a speck of wilted spinach in their teeth to suggesting a loved one reschedule an upcoming flight, due to forecast storms that may wreck havoc in their path, I am of the philosophy that when one thinks of warning a friend, by way of voicing a thoughtful opinion, it is always the best way to go.  Tactfully done of course, and always rooted in love and concern, a simple sentence to say, “You have a little something in your teeth” (because I don’t want you embarrassed), or “Maybe it would be safer to fly the following day, when the bad weather passes” (because I love you in my life and want you safe in one piece) is all it takes to potentially change the course of someone’s trajectory for the better.

Ok, got a little sidetracked explaining how and why I feel as strongly about speaking my mind as I do.  Just because I can write about it, doesn’t mean it has always come easily to me – I honestly don’t think the exercise of standing up and voicing an opinion comes very easily to many people.  Regardless, I did it tonight and I am glad I did.  For months now, I have been carpooling into my downtown Los Angeles job (you know, the new job I transferred into in February) with a male coworker that we will call Mouse (for the sake of this piece…and maybe because he is a relatively small, feeble individual who is rather consistent with a tired little rodent in my mind).  Mouse and I share the use of a Ford Taurus, trading the task of driving one another from our north county residences month after month, in an effort to save gas money and reduce the number of vehicles on the already congested Los Angeles freeways.  Alright, I might be fibbing here – we do it so we don’t have to spend our money on gas and vehicle wear & tear…the Ford Taurus is completely comped through our employer so it is a lovely little perk.  Again, there I go off topic…

After months of riding shotgun as Mouse speeds down the interstate, through multiple lanes, around slower tanker trucks and almost into the rear-ends of early morning freeway commuters, I have become more and more frustrated with his driving style and, quite frankly, a bit fearful for my own safety.  Now, you see, Mouse isn’t exactly an Indy 500 race car driver.  In fact, he wouldn’t qualify as the equivalent of an Indy 100 driver, if there was such a thing.  I say that because Mouse isn’t very stealthy behind the wheel – with a couple close calls, where he tried to smoothly maneuver around slower moving traffic, only to almost collide into gas tankers as the lane he was in suddenly ended, I am not impressed with his judgement or skill set as a middle-aged commuter.  In fact, I am completely turned off by his driving because not only does he lack the basic skills that many aggressive drivers have (I can comment on this because I am a fairly assertive driver myself), but he also appears to be speeding to impress me or prove just how bad-ass he is.

Needless to say, I am not impressed by Mouse.  I like mice, don’t get me wrong, but Mouse is a prick in my opinion.  Point blank, his driving is annoying and he is selfish because he is putting my life at risk by driving like an asshole.  So, tonight I said something (queue the applause).

It all went down like this:  Mouse texted me about an hour ago asking in his regularly paranoid, self-conscious state if something he said earlier, during our afternoon ride home, had annoyed me.  As always, I wasn’t really sure what Mouse was talking about, but as I was about to reply back that everything was fine, I decided to finally voice my opinion regarding how I truly felt.  Not that Mouse had seen me upset, because he hadn’t, but I have been thinking the same thing for weeks – slow the hell down and don’t kill us on the way to work!

So I said it like this – “The only thing that annoys me is driving 90mph to work for no reason…no need to put our lives at risk for nothing.”  And that’s it, I said it and couldn’t take it back.  Not that it was bad but it certainly made me feel vulnerable, judgmental and exposed.  But you know what?  That’s ok, because I said what was on my mind, I finally explained to someone who has been engaging in unnecessary, risky behavior that I don’t appreciate their callousness, and, most importantly, I finally stood up and spoke up for myself.  After all of those mornings thinking to myself that I sure hope he doesn’t lose control of the car and I become a paraplegic today, I finally told him how I really felt.  His reply – “Ok.”  And that is ok because I got it off my chest, put my feelings out there, and possibly saved my own life just by speaking my mind.

A week of relief & celebration

After sixteen years, 4 different schools, and well over $100k, I am finally a college graduate!  Sitting here on the couch, browsing on the internet and awaiting the arrival of Hugo for a quick bite to eat during his evening work shift, I am glowing with happiness and so relieved that my Bachelor’s degree is finally complete.  What began as two years of undergraduate work at the University of Vermont, eventually morphed into restaurant management school, years of work training and several junior college courses.  After completing my Associate’s degree about seven years ago, I continued accumulating work training and the equivalent college credits through our local college.  As I was laying on the couch after my recent fifth knee surgery this past summer, I got bit by the repetitive I should finish school bug that had bitten me many times in the past.  In prior years, however, the thought entered my mind, I applied for a few schools, submitted transcripts and let the idea die on the vine as I lost interest and didn’t see the serious need to move forward, since it was expensive and unnecessary given my current position.

