It’s a Boy! (Volume 1, 9th Edition)

Nine years ago today plus one day I heard the most toilsome three little words I would ever come to understand the meaning of…It’s a Boy!  Some might argue here that, I love you is a complex trio but I beg to differ.  When you go from simply women, sister, co-worker, daughter and friend to a mother something quite surreal happens.

See, when you are any of the above except for mother, it takes time to develop and understand your position.  You build friendships over time, siblings relate and work relations evolve slowly.  When you get wheeled into the hospital and are hoisted up on a cot to Labor and Delivery, there is no turning back.  You can’t back out like you can a friendship.  You can’t duke it out with your sibling.  You can’t quit your job to break free from a co-worker.  You are becoming a mother whether you are ready or not.  Sure, some might comment that you had nine months to prepare, but I am not so sure about that.

So, as eager and excited as I was, I was also scared out of my mind.  Throughout the popsicle sucking and ice chip chewing and frequent walks to let gravity kick in throughout the halls of L & D, it didn’t occur to me what was really happening.  I now truly believe all the aches and pains and contractions are in place to take our minds off of the bigger picture.  The fact that in a long or for some, a short time, we will become mothers.

After pulling an all nighter in L & D and going in and out of consciousness as a result of a lack of sleep and oxygen (really O2 mask and all), the nurses finally decided it was time to get me into my big girl room.  This is the room as defined by me that is the real deal.  Upon entering this room there will be no more popsicles, no more what ifs, no more false alarms and no more just about me anymore.  This is the room where the real business takes place.  This is the room where I was told now that the process has just begun (cause the other 10 hours didn’t mean a damn thing, right), the average delivery process (also known as the pushing part) takes approximately 3-4 hours for first time mommies.

Oh heck no little baby whatever gender you are.  I am way too competitive for all that.  Plus I navigated most of my then 28 years as defying the norm, so there is no way in my OB/GYN’s fantasy that I am going to be pushing it through for 3-4 hours.  Me and the little one had a talk while in and out of consciousness and I gave it a two-hour time limit.

Two hours later when a baby did a back flip onto my abdomen and I heard, “It’s a Boy,” I knew me and this little guy would go places and be good friends.  Or perhaps the right analogy is we would be mother and son.  Wait, what?  Did you just say, “It’s a Boy!”  Oh my goodness, I am a mother.  Now what?

Everyone and their mother was ecstatic.  Literally EVERYONE and their mother because I was not so smart back then and said yes way too often.  Yep, little junior changed that.  I am not a “Yes girl” anymore unless you are offering me a Starbuck’s.  All present while I labored or delivered or both, whatever actually happens, were my mother, my husband, my mother-in-law, my not so OB/GYN (mine was on vacation, figures), nurses, the anesthesiologist (sorry I caved and needed the drugs) and paramedic students.  I am sure there were others but I cannot recall at this point.

Now you might ask what was I thinking.  In my defense, I had no idea what the bleep was happening to me and every time someone walked into the room and asked to stay I was nodding with an oxygen mask on.  Whether I was nodding up and down or side to side, they were taking off their coats and popping a squat on the comfy couch while I laid helpless and paralyzed from pain.  So, what was I to do?  With respect to the paramedic students, my husband brained washed me into thinking that it would be a good idea as he was deprived of that experience when he was a paramedic and firefighter student.  Uh, huh, let them stay.  I had no idea that I was saying yes to people he went to medic school with let alone what was about to REALLY take place.  Lamaze, shame on you for not warning against the open door policy.

Anyways, after two swift hours, my little man was born and nine years later we are doing just fine.  There is something to be said about your first-born.  Something that happens when you become a parent for the first time.  For some and many in my case it happens instantaneously.  For me it happened ten days later.

All those curious people in my L & D room where all crying when my little guy was born.  I heard words like beautiful, congrats, miracle, amazing, handsome and perfect amongst all the sniffles.  But a few words that really got me were when the intruders people present kept coming up to my bedside and saying things like, “why aren’t you crying?”  I felt horrible but I couldn’t cry.  Not even a half tear.  Nothing!  Was this setting me up for mom failure?  Besides being in shock, I just couldn’t cry.  I was happy and scared and had so many emotions not to mention hormones raging through my body and everyone wanted to know why I was not crying.

