Jennifer – Take Two. My “Second” Act.

There’s no doubt about, ya’ll. I’m going through a mid-life, reflection-ish phase in my life.

My kids are growing up faster than I’d like, my mom suffered a heart attack earlier this year and I’m halfway to 42…officially “IN my forties”.

Where did the time go?

I think because I’m 4’10″ and continued to get carded until I was 35 (and had kids later in life) I’ve been able to “feel” young for a long time. But lately I’ve been really AWARE of the time passing and I’m starting to FEEL older.

I worked in “corporate” for years before starting my own business in my mid thirties – a “semi” second act that allowed me to get back to writing (and out of management) and be around more for my kids.

Freelance writing for publications and small businesses is fun and I love what I do but I love to write creatively. I started my blog, Still Living The Dream, a couple years ago so I could write whatever I wanted to. A short story, poem, art project, review of a good book…a free forum to share my thoughts and allow me to write with as many  of these (….) as I wanted!

And I had one follower!

Well maybe two, but in the beginning – I just needed a venue to express myself.

Then more people found me and liked what I was writing. And I found that mothers, especially those juggling work and raising young kids, could relate to the stories I shared about moments where I could have done a bit better in the parenting department. And laughter brought us together as a community.

I love my readers and have fun with my blog. It’s not one of the biggest on the block and that’s ok. But I’m finding myself in a stage of discontent again. And I know it’s time to change things up. I need to challenge myself.

So here’s my plan.

I’m going to tackle my life list. From act in a play to visit Paris – I’ve compiled a list of things I want to do and I need to start looking at it more and making my dreams a reality. Specifically, I want to concentrate on these:

1. Hit life list #45 (Get Healthy) hard. I’ve gained a lot of weight and it’s dragging me down physically and mentally. I’m going to figure out a plan to eat healthier and incorporate exercise into my daily routine.

2. Go after #3 (get published in a national magazine) and then #6 (write a book) with intensity. Pitching my work and making contacts with magazine editors has been a hard thing for me to do. I feel like I should be spending my time with assignments that come my way and are a “sure thing”. I need to shift my thinking and take a risk! AND….I need to spend more time everyday working on my writing. In the process, I want to grow my blog so I can reach even more people!

3. Realize that I may not ever accomplish #7 fully (kick depression’s ass). It’s most likely going to be something I deal with from time-to-time for the rest of my life. BUT, if I’m healthier and working towards making my dreams a reality…it’s likely that my anxiety will quiet down, too. And when it’s not, I’ll continue to use humor to get my through the rough spots!

So tell me, do you have life list?

Are you ready for act two in your life?

Are you Living Your Dream?

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Living The Dream with Big Picture Classes

When I first decided to create a blog, picking out the name was one of the easiest steps. I often say (albeit with sarcasm at times!) “I’m living the dream!” You know, when I’m cleaning up doggie doo-doo off the carpet, making dinner for kids who refuse to eat anything but chicken nuggets, trying to make ends meet…in general.

But the truth is…I really am. I have two beautiful children, a husband, a house and relatively good health.

Yet pursuing your dreams is a constant endeavor. Whether it’s to write that book (who? me?!), climb that mountain, visit that city, learn to play that instrument….if we don’t carve out time to identify our dreams and then spend time (even just a little) to make them happen. Sometimes, some dreams stay just that….dreams.

I love Big Picture Classes (an online, creative environment where you can find classes of all kinds…from photography to journaling to scrapbooking and so much more) and when I saw that Stacy Julian (the fearless leader of Big Picture Classes and an enthusiastic, authentically wonderful person) had assembled a team of 10 other fantabulous, creative teachers (called the Creating Keepsakes Dream Team) for a 20-day online course called, HELLO?!!! “Living Your Dream” I was all like, “Stacy, we NEED to talk!”

Of course I’m going to take the class. But what I’m most excited about is sharing it with YOU! Not only will one of you have the chance to win a seat in the class with me but I will share my journey with you and I really hope that you decide to take the  journey as well.

The class (which is presented by Creating Keepsakes Magazine along with Big Picture Classes) starts June 28, 2012 (you can find more about it and how to sign-up here).

But I’ll be sharing more details with you soon as well.

Until then, I have one question for you….

Are You Living Your Dream?

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What the Heck….?

