Coffee is for Closers! The Cost of Having a High Moral Compass in the Timeshare Business

Now, I’m not here to knock  the timeshare industry.  I know that some of the more reputable companies provide a great service for frequent vacationers.  Having access to unique destinations is well worth the travel fees if you love to explore our beautiful planet.   My son, Jaren, loves his job in  Timeshare sales.  He calls me often to tell me about the awesome families he gets to spend his day with, touring the property and how   he does, indeed, save them money on vacationing.  He also brags about his fellow co-salespeople and how much he believes in his company’s product- which is key.  Having a strong conviction about your life’s work is at the top of the list to creating your Dreamlife.

Having a high moral compass is a precious gift passed onto you by all the people who’ve raised you and befriended you in your For lifetime.

This is his 2nd resort company in the business.   In his last company, he witnessed blatantly unethical practices by managers and coworkers alike and it made him feel guilty and just plain bad about what he was selling and how he was told to sell it.   That’s called having a high moral compass.  I’m proud to say he’s since moved on to a more respected hotel chain in the world and it has made a positive difference in his day-to-day life.

vaca

For Jaren & Zach

compassHaving a high moral compass is a precious gift passed onto you by the people who’ve raised you and befriended you in your lifetime, the ones who took time to lift you up when you were heart-broken, the ones that forgave you when you asked to be forgiven, the people who lived morally, by example, every day because they knew you were watching,  people who prayed with you- and for you, got angry at you when they saw you straying from your true self, these are the people to whom you owe your life- the life you spend helping others, repeating words of wisdom that were spoken to you and passing on what you were incredibly fortunate enough see and learn by the best people you’ll ever know. You are a compilation of everyone who’s ever loved you, showed you any kindness, mercy or forgiveness. It is your God-given duty to pass this legacy forward to humanity every single day of your precious life.

How To Whiten Your Teeth With Compliments

You know that moment where you see something or hear something and suddenly it puts your life back in perspective? Well, this morning I had such a moment.

My awesome son-in-law Ty gave me an unexpected compliment. “You’ve helped us out so much, we wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for you & Byron (my husband)” To which I immediately replied, “I don’t think that’s true.”  I knew immediately those words felt bad. I should have acknowledged his gratitude right away.  What was I thinking dismissing his sincere compliment?!  I basically told him the gratitude he felt was unfounded. I’m pretty sure I’m going to Hell for that.

 This is totally unlike me. I always-always embrace every nice word someone says to me and use it to create a better version of myself. I’ve been in a funk lately, which is no excuse to dismiss someone’s feelings and I felt awful.

For example…

I must have heard that I have a beautiful smile at least once a week for a year and yet, when I looked in the mirror, I saw how my teeth were crooked and overlapped a bit. I could only focused on the flaws…so off to the dentist I went to get my teeth whitened. After taking a look at my teeth, the hygienist said that they did not need whitening and to save my money and that I had a beautiful smile.  I was shocked at the compliment! Surely she saw what I saw in the mirror- but I realized that she wasn’t looking at one or two teeth but my entire smile.

I looked again at my smile- they suddenly looked brighter and straighter. Why did I feel better leaving there with nothing being done?

Own It!  I take good care of my teeth, flossing, check-ups so everytime someone noticed the result, it made me feel like they noticed all my extra effort. 

Visualize It! Whenever someone said my smile was beautiful, I pictured my teeth getting stronger, whiter and straighter. It gave my smile power! I visualized the compliment rushing to my smile …..making it stronger, prettier overall.

 Accept it!  Take the very special gift of a compliment and open it- acknowledge the giver, keep it and remember it and know without a doubt that you’ve created it.

Acknowledging someone’s positive feedback about you makes them feel good.  So appreciate their sincerity.  Thank you for noticing the effort I put forth on my hair, writing, volunteering, or being there for kids if they need a little help. 

Those small moments of your days spent on a seemingly minute detail makes all the difference in creating your life and people will notice!  And by simply accepting a compliment, you give validation to what the person thinks, feels and says matters to you a great deal; making them feel good.  And feeling good is the whole point of connecting!

Believe my words- By gracefully accepting someone’s compliment, you are giving as much as you are getting.

