Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Facing the Future...

Ok, ok...bad pun! :) I have been getting a lot of compliments on my skin/makeup lately which is very unusual so I thought I would share what I have been doing differently.  Now, I have super-sensitive skin so modifying my care routine was something that I was very resistant to doing for a long time.  I've had extremly bad reactions to the "product-of-the-moment" before and as a result, stuck with just two products: Cetaphil Cleanser and Neutrogena Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin.

Then on a trip to see my dear friend in Texas, I tagged along when she went to Neiman's to refill her products.  I can tell you honestly, those makeup counters at places like Neiman's, Macy's and the like have ALWAYS intimidated me.  #1) The stuff is expensive.  #2) The ladies behind the counter either are impossibly gorgeous or look like the casting call for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?  #3) How do you figure out what to use?

Going from drugstore products and prices to department store is not easy.  Ask my kids - I'm tight with my money and I'm a stickler for value.  Lucky for me, my Texas Twin took me under her wing.  When you have a friend whose opinion you can trust, it makes a huge difference. Plus she knows how to WORK the ladies behind the counter!!  I walked away with a box full of samples and one key product: Dior Capture Totale (gulp, $125!).  This held all the possibility of being a very expensive mistake...

For three months I religiously used the Capture Totale cream, at morning and night in place of the Neutrogena.  I was very happy that I did not experience any breakouts or reactions with the switch.  When I returned to Texas for my next visit, my friend made a comment about my skin.  I hadn't changed anything except my moisturizer.  When we returned the department store to replenish my supply I was given samples of One Essential Super Serum and Capture Totale Eye Crème as part of a kit.  I kept hearing about sticking with the same skin-care line so the products can work together.  I always poo-poo'd that as a false selling point, but I'm a total convert now.  I added the toner to my routine and my skin has never looked or felt better.

Wait - I almost forgot a key component: my new Clarisonic Mia that I purchased from Sephora.  My Texas Twin had extolled its virtues on my visit, and since she hadn't steered me wrong so far, I was willing to give it a shot (plus I had a 20% off coupon and the assurance of a good return policy!!).  Oh. My. God.  What a difference this has made to my skin!! I'm still using my trusty ol' Cetaphil cleanser, but the Mia is exfoliating and making that cleanser work so much better!! When I rinse off with water, my skin is silky smooth. Often, I can now just do some eye makeup and skip the foundation (see pic right.  Ok, that is with a Hawaiian tan, but I'm actually eager for it to fade now!)

Bottom line... yes, it's a splurge, but I've gotten past the guilt of making myself feel/look better.  I'm pushing 40 and I've only got so much to work with :)  I spent *years* denying myself simple pleasures because I felt I had to put everyone and everything else first or I was at the best vain - at the worst a bad person.  I'm not the only woman that does that.  In fact, those of us that do are probably in the majority.  I'm not saying we should go blow a bunch of money on something unneeded, but I hope we don't forget to treat ourselves now and then.  We ARE worth it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Good Hair Day

Every woman deserves one!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

INXS -VMWorld 2010

When you're as short as I am, slipping your way up to the front row is a piece of cake. What a great set they played!

Are Moms Allowed to be Sick?

In addition to the tshirts, backpacks and other swag that I got from VMWorld in San Francisco last week, I also brought back with me a nasty little bug that has taken me out of commission since last Friday. So no Labor Day BBQ for me - I was filling prescriptions at Kaiser and trying to keep from coughing up a lung.

In a rare event, I even had to call in sick the past two days. I mean, we're talking about a person with over 80 days of sick leave on the books and who gained an immune system up in Fairbanks, Alaska. Part of me wanted to just curl up in bed after a swig of potent cold medicine, but the other part of me has a seldom-confessed fear: what if they can do without me at work? I had to worry about that for about all of two hours before the "I know you're out sick but can you..." emails started flying in on my iPhone.

Luckily, I have a great staff that I can delegate almost all the day-to-day issues to and I think it's just as important to show you can build an organization like that as it is that you yourself are indispensable. However, the parent part is harder to offload when one is a single parent. Dropping kid off at school, taking the other one to orthodontist appointment, grocery shopping... This list goes on and on.