For some reason, August of 2018 was different and thankfully so.  I applied at three online universities who offered similar degree paths and were roughly the same price per unit.  After narrowing it down to Union Institute & University, I closely analyzed the final budget for my college pursuit, applied for financial aid but got denied, and approximated the additional costs associated with purchasing books and those fun, random fees.  Within a couple of days, I was registered for 8 months worth of upper division classes, multiple Amazon school textbook orders were en route to our house via 2-day Prime shipping, and I was finally committing to finishing something I started in 2002.

As I have said in prior posts, finishing my college education at the ripe old age of thirty-four, all while working 50 hours a week in a taxing career, was both a carefully orchestrated dance of time management, and one of the most satisfying pursuits of my young adult life.  As I ticked through every homework assignment and research paper, I was, and still am, proud of myself for sticking to it and doing a damn good job.  Without being cocky (just stating the facts folks), I got straight A’s for every assignment in every class since August.  Now, before I pretend I am going to be some outrageous summa cum laude valedictorian of my online, accelerated learning, let me soak in my remaining 30 seconds of peace and happiness that comes with finishing the damn thing :).  Long story short, my paper degree will be processed and mailed out in 4-6 weeks and I can add this satisfying line to my resume for future promotional purposes.  It just feels good to check something off of your life’s to-do list, knowing that you set out to achieve it and that is just what you did.

 

So many questions

I might be having an existential crisis.  Or maybe I am just sick of working in a downtown Los Angeles office building, devoid of sunlight and fun.  It seems like every day I become increasingly more uneasy with accepting my current job as my workplace reality for fifteen to 20 years longer (who am I kidding, there is no way I am working twenty more years!).  Regardless, I keep returning back to my ever-present thoughts about wanting to build a business, develop a product, pursue my writing, start a partnership with my love Hugo, or basically do anything in my power to walk away from being a government employee that is bound by the strict confines of a 9-to-5 job (in my case, 5am ’til 3pm, when I finally break through the hellish LA traffic that owns the nearby freeways for twenty-three hours of the day).

Hugo is jamming to our favorite Americana music in the kitchen as he makes pork and tofu dumplings for dinner.  As he prepped ingredients over the past hour, I sat at the table whilst he chopped and we collectively brainstormed all of the ideas we have about our business pursuits.  After making a list, getting excited about things together and dreaming of all the directions we could go, I realized once again just how blessed I am.  I am thankful for having Hugo as my support system – it doesn’t get better than having your best friend there by your side, always willing to hash out the day’s events and dream my wildest fairy tales with me.  He just shouted from the other room, “I’m so lucky”, a reminder that he feels the same way.  It warms my innards to know we are in this thing called life together.

So back to the issue at hand – what direction do I go and how the hell do I get there?  The certainty of having a steady career, with excellent pay and benefits, as well as a guaranteed retirement, brings some serious security with it.  On the flip side, exploring the unknown and pursuing your passion has a crazy appeal to it.  Maybe its because the latter brings an uncharted, entrepreneurial path that is riddled with adventure and no promises, both of which are missing from my current work.  Or sometimes we just might be drawn to that which we don’t have or circumstances that differ from our current atmosphere.  Either way, I am craving a change and its just a matter of time before I make some moves (exciting, huh??!?).

For now, I will get my clothes ready for a 3am alarm, pack my lunch pail full of the healthiest options I can muster up, try my best to get some solid rest, and, once again, wake up to start another Tuesday in the City of Angels.

Eat & Support Organics: For you, the animals and the planet

My husband Hugo and I have repeatedly experienced scenarios with coworkers and friends where they question why we eat organically.  When we sit with these people at lunch and they catch a glance of a drink or packaged item of food, we are often questioned regarding what it is and where its from.  Their aggressive line of questioning is often summed up with an awkward, uncomfortable look of relative disgust, since we are obviously the weird ones who eat strange things.  In addition, if we happen to say we bought the delicious and healthy item at Whole Foods, their look also encompasses a sprinkle of ‘you wealthy little snob who shops at the expensive grocery store.’

