Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I think he's majorly insulted.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Memory Lane Monday...on Tuesday

My sister-in-law did a fun game on her blog yesterday, so I'm tagging myself. I have to list four things about myself, with one of them being a lie. Your job is to guess the lie. Good luck!

1. I went to a prom at another school with a complete textbook case DORK as a favor to my dad, who was law partners with the dork's father. I was horribly rude and insulting to him the entire night, and I still regret being so mean and ruining his prom.

2. Against my better judgement, I participated in a seance and in a game of Ouija board at a Halloween party once, and was told that I would have two husbands named Adam. It scared me so much that I never told my parents, and I didn't believe I would ever have two husbands anyway.

3. I played Karaoke Revolution with Richard Paul Evans in his family room, and kicked his butt.

4. Once, while delivering my Shopper's Guide newspapers during a snowstorm on the other side of town, I couldn't hold it anymore and I pooped my pants. But only a little bit.

Now I'm laughing. This was fun! I'm tagging Kimberly, Pezlady, Josi, and JulieQ. And my Mom, because even though it gets on her nerves to be tagged, I always love her answers.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Seven Things Meme

I feel special! Pezlady tagged me for a fun meme. I must list seven things about me that you probably didn't know. I've been very excited to hit 100 posts so that I can make the 100 Things About Me list, but this will be a sneak preview.

Okay, here goes:
1. I love karaoke, but I'm mostly too chicken to get up in a karaoke club/bar and sing. My first time was by complete coercion, when my friend submitted my name without my knowledge, and suddenly I was called up to the stage to sing Shania Twain's "Man, I Feel Like a Woman".

2. I prefer cats to dogs for pets. Long-haired cats. Although if I had a dog, it would be a big, giant, fluffy one, like a St. Bernard or a Great Pyrenees.

3. I love to catalog shop and shop online, although I hardly ever do either. (But I would!) My favorite thing to buy, hands down, is books.

4. I am very frugal with most things, but one of my indulgences is that I will spend a lot of money on good linens for bed and bath. Sheets must be at least 400 thread count.

5. When I was a teen, dreaming about my future family, I wanted to have 4 or 5 children, all girls. (I got one.) I wanted to name them Karin, Michelle, Stephanie, and Jessica. (We named her Lyndsay.)

6. I absolutely love peanut butter sauce on ice cream (with accompanying hot fudge, peanut butter cups, and Reese's Pieces.) Peanut butter sauce is very hard to find. I had a friend in AZ who owned a Dairy Queen franchise, and for my baby shower gift for child #3 she gave me an entire (restaurant size) jar of peanut butter sauce. It was the best gift ever, and it was gone in about 2 months. I don't remember sharing. Yeah, baby.

7. My favorite color is red. My favorite flower is the tulip. My favorite child is....KIDDING! I do not like sushi, or shellfish, or shrimp. I love salmon more than steak on most days.

Wrong Things to Say

This is all in good fun, no seriously hurt feelings. But I'm the one usually saying the wrong things, so I must tattle on my husband who messed up BIG time on this one.

I am starting a 30 day Isagenix nutritional cleanse, and as part of my preparation, I needed my husband to take "Before" pictures, and "Before" measurements. (I know, right? What crazy wife asks her husband to document how chubby she is?)

We got lots of different shots in bike shorts and sports bra, and then even in less than that, cause I want to be sure! Mr. Hollywood wanted the pictures to be all dramatic, with back lighting, and scenery, and he wanted the theatrical no make-up, messy hair, slouched, stomach bulging, miserable expression thing going on. You know the one. After he took all the different angles, I got after him because I didn't look "fat enough" in the pictures. I said things like, "You didn't get all the cellulite!" and "You can't really see the bulge good here!" He said a good thing here: "Jenna, sorry, but you're not as bad as you think you are." Okay, I forgive you.

But then he got out the measuring tape. We had to fill in a chart with very specific measurements of my entire body. We measured upper arms, rib cage, neck, waist, abdomen, and carefully wrote down in inches the findings. Then, we measured buttocks. 9" below the waist, were the directions. He read off the number and then said, "Wait, maybe I'm measuring from the wrong end of the measuring tape."

Nope, dear. But it gets worse.

As he double-checked to be sure, he asked, "How many feet is that?" And he was totally serious! He even did the conversion, held out his arms, and said, "Weird. It doesn't seem like it."

