I Really Like Me

I haven't been able to write a thing for the longest time.  I feel I have let myself down, because I do so enjoy sharing my thoughts about life, love, happiness and sadness.  However, it is fitting that during the holiday season, I have learned something new; how to be my own best friend.

Yes, corny as it is, as 70's as it is, it has happened and to me!  I have never learned to enjoy my own company- until very recently.  There was always a child, husband, or relative around to absorb my time.  I never really had to get to "know" myself.  And secretly, I was afraid I wouldn't like myself.  I thought I always had to have the "company" of others to keep me from dealing with this Pandora box.

So, after my son left to take a job in Florida in January, 2010; I was faced with yes, being alone, ( if you don't count the Great Pyrenees and Goffen Cockatoo I have in tow).  The first few months' were the most difficult.  I was transitioning to having constant stimulation to being alone with just the animals.  My new, little apartment proved to be a safe haven to begin this journey.

I felt the rush of panic come over me, not unlike the feeling I had when I had to TRAVEL alone for business.  I know it sounds just nuts, but I have this ANXIETY thing going on, causing me to even go into COLD SWEATS when I let my mind have free range.

Know what?  I learned that the old expression, "it's all in your mind" became more than a reality for me, living on my own.  I suppose I just like to make things more difficult.  So the question is, why am I beating myself up and not letting myself enjoy the moment?

Truth is, there have been many, beautiful defining moments living on my own.  I can now slow down, and really reflect on my life, and wonders of all wonder; I actually ENJOY my own company.

With Christmas around the corner, and no kids coming home for the holidays, I will nonetheless host a party of 12 in my 640 square foot refuge.

I don't have Christmas eve off, so after attending church, and making last minute preparations for the barrage of guests set to arrive at 4 PM, my life will move into the fast lane for 48 hours.

And, after I finish dishes for 12 it will probably be close to midnight.

This Christmas party will remind me how ridiculous it is to have once been afraid to be alone. Once the last guest leaves, I will sigh a sound of relief, because I am 'alone' at last!

The Surprise Gift

The greatest joys for me have always come from the most unexpected places.  Last night, while out walking my dog, I struck up a conversation with a  neighbor in my complex.  This neighbor has obvious disabilities, yet his smile and easy manner would warm your heart.

 We conversed about Section 8 housing and how he got into the program. My building is certified for Section 8 housing, and there is a bevy of challenged people that have made it their home. After I collected my mail, "Tim" asked if he could walk along with me and my dog, Pepe.

"Of course," I replied.  I was welcoming conversation after a long day in front of a computer.

 We discussed where "Tim" was born, he shared with me that throughout his life,  people have made fun of him and his disabilities.  I was so hurt and angry to hear this from such a kind soul.

 I had talked to this young man less than ten minutes, and already I was perked up and happier than I had been in a long time.  Yet, I thought- people actually have made fun of him?  It is obvious that Tim has disabilities, he speaks about two octaves louder than most; but his easy smile and soulful eyes are honest, transparent and engaging.

I began to tell him about Pepe, my Great Pyrenees.  How he has suddenly lost the strength in his back legs.  I told him that Pepe has been my closest and best friend  for almost 10 years.  I shared the thought of losing him is painful.  I told him I didn't know how to handle this unavoidable event.

"Tim" knelt down and put his arm around Pepe's head and whispered,   "You're going to be alright Pepe, remember your Mama needs you, you have to get well for her," he said.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  The intuition this young man has amazed me .  After Tim had his little discussion with Pepe, he straightened up and continued to walk with me.

"I had a Golden-Retriever wolf mix," he said.  "I loved that dog.  My mom and I found him on an Indian reservation outside of San Diego.  I remember how I took him to work with me every day. Then, when he got sick we were going to move.  I prayed that he would live until we made that move."

I felt like I was talking to someone I have known all my life.  When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation.  A heart-to-heart like this?

Gifts come in different packages and types.  "Tim" told me that few people engage him in conversation because they just assume he isn't intelligent enough to take the time to speak with him.

What a travesty for those that have passed on a good conversation with Tim!

They have missed out on the special joys that he shares openly with those that will take the time to look beyond the obvious.

The rare unique pleasure of having a meaningful conversation.   I have always hated small-talk  For me, Finding someone to open up to is like trying to look for a needle in a haystack.

There are so many treasures to explore in the most unlikely places.  I often look outside myself for happiness; I think I'll find  in buying clothes, a house or other material possessions.

How would I know that the key to happiness could be found at my mailbox?

Finding happiness for me, after all was less complicated than I had imagined.

I challenge you to try it sometime by speaking to someone you would normally just pass on the street, at the car wash or on your day-to-day activities.

 It energized and renewed me.  I know it will bring you special joys as well.  I was reminded why I am here, and what it takes to really be happy.

My Real Estate Horror Story

House_for_sale : dollar in shape house isolated on white background

I bought a house, then I didn't buy a house.  It all went by that fast.  Having been a Realtor for 6 years I never imagined what my buyers' went through when buying a home.

The waiting, the excitement, the loan approval, the inspection -tons of paper work-  documentation, social security numbers; you name it - everything is required except your pantie size.

Not to mention school.  That's right, homeowners class.

 You see, I was approved for state funding for my down payment, so I went to a TERRIFIC class on the do's and don'ts of home buying.  I would advise EVERY buyer to take this class.  It is offered in every locality by the City in which you reside.  It is a wonderful resource at least, and at best; it provides for a down payment assistance that can be inexpensively paid back and is folded into your mortgage payment.

I have gone through this before - over 5 years ago.  I don't remember it being as stressful.  Oh, I have had multiple homes before which I shared with husbands.  However, I have never bought just for me and Pepe, my Great Pyrenees; and Coco, my Goffen Cockatoo.

After the running, the excitement, the shelling out of money for the inspection and appraisal, and earnest money - the transaction fell.

Not because I didn't qualify, not because I didn't want the house, but because the repairs agreed upon were not done to my satisfaction.