CREATE MORNING ZEN

Don’t you just love when your morning alarm rings at 5a.m.! I do! The sweet sound of well, a sound instantly reminds me that I am privileged to continue my journey another day. That has to be the best part of anybody’s day, right? Yet, I still talk to people who dread their morning routine. Well, there’s the first issue. Instead of calling it your ‘morning routine’ which sounds dull and mundane, let’s call it ‘Morning Zen’ Learn to embrace your morning zen by slowing down your mind and body and enjoying the best thing about your life- YOU!

TURN BACK TIME

Begin your morning zen the night before by setting your alarm 2 minutes earlier each day. After just a few weeks, you’ll have added an entire 30 minutes to your day! Then vow to get the phrase, “I don’t have enough time.” out of your vocabulary for good.

timetime

BREATHE IN BREATHE OUT

The alarm rings and your mind immediately starts racing thinking of your endless to-do list; walk the dog, feed the kids, send that email. Stop! Before you even open your eyes, take three really deep, focused breathes being aware of your inhales and exhales. This exercise will keep your body and mind in a calm state.

REACH FOR THE STARS

Stretch!Stand up and do a little stretching zen. Stand tall, clasp your hands above your head and inhale, stretch to the right, exhale. Reach for the stars, inhale, stretch to the left, exhale. Ahh, that feels good.

WARM HYDRATION

Warm Lemon Water

When you awake, your body is the most dehydrated so before getting ready for your day, drink a big glass of warm, lemon water. The benefits are plenty. From rehydrating your lymph system to flushing toxins from your body to clearing your skin, warm lemon water is the bees knees. If you have a hard time jumping on the idea of drinking warm water, start by rehydrating your body with a glass of cool, filtered lemon water then gradually increase the temperature a little each day until it’s luke warm.

SMOOTH MOVE

greensmoothie

Morning smoothies are a most delicious way to fuel your cells with rich nutrients and anti-oxidants. Delicious green smoothies are fortified with nutrients that sink into every cell of your body and with endless mouth-watering recipes, you can create a different one every day.  Shakes and smoothies are a fantastic way to get the good things in your body craves and will help jump-start your good decision-making all day long.

WORKIN’ ON YOUR FITNESS

FIT

Make a morning zen that you will continue to love. By having your morning fitness routine from a dedicated fitness guru like my friend Maralana from Maralana Go Do Be ready to go, you’ll keep your health at the forefront of your life with a little accountability from a friend.

Enjoy waking up and remember, without a fit, healthy YOU- there is no need to be concerned with the rest of your day.

PHOTOCREDIT: cookinglight.com, 52kitchenadventures.com, visualphotos.com, mombizcoach.com

4 Practical Applications For An Inspired Life

Creating the life you want should never be a chore. What is most important is feeling good, exhilarated, in-tune with what you want.  People living this way have habituated ways of feeling good because they consistently practice visualization.   By actively using these steps and focusing on the things you want out of life, more and more doors will open up to show you the way.

I often ask people, “So, what’s one thing you actually did today that got you one step further to the life you envision? ”   I want to get people thinking about their day-to-day lives and what they’re really doing with their time.  I’m going to share some more practical ways to start creating a more positive mind-set and therefore keeping you stepping in the right direction.

No News Is Good News

NewsWhile it’s important to stay up on current events, the constant negative or controversial media stories do a number on our psyche. So, for 7 days- no news.  Stay away from TV, blogs and chats about the news.  Instead, watch shows that inspire, make you feel good and think.  I enjoy learning new things so Animal Planet is a great choice for me.  Also, make reading blogs about the things you want to do or places you want to travel, part of your nightly routine.  End your days with thoughts of your Dreamlife and awake the same way.

Visualization Rules!

finish

On a blank piece of paper, write a goal that when you reach it, will blow your mind. 

Write it so big, it almost takes up the paper. It could be something like;  Open a bakery.  Write a book.  Move to a new place. Whatever that big thing is that you want most, write it down!

A good habit is to carry a small notebook and begin  writing down everything you want in your life.  Visualization begins by reading your words.

Now hang up your big goal in a place you will see it.  I often hang my aspirations on my front door so I will see it as I leave to start my day. Doing this will get your mind turning and keep you focused on the big picture.

