Monday, January 16, 2017

It's Not Just the Young'uns

We’ve heard it a million times, “Put your phone away while at the table.” I’ve been accused many times of not being present with real people in the room because I am looking at my phone screen. It’s true, I’m guilty. It may be that I’m poking around Facebook, or I could be replying to a work email, or it’s possible I’m making a note about something one of those live people said so I can remember it later. 

The other conversation I hear and have agreed with is that young people are not learning the same kind of communication skills that we learned prior to the internet and smart phones (email, texting, and emojis). I’ve heard young people say, “I don’t want to talk to them, just let me send a text.” The studies that are starting to show up in communications curriculum is that young people are not learning to read people, body language, facial expressions, and even the tones of voice that can tell us so much about what is really being communicated. I’m not going to go too deep here (even though this subject fascinates me!), but I want to share with you an interesting observation. Look at this image, I took this photo just today and if a photo has ever been worth a thousand words, this one is. Dave’s dad is staying with us for a time and in the two weeks he’s been here, he is on his phone as much as Mason is or I am, maybe more because his schedule is not as full as ours are. Dad is 85, far from the youth we label as “screen obsessed,” yet here he is, sitting in the living room with Mason and the two of them could be sitting there completely alone, oblivious of each other. This post is not a judgement or dig on anyone, simply my noticing that it’s not just our young people who are spellbound by technology, it’s everyone who is using it.

Not too long ago there was a term being used, FOMO, it stands for Fear Of Missing Out. People are constantly on their phones because they are afraid they are missing something, or maybe more accurately, not being included in something, I think those are different things and social media has us so eager to be acknowledged and liked that even the acknowledgements and likes aren’t enough. Think about it, I’ve been called out for simply liking a post and not commenting on it. It goes something like this, “I comment on all your posts, but you never comment on mine. All you ever do is like it.” Well, what if I don’t have anything to say about your post? Should I say something just to show up? Hmmm, well that in my mind is talking just to talk - not like I’ve ever been accused of that before! (sarcasm implied) As I get older and work to hone my communication skills, I’m being told that I should communicate all over every post just so you feel like I’m there with you. Ugh! No thank you. 

I also don’t feel like I need to be plugged in every minute of every day, contrary to what many believe. On my birthday, I met Jen for coffee and then we headed over to the farmers market. While we were chatting with one of the vendors, Jen asked why I was texting her. What? I wasn’t texting her, I didn’t even have my phone out. She looked and saw that the text was from my phone but it was Dave asking if I was going through withdrawals. I put two and two together that I had left my phone at home and Dave assumed that I must be terribly distraught without it. The fact is, I didn’t even know I didn’t have it with me. Jen and I had been out for over two hours, having awesome conversations and enjoying our time together, I never even thought about my phone. Yes, I was present, in the moment with my real, live friend. 

I’m going to just leave this whole subject with this final thought, it’s about balance. It will not likely be equal all the time, but if you are finding time to be physically with people, in addition to the time you find to be virtually with people, it’s all going to work out. People will not always remember what you say, but they will always remember how you make them feel. If they feel like you would rather have your face in your phone than smiling at them while you’re together, well, how would that make you feel? Hmmm, always seems to come back to the golden rule, and from my perspective, that’s a real fine place to start.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Do You Still Feel the Excitement of the New Year?

We are almost half way through January and what do you think? Just another day or are you still rocking the “Fresh Start” vibe that comes with a new year? I’m somewhere in the middle. I think the fresh, new vibe is waning but I still see so much possibility ahead for this year. 

We are told when we are young how fast time flies as we age, boy is that the truth! Last time I checked, Mason was a sweet little boy, playing with trucks and wanting to lick the spoon when I bake a cake. Okay, he wanted to bake the cake, but it was still in a sweet, little boy way. Now he’s more like a man than a boy! I sometimes stop cold in my tracks as I’m looking at this person who is nearly an adult and see, that’s Mason! He still does not have the manly hair that some of his friends are getting, but he speaks so eloquently, and just presents himself in such a way that is not the little boy that I used to know. I’m glad to say he still wants to cuddle with me and he even kissed me good-bye in the office at his school and told me he loved me - out loud as he walked away. People tell me that will stop, but maybe I will get lucky, you all know I tend to be luckier than most. 

