Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Crying is a Gift

A Wise Woman, whom I pay for wisdom, told me, "Crying is a gift."  I normally would have snorted at that Hallmark type sentiment but because I am unable to let myself cry, even in the most deserving of situations, I pondered her statement for a bit.  Nodded.  Held back a few tears.  Then, I decided that the next time I need to cry I will remind myself that it's a gift and see if I can release it, instead of telling myself to "go wash my face". 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom from Wooden, 1

Coach John Wooden is one of my heroes.  He is a legend in sports history but remained humble in the midst of his amazing accomplishments.  His Pyramid of Success is something I refer to often and is now hanging in my office at work.  If you are not familiar with Coach Wooden, I suggest you click on the embedded links in this paragraph to learn more about him.  Wednesday Wisdom from Wooden will be a weekly series!

Wooden's Wisdom:

" 'Be quick, but don't hurry.'  By that I meant, make a decision, take action; decide what you're going to do and do it.  Keep this word of caution in mind:  'Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all.' "
My commentary:

Acting on a decision can be scary, even a well thought out (including pro/con lists, prayer, biting nails, etc.) decision that you become confident in.  Taking action often means that some thing, or multiple things, in your life will change, for the better and maybe negatively as well.  From personal experience, although scary, I have never later regretted acting on a decision, even if it didn't turn out the way I wanted it to.  The ultimate result was growth, experience and confidence.  I have only regretted the times when I let fear hold me back from trying.

Your thoughts are welcome!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Rant: TY and other ways to sound like an ungrateful moron

Acronyms serve a great purpose.  Taking notes, leaving a quick note, and sending an email are much more effective when universally known acronyms are used.  I do know someone who creates acronyms for everything and expects others to know what he's talking about:  Jess, go ahead and STBS and confirm when that's completed.  Uhhhh....what the what is STBS?  Annoyed look from said person and then (in a condescending tone): "Send. The. Bank. Statement."  Ohhhhh, gotcha.  Not.  That's not what this rant is about; I just felt the need to share while on the topic of acronyms.

Some helpful and time saving acronyms are:  FYI (for your information), BTW (by the way), ASAP (as soon as possible), b/t (between), w/ (with) w/o (without).  You get the point.  There is one acronym that I have noticed is becoming more and more widely used.  Everytime I see it, I'm offended. Drum roll please. . . .

TY

It stands for Thank You. 

Really, society?  We need to abbreviate an expression of appreciation?  We can't just type out seven extra letters and hit the space bar to let someone know we appreciate the contract they spent two days writing only to have to revise the whole thing one week later in less than half the time?  Blood, sweat and tears all in one email attachment, for something that was needed ASAP, and the reply I get?  TY.  I would have been happy with "Thanks" if typing out "You" is too much to handle.  The worst part?  I have actually had someone verbally thank me with "Tee-Wy, Jess."  Dumbfounded does not even begin to describe my state of being in that moment.

Well, YW.  Or better yet, YSOW (You're Sort of Welcome). 

Here is the rant: 

We are becoming increasingly lazy with one of the most valuable resources we have:  language.  It's hard to find anyone who takes it seriously anymore, who understands sentence structure, and who cares about spelling and punctuation.  Many Americans whine about those who speak foreign languages living in the United States.  "Learn English!"  Many of those same people couldn't construct a proper sentence if their life depended on it,verbally or written.  The ironic thing?  The people who we think should learn English probably understand our language better than the vast majority of us.

I'm tempted to start sending business emails with, "Here ya go" and no other info in the body.  I should respond to all emails with a "yep" or a "nope". Oh!  And let's all stop capitalizing pronouns and the first letter of sentences.  Better yet; no punctuation at all!  lets just send communication to one another with the bare minimum of effort foregoing everything we were taught by our dedicated and underpaid english teachers n call it good lol n then lets sit around n discuss y are children cant get in2 a good college surely its not b/c they cant right who needs to learn how to right or speak well talk good  thats wut we hav spelling and grammar check for

The End

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Chances of being Terrible

I follow a fabulous blog called Evil HR Lady.  I love it!  Suzanne Lucas is an experienced HR professional who posts helpful information for other HR professionals, employers and employees.  She's brilliant and has a great perspective on how to handle a myriad of issues.  I got a little mad at Evil HR Lady yesterday, though, when I saw her latest blog post entitled 9 Signs Your HR Manager is Terrible

I have often proven points to my boss using information from the Evil HR Lady blog (which I of course researched further) and immediately thought to myself, "Oh no!  What if this blog proves that I'm terrible and my boss randomly reads it and uses it against me?!"  Okay, one, my boss is amazing and would probably only use it as a joke or to coach me out of my terribleness....I hope....and two, he doesn't read the blog.

