Proud to be a Geek

Yes, I am a geek and I am proud of it.  There I said it!

Last week my friend Brad teased me because I was studying for my upcoming fantasy football drafts. He said I was a fantasy geek. I said there is a big difference in fantasy football champion and fantasy football geek.  He said geek. I admit that I was slightly offended and uncomfortable with the term.  The more I thought of it, yes, I am a geek.   If GEEK stands for Gives Everything Excels Keeper, then yes I am a geek.    

I was surprised when I searched for the term geek how many different images and quotes came up. It seems I am not the only one who has a change of attitude about the word.

“The word ‘geek’ today does not mean what it used to mean. A geek isn’t the skinny kid with a pocket protector and acne. There can be computer geeks, video game geeks, car geeks, military geeks, and sports geeks. Being a geek just means that you’re passionate about something.” – Olivia Munn

Merriam-Webster defines geek as 1) a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off of a live chicken or snake [yikes not me], 2) a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked [sometimes me], and 3) an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity [yes me].

I love playing fantasy football and take it seriously. I have played for 21 years. When I started playing, I was the only female. I loved the name “The Ballbusters” because it has a double meaning. Until I can longer bust their balls, I won’t change the name.  In my SportsCom League, I am proud “The Ballbusters” are the all-time leader in winning percentage and have the most championship titles with 5. I also play in Texas League and have placed second several times.  I may write a future blog on fantasy football strategy.

I love learning.  I would be a lifetime student if I could afford it.  I always strive to make good grades, particularly if I am paying for the class. I tease that an “A” is adequate and a”B” is bad. In high school, I preferred the middle section. Now, I prefer the front row. I can see the screen better, and it keeps me engaged in the lesson. For me, it is too easy to be distracted in the back row.

If my name is attached to something, I want to do it well.  I put in the time and effort needed to do it well. Whether it is my career, serving as a volunteer, doing a hobby, or with relationships; I give it my all.  I believe that if something is worth keeping, I give everything to excel at it. Hence the acronym GEEK.

So, after thinking that a being a geek was uncool for most of my life. I am now proud to say that I am a geek.  It is cool and maybe even a little sexy!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on being a geek. Are you one? Do you want your family or mate to be one? Has your opinion of the word changed?

…. And Life Goes on.  Now If I could just find that geeky guy from the front row in high school who is now very handsome, sexy and successful…… big grin. 

 

The Heroes of Hurricane Harvey

Rockport, TX.  Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey was the first major hurricane (classified as Category 3 or stronger) to hit the United States since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.  Harvey made landfall as a category 4 hurricane in Rockport, Texas with winds of 130 MPH.  My Aunt Sam lives in this wonderful small town on the Gulf Coast.  While her house has suffered damage, thankfully she is safe.

Harvey, much like life itself, was erratic in its development and it’s path remains unclear.  At first the storm was not well-defined and there was a chance it would not become a Tropical Storm.  Once the eye formation started, it quickly grew in size and strength.  Much like our words and actions, the impact of the storm extends far beyond the area where it makes landfall.  The slow speed and size of the outer bands of this storm will cause life-threatening, catastrophic flash floods and tornadoes in many Texas counties for several days.

Houston, TX. Courtesy Houston TranStar

This morning KTRK reported that an estimated 370 billion gallons of rain fell here in Harris County in the last 24 hours. Sadly so, an additional 15-20″ of rain is expected in the next few days. The size and mass of destruction in the entire Texas coastal area is almost unfathomable.  I believe that when the storm finally ends, it will be one of the most expensive natural disasters in our nation’s history.

As I sit here in the safety of my home in a pouring rain, I am thankful and overwhelmed by a sense of pride to be a Texan and an American.  While much of the focus of news coverage in the United States in the past year has been focused on the unnecessary social destruction caused by racism, bigotry and political unrest.  I hope that the world will see the outpouring of kindness, compassion and strength of the residents of our great State of Texas.

Photo by Kevin Reece

People are helping people without regard to gender, race, sexual orientation, nationality, political affiliation, religious beliefs or economic standing. Volunteers are bringing in boats, canoes, kayaks, and large trucks to rescue flood victims. Neighbors are helping neighbors board up and remove debris from the damage by high wind and rains.  Today in my own subdivision, 30+ residents came together to build a barrier to stop the high water coming in off the main street.  It was awesome to see everyone working together!

Photo by Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle, AP

I want to give heartfelt thanks to the heroes of Hurricane Harvey.  Thank you to all of the resident volunteers, law enforcement, armed forces, civic workers, and medical staff working to help those in need.  Thank you to the workers  in the many make-shift shelters.  I want to also give credit and thanks to the unsung heroes in this mess, the men and women in the news media working hard to give us excellent coverage.  It is very difficult to be live on the air for many hours straight with limited resources.   Thank you to all of the heroes of Hurricane Harvey.  I pray for safety and abundant blessings to your and your families!

The news coverage will die down in the coming days.  The spirit of humanity, compassion and willingness to help others will continue.  As our citizens rebuild their homes and businesses in the coming months, please provide help in any way you can – your prayers, time, talents and money are needed!!   It is important to remember that each of these “statistics” is a person – someone’s family member, friend, co-worker, classmate, and neighbor.

Please make a monetary contribution to the American Red Cross to help victims of this devastating storm.  Here is a link to donate:  https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey?campname=Harvey&campmedium=aspot

I pray that the victims of Hurricane Harvey recover quickly and are abundantly blessed beyond what you had before Mother Nature unleashed this violent storm.   May God Bless Texas.

…. And Life Goes on. 

The One Who Overcomes

“Small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, the patient and the persistent. It’s for the overcomer.” – Unknown

The lure of the American dream – owning your own company, being your own boss. Having the ability to overcome the risks and challenges of starting a business. Having the opportunity to control your own destiny and to make your own mark. Many of us ponder – should I take the risk or pass on the opportunity? When I ask myself what do I want to do in the final years of my career – I want to tell stories through words and photos; and to help others solve problems. On one hand, I am confident that I have the skills, endurance, patience and drive to do this.  On the other hand, I am afraid that I am too old, too out of touch, there won’t be a market for what I am selling, and I won’t be good enough to make enough money to live on. It is as if there are two different people fighting for my thoughts and my will – it is often overwhelming and certainly exhausting!