This became a really big deal for me.  I tried to cry and ended up pulling a muscle.  I wanted to cry when I got my first baby boy rain shower, but couldn’t.  Since my little man was the first baby in our very big Italian family in thirteen years, I had visitors coming in and out non-stop.  They were all crying.  When I was discharged with my little babe on my lap, not a tear.  When I brought him home and took the first few steps into our home, still dry-eyed.  What gives?

Then 10 days after he was born when all the visitors migrated back into their own lives, my husband went back to work and the grandparents finally gave me some space, it happened.  While I was nursing I looked at my son and saw the most beautiful, perfect baby boy.  He opened his teeny, weary eyes and we connected.  The way this mother and her son, should.  It defined our relationship.  We are going to do things on our terms and not abide to the norm.  The eye contact sent tears streaming down my face and for the first time as a mother, I cried.  I let it out and it felt natural, not forced.  It was our time together away from everyone and the chance to connect one on one with no visitors.

Looking back I know I was overwhelmed and frazzled but realized with so many visitors and people and medical personnel it took away from my bonding time with my little bundle of joy.  It wasn’t until we were all alone with his hand clasped on my finger, his blue eyes piercing into mine that I realized I was a mother.  It was that 10th day that I knew I would do anything for this child.  It made me want to be a better person, give more to everyone including strangers and change my priorities.

So, my dear son, on your 9th Birthday I wish the happiest of days!  I want you to know that you never have to conform with the norm or try to be something you’re not just to please someone else.  I wish that you will stay true to who you are and follow your passions and dreams.  Also, it is okay to cry when you need and want to and you don’t have to cry if you can’t.  Oh and yes, it’s your Birthday and I WILL cry if I want to!  Happy Birthday to my little Nickobello!  Oh and stay off YouTube, ride your bicycle instead and wear your helmet!  I love you more than words can express and if you ever doubt that sweetheart, just look into my eyes!


Don’t Hate Me Because I am Worldly

Recently while on a girls weekend trip, I was told that I was worldly.  Worldly as defined by me, is nothing of who I am but wish I could be.  Worldly as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary means:

1.  Of, relating to, or devoted to the temporal world.   

2. Experienced in human affairs; sophisticated or worldly-wise.

So, as you can see I was very interested in hearing more about why this group of gals looked at me as worldly.  Especially given that we have been friends since Kindergarten, grew up in the very same neighborhood of shelteredness and stayed local for our college studies.  But this past weekend while away for a girls trip in Chicago, they considered me worldly.

The closest to worldly I ever became was in eighth grade when our teacher, Sister Felixa, had us tell the news in Social Studies via a Trip Around the World Game.  Now it would be important to know that our beautiful little teacher really was not very worldly and junior high children can play unfairly sometimes.  So, I do not think the information I gained back then helped my case of worldliness.

As mentioned, I stayed local for my collegiate studies so a 17.5 mile commute to and from campus daily does not give one a title of worldly.  Certainly an interdisciplinary major of Criminal Justice does not make one aware of the world but it does teach various forms of human interaction, social behaviors and relations to others.

Well maybe it was post college when I ventured across the United States on a two and half day trip to California via a train.  That’s right, I am not afraid to fly, I just like to explore alternative methods of transportation.  Besides, planes and cars cannot take you where trains can.  In fact, everyone reading this should book a trip via train for a minimum of two days to experience the art of train travel.  I do know having a coach seat, with strangers from all parts of the world for two days can make you in tune to world events and cultures but after the final stop, you really can’t wear a t-shirt that says:

So you can see my point.  I have never been outside of the United States other than a brief trip many years ago to Niagara Falls in January when the temps were a frigid -80 degrees.  Maid of the Mist was taken over by the Greek God Boreas.  And let me tell you, that man has some icy cold breath!  So other than being a bit wind-blown, having frostbite and a brief encounter with Elvira in the wax museum, I would classify my excursion through customs as the polar opposite of worldly.

So how did I become so worldly?  How was I connecting with so many people on such a worldliness scope?  Since I have been officially classified as worldly and this claim was backed by one other person other than myself, I have to own it.  I may even have to live up to some pretty high worldly’esque standards.  But first I need to know how I got to this place.  These are my thoughts:

1) Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.  Not the book studying sense but the get out there and live it approach of studying.  Take my college sociology class.  We were given the option to reasearch and write or become and write.  I choose the become and write.  So, on a Friday eve in the frigid month of February, along with a few other classmates, I was dropped off in a town with a backpack, blanket and travel pillow and was told, “See you Sunday morning.”  We had to navigate the streets with no money and find food, shelter and warmth.  What an eye-opening experience.  Especially when you realize, some people live this lifestyle day in and out.  The most surprising part, was the majority of those living this way with little to no income, were nothing like the stereotype they were given.  They each had a story, a reason, a passion to learn from.