Invest In Post-its

post

Stick colorful post-its around your house with positive messages to keep those good feelings flowing.  I stick post-its inside cupboards, on my coffee pot, and on my mirror to keep me thinking in the right direction. I jot down quotes I adore such as, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” –Wayne Gretzky or things I like about myself like, “I am a beautiful soul.”

The Power of Friends & Coffee

coffeeladiesCall up your most awesome friend and invite them out for a Creative Coffee Date.  Ask them to write 5 things they adore about you and you’ll do the same for them.  When you meet, read your lists to each other over a delicious latte’.  This will get the conversation flowing with admiration and appreciation for each other.  Be sure to talk about your Big Life Dream and ask if she has any advice on how to take the next steps.  She may know someone who knows someone who could help point you to the next step.  If not, she now knows your plans and will keep and ear out for any opportunities she may come across that would help you.  –That’s networking at it’s finest.

Check-up On Yourself

A caring profession

 You are the most important element in your life.  Eliminating as much worry as possible, keeps your mind better able to focus the good stuff.

Is there something you’ve put off getting checked?  Perhaps you’ve noticed a mole that looks odd or your gynecologist visit is over-due.  Would a new pair of glasses make a big difference?

With many people uninsured or under-insured, it seems easy to put our health on the back burner. Don’t!  Keeping up with your health is truly the first step to living your best life.

apples

LOW-COST & FREE HEALTH CARE  SERVICES

Here are some great resources to keep you stepping toward optimal health.  You’re so worth it!

1) Pharmacy Care

Rite-Aid, CVS and others national chains often have free health screenings for a variety of issues during the month.  From free blood glucose readings to the common cold care.

2) Your Local Hospital

Give them a call to ask which low-cost programs and free health clinics they offer in your area.  Many hospitals have partnered with local family physicians, eye clinics and such to provide care for people who are having a tough time affording healthcare now.  You are not alone.

3) DotGov

A great resource is; Your State + Dot Gov –  Example; pennsylvania.gov.  Search health care or look around the site. You will find help with such things as where to go for immunizations, smoking cessation and more.

–>Life is about not knowing the whole journey at once. Taking the Moment and making the best of it.  These are a few real-life steps- in no particular order- to help you form positive habits that will keep you moving forward toward your authentic life.

photo credits: bbb.org, mainlyrunning.com, daphenesgreekcafe.com, dickiebros.com

Create It From The Rain

What you see when you wake up and look around is there because you’ve created it by your thoughts, words, decisions, and actions- or lack thereof.  You are always creating your life. So, if you want to have everything you want and nothing you don’t- stop blaming the rain and start creating from it!

If you are living the same routine with little variation every morning, noon and night and nothing in your life is changing for the better, look inward to find what is holding you back. Is it fear of failure? Negative doubts? or Procrastination in thinking you have time yet to make the changes? Once you understand what negative thoughts and feelings are holding you back, you can begin to overpower them with the positivity to create!

This blog post –> Get Out Of My Vocabulary,  is a great way to begin being aware of negative speaking and begin thinking positively.

AS THE WORLD CHANGES, WE CHANGE THE WORLD

People and events in our lives influence us, yes.  But we also influence the people and events in our lives.

What did you do today to create what you want?

The moments of your life are fleeting!  You are not going to live forever. Read that sentence again.  Giving power to others’ negative points-of-view is a waste of your precious moments.  Instead, make that call, write down the steps to get what you really want, research how to get that better job, better home, dream vacation.  Now that’s time well spent!

HUMBLE YOURSELF

It takes real guts to stop blaming other people or circumstances and start stepping forward to your Dreamlife.  What you focus on daily, becomes the building blocks of your Dreamlife.  Time is running out and when it does, you don’t get to turn the hour-glass over.

Time is running out

YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS

You don’t get to take credit for all the great things that go right in your life then blame other things/people for the yucky stuff.  It’s you who is in control of your life.  Choose Positivity Every Time.  Grasp that concept and you will have cleared the path straight to your Dreamlife.  

photo credit: gutsygirls.net, mygoogleimages

The Road To Limitless Opportunity

I talk with people who really believe they are stuck in their job, town or dull routine- and that’s exactly why they are- because they believe they are.  And oh how easy it is to blame our situation instead of realizing our potential for change.  That’s an exciting thought right? That we can actually create our entire DreamLife.   What?!  Why didn’t someone tell me it was that easy?  They did, you just didn’t believe it.