“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” – Marc Anthony

Between my jobs at FOX Sports Net and Altitude Sports, I had a consulting company “Sharper Media”.  I did sports TV rights negotiations and program syndication.  It was fun! The pros were:  great variety in the kinds of work I did, ability to use different skill sets, building great relationships, and a flexible schedule. The cons were: paying self employment tax, paying for private insurance, a one person company to do the administration and execution, cold calling customers, and the fear it would not be enough financially.  During that time, I was asked to help launch the Speed Channel, the Tennis Channel and Altitude Sports Network.  I loved it!  Altitude offered me a full-time job and I took it.  I missed the hustle and bustle of a sports network and the security of a full-time job was appealing at that time in my life.

In the last 13 years, I have built a larger portfolio of skills.  I managed 3 important departments at Altitude.  I earned my MBA from University of Colorado.  I currently work as COO for my brother’s broadcast systems integration company where I have learned a lot about small business operations.  I have taken a dozen continuing education classes in accounting, payroll, HR, OSHA compliance, and project management.  I have taken several photography classes and am now enrolled at the NY Institute of Photography.  Even with all of this in my briefcase, I still wonder, will it be enough?  If I build it, will they come? 

I am generally a driven, energetic, positive person with a take charge, “I can do anything I work at” attitude.  It is possible that my many surgeries may have given me some Bionic Woman super powers (big grin) but in reality I am only human.  This is a big decision, it’s scary!

Drum roll please……  I have formed Sharper Media & Consulting, LLC.  It will offer a mix of services based on my talents and passions – business operations and marketing, media rights negotiation and syndication, and photography.  Here is a link to the website I built for more information, Sharper Media & Consulting.  My son, Johnathan, has recently started a home remodel and repair business, Built Diligently Construction.   We need your help to get the word out and for referrals.  We need your ideas and advice.  We need your support when things get tough. We need you to join us in celebrating our success. Please, if you are still reading this, click on our websites, read a page or two.  The way that search engines work is that the sites with the largest number of clicks are placed at the top of the search.  Help us get there!

As I launch this new business venture, I will continue to work for Bill at Broadcast Technical Services.  I will help him to continue to build his dream as I also work to build my own.  Thank you for allowing me to try this and for your support as only a big brother can give.  Thank you to my friends who have helped to edit my website and provide encouragement.

I look forward to traveling down yet another road in this journey called life.  I look forward to doing my best to be “The One Who Overcomes.”

What advice do you have to share about starting a business?  How do you make tough decisions?  What risks you are contemplating?  Do you love your work?   

……  And life goes on. 

 

 

 

The Pain of a Layoff

Being laid-off is like having food poisoning, you only really know how it feels when it happens to you! It doesn’t matter if you were personally singled out in a restructure (aka a polite word for we don’t want you any more) or part of a larger workforce reduction – it hurts!  It is personal.

A few months ago, I threw out this topic idea on LinkedIn and was surprised at the number of responses I received.  Here are the most common phrases used during my interviews with other victims: traumatic, complete surprise, devastated, blind-sided, disrespected, betrayed, and life-changing. Regardless of their loyalty to their boss or the company, seniority, ethics, character and work history – it happened and it hurt.

The most important factor in how a person felt about the decision maker and the company itself was in how the message was delivered and how the exit process played out.  Delivering the message with humanity softened the blow.  Treating people, the person being laid-off and their co-workers, with respect and compassion encouraged acceptance.

People who were treated with respect, allowed to gracefully leave the premises, and to say goodbye, generally regarded the company as being good despite having a disappointing ending. People who were treated more like a criminal or like they were fired, generally had very negative feelings about the company.

For many people, they were forced to leave their field or industry, accept a lower title and/or salary, or take a temporary contract.  It was more difficult to find a similar position when the person was over 50.

For me, the unthinkable happened on August 29, 2013.  After almost 10 years with Altitude, I was told that I was being restructured out of a job.  It was the politically correct way for Kim to say that she wanted to bring in her own guy.  Sadly so, my final moments spent at the network that I helped to build were humiliating.  I felt disrespectful and betrayed.  I was crushed. It was not the ending I had wanted, for me or my team.

In addition the anger and sadness, I had an identity crisis.  Since I was 19, I was thankful to be in the sports television business. I was proud of my career and all that I had earned.  In an instant, my title and my great job had been stripped away.  For the first time in my life, I was unemployed. After thousands of tears, I realized that my title and the company I work for does not define me. My talents and my actions define me. They can’t take that away.

I was taught that if you worked hard with good ethics that you could be anything you wanted to be. I was taught that how you work is more important than the work you do. I was taught that loyalty to a company will be rewarded and returned. The reality is that these things are important and should be honored. The harsher reality is that the scales of your fate can be tipped by economics or simply by the choice made by someone else.

If you know someone who has been the victim of a layoff, be kind and compassionate. You don’t know how it feels unless it has happened to you. Being laid-off is the dramatic ending of a relationship. People need time to go through each stage of grief. Each person deals with it in their own time and in their own way. Remember that it could happen to you too. No title is sacred and no person is immune.

Everything happens for a reason. God has a plan for each of us and we are in the place He wants us to be.  I pray that God will continue to heal each of us and our families from the the pain caused by the layoff.  I pray that we will have better and more-fulfilling jobs.  I pray that we will have a better work-life balance.  I pray that we will be able to remember the good times at that company and to forget the bad.  I pray that it never happens to us again.

And life goes on……

In Honor of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is celebrated in more than 46 countries around the world. In the United States this modern holiday originated in 1908, Anna Jarvis held a memorial to honor her Mother at St. Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia.  She continued her campaign for national recognition for Mother’s as “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”

My Beautiful Mother Kay

One of my favorite sayings is “When Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  Being a good Mother is one of the most selfless acts in a woman’s life.  Although it can be frustrating and exhausting at times; Mother is a title that we carry with love, devotion, pride and honor.

