Monday, May 14, 2018

Happy Mother's Day - Let's Keep it Real.

Sunday was Mother's Day, it was a pretty good day considering history shows that there seems to be some pressure that comes with holidays that invariably create angst for various members of our family. I'm sure this being the first mother's day without both of our moms, there was an undercurrent of sadness. With that said, I did have the best time teaching Mason (and my neighbor Jen joined in) to decorate cupcakes and he created a scavenger hunt for me. At the end of the clues, I found a shot of tequila and a handwritten letter from him that read: 

"Dear Mom, I love you, but let's talk about the word love. The word love, at least when I heard it, it made me think of Paris, the loveliest place on earth. And in Paris, people love art so they made an entire museum of art called the Louvre. The "Louvre" sounds a lot like loo, which is French for toilet. So when I say, "I love you," what I really mean is, "I toilet you." And since this is a love letter, it's actually toilet paper. Letters are written on paper and this letter is about love, so it's TP. Toilet, Your son Mason - PS I wrote this at the comedy club in my head, "The Mind." Where my shows sell out, all my jokes are funny, and I get to eat for free.

It's Monday so let's keep it real. Don't buy into the idea that all the exciting things you see on your friend's social media feeds are a blissful life, especially in light of Mother’s Day - it's likely just the “Kodak moments,” and the good news they want to share, but not the whole picture. Real life is messy houses, dirty cars, account balances that don't always meet the need, kids that drive their parents crazy and parents who don't always love being parents. We are all doing the best we can this minute, or maybe we are slacking and know we can do better, either way, it's all good. If no one else has told you lately, you are enough, in fact, you are awesome!

Monday, May 7, 2018

The California Honey Festival

Mason did a cooking demo at The California Honey Festival on Saturday and it was a dilly of a day! We had the usual prep to do to get out the door, but the night before we went out on the boat, so we needed to hose it off and clean it up before we left. What I am about to share was not funny, it was not funny at all, but as with most things, as time passes we can look back and see the humor in what could have been a REALLY bad scene. I sent Mason outside to take care of the boat clean up and he came back into the house to tell me the hose would not reach so I needed to move the boat closer to the driveway. I did and went back to the house to finish getting ready to leave. I was brushing my teeth when I heard my neighbor calling me in a voice that made me urgently run outside, not the normal, "Tell Mason just a minute, I'm brushing my teeth" response. I bolted out the door and saw Mason holding the boat trailer with two men behind it begging someone to bring the chocks to put behind the tires of the trailer. Our neighbor across the street was running out in her jammies carrying a rock bigger than she is, while I jammed the 4x4 pieces of wood behind the tires. The boat on the trailer had rolled down the whole length of our yard and our neighbors yard and the deck was just a few feet from resting in the metal bed of our neighbors truck! Now there were so many things running through my mind but as the adrenaline slowed and I realized that Mason was just trying to help by disconnecting the boat from my truck, he forgot to re-chock the tires from when I had just moved it. What impressed me the most and I can't quit thinking about it, is he didn't lose his cool, he held that boat and kept it from rolling downhill until our neighbors who heard him calling out, came to get behind it and hold it with him until I got there. How many kids would have panicked and just watched the boat roll into the neighbors truck? Yes, this could have been bad, but Mason made a mistake, he kept his cool, he got lucky, and hopefully, he learned a very valuable lesson. 

So right on the heels of all this excitement, we had to leave to get to the honey festival. We were late, meaning we arrived just as his demo was supposed to be starting and I kid you not, he walked on that stage, Mr. Marks was putting his mic on him as he started presenting his dish while he unpacked his grocery bags and did not miss a beat. I'm Mason's mom and I know what he is capable of, even more so than he is sometimes, but I have to say, he impressed me with his professionalism, his ability to keep his cool, and to step up and perform when many adults I now would have been the effect of all the things that had happened to him earlier in the day. My son is growing into quite an amazing young man.
After all that excitement, we slept in on Sunday and Mason and I had a sort of fun conversation...
Me - “You know Mason, Facebook memories showed me that we have a history of you misbehaving on Mother’s Day, and not being very nice.
Mason- “Really?”
Me - “Yeah, the least you could do outside of behaving, is make sure our house is always stocked with Jose Cuervo tequila. You know moms need tequila.”
Mason - “Mom, I’m 14, I can’t buy tequila.”
Me - ”Mason, you are a resourceful kid, find a way. It’s Mother’s Day.”
Okay, I don't really expect him to buy me tequila, at least not until he is 21, but it was funny nonetheless. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Verbal Shock & Awe