What???? Big jerk.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sad news

Well, you've probably been hearing about all the wildfires burning in southern California. Unfortunately, the Lombardi Ranch and Pumpkin Patch from my post just below, was burned up in a fire earlier in the week. Just a week after we got to go and enjoy it! I'm saddened by the loss because it was a family's legacy and a tradition for many other families. I hope all the animals were saved! What a loss. Fires are scary. That will be another post, another time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

All Things Fall

'Tis the season to make a trek to the pumpkin patch! This was actually my very first time taking my children to a pumpkin patch EVER, can you believe that? Our homeschool group had a field trip to Lombardi Pumpkin Patch in Saugus. (how many times can I say 'pumpkin patch' in this post, right?)
I must say that I miss the seasons of other states I have lived in. Being in sunny California does have its benefits, but I loved looking forward to the crisp bite to the air that usually accompanies fall. The changing of seasons always reminds me of my mom, who loves anything cozy. I know she would have loved this trip with us (though she was at a pumpkin patch herself last week with my brothers!)

This service costs extra, but it's well worth it.

Anyway, here's to autumn, and the harvest, and all things "cozy". Even if I did come home with a sunburn.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Popular! I know about Popular!

Just a little joke from my favorite musical, Wicked, but I do know the secret to being a popular mommy. Just set up a Halloween treats workshop at your dining room table and let the kids have fun! Here is our latest batch of goodies for this year's holiday.

That's right, I made brain cupcakes. They were delicious. Chocolate brains.

Yummy Mummy bites.

And lest you think I'm some sort of creative genius, I'm not. I get all my ideas from places like Family Fun magazine. But we make it look good!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dim the lights!

This morning when I staggered into the bathroom at the early morning hour of 5:00, and flipped on the light, every single bulb but one blew out. (There were six before.) It was like a small pyrotechnics display. I remembered that we are out of lightbulbs (of course), and the ambiance was nice, so I took my shower and it even occurred to me that with such low light, it was probably easier for Adam to keep sleeping, since we don't have a door separating our bathroom from our bedroom.

When I stepped out of the shower and had to face the mirrors on all sides, I paused and thought, "You know, girl, you look better in less light." And it has stayed with me all day long. It's a woman's nature to get up to that mirror, with the bright light overhead, and examine for new wrinkles, spots, blackheads, cellulite, or other imperfections. We are, truly, our toughest critic. Well, I couldn't see a darn thing, and it was NICE. Maybe I should stop looking at myself under such direct light. Maybe the one lightbulb bathroom could revolutionize the way I start to see myself, and then, the way I treat myself.

Hopefully, lightbulbs don't go on sale next week.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Today was a field trip for the Caelum Academy (our homeschool) to Hansen Dam, to hike the nature trails and find items on our scavenger hunt list for Apologia Science. It occurred to me how many more items my children saw first than I did. I suppose that's one of the charming things about being with children. They're not only lower to the ground, they truly still have eyes to see. This is what they found from the list:
an anthill
Birds using the water, other than ducks/geese. These are white herons.

A dragonfly

A spider with its egg sac

An insect laying eggs on a leaf. This is one hard working spittle-bug.

So, there's some obscure observations from nature for you, on this fine Friday afternoon. Cheers.

The Make-out Meme

Tagged by Luisa at Novembrance, who played along with Veronica Mitchell at Toddled Dredge for this dreamy memey:

My disclaimer is that I haven't read nearly enough romantic or even fictional works to do this meme justice, but a few of my favorite authors have supplied me with enough machismo to at least get through it.

1. "Noah Calhoun" from The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks. I love a guy that goes for a girl out of his league, because he knows she's the one. Even if he has to wait 14 years for her to realize it, and suffer heartache and rejection in the meantime. Man, and seriously? Having Ryan Gosling play the young Noah didn't hurt the image any.
2. "Landon Carter" from A Walk to Remember, also by Nicholas Sparks. I think Nicholas Sparks is really good at sappy romantic stories featuring dreamy guys, that turn out to be great romantic chick-flicks. And even though the book takes place in the 50's, while the movie is translated to the 90's, Landon still rocks. He could help me check things off my list anytime. Another guy, rough around the edges, going for the girl he stands no chance of being worthy of, but becoming transformed in the process. He ends up GOLDEN. And here's the shot I got of Shane West (who plays Landon in the film) in Las Vegas, who happened to be staying at MY hotel.

