life

I survived! 12 things I learned about myself this semester!

You guys!! I took the last of my finals for the semester today! I can’t believe it’s already May! When I clicked submit and the grade came back on my anthropology final, I exhaled. In celebration, I thrust two fists triumphantly overhead as I crossed the finish line!

I remember pulling the door open to my Intro to Social Media class that first Monday night. I had been looking forward to taking the class for months, but when I walked in, all I could think was, “Holy sh**! What am I doing here!?” Looking around the room, I suddenly realized I probably wasn’t the only one thinking that. In fact, there’s a good chance some of my younger classmates might have even wondered what they were doing in a class with a bunch of “old” people.

Fifteen Mondays later, here’s what I’ve learned about myself…

1) I waited and waited to take the leap, and go back to school, because of fear. It turns out that ALL those fears were unfounded. Yup. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

2) I’m even stronger than I thought! My combination of classes meant that I had A LOT of homework each week. One class in particular really tested my resolve. By the end of the first month, I was so frustrated, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through. No joke, it felt like I was learning a foreign language and it wasn’t even a language class! My instructor was a fantastic resource and I finished that class with an A!

3) My family and friends are even more patient and wonderful and supportive than I realized! They cheered me up, cheered me on, and they even let me whine when I really needed to. I appreciate all of them so much!

carrotcake4) Education is more valuable now that I am an adult. I have always loved learning, but as a young adult I never considered its value. School is so much more rewarding the second time around!

5) Anthropology is not as riveting as I thought. I used to say that if I could get a degree in anything I wanted, just because, it might be in anthropology, art history, or geology. Truth? I love fossils. If anthropology was just the study of fossils, I’d be all over it. It’s not, so today I crossed anthropology off that list.

6) Carrot cake is my favorite homework treat. Period.

7) I need to invest a little bit of time and energy in myself and my environment every day. The more time and energy I spend acquiring pertinent knowledge, the more control I will have over my #lifelist.

8) Not everyone is happy for you. I know, right!? WTH? That realization was really hard to swallow at first. For every congratulations I received when I told someone I was going back to school, I was faced with, “Wow! Why would you want to do that to yourself?” Here’s how I handled those inquiries. I would say: “Well, it was time to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself.” Of course, I would be thinking something snarky like: “Well, I’d explain it to you, but I’m all out of puppets and crayons.”

9) Procrastination has no place at this table! I have said before that I can be a bit of a procrastinator by nature. Uhh, that’s a no-go. I have begun to learn how to better manage my time. Better time management lowers stress levels too, who knew! OK, probably everyone but me.

threecquote10) I have talents that I didn’t know about!

11) Stepping out of my comfort zone was the best thing I have done for myself! I challenged myself this semester. You can’t hope to change yourself  if you aren’t willing to move outside of your comfort zone!

12) I really love to write!

I started this blog as an assigned project for my social media class. I had considered blogging before, but was too overwhelmed to try. Where do I begin? What would I blog about? What if no one reads it?

In the last few months, I realized that I can do this and I plan to continue writing my blog!  I’ve made new friends through blogging and writing has given me an outlet. An outlet that I didn’t know I needed in my life. So thank you Professor Laird, for assigning this project, and thank YOU for following along!

-Kim

life

A Costco bag of tortilla chips: My life in a nutshell…

The gigantic $3 bag of Costco tortilla chips has been sitting on the floor, in the corner of our kitchen for three weeks. If you have a Costco card, you know which bag I’m talking about. THREE WEEKS! Why you ask? Why, indeed? For starters, it doesn’t have a home and nobody is interested in eating them. In spite of my protests, my other half insisted the chips were a necessity during one of our weekend dates to Costco. That said, I have walked right past that damn $3 bag of chips, dozens of times, pretending not to notice it. Hmmmm…What chips?

tortillachips
Chips? What chips?

I adore my husband and I’m not kidding when I say this is exactly why he isn’t “allowed” (his rule) to have a cart, when headed out on a trip to Costco, alone! It had to be this way. We just don’t have the room for 48 different types of frozen snacks. The box of individual servings of hash browns that just (Ew!) need you to add water. The case of fizzy water he wants to try. A 12 pound package of hamburger. The vat of Que Bueno nacho cheese, and (unless you operate a snack bar) who needs a 26 pound bucket of red vines anyway!? I’m exaggerating of course, but not much.