2.  Trains, Planes and Automobiles.  When it comes to modes of transportation, I’d gladly take the train.  The winding rails through hills, valleys, mountains and plains is like no other adventure.  Staring out into the wilderness or stopping at a depot station where you engage with the local people is fascinating to me.  Depending on the transfer, you might even have a few hours to briefly get out and explore.  Nothing says seeing a million places in a 10 day trip like train riding.

3.  Books, Internet and Cell Phones.  I take notes constantly via my cell phone.  Then I reasearch later via books and the internet.  Sometimes I overhear people order a coffee drink and I wonder how the name of their drink was derived.  Take the Americano for example.  Google that drink and see what comes up.  Being mindful of your surroundings is interesting.  Researching what you see or hear is education.

4.  People, Places and Things.  I ask questions, a lot of them, when I  go to a new place.  I talk to people when standing in line for soymilk, flax-seed and wheatgrass.  I use my five senses when looking at things.  I don’t just look at a flower but think about how it grew, what it might smell like, is it edible and what it sounds like when it is blowing in the wind.  I am constantly tapping in and exploring.

5.  Up, Down and Around.  I turn things upside down.  Not all things have one view.  I look at something from a different angle and see how it changes my thoughts.

6.  My Way, your Way and this Way.  I take the many sides approach.  We all have our opinions but my how much we can learn if we are open to others interpretations.  Looking at something from many perspectives teaches different thoughts rather than just one outlook.  I love to explore the other possibilities, options and ways.

7.  Blah, Blah and Blah.  I bottle up the mundane and seal it tight.  Nothing says boring like the same old routine.  I often take another way home just for the chance to change it up.  Sometimes I even embrace chaos.  Or perhaps it would sound better if I say go with the flow.  When I try to resist the very thing that is breaking my routine, it ends up swallowing me whole.  Thus, I believe, sometimes you just need to go with the flow!

8.  Blog, Blogger and Blogging.  I have only been blogging for a few months now but I have been virtually introduced to other countries, cultures and people via this little place known as WordPress. Where can one go to write their stories and ideas, share them with others and then connect or just view the world from another’s photos, videos or script?  Right here!

So, is it because I have a mindful way of learning that makes me worldly?  Is it that I love a good adventure?  Perhaps it is that I am not of fan of routines.  Maybe just maybe since I have been blogging I have become so much more aware of the world.  Thus, the reason why my childhood friends are just now considering me as worldly. 

So, I pose a few questions.  What is your definition of worldly?  Has blogging and viewing blogs on WordPress made you more worldly?


In Business, All Roads Lead Somewhere

"Action is the foundational key to all success."
- Pablo Picasso

I have spent the past nine and a half years building my business.  It is hard work, do not get me wrong.  Sales is what you make of it.  You define who you are and how hard you work.  Your clients are your judges and it is my position to retain them year after year.  Yet, the real work was the road it took to get here.  When I was handed my college degree, a pat on the back and a go get them cheer from the Dean of Students, never did I realize what that all entailed.

I applied for jobs everywhere in the field of insurance which  I decided to turn to after foregoing law school.  I got the typical, QBNE rejection for months (qualified but no experience).  Then I received an acceptance offer for my first real BIG job paying real low bucks.  But as an optimist, I thought, I have room to grow and move up and will have health insurance, so we will take it for now.  Even if it was just to be a resume builder; because working through college at a law firm wasn’t enough, you know.

So after a quick 365 days I got a BIG promotion with a little more pay.  Part of my new job description was to teach sales agents.  So here is little young me teaching the soon to be big wigs.  I took my position real seriously until I realized, what the bleep I was doing.  For a measly pay I was educating trainee agents who were about to start making the big bucks.  It was then that I decided to get my insurance licenses for my state.

Pictures courtesy of Google Images

I passed with flying colors after a few back to back weekends in a state licensing class and was handed my two licenses.  Great, now what?  So I started to look in the newspaper (yes folks that is how it was done back then) and a little bit online.  Nothing to my defeat.  Then while in line for a hot dog and beer at a MLB game I over heard some well-dressed people comparing sales victory notes.  I ventured to proceed closer and closer to them acting like I was so into the crack of the bat while nibbling along on the dog.  Bam!  They were insurance sales agents and district sales managers.  Pot o’ gold I thought.