This morning while I was waking up and listening to the radio, the story was that Shania Twain was asked who she voted for in the presidential election. Unlike so many people, she simply answered, that she can't vote as she's not American, but she would have voted for President Trump. Of course, you know this lead to a barrage of hateful social media posts to and about her. The radio personality was noting that as a country we have become too sensitive, and need to worry less about who feels what and learn to agree to disagree. This took me on a mental adventure of thoughts ranging from, is it that we are too sensitive? or is it something more? 

Through the generations, our world is continually changing, advancing and in an effort to make things easier, we have instead complicated them. The internet and social media platforms have made this world very small, smaller than it's ever been. The general public seems less concerned about etiquette and good manners and more concerned with tossing their two-cents in the many global conversations happening all at once. A sense of self-importance has replaced caring about the impact of our words on others, it just seems that people don't care who they hurt, they only care that they were able to speak out and say their piece. And to what end? As a younger woman, I was one to say things that would make others blush or take notice, call it verbal shock & awe. I saw this as things simply being what they are and why should we be afraid or ashamed to talk about them. I still believe that, and today as an older (and I hope wiser) woman, there is a time and place to discuss certain things. Again, good manners, using a little forethought and taking responsibility for the energy I bring to the room and how that energy will impact the people I'm with.

Mason and I were discussing this on the way to school and he asked me how he would know when the right time and place are to speak up. I'm so glad he asked!! And therein lies the answer - has someone asked for your opinion? If they have not and you feel you have something constructive to offer, ask yourself, why do I want to chime in with this information? Will it help make things better or do I just want to say it to make myself feel something? If it will make the person I am communicating with feel bad or there is nothing they can do about this situation right now, maybe it is better to discuss it at a later date when they can take some kind of action moving forward.  Is this best handled privately and not on the public stage? And the answer to that last question will almost always be, "Yes!"

Ultimately, careful conversations and thoughtful communication are always going to be the best course of action. One of my dearest friends reminds me not to presume others want to hear what I think or feel about their lives - and she's so very right! Even in our most intimate relationships, we do not know all of the bits and pieces that make up who and how people are, what has influenced their decisions or more simply stated, we have not walked even two steps in their shoes. If we are asked to share our insight, what a compliment that is! And with that message that someone else thinks enough of you to want your opinion or advice, well then isn't that something special? I think so!

Monday, April 16, 2018

It's Been 22 Years

Disclaimer; This is my version of how we met, written in 2005. Dave has also written one, it's 1/4 the length of mine (go figure!) and not exactly the same recall. #YouSayTomato

It was just another day at work in April 1996. I had only been in the bay area for 6 months and most of that time I was working very long hours on a new job. I had reached a point that I was ready to start getting to know people and making friends. I was listening to the radio when JD the afternoon DJ made the announcement that he had a man on the phone who was looking for a date for the upcoming Vince Gill concert. “I have Dave, he is dateless, he is desperate.” He said that if there was a woman who was available and wanted to go to the concert, to call in. I didn’t hesitate and called the radio station. When JD answered the phone he asked me my name I thought “this should be fun…” The next thing I knew, JD had Dave and I on the phone doing an interview, “So, what do you think?….and what about you?  Do you want to go to the concert?” He even went as far as to ask what do you look like, and who do people say you look like… was really fun. We swapped numbers off the air and Dave called me. After talking for just a few minutes I got the strong sense that he was looking for a relationship and I knew I was still just breaking up with a man in LA. I made my feelings known and Dave was great, he said he didn’t have any expectations and just thought we should go to the concert and have fun. 