I searched for words to describe a Mother, here are some of the most popular: hero, teacher, nurse, cook, chauffeur, housekeeper, cheerleader, champion, our rock and the boss.  Some behaviors and traits are:  patience, sacrifice, energetic, smart, strength, courage, nurturing, tireless, loving,  faithful, compassionate, dependable, dedicated, and supportive.

Mother & Son 1997

To my son Johnathan, I am so proud to be your Mother.  You are my greatest gift, my greatest joy, and my greatest challenge. It has been a pleasure to watch you grow to be the man you are today. You are my bright shining star.  This photo is the first of our many “back to back” shots.  I love you!

On this day, I want to honor my Mother Kay. As a child, she made us feel special and loved.  We have great memories of being kids and her being there for us, no matter what trouble we caused.  Although I am now a Grandmother myself, there are times when I just need to talk to my Momma!  She always makes me feel better and puts things into
Daughter & Mother 1983

perspective.  I love that I continue to learn from her.   I love her passion for Jesus and her compassion for others.  I love her beauty, her smarts, and her kind heart. I love her spunky go-getter attitude and tell-it-like-it-is demeanor.  I love her beautiful smile and her laugh.  I am so proud to be her daughter.  When people say that I take after my Mom, I say with a smile, Thank You.   I love you Mom!  Thank you for everything! 

There are many other people who refer to our Mom as “Momma Kay”.  At first, I was jealous of this title.  Now that I can see her with these people, I see how she has truly changed their lives by just being in it.  She willingly opened her heart to others who needed her.  She brings them guidance, love, comfort and joy.   They give her love and joy in return.  This is true meaning of a Mother’s love – one that is not guided by the boundaries of biological or spiritual tags or by marriage.  I am so proud to have a Mother with such a big heart and a compassionate soul.

3 Generations Nutcracker Ballet 2015

Finally, I want to give a shout out to the families whose own Mother’s are no longer here on Earth.  May your heart be filled with love, comfort, and peace. May your mind be filled with the wonderful memories of your time together.

For those who are blessed by having a Mother here on Earth, please make time for her.  Your time and attention are the greatest gifts you can ever give her. Remember that yesterday has passed, today is a gift, and there is no promise of a tomorrow.

What 3 words best describe your Mother?  How do you celebrate Mother’s Day?

And life goes on……

 

My Experience as a RodeoHouston Volunteer

For 3 years, I have had the privilege to be a member of the Communications & Special Services committee at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. If you have never been to this rodeo, I encourage you to do so!  I have been to many rodeos and this one is the biggest and the best! HLSR was founded in 1932 to promote western heritage, entertainment, education and agriculture.  The event, also known as RodeoHouston, runs for 20 days in March.  In addition to the paid staff, there are 33,000 volunteers on 107 different committees working hard to make this event run smoothly.

The Communications & Special Services committee was formed in 1972 to help promote the Show. Our committee of 170 members works under the umbrella of the marketing group taking surveys, hosting the press box, and doing photography for several other committees.  I asked my teammates for 1-2 words to best describe our volunteer experience, here are some of their responses: family, rewarding, proud, extreme gratification, humbling, inspiring, life-changing, team work, youth & education, for the kids, absolutely awesome, service with friends, community, and tradition.

We are the people in the black vests walking around the grounds or at the entry gate inside the stadium asking for 2 minutes for a survey. Next time we ask, please say yes! Marketing uses this information to obtain entertainer preference information and audience demographics.  In 2017, we set another record by taking more than 16,000 surveys!

Another area of service our committee provides is photography.  I am 1 of the 12 photographers.   I am thankful to be able to blend two of my favorite activities – volunteering and photography.  We take photos of the calf scramble winners, several awards for other committees, contestant head shots and full body shots, and the meet and greet with entertainers and fans.  Two of the most popular photo assignments are taking head shots for the participants in the Mutton Bustin’ event (we photograph over 100 children in one hour), and the Top Hands Horse Show for physically challenged children and adults.

This year my 50+ hours of volunteering was spent: attend 3 meetings, 5 rodeo performances for stadium survey and calf scramble photos, 1 ground survey, and 2 special photo events (Livestock Judging Awards and Top Hands Horse Show).  I enjoy cheering for the calf scramble contestants as they walk downstairs for the competition full of determination and excitement.  I like to see the pure joy and often exhaustion on the faces of the winners as we take their photos with the event donors.

I once heard a rodeo executive say “we are a family of families”.   I am so thankful to be a part of this rodeo family and this wonderful committee.  For as long as I am physically able to perform, I will proudly serve this great event.

Simply stated – I love this rodeo!  I already miss my team, the smell of good BBQ, the sights and sounds of the rodeo and carnival, the great entertainers, and of course ….. cowboy butts!

What is your favorite part of the rodeo?  What organizations do you volunteer for?

…..And Life Goes On 

For information on the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo: http://www.rodeohouston.com/News/Article/ArtMID/494/ArticleID/2031/Houston-Livestock-Show-and-Rodeo%E2%84%A2-celebrates-record-breaking-attendance-of-more-than-26-million-fans-at-the-2017-show

For information on the calf scramble and to see our photos: http://www.rodeohouston.com/Visit-the-Show/Livestock-Horse-Show/Calf-Scramble/edgpid/4139/edgmid/4342

 

My To Do List

It’s time that I put ‘me’ and ‘enjoy the journey’ higher on my to do list.  My guess is that this is true for many of you!  Do you feel guilty when you want time for yourself?  Do you feel like you will never get through your to do list?  When is the last time you – Relaxed? Took a nap? Called an old friend? Let the chores go undone and just had fun with family and friends? Smelled the Roses?  This blog was inspired by the song “My List” performed by Toby Keith, lyrics are in italics.