3. One more Nicholas Sparks' novel, and then I'll move on, okay? How about "Garrett" from Message in a Bottle? Yeah, a man who loves his woman so much that even years after her death he still pines for her and must write her a love letter and toss it to the sea? Let me help you ease your pain, Garrett! Pretend I'm her. Pretend anything you want! And again, Kevin Costner in the film, need I say more?

4. The old classic, I know, but I have to put "Mr. Darcy" on here from Pride and Prejudice. I like a man who hides his softness behind arrogance. That would be a great challenge for me. I think I might like a chance at him.

5. I haven't gotten to "Jake" yet, but I'm having a hard time believing he'll be more appealing than "Edward" of Twilight is. Mama Mia! I dreamed of vampires for days while reading that book! Suck my blood! That vamp is SEXY! And such a gentleman...

6. Have to move to my buddy Richard Paul Evans. Rick. Yeah, he can write a good love story as well. I'm going for my favorite first, The Last Promise with "Ross Story". He was off-limits, but you know the type....the redemptive lover. And in Italy, no less. I wouldn't stand a chance.

7. One more RPE book, though there are several, second fave The Looking Glass, with minister-turned-gambler "Hunter Bell". Bet on me, bad boy. A tortured soul, who both saves and is saved by...a woman. Ahhhh...

8. I have to give a shout-out for "Joshua Steed" of the famed Work and the Glory series. It took him a while to become husband material, but I think he always had the make-out in the bag.

9. Maybe a weird choice, but I also liked "Levin" in Anna Karenina. Able to be at home in both worlds of aristocracy, and the country, but preferring the quiet, hardworking farm life. You know those farm boys come in mighty tired at the end of the day, and needing them some woman! A more tender, sensitive interlude. Gotta have some of that.

10. I liked Luisa's mention of "Almanzo" in the Little House on the Praire series. Laura Ingalls was my pet name growing up, thanks to long brown braids, freckles, and the homemade dresses (with pinafores, thank you very much) that my mother made for me and which I wore to school even in junior high. Good thing she got cool guy "Almanzo". Quiet and courageous. Great combo.

Okay, I tag my mother over at Cats on the Mat, because she reads fiction voraciously. Mom? Will you play?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's a Celebration!

So, I was so thrilled to have moved up in rank on Cre8buzz to a single digit number, that I thought a celebration was in order, and what's a celebration without cake? My children are all so proud of me (but they could be faking for the sake of German chocolate cake), and my husband said he always knew I was a "top ten girl". I'm #9! I'm #9!
Lyndsay baked the cake for me. It has nine 9's, with each of the smaller 9's being made of nine chocolate chips each. She gets that pesky little OCD thing from me. tee hee.
If we look a little grubby, that's only because we'd just gotten back from walking nine victory laps around the track at the high school. Kidding! What do you think I am, some kind of freak? We only did 6! (which is an upside-down 9.) Here we all are, holding up nine fingers each! What a cheerleading squad I've got!

Things that Scare Me

(*the following post is my contest entry for Scribbit's October Write-Away Contest. You can go to her blog to find out about the contest. Entries are accepted until October 17th.)

(**disclaimer: You may not want to read if you have a weak stomach, but hey, it's a Halloween writing contest!)

It is cold in the room. Cold enough for a light jacket, but even that doesn’t stop the shivering. The fluorescent lights are glaring off the white, peeling walls, but the light is better than the heavy darkness of the late hour. It has to be late, because she can only come to work after hours, and after her children are tucked in bed. I come along for the company, and because I’ve always wondered.

He is lying on the bed, not really needing the sheet that veils him, despite the chill of the air conditioning. He wears not a stitch of clothing underneath the sheet, but maybe at his age he is over all those suffocating inhibitions anyway. His salt-and-pepper hair is greasy and stringy, and his face, overgrown with matching facial scruff needs to be shaved. His eyes, half-opened are already deflating, and his open mouth reveals an incomplete set of yellowed teeth, still harboring bits of whatever his last meal happened to be. His overgrown fingernails are caked with black. I don’t even dare guess black what. The muted, blurred tattoo on his left arm reads "Rosie", and I wonder where she is tonight. His tag identifies him as "S. Grenger"; the tag hanging on his pruney white big toe. "S. Grenger" is dead. Here he is, lying right here in front of me. On the gurney at the mortuary where she works. Dead. On Tuesday he was probably sitting at some table in a ghetto Denny’s with other down-and-out Vietnam vets, reliving the good ol’ days, or maybe even reminiscing about Rosie. Today is Friday, and his time was up.