What impressed me these last few days is how my kids stepped up. They knew I was under the weather so the little things they normally bug me with seemed to disappear. My daughter was fetching me water and checking up on me. The dishwasher got emptied. Cats were fed. People went to bed on time and woke up on time. "Stuff" got done.

Sometimes it feels like I'm just barely keeping all the balls in the air between the juggling I do as a mom and a working professional. There's not many days where it feels *easy*. This week though, has proven I'm doing better than I give myself credit for. I could be proud of myself - but I'm more proud of my children.

Friday, September 3, 2010

San Francisco

A Girl Can Dream, Can't She?

I mentioned in a previous post how my dream pre-marriage, kids, work, etc was to live in a big city.  Well, I spent the last three days in San Francisco for a tech conference and had such an enjoyable time and all those yearning came rushing back. I just love the VIBE of San Francisco. It's such an eclectic city, a mixture of cultures and styles - how can you not just want to immerse yourself in it?

My friend and I were walking down Market and I quipped that if I ran away to the big city, would she make sure my kids were fed?  She laughed and agreed that San Fran was great city - until the next big earthquake hits and everything is in the Bay.  I thought about that - about trade-offs people make to live where they do, work where they do. Costs, convenience, etc. It was just so obvious to me that living in this city was worth the risk. Why? Because you'd be LIVING, not just existing.  Not just in a holding pattern.  Would l rather have five years of life in San Fran vs. thirty in a quiet, little Central Valley hamlet? In a heartbeat, friend!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Forget California Dreaming...

...We're Hawaii bound! For the first time in YEARS, I'm taking my kids on a family vacation.  What is super cool (but a little intimidating) is that I've never had the opportunity to make all the decisions before - where to go, where to stay, how much to spend.  Pushing that "purchase" button last week had me sweating a bit (what happens if I get hit by a bus before we leave? Should I have bought insurance, etc. etc.)

But I bit the bullet and booked it.  I've found that having something to look forward to helps me get through the tough days and Lord knows I need a break from the daily working grind! Plus, there's a side affect to the vacation planning that I'm really happy to see: my kids are seeing this as an investment in *them*.  Most of my previous vacations were solo: this time it's US.  Before I get all misty-eyed, I do realize they will probably drive me nuts before, during and after this vacation - -  but that's okay.  We've needed a National Lampoon's Vacation and laughs for a while, and now we're getting one :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Zoom Lens

When I was seventeen, my dream was to be a photojournalist in New York City.  I had my whole life planned out: the fact that I would never get married, but that I would have one child in my late thirties (a boy, with a cool name like Max or something else with an "x" or "z" in the name) and that I would always, always follow my dreams.

A mere two years later, I was married with my first child on the way.  What the hell happened? Oh sure, everyone my age was either getting married or surviving the first year of college, but how did I deviate so drastically from THE PLAN? I had started off well - I was enrolled in a P-J degree program at the state university, and was meeting new people, finding my way in what I thought was the adult world. 

Twenty years later it's easy to look back in hindsight and point out where I made choices that impacted my life and changed the Plan.  It's harder to face the "why" I made those choices, because it requires admitting that I really was just a dumb kid without a clue in the world.

I ended up with three kids - not one.  And there are no "x" or "z" in their names.  I never got snap pictures of a major news event, but I have a lot of experience taking football pictures at Pop Warner games.  While I sometimes regret parts of the path I took, I recognize that all those steps bring me to where I am today.  Scars and all - they are what make me... ME.

So now, as my oldest child heads out into the real world, I pray that I did a decent enough job as a mother, and later as a single-parent.  If there's one thing I wish I could give my children, it's the ability to continue to follow their dreams, even as life unfolds around them.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blue October - Dallas 2010

Where did July go?

Sometimes, when you are so busy living life, you forget that you're supposed to be sad... And that was what July was for me: a whirlwind of work, fun times with friends, concerts, trips, etc.  At times I am still wistful for dreams I've had to shelve, but I'm working harder at moving past that.  Inertia is not an option.

