Fins the Left, Fins to the Right….

A Jimmy Buffett concert has been on my bucketlist now for many years and I have been waiting, ever so patiently, for my opportunity. It takes a lot of patience to wait as long as I have, but I finally got my chance and I am happy to report it was worth the wait. Jimmy Buffett, rock and roll legend, margarita-in-hand icon, stick it to the man himself, arrived in Denver, Colorado in October to fulfill one of my dreams.

Parrot heads are an interesting bunch, ranging in age from 7 to 70, they come in all shapes and sizes, gathering like a flock of migrating birds to city after city on the tour. They arrive for the show all dressed in their best Caribbean beachwear, straw hats, coconut shell tops, and flip flops with their beers in hand to pay homage to one of rock and roll’s most interesting characters, Mr. Jimmy Buffett.

I have never seen so many decked out vehicles, surfboards and VW vans in one place. The crowd left their careers as doctors, plumbers, lawyers and teachers behind as they gathered for the biggest beach party Colorado has ever had.

Drinks in hand, the crowd joined as one, in singing anthems such as Wasting Away in Margarittaville, Brown Eyed Girl, and we all became Pirates together like a bunch of kids. The party was a hoot, everyone managed to leave their worries checked at the door, no deadlines, bills, stock markets, or Middle East standoffs to worry about, all we did was dance and sing like a bunch of fools, multiple generations joining together, teenagers and grandparents, youngsters and parents, we all joined together and pretended we were dancing in the sand as the waves rolled in, nothing but time and friends on our side.

Finland is a magical place; the Caribbean sound floating in their while the invisible smell of the salty sea fills your senses. While I was there, I relaxed, I let go, and I put my hands on above my head and sang along to “fins to the left, fins to the right, like you’re the only bait in town!!” Jimmy Buffet has it all figured out. Don’t let life get you down; all you need is a good song, a guitar, a surfboard and the sea. The rest of it really doesn’t matter, cause “If we didn’t laugh, we’d all go insane!”

Watching the generations merge together, the stress and worry disappear from all of their faces, I realized I danced with new friends and I sang with the best. Somehow, it will all be all right.

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Not for the Faint of Heart

Zipline Adventure
What do you get when you cross four stressed out women, 1 mile of cable, and a Tarantula? Well, you get a Royal Gorge wild adventure that’s what! Recently, I found a brand new zipline course at Royal Gorge and felt compelled to give it a try and rope some friends into the adventure too.

The players:
Andrea- game to give it a go but forced to overcome her inner anti adrenaline demons first. She was a natural, and had the biggest smile of the entire group in all the pictures. Once she got going she became a nut and even mastered the elusive spinning trick!

Tracy-a fellow Bucketlist aficionado, Tracy is always up for something new and the source of many of my own bucketlist ideas. This is one wild woman and she is a ton of fun to hang out with –no matter what you are doing.

Vicki-as the unchallenged athlete of the group her natural talents, coupled with her excellent physical strength, helped make her the show stopping master and helped her land a 10 on her form and landings!

Jackie-the mastermind of this crazy adventure and the connector for this rag tag group of 40 something’s as they channeled their inner Tarzan!

On the Bucketlist

Ziplining has always seemed to me to be the ultimate in irrational, adrenaline seeking fun, and although I had never actually done it, was high oh my must do bucketlist. The good news is that I found a zipline course close to home, which proved to be far more affordable than the Costa Rica or Hawaii trip I was envisioning. When I discovered the new course only 2 hours from home I jumped on the bandwagon and started recruiting friends to join in the craziness.

Female Recipe
I have been doing zany stuff all my life, but especially in the past year and if I have learned anything, it is that you can’t beat the fun of gathering a bunch of women and getting out of our comfort zones together. A little bit of adrenaline pumping in our veins usually proves to be very invigorating. What consistently follows is an amazing combination of giggles, squeals, stories, bonding, love and encouragement. It happens every time, and it doesn’t matter at all what crazy activity we are doing. The magic is in getting a group of women together and then getting out of our comfort zone together.