This is probably the weirdest thing about me, but I have always been fascinated by dead bodies. Not dead people, because I don’t believe the bodies are people. The people go on living elsewhere, but their miraculous mortal vehicles get one last spruce-up, and go the way of all the earth. I wanted to see this process.

The first time I remember seeing a dead body was at my Great-grandmother’s funeral, when I was a child. There she was, all done up, lying in her coffin, and while it looked like her, it also looked like a really good imitation, a wax figure. I wanted to touch it, but I didn’t dare. I wasn’t afraid, but I had seen enough movies of the presumed dead suddenly sitting bolt upright and opening their eyes, and I didn’t want to be the one to spark this chain of events. But I was intrigued, and waited for my next chance to see a dead body.

Fortunately for me, my life has been relatively untouched by the deaths of loved ones, but I have had more than my fair share of dead body experiences. My mother attended school to become a massage therapist. She got to go on this fantastic field trip to the College of Naturopathy, to see the dissected cadavers, as part of her training in the human body. "You gotta get me in on that!" I said, when she told me. Luckily for me, another group was scheduled to go the following week, and I was right on board. The anticipation was something else, I’ll tell you. This was my first hands-on experience with the dead, and I didn’t know how to even prepare.

Before entering the cadaver room, we were warned about the smell, and about the possibility of fainting. I was so curious, I couldn’t imagine I would have that drastic of a reaction, but it was hard to know what to expect. As the doors opened, so did my eyes. There were bodies lining both sides of the room, all male, and skinned, except for their finger tips, ears, and genitalia. Many of them had been further dissected for study. We walked from body to body, identifying muscles, bones, and organs, and sometimes looking for clues pertaining to death. Most of the cadavers had been homeless men, and their livers and lungs witnessed of hard lives and substance abuse. One body had the top of its skull sawed off, and hinged back on, so it was like a human puzzle. Open the skull, take out the brain. Hold a human brain. Wow. A human brain! Everything that man had seen, felt, heard, and experienced had been stored right in that firm, rubbery mass of tissue. I took an eye out of socket and gently pulled the attached muscles that opened and closed the eyelid. Miraculous! What had this eye seen? We saw lung cancer, and cirrhosis of the liver, and plaque in the arteries, and more. We stayed for a few hours, and I couldn’t get enough.

When my mortician friend asked if I’d like to accompany her, late one night, to the mortuary, I didn’t even hesitate. Creepy drive down the darkened freeway, during a windstorm aside, I was ready. We pull up to the locked gates of the mortuary, and she gets out to enter her code on the keypad. We park around back, by the entrance that only the morticians use. It’s the same door she sometimes has to wheel badly decomposing bodies through to hose out the maggots before embalming.

The hallway is long and dark, and lined with coffins, empty coffins newly arrived from manufacturers and protected with foam padding and shrink-wrap. The light switch is at the end of the hall, and around the corner. My heart is beating, but I feign perfect ease.

Dead bodies are kept in refrigeration units. Giant ones, like the walk-in-closet you wish you had. I gulp as she opens the door to the freezer. To my left and to my right are bunk bed type structures, with bodies on each level. Then across the floor between the ‘beds’ are gurneys with more bodies. With no pun intended, it is an out-of-body moment for me, while I gather my senses to the scene before me. Two bodies are assigned this night. The first is "S. Grenger", and the second is an overweight female body which has been autopsied, and is now zipped up in a clear vinyl bag, which is pooling with draining bodily juices.

For the next several hours, I watch as bodies and hair are scrubbed down and washed; thick, congealed blood is pumped from the bodies as formaldehyde is pumped in; eyes and mouths are sewn closed; body cavities are drained and embalmed; a face is shaved; and fingernails are trimmed and cleaned. Even lotion is thoughtfully applied and rubbed in. The autopsied body has a longer process to go through. At one point, it lies like a turkey carcass on the embalming table, its two flaps of skin opened to the sides, exposing an empty body cavity and spinal column. The sawed-off ribs are sitting on one counter, next to the top of its skull, and the organs are in a bucket on the floor. It is hosed out before being repacked with internal organs and embalming powder. The skin of the scalp is draped backwards over the face, but all is tenderly reassembled and reconstructed with such care that no closed-casket will be necessary. It is incredible to watch, and I am aware of the beautiful service that is being provided, this last gift given to these mortal bodies, that while living were loved, and who now are mourned. The white, wax-like bodies have seemingly come to life as they have thawed to room temperature and have gained the healthy color that comes from the pink tint of the formaldehyde that now plumps their veins. They are clean and groomed, and sewn back up. Once dressed, no one will be the wiser as to the process that prepared them for this state. They are dressed in their best, and wheeled to the other side of the room, awaiting their final resting spot. No refrigeration is needed after the embalming process.

