What I Learned on Wednesday, oh and, Happy Halloween!

Welcome to installment #2 (hehe – I said #2) of What I Learned on Wednesday!  If you feel so inclined, feel free to drop me a comment on what you learned today, too.  So, here we go:

1. My Kids are the Smartest, Most Talented Kids in the World

I know, I know… all parents say this about their kids, but mine really are.  Really.  They amaze me every day with the things they say and do.  Today we were working on an art project and I was just so impressed with their artistic ability. I think I have two budding Van Gough’s or Picasso’s on my hands.

My four-year old once was given, yes given, a purse at the Vera Bradley store because she was carrying it around the store and the sales girls thought she was so cute with it, they purchased it for her. I had told her that I wouldn’t buy it for her, but she worked her mojo on those sales girls and came away with a free purse.  At makeup counters she’s constantly given tons of free samples.  She knows how to work it, that one. My three-year old isn’t too far behind… Parents talk about that moment when they realize that their kids are smarter than them – at this rate I’m going to have that realization next week.

2. My Sister is a Great Mommy

Confession, I didn’t actually learn this on Wednesday.  This past weekend we went to go visit my sister, brother-in-law and my sweet new nephew in Austin, and I was really amazed by both her and my brother-in-law.  They were already a great Aunt & Uncle to my girls, but they were attentive, caring and concerned with their new little one, and had their baby’s schedule down – they are going to be great parents. They are already, and being the big sis I am, I’m pretty proud of them.

3. Halloween is Awesome

When else can you spend part of your day wearing an Iron Man mask at work and no one thinks anything of it? And all the little kiddos in their costumes are sooo cute.

4. I’m having some severe writer’s block.  And, I need some help.

I don’t know how those hard-core bloggers do it.  When I first started this little blog ‘o mine, I thought that I would have plenty to say.  Which, I guess isn’t the problem, I still have plenty to say.  What I mean is “quality” things to say.  Knowing when to ask for help is key. So, if anyone out there has a topic for me to tackle, feel free to leave me one in the comments.   Girls will remember the episode of Sex in the City when Carrie Bradshaw was having writer’s block and wrote a column about men as socks.  Let’s just say that if I don’t get over this little road block soon my blog might start taking a very quick nose-dive into potty humor.  Love me some potty humor… (see first parenthetical statement in this post).

I look forward to hearing from you!

-Shan

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Nerds are the New Cool

I’m the first to admit it – I was not the coolest person growing up.  In fact, I was pretty nerdy.  I was in honors classes, got good grades, was the one everyone always wanted to copy off of, and to top it off had quarter-inch thick glasses and braces.  I was like the girl version of Anthony Michael Hall in Sixteen Candles. Luckily, my sophmore year the braces came off and I started wearing contacts, and my “social status” so to speak improved some.

My senior year, I was fortunate enough to have my now husband in 4 out of my 6 classes, and we started dating.  My husband was cool.  My husband was popular.  In fact, one might argue that my social status improved by dating him. But, he was harboring a secret that he would never dare speak of in the halls of high school.  Underneath the Tommy Hilfiger and Doc Martins was an inner nerd.  A Star Wars loving, toy collecting, N-E-R-D.  And I gotta tell you, it made me love him even more.

My point to this trip down memory lane is, it’s amazing what can change in a decade.  (Actually, 16 1/2 years, but who’s really counting?)

As I am writing this, my husband and his best friend (who pretty much lives with us, since he lives down the street – but hey, he’s single ladies!) are watching Toy Hunter, a show about a man that makes his living looking up fellow toy collectors and buying their old toys and reselling them. These days guys like Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill are movie stars.  Comic-Con is huge.  I can drop a line from Star Wars in almost any social situation, and everyone laughs, and understands the reference.  Seriously – nerds are the new cool.  Let’s hope the trend is here to stay.

-Shan

PS – If anyone is looking for a long-tray with short saber mint-in-box Luke, look me up, my husband might sell you his.

PPS – Let me also point out that my husband is still cool and still popular.  I’d like to think that after 17 years together some of it has rubbed off on me, but let’s face it, I’m probably still riding his coattails.

What I Learned on Wednesday…

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the Texas Conference for Women – where 5,000 women and about 10 very brave men gathered at the Austin Convention Center for a full day of female empowerment. Typically, I am not your women’s conference kind of gal.  Some of my more “girl power” friends might balk at this, but I usually find that stuff to be a bunch of hooey.  But, my company was a sponsor, so I went.  Surprisingly, despite my severe sourpuss attitude about the whole thing, I enjoyed myself.   I learned some things.  And, I got the idea for a recurring post – What I Learned on Wednesday.   This week, it’s a little girl themed given where I got the idea from, but next week it will probably be something like the dyed icing from the grocery store will turn your poop the color of the dye.*

1. Be vulnerable

Brene Brown’s session was all about vulnerability, and how you need to be open to being vulnerable in order to fully live, laugh, love, lead, etc. and as cheesy as it sounds, I was inspired.  You see, it’s very rare that you would ever hear anyone tell you that vulnerability is a strength.  Far too often, we’re told it’s a characteristic of the weak, and it’s about time someone called bullshit on that.