“It is time that I make time for that.”  I am a type A, get ‘er done personality.  My son teases me that I make lists to make lists.  I am one of the most productive, efficient and organized people I know.  I love to volunteer and willingly do things for others.  I am a ‘give it my all or nothing’ kind of person.  For most of my adult life,  I have gone through the hurried motions in life’s journey as if it were a race. Looking back, I wish I would have allowed myself to simply enjoy the journey more often.

I need to make it a priority for the things that make me happy such as building relationships,  travel, photography, and to check things off my bucket list.   I will still do more in a day than most.  The difference is now I want to embrace and enjoy this journey with the same importance.  Life is short, let’s make the best of it while we can.

Last Saturday, I had a first date for lunch and a trip to the zoo.  It was great!  I got to know him better, took photos, and enjoyed God’s creations. We loved the different colors, smells, build, and behaviors of the animals.  He held an umbrella over my head so that my camera and I would stay dry.  I am glad I didn’t have a plan or a list, I simply allowed myself to enjoy this journey.

“Look up a long-lost friend of mine.”  With very little effort, old friends become current friends again.  It is time well spent.

I am still a list person and always will be.  I found a great free app called Wunderlist. You can set up as many lists as you want, all of the data is in one place.  I have lists for groceries, home projects, work, weekend chores, blog topic ideas and a bucket list.  I just added a new one – My Journey list.

“Just start livin’, that is the next thing on my list.”   What should be on your list that isn’t?  What is on your list that should be removed or can wait?  Do you allow yourself to simply enjoy this wonderful journey called life?  How?

…… And life goes on.

Courtesy: “My List” was written by Tim James and Rand Bishop, Performed by Toby Keith.

One Call Away

Yesterday has passed and tomorrow is a gift not a promise.  This edition was inspired by Charlie Puth’s song “One Call Away” lyrics – “I’m only one call away, I’ll be there to save the day, Superman’s got nothing on me, I’m only one call away. No matter where you go, you know you’re not alone”.   The simple act of making a phone call can make a big impact to strengthen a friendship or a professional relationship.

In today’s world of electronic communication, often people will send a text or an email.  This works well for many types of communication.  However, the act of a the personal connection from a phone call will make a longer-lasting impression and have a greater impact.

One day last September I was in the darkest place I had ever been in my life.  I was angry, sad, heartbroken, afraid and lonely.  I truly felt the crushing impact of disappointment, distress and despair. Then my dear friend Kathy called.  Just two simple words “Hey Girlfriend” made a world of difference!  Just hearing the sound of her voice, her laughter, and the memory of her beautiful smile brought me out of the darkness and into the light.  I never told her the depth of what I was feeling moments before she called. We talked about many other things in life – our families, my work, former colleagues, holidays and sports. We shared stories about her late Mother, Theresa, whom I adored.  This put a huge smile on my face and warmed my heart.  We only briefly discussed the man who caused most of my pain.

I truly believe that the good Lord and Theresa sent my angel Kathy to pull me out of my very dark place.  A text or an email would not have done it, only the personal connection of a phone call would do.

After the call, I promised to make it a priority to call at least one person and to mail one note card each month.  Just to say hello and thank them for being a part of my life. We are all crazy busy and let other things get in the way of our relationships with friends and colleagues. There is no apology needed, only a commitment to do better in the future.  I challenge you to make the same commitment.   I believe that we will be richly rewarded for our efforts.

I urge you to take the extra effort and time to pick up the phone and call the person who has been on your mind. You may their angel, their gift, their rock.   Please do not worry that you are catching them at a bad time; if so, they will tell you. I urge you to buy some note cards and quickly write a note. Twenty years ago, we received far more snail mail than email. These days receiving real mail is such a treat!

I believe the greatest gift we can give someone is our undivided attention. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is the reward from nurturing our relationships.  Take action now, tomorrow is a gift not a promise.

Is there someone in your life who you should be calling now?  Have you had a similar experience when a simple phone call lifted you up?

…..   And life goes on.

 

Link to Charlie Puth’s video for the song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxuY9FET9Y4

 

 

 

Honoring A Television Icon

This edition is to honor a true television icon, Mary Tyler Moore, as a gifted actress, an industry pioneer and an activist.   She truly could turn the world on with her smile!  As I did the research for this blog, I found dozens of photos of Mary’s beautiful smile.  It was as if her smile did not fade or age.  Mary was born on December 29, 1936 in Brooklyn, NY.  She died on January 25, 2017, at 80 years young.

“The Dick Van Dyke Show” Courtesy CBS, Getty Images

From 1961-1966, Mary played the character of Laura, the stylish wife of Rob Petrie in the comedy “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” She won two Emmy Awards for this series.  She played a funny version of the traditional American TV housewife.

From 1970-1977, Mary’s production company MTM Enterprises produced “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Her TV character, Mary Richards, was the first women as the lead character in a TV series.  She played the first leading lady who was single and focused on a having a successful career.  Mary won three Emmy Awards in this role.  During season 5 in episode 11, Mary became one of the first women to direct a TV show.

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, Courtesy CBS, Getty Images

This series was one of the first to openly discuss feminine issues such as: women working in male dominated industries, equal pay for women, a woman’s sexuality, using birth control pills and even the walk of shame. Mary showed us that it was OK for a woman to want take the path of a successful career and to delay having a family.

Statue in Minneapolis, Courtesy AAP

I will never forget the image of the final scene of show’s opening – where she is throwing the blue hat into the air as if she is celebrating that she has made it.  In 2002, a statue of her throwing the hat was unveiled in downtown Minneapolis.

The women’s liberation movement was in full swing when I was a teenager. Mary was an iconic symbol of this movement.  I loved watching these women and wondering what my life would become because of their efforts.

My musical theme song was “I am Woman” by Helen Reddy mostly for the “You can bend but never break me, ’cause it only serves to make me, more determined to achieve my final goal, and I come back even stronger” verse.   My television theme song was “Love Is All Around You” by Sonny Curtis well-known as the open for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”  My favorite verse is “Love is all around, no need to waste it, you can have the town, why don’t you take it, you’re gonna make it after all.” My favorite line from the show was when Producer Lou Grant said “you have spunk, I hate spunk.”  I can still see her eyes sparkle and her big beautiful smile.   I love spunk!!!