So something fun coming this week, the project we did for Johnsonville Sausage in Wisconsin in December will be airing on their website this week, it’s called The Sausage Dome. Here is the trailer, it’s in true Johnsonville form; campy, silly, and fun. Episode one will air later this week (1/12), and Mason’s in episode two that will air on Thursday 1/19. I’ll be posting it on his social media accounts and if I have time, I will send out an email blast. Otherwise, you will see it in next week’s Monday Motivator.

I guess that’s all for now, I will be working this week on my list of things to do to try to get some of my projects under way. I want to start marketing regularly to veterans about using their VA loans to buy a house and get my pipeline back to full. I also think I have the cookbook project idea worked out. I will be mapping out that plan as well. What are your projects and plans for 2017? Do tell and Happy New Year!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Welcome 2017!

Happy New Year! Dave and I rang in the new year at our favorite local bar, Pistol Pete’s. It’s perfect because the people who work there are also our friends. We got there, all dolled up, about 9:30 and we didn’t have seats. We waited and I noted there was a woman with another woman, clearing in her 80s who I told Dave would not be staying long. Boy was my stereotyping wrong! It turns out June (87) and her daughter Julie were there to party, and party is what they did! We ended up talking and sharing fun party hats and June shared that she does not feel her age. She told me to keep living life all the way and enjoy the music no matter what kind it is. Dave and I left the bar after midnight and June was still going strong! I want to be June when I grow up.

For the new year I see lots of success on our horizon. All three of us have great things coming our way. I can’t all the way map it out verbally just yet, but Mason has a number of projects in the works, some in the can and we are waiting for air dates, and some not filmed yet. Dave will finish his bachelors degree, and I have the cookbook and my Intentional Winning In Life book I want to finish. I had Mason laughing yesterday when I told him the cookbook needs to be named, “The Mason Made by Mason’s Mom Cookbook” because in reality, that is what it is…it’s mostly my recipes that he likes to make. Well, okay, there are some that are his creations, too. What do you think, would you buy it? I'm thinking it would be better to create it in a web format and that way people could buy downloads, just the recipes they want. Still working out all the details but I really want to make it happen in 2017.

So now we are into the new year, Dave's dad is staying with us for a spell and I'm excited that Mason will get to know one of his grandparents on a more personal level. We tried to get Dave's mom to move to Auburn when Mason was littler, we invited her noting that we did not need childcare, we just thought with her other grandchild almost grown, it would be a good opportunity for her to know Mason more intimately, too. She didn't want to make the move and I get that, but I still wished that Mason had a grandparent in his life more than just phone calls, letters, and infrequent visits. This will be good for all of us. What is happening for you with the start of the new year? Do you make resolutions or set goals? I do, but I also work on continuing the goals we have in motion and set new ones as needed. Happy New Year friends, let's make this one better than the last and a great springboard for the next one.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Welcome Week #52!

It’s the last week in 2016 and can you believe how fast it went? I know, it’s totally cliche’ to write about how time flies, but it does! I don’t remember that being the case when I was a kid, but Mason said to me half way through this year, “Man mom, time is going so fast!” He was 12, but I suppose when you live a life like his as a kid, it would feel more grown up. Today Mason did his last television appearance of the year in Sacramento. He talked about how to make New Years Eve festive and fun for kids…he would know. 