Why does this recipe create the same outcome every time? I think it has something to do with the fact that these women are usually givers. They give to their husbands, their children, their homes, families, neighbors, churches and employers. They give and give and give until eventually they start to feel like they have lost themselves. Now, I don’t want to sound overly dramatic here, but all the women I have run into fit this description. When I start talking about all the craziness of my bucketlist, they are interested. Sometimes they think to themselves, “well, that’s cool but I could never do that” or they think I am special in some athletic gene kind of way, but when they listen to the stories they realize I am not that different from them. They start to ask more questions or follow my blog so they can live vicariously through my crazy world. Eventually, they start to wonder if they could do some of this stuff too. That’s when the magic starts to happen. They start to dream.

Dreams are Good
Dreams are good stuff. You give up the restrictions and responsibilities of life. You don’t ask “if” something could really happen, you just imagine it happening. You stop asking yourself “could I do this?” and start asking yourself “why couldn’t I do that?”

I love doing new things and living life to the fullest. I don’t ever want to look back at my life and wonder why didn’t I do that. I want to look back and say I can’t believe I really did that. That is what my bucketlist is really all about. It’s about living life to the fullest in everyway I can imagine.

The ziplining proved to be very cool. I must admit I was never scared and I felt totally safe. Our guides were very knowledgeable and careful. We got to go on a total of 9 different ziplines ranging in distance from 300 feet to 1000 feet. All in all, we covered over 1 mile of line and got to zip along at speeds of nearly 45 miles per hour!

Tarantula’s on the Trail
The scariest part of the whole adventure was hearing stories of Tarantula’s migrating on the trail! What? Tarantulas! I didn’t sign up for Tarantulas! Thankfully, we only saw one and it was already dead; a rather nasty, gigantic hairy creature that I hope I never run into again!

The magic of this adventure was in bringing together four women who didn’t know each other at all and ending the day knowing we were all friends. We were empowered and we had finally done something to feed our own souls instead of always taking care of everyone else.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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I Wanna Be A Warrior- A Callathumpian

I learned something about myself the other day and it kind of surprised me. I realized I want to be a warrior. How did I come to this bizarre sounding realization? Well, in a round about way, which seems to be the theme of my life, more often than not, I find things about myself in seemingly random ways. I call this the journey of my life.

I have been on quite a journey the past year and I have learned a tremendous amount about myself along the way. I think I am a better person for it, so it seems that I must continue on this journey. They say life is not about “getting there, it is about the journey” and I must concur.

I attended an outrageous event last weekend called “The Warrior Dash” and even though I did not participate in it, I learned something about myself. I went as the “cheerleader, gear carrier, and photographer extraordinaire” to watch and cheer my husband and cousin on as they competed in a 5K Obstacle Course at Copper Mountain called the Warrior Dash. It was hysterical to say the least.

When they signed up for this event months ago I passed on joining. My insecurities got the best of me, again. The thought of running through an obstacle course, while running a 5K at 11,000 feet in elevation was enough to spook me off. I instead volunteered to be the cheerleader and take the pictures, a very safe, very clean decision on my part.

Now, you must understand a bit about this race. The idea is to dress up in a costume, test your inner Warrior and push yourself out of your normal comfort zone doing zany things like jump over fire, shimmy under barbed wire fences, climb over walls and wallow in a big mud pit. If you succeed and cross the finish line you win a cool warrior hat. This seemed a lot of work for a silly hat to me until I saw what I was missing.

My husband has this cool ability to see possibilities I can’t always see; I really admire this and love this about him. I just need to learn to listen to him more often, but that, my friend, is another story.

I looked up warrior in the dictionary and I was intrigued. It said a warrior was a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics. I liked the part about great vigor and courage. Then I noticed the synonym for this word and it was even better. It said a fighter was a person with will, courage, determination, ability or disposition to fight, struggle resist etc.

Pondering this a bit, it hit me that I would really like to be known as a warrior, someone with courage, a fighter who was a person with will, and determination, and with the ability to fight and struggle. This sounds to me like someone strong and brave.