The seller did agree to correct the issues, but after I had already documented what I wanted repaired  and I found these during the walk-through- I was less than willing to be let down a second time.

I had to ask myself the hard question.  Can I afford to take on the financial responsibility of this house? Can I play roulette risking that the structure was sound? Can I afford to make these costly repairs if not?

Interestingly, there is no remedy for this in the real estate contract. It would require mediation, and of course, the seller gave me the opportunity to let him repair the items for the second time (which he didn't do correctly the first time).

Moreover, with just 5 days before closing, and having given my notice to vacate my apartment (which was already RENTED by the way), it took more than logic to terminate the transaction.

Shame on me.  And this happened twice. How could I make this mistake twice?  Me, the real estate professional.  I had always been so protective of my clients; how could I let myself down?

 There is so much to share I don't know where to begin.  I'll try to get this right for you:

1).  NEVER EVER fall in love with the exterior cosmetics of a house until you know what is behind the smoke screen. Having done this twice, shame on me.

2)  When you find your dream home, don't put anything on paper UNTIL your own  professional checks it out.  I don't mean inspector.  My inspector, as most will do;  pointed out the most critical things on the report.  My personal representative (a construction worker friend of the family) pointed out a ceiling so full of insulation that it buckled when he put his hand on it.

 I should have known.

3) Measure your bedroom IMMEDIATELY.  I was so ga ga  about this little doll house I didn't bother to  measure the rooms to see if my bedroom furniture would fit.   I found out after I went into contract  I would  have to break up my furniture set because it would not fit in any of the bedrooms.  Take that tape measure the first time you step into a home!

4) Talk to neighbors, get the skinny on the neighborhood and the history of the house...this was pointed out over and over again when I researched my transaction and at homeowners class as well.

The GOOD News?  by the grace of God I was able to get my complex  to get the new tenant to transfer to another apartment (which magically became available the day the transaction fell!).

My furniture all fits in my bedroom, and I won't have to give up my heavy duty washer and dryer that would not fit into the bungalow I was going to purchase. And, I won't have to wait to buy a dishwasher and air conditioner because I already have one in my humble abode.

The BAD News?  I had to tell  Pepe' that he was not getting his yard....not quite yet anyway.

"And now ladies and gentlemen..."

Alfred Hitchcock, 1956.
IMDb.com- Alfred Hitchcock

It is easy to count the reasons I love and miss Alfred Hitchcock.  I doubt there will ever be a director that  parallels his talent.

I am lost in watching a slew of his gems this week:  Frenzy, Topaz, for a sampling. Glued to my flat screen television - I remotely remember watching all his films' - but it has been so long since that I have seen them the thrill is the same as watching for the first time.

Can anyone top the edgy scene in Frenzy when Hitch zeros in on the English psychopath in the victim's office?  The scene starts out so benign, just a 'wacko' client that isn't satisfied with the agency's attempts to "match" him up with a prospective partner.

I am dazzled by way the camera pans the expression on the killer's face, mountains of orange wild hair, the watery eyes of the victim as she realizes she is trapped.    The gruesome rape scene, the victim reciting a measured prayer; as the killer's voice grows deeper and deeper as he lapses into a rage-  stealing more than her body - during the savage attack.

I especially like the type of characters Hitch selects for his films.  Undoubtedly, the  most eccentric bunch  of people I have seen on screen.  Woody Allen has the same ability to pick perverse characters.

Brian De Palma has a bit of the Hitchcock twist and turns in his films, but still; they are a far cry from the class of this English master director.

How about the fun in watching for his cameo's?

I am always afraid I will miss his split-second appearances when I race to the restroom or kitchen.  It is always a challenge to find his bulbous face in a crowd, or some other obscure place within the frame.

There are so many Hitchcock films  I love, especially his first films at the beginning of his career.  As his films' evolved  the zaniness just got better. Characters took on a more morbid, yet eccentric element as he began to flourish.

Something that never changes is the thrill watching an Alfred Hitchcock film.  Moreover, one never knows what to expect next.  It is hard to predict what will happen in the end, as in far less brilliant films.  He was the master of dark disguise, and his character direction brought out the dark side in every one of his characters.

What's you favorite Alfred Hitchcock film?  Why did you pick that one as your favorite?

Today, there is so much memorabilia that can be bought from his estate.

Including, get this, a phone voice over of him advising your callers "you are out for the moment, but should return soon."

Just one of my personal favorites....

Managing Career Disappointment

Have you ever wanted something more than anything in world, but had to turn it down when you got it?

It could be a job, a new beau, a home.  Something you have been dreaming about, visualizing, wishing and hoping about so much it hurts.

Then, you find out your perfect dream is a smoke screen.  There is a piece of the puzzle that doesn't fit.  Very often, this dream come true requires a risk, and you have to take it or pass on it.

I had what I have been working for, within reach and offered to me.

But there were issues about owning my dream.  Serious issues.  I wanted to bury my concerns, and just go for it.  However, after conferring with friends, I knew that I couldn't follow my gut this time.  I couldn't ignore elements of this opportunity that would clearly impact me if I said yes and took the risk.

Sometimes, life sucks.

I am feeling very angry about loosing something so important- so precious.  Particularly because I don't have a lot of time left on this earth to obtain that goal.

The objections were serious enough that I just couldn't ignore them.  Oh, I want to just do it anyway.  This would be a fatal move.  In my case, it is a job...I job that I covet, that I want so badly.

I have made some serious mistakes in the past, and even though I had an offer I found hard to refuse, I couldn't take it not because of fear of failure, I know I am the best person for this position- but the players would have affected my success.  The fit wasn't there.

Moreover, I have taken positions in the past ignoring my gut, and I was out the door within 3 months.  I am a very special personality,  People either love me or hate me.  There is nothing lukewarm regarding how co-workers and bosses evaluate me.

I want to kick up my heels, stomp my feet and scream at my frustration.