As a good judge of character, I tried to fish out who were the managers versus the sales agents and on my first approach, I succeeded.  I introduced myself and politely inquired, hoping I didn’t have mustard smeared on my face, as to how I could get some information as to becoming an agent.  They were so impressed that I was not a stalker I was so bold that I immediately was handed a business card.  I followed up the very next day with a phone call because in sales there is no such thing as a three-day wait.  After a very long conversation I was asked to come to the regional office for an appointment.

While at the appointment or interview, because you know they were so feeling me out, all I could hear was contract, contract, contract.  I was scared out of my mind.  I was given four big binders and was told to review them and go look for a place to have an office in a some rural town two counties away.  Huh?  Where is the glamour, the fun and what are all these contracts?  I was so intimidated.

Problem solved, I will just go to the next big name insurance company.  Now I know what to do and what to ask but I sure had no idea what to expect.  So, I call the regional office at the next company, indicate I am interested in a sales agent position and request an appointment with the district or regional sales manager.  I am awarded one on the spot.  I should have been skeptical but thought, another pot o’ gold.

Beep, Beep! Get out of my way!

The day of the meeting I arrive at the coffee shop early to gather my bearings and in walks a very well dressed male of my father’s age.  He has that look about him like he is looking for someone and I notice his portfolio bears the name of the insurance company.  I pop up almost spilling my coffee all over my skort suit (yep, we wore those then, shoulder pads and all) and put out my hand to him and say, “You must be Mr. Man.”  He looks at me and says, “I must be at the wrong place.  I was here to see Ms. Want-to-be-agent.”  I proclaim, “Yes, that is me, shall we sit?” He looks at me and says, “Oh, I picture you more of the drive a pink car and sell makeup kind of person.” “Excuse me sir, what,” I exclaim.

After a few harsh glances and an exchange of words he walks out.  Furiously I call the regional office and explain that I am very serious and determined to sell for their company and I demand an interview.  While I do not receive an apology, I do get an interview at the regional office.  Ha, done!  I never would have expected Mr. Man to be there let alone still working for the company when he greets me at the door to his office.  You have got to be kidding me, this jerk-off again?  I am ready to walk out when three more people greet us and proceed in and tell me I passed.

I passed what exactly?  “We wanted to see how you handle rejection and you passed,” they explain.  This is all wrong, they cannot do this but I am also a bit intrigued.  I do feel like a winner but I need to lay the ground rules that they will never use that talk with me or any future candidate again unless they want a lawsuit on their hands.  I might have omitted the part about the lawsuit, but I think I got my point across.

After months and months of interviewing, test taking, personality test taking, more interviewing, I get a letter that I have been accepted to their trainee agent program.  Thank heavens, as I am exhausted!  I am going to own my very own insurance agency.  Well sort of.  My contract says I will own all aspects except my book of business.  They will provide me with staff, marketing materials, ongoing training and the best tools in the industry to be successful.  Plus I will be backed by a big name company.  Yet, if I want to hand my hard work down to my children when I decide to retire it will be a no go.  But at the time I was a late twenty something unmarried, childless college graduate so I accepted.  After plugging away twelve plus hours per day, six days a week, I was becoming successful.  I was hitting all contests, levels of achievement and was considered one of the top trainee agents with the fantastic help of my staff mind you.

Yet, with all the success, I thought, here I am in my late twenties and owning some aspects of my business but something was missing.  Oh yes, the piece about owning my own business.  This is great, the  money was fantastic but I do not own anything when it is all said and done.  Yes, I will have a nice retirement with commissions streaming in after I retire and when they appoint someone to take over my agency, but this is not what I want.

Two weeks before my trainee agent contract was to expire and I was to sign the BIG one, I resigned.  They were shocked and I was elated.  Throughout all this time as a trainee agent, I had reached out to the man whose agency I took over.  He told me he had a son slightly older than me that worked hard for him everyday in high school, college and beyond.  He knew the ins and outs of the agency and all the customers.  The customers knew him and many since he was a little boy.  Dick was a fantastic agent and told me he would only consider his son taking over his agency if he valued all of his same ethical and business principles.  Dick was confident his son would preserve the integrity of his agency but the contract Dick signed many, many years prior would never allow for his son to take over.  So, when Dick retired so did his son.  What better of a person to take over the agency and here I am where his son should be.