When I entered the wonderful world of sports television at 19, I wanted to be just like the TV character Mary Richards.  Who am I kidding, I still want to be her!   I wanted to be a successful producer technician and producer.  I am so thankful to have a 30+ year career in sports production and programming.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to help pave the way for other women to succeed in an industry that I truly love.

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” Courtesy of CBS, Getty Images

Mary was smart, talented, successful, down-to-earth and independent.  She was doing very well in a man’s world. She had a unique way of embracing the differences of how women and men work.  She was a true pioneer and an icon!   I  will continue to honor Mary Tyler Moore and Mary Richards in my actions as a business woman and a mentor.   Thank you for the memories, and thank you being such an inspiration to millions!

Please sing it with me – “Who can turn the world on with her smile? Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? Well it’s you girl, and you should know it, With each glance and every little movement you show it.  … You’re gonna make it after all. You’re gonna make it after all.”   

How did Mary Tyler Moore inspire you?   How do you inspire others?

…… And life goes on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Present In This Moment

This blog is for anyone who is over stressed, over worked, over scheduled, and overwhelmed.  This post may be helpful for anyone trying to be everything to everyone and feeling like they are not doing any of it very well.   I have felt this way many times!!!

Not the Real Me

When Johnathan was in pre-K, I decided that we needed counseling.  As a young single Mother, I needed some help on how to deal with a highly energetic, strong-willed and sometimes angry child. During one of the sessions, the therapist asked me about my typical week.  As I gave the details of working full-time in a very male dominated industry, starting a college degree, helping with Johnathan’s athletics, taking care of my house, and trying to be a good friend and family member.  I broke down in tears.   I was stressed out and overwhelmed.   The more I tried to do, the more I felt like a failure.

My parents told me that I could be anything and everything as long as I worked hard at it.  What they failed to tell me was that it could be exhausting and overwhelming!   I thought I could be Wonder Woman, Super Woman, Betty Crocker and Tim Allen all wrapped in one.  In doing so, I felt guilty all the time.   I felt guilty about work when I was at home. I felt guilty at home when I was at work. I tried to be the best at everything but I felt like I was failing at everything. In reality, I wasn’t.

The therapist said that she thought I was one of the most amazing, talented, and strong women she had ever known.  She said that she wished that I could see myself through her eyes, I only needed to learn one important lesson.  Drum roll please, this is the best advice I have ever received… Be present in the moment you are in.  Be present – give whatever you are doing your complete attention.

It works!  When I learned to focus more on the task at hand, rather than doing it halfway and thinking about a thousand other things at the same time, I felt better.  Sure, I am the Queen of multitasking and scheduling but it only goes so far.   Devote time to each of your tasks, allow time for interruptions, and focus. Then move onto to your next task or role.   In doing so, you will feel like you have accomplished more with less and have greater sense of satisfaction!

Kaden

When I got home from work, I asked Johnathan (and then later his daughter Meghan) to give me 5 minutes to change my clothes, then I would be there for them. I would give him/her my undivided attention for 15-30 minutes.  Then I would get him/her started on a project in the same room I was in – either homework, drawing, or better yet, helping with the household chores.   Children can help do many chores – load the washer or dryer, sweep the floor, fold towels, water plants, set the table, help cook, etc…. Yes, they won’t do it exactly as good as we can do it, but it will be good enough.  They will love being a “big kid”.  I learned the hard way, if I didn’t give him/her positive attention when I got home, they would act out  in order to get my attention, and no good would come of it.  In reality, the same can be said for children, teenagers and adults – often negative attention is better than no attention.

To make it even more challenging in today’s world,  now we have to compete with the electronic leash (cell phone, tablet, laptop and the like).  These are an added form of time consuming distractions!

I believe that the greatest gift I can give someone or something is my undivided attention.  I believe the greatest gift I can give myself is to simply be present in the moment I am in.  I can be anything I set my mind to, just not all at once, and that is good enough.

What is the best advice you ever received?   How do you deal with the stress of being overloaded?

….. And life goes on. 

A New Year Filled With Opportunities

I am happy to see 2016 come to an end!  I feel like I was on a emotional roller coaster with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  In 2017, I look forward to a year of endless blessings and new opportunities.  I look forward to a prosperous and joyous year.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a resolution as (1) something that is resolved, and (2) the firmness of resolve.  Resolve is to deal with successfully. Opportunity is defined as  (1) a good chance for advancement or progress; and (2) a favorable juncture of circumstances.

I, like most people, have made many New Year’s resolutions and have kept very few of them.  The most popular resolutions are:  lose weight, get fit, quit smoking, get out of debt, save money, find love, and to have a better work/life balance.

This year, I want to take a different approach.  I will focus on creating  opportunities to use my passions and my people (family, current friends, and the new friends I haven’t met yet) to achieve my goals.  I believe that by doing this, I will have a greater chance of success without the pressure of keeping a resolution.

Goal #1: Get fit.   I will schedule walks, hikes, bike rides and gym workouts with my people.  I love to cook and will schedule opportunities to do so.  I will eat healthier by consuming smaller portions.  My focus will be to enjoy the act of making healthier choices; rather than feeling like I made unwanted sacrifices.

Goal #2:  Reduce the feeling of loneliness.  This statement is not easy to admit publicly but it is the truth.  Mostly due to career and location changes in the past 3 years, I often feel lonely.  I will spend my time doing the things I enjoy and new relationships will be formed naturally.  I volunteer for my HOA, Rodeo Houston, Habitat for Humanity, and Northwest Assistance Ministries.  I will go dancing, bowling, fishing, boating, as well as attend sporting events and concerts.  I will take a few classes in cooking, ballroom dance and photography.  I will take several long weekend trips to explore, take photos and to relax.  I am very interested in Small Town USA, festivals, and lighthouses.  I will seek out interesting story ideas for travel blogs.  Let me know if you’d like to join me for any of these journeys.