Back in the day, jobs were so plentiful that it took one no more than 4 to 6 months to get the job of your dreams.  Not today, and certainly not for a boomer like me.

Has this ever happened to you?  How did you handle disappointment?

Did you mourn your dream that slipped out of your reach?

I can't let things go.  I am tenacious and stubborn to a fault.  And, I beat myself up mercilessly.

So, as I approach the long, and winding weekend, I have yet another burr under my saddle to fester.

Life can suck when you have to make hard decisions.

So tonight, instead of going home and talking to "the hand" I am going to put my arms around my Great Pyrenees and pour my heart out.

Retirement Is a Dirty Word

Driving to work today, I thought about retirement.  It was frightening to me.  Just the word "retire" makes me think of:

  • tired
  • worn out
  • used up
  • worthless
  • ready to die
  • dead weight

Pretty hard to swallow, that in 10 years-  I will be looking at retiring.  I am not ready.  Notwithstanding, the economy tells me I won't be able to even afford to retire in ten years.

More frightening.

I always thought of myself as being creative, but am I resourceful?  I think one has to be very resourceful to come up with a plan "B" when you're looking into a crystal ball. Check out this chilling Daily Finance article the-notion-that-youll-spend-less-in-retirement-is-totally wrong

I look around, and see loads of resourceful people.  They are not licking their wounds, but rather; they have established clever little businesses to sustain them as they shift into first gear.

I haven't done that.  I have thought a great deal about it.  What I want to do when the time comes.

When I started blogging, I thought, hmmm; this  is a good idea, because I believed it would open doors of possibilities.

To some degree, that has been true.  But it is no secret that you cannot make a living blogging.

Baby boomers, like myself, have this dirty little secret:  we never planned for tomorrow.

 I can remember my mother's good friend telling me to "put my money away."  I also remember feeling very angry about her telling me what to do with my money.

 How dare this woman stick her nose in my business, I thought.

Of course, back in the day, money was rolling in like no tomorrow.  I had a career, making excellent money, and never thought about tomorrows.  Money was to be spent, and I bought want I wanted.

As I look back, I realize I was too foolish and stubborn to look at reality.  And, I haven't changed much since then.  I have been to the school of hard knocks, but all I do is dream about a change in my lifestyle.  I still love to dream, it quiets my restless soul.  

I can't bear to think that I will spend the rest of my life in a void of financial doom and gloom.

So, with that said, I would like to hear from other baby boomers, on ideas to keep yourself afloat, as we approach retirement.  Because, l don't want to retire in the true sense of the word.  I want to continue to provide for myself, be an active part of the community rather than shrivel up in a corner of my home.

So tell me; what are your plans for retirement?

Will you be able to retire and provide financially for yourself?

J.K. Rowling Ready to Roar

JK Rowling-LMK-037518.jpg

I had blogged about my doubts that J.K. Rowling's new book would be a success.  I believed that she should stick with appealing to her children's audience.  Apparently, minds far more evolved disagree:  J.K. Rowling Writes 'Casual Vacancy' For Adults.

This article makes some strong points that I hadn't evaluated about the J.K. Rowling audience. Usatoday.com explains that Rowling's targeted children through  the Harry Potter series.  Those books  transitioned the once 'children'  into young adults.  Harry Potter books have made readers out of the  adolescent and preteen readership.

Usatoday.com goes on to report that those young adults are already sold on the Rowling's new mystery novel, Casual Vacancy.  Makes perfect sense to me.  It's all in the details, it is said.

So clever.  How did I miss that?

I was always from the school of thought that if you have found a niche in your market, don't change courses. Apparently, there are many ways to look at this.

On September 27,  2 million copies hit the United States bookstores.  Clever as she goes, the book will be simultaneously released in Canada, U.K. New Zealand, Australia and Germany.  The digital version will also be released on the same date.

Whew!  never under estimate genius and power of brilliant marketing campaigns.  Silly me, I should know better.

Trouble is, I have this gut thing about me.  I always rely on intuition to evaluate  people, situations, the world at large.  Well, at least usatoday.com agrees with me on one point,  that J.K Rowling is in the same league as Dickens. 

Got that call right.

And, just like the Harry Potter books-  there are no advanced copies being released.  So we all have to hold our breath right up to the end.

Are you ready?

I can't tell you have many books I have started and not finished.  I never had that problem with Harry Potter.  I hung on every word, and they don't get any less interesting when read a second or third time.

In fact, I always find something I have missed -  so good are J.K. Rowling story details.
So. with the advent of another J.K. Rowling novel.  I can hear the pitter-patter of footsteps already lining up at the book stores.

I am so ready to go on another adventurous ride. How about you?

The Real Meaning of Courage

I listened to "Teenage Wasteland" today, the "Who's" mega 60's hit about the Vietnam war.  As I listened, my mind drifted back to my first boyfriend.  He was such a cutie.  I met him at the Surfside Community Center in Miami Beach, Florida.  It was my very first dance.   I was all of 12, he; 13 or 14.

 I'll never forget the nice, starched white shirt he was wearing, and his red and black vest, black pants, and black boots.  He was just a vision for a girl of 12. His blond hair, softly framing his strong face, was the perfect accessory to his wiry, tall body.  Anything Beatle was the rage, and he definitely had the British vibe going for him.

I knew I had to meet him, or at least introduce myself.  I don't actually know how I finally did meet him.  Being rather shy about meeting boys at that time, I must have done something right because by the end of the night we were fast friends.  During the weeks that followed, he invited me to meet him at the beach, and so,  my first crush blossomed.

We'd  meet on weekends and go to the ice-skating rink at the Fountainbleau Hotel. We would delight and walk around to all the hotels of the day that lined  popular Collins Avenue.  But it was a the Deauville Hotel, that he whispered softly into my ear, "do you want to go steady?"  How excited I was to have someone so interested in me.

There were other groups of teens that frequented the Beach, some of them we called "hooples."  These were the rebel without a cause group, always looking for fights, and still sporting the greased back 50's look, rather passe' in the swinging 60's. A couple of these teens must have said something to set my beau off, because the next thing I saw was two or three of them beating him up.

