Thursday, January 13, 2011

An Ordinary Day

If there were a theme to my writing, my life, my philosophy, it would be that each day has the opportunity to be fantastic.  Of course, the pessimist might say it could be awful, but that doesn't fit in with my attitude.  Still, with the horrific events around the world and shootings too close to home, some days seem just a bit harder to smile.

Among other current reads, I am lost in a wonderful book by Katrina Kenison, The Gift of an Ordinary Day.  More than Kenison's memoir, it is the story of her family.  She shares from the heart her worries about choices for the children, moves away from the home they have known for so long, and the loss of her perfect job due to cost cutting.  And through all of it there is a sense of hope.  Among the people she meets is a mystical, hopeful woman, eQuinamati, who may best be described as chicken soup for the soul.  When eQuinamati is stricken with illness, Kenison is reminded daily that even at her worst moments she can give to her friend.  This function of giving may just give more to herself.  So, even on my my most high stress day I am reminded that I could be in a much worse place.  More importantly, I remember the value of giving.  This past year, the giving mostly focused on being a shoulder for family and friends.  This year, my eldest and I will be volunteering and looking for the opportunities to help another and by turn help ourselves to appreciate just an ordinary day.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thank you to From Left to Write

I read once that Oprah keeps a grateful journal, where she marks down three or four things she is grateful for each day.  I don't do this formally, who has time, but each day my children and I make sure to thank someone else for something they have done in our lives or be thankful for something.  Some days I am simply happy that I have two beautiful, healthy daughters.  After reading Cherries in Winter, I was reminded of the good fortune we all have now in comparison to our great grandmothers living in the depression.

Today, I want to thank the community of bloggers From Left to Write.  I am fortunate to not only be a member of this wonderful book club, but to have been the recipients of their stories.  When they took time to reflect on Take the Cake, the quick little book I put together last Spring, they shared generously with their own stories and inspiration.  So, thank you to an amazing community for keeping me as part of yours.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1.1.11 - The year of fun


I wouldn’t say I grew up in a fun household – a caring and loving house, but not a fun one.  My parents are pretty serious.  We talked philosophy, went to school, were kept busy with activities and studied hard.  We traveled.  I actually can’t remember things we did on the weekends.  In fact, just outrageously giggly sessions seem to be completely absent.  We just weren’t silly.

And today, nothing has changed.  There are many words to describe me, but fun isn’t necessarily one of them.  This is not to say I don’t like having fun, I just hardly can remember what fun, silly, outrageous is.  And I don’t think it is the kids, because I don’t really think I was that fun before.  I am in fact hard working, focused, ambitious, caring, happy, adventurous, and world-conscious.  I am not fun.  I am also self-conscious at times, shy, opinionated, and stubborn (or determined if you prefer but let’s be honest with ourselves.) 

I am not one of those set resolutions kind of person.  I do goals, when I feel goals need to be set (see above characteristics – focused, ambitious, hard working.)  Last year when we got to the beginning of the year, I declared it the year of me.  I had spent the previous years having children, taking care of my hubby, building a business, and working endless hours volunteering in the nonprofit sector.  I could barely find myself in all the other stuff I did.  I decided to reclaim me with little things like running again daily and treating myself to a trip to the spa.  Then I wrote a book, a dream of mine.  And maybe in the biggest change of events, I gave my dreams first.  I uprooted my family and moved them 300 miles away so I could start my PhD.  The year of “me” was a very good year for me and everyone else.  Because ultimately when I found me again, I was a much happier person.  And a smiling me was definitely better for all those around me.

And now another year has gone by, and I am very happy,  But I realized last night as I watched the ball drop in New York City and all the revelers, that I wanted to be out doing something fun like that.  I mean, my kids would be doing that.  Not only was I sitting watching people celebrate on TV, uggh!, but I was doing it in my parents’ house (long story there.)  The fact that we were all together was comforting, but not really fun.  In fact, I had been thinking this “not fun” thought for awhile now.  So, right then and there I declared that we would make 2011 the year of fun.  What that means, I have no idea.  The organized, focused person in me says we will do “one fun thing a week.”  Doesn’t that sound boring?  But I have to start somewhere.  I mean, let’s face it, I have been out of the fun business for awhile, if I was ever in it.  So, what will that fun thing be this week?  Not sure.  Maybe a ride on a cable car, or a walk across the golden gate bridge, or …It seems like it should be more exciting then that, but again, I have to start somewhere.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

5 ways to push my sanity

So despite being a big believer in work life balance, the past 10 weeks have pushed me almost over the edge. Among the top 5 items close to driving me insane:

1. Moved my family (my daughter asks me daily when we are going back)
2. Started homeschooling both children (read about that decision on onthegifted)
3. My hubby left his job and launched a startup (kulikuli)
4. Taking my company national while trying to sell the first location
5. Oh yeah, and my first book came out this month.