Let me share one of the not-so-secrets to living your Dreamlife:

women said, woman listening to gossip

Do you feel like you should be doing something more? Something different with your life?  Yep, that’s because you are supposed to be doing exactly what makes you prosper the most with the talents and knowledge and personality you already have.  So when you see a sign (literally) a billboard ad, a TV commercial, a magazine article or a website that you “accidentally” click on that gives you bits of information on the very thing you’ve been wanting to do, which leads you to the next bit of information, That’s Called Opportunity.  Take it or at least see where its leading you.   Not every opportunity is perfect for you right now, but every opportunity is a lead to follow.

By shifting your conscious attention to living in the Moment, your  mind will become increasingly aware of picking out things that co-inside with what  you are searching for.  That’s your subconscious seeking answers.

PAY ATTENTION! 

In order to take that Big First Step to the next level and the next, you must recognize when an opportunity is presented to you then make a decision to take it, learn something new from it or extract information to use in your next step.

When You See It, You Know

When You See It, You Know

When I realize an opportunity is before me, I know without a doubt that it was meant for me to follow, I can feel it.

Most importantly, you must put in the work.  Reach out to someone for more information, return that phone call.  Keep looking and I promise soon you will be running toward your Dreamlife one quick step after another.

Our lives have been a series of steps since we toddled over our teddy bear trying to take our first baby steps.   Just like those first steps, you are in control of that First Big Step toward any and all things great yet to come in your beautiful life!  I’m excited for you!

Photo Credit: sirspeedynj.com, googleimiages

Get Out Of My Vocabulary!

Three Words And A Phrase

That Are Holding You Back

From Getting What You Want

As we continue along our journey, we strive to be a better person, more enlightened and well-informed so that we can make better decisions that will inevitably have positive overall effect on our lives and  this world.

People often say to me, “Jennifer, you are so positive and upbeat all the time.” Umm, no. I have moments of pure frustration hence THIS post.  But I do practice self-awareness daily.

How do you begin to change your thoughts to produce more of what you want?  By realizing negative thoughts which come out as negative words that cause negative actions.   I’m going to teach you some fun ways to always speak in the positive.  Say goodbye to these words:

just

To me, just is a demeaning word that makes one feel less-than something or someone.

You are just a housewife, I am a doctor.
You are just a secretary, I am your boss.
You are just a astronaut, I am a physicist.

I loathe this word and all that it implies.  You are never just something.  You are always everything you want to be!  What’s even worse, is when you use just to describe something about yourself.

I’m just not smart enough to start my own business. 

Poppycock!

THERE ARE ALWAYS EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE:

You may only use just as an an adverb or to emphasize a point: That’s just awful! (referring to worm pie) in this case, just is used to emphasize that worms do not taste very good baked in a pie.

need2

This word is the hardest one to eliminate.  I still almost say it on occasion.  Here is a game I have created to eliminate these words:  When you start to say I ne.. STOP, THINK of what your want and START using positive action words.

NEGATIVE: I need a job today

POSITIVE:  I will email my friends to see if they know of any jobs.

NEGATIVE: I need to make more friends.

POSITIVE: I am going to join a networking group.

NEGATIVE: I need to get a haircut.

POSITIVE: Tomorrow, I will make an appointment with Bob to get a haircut.

I know this last one sounds silly because your hair will grow back and you will want to get another haircut so you’ll feel better about your appearance.  But you must eliminate the word all-together.

(Notice in my explanation, I did not use the word need. That word is gone!)

THINK ABOUT THIS

If I told you to write down everything you needed in life- not just material things, but everything and instead- instructed you to begin every sentence with I need- what would you have?  You would have created a list of lack. The things you do not have and that’s it.

Now write down the same things, except this time cross out the word need. use positive words like, I will create, I can find, I will email, I am good at making..

NEGATIVE: I need to loose weight.

POSITIVE: I will research gyms in my area tomorrow and join one.