Luckily Dick’s son went on to a place known as the uncaptive agency.  He persuaded me (not forced a contract) to venture down this path.  That August when I closed Dick and his son’s insurance office my office, on my last day, I never looked back.  The very next day I walked into my new office, down the road and almost ten years later I have grown a successful business on my terms and in my way.  Of course, there is contract signing but I do not mind the terms now.  I agree to honor the Founder of the company’s principles and in turn I own my book of business.  They advise against just giving it to anyone, family or friend, without careful consideration.  But like Dick, I would never have someone take over the empire I am creating so I can watch it fold in my retirement.

I never regret the path I took to get here, my own business, and the training and people I met along the way.  I truly believe your character is shaped not when you are on top but when you are in struggle.  That is the real test.  As for Dick and his son, Dick is enjoying golf on a daily basis in a warmer state and his son operates his own agency down the road from mine.  We are great colleages and his dad will forever be our mentor!

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”
                             –  Booker T. Washington

Kid Tested and Lorax Approved

I had nothing to do with the Lorax being born.  That is all you Dr. Seuss.  I have never seen a Truffula tree, tried to utilize a Thneed or had dinner with the Once-ler.  Yet, I very well could have given birth to the non-animated version of the little furry guy known as the Lorax.

You see, before we ever read The Lorax or saw him on the big screen, one of my boys exemplifies an exact replica of the oneth who speaks for the trees.  In fact, in a green thumb match, my four-year old would easily take down the orange, whiskered thingamajing as my son actually speaks for all things that grow from the earth.

Now that we have read The Lorax and seen the movie, my little man is even more so all about digging, planting and growing.  So before he blows up the house by mixing up a chemistry experiment in my bathroom of dirt, toothpaste, weeds, jelly beans and fruit loops, I need to get him started.  So, strap in and let’s go on a little journey across the seas!

Long time ago in a far, far away land known as Sicily there lived a man and his wife along the Mediterranean Sea.  They were a modest young couple where he was a fisherman and she was a seamstress.  But oh how they loved a nice garden.  Their favorite was the fruit bearing tree that flowered in the Spring and would produce a plentiful amount of sweet Sicilian peaches by summer’s end.

But then the young fisherman and his wife decided to make a better life and head for America.  They grabbed all their life’s treasures and stashed them in a chest and set out to journey to America aboard a ship across the ocean.  But before leaving, they took a gold felt satchel and loaded it up with the fallen seeds from the Sicilian peach tree.

When they arrived in America, life was hard and they had to adjust to their new home the best they could.  They were so busy being American that they forgot about their simpler way of life.  Then one day they stumbled across the satchel and wept as they thought of their beautiful garden back in Sicily.  They wanted so much to tend the soil on their postage stamp lot and did so by planting the peach tree seeds.  They were heartbroken when those rats American squirrels stole their beloved seeds.

Then one day while they were sipping their American Coffee, extra strong to replicate the espresso of the bygone days, they saw a purple stem and leaf prying out from the ground.  They couldn’t believe their eyes.  “Sulla ma gun, joya, itsa the peacha thee tree,” exclaimed the man in the finest Broken English ever spoken.  This man and wife and their peach tree kept reproducing which now brings us back to 2012.

This wonderful couple was my great grandparents.  When I was a baby they gave my parents a seed and thus my very own peach tree grew.  Now that  I have three children of my own, to celebrate their births, I have also planted a peach tree in their honor.  But this day, with all things loving of the Lorax, we were going to plant a tree in honor of my grandmother, their great-grandmother who passed away earlier this year.  We are going to start our very own Nonna tree via the peach seed.  And this my friends, is how it is done!

 1)  Find the perfect place that you can enjoy your tree.  We decided to plant ours right by our patio so we could watch it blossom and bloom and hopefully would eventually bear fruit.

2)  Take the seed and rinse it under tepid water.  Make a silent wish or prayer to whom or whatever that those American squirrels will not relocate it and that it will grow.

3)  Begin the dig into the unknown where beetles and earthworms scurry and scant.  The soil should be light and tilled and the planting hole about four inches deep.


4) Kiss the seed and toss it into the hole adding a little bit of water.  Fresh sea water is preferred but fluorinated chemical city water will do too.

5) Add the covers via the dirt, topsoil and a little bit of that special city water.