2. I dress as well as a fashion magazine editor 

One of the sessions was about style, and hosted by the Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar.  I don’t know if she saw “Texas” and thought she’d dress down or what, but a) I wasn’t all that impressed with what she had to tell us about style, and b) she was dressed just like half the women there.  She was wearing a black suit, black heels, a polka dot blouse that I think I may have the same or very similar one, and the green jcrew bubble necklace that everyone and their mother has the knock-off (in fact I think I hers might have been the knockoff).  She didn’t look bad at all, cute even, but after looking at her and realizing I have the exact same items at home in my closet, I realized I dress as well as a fashion magazine editor.  But I do think her shoes were Louboutin’s…

3. Women need to stop being so hard on each other, and ourselves

OK – I know I’m saying this after I just dissected the fashion editor’s outfit.  But, women are way to critical of each other.  Why?  Who really knows, but I for one believe that we need stop trying to tear each other down, and learn to get along.  Also, we are way to critical of ourselves.  Come on, let’s give ourselves a break every now and then!

So – there you have it, what I learned on Wednesday.  What did you learn?  I’d love to hear from you.

– Shan

*True story.  While I haven’t verified this with my own poop, I noticed that my toddler had blue poop in her diaper after eating a cupcake with blue icing.  It really freaked me out, I almost called the pediatrician, I mean blue poop just can’t be a good thing.  Then I thought, “where have I seen this hue of blue before?”, and it hit me, it was the cupcake.  Beware the blue icing.  Unless you don’t mind blue poo.

Pirate Cats & Seeing Eye Dogs

I have always loved to write.  There’s just something about putting pen to paper (or in this case, fingers to keys) and letting my imagination take over that has always called to me, calmed me, and given me fulfillment.

When I was in fifth grade, or maybe it was fourth, I wrote a short series of stories about Orange Beard the Pirate Cat.  The plot was quite similar to Pirates of the Caribbean, which is odd since I had not yet heard of Pirates of the Caribbean (except maybe the Disney ride), but you get the idea.  But then, I guess all pirate stories are essentially the same. Orange Beard was in constant search for treasure, had various foes and nemeses, and ended up dying on the open seas, of a shotgun wound from his first mate when there was a mutiny on his ship…  The idea was to carry on the story with the first mate as the new lead character, but the problem was, I didn’t care for the character as much as I had Orange Beard and I lost my passion for the series. It was then that I learned my first lesson in writing.  Don’t try to write about something you don’t care about.

In middle school I wrote a story for my English class about a girl who was blind and her seeing eye dog, and there was a limit to how many words we could use.  My original idea was to have the girl and her dog, I forget their names, get separated from their family, and it would be a Homeward Bound type story about the duo bravely facing the odds of nature and nefarious characters to find their way home to their family. The problem was, I couldn’t find a way to bring the story to conclusion within the word limit, so I ended up finishing it lamely, where someone saw her and the dog at the mall or something and called the police who returned her to her family.  I ended up getting a C on the paper.  This taught me another valuable lesson.  I should have just written the story the way I had planned.  True, I may have still gotten the C for ignoring the rules, but I would have been proud of the paper.  Lesson two, don’t ever submit anything that you aren’t proud to have your name on.

You may wonder why am I recounting lessons from my youth, and the reason is this; even though there are only seven (now eight) measly little posts on this blog, I care about it.  It’s a little baby that I’m nurturing and with luck (and some savvy marketing) hopefully it’ll continue to grow.  And, I’m proud to have my name on it.  This is Shan’s Blog, after all. 🙂

-Shan

Relaxed and Anxious

Yesterday the fam and I returned from a well-deserved, long-overdue trip to the coast.  South Padre island is beautiful, especially this time of year.  And, there is hardly anyone else there. We practically had the beach to ourselves, which was awesome, and it was almost fall-like, with highs in the 90’s (couldn’t resist the typical, “it’s really frickin’ hot in Texas joke).  Friday we spent all day on the beach, the girls played in the sand and waves, I got my usual sunburn… it was nice and relaxing.

It’s been a while since we have had a chance to get in some QT just the four of us, and while I really enjoyed it, I had a hard time leaving work behind.  Right before we left, a meeting was scheduled for Monday that unfortunately meant that there was a lot of work to do in a short time, and I had to hand off quite a bit to a coworker.  Which a) made me feel guilty, and b) had me working, reviewing documents, checking and answering my email non-stop from the beach.  Ordinarily I would feel ready for the meeting, but I am super anxious for tomorrow since I wasn’t involved in every detail of the final preparation.