It’s funny how much things can come around in just a few days. Last week I was really struggling with the whole gift situation that comes this time of year. Mason has been a normal 13 year old and all about what am I getting? It’s been driving me nuts because I want him to be more aware of the spirit of giving and how the magic of Christmas and Santa is really about giving and making other people’s dreams come true. The bottom line is, he’s a kid and as amazing and mature as he is in other realms of life, he’s still a little boy who is loving video games and gaming systems, and he wants more air soft stuff than he can likely use, he wants to go to the movies and he wants to eat crap food, and as his mom I need to just let some of this stuff be. It will pass and I really do not need to worry that he will grow up to be an entitled, selfish human, I don't think that's the case.

While I reflect on our year, how can I feel anything but gratitude? Mason worked a lot this year and by the looks of this last television appearance, it’s showing. After his segment while we were cleaning up, the anchor called to us to say, “In my ear, producer just said, “THAT WAS AWESOME!” that never happens! Good job Mason, you know how to do this and your set looked great!” That’s high praise and even Dave said to me, “Good job Kath, tell John Howard Swain he taught you well…so well, you’ve been able to teach Mason.” 

We were in Chicago in January shooting a pilot for a kid cooking show, Mason did his usual live cooking demos for the Home Shows, fairs, and festivals through the spring, summer and fall. I went to Las Vegas for the licensing show where it looks like I may have landed a gig for my RiverLights Originals art work in 2018, and we came home to get Dave his most favorite of all birthday presents, his Bernese Mountain dog puppy, Gunner. Mason and Dave then went back to Chicago where Mason filmed a spot with Steve Harvey while I was on a girls trip to NYC with Lisa Anderson. No sooner did we all touch down the same day in Sacramento, just two days later, Mason and I were back down in LA to shoot another spot for the pilot show we shot in January. That one will be interesting when it airs in 2017. From there we were back on a plane to Sheboygan, WI where Mason did a job for Johnsonville Sausage. That was a great trip! Not only did we have plenty of down time, we got to meet the good people at Johnsonville, and it looks like there might be more collaborations in the future. That project will likely be revealed next month, so stay tuned! 

Bring all of this full circle with Saturday Thanksgiving surrounded by our friends in the (not so) new house, I turned 50 (how the heck did that happen?!), and we shared another epic Christmas. There just isn’t room for anything in my heart except love and gratitude for this amazing life with my little family. 

Thank you for being on this journey with us, it wouldn’t be the same without you. Happy New Year, may you find this same kind of awesomeness in 2017!

Monday, December 19, 2016

About Gift Giving

This is the joy of Christmas, not gifts.
Back on December 10, 2012, I wrote a blog post about the pressure to give gifts, especially at Christmastime. In essence, this is what I wrote, “It's two weeks before Christmas and everyone is busier than ever. Today has been a little overwhelming for me, I really don't like all the focus of the holiday season being about buying stuff/gifts... specifically, "I want this, and this, and this, and that." I find very little joy in buying items off a list. First of all, there is no surprise factor and secondly, it's not a gift I chose for you. The flip side of this struggle for me is, sure, these are the things you want, but here we are, "things you want - things I want," where is the "gift" in that? I think of a gift as something I really thought about choosing for you, our relationship, how it will make you feel today and for years to come...maybe it's just me, but I don't find any Christmas joy in buying stuff from a list that would mean just as much as if you had purchased it yourself on some idle Tuesday.

So what am I to do with this? I can rebel and do what I want to do which is give gifts I've baked and canned, and write a heartfelt note to those who make my life so rich in love and friendship. Is that really so rebellious? For some, yes and for others, they will see my gifts as a moment of holiday fun when they comment that my cookies "might" be too pretty to eat, or send me a handwritten thank you note sharing that my apple butter is the best they've ever had (Yes, John Howard Swain, your note will forever hang on my office bulletin board!). My sweet husband, though he gave me a list, is in the kitchen as I write this post making chocolate truffles (thank you Teresa Tjaden!) for his friends and I guess it must be true, from the heart and of ones hands must be the best gifts, at Christmastime and all year long.”

