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.
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.
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 ♥
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.
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.
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.
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.