I met Dave at the Game Gallery where he worked and I will never forget the moment I walked through the door. Dave was walking toward me, full western look with this long hair with these beautiful blonde ringlet curls under a western hat. The look on his face the first time he saw me was priceless. There was not a doubt in my find that he found me attractive and was smitten. I tease him today that he loved me the moment he laid his eyes on me, but he denies it. We went to the concert together and had such an easy time talking, but I still had concerns that he had expectations. I remember talking about meeting on the radio and Dave saying he thought JD was going to arrange a dating game scenario. I had to laugh and said, “Well, it looks like you didn’t get to pick, you just got me.” He went on to tell me the questions he had arranged to ask the women he never got to interview. We only got through 2 of the 3 questions but they told me so much about him. The first question was “I am learning to country dance if you were to teach me, what dance would you teach me and why?” I think I answered him that I would teach him to cha-cha. I answered that way because I think the country couples dances are so romantic and the cha-cha is so pretty to watch. The next question was “What song would you say describes you or how you feel right now?” I was stumped, feeling on the spot, my mind went blank. Dave piped in that his song was Someone Else’s Star by Bryan White. We got to the concert and had a good time. Afterward, he took me back to my car and I offered my hand, for shaking. I awkwardly brought up the point about me not being in a place to start a relationship but I would love to be friends. He was a total gentleman, smiled and told me to drive home safely.

The next day at work a deliveryman arrived with a huge bouquet of flowers. I told him that he must be mistaken, the flowers were so big I thought they belonged in the lobby of the hi-rise I worked in. He said, are you Kathleen Patrick? I said yes and he told me they were for me. I saw the card and they were from Dave. I was livid mad!! I couldn’t contain my emotion and the people in my office were in shock. Here I was holding flowers so big you couldn’t even see me, but you could hear that I was not happy. When I finally was able to express myself I said, “Now I have to have this talk with him all over again! Didn’t he hear me say just friends?” I immediately called and thanked him for the flowers but before he could even respond, I started right in on him, “I thought you understood that I just want to be friends, I thought you got that I am not looking for a relationship…blah, blah, blah”  Poor Dave, I don’t even know why it is that we are the great friends that we are except to say that we have always been true to ourselves and each other. We have never had to pretend to be anyone we are not.

The next time Dave called he invited me to go to a George Strait concert. I said no and again, he got real and said, “Come on Kathy, I know where you stand and how you feel, let’s just go, it will be fun.” I agreed to go only if he would let me buy my own ticket and while he agreed, he would not take my money. While we were at the concert, he introduced me to a friend of his, Barry. Oh no!!  Sparks flew between the two of us and needless to say, this created some tension.  Barry and I ended up talking on the phone and where I didn’t make time to meet Dave and go dancing, I was now meeting Barry for a drink and a dance. As fate would have it, Dave was there as well and was not happy and frankly, his feelings were hurt. The next day Dave called me at work and let me know that I had hurt his feelings. I sat down and wrote Dave a very sincere letter letting him know that the time was not right for us.The thing with Barry was simply that, a thing. I didn’t’ see a future with Barry but I saw him in my life forever. With that fax  (Yes! I faxed him the letter!) our friendship and our life began.

So here we are, Flower and me. Oh, yeah, I call Dave Flower. I know, it is a bit unconventional but it wasn’t picked, it was just was meant to be. You see, when Dave sent me the flowers and I became so angry, that made quite an impact on my family and friends. They thought I was crazy because I was probably the only woman in this lifetime to get angry with a man for giving her flowers, this became a defining moment in my life. My friends didn’t know any of the new people in my life so I always had to explain who I was doing things with. Since Dave and I were dancing and talking often I started to refer to him as “Dave, you know, Dave, the guy who sent me the flowers.” This went to just Flower Dave and then simply to Flower. Initially, this was not something Dave knew about and I didn’t really intend for him to know and how could I know it would stick? The next thing I knew, Flower came to the Grand Poobah and while I was attempting to set him up with my best friend Jules (because I thought they would be great together!) she blurted out, “Oh! You’re Flower Dave!”  So now he knew that his nickname was Flower, and he was not interested in Julie, nor was she interested in him. We all know how this worked out, as it was supposed to be. That was 22 years ago and we've been blissfully married for almost 17 of those years.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Kid Entrepreneurs Making a Difference

Many of you know that Mason has started an Entrepreneur Club at his school. There are kids in grades 6-8 in the club and it's been super fun hearing their ideas and watching them take action to make their own money. Mason was asked to put something together for the Kids Expo so we put together a panel of young entrepreneurs for a Q&A on Saturday at the expo. TJ who is the young founder of the expo, Layla and Mya who have a business called Suga-Babes body products and of course, Mason with Mason Made Products.