The funny part of this is that as I learn something about myself, it leads me to something new and unexpected. I noticed a new word, one I have never heard of but I really liked the sound of. My search led me to the word, callathumpian, an extraordinary or unusal thing, person or event. An exceptional example or instance. This sounds good to me.

It hit me, you can’t be extraordinary if you are afraid to get out of the ordinary of life. I think my bucketlist is helping me get out of the ordinary of life and that is a good thing.

Watching my husband and cousin, dressed in matching Hawaiian outfits of grass skirts, straw hats and coconut shell bikini tops run up the mountain, climb over walls, slide under fences and then wade through the mud pit I realized you have to be willing to stand out from the crowd and you have to be willing to be someone who isn’t afraid to get dirty if you want to be a warrior.

I am going to sign up for next years’ Warrior Dash and work on my inner callathumpian, in fact, I am putting it on my Bucketlist right now.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Becoming a Fighting Badass!

I am learning to be a fighting badass. Really, me, a fighting badass. Stop laughing, I am serious. Anyone who knows me knows I am not made of typical badass stuff, I am more likely to bake some brownies for a bad guy and try to kill him with kindness, but I am actively trying to learn some convincing badass material.

What in the heck am I talking about? I am halfway through a self-defense class where I am learning all kinds of self defense techniques and how to fight dirty should I ever be in a position to defend my own life. I am learning how to play possum i.e. “act defenseless so my attacker puts his guard down and I can then inflict injury to him”, how to posture i.e. “act like a psycho badass” in the hopes of scaring away a would be bad guy away. I am learning how to “defang the snake” which is strike back with a knife in a knife fight and cause injury to the bad guy’s knife hand, thus rendering him unable to continue to attack me. I am learning how to handle myself in a knife fight for my life. I am learning how to stun a would be attacker and give myself time to either run or prepare to defend myself for upcoming attacks. Pretty amazing stuff for a soccer mom from the ‘burbs!

Why? Because, I until a couple weeks ago I had no clue how to defend myself. Thankfully, I have not ever been in a potentially dangerous situation, partially due to good luck, and partially due to the fact that I don’t put myself into questionable situations. I lead a pretty boring life in most respects spending most my time shuttling my family between school, activities, church and the grocery store. Not that much action happens at Safeway! But I am also alert, I watch my surroundings and I don’t take chances. While all that is good, and certainly helps to minimize my potential for becoming a victim, I am intelligent enough to know that is not foolproof and will not help me defend myself in case my luck runs out one day.

I have always known I needed to actively work at learning to protect myself but I have never done it until now. To be honest, I am a bit of a control freak and one of my biggest fears is to be vulnerable. I don’t like thinking about how vulnerable I’d feel if I was ever attacked. One of my bucket list items is to take a self defense class and I finally made time to take one, researched and found a fantastic class and put my money where my mouth was and guess what? I am amazed at what I have learned so far. I am a bad ass in the making and you’d never know it by looking at me.

I am taking a class at Copeland’s and I have a whole new perspective after just a few classes. I know that I need to be able to visualize myself defending myself and keeping myself safe in a potentially dangerous situation. I now know how to use my own body as a weapon if no other weapon is available. I am learning to think through an attack and respond rather than freeze. What I like about Copeland’s class is that he has you practice everything, the more a response gets repeated the more likely I’ll revert to it in an attack rather than freezing!

So far in my class it is me, another lady and a bunch of guys. I look so out of place that it is hard for even me to take myself seriously, but I recognize that I need the class much more than any of my male classmates. My classmates are wonderful, they are encouraging and they test me, which is exactly what I need. I am taking this opportunity to learn seriously, I practice on my own, I do my homework and I hope that I never have to use these newly developed skills. I am trying to practice my response so that if I ever need it my brain and body will know instinctively what to do.

I am only half way through my class but I know already that this was a good idea and that this is long over do for me. I also know already that I want to sign my kids up for this class so that they too will have the skills to protect and defend themselves if they ever need it.

Yes, I am becoming a bad ass, isn’t that cool?