Hesitantly, I clicked the link to the post knowing that there were nine documented chances I could be terrible. I read it with my head turned to the side, one eye shut, gripping the couch cushion in case one of the nine reasons stated something like, Your HR Manager is terrible if she likes to prank employees.  or Your HR Manager is terrible if her name is Jess and she freaks out about really stupid and random things....and uses her office windows as a whiteboard.

Fortunately for me, the nine reasons an HR Manager could be terrible had nothing to do with my name, my OCD, window writing, or prankster-ness.  In fact, the blog reinforced that I am in fact not terrible at my job, according to the Evil HR Lady, I might even be pretty stellar at my job.  Phew!  That was a close one.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Shameless Plug. . .

Received a call today from one of my favorite stores, wishing me a happy belated birthday!  I was like, "Thanks!!!!!!. . .do you call every customer on their birthday?"  Well, no they don't call every customer on their birthday, just the ones who spend their life savings in their store.  That's my wording, not theirs.  Their wording was, "We make personal calls to clients who do significant business with us."  That I do.

So that's not even the best part!  Because they were belated in wishing me a happy birthday, they are not only giving me the normal 15% off purchases during my birth month, they are are also giving me an additional 20% off through July!  What the WHAT?!  Yeah!  You know how to keep a girl happy, Bare Escentuals!!   (Oak Park Mall location)!

Before you judge me, just know that Bare Escentuals skin care and make up are the ONLY skin care and make up that I can wear without having a weird severe reaction which can lead to a Quasimodo type look (you know, Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame?  Yeah....).  Bare Escentuals makes me pretty and keeps my skin healthy!

Me without Bare Escentuals:
Me with Bare Escentuals:
Big difference, right?


Just One

There are a few passages in the Bible regarding asking for and receiving things.  One in particular that I have been thinking about lately is found in Mark, I believe.  Basically, it says that whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  Of course, I believe that the intention of your heart has to be right; like, I don't think that praying specifically for two million dollars so that I can buy pretty things and vacation frequently is something I should ask for and expect to receive, but that's just my opinion.

I've been thinking about the verse in Mark (11:24) ever since I read the following quote:

Give me one friend, just one, who meets the needs of all my varying moods.               --Esther M. Clark
I basically prayed the first half of this quote as a kid pretty frequently.  My family moved a lot and I would find myself in my bedroom or outside on my swingset the night before starting another new school pleading with God, "Please let me find a friend, just one, at school tomorrow."  I was horrifically shy as a kid and knew, even at that age, that it wouldn't be charm or my sparkling personality that would gain new found friends, it would more than likely be pitying classmates and an act of God leading a kid over to say, "You can hang out with me."  The point is that  I believed God would give me someone and I was never let down.

When we left Kansas City (where all of my friends and family were) and arrived in a very very small farm community of Pierce City, MO my first friend was Rachel Green.  I only lived in Pierce City for four months but managed to develop some pretty good friendships with most of my classmates, especially the kids in my reading group, but nothing deep.  In Aurora, MO my first friend in school was Cindy Benz.  She was cool and came from a nice family.  We had sleepovers and playdates and liked to sit outside and listen to the radio or climb trees.  She introduced me to a lot of the other kids who I later formed good friendships with (or as good as a friendship can get in six months).  I had a close neighborhood friend as well, Kimberly, and she was nuts but fun.  In Cassville, MO my first friend was Lindsey.  Lindsey used words like "galore" and  "propensity", and she held her own in a classroom (3rd grade) presidential debate regarding Bush, Clinton, and Perot. She sat next to me after the teacher made me introduce myself to the class and said, "I can tell you like grammar and sentence structure.  Would you like to be friends?"  Absolutely!

Many times having that one friend or acquaintance was more for survival and less because we were bff's.  Outside of school my best friends were my brothers, my dog Emmy, and all the neighborhood boys (some of whom were sort of adopted into our family).  At school I did what was necessary to have a group of girls to sit with at lunch and I talked about dolls and whether or not I was going to be allowed to grow my bangs out, but at home I played night tag, raced the neighborhood boys on bikes, played soccer, and climbed trees.  I loved my friends at school and think back on those relationships fondly but I didn't really click with anyone because I still expected that we would pick up and move again.