But what’s really bothering me are these little thoughts: “Why couldn’t I leave work behind?”  “Why couldn’t I allow myself to be fully present in the moment with my husband and daughters?”

I’m big on personal boundaries; I can’t stand it when someone is in my “circle of space” (the radius of space within an arms length), or when people ask me something that I consider to be personal.  And I try to observe other’s personal boundaries as well.

I’ve heard it said that work will take as much of you as you allow it, and that you are responsible for setting that boundary.  It’s apparent to me that work and I have some boundary issues right now.  So, much like I back away from the person standing too close, perhaps I need to put more trust and faith in my coworkers, and back away from work sometimes.  I have a feeling it will do both my family and me some good…

-Shan

Zombies – They’re Real Y’all

A few days ago I alluded to the zombie apocalypse in a post, and it generated a lot of comments.  Not comments on my actual blog mind you, but on my Facebook, and in email and in person.  I think that my friends are confused as to how a blog is supposed to work as they commented everywhere but on the actual blog…  But, as it is also proof that this little blog of mine is actually being read, I’ll let it go for now.

Those that know me well, know that I have an irrational fear of gremlins, unsexy vampires* and other things that go bump in the night.  Now, the rational part of me knows that these things do not exist.  But even at the age of 34 I will still run down the hall at night after all the lights are turned off just so that something cannot come up behind me and grab me.

But nothing terrifies me more than zombies.  “Why zombies?”, you ask.  Because, that. shit. is. real.

Maybe not real yet, and maybe not real in the sense that it’ll be like movie zombies when the zombie apocalypse does happen, but let’s look at the science and realm of possibility behind it.  Take modern chemical warfare for example – there are more types of  chemicals and gasses used now that we don’t even know about.  In top-secret labs and bunkers chemicals are being developed that are made to attack the brain.  You think that stuff can’t turn someone into a mindless zombie?  Think again.

The pharmaceutical industry is another one to be wary of.  With our growing dependence on drugs to keep us balanced and happy, who’s to say that something can’t go terribly wrong there?  Or some crazy outbreak of a strain of a disease that makes people go crazy and eat each other.  It could happen.

And what about the fact that there have been two cases of druggies crazed out of their minds, who attacked people and ate their faces?  That’s zombie behavior if I ever heard it…  It also happened in Miami, which really didn’t surprise me.  Those real housewives had better watch out.

The CDC website has an entire section dedicated to zombie outbreaks.  http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm  Which people tell me is a joke.  Um, I’m sorry, but when have you ever known the CDC to joke?  It’s not like last week they were all “Hey everyone, there’s been an outbreak of Ebola!  Just kidding!!”  Yeah, they are real riots over there at the CDC…  So in my mind, if they actually dedicated an entire section of their website to it – they must know something we don’t know.

So – given that, I do have a plan for when the zombie apocalypse strikes.  If you want to live, look me up. I’ll be the one with the full on arsenal of weapons and Dr. Pepper, stylishly killing those zombie mo-fo’s and protecting my family and loved ones.

-Shan

*The term “unsexy vampires” applies to the freaky vampire things featured in movies like I am Legend, Daybreakers (the ones who didn’t have enough to eat), and in From Dusk Till Dawn when they get all ugly.  Sexy vampires, like the ones in Twilight and True Blood, on the other hand, do not scare me at all.  In fact, I’m Team Edward all the way.

A Brief Moment of Reflection

Sometimes things happen in your life that cause you to pause, and reflect.  For me, I have to admit, those times don’t happen often.  But once in a blue moon they do and this weekend was one of those moments. 

Quite often I find myself wondering how I fell into the current line of work I am in now.  It certainly wasn’t what I went to school for, and it wasn’t anything that I was ever passionate about. In fact, I would venture to say that I never really cared, or gave it thought.  But…  There’s this little “thing” that I have become particularly proud of, and passionate about.  And while things at work will never be perfect, and on a daily basis I may contemplate quitting, I hope that I am always allowed to pursue this little project, because it’s truly rewarding.  Some may say it’s because I am a part of something that changes lives, but what they don’t understand or get is that it is really my life that has been changed.  And that’s what makes me care about it so…

Anyway, they say that you need a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  Aside from my sense of purpose to provide for my family and the ones I love most, until a few years ago I didn’t really feel a sense of purpose around my job.  It paid the bills, and that was about it.  But I feel a sense of purpose now.   

I realize I am being cryptic, but there are three groups of people who had this opportunity not fallen in my lap, I would never had the chance to meet. I want to do a good job for this small group of people, and I hope that they know how appreciative I am to them for that.  So, peeps (you know who you are) thanks…