My poor guy had his hands wrapped around his head - it was obvious he wasn't a fighter - and could not protect himself.    At that time, I am ashamed to admit I thought less of him because he didn't fight back and defend himself.

I was a child at 12, at every sense of the world.  However, I was in for one of life's greatest lessons about that incident.  I would not know what the lesson would be, or that it would take 7 years to learn it. 

The Vietnam war was raging on during the 60's.  I went on to meet another young man in my late teens, who was going to be a true boyfriend, not the "puppy love" I experienced with this lad.  During this time, everyone I knew held there breath about the draft.  It was a lotto, and whoever drew the lowest numbers was called to serve.  "Ronnie" wasn't so lucky.  He was shipped off in 1968.  I prayed that my current boyfriend did not get drafted.  As it turned out, he didn't and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

So, I was shocked when, in 1969, the phone rang, and it was my good friend Linda.  She was calling to let me know that Ronnie was killed in Vietnam.  There was a viewing and she wanted me to be there, and even bring my current boyfriend, Tom.  I sighed, and said I couldn't do it.  She was relentless, reminding me that he was my first boyfriend, a friend I had for two years, prodding me even more.  Insisting that I show up- out of respect to him- and our friendship.

I asked her what happened, how did he die?  She explained that he was anxious to get home.  His troop had the option of getting home early, if they volunteered for a reconosance mission.  Ronnie volunteered and tragically stepped on a land mine.  

When I went to view his body, the poor boy was dressed in his army uniform, with a glass enclosure over his body.  A mutual friend was standing over his body, pointing out that his right arm was obviously missing, as the uniform hung flat on his right side.  Tom and I slowly kneeled over the casket, and said a prayer for Ronnie.  It was a strange and very odd feeling, being there with my current boyfriend, and honoring my first.

While it was a terrible experience, I didn't think back to the incident on the beach, at least not at first.  It was, over the years, that I most reflect back on that day.  I frequently reflect on, the joke was really on the "hooples".  Because he was the real hero.  I thought of the "toughs" and how they looked at him, full of arrogance and pride.

Could they man up to what he did?  Would they have taken on that mission?

The old adage that "youth is wasted on the young" couldn't be more potent.  It is life's lessons like this that are truly wasted on the young.  It was inspiring to first become aware, that Ronnie was a hero, and getting beat up on the beach paled in comparison to giving up his life for his country.

Life has it ironies, doesn't it?

I can't help but drift back to that day every time I hear the Who's Teenage Wasteland.  I still can't make sense of that war.  But I will never forget Ronnie and all the other men who fought for what turned out to be a senseless effort.

I will never forget Ronnie, nor will I forget the lesson I learned about courage, and what real courage is.

I wouldn't want to ever forget.

My Moments

I have had my "moments."  Those little spaces in time, etched in my mind that I will never forget.

Here are some samples:

  • my first kiss
  • my first boyfriend and what he wore when I met him at a teen dance
  • my first boyfriend's wake after serving in Vietnam
  • my wedding
  • giving birth to my first child
  • giving birth to my second child
  • feeling old on my 30th birthday
  • seeing Ireland for the first time
  • my father on his death bed
  • my  mother on her death bed
  • the first house I owned
  • the house I grew up in
  • seeing the Beatles in Jacksonville
The list goes on and on...but I remember so much more, those special moments in time uniquely my own.

These memories never fade, but seem to reappear more frequently with age.  Maybe it is like dying, and going through the proverbial tunnel.  I suppose I am supposed to remember the incidents that make up a lifetime.

There are those that say life begins with today.  Many, refuse to look back, just forward- or better- just live in the moment.  I am far too traditional for that kind of thinking.  

We all have our "moments."  Everyone has them, many paint them, others' talk about them.
We are share our "moments" differently.

I am bothered by the moments I have forgotten, but delight when somebody asks "do you remember when..." and I suddenly remember something I forgot.  More troubling, when someone asks do you remember so and so and I CAN'T remember...ugh....that gets very awkward.

That is the great thing about writing, as difficult as it is - you establish your very own personal memories- lest you forget.

I am happy I could share a couple of my own with you.

Do Our Children 'Owe' Us?

What do we owe our children?  What should we expect from our children?  I have been doing battle with my daughter for some time now.  She left home at 14 during the summer, which was to be her regular summer vacation with her Dad in Pittsburgh.

Right before she was to return, I received a call from her Dad informing me that she wasn't coming home.  She had chose to live with him and go to high school in Pittsburgh.  I was devastated.  How could this happen?  Why would my daughter do this to  me?  And why would her Dad make the call, and she refuse to do it herself?

To be fair, I was married to a bi-polar man and there was a lot of arguing in the house.  She told me years later that this was the reason.  It didn't stop the pain.  I will never forget it.  A loss that went right to the heart.

I cried until there were no tears left in my body. My  neighbor, and friend came over to comfort me.  I remember every detail of the day.  I shall never forget the day.

Throughout the years, my daughter went on to graduate from college, and became a Probation Officer in Florida.  She had a relationship with a college boyfriend that lasted 9 years.  They lived together, (which I initially suggested rather than rush into marriage).  This back fired.   Four years, went onto five, and I expressed my concerns and thoughts about marriage and family.  Last year, they bought a house; got a second dog - company for the min-pin my daughter has had for 10 years.  I also expressed my concerns over my daughter purchasing a house with a man who had not committed.

I have only seen my daughter three times in the 10 year period.  I could have visited her more, but financial obligations kept me from doing so.

I missed her terribly.

Roughly two months' ago, she announced she was going to meet her cousin, whom she had come to know on-line through Facebook.

 Hmmmm...she was going to New York, and I was concerned.  I told her that my niece may not be the most reliable person in the world.  That she should confirm her willingness to put her up for the few days she would be there.