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Impossible is Possible

My Hero Sister

Next week I have something fun scheduled to break up the monotony of winter and the ensuing cabin fever that often moves in mid-February. I am going on a dog sledding adventure with three wonderful friends up in the Rocky Mountains. I have always thought this looked fascinating although I never really figured I’d get a chance to ever mush a sled myself. I felt like this bucket list item was more on the wishful thinking end than the soon to become a reality item, kind of like riding a camel. You see riding a camel is also on my bucket list but I am going to have to work pretty hard to make that one come true, my biggest problem is that I don’t have any idea who owns a camel other than the local zoo and somehow I don’t think they’d be receptive if I called one day and asked if I could have a ride!

No, I think if I am going to ever ride a camel I am going to have to travel to Egypt and that seems a bit far off in my future. I was picturing the same scenario for dog sledding, I was picturing Alaska, the snow and beautiful scenery and the teams of huskies pulling loads of supplies around on the frozen snow. Since I’d love to travel to Alaska I had hoped to get to ride a dog sled on this far off future trip. It never dawned on me that I could find a closer to home option until I was talking to my sister about it. She is brilliant and said to me very matter-of-factly, just look online, I am sure there are places in the Rockies where you can go dogsledding! Duh! Why didn’t I think about that? Lesson learned, don’t assume something is impossible until you really try to make it happen!

A few clicks of my computer keys and viola I had several dog sledding options available to me within a few hours drive. A little more research and I found one that would allow me to drive up in one day and still get home before the bus got home!

Next thing I new, I had several friends asking if they too could come along for the fun! This was turning into something fantastic! A girl’s day out with great friends, having a grand dog sledding adventure! I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

I learned to just dig a little deeper, try a little harder and stop assuming things were impossible just because I had never done them before. Since I started all this craziness I have been amazed at what actually is possible if you just put your mind toward it.

So before I give up on the camel thing, does anyone out there have a camel they’d let me ride????

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Giving a Hand Up, Not Out

Gathering Donations

Every now and then something just happens in life and an opportunity to really make a difference in another person’s life presents itself.

If you are like me you want to help others whenever you, can but it is difficult to know how to step in and help those in need in a direct kind of a way. You know what I mean, you might know a family that looks like they could use some help, but the last thing you want to do is offend them so you hold back unsure of yourself. Other times you might see a homeless person panhandling on the side of the road and part of you really wants to help but you don’t want to give them cash if they are an addict; instead you want to help clothe them or feed them and that seems so big that we get scared away. In the end we give to charities that we hope put the help in the hands of those who need it but we never know for sure.

This week an opportunity presented itself to me on Facebook of all places! You see I was just checking on my friends various lives when a post come up from a friend asking if anyone had a baby crib available. The post was from an old friend of mine, the dad of my daughters’ best friend and college roommate. Billy owns an auto repair shop and said he had a young man (only 20 years old) working for him who just got custody of his 7 month old baby boy and he was in need of baby equipment, specifically a crib.

My first response was “darn, I don’t have one, I long ago gave away all our baby gear. I wish I could help but I can’t” but then a thought hit me, “Wait a minute! I don’t have any baby gear anymore but I sure do know a lot of moms, maybe one of them has a crib that this young Dad could use.” I wrote back to Billy and told him I would send out an email to a bunch of my mom friends and see what I could come up with.

I sent out the email and explained the situation. Within minutes I started getting responses. One mom had no crib, but did have a changing table and dresser, desk and full size bed. I shot an email off to Billy and asked if the young Dad could use this stuff. Just as fast was the answer “yes, this kid could use anything” in fact, “about all the young Dad has is a job with me.” Billy finally told me.

Next came a crib offer, complete with a mattress! Soon a high chair and a stroller were offered. Baby boy clothes and toys were promised.

I spent the afternoon receiving and sending email messages back and forth. Every time something new would come in I’d send a note to Billy making sure the young Dad did in fact need the donated item. Soon enough of the puzzle pieces had fallen into place. The young Dad needed everything in the way of baby equipment and clothes. Billy stated repeatedly that the young man was a great guy he was just in a very difficult situation and it was a long sad story how he came to get custody of the baby boy.

That was all I needed to know. I spread the word among the mothers, explained that anything they could donate would be a GREAT help to this young man. Even if the donation were an old stroller, at least the dad would have a stroller for now!