You’ve changed your entire negative thought  process into a solution.  Instead of creating lack, you have created an abundance.  You have started the creative thought process  to get what you want.

the wisest words ever spoken by a puppet

the wisest words ever spoken by a puppet

TRY

This seemingly positive word of action is actually a lazy, negative word in disguise.  The word try is nothing more than a lazy promise. A weak link.  It is a negative word that means- don’t expect me to succeed, then you won’t be disappointedI don’t want to do it and I’m pretty sure I can’t won’t.

It’s a word used when somebody does not want to commit.  I will try to make it to the gym 3 times a week.   This is another excuse to not succeed and justify the effort, or lack thereof.

Take it!

Try To Take It

TRY TO  DO THIS WITH A $20 BILL

Grab a friend.  Take a $20 bill out of your pocket and hold it loosely between your fingers.  Now ask your friend to try to take the $20 out of your hand.  Do not tighten your grip.  Did he take it?  I’d bet yes.  EXACTLY!

He did not try to take the $20.  He did take the $20.  You cannot try to take it, you either will take it or you won’t.

Now take the $20  back and repeat again, “No, don’t take the $20, try to take it.”  Your friend will look puzzled- this is funny.  He will probably say that he did try to take it and succeeded.

Wrong! What he did was signal his brain to move his arm to move his hand to grasp the $20 bill and closed his fingers around it and pulled it backwards and held it in his hand.  He did all that to accomplish the task. He succeeded in the task.

What he did not do was try to take it.  Make Sense?

LET”S BE HONEST HERE

Say you are in sales and only took the job because you felt you had no other option.  When the boss asks you why you were last in sales this month, you have one of two choices.

1. Listen to his suggestions and put them into action and increase your sales

OR

2. Be honest and say, “I really don’t want to work here.  I will probably quit when I find something better that I like  more than this job.  Until then, I will be lazy and sulk.” In other words, You’ll try to do better.  They both mean  the same thing.

Do not ever try to do anything again. Make the decision to make it happen and you will be blown away by how many things you are now getting done.

Don't Forget ?

THE PHRASE THAT DOESN’T PAY

How many times do we tell someone not to forget something?  and how many times DO we actually forget things we were told not to?

The reason for this is because the subconscious mind is fooled by the negative words, and ignores them.  Negative words are like a hole- there is nothing there to process.  It simply will not retain the negative.  There many books and studies on this matter.

NEGATIVE: Don’t forget to pick up milk before you come home.

but what your subconscious hears is- forget to pick up milk

(the don’t is unheard by your subconscious mind)

POSITIVE: Honey, remember to pick up milk at the store before you come home.

I have found that by eliminating negative words and substituting positive action words instead, my thought process about a particular situation begins to change, immediately and I’m better able to come up with a solution to a problem on the spot instead of dwelling on the negative.  Now you try do it.

photo credit: sodahead.com, google.com/images, thepennyhoarder.com,

How To Save A Life

There was that one time that I helped save a life and that other time that I didn’t.

Depression Last week, through a series of events leading up to a phone call with my friend Jesse, I had the most terrifying experience of my life.  Jesse had taken a handful of pills right before I called and while I was on the phone with him, he collapsed.

There isn’t a word for the way I felt in that moment.  I remember I had no air and I couldn’t hear. I heard the police brake down his door shortly after I called them.  I could hear everything. I waited. I heard Jesse’s voice talking to the police and I breathed again. I’m happy to say he’s feeling way better and getting the help he needs to return to his healthy, happy self that we all know and love.

Then There Was That One Day

childhood crushI grew up with Ricky in the same neighborhood.  I knew he had a crush on me when he spent most of a day un-tangling my slinky that got stuck in a chained link fence at the playground.

But as we grew up, the cliques of middle school got in the way of our friendship.  He became just some boy I knew.  I watched from a distance as his life turned in a wrong direction with drugs and some bad decisions.

Eventually, I grew up and moved away. I only saw Ricky by happenstance when I’d go back home for a visit.  In those small moments, we’d catch up on the good parts of our lives, promise we’d see each other next time then hug and walk away.

Then there was that one day. It was the last day of my hometown visit.  Before heading back on the turnpike for the long 4 hour drive back to Harrisburg, I stopped at Em’s Subs, a hometown favorite.