Here we are in December, 2016 and the struggle over the gift-giving is greater than ever! How can that be? How can there be angst about giving gifts. There is angst for me because, first and foremost, I don’t like the idea that anyone “Has” to give a gift. Oh, it’s true, there is lots of obligation this time of year. To that I ask, do you really want a “gift” from me that I only purchased because I feel I have to give it to you? Secondly, There are many who tie their worth, or value to the giver to the gift they are given. So if Dave buys me a new car, he clearly loves me more than if he were to write me a love letter tied to a bunch of flowers? To some people, absolutely! 

Growing up, one of my friend’s mom kept lots of 6-packs of fuzzy footies on hand and wrapped just in case someone came over unexpectedly, she would have a gift for them. I know this, because every year I was there and I got a 6-pack of fuzzy footies. I also know business people who keep cases of “gifts” in their cars so if they run in to a client, potential client, or coworker, they have a gift. Now to many, this would be the way to do it, but for me, it’s completely unthoughtful, impersonal, and in some cases, hurtful. It is buying into the Hallmark Commercialness of it all and exhibits none of the spirit of the season.

Tonight after more than a week of fights with Mason about “The Rule,” it came to me in a moment of simplistic clarity - a moment where I did not have to think about it for one more second. “The Rule” is that after Halloween, nobody in our family is allowed to buy items for themselves. The reasoning being, if you noted you loved something and another family member went back to get it for you as a gift, your purchase has spoiled their opportunity to show that they heard you, and thought enough of you to go back and get you that gift. Well, this has not worked for me. It’s been an uphill battle for the last two years since my young tween and now teen has started making the money to buy many of the things he wants to have. What I realized tonight is a lesson I learned so long ago, twenty years in fact. I don’t know why I wasn’t able to put it together here, in this situation sooner. Many years ago I learned that I am only in control of myself. I can’t make someone love me, I can’t make them be faithful, I can’t make people do business with me, or even like me. All I can control is me, what I want, and the actions I take to get there. DUH! I’ve been trying to control Dave and Mason and the fact is, no one likes to be controlled. With that said, there is no more rule, and I’m not buying gifts unless it’s something that really speaks to me about you. And not just in December, if I see something that I love for you, I’m buying it and gifting it to you then and there. 

My gift to those I love, from this point forward is that I am going to enjoy Christmas the way I love it. I’m going to decorate with Dave, I’m going to bake and decorate my cookies, cakes, and whatever else strikes my fancy, I’m going to watch Hallmark movies, and listen to Christmas music, decorate the tree, and enjoy the people I love. The sweets and mandarins that I mail are gifts for family and friends but not out of obligation, out of love to share my gifts. BIG SIGH! I feel so much better! So please, understand, that my not giving you a material thing during the holidays does not mean that I don’t love you, or adore our relationship, it is more to the point that it means I love you enough to share me with you, and if you have time, let’s go have some coffee and visit.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Stop the Insanity!

Mason and I are here in Sheboygan! Well, we were when I penned this post (12/4-8). The Blue Harbor Resort is beautiful, and the water park is exceeding our expectations. As many of you know, I've struggled with my weight my whole life, and now Mason is finding some of the same challenges and body insecurities as well. He was looking for loose shirts to wear to cover himself up before heading down to the water park. Without a second thought, I put on my swim suit and said, “Here’s the deal, we are going to have a great trip, enjoy our time together, and not let anything stand in our way. We are going down to the water park where we will ask someone to take out picture together, wearing only our swim suits and I’m going to post it on Facebook for everyone to see.” He looked at me and replied, “So you are going to post a picture of you in your swim suit on Facebook?” “Yep, and I’m not going to hide behind you either!” So here's a picture of the two of us, in our swimsuits getting ready for another time of our lives! 