As I look ahead to the next few months, they appear to be just as full and I'm promising myself to be open to new experiences and opportunities.  My household is busy, there's change in the air...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Latest Toy, I mean TOOL

If you know anything about me, you know that I get really excited about technology.  I don't know how it happened or when it happened, but for the longest time I've been blessed (or cursed, depends on how you look at it) with a knack for all things digital.

So I had to practice a great deal of restraint not to run out and get the latest gadget from Apple, the iPad.  Why?  Because I knew if I purchased it myself, I would be given one as part of my job duties.  So I waited.  And lusted after friend's devices.  And waited some more. Finally, there was a work justification for one and they asked if I could "play" with one to help figure out how to manage and secure.  Hmmm.  Let me think about that for all of one second!!

So my thoughts?  Well, I'll have to give away my Kindle now.  The Kindle app is available on the iPad and the iPhone and my investment in the *books* is saved.  The iPad's screen is just gorgeous.  Now it's a matter of figuring out what apps I need.  Some I've already purchased for my iPhone and will transfer.  What I have on there currently, in addition to the standard apps:
  •  Wyse's Pocket Cloud application.  Gives me a remote into my Vista desktop as well as servers that I support.  A must need for an IT pro.
  • Amazon.com app.  I'm a comparision shopper!  Plus if I find a great deal I can use 1-Click to purchase.
  • World Series of Poker.  Because sometimes those layovers are long.  (Meetings too!)
  • IMDb application.  Window into all things movies.
  • Strip Design - a new application for me.  Can turn my pictures into a comic strip with the ability to edit.  Really cute!
  • Amazon Kindle
  • ABC Player
Watching videos on this thing is a delight.  The fact that it's so light means my laptop may stay in the bag more often than not.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Hike

Today I went on a day-trip by myself, to Muir Woods in Marin - just north of San Francisco.  Everywhere I looked there seemed to be couples sharing the experience together, making memories.  I never really had that in my marriage.  Most of our free time was spent with my ex doing his own thing (golfing, traveling, hanging out with the guys) while I took care of home base and slowly grew disillusioned with the whole coupledom thing.  I was lucky to have a small, brief taste recently of what a relationship *could* be like.  It didn't work out, but I'm still trying to deal with the lessons I learned from it.

I learned that I really need to be true to who I am and what matters to me. I think I have a better understanding of what kind of woman I can be and what I need to be happy.  (I'm not certain I'll find it but my friends tell me to keep the faith!)  Sometimes we want things that aren't meant for us - we just don't find out until later.  I'm keeping a mental list now of what's really important to me, both short-term and long-term.  And sometimes there's a list of things just to get me through the day... 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hey You - Why Aren't You on Twitter?

I originally thought Twitter was a waste of time (something I have precious little of anyway), but my company asked me to set up an account so I could keep an eye on some of the brands that we have that started "tweeting". At that time all I knew was Ashton Kutcher apparently is God of Twitter and you only have 140 characters to say what's on your mind.

 What I've found is Twitter is an addictive little bugger. You don't even have to tweet (post) but there's value in just following others. Companies like Safeway, Lowe's, United Airlines, etc. have set up shop on Twitter. You can get updates on sales and promotions, participate in contests, and receive notifications on flight delays, special events. It's free, so what do you have to lose? Let me know if you are on Twitter or interested in starting out. You can follow me there too - I'm not quite the social commentator that Ashton is (and he has 5+ million followers to my two dozen) but hey I'll stack my geekiness against his any day!  :)

Some Interesting Folks I'm Following (in no particular order):
  1. @VikingsFootball - my favorite football team.
  2. @UnitedAirlines @SouthwestAir @JetBlueCheeps @VirginAmerica - one of these days, I *will* take a spur of the moment trip!!
  3. @flyfromSFO - this guy tracks all the specials out of various airports around the country.  If you know your 3-character airport code, just replace the last 3 to get info specific to that location.
  4. @Safeway - notifications on special deals, lots of RT of people that are following them.  You can always search for your fav grocery outlet and they may be on Twitter too.
  5. @RedTapeChron - this is Bob Sullivan from MSNBC.  He writes about consumer topics and is a great resource.
  6. @wilw @sheldoncooper @rainnwilson - remember, I'm a geek at heart.  I don't follow Lindsay Lohan, Kardashians, or any "celebrities" whose claim to fame involves a sex-tape, a reality show, or marriage to someone who has a sex-tape or a reality show. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Learning to Practice What I Preach