Several of my mom friends got back to me and said they had also given away all their baby stuff but that they would be happy to pick something up for this young Dad. “Wow!” I thought. “These mom’s are impressed enough with this young Dad’s courage that they are willing to buy something brand new for him!” I was amazed at the generosity of my friends.

A Full Load

The process continued for 4 full days, the donations arriving daily. My husband and I got the trailer from work and went around and picked up the larger furniture items and soon the trailer was full.

On Sunday one friend showed up with a dozen brand new items and a toy storage unit her children had used when they were little. It seems this mom took her kids to Target and got them involved in helping this young Dad and his son. Her kids helped her select bottles, sippy cups, bibs, blocks, diaper ointment, baby cereal, bath toys and more!

My own daughter went through her entire bedroom and came up with 3 well loved Teddy Bears, several books and a couple of toys. As I started digging around the house I found an extra first aid kit, a toy box, and an extra vaporizer. Then I headed to Target myself and found a dozen little boy items on the Clearance isle including a winter coat!

I heard back from my friend Billy today as I let him know of the extra items that had rolled in. His reply was perfect “OMG, this kid is going to shit! Lol!”

Well, I do hope that he understands that the world is full of very good people and when you stand up for what is right and try to do the right thing people notice.

I will tell him when I meet him in the morning that there was an army of mom’s out there and when they heard about his situation wanted to donate so that he had the proper tools to take care of his son. This was not a hand out, it was a hand up and there is a big difference. The only thing these moms wanted in return was his word that he would take excellent care of his baby boy.

Truck Full

I had several people tell me what a great thing I was doing to help this young Dad. I only sent out some emails but it did feel good to know that a 7-month-old baby boy would sleep well tonight in a crib, wrapped in soft blankets with a full tummy. I hope this young dad realizes the huge responsibility and blessing he holds in his hands. I pray that the two of them will make their way safely in this big old world.

One of the items on my bucket list was to help someone who really, really needed the help. I think my friends and I might have given a hand to a young man who really needed it this week.

Baby Items

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Confession Time

Confession Time

My name is Jackie, and I am addicted to chocolate. Really. Actually to be more specific, chocolate chips. I wouldn’t confess this to my blogging friends if it were not true. I am just not that kind of gal.

Honestly, I could survive on a deserted island forever with just a few things…. chocolate chips, coffee, diet coke, and a swimsuit. That’s really all it would take for me to get by and actually be in my version of heaven.

It is hard for me to come clean about these things. I would rather pretend I am eating tofu, high fiber bran and other such healthy things but usually I am not.

History of it all…

It all began a long time ago…. in a nice little house….. with a nice little family……. You see it actually began quite innocently enough. As a kid I was really sick a lot of the time. I won’t go into all the boring details but let’s just say I had a childhood disease which I have thankfully fully outgrown but while I was between the ages of 2 -15 an awful lot of the time I was sick with a kidney infection. When this would happen my mom would have to give me a fairly strong dosage of Prednisone. I don’t know if this is still true or not but back in my day the Pharmaceutical Industry had not come up with a good tasting syrupy version of Prednisone for kids. I had to swallow or chew up to 21 of theses little gems for several weeks while the doctor tapered me off them.

What was this like? Horrible, miserable, it was like chewing on a railroad tie. Can you imagine how hard it was for my mom to get me to do this starting at the age of 2! Good gracious, I really can’t imagine and I have vivid memories of me trying to get a dropper full of baby flavored Tylenol into my own toddler’s mouth and that is really no comparison. If I say I HATED taking my medicine that would be the gross understatement of 2011!

Bless my Mom

But thankfully I was blessed with an amazing mother, resourceful and kindhearted. As she tells the story, she could not figure out why I would make such a terrible fuss about taking my medicine until she finally took a little taste herself. After that it did not take her long to develop an ingenious system. A system that if I were in her shoes I would do to my own kids in a HEARTBEAT!

Every morning she would line up my pills and we would count out one chocolate chip for each little pill. The deal was beautiful in its simplicity; it was so clear that even at three years old I could get it. If I took a pill, chewed it up and actually swallowed it without a huge fuss I could have one chocolate chip to wash it down with. Problem solved.