And I'll be honest, I have not been doing my balanced to do list.  In fact, I'm barely keeping a to do list at all which is probably why I feel so chaotic.  And unlike previous high stress moments in my life, I'm actually preserving me.  Granted I can't remember the last time I went to the spa or had a cocoa and read a book, but I'm running every day and taking care of high priority goals in my life.  What I'm not doing is focusing on kids during kid time or have a date with my hubby.  The balance remains a work in progress.  One I'm happy to continue.  Tomorrow I head to the museum with the kids.  The phone will be staying home.  It's their time.  Time with hubby...still working on it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Take the Cake: Officially Available online

Part Zen with a no nonsense attitude, Take the Cake delivers the goods for working women to have our cake and eat it, too.  It's never too late to live the life you want!

Best known for founding Cubes&Crayons, M.F. Chapman’s unique solution to lend a hand to those who find themselves singing lullabies on conference calls and reading case studies as bedtime stories, now the work-life balance maven is sharing her best tricks with other working moms in her first book Take the Cake: A Working Mom’s Guide to Grabbing a Slice of the Life You’ll Love.

Take the Cake takes on the challenge of being a modern working mom with solutions that tackle everything from where you want to be in five years to how to make the balanced to do list. Gain tips, employ exercises to get balanced today. Learn how to put the smart phone away, focus on goals even with daily demands and to find time for YOU. Take a moment to sit on the happy. Reflect about where you are and savor it just as you might a big piece of chocolate cake. It's yours to have.  Grab a slice today.

Says Sarah Granger of SF "well written and simply executed, this book serves as a reminder that it might not be as hard as we think to find and achieve balance as parents and producers in our hectic society." Lisa Truong co-founder of Help A Mother Out adds” M.F. sets up the scaffolding many of us need to start building the life we want to live. Take the Cake shares real stories and dishes out practical advice on how to set your long term goals and organize your daily life balancing work, family, community, and “me” time. I think I’ll have a slice!”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Campaign Spending: A Little Perspective

image from Yesterday California held it's primary election. Among the most notable of stories was the win by Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. While much has been written about how she bought the election, which in many ways is true, I am pondering the $81 million she spent on this election. At the current rate of spending per voter, she would need to spend over $327 million leading up to the November vote, over $100 millionaire than John McCain spent running for President. For more on the spending, checkout Chris Kelly's article in the Huffington Post.
When I think about the ridiculous sums spent on campaigns, I get angry. And I look for a perspective on the situation.

If we took the $81 million already spent, just by Whitman and add $150 million which seems to be the consensus estimate of what she will spend up to November, we get $231 million.

$231 million spent just in the education system represents:

4010 additional teachers in our schools OR
$755 more spent per student OR
6,000+ additional library staff OR
506,000+ more computers and technology available in classrooms OR
5,000+ specialists in schools for everything from reading and physical education to after school programs and support for the gifted.

And while Ms Whitman is an obvious target, the amount spent on campaigns across the country is atrocious. Especially when you think of other places the money could go: education, health care, jobs, small business loans, etc. I wonder if our politicians think about how their exorbitant spending reflects on them. Paying for a private jet and airport fees to fly what is a 33 mile drive could hire 2 of the estimated 100,000 teachers across the nation who are being laid off for the upcoming year. Why should we elect them to do anything when they don't really know how to budget well? Where do you wish the campaign funds went? How much should they be allowed to spend?

On My Soapbox Again

Those of you who come here often know that I get on my soap box about education frequently. That are education system is deplorable is hardly newsworthy. We know it's terrible and it is only going the wrong direction. Today I am especially angry about the lack of quality choices because it is almost June and I still have not found the right education environment for my highly gifted five year old. And when I say she is highly gifted this is not proud parent This is IQ testing and assessment by professionals to the point tgat i am now being advised on all the opportunities for gifted children