The second half of Esther M Clark's quote, "who meets the needs of all my varying moods" started becoming a  priority to me.   I had a lot of friends but we were either just friends during the school year or we were "best friends" yet had very explosive relationships, meaning we were always annoyed or mad at each other.   I used to read books (ahem...The Baby-sitters Club) and watch movies (Now and Then) about groups of best girl friends--soul mates, really-- who were there for each other no matter what, who forgave easily, who were real with each other, and who stayed friends for 20+ years.  I didn't believe it was real.  I had one or two best girl friends but not a great big circle of friends who all hung out.  For the most part my best friends were guys and when they all started getting married a million years later, I was feeling pretty lonely.

Ever since I read the quote a few days ago, I haven't been able to get it out of my mind.  I can trace my relationships as far back as infancy and pinpoint the friends I gained over the years, who more than any others, "meet the needs of all my varying moods".  I can go months, even years, with limited contact with these women and our first interaction, whether over the phone or in person or even via Facebook, is like we were never separated by time and miles.  They get me when I'm mad or flaky, sad, damaged, excited, sarcastic--and we don't judge each other.  We don't fight.  We don't hold each other accountable to ridiculous rules about how often we need to see one another to still be considered friends.   They keep me "alive" in stories to their children, my honorary nieces and nephews, to the point that even the ones I see only once a year have a relationship with me.  Some have been in my life for 27 years and some for as little as 3 years, but it's like we are the same people in different bodies.

I always prayed for just one person at a time to get me through, and I received that each time I asked.  I received much more than just a person to suffice in my journey through life and consider it a blessing.  I received soul mates; the perfect mix of people who are more like family than just friends.  You know who you are.  And if you don't, I'll be emailing you this link so that you know for sure! :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Love Letters

Mail is amazing.  Personal mail that is; not the mail that requires that a check be written and mailed back to the sender.  Mail means that someone was thinking about you and that someone took a substantial amount of time out of his or her day to tell you something, spent some money on a stamp and drove to the post office.....all of it for you. 

Letter writing was still a common occurrence ten years ago, although it was quickly fading by that time.  But let's say 14 years ago, when I was 13, it was an integral source of communication between me and my friends who lived in various states across the country. 

During my teen years, we didn't have cell phones with unlimited or even roll over minutes.  We definitely didn't have texting.  The big thing was cordless phones, so that you could talk to your friends privately in your room without being attached to the kitchen wall and heckled by your family.  Anybody remember stretching the phone cord as far across the room as possible, curling up on the floor as close to the wall as your could get, cupping the receiver and speaking quietly about whatever it was that was important to you at the time....glitter eye shadow or something?  It was like we thought the walls absorbed our conversations keeping them from our eavesdropping relatives.  Keep in mind, again, that my teen years were 10-14 years ago; things sure have changed quickly. 

Anyway, because we didn't have all of the communication conveniences that we have today and our parents heavily restricted long distance calls, we resorted to saving up allowances and lunch money to buy calling cards OR we would talk for 10 minutes and end the conversation with, "I'll just write you a letter."  Of course, we did have email back then but that was in the day of dial up internet, that sometimes wouldn't dial up, and family email accounts.  So, email as a main source of communication wasn't all that effective either.  In fact, I only checked email once a week.

This is obviously not one of the most organized group of letters but it was the easiest to access
I saved the majority of the letters I received from my friends.  They are organized by person and in order by date.  It's fun to read through them every couple of years and remember what it was like discovering that particular letter in the mailbox, how I felt when I read it, and confirming that teenagers really are severely awkward creatures.   I remember the almost unbearable anticipation waiting for a letter to arrive.  I would time the postal system by determining....okay, he said he sent the letter today so it will probably be on a truck by tomorrow....from New York (or Minnesota, Michigan, Kansas City, Arizona, etc.) it will probably be here next Thursday.  That was so much more fun than receiving a generic, thoughtless text:  What's up?  IDK.  LOL.  IC.  Yep.  Nope. Gah-it's so impersonal.  Texting is great for quick communication, confirming plans or being able to talk to your bff who lives forever away.  However, in 20 years I won't be able to look back at those conversations like I can a letter.

I was thinking about the lost art of letter writing a few summers back, probably after watching a Jane Austen movie.  I love that the only way two people could communicate was through letters/telegrams and that anytime a letter was received there was an immense excitement.  And the love letters were beautifully written.  So, I got to thinking:  Love letters aren't necessarily reserved for romantic relationships; I mean all my letters from the past were from my girl and guy friends (okay, and maybe also from a few potentially interested boys).  The very act of writing and sending a letter requires effort, and effort reserved for those people we truly care about, which is why so few people do it.  The recipient inherently realizes that the letter took the sacrifice of time, maybe some extra focus on penmanship, the cost of a stamp, a trip to the post office, and thought.  No matter the content of the letter it's special to receive.