This does not scare me. None of it. The radio is playing Lionel Richie and I sing along, not affected by the fact that my audience consists of my friend and about six embalmed bodies. I am not fazed or frightened. Not even when the drain in the floor backs up and blood and bodily fluids start creeping towards my feet. Not even when the arm of one of the bodies, propped up on the exposed rib cage, suddenly slips off and falls over the side of the table, dangling life-like. There is this morbid fascination and curiosity that keeps my attention at its peak. I ask every bold question that I have, and am intoxicated by the answers. I don’t want any walls here; I want all the information. And so it can not be kept from me: The one thing that chills me to the bone and haunts my mind and dreams.

In the freezer, on the third bunk up on the left-hand side, is a small bundle wrapped in a hand-woven Mexican blanket. I have to know. I ask. The blanket is pulled back, and there lies the small, peaceful body of a baby boy with long, feathery eyelashes resting on his broad, high-boned chubby cheeks. He has a yellow haze to his brown skin, but otherwise, he looks like someone’s sweet little man, maybe around six months of age. I have a baby the same age sleeping in his crib at home. This isn’t fair. I can’t hold back the tears that fill my eyes. Apparently, he had been waiting for a liver transplant, but a match could not be found in time. Sweet baby boy. How unfair that a mother has empty arms tonight. How terrifying that life can be so cruel at times, that even little ones can be snatched from its grasp. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrifying for the little souls called home; it’s gut-wrenchingly agonizing for the parents left behind.

There is something noble about the elderly bodies that take their turn on the table of the mortuary. They wear marks of life: stretch marks from long-ago pregnancies; laugh lines and wisdom creases; tattoos from the war; scars from reckless masculinity; liver spots from work and play in the sun; crippled hands with arthritis borne from years of overuse. I hold a hand; it is so motherly. I imagine the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches it has made, the dishes it has washed, the floors it has swept, the babies it has held. This body has lived a life. But the little one-- he never even got to crawl, or walk, or fall down. A blessing for him, I suppose. A frightful reminder for me, to hold my own a little closer, a little tighter, and not for one single second unaware.

To me, the most unimaginable horror is that I pull down that hand-woven Mexican blanket and see the face of one of my babies, lying there perfect in every way, still and cold. Every freckle and untamed cowlick; little boy knuckles never calloused with the hard work of a man; little girl lips never kissed by the true love of her dreams; eyes closed forever, withholding the life force that lights up hearts and rooms; the babies that grew in my womb, drank desperately from my breast, strengthened my arms and my back, but nearly broke my heart with love that cannot be contained. It would be too painful to endure: me in the warmth of home, collapsed in the bed where he slept, gathering up blankets around my face in a frantic attempt to breathe in his boy-ness, while my child’s sweet softness lies in a freezer. I cannot even imagine my arms giving him up, unlocking the maternal rigor mortis that holds fast the body grown within my own. I would beg to decompose along with him. How is it fair that the dead at least get the preservation of formaldehyde? Pump something into the veins of the grieving parents so that they might look alive! Their color is gone!

May my children never beat me to the embalming table. Please, God.

I come home after midnight, emotionally exhausted. I have seen the stuff of horror films and crime novels, but the only image keeping me from sleep is the still face of the baby boy. My thoughts are of a mother and father blaming a God whose works seem cruel and indifferent. I must check each of my sleeping children: kiss their faces and check for warmth; rest my hand on their backs and check for breath; whisper ‘I love you’ and watch for stirring. And then I kneel to pray that each of them is given the privilege of living enough life to earn laugh lines, stretch marks, and even scars. Let them read every book, sing every song, cook amazing food and share it with hosts of friends, write something powerful, travel to faraway lands, change the world, fall in love, and even suffer heartache. And may I never have to mother them through death’s dark veil.

(*one more note, while this is a true account, names and a few details were changed to protect the living, and the dead.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sugar and Spice?