As I type up this quick synopsis of how almost every encounter with those around us at snack time goes, I realize, even more than before, how crazy this uneducated behavior truly is.  Both Hugo and I were not raised in an area or around people who were so confrontational and unfamiliar with quality sustenance.  And honestly, this shit gets annoying because we eat organically for a variety of reasons, none of which the majority of people understand.  After awhile, I get tired of being asked what I’m drinking (kombucha), explaining what it is and why its delicious and nutritious, and then receiving a rude look and snarky comment.  In my opinion, those who are eating conventionally deserve the scowl, seeing as the farming process degrades the earth, the involved animals, and our bodies.  I guess I could go on about this forever and I do truly wish I had more, well organized time to retort when confronted.  In the end, my intentions are to educate others about my personal, multi-faceted love for organics and why it should be important to everyone.

First off, growing and producing organic food is the only sustainable, long-term approach we should have and need to have.  With the bulk application of pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, conventional farmers are killing their overworked soil, allowing lethal run-off into our streams, rivers and oceans (which in turn contribute to algae blooms), and killing our bees.  Our poor honey bees – the mass army of soldiers who pollinate nearly all of our food, therefore enabling us to eat and survive as a species – are dying at a rapid and alarming rate, primarily as a result of exposure to the main, cancer-causing ingredient in RoundUp, glyphosate.  It is disgusting, scary and widely used by ignorant people everywhere and, in turn, honey bees nationwide are meeting a sad, toxic fate.  While I could write about our declining honey bee population all day long, please read more via my included links.

Second, raising organic meat and planting and harvesting organic produce is the only ethical and healthy way to farm.  Organic standards for animals require the livestock to be free of antibiotics and hormones and to be fed a strict diet of organic feed.  In addition, the majority of organic meat producers also provide lovely quarters for their animals, which include large outdoor areas, access to grass and fresh air, and living conditions that do not include overcrowded, factory-style barracks.  Of course all of these variables are dependent on the type of animal and the farm’s location on the globe.

Finally, eating organically is good for you!  When fruits and vegetables, as well as meat, dairy and everything else we ingest, is humanely raised without synthetic pesticides and other chemicals, the antioxidant level is drastically higher, the taste speaks for itself and the human being actually consuming it is not coating their insides with carcinogenic sludge.  Case in point – Dr. Mercola attests to increased antioxidant levels and the Pesticide Action Network explains pesticide accumulation in our bodies.

I will never forget the car ride with my mom from a short few years back that is forever ingrained in my photographic memory.  While driving home from a long, relaxing day at the beach, during one of her many trips to visit Hugo and I on the opposite coast from her, we took the scenic route through the massive expanse of citrus farms just west of our house.  While winding through this particular farmland in the late afternoon, off to the right of the car we both observed one of the more disturbing things I have seen – a man wearing a full-body, hazmat style suit, face mask and boots spraying chemicals on a crop.  Although our observation only lasted for a brief moment as we passed by, the image was forged into both of our minds and we continue to talk about how sad and frustrating it was to see.

To think of just how much and how often pesticides are sprayed on conventional crops is beyond troubling because my heart hurts for the school kids who are inhaling the fumes and being coated with the particulate mist downwind from these commercial farms.  My heart hurts for the farm workers who may not be educated on the effects of exactly what they are using on a daily basis, or maybe they are yet they need the income and are willing to take on the extreme health risks from exposure so they can provide for their families.  My heart hurts for the cows, pigs, chickens and every other innocent animal who is pumped with hormones or antibiotics, or both, to increase their size, up their production and keep them sickness-free, since they are overcrowded and not taken care of, thus leading to poor health and zero immunity.  When the herbicides run into the ground water or enter a farmland adjacent stream, slowly flowing into larger bodies of water and eventually into the ocean, they pollute our oceans, kill those who live there and contribute to deadly algae blooms.  My heart hurts when beaches are closed and fish are floating dead to the surface.  And finally, my heart hurts to think of a developing baby being exposed to mass amounts of pesticides as their uneducated mother eats our mass-market fast food around the clock, polluting her body and the blood supply to her unborn son or daughter.  In the end, my heart just hurts.

So, given my thoughts and raw emotions behind why I care so much about organics, it really makes me both mad and sad when all of these people I engage with at work or in public either have no idea about what it means to eat organic or they scoff at the idea of a quality, non-toxic item costing $1 more.  Their lack of manners, common sense, and brain cells astounds me but, regardless, I will always continue to explain what kombucha is, tell them where I bought it, and say, with a big smile, that it tastes delicious.  I’ll do this probably until the day I die because you never know, maybe my rambling about the honey bees might just change someone’s mind.