I challenged myself to write love letters to my friends.  Sometimes they are quippy and include a funny card, other times they are more thoughtful.  I did well with this for a while and even started randomly receiving letters and cards back! My letter writing slowly tapered off recently or became focused on the same one or two friends so I am challenging myself, again, and you too, to start sending handwritten mail to people you care for.  Your bff in Arizona, a childhood friend, a relative you don't get to see very often, or even maybe someone you see on a regular basis! 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Weekend Getaway

My mom and I have birthdates that fall within the same week so we always spend our birthdays together.  There has probably only been one birthday (my 17th) that I spent without my mom.  I was living in southern Arkansas with my grandparents at the time.  This year my mom turned 50 (I know, she doesn't age!  Cross your fingers that I inherited those genes!)  so we decided to plan a weekend hiking trip in NW Arkansas.


We hiked Yellow Rock Trail at Devil's Den State Park and later swam in the creek/river, as far away from the "Swimming is Not Permitted" signs as possible.  Here are some pics from the hike:
The Getawayers
Mom, Tab, me and Allie


I feel like my face is so stress free in this pic since I am surrounded by trees and without access to my iPhone and Blackberry.  Reminds me of the pics of me while in Honduras.  Happy.  Calm. Oh and yes, sweaty.
 




Allie and me cooling off at the mouth of a cave.  It was a really hot day!


On top of Yellow Rock


Sitting on the edge of Yellow Rock.  I live to make my mom nervous.  "Be careful; you could fall off!" She said to the 27 year old :)




On the trail!

Perched on the edge of the cliff.  Good times
 We had fun at the hotel too! 

This is me doing what I do best:  being a humble winner


We had all of our luggage on the cart in preparation to check out of the hotel, then randomly decided it would be fun to hang upside down from the top of the cart, so we took all the luggage off and did just that.  I mean, why not?
 This is Allie

My turn.  I took the bat approach.  I chickened out on going completely upside down because the cart wasn't very sturdy and I have enough head issues without risking falling on it....you know?


Back to work and real life!

It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To

Oh wait, I mean It's My Party and.....My Body will be Taken Over by a Debilitating Migraine Just as the Fun Starts.

Sigh.

After traveling from Kansas City to southwest Missouri, the birthday weekend Getawayers, consisting of my mom, my sis-in-law, and a sort of adopted sister, headed toward Bentonville, AR. I wished the approaching migraine away, kept hoping it might go away but the closer we got to the hotel and my very needed and highly anticipated weekend of fun, the sicker I felt (I wonder if it had to do with all the Caaaaake! I ingested the day before). I checked us in to the hotel, drug my suitcase to the room and promptly laid down on the nearest bed.

Dinner time: the Getawayers all agreed to go out for pizza. All I could think was No Food. So they left and I took a few pain relievers(okay a lot if pain relievers) and curled up in the fetal position under the covers. A couple of hours later, when the Getawayers returned, I felt less like I was going to explode and more just plain bummed out.

Pool time: "Let's go to the pool/hot tub!"  I had been looking forward to the hot tub for weeks so part of me wanted to shout Yeah!!!! And the other part of me wanted to plead,Yes please leave. Too. Much. Noise. Stop sounding so....jovial." 

Luckily, after a night of comatose-like sleep,  I woke up feeling mostly normal and was able to enjoy the rest of the weekend hiking with my people.  Migraines are horrible but they make me really appreciate life and remind me to be thankful for and take advantage of the moments when I feel well. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Caaaaake!

Why yes, I did in fact eat Funfetti cake (courtesy of my bff Love It All) for breakfast today.  I also had some more cake and a brownie for brunch.  Guess what I'm having for lunch?  A White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks annnnnd cake! 

There is a possibility that I will pass out today from sugar overload especially since my usual diet consists of water, coffee, fruits, veggies and fish.  I already feel the sugar in my face which means a horrific headache is on its way.....but eating cake all day is what birthdays are all about!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Life is Too Short to be Small

"Life is too short to be small." 
 --Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister and Novelist 1804-1881)

To me, this quote means that life is too short to be held back by naysayers, societal pressures, fear and anxiety, low self-esteem, abuse, and failure.  Life is too short to be okay with "can't".  Life is too short not to at least try.  Life is meant to be excellent.