Life is about more than the number on the scale and I’m the first one to admit that more than one occasion has been spoiled by me being upset about my weight, body, clothes, lack of clothes, or any other number of things concerning my body image. How can I encourage him to let go and not worry about his weight when I am always worried about mine? I suppose as a society we think this is an issue that mother’s only need to deal with with their daughters, but that’s not so. I read a blog post a number of years ago that a woman wrote about not being in any family photos. She never wanted her photo taken because she was fat and she decided to let it go and step back into life with her family. I liked the post and I got it, but I wasn’t ready to really embrace that message for myself. After all, I take lots of photos with my family. Yeah, well, sort of. I make sure we are shot from the shoulders up, and when someone takes our photo and includes our bodies, I crop them. I hide behind Dave or Mason, basically, I do whatever I can to not be seen all the way. Then, on our long flight to Wisconsin I watched an episode of This Is Us and there was a very fitting exchange between two characters who are attending meetings for over eaters, Kate and Toby. The gist of it was that Toby wants to go to a party and Kate won’t agree because she's fat. Toby says he gets it, but their entire lives can’t be about their fat, at some point they need to live, and laugh, and dance, and love, and he knows she's fat, and he loves her just the way she is. Our kids don’t care if we think we are fat, or even if we are fat, they love us, they want us to play with them, and swim with them, and be with them in pictures.

So I faced my fears to put Mason at ease and I posted the photo of the two of us on Facebook. Ultimately, I’m just trying to live my best life and encourage Mason to live his, too. I hate that I struggle with my body image and how it reflects on who I am. I really want to be done with that and TRULY be grateful for all that I have, and I'm well aware, I have a lot. That public post was one step in the right direction and I’m going to try, really, truly, sincerely try to redirect my thinking when it comes to what I want or don’t want to do because of my body. I really love my life and I’m going to do my best to live it all the way, every day. Now I have gifts to wrap, baking to do, cookies to decorate, and so much more. 'Tis the season!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Grateful for My Really, Really Great Guy!

Bubblegum Alley in Downtown SLO
Last week Dave and I took a quick trip to San Luis Obispo, a Monday through Wednesday kind of get away. You see, Dave has to be in SLO frequently for work, and every time he goes he tells me how much he wishes I could come with him. He will call me from wherever he is dining and share with me that the sun is setting and it would be so much more fun if we were together. It's been nearly impossible to schedule for us both the be there, especially in December. In the last 3 or 4 years, I've been in school and that time of year we are taking finals. The other challenges are someone to stay with Mason (he's still in school) and also someone to stay with the dogs. This year we planned it and made it happen. There was the little bump in the road with Gunner having to have surgery, but we just paid to have him stay at the vet where he could get the medical care he needed.

Sunset at Schooners

Dave booked us in a lovely little Inn, the Granada Inn & Bistro right in the heart of downtown. The room was quaint with a big shower and a fireplace. It was just what we needed to relax and reconnect. I know couples have a hard time making time to get away, but I believe it is imperative to being happily married. The best gift we can give our kids is happily married parents, and these kinds of excursions are what couples need to remember who they are together, still in love, and why they wanted those pesky kids to begin with. Yes, kids are hard. They are hard to raise, hard to discipline, hard to juggle schedules, and taking the money out of the family finances to get away can be another challenge. I get it. The thing is, when things fall apart, we often would give all we have to make it right again. We would sell our most cherished belongings to have our family together and happy again. Make the sacrifice while things are still good and make them better. We are so lucky that we can combine business with pleasure and include our families. I get that, but where there is a will, there is a way.

A walk on the beach

We stopped in lots of little bars, we walked along the creek, we shopped, we dined, and we drove up the coast to Cayucos where we walked on the beach, had some clam chowder while we watched the sun set, and then had a drink in the old Saloon across the street. It was magical! It was just what we needed and I feel like the luckiest woman in the whole world to have my guy. Dave is one of the really good ones, the kind of guy that after 15 years of marriage still makes me feel like he adores me. I love that every year he still wants me with him when he travels and when I can't go, he can't wait to get home to where I am, where we are, where we are us. I love us.