Some of you may remember last year the controvery over a digitally altered Ralph Lauren ad with a model so Photoshopped, it was laughable.  Well, laughable and at the same time sobering.  Recently the model, Filippa Hamilton, was being interviewed over the whole broohaha and while sometimes it's hard to feel sympathy for an obviously gorgeous woman, in these circumstances I did. I also thought: damn, if she's not good enough, what about us mere mortals?

I've had a couple of recent conversations with some girlfriends and the topic of weight and body shape and expectations came up.  It seems like on one hand we are trying to educate our daughters on being healthy and that beauty comes from within, and yada yada yada.  On the other hand, there's a lot of us that are beating ourselves up because we don't look like what we see in magazines.  For me it's a constant battle, because since I was in high school I've struggled with eating disorders.  I'll skip over all the history and the why's and where-for's, but I'm acutely aware that while I'm preaching to my daughter a postive message, I haven't internalized it myself completely. 

So I was surprised during a chat with my friend that I made the comment about a thin celebrity: "That can't look good naked.  Seriously, would a guy find that sexy?" Then while browsing about the Ralph Lauren ad, I came across a discussion board: www.boingboing.net comments where a male poster wrote:  "Anyone who browses porn magazines or videos for five minutes will quickly realize that the US male ideal of feminine beauty looks nothing like the anorexic women portrayed in women's magazines. By and large, women are responsible for making other women feel bad about themselves in this country.

Ok, leaving off the whole *porn* thing, that comment really resonated with me.  I'm a 39 year-old 5'1" mumble-mumble-lb woman.  I've had three kids and unless I undergo plastic surgery, I will never have Double-D's or a Brazilian butt. I will never have a super-model's lengthy legs or saucy pout and perfect nose.  My goal is to accept that and be the best *me* I can be, in a healthy way.  I pledge to stop nit-picking every flaw I see in the mirror - especially in front of my daughter.

I need to practice what I preach.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

This Ain't Rocket Science...

A lot of people are still intimidated by technology but with tools today, you really don't have to have be a geek like me to get rolling on the 'net. A few essentials, a good search engine and you can pretty much do anything I can...
  1. A decent computer with an internet connection.  Don't get conned by the GeekSquad at Best Buy, you don't need to spend a truckload of $$ for a computer that will pretty much suit your needs.  And you can always ask someone non-partial.  Oh, say... me :)
  2. Google.  Don't know the answer? You can probably find it here. 
  3. iPhone. Yes, I was late to the game on this tool, but I wouldn't trade this for any other tech tool I have.  The AppStore is incredible.  There's apps for just about everything!
  4. An open mind and a fearless heart.  Don't let anyone say you can't learn or do something just because you haven't in the past.


A good friend and I were IMing today and I realized that there's a while world of content out there that I want to share, but I've kind of pigeonholed myself into just speaking to one facet of my life.  Well, I'm going to change that, starting today.  Let's lighten things up, let's provoke, let's *live*.

Monday, May 31, 2010

How a Broken Dryer Provides a Lesson

One piece of advice that I'll offer up to those facing a property settlement: don't leave major appliances on the table. Especially if you end up with primary custody of kids. I left behind a very nice Duet front loader (with pedestals) set when I got divorced. I didn't want to argue over anything and hey, the rental house came with a usable set anyhow. Fast forward a year and a half later and I was cursing that decision as the dryer crapped out for the third and final time. Which left me at the laundromat. Which is only fun in sitcoms.

I knew my original set was gathering dust in a storage unit so I swallowed my pride and asked to borrow them. Big Mistake. I was expecting graciousness from someone who hadn't shown me any in years. I was giving him another chance to step up when he's failed again and again. What was I thinking?