I walked out of the shop and saw my puppy staring at me from the park across the street where a nice little old lady was holding her for me while I ran into Em’s.  For no reason, I looked right.  I saw Ricky walking away from me down the sidewalk.  I turned my body and started to call his name but then in a moment I’ll forever regret, I hesitated.

I looked over at my dog pulling slightly on her leash anxious for me to come over and get her.  I glanced back at Ricky.  Ugh, I was already 3 hours late leaving town and it was getting dark.

one little moments changes everything

one little moments changes everything

He was almost to the corner and I remember sighing and saying out-loud “I’ll catch him next time I’m home.”  and I ran across the street to my waggy-tailed puppy, thanked the little old lady and jogged to my car and drove away.

About 6 months had passed when I thought of Ricky again and decided to check in on him to tell him what I’d been discovering about the power positivity. I messaged his cousin and asked her if she had Ricky’s email.  This is what she messaged me back.

Jenn, I’m sorry to tell you this but Ricky committed suicide about 6 months ago. I thought you knew.

Alone With Our Choices

Alone With Our Choices

The overwhelming feeling of guilt I feel is awful.  Everyone tells me that I couldn’t have prevented his suicide by just talking to him that day- but they’re wrong.  Yes I would have.  How do I know? Because I felt it so strongly that I should call out to him. It was something that was supposed to happen but didn’t.  In that moment, I chose not to pay attention to my gut.  Instead, I rationalized it out.  It is the biggest fail of my life.

face of regret

How To Save A Life

Recognize. Have you noticed a change in someone?  Has your best friend changed into someone who has trouble functioning? Do you hardly recognize the person you used to know?

While I do believe that prevention of dangerous behaviors starts with the inner circle of family and close friends, reaching out to people is what makes us human.

Understand that nobody can write a manual on how to save a life.  We are as simple and complex as the universe.  We cannot prevent all the suicides and mass shootings of the world but by looking up from our cellphones into someones eyes and connecting with them, we may help recognize the pain and thereby prevent some of the tragedy.  There is no app for that and never will be.

And I’d have stayed up with you all night if I had known how to save a life.

All of the children in this powerful video have lost someone tragically.

How To Save A Life With LYRICS

Links For Life

If You See Something, Say Something.  A great video to help understand what you look for in everyday life to help keep our towns safe.

Profile of A Sociopath  A list of signs and personality traits common in sociopaths that  may be a danger to our society.

Stop Bullying!  This is just one of many great sites. It has information on what to look for- who is at risk and where to go for help to help someone stop hurting.

It Gets Better Project (itgetsbetter.org)  thousands of videos were created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.

HelpGuide.org A great place to begin researching disorders and symptoms such as schizophrenia, PTSD, Stress, Grief, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Addictions and Abuse.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline makes it easy for everyone to talk and get in touch with help in their hometown.

Your Life Your Voice is another great place for people who think about suicide to share and connect with others in a way that may help them turn it around.

Post-partum Depression some moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. Rarely, an extreme form of postpartum depression known as postpartum psychosis develops after childbirth.

photo credits: yogilightbox.wordpress.com, http://www.examiner.com, sheknows.com, google images, me

Your Last 24 Hours Experiment

Sit still for 24 whole hours- not moving and staring at a wall. I bet that was the longest day of your life, huh?

Now imagine finding out that you will be gone forever in 24 hours.

Time couldn’t slow down enough. Would you spend your whole time being sad, crying and in denial OR in desperation trying to do the things that you always talk about- but never get around to doing?

Your Last 24 Hours Experiment

In either scenario- 24 hours will pass. That is certain.

Are you making excuses for why you won’t do something? I can’t do that because I’ll already be 40 next year.  Well, guess what? You’re going to be 40 next year if you do it or if you don’t.

Or, I can’t move to my dream-place because I have to save more money.  You know what? There is currency in your dream-place too.

The last 24 will come my friend.  Will you be fulfilled and excited by the life you chose to live or gut-wrenchingly disappointed in yourself that you settled?   Remember,  you won’t be able to turn the hour glass over when your time runs out.