6)  Stand back, ah and oh, pray and hope that in about 6-8 weeks, you too will be sipping an Americano and see a purple stem and leaf poking from the soil.

"Sulla ma gun, itsa the peacha thee tree!"

So, after myself and the boys followed the above steps, about 6 weeks later, Viola, a purple stem with leaves.  I love you American squirrels!  Eventually our tree will grow and produce beautiful pinkish flowers in the spring and in about eight years, we may harvest a peach or two.  Then again, the tree may be bearing bananas as this seed is a clone of a clone of a clone.  But nonetheless, we honor our ancestors, our earth and have made the Lorax proud.

As for my son, he continues to mix earthly and unearthly concoctions in hopes of growing something big or huge.  He has a never-ending trail of dirt following him and his nail beds are permanently dirt stained.  Yet, this leisure activity of speaking for the trees has kept him from the tube, the Xbox and Playstation.  I hope all my boys have a never-ending appreciation of their culture, our ancestors sacrifices and the earth.

Unless someone like you…cares a whole awful lot…nothing is going to get better…It’s not.”  – Dr. Seuss


Hang on Spiderman, Mama to the Rescue

I love when I get some alone time.  You know the time out without children.  It is limited to an occasional hair appointment or a doctor’s visit, but this time I had a real good reason to fly solo.  Mama has got to make Easter happen, right?  So I mention to my husband that I am going to head out at the break of dawn and knock out Easter.  I really could not get an objection now could I?  How is mommy going to make Easter happen with the kiddies in tow.  Pure brilliance on my part, huh?

So off I go.  Somehow in this short trip I managed to sneak in a work-out, a manicure, an oil change, a venti soy no whip one pump extra shot of espresso mocha and Easter basket filling goodies.  Now nobody other than you all needs to share this information and lucky for me, daddy has never had to make Easter happen.  Therefore, only I know how long it takes to fill up those baskets.  See, some things are better left not delegated.  Really, I scored quite a bit in the 3.25 hours that I was running around.  I am sure daddy and at least one of the three boys were sleeping during at least 1.15 hours during my escapades.  So the total elapsed time for said daddy would seem not as great.

So, as I ventured home with the cool spring breeze in my face, the sunshine beaming in through my car windows and my venti something of another in my hand, I thought, this is good.  Really, this is just what we need sometimes to regroup and restore.  No one was injured (at least we hope) and the house will still be standing and all is good.  Plus, Easter will happen. Yeah me!

So I gracefully tip toe through my kitchen door.  You know you have to scope out the horizon first.  Then what to my wondering eyes should appear?  One tiny boy and 10 claws, scaling my wall.  Holy Spiderman, what on earth?  Hanging there from my kitchen wall was my four-year old.  As he hears me exclaim,”what in the world are you doing,” I see his daddy in the corner of my eye.  “Hello, do you see your son?”  His muffled reply, “Uh huh, he can wait, I am eating yogurt.”  For the love of Chobani, step aside yogurt man, hold on Spiderman, mama to the rescue.

Hold on Spiderman, Mama to the Rescue

Now you will want to know that my son was scaling the wall but then somehow his shirt got stuck in the window, so he couldn’t get down.  First of all, I knew double hung windows were not what they were cracked up to be.  It just adds another to do on my list since they fold in all nice and neat so you can clean them.  I also now know that they present a child safety hazard.  Secondly, why couldn’t the yogurt be put down?  Lastly, prices to pay for getting away.

I See Him, I See Him

After all the untangling and lecturing (and forget yogurt man) I asked my four-year old why he would be climbing the walls and windows.  His reply, “I wanted to see the Eastern lights!”  Now thank you to the Polar Express movie and book and wallet draining activities around the holidays, I know all about the northern lights.  But what is this?  What are the Eastern lights?  So I ask little spidey and he replies, “Um Mom, the EASTERN lights, you know where the Eastern Bunny lives.”  Now, it all makes perfect sense, I guess?

At four-years old, my Easter preparation involved coloring eggs and entering the grocery store’s coloring contest.  Never did I scale walls to look for the EASTERn lights in hopes of seeing the EB.  Yet, he was so convincing and passionate about his reasoning for climbing the walls.  I just had no words, no thoughts and no response.  Folks, in about twenty years, if you are in need of an attorney, he is your man!  That’s right, little spidey can represent!  His dad will hand out yogurt upon exiting of the courtroom.