The Unfortunate Result

Flash forward to the grown up version of Jackie, the one who no longer has to take nasty tasting medicine that she can’t swallow. The version who whenever she has a stressful moment desperately wants to reach for just a few reassuring friendly little chocolate chips to help make it all better. You just found me.

It all makes perfect sense once you really think about it. Honestly it took me many years to figure out why I always felt safe when there was a package of chocolate chips in my pantry.

If you think I am making all this up you can call my sister. She’ll tell you the truth. A few years back when I was going through some rough stress she even sent me a care package and in it was a package of Nestle Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips!

The Answer?

Now that my eyes are wide open and I am on this kick of trying to accomplish my life or bucket list I think it is time to put on my big girl panties and go for a hard challenge. I am going to try to kick a bad habit this year. My bad habit is chocolate chips. Oh dear Lord I am scared.

How am I going to do this you ask? I have a plan. I found a workshop here in town through the Colorado Free University called “Don’t Weight Any Longer! Hypnotherapy for Weight Loss” the class starts next Wednesday and I was afraid I would chicken out and not go as the date drew near so I had to write this little story and post it for everyone to see so you can hold me accountable.

The class is actually taught by the Official Olympic Team Hypnotherapist and supposedly he has been doing this to Olympic caliber athletes for over 30 years. I am going to see him for my little chocolate problem. If I lose 10 pounds that will just be the icing on the cake. My plan is to have him hypnotize me and make me not ever want to eat chocolate chips again! I hope he is up to the challenge!

Stay Tuned…

Wish me luck my friends.  So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Be Not Afraid

Be not afraid

“Be not afraid, I go before you always, come follow me…..”

I heard these wise words today as I sat in church and they really stuck me as powerful words. These were words to live by!

You see one of the most difficult items on my Bucket List is to conquer my fears. Up until recently I really did not even know what I feared the most so it was impossible to face those fears and actually conquer them. I think I figured out at least one of my greatest fears and it kind of surprised me. You see with all my recent introspective thinking I realized I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone and grow as a person. I started to write down what I wanted to do and then I started to figure out how to actually do some of it. As this process occurred I realized what I was not afraid of and it too was an interesting discovery.

I can say that I am not afraid of heights; I jumped out of a plane and was more scared to sit on a strange man’s lap than to actually chuck myself out of the plane. I also went rock climbing and had a flying lesson and was not in the least bit scared. Cool! Good to know!

I was able to write about all of these activities and then share that writing with others and that was when the scary alarms started going off. It was not so much that someone would not like what I was writing about that scared me, I think it had to do more with whether or not my writing was any good that had me pretty nervous. I took this opportunity for growth one baby step at a time, I shared my writing first with close friends, then with family and I gradually got to the point that I could share it with most of my friends and family and not break out in hives. I was making progress!

It was when I was faced with the decision of what to do with all this writing that I really freaked out. Now I had a real dilemma. I had been writing for several months, had shared my writings with a couple dozen people and had received very positive feedback so far. I really would love for my writing to someday be a book but I quickly decided I had a catch 22 going on here. I was scared to put my work out there to the wide world but the only way to see if what I was writing was of any interest to others was to just do it. The only way to know if others could relate to what I was writing about was to do the thing that most scared me- put it out there and share it with people.

I described this to close friends as “jumping off the cliff” I knew that once I put my writing out on the internet I would no longer have any control over where this thing went. I would be along for the ride. Maybe the ride wouldn’t go anywhere, which was one fear. Maybe it would really catch on and someday become a book and my life would no longer be very private. That sounded scary too. Maybe something in the middle would happen, maybe a little scary but not terrifying. The only way to know was to put it on my website, make the site public, and then start sharing it with everyone I know. Now you are talking terrifying!

Why this was so scary for me I don’t know. It’s not like I think everyone has to love it. I think the problem lies in the fact that I am being really honest and open in my stories and that makes me feel very vulnerable. Unfortunately, I think that is what makes it relatable to others. There was no way to write and be ‘hidden” in my words. I had to either keep it to myself and then I would never know “what if”or I could jump off the cliff and see what happened.