Goal #3: Enjoy a more challenging and meaningful career.  I will seek out activities that best utilize my talents and skills.  I will find opportunities to be creative and to mentor again.  I shall promote my skills as a TV programmer and executive producer, small business marketing, as well as overall business knowledge and MBA.  I will improve and promote my writing and photography skills.  I will follow my dream of being a professor teaching the business of sports television.

Whether you choose to call your New Year’s resolutions – resolutions, ambitions, goals or opportunities – I encourage you to “just do it”!  Write it down, make a plan of action and invite others to share in your journey.  Have fun with it!

What are your resolutions and opportunities?   How will you accomplish them?

I wish you a Happy New Year filled with endless blessings and opportunities.  May you have a safe, healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

…… And life goes on. 

Open Your Home and Your Heart on Christmas

This edition is to encourage everyone to open your home and your heart this Christmas to someone who needs a place to share in the joy of the season. Someone recently said to me “Christmas is about family.”  I respectfully say yes it is about family but also much more!!

Here is the story of how The Gray family did this for me and my 4-year old son. It was the second Christmas after my divorce.  Johnathan was supposed to be with his Dad this year. On Christmas Eve morning, I received a call that his Dad would not be coming for our son.  What?!  I was not prepared for this.  I learned to always have a backup plan.

Bob and Ann Gray

I called my best friend Melinda in a panic, what was I going to do?  She called me right back to say that her parents would love to have us join them.  I packed up Johnathan and drove across town to the home of Bob and Ann Gray.  All of their children were in their 20’s so they were not ready for children or Santa. To my surprise, everyone in the house was preparing for our arrival.

This happened 27 year ago, so I may have some of the people in the wrong place but the activities are still very clear in my mind as well as the feeling of love in my heart.  Ann and Melinda’s Grandmother were in the kitchen baking cookies, treats and delicious meals.  Bob had pulled out several holiday books including “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. The family watched Johnathan so that I could rush to the store for gifts.

When I returned , Johnathan was helping to fill paper bags with votive candles along the front walk and street. He had already eaten several of Ann’s yummy treats.  He was very animated telling me what they had been doing  to prepare for Santa’s arrival.

I wish I had a photo of these next two memories but I don’t. Bob was wearing his reading glasses with Johnathan on his lap lovingly reading holiday stories.  He had a great voice and was very animated as he read.  My son was engrossed in his every word.  Later that night, Ann helped with the plate of goodies for Santa and his reindeer.

Melinda helped me to beautifully wrap a large art easel in gold paper with a huge red bow.  It would be the largest gift under the tree!  Everyone helped with the stockings.

The look on Johnathan’s face was priceless when he walked into the living room and saw that the large red-bowed package was for him!  Santa really came!!!!  He was literally pushing their grandmother into the living room so that the gifts could be opened. Johnathan was so proud to hand out the gifts. We were so full of joy and happiness.

That night as I feel asleep, I shed a few tears of gratitude and appreciation.  Without hesitation, the Gray family had welcomed a struggling single Mom and her son into their home and into their hearts to make this a very special day. Bob and Ann are now in heaven with the Lord.  I hope they knew what an impact they made on us and that I have never forgotten their generosity and kindness. To Melinda, Scott, David and Mike – thank you for sharing your family with us!  These are fond memories that I will always cherish. 

Since that year,  I have often invited people who don’t have family nearby into my home and my heart to celebrate Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This is one small way that I can pay forward the generosity bestowed on us by the Gray family.  So, I respectfully say to this person, Christmas is about family but it is also about welcoming friends, who would otherwise be alone, to share the joy of the season. On this special day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,  I am sure this is what God would want from us.

I’d love to hear your stories about opening your homes and hearts for the holidays or when you were blessed with this gift of love.  I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

….. And life goes on. 

 

 

How I Survived Fraud

This will be the most painful and difficult post I will ever write.  I pray this post will have a positive impact on my life and on the lives of many others. Regardless of the type of fraud or the monetary value lost, fraud hurts emotionally and financially.  Fraud does not discriminate.  It affects all ages, genders, races, nationalities, social and economic backgrounds. Whether it was $10, $100, $1,000, $10,000 or $100,000 – it is absolutely devastating.  The worst part is that in most cases it is not a criminal offense and not punishable by law.  It is a civil matter.

Merriam-Webster defines fraud as – 1a : deceit, trickery; specifically :  intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right, b :  an act of deceiving or misrepresenting :  trickery  2a :  a person who is not what he or she pretends to be :  impostor; also :  one who defrauds :  cheat, b :  one that is not what it seems or is represented to be.

I read somewhere that by the year 2020 an estimated 1 in 8 families will be impacted by some type of fraud.  There is a lot of information available on how to detect and protect yourself from fraud.  This blog is about how to deal with it scammer-snakeafter you have been victimized.  I am by no means an expert on the subject.  I am a simply a woman who took a risk on love and trusted the wrong man.

When I found out that I had been the victim of internet romance fraud, I was absolutely crushed.  I have never felt so stupid, foolish, heartbroken and angry.  I am a well-educated, smart, successful woman.  How could I have been so stupid?  The answer is simple – an evil unscrupulous man who is a professional scammer spun a web to catch me, as he has done to dozens or hundreds of other women.  I am not stupid.  I am a victim of fraud from a professional crime ring.

Unfortunately, fraud negatively impacts a broader group than just the victims. None of us would have entered into these relationships if we knew it would hurt the people we love.   I didn’t say anything because I thought he would keep his promises and things would work out fine.  After I was in it, I felt trapped.  To my family, I am sorry I made such a poor choice with money.  To my family and friends, I apologize for lying to you. I ask for your forgiveness.  I thank you for your love and support during this nightmare.