Well, I am off to color Easter eggs, like we did in the olden days.  And no spidey we cannot use spray paint to color them!  Happy EASTERn everyone!

Spray Paint Should Not Be Used to Color Eggs

Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Augusta National

Disclosure:  the correlation between Augusta National Golf Club and women as members is used for semi-educational purposes only.  It does not, in any way, mean I am for or against women having a membership nor inferring that any woman mentioned herein has not worked hard for all she has achieved.

Glad that we got that all out of the way so you don’t start throwing golf balls at me.  Now I am not going to go and get all gender specific or turn pro golf on you, but this just reminds me of “trophyism” and another case of not letting some things just be as is.  Seriously, let some things just remain.  If you haven’t heard, the Augusta National Golf Club is a male only club since 1933.  Historically they have always given a membership to the CEO of the company that sponsors the Masters tourney.  This year, IBM’s CEO, Virginia Rometty is up for that membership.  There is a bit of a problem though, she is a woman.

I know there are protestors and many opinions, but boy oh girl just let some things be.  Depending on what generation you come from or your own unique experience you are going to have a different opinion.  Yet, Girl Scouts are just for girls and Boy Scouts are just for boys, right?  So why can’t Augusta National Golf Club be just for men?  Ladies, we have women only fitness clubs.  In unisex clubs we get our own designated “woman only” space void of men.  We get and have things and can become anything we want to be.  Yet, we sometimes wonder if chivalry is gone or if people work hard anymore.

I grew up in a time when girls and boys played on their own separate gender specific teams.  That when you wanted to go out for choir, the school play, cheerleading or sports you actually had to tryout.  You may not have made the cut but then you ran home crying to your parents.  They took you to pick out one of 31 flavors at Baskin Robbins and they told you to practice and try harder so you will make it next year.  Then you decided on your effort and your will to accomplish.

You Can't Always Get What You Want
Now as a parent, we can have girls and boys on the same teams.  Tryouts are limited to travel leagues only and EVERYONE gets a trophy at the end of the season.  So, what are we teaching our children, the next leaders of tomorrow?  You can do mediocre work but will still get rewarded?  Where is the emphasis on hard work and perseverance?  Sometimes you have to fail to succeed, right?  And sometimes you just have to let things be. 

Trophyism (as defined by me) – The practice of getting rewarded no matter how much effort (or lack there of) you have put into something and then being rewarded with a trophy of, everyone is a winner. 

Like women as members in male only golf clubs, not everyone gets a trophy.  There is always an alternative by either accepting what is or trying hard next time.  Let Girl Scouts sell cookies and Boy Scouts go camping.  I sure hope the board at Augusta National and Virginia Rometty can come with a mutually satisfying agreement.  She may not end up with the official trophy but hey, you can’t always get what you want! 

Just ask the Rolling Stones…

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

Artist: The Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What you Want”
(M. Jagger/K. Richards)


Le Tour de France or Spin Class

Decision, decisons…I know.  Seriously I could only dream of Le Tour de France.  For now,  I will pedal it out on a stationary bike.  For my fellow spandex wearing indoor cyclists, you know what this is all about.  For those of you who think spinning is something in the Rumpelstilskin fairy tale, you may not be so far off.  I guess I can see where you could relate spinning to a fairy tale.  As taken from Wikipedia,  Rumpelstilzchen in German means literally “little rattle stilt”. (A stilt is a post or pole which provides support for a structure.)  I can see the correlation.   The stationary bike is the post and the “spinner” is the structure.  It is a sure bet, that when you are pedaling like it’s nobody’s business, that stilt better support your behind.  Little rattle stilt…I sort of like the ring to that!

Well, I started spinning, the stationary bike kind, on a more regular basis.  It is a great workout that can potentially burn 400-700 calories in an hour spin class covering approximately 13-18 miles depending on your pace.  I definitely feel I am getting my spin on.  Since I consume 64 ounces of H2O in one hour and walk out of class like I just got caught on a golf course when the evening sprinklers cranked on at full blast, I’d say I was working it!

Spin class is a nice balance of cardio and strength and if I was to get on a “real” bike out on the roadways, I am sure I would have a significant amount of improved endurance.  Well, we sure would hope so!  In my particular spin class they have an overhead fan that could provide enough energy for a nuclear power plant.  The instructor is poised on a stage for your maximum viewing pleasure.  I sort of feel like they are perched up there higher like a hawk soaring above watching for its next prey.