This video may be the best six minutes you ever spend on the internet.

photo credit: angelwanderer.wordpress.com

Motivating The Motivators

I constantly read blogs on motivation and positive thinking.  I have notebooks full of clever sayings and famous quotes.  I listen to motivational cd’s in my car and can now recite them  word-for-word and I do.  When I’m driving I make sure to turn the volume way up and roll down my windows just in case the guy beside me at the red light needs a little motivation.

So you’d think that I’d be hopping out of bed at 4 a.m. already dressed in my workout gear and ready to tackle whatever comes my way.  Yeah, you’d think that, wouldn’t you?

Each morning, I wake up and lay there thinking about why I’m not jumping out of bed to tackle the world.  The more I think, the longer I lay there.  Until sometimes, I fall back asleep only to awake way later than I wanted to. Now I’m really upset with myself.  The days are shorter now giving me less time to be awesome.

Who Motivates the Motivators?

Yesterday was different.  I did wake up early thanks to a 5:50 a.m. wake up call from my daughter, who is in Kuwait serving, asking if I was up running yet.  After her motivating abet early speech, I was up with the rest of the overachievers of the world and it felt great!  That was the best run I’ve ever had.  Not the longest or the fastest, but the best. Because someone out there cares if I do it or not.

Think You Can’t Achieve It?


6 Ways To Get Motivated!

1. Move Something!

Sing. Dance. Talk. Create. Network. Get up and get out and start connecting with people who will inspire you in the creative process of your Dreamlife. Even if you’re not living in the place of your dreams  or have the job you want now, by getting your ideas and thought out to others, you will draw more positive people into your life who have similar ideas and interests as you.

2. Find Your Passion!

To be truly motivated you must have a passion.  Weather it’s getting back in to your best shape ever or living someplace special or creating change in your community, you must be completely passionate about it.  Only the passion of your cause will get you through the tough times.  And if you should become un-motivated, it only takes a spark to reconnect to what you love and refuel the fire within.

3. Create Dreams of Grandeur!

Create a detailed goal so big that when you achieve it, it will blow your mind! Everything that was ever built or created started with a single idea.  A thought in someone’s mind. Through sharing, researching and connecting, everything manifests.  A way will be made. Your ability to achieve your Dreams is no different from any great person in history who’s ever achieved theirs.

4. Make Time!

Dedicate time every single day doing something that fuels your passion.  Something that you enjoy.  Making a call for more information, cutting out pictures, writing a list of steps you must take.  “I don’t have time.”  is the most frustrating excuse.  Those who get what then want in life make time to do the things that bring them joy.

5. Be Brave!

There are people who will tell you you’re just a dreamer that you can’t possibly do that amazing thing you want to do.  Don’t call them back.  Instead call me.

If you are interested in something, trust me, there are other people who are also interested in it.  Find those people and expand your circle. Either virtual or in your community.  There are awesome people out there who’d love to listen and help point you in the right direction. However, there are also plenty of boring people who like the safety of routine. You, however, are not a boring routine.  Call someone who encourages your passion.

6. Make Choices That Benefit You

You  may not be able to completely disconnect with a negative family member or that friend you’ve known since you rode big-wheels together at the playground.  But you always have a choice to speak up and let them know how they make you feel.

As you grow and learn about yourself, you have the choice to add new friends to your circle by connecting with groups and individuals who are awesome!  Here are some key traits to look for when choosing new friends. Positive thinkers. Inspirational.  Kind. A good sense of humor. Smiley. Attentive.

Continue to grow your circle of friends to include people who motivate you.  You may end up realizing that you were the motivator they’ve been searching for too.

If You Want To Know How To Be A Perfect Mother, Ask June Cleaver.

This gallery contains 3 photos.

There exist a special group of moms’ who are  perfectly perfect. Who effortlessly parent with grace, perfectly styled hair and a string of pearls day-in and day-out  always ready to send off the family with a hearty breakfast of meats and butter-slathered goodness-  and I know they do exist because I’ve had Aunts who were  […]

Misti’s Milestone – Now What?

An important milestone occurred last month for Misti. She stopped treatment for her Melanoma.  If you haven’t read the first part of her story, read Misti With Cancer.