I digress…

We all harbor something. When I was young, we lived in an older neighborhood of mostly turn of the century homes. Our house was always in process, construction cluttered, and unfinished – not unlike the famed Winchester Mystery House, only without the rogue spirits, hidden passage ways, and other oddities; and our car (a 1970 Pontiac Tempest) was always breaking down.

In this season, many parts of my life feel cluttered. Unfinished. Out of order. Under construction. Clutter gives me a certain level of anxiety. In fact, while we are on the subject, unfinished home renovations and unreliable cars are right up there too. Call them “leftovers” from my childhood.

I am a creative brain, so I can be a bit of a procrastinator by nature. It’s not always a trait that I appreciate, but it’s part of who I am. In spite of all the growth I have experienced in the past year, I have not stopped to do a full review of my “life list”. Maybe I didn’t want to until now. There it is, procrastination.

The truth is, the more you have to manage, the more clutter you end up having, and you can unwittingly carry it from place to place. I suppose you have to put it all somewhere, right?  So while I am very aware that the clutter makes me anxious, it’s all I can see! End of semester paper piles. Stacks of clothes that don’t fit in the dresser. Kid piles. Piles in the laundry room. Piles on the nightstand (mine and his). Bags of tortilla chips on the kitchen floor. There are four pairs of shoes scattered around the family room right now, and none of them belong to me! What is happening here?

All those physical piles eventually become mental weight. Do you ever feel like that? Weighed down by mental clutter? What do you do to start cleaning it up? Lately, I simply shuffle all the clutter from one task to another and one thought to another.

Procrastination is a fine line and I’m teetering on the edge! One more pile might push me over, and there I would be, lamely dangling by one foot, like a cartoon character in a booby trap, nose to nose with everything on my life list that I’m trying to ignore.

This is the culmination of too many half completed to-do lists. Lists that I just can’t seem to sweep into one tidy pile. Why is that? I know many people feel this way in different phases of their life. We started a home renovation, several years ago, that we can’t seem to finish. The garage needs to be cleaned out (heaven forbid we throw away that one sliver of sheetrock, or scrap of plywood we MIGHT need). I have cabinets and closets that need to be emptied, projects that need to be completed, and life decisions that need to be made. Our cars have finally aged to the point where it’s probably time to give them up, but I can’t seem to wrap my brain around the idea of car payments (and I’m pretty sure my other half doesn’t want to), so we keep dumping money into them. It’s all mental clutter.

Holding onto clutter is often a manifestation of other unfinished business. It’s never really about the piles, it’s about why all that “stuff” is there in the first place. So I will begin by asking; what is keeping me from doing or deciding? I need some answers people!

I am a glass half-full kind of girl, who has the procrastination gene, so I already know there’s really only one solution. DIVE IN! The first order of business? I’m going to throw away those damned chips! Then I’m headed into the garage to yell “PLOT TWIST” at the top of my lungs, sweep all those to-do lists into one giant (forget tidy!) pile, and wait for the dumpster to be dropped off, so I can move forward!

Do you have your own #lifelist that needs so be pared down too? Just do it! I’ll be here to cheer you on!

-Kim

 

life

Our first Hollywood premiere!

I’m going to stray a little bit today from my normal writings because, well, yesterday was just too much fun to not write about it!

Last night my husband and I were lucky enough to attend the American Wrestler: The Wizard premiere in L.A.! Yes, a movie premiere; red carpet, celebrities, cameras flashing, the whole nine yards! American Wrestler: The Wizard is set in a small town in 1980. It’s a story about struggle and perseverance, and being able to put aside differences to find common ground. It will be in select theaters May 3rd, and you can check for local listings at Fathom Events. #AmericanWrestlerMovie

One of the actors and producers, Ali Afshar, is a long time friend of ours (we’re talking 25+ years here) and most of the movie is shot locally in Petaluma and Tomales, California. Ali has invited us to several of his L.A. premieres, but either our kids were busy, or my other half was travelling for work, so we hadn’t been able to attend. Until now.

americanwrestlermovie A few weeks ago, my husband decided we were going. “We never get out and do stuff like this. Let’s just go” he announced. I was all in (I’m always all in for date night with my guy), so I booked a flight to LA and a hotel just a block from the theater.

Then it dawned on me that I had no idea what you might wear to something like this…Uh oh! I scoured Pinterest for ideas. The only thing I knew for certain was that I would need something a bit more sleek than my traditional jeans, a t-shirt, and converse. For those who don’t know me personally, I’m a pretty simple gal and I am NOT a shopper! Not even the teeniest tiniest little bit. It takes every ounce of my being to force myself through the store doors. So I talked my sister (who always looks really put together) into a “quick” shopping trip. She was a really good sport while I tried on EVERY. SINGLE. THING. in Nordstrom and Macys. Far, FAR too many hours later, I thought I had an outfit mostly figured out. Why do the department stores never have exactly what I need, when I need it? I know I can’t be the only one that has this problem? Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with my tendency to ALWAYS shop at the last-minute?