So we get home from swim team practice, baseball practice, a boy scout troop visit and dinner to celebrate Ed’s birthday last night and I turn on the light to the back yard to let Buddy Diapers (our miniature dachshund puppy) outside and I find this on the stoop.

Me: What the heck…..?

I had no idea what it was, it looked like some kind of explosive device to me but since I’ve never seen an explosive device, I couldn’t be sure. So to be safe, I held it at arms length and then put it in my husband’s face to ask him what it was.

Him: Looks like an old piece from the pump that filtered the pond I recently took out of the yard.

And I believe him.

1. Because all of the stuff from the dissembled pond that he took apart about a year ago is still out there and

2. Because he and Jackson have been watching that new show about guys in the military who find IED’s and defuse them (I originally thought the show was about dissembling IUD’s but turns out that’s an entirely different topic); so he knows kinda what to watch out for vis-a-vis things that explode.

I guess Buddy found it in the backyard and brought it up to the patio in either a cat-like gesture of “earning his keep”  OR it’s his new play toy.

I think it’s the later.

Because when I took it away and then went to bed and then let him out again this morning THIS is what I found.

Yeah. Those are Jackson’s confetti Easter Eggs that he’s been saving for “just the right occasion” (you know, when you have to crack confetti over a friend’s head. I get it).

Me: Uh oh…..Buddy attacked Jackson’s carton of confetti eggs.

Ed: I know….shhhh. Don’t tell him, he’s gonna be really upset.

Me: Maybe we should get rid of the mess. I mean, he’s going to go in the back yard sooner or later.

Ed: (shrugs)

Filling confident that our plan of avoiding the confetti eggs topic in hopes that he’ll just forget he had him would work, I got busy with another task when Annie peeked out back.

Annie: OHHHHHH – Buddy ruined ALL of JACKSON’S confetti eggs. (And then she ran to her carton and tucked it under her arm and ran to her room to hide it. For a 6-year-old, she’s pretty street smart.)

Jackson: WHAT THE HECK…….?

So good morning to you, too – Wednesday.

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When a Heart Attack Makes Things Stronger

My mom had a heart attack in February (of all times, Heart Awareness month!) and I kind of shut down a little. I didn’t blog as much, I didn’t see my blogger pals (online or in the Houston community) and I turned down some exciting jobs.

My involvement with my children’s school decreased and outing with my friends kind of stopped.

My mom was in good health, pretty young (63 years old) and didn’t smoke or drink. She wasn’t overweight and while she didn’t work out regularly at the gym, she was a PE teacher so she was on her feet and very active, every day.

One day she felt short of breath and her jaw hurt. She thought maybe she was just nervous (or needed to see a dentist!). Then she had some chest pain that worried her enough to get it checked out. (She’s not one to go to the doctor!)

It was Friday evening after she had her EKG and stress test results. She had had a heart attack.

I went to see her at the doctors office and took her to the hospital. Luckily she was able to avoid open heart surgery as they reestablished flow by the placement of four stents. We were so thankful even though another hospital stay was necessary because of infection.

My sisters and I all were there for mom, but because I work from home and live close to her, I stepped in and helped her everyday after she got home from the hospital. I took her to rehab and doctors appointments, ran errands for her and kept her company. When she was took weak to do household chores, I vacummed her carpets and took out her trash.

And a funny thing happened while her heart got stronger. So did our relationship.

Me and mom have had some rocky times and we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. We’ve both been stubborn (hey, I got it from her!) and that didn’t always help…but I always loved my mom. Sometimes, I just didn’t know how to show it.

When she got sick I was scared but because I once held a management position at a hospital (and was familiar with the system), I knew I could be her advocate. Then when she got home I was thankful that I was in a position where I could take care of her. It made me feel good to be able to be there for her.

And our time together that month, even when she was napping and I was working in the kitchen – brought us closer together.

She’s back at work; yet still healing. I know she’s looking forward to the summer when she can take things a little slower again. (I’m looking forward to having her around during the week, too!)

I hope she knows that I’ll always be there for her and that I love her. And that while I hate that she got sick, that I cherished the time we spent together and I’m thankful for our stronger relationship.

“I carry your heart with me….I carry it in my heart.” e.e. cummings

 

 

 

 

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Bully Movie Tonight…Plus Resources

The premiere in Houston is tonight! If you scored some free tickets from my blog, don’t forget to show up early so you can get a good seat. If you haven’t gotten a ticket yet, I have a few more. Let me know you want to go before 3:00 p.m. today!