To my dismay, my daughter told me that she told my niece exactly what I said.  I was incensed.  I explained that was not for publication, but something that was for her ears only.  Her comment?

"You should not talk behind people's backs."

 I couldn't believe my ears.

At any rate, as predicted, my daughter did not stay with my niece because, as I understood; my niece's boyfriend was not in agreement.  So, she ended up staying with a friend of my niece, a  40 year old man.  My daughter is 29.  I thought it odd that my daughter's boyfriend wasn't going along.  She had always done everything with this man.

I told my daughter that it was obvious that she was angry with me and had no respect for me.  I suggested we take a break and not speak.  I heard through the grapevine, that after a month returning from her trip, she packed up her bags, went to a motel, left her 10 year-old dog and the house she owned with her boyfriend.   She was moving to Connecticut to be with the man she had met - and stayed with on her trip- for just 3 days.

Just like that.  Quit her job (without notice) and left.

I was in total shock, as was the rest of the family.  What can you do - at 29 our children are adults- we have no control of their lives.  I communicated with my daughter today, and things went from bad to worse.  I was angry, and said some things better left unsaid.

I am now officially "unfriended"  from my daughter's Facebook page.  I am certain I deserved this after my lecture.

The point is, what can we expect from our adult children?  Do we have a right to tell them we don't approve or agree with their decisions?  Should we be disposable if they don't agree with us?

I am not the greatest diplomat with these matters.  I let it all hang out, and my temper gets the best of me.  Honestly, if someone told me they weren't speaking to their children and had written them off, I would be the first to judge and think how wrong they were.

Until it happened to me.

What do you think?  Is it better to come clean with your kids and let them know they are disrespectful?  Even if it means severing the relationship because they treat you like one of their friends instead of a parent?

I know many would bite the bullet and make up with their child.  I just can't, because I feel I am not getting the respect as a parent.  The only thing I wanted was an apology.

I never got it.

Post Office Closures: More Symptoms of Decaying Economy

Wikipedia, Mail Carrier

Growing up, I always found excitement in waiting for the mail.  The mailman always greeted me with a curious wink, and asked what I was up to for the day.  It was part of life for me as a preschooler.

Now that is all going to change.

Because of of the Internet, we no longer rely on snail mail to get our letters off to friends, family and businesses.

Why should we bother? we ask, when we can send a message across continents in seconds.

What about the art and intimacy of the personal handwritten note?  The post office was once a meeting place for folks in the 30's, 40's, 60's and beyond.  Now, as more satellite offices close, we are lucky to find one tucked away at our local food spot or strip center.

This is the beginning of an epidemic.  With a crumbling economy, I see this as a domino effect to businesses internationally.

Sad part is, all we can do is stand by and watch it crumble.  Post office may be going, gone by end of the year.   Yahoo.com notes, rural counties are struggling to stay open at least through the election: Postal Service: Will keep rural post offices open.

Our customer's habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business," Postmaster General Patrick Donahue said this summer.

Just another symptom of a failing economy, we may say.  But where does this end?  What major facility is going to close next?  Will hospitals also close because of big government intervention due to lack of use, or worse;  because of government dictates regarding what facilities will be approved to treat patients?

Personally, I don't like this helplessness.  The United States economy as we know it, is evolving in a direction that makes me uneasy.  Thousands of employee layoffs are inevitable, with the advent of more government and private industry closures.

I may not use the post office on a daily basis, I still want to know it is there for me when I need it.

It seems I will no longer enjoy that luxury.

Fascinated With The Macabre

Drew Peterson, HLNTV.com

He's  baaack!  The Drew Peterson trail is about to begin.

 I don't know why, but I am fascinated by the macabre, forensics- why people do what they do - what causes the compulsive behavior?  What circuitry enables them to carry out atrocious acts of violence?

I had just finished watching a documentary on the infamous Ted Bundy, when I learned that Drew Peterson is now up for trial.  Jury selection has begun.  As with with most serial killers, I am fascinated.

One can feel he is full of himself, his bizarre behavior puts him right up there with Bundy, Dahmer and all the other infamous butchers.  Charming, mesmerizing, sharing the belief that they are above the law.  

Many are geniuses, but choose to exercise their genius in perverse ways.

It is part of the serial killer personality, and they do it so well.  I can't understand how they can hide the dark side so effectively.  The charm, mixed in with the psychosis- very strange indeed. 

As reported by WGNtv.com, on July 31st;  Petersen had written a smitten 26 year-old woman, in  an attempt to weave another romantic web for himself.  Apparently, the woman stopped communication with him abruptly.  Patch Newspapers reports that Drew professed:

 "I have always spoiled all of my partners, and was let down by all of them." 

 Petersen went on to tell the woman she had nothing to fear, that he was all about love and protection.  Drew Peterson's Love Letters To 26 Year Old Woman Released.

Believe it or not, I can understand women's fascination with him.  

No, I wouldn't write him, and certainly wouldn't want to share my bed with him.  Make no mistake- there are a lot of women that would.  These women crave attention, for whatever reason.  They have to understand they are playing with fire, but choose to carry on anyway.  

Sadly, that is what may have happened to his spouses.  

According to the Chicago Tribune, Peterson, 58, was a former Bolingbrook, Illinois police Sargent.  He is charged with first degree murder in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.  His fourth wife, Stacy, mysteriously disappeared in 2oo7.  

The serial killer dysfunctional personality is multi-dimensional.  Obsessive, narcissistic and  demented -they can compartmentalize the most heinous acts.  It blows me away that many have regular jobs and families. They share disrupted childhoods, peppered with abuse and isolation.  Many begin abusing animals, and the behavior escalates. The Personality Profile of the Serial Killer   

Critics of the Drew Peterson case maintain the case is purely circumstantial, as there has been no DNA evidence to support Peterson murdering Savio.  

Peterson's then neighbor,  Mary Pontarelli,  discovered Kathleen Savio's body in a bathroom tub in the couples home - on March 1, 2004.  According to Pontarelli, Savio had confided that she believed Peterson was going to kill her.