To the friends and family of victims –  there is nothing that you could have done to stop this from happening.  If you respectfully expressed your concerns and loved them anyway, you did all you could.   Please do not think that if you threaten or bombard them with scammer information that it will change anything other than damage your relationship.  The victim will take the next step when they are ready and not a minute before.  Please do not ask how much money they lost because it’s not your business and it really doesn’t matter.  The financial harm is only a part of the damage.  When we are ready to talk, we will.  Healing takes time, everyone processes and grieves in their own way.  Please do not feel sorry for us or pity us.  Please do not be angry with us, there is nothing you can say that we haven’t already said to ourselves.  Please do not think less of us, we are the same person we were before this mess started except we are now heartbroken and lighter in the wallet.  The next time we meet, simply give us a nod and a friendly smile.  We will feel your concern and compassion.

shutterstock_303682856At least a dozen times, I searched for Gerrard’s name on the internet. There was no sign of him but also no sign of a scammer.  After 7 months, hundreds of hours invested in him and thousands of dollars later, I had to know the truth.  I hired an international search firm to run a background check on the information I was given. Five days later, my fears came true.  Everything Gerrard had given me as proof was fake.  I had been the victim of advance fee romance fraud.  Gerrard Hann Ulrich and his many emails were on the crime blacklist.  He also goes by Gerrard Car and Steven Pieters.

I was angry and posted on the websites Cheaterreport.com and Liarscheatersrus.com.  Once something is posted on these sites, you cannot remove it without hiring a company to scrub it.  After further thought, I was afraid of making him so mad that he would “spoof” as he called it and I would never get my money back.  I paid to have my comments scrubbed.   I spent the next few weeks “playing him” while doing everything I could to report him to the bank, police, government agencies, and dating sites.  Then the company I hired to scrub my scammer post asked me if I had posted again.  It was not me. The very courageous child of a woman who had taken her own life after being victimized by Gerrard had posted to one of these sites. As my heart broke for this family, I knew without a doubt this man is a liar, a thief and a scammer.

On the days when I am angry and doing something to try to warn others I feel much stronger.  There are moments when I am incredibly sad and feel defeated (like today I have cried several times).  It is OK to miss the man I thought he was, as long as I always come back to the truth – that man does not exist.  He only wanted me for my money and nothing more.  This unfortunate fact is the most painful part of this mess.  I often try to find humor in a difficult situation.  While bowling, I scored a 9 when I thought it should have been a strike.  Instead of saying “I was robbed”, I laughed and said “I was Gerrarded”.  It is OK to laugh.

I have asked God many times why did you allow this man in my life? Why did you allow him to steal from me and break my heart?  The same answer always comes to me – because I have the strength to admit I made a huge mistake, the courage to speak out, and the knowledge to go public with the information.  As embarrassed and ashamed as I am to tell my story,  I know that by helping others it will also help me to heal.

Gerrard messed with the wrong woman.   I have spent the past 2 months doing what I can to get the word out.  More than 1,000 women have viewed warning profiles created on several dating websites.  Eight other women have come forward after reading our posts on cheater and scammer sites.  Thank you to these courageous women!   We don’t know how many others have read the information but did not comment.  We hope you will help others by publicly sharing this post.  The next fraud victim could be one of your loved ones.  Please share, this is important!!!!

43136-i-am-a-survior-1To all victims of fraud (both women and men), please find our courage and strength to speak out loudly.  These scammers bank on the fact that we will be too embarrassed to tell anyone.  Often, they threaten to blackmail us by sending inappropriate photos to our family or work.  They may threaten to hurt us or our family.  It is more likely that this is just as a way to control us and to keep us quiet. Eventually every criminal makes a mistake and with enough evidence the authorities will find the clues needed to catch them.  The scammers win if we keep quiet.  Please be the voice they are afraid of.  Post their name (albeit probably fake), email address and most importantly photos and behaviors on all scamming sites and dating sites.  File report on federal Internet Crime Complaint Center.  Send name, address, bank account details to the bank where you transferred the money.  Send the details to the U.S. Consulate in the country you sent money to, to the [nationality] consulate in the U.S., the FBI, their local police, your local police, and their version of the IRS.  Make sure that someone you trust knows you are doing this.  Tell your family and friends, allow them to be your support.  This process is difficult and painful but it is necessary.

Then instead of dwelling on our mistakes in shameful silence, please make steps towards recovery. Seek professional help if needed.  Let’s focus on fixing the things that are broken within us that made us targets in the first place.   Above all, remember we are not to blame. These are professionals who targeted us.

If you believe in the power of prayer, please join me ….  “Lord, please bring healing and peace to all victims of fraud and our families, give us the courage to speak out, the power to forgive ourselves and those who trespassed against us, allow us to love and trust again.  Please bless us with financial favor to replace what was stolen from us.  Please punish these people who intentionally set out to harm us.  Please make a miracle out of our mess.  Thank you for your blessings.  In your name we pray, Amen.”

My fear is that some of you will think less of me, talk bad about me behind my back or to my face.  I fear that I may be denied job opportunities because I have come forward.  These are risks I am willing to take.  If my words have helped even one victim to feel better, one person to know how to deal with a loved one who has been or will be victimized, or stopped one person from making the same mistake I did, this was well worth it.

EVIL is LIVE spelled backwards. The way we beat the evil done to us is to live our life to the fullest!  As tears stream down my face,  I thankfully close this painful chapter in my life and look forward to writing the next one.

…… And life goes on.

Here is a link to information on my scammer:

https://liarscheatersrus.com/gerrard-hann-ulrich-gerrard.html

Here is the link to file an internet crime complaint:

https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

Here is a link to blogger from FTC, consumers can post on romance scammers:

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/faking-it-scammers-tricks-steal-your-heart-and-money?

 

 

Thanksgiving – The Centerpiece is the Meal

In this edition, I encourage you to express your appreciation to your cooks and hosts for your Thanksgiving gathering.   It takes far more money, time, and effort to pull this off than most people think.   Yes, the meal itself has become the primary centerpiece of the gathering but the real focus is the gift of making  memories. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate your relationships with family and friends, and to express appreciation for blessings bestowed during the year.  For many families, it is also a platform to carry on traditions and to make new ones.

Merriam-Webster definition of thanksgiving is:  (1) the act of giving thanks, (2) a prayer expressing gratitude, (3) a public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness.    So, this year as you are going around the table expressing what you are grateful for, please add a special thank you to the cooks and hosts.

