Enjoy The Silence

photo-22As I write this I am sitting near a roaring campfire. The only sounds I can hear is the crackle of the flames, the constant soothing sound of the nearby river and off in the not so far distance the sound of my husbands laugh as he chats with a fellow camper. Occasionally I’ll catch the sound of my sleeping children turning over in their sleeping bags in the tent.

These of course are not the sounds I’m used to at home. The sounds at home are the sounds of everyday life and are constantly playing out around me.

When we come to the mountains, as we do so many weekends in the summer, it’s like giving in to mother nature. About a 1/2 hour before we get here we give up cell service (even though I’m still able to write blog posts at will on my iPhone). We give up the stresses of money & bills, and the ever growing needs of our family. Not that we don’t have needs here on the mountains, they’re just different needs.
photo-23Like the need to build a sandcastle on the bank of the river. Or the need to read my book. Or the need to have s’mores or go fishing. You know, the kind of needs that are simple and don’t take a whole lot of thought.

I enjoy the silence. I know come Sunday the sounds of reality will come washing over of us again, just as they were a few short hours ago. But tonight those sounds are mute. My world is calm and it is silent. And it is wonderful.

I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

Posted with LifeCast

What we Learned This Year

This weekend I’ve been jammin to the Rent soundtrack. And the title song, Season’s of Love has got me choked up more then once in that time. The main reason of course being that my son just completed Kindergarten, And not to be out done, my daughter completed her first year of tiny tots. It’s been a good year. We’ve all learned a lot. And in the vain of Rent I give you my list of what we’ve learned in these last 525,600 minutes. Well a little of what we learned this year.

1. Cheyanne learned to write her name.

2. Patrick learned to read.

3. I learned that PTA moms Rock.

4. On January 20 both kids learned what inspiration looks like.

5. Patrick learned that Karma means, “Good things happen when you do good stuff and bad stuff happens when you do bad stuff”

6. Cheyanne learned that when cats hiss, a scratch is soon to follow.

7. I learned that I can’t do everything, but I can do all right.

8. Patrick learned to count to 1,000.

9. I learned that my dad is stronger than cancer.

10. Patrick learned to ride his bike without training wheels.

11. I learned that Allen only gets better with age.

12. Cheyanne learned that no matter how much she thinks otehrwise, she’s not always in charge.

13. Patrick learned that he’s a descendant of a President, and that Abraham Lincoln was a “good man who got killed by some pretty bad people.”

14. I learned that T-Ball can do more for the soul than I ever thought possible.

15. I learned that life really is about doing what makes you happy. Anything less is just teaching my kids a bad example.

16. I learned that there is no one cooler to hang out with than my kids.

17. I learned that my family makes award winning scarecrows.

18. I learned that we do know how to grow a great garden around here too.

19. I learned that you don’t need money to have a great Christmas.

20. Cheyanne learned how to swing on her own.

Skinny Jeans Can Suck It

When you see me running around town in flip-flops & my pajama bottoms in the middle of the day you’ll probably think one of three things,

1. “Oh My God look at the lazy slob!”
2. “Wow I sure wish I could ditch these heals & slacks for her outfit.”
3. “Hey look she’s wearing the same PJ bottoms as me, we must both shop at Target!”

What you’ll never think to yourself is, “Good for her for taking care of herself like that! Kudos to safety!”

Well, you may think that AFTER you read what I have to say here. While researching something, I have no idea what now, I came across this article, “Can skinny jeans cause health issues?” Without even have read the article I answered, “Yes of course they do.” Skinny jeans have caused me much grief since the birth of my son. They taunt me. They tease me. And they sit collecting dust in my closet daring me to get back on weight watchers.

But as it turns out mental health problems was not what this article was referring to. It meant physical health issues. I was intrigued. According to the article skinny jeans can cause a very uncomfortable condition known as, meralgia paresthetica.

It begins when tight-fitting jeans compresses a nerve in groin area close to the surface of the skin. Once enough pressure is put on the area the whole nerve reacts, running from your groin, to your outer thigh and down to your knee.

The article then goes on to talk about the joys of bacterial infections that can come from thongs, the countless pains that UGG’s and stilettos can cause your back and of course the dangers of heavy handbags, among a few other injuries caused by fashion.

So to the skinny jeans stashed away in my closet waiting for the day I lose all my baby fat (Does the term hell freezing over mean anything to you?) I have this to say, suck it death pants.

The City

Growing up in the bay area, though each and every city here has it’s own unique personality, it’s association with San Francisco is always claimed with pride. I grew up in the east bay area, and though that’s a good 45 minutes from the city, really we always talked like it was just on the outskirts of SF.

It’s an amazing & beautiful place and it’s been far too long since I’ve been there. That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited to be sitting on bart to go spend a day in the city.

We all like to have a place we can call ours. Whose culture and history we can claim as our own. I am still proud to call the bay area my home, and all the richness of it a part of me.

Posted with LifeCast

Merry Christmas!