Last year on June 1st I posted the following status update on Facebook:

'Tomorrow I will be 26 and my quarter life crisis is in full swing.  I'm choosing to let it motivate me to do great things and make bold moves rather than reflect on how much I haven't done up to this point......so, expect to hear about exciting things, but if you don't....it's because I chickened out. :)'

What I really wanted to say was:  'I am a loser and I feel like if I don't figure out how to be more I am going to suffocate.'  I thought that a post with such wording would cause some to be concerned with my mental well-being so I chose better words to represent my restlessness and all around feelings of loser...ness.  Yes, loserness. It's now a word; you're welcome.

Tomorrow I will be 27 and am happy to report that I really love my life.  I've liked it off and on for several years which was a huge accomplishment after hating it for a long long while.  I have spent the last year traveling, helping people, writing, volunteering, donating and making tough decisions about what and who to keep in my life, and facing obstacles and challenges head on.

Despite loving my life, I will never be satisfied.  I consider this to be a good thing.  I will always strive to be thankful and content, but I never want to stop learning, striving, trying, accomplishing, shopping, discovering, and helping.  Last year, I looked at myself in the mirror and decided to do what I really want to do, be what I really want to be and to like myself in the process, flaws and all. I no longer want to do and be what other people want to do or be or what makes everyone else happy.  What makes me happy? 

Quite a few things make me happy, actually.  Over the course of this past year I have seen childhood dreams of mine play out, not because it just happened, but because I chose to seek those things out.  As a kid I dreamed of being a humanitarian in a third world country so I took an opportunity to travel to Honduras and ultimiately changed the course of my life.  As a kid I was a tomboy, who thought that it was impossible to fit in with the boys AND like pink, so I wore my brother's clothes, made fun of girly girls and secretly wanted to wear hot pink whle also playing G.I. Joes and Legos.  Now, it looks like my closet threw up pink and purple.  I am happy being tough, aggressive and independent but I am girly and feminine too and I won't apologize about being either extreme.  As a kid I wanted to be a pilot so recently I took up flying lessons. 

I could go into detail about all of the things I've done this year to really be me, to be happy and fulfilled but instead I am going to focus on one thing that is really making me happy....really happy....lately.

Boxing
I became a fan of boxing in Rogers, AR when I was 5 years old.  I sat with my Grandpa L-F in his study and watched my first ever boxing match while my Grandpa explained the sport to me.  If you'd like a better visual of the scene, I was wearing a paper pilgrim outfit, that I made in Kindergarten, over my freakishly awesome 80's clothes.  Grandpa said to me, "Okay, now you pick a fighter and we'll see who's fighter wins.  You have to cheer him on though."  I choose the guy in the blue shorts so my Grandpa cheered for the guy in the red shorts.

I learned three things that day.  1) My Grandpa is cool.  I already knew that, of course, but it was confirmed. 2) Won, not  Winned, is the past tense of Win AND you cannot shout, "I won you!" when your fighter wins.  The proper thing to shout is "I beat you!"and 3)  I LOVE boxing.
From that day forward I would find myself day dreaming about being a boxer.  I would watch every  boxing themed movie that I could get my hands on, and still do.

But isn't it just a stupid childhood fantasy to want to box? Especially for a girl? Isn't that what we would all default to telling our little girls?  "Welll, sweetie, it would be very difficult for you to actually be a boxer.  You know, it hurts when you get hit.  You have to be dedicated.  It won't make you a lot of money...."  We should actually tell our little girls, when they show interest in something, "Try it!  You might LOVE it."

In September of 2010, a few months into my 26th year of life, I joined a boxing club. I had known about this  club for a couple of years but I let what people might think and the possibility that I might suck keep me from checking it out.  I took myself, my freshly-back-from-Honduras confidence, my quarter life crisis, and my best friend and signed up. 

In the beginning, I attended hour long group classes on a regular basis but recently, I decided to step it up and really fulfill my childhood longing and started personal training with an actual fighter, which is way more awesome than a group class.  It's pretty priceless.  I get to workout and do what I love.  Sometimes I suck, but sometimes I rock. Everytime I rock it, it makes each time I was terrible completely insignificant.


Am I going to become a pro or even amateur fighter?  I don't know, but does that make what I'm doing any less awesome?

Benjamin Disraeli's quote holds a lot of meaning for me in all areas of my life.  I don't want to be a "Can't-er" and I don't want to be small; I want to be excellent. 

I saw this quote in the signature line of one of my business contacts today and thought it was fitting for this post:

Excellence can be obtained if you: care more than others think is wise; risk more than others think is safe; dream more than others think is practical; expect more than others think is possible.

Tomorrow I will be 27 and I love where my life is going.