For several months I took baby steps. For several months I thought about it. For several months I asked trusted friends and family what they thought. For several months I prayed about it. Finally I decided for myself. The words “be not afraid I go before you always” rang in my ears.

I jumped off the cliff. That is why you are reading this today.

I can’t really say I will never fear again. I still break out in a cold sweat if I think about it too much. I have made a couple “OMG what have I done” phone calls when my anxiety got the best of me. But I can say I did it. I had the courage to try a bunch of new things. I had the courage to try to relate what I was doing to my life, my present and my past. I had the courage to try to make some connections and learn something about myself. I had the courage to write about these things and then I jumped off the cliff and shared this with you. I think I can cross conquer my fear off my list. I can say I grew in the process, my faith grew, and I grew.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

What do you think my friend, should I keep following my heart?

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Happy Business

Happy Business

One of my husband’s more famous quotes from his days of working at a paper mill in the northeast was “we are not in the happy business” he said this to a large group of disgruntled workers who were whining about something stupid.  His point to them was that it was not his job to always keep everyone happy, his job was to make paper.  I teased my husband about this quote quite often and yet used in the context he used it in it was very fitting.

I, however, have decided, “I am in the happy business.”  I say this seriously and yet with a big smile on my face.  I have spent many years working at various assorted full and part time jobs, trying to juggle that ever-challenging balance between work and family.

My husband and I decided a long time ago that our family took priority over everything in life.  He purposely did not take consulting jobs when our kids were little even though it would have paid a higher salary but he also would have traveled five days a week.  I purposely put the kids and their schedules and needs first, and then tried to find a job that I could work around our family.  Usually this meant sacrificing pay and advancement but I did it willingly and happily because I knew I only had this one chance to raise my kids and I would have many chances later on in life to develop my career.

Now that our two oldest kids are in college and the youngest is no longer a baby I am able to start shifting my priorities a bit.   As I explored different options I quickly realized that I wanted the best of all worlds.  I wanted a career that allowed me to make a good living and compensated me for my hard work, I wanted a business that I controlled, I wanted it to revolve around an ethical company or industry, I wanted whatever I did to make the world a happier place and a better place to be.  I wanted to “be in the happy business!”

Unconventional at best, I basically decided to write my own job description and then figure out how to make it into my business.

My job description:

-Work from home

-Flexible work hours

-Ability to set my own schedule

-Ability to travel and still “work”

-Virtual office capabilities

-Ethical business

-No income potential limitations

-Ability to relocate without having to sell business

-Low overhead

-Reasonable to high margins

-Low legal liabilities

-Product or service I love

-Something I am passionate about

-Ability to improve quality of life for others

-Ability to help other women improve their life

-Opportunity for creative growth

-Opportunity to teach others as component of job

-Growth opportunity for myself

-Ability to develop residual income streams

What did I come up with?  Well, it was challenging I must say, it took quite awhile for me to pull it all together but so far it is working and I am really excited.  What is it?  I am writing a book about my bucket list adventures, I am trying to write it in a way that is creative and helps other women and I am hoping that my book might inspire others in some small way.

I am also launching my Scentsy business.  This may sound crazy but it actually meets all my criteria listed above.  It allows me to work from home, be creative, and make life nicer for others.  Now let’s see if I can make this all work.  I am very excited to “be in the happy business!”

Happy Times


So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Hot Mommas

Mother and Daughter

My kids all thought I was cool until they were about 12 years old. After that age I suddenly became weird, stupid or even worse in their eyes. It got especially bad when they were about 13-16, most of the time I was just a huge source of embarrassment during these tumultuous years. I got it; I remember that strange feeling of being proud of my parents and yet utterly embarrassed by them at the same time. Thankfully, I out grew that stage and came to realize how cool my parents really were. It was amazing when my oldest daughter came to think of me as cool again, strange and yet wonderful.