Sweet family dog pile

I didn’t look at my timeline prior to beginning this post but I know it has been quite awhile since I have posted anything.  Somehow, even despite my prolonged absence, there continues to be new readers who pop up from time to time.  I am thankful to everyone out there who finds interest in what I have to say.  Writing gives me peace and although I don’t do it enough, when I do, I remember exactly why I enjoy putting finger to keyboard.

So where to begin.  I will start at the present and work backwards because that feels like it makes sense right now.  It is Monday, March 25th, at 5pm PST and I am sitting on my couch with The Shining on TV and two beautiful puppies at my feet.  They are snoozing before suppertime, with light snoring and their ears flipped inside out, after running around on the patio in the afternoon sun.  The windows and sliding glass doors are open, the sun is beginning to descend, and I can hear the water fall from our large, double-sided rock fountain just off the sun room.  That fountain is one of the most beautiful blessings in our home, one that we didn’t realize the benefit of until we moved in nearly seven years ago and saw the high volume of bird activity that our water feature attracts.  The weather was beautiful today – 75 degrees and sunny with a light breeze.  It feels so good to be coming out from the other side of our winter in SoCal, a winter in which we sustained a heavy amount of rain and overcast days.  For us Southern Californians, the lack of sun and the cold weather (a bone-chilling 50 degrees on some days) is somber and depressing.  So, needless to say, I have thoroughly enjoyed the past two days of sunshine on our warming planet.20190225_090620

I believe I have welcomed Koa in this forum but our newest arrival, Gunner, has yet to be seen.  Gunner joined our family about a month ago, after my coworker from a prior assignment called in need of help.  Heather and her husband, who are also Rottweiler lovers, got Gunner from a breeder just north of San Diego and they readily welcomed him into their family.  Heather’s family consisted of the two of them and their older dog, who they have had for twelve years.  When Gunner, the lively three-month old puppy entered the picture, the older dog was not as hospitable as they had hoped.  What started as minor nips turned into a couple of progressively more violent and frightening attacks on Gunner, as the older dog did not have patience with his puppy energy.  Heather knew she had to do something immediately so she called me, remembering that I had mentioned we planned on getting a male Rottie pup this summer, once Koa was settled, trained and a little older.  Although she didn’t want to give up her new little guy, she knew that she had to make a change, in order to keep Gunner safe.  It only took Hugo and I about thirty seconds to decide if we would take Gunner – he was adorable and in need of a home so it was an easy decision.

Heather drove to our house the following night, with their SUV arriving in our driveway and her husband popping out from the backseat.  Gunner was on his lap, wrapped in a paw print blanket and ready to start the next chapter of his life.  We let Koa and Gunner meet, on their leashes and from a distance at first, but that only lasted a few short seconds.  As they both tugged to get closer to their new sibling, their noses eventually touched, they gave each other a kiss and they immediately became best friends for life.  Since that night they have forged a bond rooted in love and adoration for the happiness they bring each other, Koa giving Gunner a safe place to live and Gunner providing our little girl with the companionship she so craved.

Now, I can’t say that having two puppies, who are mere weeks apart, at the same time is easy.  Because it’s not.  At all.  In fact, just about every other day I have a brief moment where I wonder how I ever got into this chaotic puppy situation in the first place.  And then I look into their sweet little eyes, who are already staring back at me with such extreme love its overwhelming, and I answer my own questions.  Somehow these two little beautiful souls have perfectly filled the void that Kaiser and Nala left when they passed.  That’s not to say that we replaced our dogs or forgot about them in any way.  But it really is magical to see and feel the happiness that they have brought to Hugo and I.  And interestingly enough, both Koa and Gunner truly embody all of the joyous aspects of our other dogs, without even trying.  Koa is channeling my late Nala’s love and calmness and I can feel her energy being carried on through this new young lady.  She is so young and full of life and when she stares back into my eyes, it’s as if she is telling me that Nala is safe and happy, wherever she is, and she would want me to be happy.  And then there’s Gunner, who is not more than fifteen inches off the ground and already 41 lbs.  In fact, I had to weigh him four times the other night, because I couldn’t believe the number that the scale was spitting out.  Regardless, our chubby baby brother has found a permanent place in our family and it couldn’t have worked out any more perfectly for everyone.