We have the greatest justice system in the world.  Because of that, we give everyone an opportunity to a fair trial.  I wouldn't want it any other way.

I think to myself;  here we go again.  The mass media attention-  including the additional expenses to taxpayers for the anticipated 4 week trial. 

 If I think of the victim, it makes it easier to understand why we have to have a trial for these depraved people.

I'm not alone when I say I just can't get enough.  That does not change my mind about wanted to see Drew Peterson locked up with the key thrown away.

The macabre is fascinating for sure.  This trial will be a case study.

Made In America No More


No wonder our economy is suffering! Yesterday, I began a quest to look for gym shoes.  I am a gym rat and go to the gym daily.  I don't like shopping for gym clothes or shoes - but after 4 years, there is no tread left on my Reebok's.

You'd think it would be a no brainer.

Not.  Gym shoes are expensive, so I thought the best place to look would be on line.  I saw scores of shoes I liked.  However, before I took the plunge and placed my order, I wanted to shop size.  One of the stores I shopped was Famous Footwear.  I explained to the clerk that I wanted a cross-training shoe.  She navigated to the side of the store where I could find one in every color.  I asked about quality and the "best" shoe for the money- at that point we began discussing where they are produced.

I was surprised to learn that everything was made in Asia.  Nike, in Vietnam, Asics, Reebok, the list went on and on.  I did note, however, that New Balance Made In America- Yeah Right almost got it right, but then outsourced 75% of its productions to money.cnn.com China and Vietnam.  I did research one visionary; Lasco; How to Make it In America.  Here is a man that means business.  Despite the high cost of producing in the United States, he refuses to give up.  This article addresses every reason why most of our production is overseas.

I never really gave this any thought, but it occurred to me if an industry like this produces everything in Asia, what about all the other products sold in America?

Here's where it gets really scary.

In researching production, I came across something you have just got to read:

Check out this website to get Robert Barrows poem on It Used to Be Made In America.

His feelings about sum up the situation.

It comes as no surprise that most of our technical products (our computer, laptops, I PODS, etc.) are also produced outside of the U.S. Today's start tech products produced outside of the US: Should we be concerned?

You're dog-gone right we should be concerned.  For years, I never paid attention the mass production of clothing, goods, services outsourced by American businesses.

Shame on me.

According to www.bls.gov, The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us the national rate of unemployment for June, 2012, was 8.2%. I wonder if this takes into account the number of people who have just stopped looking for work.  I suspect those numbers would increase quite a bit.

In my opinion, we should have a government mandate (at least at this point in time) that everything be manufactured in this country.  Of course, if there is a medical need for product, goods or services, that would be exempt.  Initially, this may prove disastrous for small businesses, but eventually, it will help put Americans back to work.

We all remember the sweat-shops that used children to work round-the-clock to produce our clothing.  Besides being a disgrace, I never looked at how that financially impacted our production state side.
I suppose it was easier to sweep under the rug in a good economy.  We can't do this anymore.

So the next time I go out on my shopping jaunts, I will consciously begin to look for where the goods are manufactured.  If enough of us boycott goods and services produced outside of the States; I hope we can start to turn around our economy.

So where am I going to find my gym shoes?

Colorado's Fall From Grace

Century Theaters- Aurora Colorado- AP photo

What's happening to Colorado?  When the pope was here in the 1990's his comment was "Colorado is God's Country..."  Lately, it is looking like it is the devil's domain.

We just got through horrific fires wrapping around northern Colorado.  Then, we dealt with Columbine massacre, JonBenet Ramsey tragedy, the dubious syringe-happy oral surgeon- and now, another massacre at the Aurora suburb's Century theater. 12 Dead in Colorado Shooting

My children grew up going to those theaters.  I had nothing but fond memories of living in Aurora when I first moved here in 1991, from Miami Beach, Florida.  I thought of Colorado as Shangrila.

There is tragedy everywhere in the world, but why Colorado?  The most heinous crimes.  Seems we corner the market on tragedies these days.

I remember leaving South Florida because I thought it too transient, it didn't attract a 'family' loving type of crowd.  I thought of John Denver and the rockies as one step away from heaven.

JonBenet Ramsey Shampop.com
How things change.

 I was looking over a website for JonBenet Ramsey, and that heavy feeling came over me again.  This angelic child, never got to live her life.  The site depcits the actual crime scene photos- which were hard to look at- even after all these years.  People have marred the website by littering it with pornographic images. Pathetic, I say. JonBenet Ramsey Images 

Perhaps everything Nostradamus predicted is coming true.  It may very well be the end of the world.  I was not going to write about this latest incident, but I couldn't stop reflecting on Colorado's morbid history the last couple of decades.

Could this just be coincidence?  After 9/11,  I can believe anything is possible. The easy thing to do is to bury our heads.  As Americans, we owe more to our country.

Personally, I believe you can teach your children until you're red in the face.  No one can determine how they're going to turn out as adults.  This kid was studying to get a Ph.D no less.  I deliberately don't want to mention his name.  Why should he get credit for anything but a senseless tragedy.

The worst part, this theater was full of young adults and children.  What did they do to deserve this?

You can't second guess anything, because all bets are off on what it takes to raise "good" children.  Sometimes, it is difficult to see any signs of instability in people.  That is, unless you have a trained eye.

I can't do much, but I can pray for the people and families that innocently sat in that theater this morning.  The same theater my children sat in twenty years ago.

What Caused Oral Surgeon To Ignore Safety Standards?

Dr Stephen Stein
Stein Dental Implants and Facial Surgery

After reading the chilling story of the Colorado oral surgeon. Stephen Stein, reusing needles on patients for over a decade I had to ask myself this question:  what were his technicians doing with these needles? 

Surely they had to know they were not sterile. Patients of Colorado dentist Dr.Stephen Stein urged to get tested for HIV, Hepatitis amid reused needles probe

I am almost certain Stein couldn't have operated on patients solo.  What kind of medical staff could overlook such a basic, critical procedure?  No doubt the State investigators are getting an earful when they interview his staff.