Moving on…

awpremiere
A quick photo op (thanks Jim Pera!) to end the night. In all the excitement, we forgot to take pictures! We should have used my phone instead of my husband’s!

When we arrived at the theater Wednesday night, the event was in full swing. Actors and guests strolling the red carpet while posing for photos, camera flashes in every direction. The people watching was a blast! Before the movie started, Ali (who is truly humble and genuine) stepped up on stage and told us a little about the filming of the movie and then thanked everyone who was involved in the process (my husband included) personally. Everyone was invited to the after-party to celebrate. So we dropped by for a bit, to congratulate Ali, and then we made the short walk back to our hotel.

I really loved to see Ali in his element. He’s worked so hard to get where he is today, and we have watched as this part of his life has evolved over the years. Finally being immersed in it, up close and personal, was exciting.

American Wrestler: The Wizard is definitely a must see! If you’re local, it will be in Petaluma May 3 – 6. For everyone else, it will be in select theaters next week. The Fathom Events link is up near the top of this post. Check it out!

And that’s a wrap!

-Kim

life, motherhood

Parenting hacks from a mom who’s been there…

Last week, a friend and I were talking about parenting stages. We both have college aged kids now so we’ve “been there and done that”. When she asked if I would go back and do anything differently, I paused. I was pretty sure I had most of it figured out. I’m not saying my husband and I did everything right. On the contrary. We definitely did not get everything right, but we raised two kids who made their share of mistakes, and still survived to adulthood, so I suppose we must have done a few things correctly?

Seriously, our daughters are turning out to be really good people. I know, I’m probably a little biased. Maybe even just a smidge more than a little? Still, they’re pretty awesome in my book. Isn’t that the whole idea though? Parenting with your best foot forward 99% of the time, so you can send intelligent, curious, kind, and socially responsible people out into the world, to make it a better place. Well, that’s the way we approached it anyway.

That said, there are some things that I didn’t fully understand back then.

  • First things first! Don’t second guess your capabilities. I have repeatedly heard parents wonder out loud if they’re doing it all right? Of course you’re not! None of us are. How could we? Those little wonders don’t come with a manual and all the parenting books in the world won’t completely prepare you, or keep you from making mistakes. There will be “bad” days. Shoot, there might even be a stint of them. If you’re doing your best, YOU ARE ENOUGH! Look in the mirror and ask yourself “Am I using all the tools I have to be the best parent I can be?” If your honest answer is yes, you are doing enough.
  • Speaking of “bad”days. Let’s just get this one off the table now. We have all said or done something (if you haven’t, you will) that makes us cringe. We are human after all. We get overwhelmed and tired. It’s OK. Just don’t unpack and live there. Stop, take a deep breath, or a few of them…apologize, and LET IT GO!
  • You can’t do it all at home and you shouldn’t feel like you have to. Looking back, our girls could have had more chores. Put your little angels to work. They can help fold laundry and unload the dishwasher. They should be picking up their rooms and making beds. Will three of those four chores turn out the same way they would if you did it yourself? Probably not, but it will be close enough, so who cares? A perfectly starched and spotless house is overrated. Martha Stewart doesn’t live here. Nothing against Martha, but I’m certain she has “people” who do all that for her. Perfection is for model homes. It’s getting done and that’s all that matters. As they grow, give them a weekly chore list. You are lessening your work load and teaching them simple lessons in the process.
  • School isn’t a competition. “Oh, my goodness, my little SallyJane just wouldn’t know what to do if she got a B!” If that works for SallyJane, so be it. My kids were never straight A students and at times I agonized over my girls grades even though with a mix of A’s and B’s, they were doing just fine. We ended up putting undue pressure, on our oldest, in math. Unfortunately, she inherited my math skills. (Sorry TT!) We tried everything and she would work her rear end off for a C. The thing is, there was nothing wrong with a C. We finally accepted she was doing her best and that’s what mattered!

As it turns out, both of our daughters got accepted to the colleges of their choice and she only needed one math class for her major. There really is a reason for everything!