I was not really even aware that it had happened with her except that I could tell she had started to appreciate things that before she had never even noticed. It started when she went off to college as a freshman a few years ago. Up until that date my husband and I had tried for most of her high school years to get her to sit down with us as a family and eat the evening meal. Most of the time she refused, one excuse after another, things like “I have a game to go to, I am meeting my study group, I am singing at the basketball game or I have to study and I already ate” were what we usually heard. Trying not to feel rejected we’d sit down to eat with our two younger children, feeling like something was missing.

This was the routine most nights so imagine our surprise when she came home for her first Thanksgiving and announced enthusiastically to the family “I can’t wait to have a nice family meal together like we used to!”

“When was that?” my never subtle husband asked.

“Are you kidding?” I asked, staring at her like I was the butt of a bad joke.

“Oh ya, and can you make green beans and mashed potatoes too mom? She begged of me.

“Ummm, I guess I could make green beans and mashed potatoes if that is what you really want.” I answered still very confused. She really wanted me to open a can of Green Giant Green Beans and make instant mashed potatoes? I wondered to myself.

That was how it started and it left me speechless in many ways. Suddenly my kid, the one I could barely make sit still for a family moment for most of her high school and junior high years, wanted nothing more than to hang out at home and soak up the experience of being with us. Wow!

My husband  and I laughed about it and thought we should have sent her off to college years ago!

It came up again a few weeks ago and I am still a bit speechless about it. Liz and her roommate were talking to me about my bucket list one day and I mentioned I had never been to the Rose, a country western bar here in town, and that it was on my list. Christina jumped on board immediately and said “Miss Jackie, you have to go out with us to the Rose! We will take you out drinking with us! Oh, it will be so fun!” She gushed.

“Oh dear,” I thought, terrified of the idea of going out with the girls drinking and acting all crazy like a kid.

“Oh I don’t think that is a good idea.” I fearfully hedged.

“Will you come if we can get another mom?” she challenged.

I don’t know what came over me but I said, “yes, if you can get another mom I will go.”

I was pretty sure this would go nowhere but no, within three weeks the girls called to say they had it all set up. The  Rose, Friday evening, Josh Abbott concert.

I found out later they had convinced my friend Laura to go too, Mykala’s mom.

Young and Fun

When Laura and I walked into the bar we were met by four adorable college girls all dressed to the hilt in short denim mini skirts and white shirts and cowboy boots. They looked so fresh and young, so very pretty.

“The mommas are here!” they yelled in unison at the top of their lungs as Laura and I paid the cover charge. “The hot mommas are here!” They squealed.

“Oh Lord, do they have to announce to the world we are the moms?” We looked awkwardly at each other as we headed toward the kids. This was weird.

Think about it. I have spent the past 21 years trying to be a good mom. Trying to keep my underage daughter from drinking and doing other such dangerous and illegal things. Suddenly, just because she turned 21 and decided I was kind of cool now I was supposed to be ok going to the bar and partying with her? I just don’t know…. This was just not right.

I had a beer and tried to join in the silliness. Laura had shots with the girls, which I thought was very brave. Soon the boys arrived. Yes, boys to me, but they were really not boys. Five twenty-something college graduates arrived and the girls went crazy. The “boys” did not quite now what to do with us moms either. Levi ordered us a round and did a shot with Laura. My excuse was I was the driver. Lame, I know.

Next we were on the dance floor getting lost in the music and atmosphere. The “boys” took us out for a spin, the girls laughed and tried their hand at the two-step. Laura proved the best dancer of the group. Who knew?


In the end the evening was really a lot of fun, very different, but fun. It was interesting to see the girls as young women, the boys as young men, the moms as something other than moms. It felt strange and uncomfortable, kind of like new shoes that you really like but just aren’t used to yet. I tried to act like a kid again and I tried to see my daughter not as a kid but as a grown woman. The roles were different but not bad, just new and kind of foreign feeling.

It felt strange to see how excited the girls were that we were at the bar with them. They were genuinely excited and you could see it in their faces. They were proud of us. We were proud of them. I held back but I think I can get used to this in time. I would like to do that again. Who knows maybe next time I’ll call a cab and do shots with them too!

So my friend I ask you, “what’s next on your list?”

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