The class participants come in all shapes, sizes and athletic ability.  You have your quiet, conservative spinsters who won’t dare break a bead of sweat and then there is your Rah-Rah Shish Koom Ba all pumped up participants.  There are plenty of people who wish they took a restorative yoga class instead of strapping themselves into the stir-ups for an hour ride too.  Then there are those outside cyclists who take the art of spinning to a whole ‘nother level.

Then there is me.  A little athleticism and a lot of endurance who definitely wants to maximize a workout with a ton of potential to be the next cyclist at Le Tour De France.  Yet, until yesterday, I was lacking the whole imagery thing.  So, as you know, there is this mega fan to part aid in the cooling feature but also to possible simulate like you are riding into the wind.  The instructors always dedicate “the ride” to a location.  Some locations include but are not limited to Hawaii, Nashville, Italy and the streets of New York City.

So here’s me getting frustrated that I can’t imagine we are riding down Haleakala clinging to our handle bars with white knuckles in fear of going over into the Pacific.  Until yesterday, I just never understood why we can’t just pedal to the metal with some great music and call it quits in an hour.  I didn’t get what the whole imagery thing had to do with working out.

"You call this a storm?"
Then somewhere along mile 6, right about where my instructor started to resemble Captain Dan in the Forrest Gump Storm Scene (go ahead youtube it you – you know you want to),  I found my imagery on a stationary bike.  We were beginning our mountain climb and turning up our resistance to hill number three.  Then it happened.  I began envisioning myself  climbing up the Jura Mountains north of the Alps between the Rhone and Rhine Rivers.  The wind (aka big metal fan breeze) pushing against me.  I had to get past the other cyclists and the climb was getting harder and then I found my rhythm and spun like Rumplelstiltskin did for the young women on the third night of her deadline.  In the fairy tale and my reality, that was pretty darn fast.

I can’t really explain it but I get it now.  The whole sensory imagery thing.  It is okay to pretend and let go.  Nobody knows what you are thinking.  Just like nobody knows where your resistance level is set.  You know what I mean spinners.  We have all cheated our way through a workout.

So, in fairy tale fashion, the moral is make your spin class your ride.  If you have never ventured into a “spin room,” venture in, saddle up, strap in and enjoy the ride.  Afterall, it is your ride, your imagery and your workout.  I have compiled a “must do” list when attending a spin class to help you in your efforts.  Don’t be shy, go for it!

Pedal, Set Go!

The Must Do’s for your Spin Woos
(Disclosure:  Please contact a professional spin instructor on how to achieve the best spin experience)

1.  You best get your jug on.  That’s right, at least a minimum of 32 ounces of water.  You want to be H2O plentiful!

2.  Saddle up!  You will be sitting, also known as “in the saddle”, running, sprinting, jumping and climbing all on a stationary bike for 45 minutes to an hour.  Tweek those bike settings to the most comfortable and safe positions as you can.  Please note, it will take you a few classes to find your right adjustment.  Write your settings down for easy remembrance.

3.  Strap In.  If you lose yourself on a stationary bike, you want to have those foot stir-ups nice and tight.  That’s right.  You don’t want to be pedaling like a you know what and your feet lose grip.  That will be a hurtful casuality.

4.  Have your duo-dry sweat wicker at close range.   If you are working out to your full potential (it is okay to push yourself too) then you will want to mop it up.  We can’t have any blurred vision from sweat drips or slipped grips on the handle bars.

5.  Pedal to the music.  Assuming your instructor is tempo literate, listen to the beats and pedal to the tune.  There is nothing worse than pedaling off beat.

6.  “Really” use the resistance knob.  You’ll see what this is all about when you get going.  You can turn it up and then back it down with a flick of the wrist.  Don’t back down unless instructed to.  Set the pace that works for you but don’t cheat yourself.

7.   Enjoy the ride.  Whether you can visualize the Alps or feel like you are venturing to H-E double hockey sticks, embrace the ride.

So, I hope you all get out there and maximize your ride or venture to try it out.  Let go of your thoughts, your lists of things to do and set out on your journey to reach your destination.  You get “there”  by doing.  So strap in, pedal to the tune and set your mind free.  You will get to that place you desire to be!

You Can Get to That Place you Desire to Be!

I want to leave you with one final thought taken right out of a spin class.

“Push yourself.  Make it happen.  Don’t hold back!  If you have that being punched in the stomach feeling, then you are in the right place!”

– Kris (my favorite spin instructor)