How can someone put their head on a pillow at night after such atrocities?  It amazes me that brilliance, and integrity are not always consistent.  You have to wonder; was this man that cheap? or was he that lazy?  Or worse, he just does not care.

This went on for over a decade, scores of innocent people, trusting in this madman.  I wonder how many of them are now infected with AIDS or other blood borne viruses.  

The medical board, along with testing doctors for medical competency, should also test them psychologically. Doctors need to be emotionally stable to serve the public.  It gives me pause to think about  operations and procedures that have been performed on all of us.

What percentage of those procedures were docs and other medical technicians cutting corners? Ignoring safety standards - jeopardizing our health and welfare?

I don't want to know.  

Something tells me this is not an isolated case.  It is frightening to think that other doctors would avert safety standards for the sake of convenience or money.

I don't blame the State, because this is the same analogy as buyer beware; we all have to look out for ourselves.  There are far too many providers to monitor every medical practitioner.  Still, it is hard to imagine  patients didn't notice needles were not sterilized and opened from sealed packages.

It seems Colorado has a new kind of fire to put out, and this one won't be easy.

Barack Obama's Brilliant Campaign

Presiding over Miami-Dade commencement ceremony- Getty Images

We can all learn something from Barack Obama's promotional campaign. There isn't one medium that he has overlooked. I get daily emails' keeping me abreast of inside campaign information, media dirt and his responses to critics.
If you don't think that he became President because of his adept marketing ability, think again. He was a green senator - with virtually no track record to speak of - sitting in the senate. He goes from that to president of the United States? 
How did he do that? 
Clever marketing and strategy. If nothing else, I have to concede that he understands the media and how to use it. Much like Kennedy, he has an uncanny ability to use the media to showcase his charm and wit. If you are old enough to remember the Nixon and Kennedy debate, you know what I am talking about. 
In my opinion, Romney is not scoring too well with his campaign. He now has to dig himself out of a hole regarding his previous stint with banking industries. Obama jumped right on that by deluging us with television spots exposing smitten Romney. 
Mitt Romney:  Getty Images

So far, Barack hasn't missed a beat regarding gaining an media advantage over Mitt Romney. I wouldn't be surprised if Obama takes the presidency again, because of his savvy marketing skills. 
Sadly, for myself, I don't like either candidate. There hasn't been a president that wooed me in years. 
When I think back to the George Bush administration, and compare his marketing and promotional ability, I understand the difference. Bush took a lot of hits because of his lack of ability to manipulate the press. 
Clinton, on the other hand, understood the media. He used his charm and good looks to woo us. I do think Clinton was a good president. I can overlook the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I may not like what he did, but I don't believe it affected his ability to be president. 
At any rate, it will be interesting to see who makes it to the finish line. I think it is going to close, very, very close. They say that not voting is a vote for Obama. 
At the moment, the prospect of voting is a frightening thought for me. I just can't buy into either candidate's agenda. 
However, I have certainly enjoyed evaluating the campaign strategies. 

The "Like" Gold Mine


Pinterest is a gold mine.  So you 'like' me, now what?  Most businesses understand the advantages of Social Media, but few understand how to leverage it to promote their products.

We've all been down the value-added  'how to' benefits.  Sharing and providing information, for example; about how to build furniture if you're a retail furniture store.  But I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg.  If you've got your followers, you now have a built in audience, what are you going to do to keep them interested?

Of course, you can offer them deep discounts as followers, make them the first recipients of information about product research, but the real payoff can come from cross-promotion opportunities with other businesses.

Today, so much information is mind boggling.  By partnering with other businesses, and understanding your demographics, you can offer your followers multiple in value-added benefits.  For example, if you produce wood furniture, your affiliation with tile and flooring companies can really help your audience in remodeling their homes or offices.

No, this is not a new idea, but it can work well in a medium where there is so much competition for "likes."  Just as bloggers' can cross promote with others by sharing their web-addresses; you can make this happen with  competitors and other businesses.  You are building so much more than an alliance.

Some time ago, I was remodeling my home.  I absolutely had my heart set on soltero tile.  My contractor fought me about why I shouldn't go with soltero.  "Yes, it is beautiful and stylish, he said.  But, are you prepared to spend $100 every time you drop an item on it and it cracks?"  I had no idea how easily soltero can be broken.  Moreover, I didn't have the budget to make this investment, and be willing to constantly repair the product.

Sharing this information can save your customers a lot of headaches.  In effect, you are not asking your audience to do this for that.  You are giving them something, as simple as "for being a loyal follower of ________, please use this $50.00 to enjoy your dinner at ______________. ' No strings, no bait and switch, just a gift.  Your cross-promotion with businesses can help you out with your budgeting.

The opportunities abound, building alliances by inviting your audience to grand openings, concerts and more.  Not as contests, but just for following and sharing. I'm talking out and out giveaways.    I say this because as contests, we know the chance to win is difficult.  But social media is so close and personal, the benefits need to match the intimacy of the medium.

It is said there are no new ideas, just ways to do them better.  Pinterest Tunblr, Reddit and the like are your magic wands.  You just have to know what to do with the wand!

Finding My Way Back To My Career

It has been on my mind for almost three years now.  I go to bed thinking about it, and wake up wondering;

I have been out of my career for for 43 months.  Wow.  Such a long time, so much change.  Social media taking the world to its' knees.  Thousands of new college grads competing for the fraction of available jobs.

It is a major concern.

To top that off, I am in a contract position, without benefits or paid time off.  I am grateful to be working, but the deck is stacked against me.  Recently, I did get a bite on my resume', but the job location would require me to move to another part of Colorado.  Did I really want to travel 150 miles for a remote opportunity?  Maybe I am not that motivated, or too cautiously optimistic about my job prospects.

At least it confirmed I am still marketable.