I received so many comments from readers concerned about this topic. Educators, parents, kids themselves who are being bullied…afraid to go to school everyday. I hope this movie sparks discussion and motivates people, especially those who WITNESS bullying to stand up and said “No – it’s not acceptable.”

A friend told me about a good sight to check out; www.positivethinkingworks.org. She said it was started by two Houston-area moms and helps teachers, parents and kids reframe socially disrespectful situations.

Also – I learned about the great kids at Cy-Ranch High School who made this video; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waAqJ6727Hk&feature=related. Apparently the entire project was was created, filmed, sung and performed by students to Stand Up to bullies by asking “Who Do U Think U R?”.

Chills.

You need to watch this. If you love it as much as I do, you can actually vote for it here http://nobull.votigo.com/contests/showentry/1042123?v=50 for the NO BULL Teen Video Awards.

I love the message that is being repeated over and over (in this video and on the website postitivethinkingworks and (I hope) in the movie tonight….The BYSTANDER stops the bully. We need to teach our kids to be UPSTANDERS. It’s what I’m going to work on with my kids.

Do you have any resources or tips or stories you’d like to share about this issue? Please get involved!

 

 

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Spark Sisters Unite!


Guess where I’m going tomorrow? Utah to attend Spark 3, a two-day creative event with industry leading teachers in a beautiful setting and I’m downright giddy.

As an organizer of events on a daily basis (birthday parties, PTO events at school….even laundry – which is an EVENT at my house -thank you very much!!) I’m so excited that I’m ATTENDING one. Somebody in Utah is expecting my arrival and I’m told has a schedule of events and a goodie-bag waiting for ME! All I have to do is show-up. Well – I also have to pack and you know me…that hasn’t been done yet. But STILL – how awesome is it to be a participant instead of an organizer every once in a while?

And we are making several fun crafty/artsy projects. Crafting is so therapeutic for me and because I’m especially looney tunes right now – it’s come at a great time. I can’t wait to get my hands on modge-podge, canvas, wire cutters and paint brushes. Here’s what I think we are making:

  1. A necklace
  2. A collage project
  3. A wool-felted project
  4. A Journal
  5. A reverse applique project

Whenever I get ready to travel without my family, I get a little nervous. But I’m ready to meet new friends and have a good time enjoying true fall weather. With excitement and a pair of cowboy boots I think I’ll be ready. The rest…just details!

What are you looking forward to doing or going this fall?

 

 

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Diet is a Four-Letter Word

Many people who begin a weight loss journey don’t call it a diet – they refer to it as a life-style change or establishing healthier eating habits. It’s a positive spin on the changes they are making to be a more healthful person.

I am on a DIET. There is no two ways about it. No way to make it sound any different then what it is… food deprecation. I chose this diet because I wanted to get a jump start that will lead to a life-style change and eating more healthful. I wanted to see results quickly so I would get motivated and hopefully stick to it. I knew that if I just started eating better it would take forever to see results because I have so much to lose. And I know this to be true because I feel like it’s taking forever to see results even on this strict regimen.

But it’s been 3 weeks and 3 days and I’m starting to see (and feel) a difference. Indeed, I’ve lost 16 or 17 pounds so far which is radical for the short time period. But Medifast is endorsed by physicians and I am getting the nutrients I need. I just miss food. A lot.

I eat five “meals” a day (Medifast meals that are mainly shakes and bars) and a lean/green meal (which equates to about 7 oz of shrimp, a cup of lettuce with a half-cup of cucumbers and tomatoes.) No bread, no fruit, no sweets, no non-diet soda. No fun.

Right now the fuel I put into my body is mainly just that – fuel to keep me healthy. I do not enjoy meals. And I miss that. But – I’m starting to slim down and after I lose about 4 or so more pounds my plan is to start Weight Watchers to lose the remaining 30 pounds.

So, for me, Diet is a four-letter word. But a healthier lifestyle is in my future. And as my high school track coach used to say…”If the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise” I’ll stick to it.

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Save On Energy Contest

Save On Energy is running a contest in April…Win One Month FREE Electricity! That’s right, Save On Energy wants to pay your electric bill! Uh, ok! Just follow Save on Energy on Facebook, and enter to win a weekly drawing for $250.00.