  • You don’t have to be BFF’s with all the other parents at school. Be friendly to everyone, but it’s OK to pick and choose who you really want to get to know. Let those relationships grow organically. There is only so much energy to go around and none of it should involve forced interactions.
  • No is a complete sentence. An explanation is not always required. Practice in the mirror. Own it.
  • Take at least 15 minutes for yourself daily. I didn’t do this and I should have. Make some tea, read, take a nap, sit outside on the porch in the sun, do some gardening. If you don’t want to take 15 minutes, devote an evening to a class. Whatever is good for you, do it!

I will also add (and this is not to be lumped in with your 15 minutes of “you” time) that it’s not OK for your kids to follow you into the bathroom. My mantra was always “I get to pee by myself!”

  • There will be days when you don’t feel like playing another round of Candy Land, Go-Fish, saving the world, or attending the Barbie dance party. Take a walk to the park and save your sanity instead.
  • Mom guilt is real. Don’t give in to it – go back and review the bullet point about being enough.
  • Date night should be a regular thing. Once a week. Once a month. Every other month. It can be as simple as going for a walk, or out for an ice cream. Another friend of mine schedules stay-in pool side date nights. I love that idea! My husband and I didn’t begin regular date nights until our girls were older. We always spent lots of time together as a family, so we have no regrets in that department, but we could have carved out more time for us as a couple when our girls were younger.

I’m sure there are a few other things I would do differently. Maybe I’ll write about those, down the road, in another post. For now, these were the most obvious. Maybe you would do a few things differently too?

#Parenting; would I do most of it the same? Absolutely.

-Kim

life

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

There is a German proverb that says “fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”

I’ve said it before, we all have fears. Here is a list of the ten most common fears. Maybe you identify with a few of them too?

  1. Flying
  2. Public Speaking
  3. Heights
  4. The Dark
  5. Intimacy
  6. Death
  7. Failure
  8. Rejection
  9. Spiders
  10. Commitment

I don’t like public speaking, or spiders, at all! The gigantic potato bugs that I find floating in our pool freak me out too, but they didn’t make the list. (Admittedly, some fears are a bigger deal than others. Lol.) I know we’re not talking nail polish colors, or picking a new sofa here.

All joking aside; #fear often keeps people from reaching their full potential. Has this ever happened to you? In the last few years, fear of the unknown has kept me from taking needed steps forward in my life. It’s interesting to me that I do not consider myself a fearful person by nature. I embrace change and new experiences. I’ll try almost anything once, but there’s a difference.

So why do I hold myself back?

Variables. I can’t control the unknown variables involved with the big changes, and at this point in my life, time is a very valuable commodity to me. My career goals are a good example. Right now, I don’t have any. Why? In part, because uncertainty keeps me from diving into the water. I have a basic vision of what I want to accomplish, but I’m not sure how I want to get from point A to point B, and I don’t like the idea of trying and “failing” now that I am approaching mid-life. It’s a cyclical fear. I know I don’t need to have all the answers right away, but I don’t feel like I have time to waste. I want to dive in and love what I am doing until I can no longer do it, but I won’t know what that is until I dip my toes in the pool. In turn, I am sitting on the edge, wasting the time that is so valuable to me.

At the moment, my needs are pretty simple. I want to do something that is as fulfilling as raising my children was. (Frankly, I think I have earned that opportunity.) I also want to contribute financially to my household and realizing the goals my husband and I have for our future. I have taken the first step forward and returned to school, but I’ve yet to unlock the next door. It would appear that, besides #2 (public speaking) and #9 (spiders), I most directly relate to #7 (failure). If you haven’t read my previous post about my interests (read it here).

So how do I break the cycle? It’s not easy to let go of fear, especially our fear of the unknown. It takes practice. Often we manifest this fear because what is known to us is our safety net. Our brains create scenarios about all that can go wrong with the unknown. Kick off those cement shoes! Will there be setbacks? Maybe. Focusing on what “might” happen is not worth your energy. The truth is there is always another option. It might take some brainstorming to come up with solutions, but very rarely are you without choices.

Change is good and knowledge is power. Ask yourself what you’re really afraid of and then take the time to process the information. When you have a clear picture of your fears, it makes them easier to identify when they begin to infiltrate your thinking. Take a deep breath and LET THEM GO! You are in control of the outcome! Think about the positives. Not every step has to be dramatic, just keep moving forward. Focus on the big picture and the good that will come from making the changes you envision.

Do you need to make a change in your life? It was Sheryl Sandberg who said “So please ask yourself: What would I do if I weren’t afraid? And then go do it.”

So? What would YOU do if you weren’t afraid?

-Kim