Well, I had to yell at my kids a lot today. It isn't my fault though; my husband told me I'm not sweet. This is why marriage is sometimes an impossible situation:

Adam was editing a wedding video last night on his laptop, while we sat in bed. I sat next to him reading. I heard him say, "Oh, she seems like such a sweetheart" so I leaned over to be the judge of that.

"Am I sweet?" (I know, I know. This was my fatal flaw. I was desperate, alright?)


"Well, you're over there saying a complete stranger is a sweetheart. What about me? Do you think that about me too?"

"You're great, honey. I love you."

"Yeah, but am I sweet?"

"Well...I don't know. Sometimes, I guess. You are a lot of things. There are a lot of really great words that describe you, but 'sweet' isn't really one of the words I would use about you."

"So, you lie then?"


"Well, you told me when I made dinner the other night for your brothers that I was really sweet. And you said it was 'so sweet' of me to spend that time with your kids helping them with homework. You even call me 'Sweetie'."

"No, I wasn't lying. That was sweet of you to do those things. And you are my Sweetie. But you're mostly other great things. Not so much sweet."

What??? No sex for you! Come back, one year!

He didn't mean to be hurtful. He didn't even know he was being hurtful until the next day when I told him. I am obsessed with being sweet.

There is a woman in our church who has this saccharin voice, all high-pitched, and what-not, never yells, probably never even gets mad. She has a bazillion kids, homeschools, and doesn't even have a single gray hair. She's just there to uplift, and comfort, and teach with hand-colored, laminated pictures, hold little children on her lap, and smooth the back of her hand across their little cheeks....and make me want to BARF! Excuse me, I mean, she's so sweet.

I constantly hear about 'sweet' women. My husband's ex-wife is so sweet. She may not have been the one, but she is sweet. Can't deny it; I love her to death.

My last boyfriend's ex-wife was so sweet. I wouldn't work out for him. He wanted a sweet woman. I was smart and all, and "almost pretty enough", but just not sweet enough. He decided to hold out for sweeter. (I think he's still waiting.)

Once I told my first husband that a baby was ugly. (It was, sorry.) He got mad at me for not being sweet. "What kind of a woman says that a baby is ugly?" he asked with a look of scorn and utter disgust. "An honest woman," I replied.

I keep trying to be sweet, but I guess it's not working out for me. On days when I really, really focus on being sweet, I end up absolutely exhausted and just wanting to scream at anyone who crosses me. Kind of like how I feel after a long day wearing high-heels: I sure look hot, but all I want is to take them off and go barefoot.

So today, mentally griping about how un-sweet I am, I snapped at my boys to stop laughing. Stop laughing? Yep, pretty much kicks 'sweet' in the butt. I snapped when they woke me up sixteen times from my coveted 30 minute nap. I snapped when they broke the balloon we needed for the science experiment. I snapped when one wanted raisins AND an orange for a snack. Good grief. All I want is to be SWEET, darnit! Stop making it impossible!


Saturday, October 6, 2007

What the Buzz is all About

Maybe some of you have noticed the widget on the sidebar of my blog and wondered what that ranking means. Well, a while back I was invited to join a new site called Cre8buzz, still in its beta stage. At first I resisted, wondering what I could possibly do there, but since it was one of my favorite people extending the invitation, I jumped in to scope out the situation.

Cre8buzz is different from MySpace or Facebook. It is set up to literally create buzz for whatever it is that you're trying to draw attention to, whether it be your blog, your writing, your photography, your business, or whatever. It isn't filled with spam, raunch, and teens, but rather with actual intelligent, driven, encouraging, friendly, articulate, and artistic people. Cre8buzz is divided into different communities, and though I joined the "Women" community, members can visit any community they'd like, and make friends all over the Buzz. The fun thing is that you rank each other's profiles, pictures, blogs, posts, everything, so you can see who's hot on the buzz, and who is up-and-coming and in-the-know. Last I checked, I am ranked #13 in the Women's community.

I have made scores of new friends on cre8buzz. Women I never would have met, whose influence has made an impact on my life. Because I don't spend oodles of time blogging or surfing the net, I am very careful how I allocate the time that I do spend online, and I consider cre8buzz to be an enriching part of that time. My blog is more widely read now, and I've had many people find me on the buzz and tell me that they are faithful readers of my blog. I've met friends that live all over the United States, and as far away as Finland and Australia. I've met new friends in the writing community that have been influential and encouraging. I'm almost daily amazed by the depth, creativity, and smarts of the women (and men!) in the blogging world.