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In between puppy play time, three meals a day for growing bellies, and obedience/socialization class, I have been slowly but surely continuing to inch towards finishing my degree.  I can now happily and proudly report that I only have a little over four weeks left until my Bachelor’s degree is finished!  With a taxing job that begins shortly after 3am during the week, plus double puppy trouble and the remainder of adult life commitments, needless to say I have been busy.  But it will all pay off soon, when I have that piece of paper and upgraded resume to boot!

Finally, the other happy happening to report is the joyful ten years of marriage that Hugo and I recently celebrated.  I couldn’t imagine life without him because my life is defined by his friendship and love.  When I met him over fifteen years ago, I had no idea what life would have in store for us.  We have taught each other and grown together, transforming from kids with throwaway jobs and nothing to lose into adults with careers, a gorgeous home and two little pup kids.  My love for Hugo continues to grow, day by day, and it surprises me to see that the trajectory continues up, without an end in sight.  He has shown me what a true friend looks like and what a real man is, and because of this I find it difficult to find many people in the world who stand as tall or as strong, in terms of character and dignity, as he does.  Hugo, you are the love of my life ♥

 

A long hiatus…but we are back in the game

Happy New Year to everyone out there in the world reading this.  I wish you nothing but happiness, success, and love in 2019.

Speaking of happiness and love, I would like to introduce Koa.  Born on November 1st, 2018, she is approximately nine weeks old now.  Hugo and I got her two days before Christmas and we couldn’t be happier having new life and love in our home.  Koa came from an outstanding breeder in Temecula, CA – Vom Bustos Hause.  Frank @ Vom Bustos Hause truly values the Rottweiler breed.  He loves his dogs and breeds for both temperament and good blood lines/healthy dogs.  She is absolutely wonderful and we couldn’t be happier.

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She walks on the leash already, listens to us, and greets us with love and enthusiasm when we walk in the door.  What more could a dog mother and father ask for?  She had her first experience with our UPS driver today – when our driveway sensor went off, she ran to the door like an alert Rottweiler should and she greeted him with excessive tail-wagging and happiness.  I then received my final books for my next college classes and we resumed our day.

Speaking of school, I am embarking on my final four months of classes.  I logged on today and begrudgingly began my schoolwork once more.  It is tough to get the ball rolling after the holiday break but I know in the end it will be worth it when I have my Bachelor’s and I am finally done!

Work has been stressful (as always) so I visited the chiropractor today for an adjustment.  My neck is cramped, my shoulders are tight and my patience is low (nothing new really, just the same old nonsense that I take way too seriously).  Hugo always tells me to relax and not worry about things but that is easier said than done for some people.

Our neighbor Mark finally has some good news – his recent blood test said that his cancer cells have died off and he is doing really well!  He and his wife Pat are incredibly optimistic.  So happy to see them be positive and hopeful for this new year with a fresh start.

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Just like a puppy in your home breathes a fresh start and reminds you of innocence and love, I hope I can continue to remind myself that life is simple and all too short.  After watching our last dogs greet the end of their lives this past summer, and watching the cycle of life continue with our new girl, I have to remember that life is short and incredibly valuable.  None of the other stuff is important.  Maybe our girl Koa can teach all of us a thing or two – be kind, be happy, and live each day as if it is both your first and last.

Thank you and I love you

A thank you letter to the men in my life:

Dad – Thank you for loving your only daughter so wholly and fully, without judgement towards me as a woman or pressure to be something else.  Thank you for allowing and encouraging me to dream big and about whatever I wanted.  Those dreams ranged from being an orthopedic surgeon to being a police officer and you supported all of them in their own right.  Never once did you say that since I am a female, maybe I would be better suited for this or that.  I can’t tell you how much that eternal belief in my ability to succeed and do whatever I wanted has impacted me in every aspect of my life.  I wouldn’t be as strong, independent and proud to be female without having had you as my father.

Hugo – Thank you for loving me as your wife and, more importantly, as your friend and equal partner.  Since joining our lives together at twenty years old, you always look at me as we stand, side by side, as equals.  I was never a woman in your eyes, I was a person who you loved.  As I dreamed of how to proceed professionally in my life, you supported it all, without missing a beat or questioning if I could handle it.  You pushed me to push myself and I thank you for your love and friendship.  As we have watched friends condescend on their spouses through the years, my heart is whole knowing that you have always spoken so proudly of me as your wife and encouraged my success as a strong female in the world.  You are a shining example of how men should treat women and you do it every day without even trying.