As I sit here there is a mess of toys and stuff spread out all over the floor. A fire still roars in the fireplace while Christmas music continues to softly play. I’m still stuffed from bean dip, cookies and lots of coffee. Tonight we’ll be dining on leftover turkey and probably going to sleep early. It’s Christmas, my favorite day of the year. But this year is a little different. In all of my 31 years celebrating Christmas I cannot recall one that was not sunny and bright. It’s always VERY cold, but here in California it always seems that the sun always shines bright on Christmas. Not this year. It’s been storming on and off since yesterday, which only seems fitting as 2008 comes to an end.

2008 has not exactly been a banner year and we are pretty happy to see it end. It seems funny that this time last year we were celebrating a much bigger Christmas (toy & gift wise). Little did we know that a week later we would be suffering losses in both of our businesses (my husband and I both being self-employed). Or that by the end of January we would be filing for bankruptcy. We certainly did not know that the economy was going to make our lives harder and harder with each passing month. And we certainly didn’t know a few months later my dad would be diagnosed with Cancer.

Like I said, not exactly a banner year.

So as 2008 FINALLY reaches it’s end, the end I’ve been waiting for almost since it began, I breathe a aigh of relief. But I can’t help to think about the good things that came from 2008 as well. And that I have hope that the hard work and energy we put into simply surviving 2008 will pay off in 2009. The good things? Well here is my list of things that I’m taking from 2008 instead of what Im leaving behind with it.

1. My Family- My kids are growing more and more each day, and are becoming the people I’d most like to spend time with. They are not only my kids that I love because they are my kids, but people who are warm, funny, smart and a whole lot of fun to be with. They have both just blossomed even more in Kindergarten & Pre-school, and I am proud of them and fall in love with them more each day.

My husband? Well, a lesser couple would have jumped ship long ago. But not us. Each hardship we have encountered has only made us stronger and more diligent in our resolve to make our lives better for us and our kids. He is my best friend, and never in a million years could I imagine drifting though life with anyone else but him.

2. Writing- When 2008 started sucking FAST last January, the first thing I did was pick up my journal again. Then I started blogging and then checking out some freelance writing websites. By February I had my first paying job as a writer. Real money, real writing. I still have that gig as well as a couple of others, not to mention the handful that have come and gone through the year. The writing has introduced me to the world of social media and Web 2.0, and I have developed a love and passion for it. I am now hoping to pursue a career in it as well as writing. By this time next year I am confident that I will be doing one or both for a living.

3. School- I never thought I would find the time or energy to go back to school. It didn’t seem all that important to me when I graduated high school a million years ago, and that became one of my biggest regrets in life. One that my husband and I both shared and decided to remedy in 2008. In the fall we both returned to school. Though it’s made for a busy semester, as it turns out it was pretty damn smart. Between Early Childhood Classes, Political Science & Marketing I am putting myself in a career I truly feel I was meant to do. My husband is taking music classes, his true passion. It’s given him a sense of pride that I could never have helped him to have. It’s all good.

4. America- The election in November was one of the greatest moments of my life, and as dire as our financial circumstances along with the rest of the country’s is, I’ve never been filled with more hope and excitement about politics and the future as I am when looking ahead to 2009. This, my friends, is going to be an awesome ride.

4. My Dad’s Obsession with Living a Healthy Lifestyle- In the Spring, cancer kind if came out of nowhere and decided to make it’s way into our lives when my dad was diagnosed with throat cancer. We weren’t sure how it was going to play out. All we knew is that we were pretty damn scared. Cancer sucks, and there really isn’t a better way to sum it up. Explaining to my kids that Grandpa was sick was one of the most surreal moments of my entire life. One I don’t think I’ll ever really be able wrap my mind around. Lucky for all of us though, my dad had other plans that cancer just didn’t fit in with. Last night as we enjoyed family Christmas festivities together, you would never know that over the summer he was a man who was unable to speak, had to eat through a feeding tube, and on some days could barely even get out of bed. His recovery so amazing in fact, that his doctor have even asked to write about. Most of it attributed to my dad’s obsession with hiking, skating, eating natural foods and living a healthy lifestyle. Cancer didn’t stand a chance against my dad’s organic healthy mind & body. It will b a long while before any of us are able to stop looking behind us to see if the cancer has caught up with us and returned, but for now he’s alive, he’s healthy, he’s laughing, and swinging his grandkids around like he always has.

You know, now that I think about it maybe 2008 was better than I give it credit for. At any rate, I hope nothing but the best for you and yours in 2009. Everyone I know has had it rough this year one way or another, and I hope together we can heal the wounds of the last year. Both as a country and in our personal lives.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

My Online Playlist

Song 1 Etta James – At Last.

It was pointed out to me that I am slightly weird. Before you say anything, yes I have had that pointed out to me before, but this was in reference to something new. I recently discovered Playlist.com. Now, I have known it to exist for quite sometime now, but it was not until recently that I finally dove in and created my own playlist.