They did the media rounds leading up to the big day with Morning Blend with Mark S. Allen on ABC News 10 on Friday, and then Saturday morning they appeared on Good Day Sacramento. These kids are AMAZING!! Really, they are learning and growing at such a rapid pace, speaking more articulately and presenting themselves as polished and professional with each new appearance. The day of the expo, they answered questions and were spot on with the correct information and advice. I am so proud to be on this journey with Mason and I love seeing other kids making these impressive strides as well.

Listening to the news and hearing all the negative news, it's easy to think that this world is going to hell in a handbasket, but I'm here to tell you, we are raising young people who will make this world a better place, heck, not will, they are making this world a better place right now.

While Mason was making the media rounds I was hearing people say, "Mason is so well spoken. He really has a gift for speaking and being on camera. He's a natural." I agree with most of that, the part about being a natural reminds me of how often people will note that someone is an overnight success, someone who has been playing or performing for years! Mason is a "natural" who has been practicing being on camera since he's been 8 years old. He's 14 now, so that's six years and over 130 videos on Youtube that make him naturally experienced! LOL! I have been feeling more and more proud of Mason and I see him finding wild success in his life.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Mason Made Me Cry Today

This morning my 14-year-old made me cry on the way to school. Y’all know Mason and I talk a lot, probably way more than most 14-year-old boys talk with their mothers. We talk about drugs, girls, dating, sex, and video games. Mason and I have been talking about video games and my dislike of any violent video games since he’s been a very little boy. Having a father who is in the military makes it difficult for me to forbid guns from being in the house, but we talk about the danger of them all the time. 

After the Florida shooting, I walked into Mason's room and he was playing a video game where he was creating his virtual weapon. It was an AR, and he was mixing and matching handles, and what looked like different parts and pieces to customize it. It made my heart sink. I made a snippy comment to him that was something along the lines of, "I bet the kids in Florida who watched their friends die would be aghast watching you do this." He gave me the teenage-robot reply, it’s just a game mom. That was a few weeks ago and this morning we were on our way to school and he was telling me about a dream he had last night and the dream, like most, made no sense except it ended with him killing a bad guy with a gun. He assured me it was all good because the guy he killed was a "bad guy." I asked him who assigned him the decision maker of who is good and who is bad? Even if someone is bad, is it his right to kill them? He then gave me that same reply, it was just a dream mom. I noted that the things in our subconscious often come up in our dreams, and the video games he plays are absolutely fed into and recorded in his conscious and subconscious minds. I then made the analogy that kids who are bullied at school, year after year, if they have access to these kinds of games where they can customize their virtual weapons, do those kids not think that what they’re doing is okay because they’re killing a bad guy when they get a real gun and actually kill people? Mason noted that a bully isn’t necessarily the same as somebody who is breaking into someone's home, or kidnapping a child to which I countered, "If this child has been picked on and tormented year after year to the point that they don’t want to go to school, why is that bully not as bad as the everyday criminal? I would argue a bully is worse." My point was to shine a light on compassion and empathy, I said to Mason that a teenager who is stable looks at those games and says, mom, it’s just a game, where the mom looks at that game and imagines those kids who saw their friends killed and thinks, why does this game even have to exist? Are there one million other games that could entertain and challenge children that don’t involve virtual guns in their hands and killing other people, bad or not? I said to Mason, "Real empathy would be to look at that game and say, I can forgo this form of entertainment so that the one person who can’t handle it and thinks it’s real does not have access to it." He said to me, "Mom my friends want me to play GTA (Grand Theft Auto) and though I’m curious about it I told my friends no. They pushed a little more and peer pressured me, but I told them, you know what you guys, my mom doesn’t want me to play that game and I’m not gonna play." He went on to say that another kid was being peer pressured to play the game and Mason stood up for him and told the other guys if they wanted to play GTA they could go play on the other platforms, they were there playing the game they were playing so please drop the subject of GTA. To hear Mason say he wouldn’t play the game because his mom doesn’t want him to truly made me cry. It chokes me up now just writing this. I looked at him with big tears in my eyes and said, "Thank you, thank you for hearing me, thank you for respecting me, and thank you for being you." I really would like to see the day that these games are not available because I don’t think there’s anything fun or educational in them, a game should be fun and why anyone would think killing is fun, I don't know. 