To the two men who have loved me for the entirety of my thirty-four years on Earth – one of you picked up where the other one left off.  After Dad raised me, Hugo became my partner in crime after moving out of my childhood home.  Your similarities are great, in that you both have pure, generous hearts, and your love knows no bounds.  I’m not sure how I got so lucky to have the two of you in my circle but I must have done something right in my prior life.

Love, K

You might wonder where all of my thankful, female rambles originated from tonight…well, here is a little back story.  After Hugo and I finished watching The Haunting of Hill House, which is absolutely wonderful by the way, another #MeToo movement moment flashed on the news feed.  We chatted briefly about this never-ending phenomenon and it occurred to me that I have been extraordinarily lucky to have been raised and loved by such genuinely wonderful men.  As I watch so many other women be demeaned, belittled and degraded by those close to them and predators alike, I am grateful for the love and support I have always received.  I only hope that men and women continue to raise their children with a remarkable sense of love, support and purpose.  Then, one day, they can hand their children, now all grown up, off to someone who will continue the good work those parents have done.

With love in my heart and all around me, goodnight ♥

Pumpkin Ice Cream to die for…and awaiting the results of Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

Spending a warm, Saturday afternoon making use of two leftover apples in our fridge.  We are watching Anchorman on TV as the Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake from Pinch of Yum has twenty-five minutes left on the timer.  It smells amazing so I will advise of the results shortly ♥

Earlier this week, in celebration of my visiting Mom, I made Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream from Chef Nick Holcomb on the Food Network website.  Hugo, Mom and I ate several servings (a day) of this delicious recipe and I am happy to report this just might be the best ice cream I have ever had.  I used Pacific Foods Organic Pumpkin Puree, rather than fresh pumpkin, and it turned out beyond perfect.  Not only did it check the ‘festive’ box, in honor of Halloween this week, but it hit a delicious, perfectly spiced note in our hearts.

Although my Dad doesn’t make too many super sweet desserts anymore, after developing type II diabetes and drastically altering his diet, I carry on his love of cooking, baking and preparing food for the ones you love with your bare hands.  I love the process of baking, love the sweet smells emanating from the kitchen through the entire house and love even more the feeling of making Hugo’s belly full and pleased.  And that is all sure to be accomplished just as soon as this apple cake comes out of the oven.

Frustrated but loved

Just enjoying a beautiful Wednesday afternoon among the best of company – Hugo and my mom.  What could be better.  After so many weeks of sadness, frustration and aching pain, I feel mentally and physically defeated by my chronic knee injuries.  I am off work again for at least six weeks, as my right knee heals from the most recent trauma, my first PRP injection and the cumulative effects of my recent surgery and years of damage.  It has not been an easy road and I have to admit, it is wearing on me.

I feel defeated about having a chronic injury and the negative stigma that injury brings with it for work purposes.  Despite everyone telling me to just not care about what other people think, it is not always easy.  I have never been concerned or consumed with what others think about me but for some reason, when it comes to work and my reputation, I take it a little too seriously.  I have worked really hard over the past eleven years, not for others but for myself.  I pride myself on being a hard worker and busting my butt for my work product.  Then, being hurt repeatedly over the years, which is always a result of work itself, I feel as if I am viewed like a chronic issue, despite the injuries not being my fault.  If you work hard and put yourself out there in my line of work, injuries are sometimes inevitable.  Ever since my first knee trauma, my knees have turned into my weak point.  I always seem to hurt them and as my injuries and surgeries have progressed over the years, my knees have weakened even further.

I know I shouldn’t be concerned with what others think.  I know I should just focus on myself and continue to work as hard as I can, within the parameters of an injured body part and a partially defeated heart.  I know I am stronger than anyone who doubts me.  But I am human and sometimes, our feelings feel deflated and our souls long to have others truly understand our position.  When I feel as if I am being unfairly judged about my condition, I just wish I could have an honest conversation with whomever is doubting me.  I long to show them that I am hurt and just trying my best to navigate through life, like everyone else, with my own personal baggage.

After days and weeks of mulling over these feelings, I break down from time to time.  Hugo is always there to lift me up with kind words and strong hugs whenever I need him.  I am forever grateful for his unwavering love.  Just last night, during a moment of tears and frustration, I told Hugo I was feeling depressed over the situation.  Alone with Hugo in the living room, as my visiting mom was upstairs momentarily, Hugo replied, “Don’t be sad, you have your loved ones around you.”  He couldn’t be more right.