I am now addicted. I don’t know that I have the most eclectic playlist ever created, but since I have received comments that it’s weird, I feel it has served its purpose. And at 54 songs, it’s really only the beginning.

Song 2 Patti Smith – People Have The Power.

As I write this I have my playlist playing (as you can see listed). I love the new technology and how in minutes you can do what years ago it took many of us hours to do. Create the ultimate mix-tape. Really, that’s what these playlist are, right? Only with access to almost every song ever heard, thanks to the web, we can almost perfect the ultimate mix tapes.

I, so far, am quite proud of mine. And it’s not because these are simply songs that I like. To me my playlist (much like my JamsBio) is a representation of my very soul. Each and every song represents some part of me, and is one of the key ingredients to making me, me.

Song 3 David Bowie – Magic Dance.

So what if people find Sam Cooke, Pantera, Dolly Parton and The Smiths clash. For me it’s just the music of my life. The things that touch my soul. My own personal art collection if you will. Except of paintings its words and music that create the picture.

I will continue to add songs to my playlist. And I will continue to rebuff the people that mock my odd selections. Because they are my pieces of art. A collection that I have spent a lifetime building in my own head.

Song 4 Public Enemy – Fight The Power.

Yes, I am a musical schizophrenic. But with all the great music in the world, in every genre, it would seem strange to turn off any of it. Life is full of variety, so why shouldn’t musical tastes be full of the same?

Song 5 Terry Reid – We Are What We Are.

Shaky Tuesday

Today was he anniversary of one of the craziest days of my childhood. It was supposed to be just a normal Tuesday. School, homework, and then CCD classes (my Catholic peeps out there feel me). But it didn’t work out that way. Earthquake days never do…

This is a piece I wrote for JamsBio about that fateful October day back in 1989.

Shaky TUesday

They say sometimes animals can sense when something is about to happen. A storm, tornado, flood, or an earthquake. Well Mama Kitty had been missing since Monday, and it was now Tuesday afternoon. We decided to make some flyers and hang them up around the neighborhood. We sat at the kitchen table making up our lost pet posters, when suddenly the earth began to shake. Movies and books began falling of the shelves, and as all good California boys & girls do we got underneath the doorway.

Once the shaking finally stopped we all ran outside. All the neighbors had stepped out into the October evening and began joking and making guesses as to what size the quake was. Us kids were laughing and standing in the street watching the parked cars still gently rocking back & forth. When the cable finally came back on we all went inside to see the verdict. You see, earthquakes here aren’t really a big deal. They happen all the time, and though this one was obviously a doozy, it was still just an earthquake. Or so we thought.

The first pictures I remember seeing of the devastating damage done by the Quake of ’89 was that our beloved bay bridge had collapsed. No one had ever imagined something like that could happen. I just remember staring at the TV, and thinking “there’s people down there”. The newscasters just kept saying, “Thank God for the World Series”. You see here in the bay area at the exact moment the quake hit, a good majority of bay area residents had gathered to watch our two bay area teams, The A’s & The Giant’s battle it out in the World Series. That game is the only reason the Bay Bridge was relatively empty on a Tuesday at 5:04PM when normally it would have been backed all the way to Oakland with commuter traffic.

The coolest thing about living in The Bay Area is that we do disaster, and we do it well. In less then 24 hours the local Red Cross and many concerned citizens were doing what they could to help find shelter for the 12,000 people left homeless by the quake. I heard it said on the news after the California Wildfires last year, that FEMA should base their emergency disaster relief plans on California’s state disaster plans. I don’t know if that’s true, but I remember being pretty inspired as a little girl by the way the various Bay Area communities stepped up during what at the time, was the worst natural disaster in US history.

We Built This City was designated by Bay Area radio stations to be “Our Song” during the days following the quake. This was only right considering the song was written about the city anyway. As those rescue and recovery efforts continued and the rebuilding (which took years, hell, the Cypress just finally reopened LAST YEAR) began, this song fit. And ever since that shaky Tuesday in October I have forever related this song to all the kind, brave, and generous souls who did their part to help rebuild the city.

“Marconi plays the Mamba, Listen to the radio, Don’t you remember? We built this city, We built this city on rock and roll!”
The next day was a Wednesday, and I woke up to find Mama Kitty sitting on the front porch as if she’d never been gone. That day after the quake, October 18, was a big day for me. It was my birthday, and I turned 11.

Blog Action Day

I have to admit that I do not have the energy to write a post on poverty, though I am very much against it, so I’m going to paste one of the best speeches ever delivered about the subject.

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom — symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning — signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe — the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do — for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom — and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required, not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge — to convert our good words into good deeds in a new alliance for progress — to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support — to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective — to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request — that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course — both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war.

So let us begin anew, remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah — to “undo the heavy burdens…and let the oppressed go free.”

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again — not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need — not as a call to battle, though embattled we are — but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation” — a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

John F. Kennedy – January 20, 1961