I don't think it's in my nature to expect the worst in people but I do need to do a better job at protecting myself when people take advantage of that. What I should have done in the begining is what I did in the end: push those shoulders back, grab the checkbook and take care of my business by myself. I need to remember (and celebrate) that I've been doing a damn good job of that for the last two years.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Another new toy to take mind off of...

Monday, April 19, 2010

100% On Me

Friday I got a text from my ex asking if I could take over paying the rugrats cell phone bill.  I actually had been expecting this for a while, but somehow the knowledge that I was responsible for all expenses for my children hit me in a way I hadn't anticipated.  It was like the last thread holding any respect I had left for someone I once shared a life with was snipped away.  I know the job market is tough out there right now, but everyone makes choices.  It's not even the money that I care about (he's right, "with what you make, you should be able to pay for it no problem").... it's more the principle of the matter.  Live up to your responsibilities. 

So now I need to take a hard look at myself.  Am I making wise choices?  Do I really have my act together?  In reality I tend to dodge those questions and just go with the flow.  My kids deserve at least one parent who is a grownup.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Out There, Living

It's weird, I've gone out and done more new things in the last three months than I have in the last eighteen years.  Keeping myself busy and rewarding myself (in big and in small ways) is helping combat the loneliness I still sometimes feel.  Not that I miss the ex - in fact, the complete opposite.  It just continues to be a struggle to manage my own internal expectations.

My friend and I had a conversation about happiness vs. joy.  I'm trying to wrap my head around the differences between the two.  I think both are important, but joy is something I'm going to have to find for myself.  And it won't come in the form of a mani-pedi, a great deal on a Coach purse (although I did score two a few weeks ago!), or a guy.

This weekend I'm doing something I should have done a long time ago - flying up to visit my big sister and treating her to a weekend of fun.  She's been one of the few people that has supported me unconditionally from the day I left home at 18.  She never judged me, never offered so much as a "I-told-you-so", and always had a shoulder for me to lean on... The truth is, as a teenager, I didn't treat her the way I should have.  I was wrapped up in popularity and boyfriends and she was the quiet, shy kid in the family.  I'm blessed that she never held that against me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sometimes a pedicure isn't enough of a treat...

 But Bon Jovi in concert is... And re-learning to have fun is quite the experience!

Letting Go of the Anger

Just about every week, my ex manages to do something that makes me grind my teeth.  It ranges from bugging me via text about something he should just *call* me about - to forgetting to pay car registration renewal and poor teenager is stuck with a fix-it ticket (Oh, and guess who will be paying for the tags? Yep - me). 

What I've tried to remember to do when I feel that familar rush of loathing is to just "let go".  Yes, I'll bitch and moan about it for a little bit, just to get it out of my system but holding on to it 1) doesn't change anything and 2) isn't healthy for me.  There's power in refusing to let someone's action (or lack of action!!) determine your mood. 

There's only one person who I can control, who has the ability to make me happy... I look at her every morning in the mirror. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Resetting Expectations

This is a new one for me... I tried so long to make the typical "marriage+kids+house+job" gig work that I'm struggling with learning to accept that my future (heck, my *NOW*) isn't going to be what I had originally planned or expected.
That doesn't necessarily make it bad, but I'm finding it harder than I anticipated.  I guess letting go of some of my little-girl happy ending fairy tales is something that is going to take time.  I hope I can be patient with the process and come to accept that a different path can bring just as much happiness as what I orginally thought I was signing up long ago. I'm lucky that I have some good friends who listen to me air my fears, my frustrations, and still manage to instill in me optimism in the future. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pathetic, Self-Serving Survival Message for Valentine's Day

Right now, out there, the someone I'm looking for is looking for someone like me.
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Sometimes you just need to pamper yourself...

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Does “what comes around” really “go around”?