To Win:

  • Click here and “Like” Save on Energy on Facebook
  • Register to win $250 to pay your electric bill
  • Refer your friends to get extra entries
  • Register between April 4-30, 2011, and make sure to refer your friends and get an extra entry for each one that registers.

Save On Energy is not an electric company. They compare energy rates and make it easy to switch providers online so you can start saving money immediately.

 

Disclaimer: One winner will be randomly selected each week during the promotion period, April 4-30, 2011. Limit one winner per household, not valid for previous registrants of Save on Energy. I am receiving compensation for each person that likes Save On Energy’s facebook page. 

 

 

 

 
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Get My Allergies Under Control Part Two: The Office Visit

So when I said I would “be back tomorrow” with a post about how my allergy testing went in this post … you know I didn’t literally mean tomorrow, right? Because “tomorrow”, to me, is anytime in the foreseeable future. Sorta of like “in a minute” or “just a sec.” In this case tomorrow turned out to be more than two weeks. That was kind of pushing it. Sorry.

But here it goes – because if you have always wondered what it’s like to get tested for allergies, it might be good to know what to expect. I wasn’t sure – so I winged it. But I took my camera so you won’t have to!

The first thing I did was take a respiratory test. I had to take a big ol’ breath and blow out as hard as I could for as long as I could…which turned out to be shorter than someone who smokes 2 packs a day (which I don’t). The allergy nurse told me to try it again because she knew I could do better than that. So supportive. But really, now I’m not good at breathing?! The very thing that is supposed to come naturally? Nice.
After a couple tries I got to a level that was considered respectable among the living. So I’ve got that going for me. I was so tired from breathing so hard I felt like I needed a nap. Or a cigarette (but I don’t smoke) ironic, though – right?!
Next was the skin test. The nurse put little drops of 40 allergens on these little pointy pegs and stuck 20 of them in each arm. Then I sat and waited for several minutes. She told me that this would tell her if I was highly allergic to anything that caused a surface reaction – then she might not want to inject it into my skin.
I thought this was a fabulous idea because I wanted to keep living and breathing (even at my abysmal level) for the rest of the day.



Presto.

Turns out I AM HIGHLY allergic to several things. “Wow!” said the allergy nurse (and she really is so nice – I liked her so much!) “That’s a big welt! and that one is too, and another one” and then she started turning over viles of things NOT to inject me with at warp speed.

“I’m really itching bad,” I said to the allergy nurse.
“Don’t scratch,” she said.
“But it’s BADDDDDD,” I said.

“Well I can imagine why…those are some big welts!” As impressed as I was with myself at the size of my welts, I really was in agony. But then she started taking out her welt measuring tool and doing calculations (I made a mental note to tell Jackson about how this was an example of when you DO use math in “real life” next time he was complaining about his homework) and those that top the list….Cats, Oak Trees and Ragweed.

After putting some benedryl on my now Popeye sized forearms, she prepared the syringes with the allergens that would not kill me. These shots went just under the skin and after the first 20, they stopped bothering me. But the nurse was a little concerned.

“Ummmm. Did you take Advil today?”
“No – but I did yesterday.”
“Well that explains this.”

I looked over and my arm had little red drops of blood coming out of each injection site. And they wouldn’t stop bleeding.

“Is that bad?” I said.
“Well – the prep sheet you got said not to take Advil.”
“But I had a headache,” I whined. (Can I do nothing right?!) “Why can’t I take it”
“Because it makes you bleed…kinda like this”

Lesson learned…read the prep sheet and follow the directions. They are there for a reason.

But we carried on because I’m a trooper like that and at least I was good at bleeding since I clearly was terrible at breathing. In an odd way, it made me feel good.

After the shots were finished we waited for awhile to see how many big welts I could grow this time. Turns out – quite a few. I’m allergic to just about everything except cockroaches, dogs and mold.

If you have extreme allergies be prepared to experience swelling and itching on the injection site for a couple days. I did. But the process doesn’t really hurt. And I’m a big ol’ baby when it comes to needles. And pain.

Stay tuned for more about my follow up visit….

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Vote Here (My kids need dancing lessons!)

Ok, here’s the link (click here) for our Primrose Family Dance-Off Video Contest. You can vote up to five times a day until the contest ends this weekend. Thanks for your support!!

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