Up until now cre8buzz has been private, so only members could log in, but tomorrow, October 7th, it will go public (beta), so now anyone can view profiles and look around. To join, you'll still need an invite from a member, so let me know if you'd like to join the coolest club around and see what the buzz can do for you! Just send me a comment or email with your email address and I'll send you an invite. Members are raving about the success they've had on the buzz. Click here to read some success stories on the Cre8buzz blog. People are very friendly, and I think you'll find the atmosphere most welcoming and upstanding. Hope to see you around the buzz!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The 5 o'clock Club

I had a career in Mary Kay Cosmetics for a few years. I had success fairly quickly, earning a free car five months after signing my Independent Beauty Consultant Agreement, and becoming a Sales Director just two months after that. I loved the Company's philosophies of God first, family second, career third; living by the Golden Rule; and making our success about the women, not the makeup. I met outstanding women, and traveled all over the country for seminars and conferences. I learned from very savvy and successful leaders in the Company, and I followed almost all of their tips for success. I love the 5 Most Important Things list. I did my Positive Affirmations. But I never participated in the 5 o'clock Club. No way, Jose.

Mary Kay Ash was a member (the originating member?) of the 5 o'clock Club, and she taught that all consultants who wanted to rise to the top make the Club a priority as well. Very simply, get up at 5am. Get a head start on the day, while others are sleeping and distractions are minimal. Recharge yourself, so you can give to others. Well, I was tired. I was a single mom, and often out late on dates, so 5am could just pass right on by with 6am. And it did.

I stepped down from my position as a Senior Sales Director with Mary Kay Cosmetics two years ago. My focus was elsewhere now that I was remarried, and shortly after, expecting a baby. Over the last few years, I have felt myself hurrying to catch up constantly. I'm always trying to fit in the essentials, and very often, yesterday's essentials. I am tired, my tummy and my butt are getting softer than I prefer, and I lack the discipline I once held dear for my personal spiritual renewal. Every night I found myself going to bed promising myself that tomorrow, for sure, I would find time to exercise. Tomorrow, for sure, I would read my scriptures and spend time in thoughtful meditation. Well, every night I went to bed a liar, and that didn't do my morale any good.

Another thing I learned in Mary Kay is that the silent tapes we run over and over in our minds are very powerful. Self-talk can be edifying or destructive. Our minds don't know the difference between truth and fiction, they only believe what we tell them. If we tell ourselves we are fat, quitters, weak, and lazy, then our subconscious minds go to work to bring that to pass. If, however, we tell ourselves that we are valuable, strong, talented, and worthwhile, then that truth becomes our reality as well. My self-talk often goes something like this:

"You're such a phony. Everyone thinks you're so great, but look at you. You're a failure. You're divorced. Scarred forever. Nobody really wants you. You can't even get your butt out of bed. Yeah, right, you're gonna start working out consistently. You're just a hit-and-miss person, face it. Why do you even kid yourself?"

I could go on and on. But to realize that makes my heart ache. That is not who I am. And certainly not who I am becoming. This is more the real me:

"I have such determination! I am able to see changes that need to be made, and I have the courage to act upon them. I inspire others. I am a light in this world. This world needs me. I am strong, and I can do whatever I set my mind to do, with the help of God and those angels he has put in my life."

I could go on and on. It isn't as easy as the negative self-talk, but at least it's true! If you notice, my negative self-talk was in the second person, while my positive self-talk is in the first person. That's because the negative self-talk isn't really me talking at all. And if you have negative self-talk, it isn't your voice you're hearing either.

I am now a member of the 5 o'clock Club. I was hesitant to claim it at first, probably giving credance to that negative voice of failure, but I am doing it! It has been a remarkable gift to me! I awake and go downstairs to the beautiful darkness and silence, and I carve out some time just for me. For renewal, for strength, for my spirit that gives and gives and gives all day. My goal during the two hours I have before being "on duty" is to read from my scriptures, write in my journal, and workout. If I'm lucky, I can shower too. I have had marvelous experiences so far, as I read and ponder the scriptures. He is there waiting for me, to teach me, to validate the positive voice and add to it, to encourage me in all my worthy endeavors.

I did not expect to love the morning solitude as I do. I did not expect to feel so protective of it. It is mine, but I believe the mother who claims for herself, has all the more to give. And then the gift is the world's.