When I was a sophomore in High School, my parents went to Florida on a business trip over Thanksgiving.  I did not want me or my siblings to do without the traditional meal, so I volunteered to cook.  Using a Betty Crocker cookbook and several phone calls to my Grammie Lou, I began on the task of cooking.  I quickly learned that the most difficult part was the final thirty minutes.  I did not have enough hands to stir all of the pots!  The act of coordinating all of the dishes to be ready at the same time required skill, timing and patience (of which I had little at this age).  Just moments prior to the appointed time for dinner, Archer (our caregiver for the weekend), brother Bill and sister Dana arrived.  They ate the dinner I had spent most of the day preparing within 15 minutes!  Then I did most of the cleaning in the kitchen.  I felt overworked and unappreciated!!!  Sure they said thank you but it didn’t seem to be enough.  To give them credit, we were just teenagers at the time, they meant well.  As I explained the day’s events to my Mother when she returned with great animation and disappointment; she simply smiled and said something like “get used to it” and reminded me that until that year I had done much of the same. Yikes! I am sorry.

restaurants-open-thanksgiving-dinnerOur traditional holiday meal consists of turkey, ham (sometimes), mashed potatoes, gravy (my Aunt makes the best!), dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, rolls, deviled eggs, and black olives (which we place on our fingers like puppets much to my Father’s displeasure). Dessert is usually pie – pumpkin, pecan, apple or chocolate.   Full disclosure – I am more focused on how the food tastes and less about the presentation.  I have never put this garnish around my turkey as shown in this photo, I serve it already sliced. Although I can see my Grandmother’s eyes roll when I do this,  I may serve meal on  paper plates if it is a large group.

stuff-dres-mapThere has always been a great debate it is  referred to as stuffing (generally used when it is cooked inside the bird) or dressing (generally used when cooked outside the bird)?   I found this map from Butterball showing the regional preferences for the correct term.  The truth is that on most tables there will be both stuffing and dressing based on amount needed for the number of guests.   Often, two different versions are served. In the past few years, I have added raisins and apples to my dressing.  Sometimes I make a smaller amount with sausage and lots of sage.  In my unofficial poll, this item is one of the most popular dishes on the table.

In closing, I want to say a special thank you to my Grandmothers in Heaven, my Mother and my Aunt for teaching me how to cook.   I look forward to passing down the art of mastering the Thanksgiving dinner to future generations.

What is your favorite food?   Do you serve dressing or stuffing?  What are your family traditions?  What time do you normally eat?   What are you most thankful for this year?

bless-the-foodMy favorite foods are dressing and green bean casserole.  I am most thankful for faith, family, friends, good health and new opportunities.  I am thankful for a great season for my beloved Dallas Cowboys!   I love having a Cowboys game on Thanksgiving!!!  When I host, the meal is finished by 3:15pm CT in time to watch the game!  Go Cowboys!

I wish you and your family a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.

….. And life goes on.

We Wore Our Pearls To The White House

washington-collageOn the eve of 2016 Presidential Election, this blog is about our visit to the White House.  On June 12, 2015, my granddaughter Meghan and I traveled to Washington, D.C. for her birthday.   We were blessed with the opportunity to tour the White House and our nation’s Capitol.  Our tour was arranged by the office of our local Congressman, House of Representatives, Kevin Brady.

first-lady-pearlsWe decided to wear pearls to honor Jackie Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Barbara and Laura Bush, and the other wonderful First Ladies.  I was disappointed to see many other families wearing shorts and flip-flops.  Yes, I understand it was a  hot day but come on people, this is quite an honor to be allowed in “The People’s House”!  As we continued to pass others in the line, we saw a family of five very dressed up.  The little girl was in a very pretty pink dress with white gloves, the little boys had on navy suits with bow ties.  As my eyes met those of the parents, we both smiled very broadly and nodded as a show of respect and appreciation.  What an exciting day!!!   Yet another wonderful memory made!

Meghan, 11, wanted to move quickly through the rooms.  I wanted to go slow and soak in the memory of seeing each artifact.  My favorite room was the Blue Room.  I loved looking at the photos!   Here is some White House Trivia:

  • There are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels in the Residence. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators.
  • At various times in history, the White House has been known as the “President’s Palace,” the “President’s House,” and the “Executive Mansion.” President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901.
  • Presidential Firsts while in office… President James Polk (1845-49) was the first President to have his photograph taken… President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) was not only the first President to ride in an automobile, but also the first President to travel outside the country when he visited Panama… President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-45) was the first President to ride in an airplane.
  • The White House kitchen is able to serve dinner to as many as 140 guests and hors d’oeuvres to more than 1,000.
  • The White House requires 570 gallons of paint to cover its outside surface

Then, we headed to tour the Capitol.  We needed to pick up a pass for the Senate tour, and were allowed to walk in the tunnel from the Capitol to the House building.  So cool!  We were thrilled that when we arrived at his office, Mr. Brady invited us in for a short visit.  He has a great photo of the state of Texas and lots of baseball memorabilia.  I was so proud to watch the two of them discuss their love of baseball, Texas and USA.  Sadly so, the Senate session had ended prior to our arrival in the Chamber but we were able to enter the room (much smaller than I had envisioned).  I loved looking at the statues in the Capitol.  What a great experience !!  I am so thankful for a chance to see history.  Just call your local representative, they will make the reservation and put you on the waiting list.  Make sure you visit the many memorials in the city.  Take the tram.

I pray that all winners in our election will lead with integrity, honesty, and compassion. Please give them the wisdom, strength and courage to put the needs of the American people first.  I will be forever grateful that we have the right to vote to elect our government leaders into office.  I am proud to be an American citizen and to live in this great nation.    …. And life goes on.    

Below are photos of:  President Barack Obama stands with former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter at the dedication of the George W. Bush presidential library in Dallas,  April 25, 2013.   (Courtesy:  AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)   And their wives.

President Barack Obama stands with former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter at the dedication of the George W. Bush presidential library on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Thursday, April 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)   first-lady