What I do in the meantime is continue to learn.  Be it a software program, stay abreast of changes in the marketing and communications industry.  These may be feeble attempts to paddle in a constantly evolving sea of change.

There comes a point in a career ( I want to work at least ten more years), where one has to weigh everything.  It is too easy to look back and beat yourself up for past mistakes.  The would'ves', could'ves' should'ves' haunt me.

Will I ever give myself a break?

Truth is, I have failed far more than I have succeeded in my career.  I have had opportunities people would drool for, passed some up, took some on and failed.  Yes failed, and miserably.

I know I can only work for a certain kind of boss, with a certain group of people.  You would think that would stop me from looking.  No, it never does stop.  You see, the thing is, I am so tenacious, I don't know what it means to give up.

My management style?  compassion and understanding.  Not very popular with corporate.  But I am creative, and can come up with product positioning ideas that leave competitors at the starting line.

I am exceptionally good at getting jobs, keeping them is another story.  I am no politician, for sure.

In the end, knowing one's strengths' and weaknesses are so very important.

I can't stop thinking that there is a place at there I can call home.  You see, retirement is not in my vocabulary at the moment.

Secret Service Loyalty: The Kennedy Detail

The Kennedy Detail
Agent Tom Wells escorts Caroline Kennedy to school after the White House ,
photo:  "The Kennedy Detail"

Last night I watched a  Discovery channel documentary on "The Kennedy Detail," in which the secret service agents who were assigned to President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, in Dallas were interviewed about their experiences in living with, and protecting, the President and his family.

The documentary was heartbreaking.  These once rugged men, now in their 70's and 80's sharing their perspectives about being a part of the Kennedy family while he was in office.   What was particularly impressive, is that Kennedy knew each of their names:  Gerald S. Blaine; Toby Chandler; David Grant; Clinton J. Hill; Paul E Landis, Jr; Winston Lawson; Ronald Pontius;  and Thomas Wells.

This, apparently, is not the norm for the secret service.

Clinton Hill, assigned to Jacqueline Kennedy, reflected on her thoughtfulness after the assassination. Hill remarked that, on the plane going back to Washington, Jackie Kennedy requested to see him.  "What will become of you, now?" Jackie asked.  Fighting back tears, his response was that he would be just fine.

Interspersed with the interview was rare footage of the agents' with John Jr, and Caroline Kennedy.  Holding hands, going to the Beach, hovering over them at family events.  These men explained that the pay was substandard, even for the 60's, but they were so proud to serve the President.  They all said they were treated "like family."

What moved me the most that each agent, after 50 years, still has to hold back tears when asked about November 22nd, in Dallas.  

The gruesome details still play back daily.  For example, why Jackie Kennedy crawled out the back of the Lincoln sedan.  It was disclosed that Jackie wanted to "make him whole."  Apparently, after the magic bullet, (that hit Kennedy in the skull), brain matter and chunks of skull exploded on the boot of the sedan.  Jackie allegedly crawled out the back of the speeding car to collect the bits of skull.

How devastating to hear all this again.

I understand that the President was hit in the skull, but to hear the magnitude of the damage done to Kennedy, (a palm sized portion of his skull, and all the brain matter on that side were scooped out like ice cream), was too much to process.

The reflected on the President's body, laid out at the White House, prior to the public viewing.  Jackie asked for a pair of scissors to open the casket, to cut off a lock of his hair.
Details shared regarding Robert Kennedy and Jackie, going back to the grave site the same day following the funeral; to kneel and pray in private.

I was only 12 years' old when we lost John Kennedy.  However, I remember exactly what I was doing when the news was announced.  

Having lived through this tragedy is still a gift.  To have lived through his Presidency was remarkable and most memorable.

I think about the Kennedy tragedies, that have continued since then; the Robert Kennedy assassination, John Jr's plane crash, Jackie's struggle with cancer and untimely death.

Whoever said the Kennedy's were cursed was probably correct.  As much as the Kennedy family has acquired, a black cloud follows them throughout life.

I am glad I was privy to see this documentary.  I don't want to ever forget the most charming man and my favorite President of the century.

He only lived 45 short years, but he packed a lot of living and wisdom into those years.

In the end, the agent that questioned, "what we could have done better?" concluded remorsefully:

"there was nothing at all that could be done to save him."

Colorado Inferno

Waldo Canyon Fire, Denver Post Photo

It rivals the Chicago fire lore, reputed to be started by Mrs. O'Leary and her cow.  It probably started just as innocently, although how the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs did start remains a mystery .Waldo Canyon Fire Crews Making Progress

This fire, along with scores of other fires throughout Colorado just adds salt to a wound.  The temperatures here have been in the three digits for almost two weeks.  The nice thing about this state was that when it got this hot, we got a reprieve with a cold front that would cool things down for a few days.

No such luck.

Colorado has its' annual fires every year, but I can't remember one as devastating.  It is surreal to look at the pictures of neighborhoods smoldering from a fire that tore through Colorado Springs. Rampant winds accelerated it to 20 miles an hour yesterday.  This gave residents' little time to evacuate their homes.

Looking at the faces of people that lost everything just breaks my heart.  Special memories; the births, deaths, graduations, marriages- all things we associate with home-  taken away so ruthlessly by mother nature.

I am  fortunate, as I live north of the closest fire to my residence, which has now been contained in Boulder.  It gives me pause to think about what is really most important in life.  For me, it would be family, pets, pictures.  

Everything else can be replaced.

However, in Colorado Springs, there is one documented death, and 10 people remain unaccounted.

Colorado weather for the coming week is going to be in 90's.  We aren't going to get much of a break.  It's  like fighting a fire within a fire.  Not enough credit can be given to the fire fighters from all over the country trying to contain its' fury.

Soon, regretfully, this state will have lost all it's wooded areas; the evergreen's and other foliage that make it so marvelous and beautiful.

There is no doubt this is part of global warming.  A women remarked that "the world was coming to an end."

After all the bible does say it will end in fire.

I hope not.