I am sure the day will come that Mason will not be so strong in the face of peer pressure, but I am sure glad he is right now. I'm so happy another child was witness to someone holding their ground when being pressured, and I'm elated that the other boy experienced someone standing up for him. Mason is an amazing kid and for as much as he can be a pain in my butt, and we knock heads, he is way more an impressive human being and I'm glad I get to be his mom. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Team Partak!

It's around this time every year that we hear all the motivational stories of NFL football players who beat incredible odds to not only play in the NFL, but to actually make it to the Super Bowl. I'm a huge promonent of kindness and positivity and you can ask my family, if I'm not asking, "Is that loving, are you being kind?" I'm reminding us that we are "Team Partak!" It makes no sense to be competing against each other or berating the people who are on our own team - it is far more optimal to be lifting each other up. There is more to this, but I want to repost something a wrote a number of years ago because it resonates with me more each year. I think it will resonate with you, too.

I am certain we are always harder on ourselves than other people are on us, but let me ask you, how much confidence do you really have in yourself? Watching the Super Bowl a few years ago, Russell Wilson said (and the story was told about him many times that day) that his dad asked him, “Why not you Russell? Why not you?” He could have said, “Because I’m too small because my arm isn’t strong enough…” he could have said to his father all the things his critics were telling him, but he didn’t. He held on to his dream and let his father’s voice echo in his head, “Why not you Russell?” This, in turn, became, “Why not me?” To his team, “Why not us?” So who are you? Are you like Russell Wilson or are you the one who caves into the critics. Dave suggested that some people succeed to spite their critics. Okay, I suppose the "Tell me I can't and I'll show you I will!" isn't a bad thing, but why are we not all simply lifting each other up? I preach to Mason almost daily, "Are you a friend people want? Do you lift your friends up by encouraging them, or are you being the kid who will say, "Yours sucks, mines better!" Well, the truth of the matter is, he's a boy and a very competitive boy at that, he has to work to remember to not compete but to lift his friends up. It is my hope that by starting this message with him now, by the time he gets it, it will have shaped him to be someone who lifts others up and encourages them to ask, "Why not me?"
I’ve been the one who listens to all the people who say things like, “You can’t be an actress, you are not the right type, you are not tall enough, you are not thin enough, and you are not like a model.” “College isn’t really for you, eh, er, I mean, you are not really the college type.” “It would just be good if you could follow something through, you never follow through.” “Oh no, she has an idea, you know what that means, it’s gonna cost me money.” Where does one find the strength to not listen to those naysayers while still loving them, and still have the gumption to ask, “Why not me? I can do it, I can be it, I’m enough.” Do you feel like you are enough? I don’t. I also don’t think that many women do, especially women who are wives and mothers. As women who feel so much responsibility for the lives of others, it is incredibly difficult to focus on anything else. Heck, truth be told, we can’t focus on any one thing because there are so many one things to do, how is it possible to focus on just one at a time? From keeping up with the housewifery, the kid's school work, after-school schedules, medical and dental appointments, grocery shopping, in my case, real estate that I am trying to do more of while working for another top producing agent, and more…so I’m told to drop some of these things and focus on me, my business, what I want. Really?
And where does talent play into this equation? Dave brought up the example of the people who audition for American Idol, the people who can not sing. Is it a good idea to encourage these people and set them up for failure? I would say in life, this example is more an exception than a rule. We live in a society that is not one of encouragement but of competition and the belief that we can make people stronger by continually knocking them down - some people, yes, others, no. And to the singing point, certainly, not everyone can sing, as I well know! But could we encourage one to sing for pleasure yet say, "Singing may not be your professional calling - how can you craft a career around music so you can be in the environment that you love and feel successful?" Again, it's all in how it's done and keep the message positive.
So let me be very clear, I am not complaining. What I am hoping my message will come across as is this, if we really see big things and lots of potential in someone, why don't we focus on growing that? Let's not focus on the failures, or what appears to be shortcomings, let's focus on continuing to encourage the ideas for success - no matter what someone else might judge or evaluate. Many will say without failure, success is impossible. I don't know if that's true, but I can attest to plenty of failures. Russell Wilson held on to the voices that were encouraging him and he dismissed those that told him he wasn't good enough, big enough, strong enough or enough enough. Let's all take a moment today to first acknowledge that we are enough and can be anything that we want, and second, find someone else to lift up and encourage - really make it matter, touch them, look them in the eye and make sure you have their attention and lift them up. Be the voice they can hold on to next time someone tells them they are not enough.