I have been having a lot of discussions with friends lately about this particular topic. You can call it karma, fate, destiny, etc. but is it real? Or is everything just a series of random coincidences with no master plan involved? For me, what it boils down to is a matter of faith. Mine has been tested lately, but I have a hard time letting go of something I really believe in and I’m trying to determine whether is just pure stubbornness on my behalf, or if I just have a deeper well of faith than I give myself credit for. Am I naïve in thinking that if I do what is right, if I am a good person, if I try my best that things will work out? I have church-going friends and family who advise me in certain situations to “lift it up to the Lord”. I feel guilty doing that because I get discouraged when I don’t hear anything *back* and I give up. I envy people who can go to a quiet place and feel the presence of something powerful that can guide them. I’d settle for even a subtle nudge.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I'd rather be the cat...

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A few weeks after asking me for a divorce, my ex handed me a piece of paper. On it was a list of things I could do to “improve” myself in order for him to consider staying with me. They ranged from losing weight to getting hair and nails done regularly to being more supportive of his needs. As I read through the list the mixture of emotions I felt (anger, disbelief, shame) turned into something I did not expect: clarity and determination.

 The clarity that came was that there was some truth in the list, as much as it hurt to read. My life at that point was filled with doing or catering to others and I was neglecting myself. Oh, I wasn’t overweight or a slob or a cold unfeeling wife. But I was putting my kids, my husband, work, friends first in order to fill the growing emptiness I felt inside - or at least disguise it so I could continue in my comfort zone. Something else I realized was that I could do everything on that list, and I would *still* be unhappy, even if my spouse got back an older model of the ditzy-blonde he married. Suddenly my head-stuck-in-sand strategy seemed silly and overplayed.

Determination happened almost instantly. You read the clichés about it in novels, how the hero sets his jaw, faces the maelstrom and just overcomes every mental or physical obstacle. Well, the heavens didn’t open up and the theme to “300” didn’t switch on in my head, but I knew that the only person I could blame for my unhappiness AND expect results from was me. I wasn’t planning on backing out of the divorce; I had wasted too much time clinging to a marriage that never really was there anyway.

It was an uncomfortable to take stock of the person I was but I did know that if I was going to be a single person again, I couldn’t avoid it. I ran through all my bad habits and unattractive traits: the procrastination, the hesitancy to broaden my small circle of friends, the avoidance of doing anything FUN. Oh boy!! What an eye-opener! What struck me was that when I was younger, I was the complete opposite. Was it too late to change? To make myself the person *I* wanted to be?

Like every journey, this trip down self-discovery lane started with a few steps. I carved out time in my life just for me. Joined a gym, stopped turning down invites to social events, and yes… even became a huge fan of manicures/pedicures. I stopped trying to fix everyone else and concentrated on myself. It felt selfish at first (and the ex never hesitated to point that out, even though my dedication to my children and my job never wavered) but I could feel myself getting stronger on the inside as well as the outside. As time passed, I felt like the person I was presenting to the world was the true me - flaws and all - but at least authentic.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I have a voice, but… I struggled with something for a long time as I toyed with the idea of a blog. Do I have anything to say that’s of any value or interesting to anyone else? I mean, look at me: divorced mother of three bad-ass teenagers, desperately clinging to my late 30’s. I’m not a celebrity, I’m not someone you see on the street and think, “Wow, now there’s a lady that looks like she’s got it all together”. I don’t even have any good crock-pot recipes. I’m so damn average that I have people constantly comment on the fact that I resemble someone else they know.

Then one day, when I was chatting with a friend, it hit me. I *am* just like thousands of other normal women out there, re-starting a life and thinking I’m the only one struggling with the big things as well as the little things. I’m your girlfriend, your sister, your daughter… maybe even YOU. And maybe by giving a voice to that woman, to her experiences, her fears, her triumphs we can share some laughter (probably some tears) and feel less alone.

When I started my journey a few years ago as “Suddenly Single” my world was a very small place. I live in a small Central Valley town and work only ten miles away. My friends were co-workers and the parents of my children’s friends. I had been married for fifteen years and my entire identity was wrapped around being a wife, a mother, an employee. I was scared, but also intoxicated with the prospect of freedom; Freedom to be who I wanted to be and the freedom to find people who would *like* me, uncensored.

And so, this blog.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sometimes the road less traveled is worth it.

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