The Final Countdown

After counting down to September 14, 2012 for an entire year,  it finally arrived.  After thinking I was never going to make it through that god-awful chemo, it finally arrived.  After repeating “I can’t do this any longer” a million times, it finally arrived. And it was- anticlimactic.

It’s only been a few days since September 14 and I just feel numb. Blah! Where are the fireworks? Why don’t I feel *better*? Why am I not bursting with joy? Where’s the grand finale?

I guess I built it up to be more than it was. There doesn’t always have to be a huge ending to every chapter. Some people live their whole lives not having any grand finales. But I prefer it.  I never do anything halfway.  If I’m gonna do it I’m going big. So I set myself up to be let down.  I keep waiting for the emotional equivalent version of fireworks, and perhaps it will come.

Perhaps it will come when I can run up a flight of stairs without getting winded?  Perhaps it will come when I wake up on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday (my worst days on chemo) and realize I don’t feel like shit?  Perhaps it will come NEXT September 14- or, perhaps, it may never come.

After you’ve done something, even something unpleasant, for so long, it becomes habit. I had a routine for the lat year and then one day I went to the doctor and he said “ok, you’re all done!”  That’s it?  
Just like that my habits and routines of the last year were changing. I was happy, of course, but just couldn’t stop thinking, now what?

Now what?

Yes, now what?  I take care of the kids. I clean the house. I run errands. I cook. I ride my scooter. I pick up dog crap in the yard. In-other-words, I live.

Hopefully, if nothing else, I have a better appreciation for life and am happy to just be here doing those menial things.  Hopefully I will respect life just a little more.  Hopefully I will come out of this crisis with a renewed, fresh attitude.
I’m in control now. I have no excuses left. While I’ll admit, I enjoyed being taken care of for the last year, it’s time for me to become independent again. It’s time to be the care-giver. It was, without a doubt, the worst year of my life. And now that it’s over I grieve for the life I knew, but I have a fresh appreciation for my life now.
It’s not that I’m a special hero or a fighter, that’s implying that people who don’t win against this wretched disease somehow gave up. I think doctors are doing what the can with the treatments available. And while the treatment (for me, at least) was worse than the disease, I’m am in no way heroic. It’s no different than a diabetic taking shots of insulin. We just do what we need to do to make it through our current situations.

Shout-Outs

I would like to add that I have had some amazing people in my life throughout this ordeal. At the risk of forgetting people, I’d rather not name manes. But there are a few names I must mention. My mom! Without my mom things would have been so much harder. Not having my dad here to carry me through this was hard on me and my mom, but she held it together and did everything she could to help me and my family through everything.
Paul, of course Paul. The man of strength and courage. The most incredible man I ever knew. When I would freak out he was there with a solution. He dealt with the kids and went to work and cooked and cleaned and took care of everything in the house. This all started just a short time after having lost his father so I’m sure it was extra rough on him. But he never let me know it. I’m so lucky to have him in my life.
My kids. It was hard on them.  Sidona, 13 and an introvert but she helped the best way she knew how. She would do things when I asked and sometimes she would just lay in my bed with me to keep me company. Emmett, who is NOT an introvert was very helpful. He’d make sure my water bottle was always full and get my stuff ready for my shots and make sure I was comfortable. Together they were a great team. I love them so much.

My friends (old and new). From trips to chemo to dinner to companionship to tasty treats to encouragement and on and on. Sure, I capitalized on my cancer often “I can’t take the garbage out because I have cancer” and while mostly I was joking (unless I really couldn’t take the garbage out)  I needed to take control of that word. It was up to me to own it. To not let it bring tears to my eyes every time I said it.

Take back the power!

Cancer! I must’ve said that word a million times over the last year. Cancer cancer cancer. It’s not such a terrible word when you say it over and over. You have to take the power away from it. Sure, it still has the potential to kill, but so does a knife or a gun and I’m not afraid to say those words.

Am I emerging a completely different person? Probably not. A few renewed appreciations and enjoying life a little more (thanks in part to my lovely scooter) but I don’t think I’ve had a life changing experience. I never came back from that white light or anything. Things got rough throughout the year, very rough. But I never felt like it was the end. Like everyone, there are bumps in the road. It’s called life.   Sure, I know all the right things to say but I just don’t feel them. I’m going to do my best to just live in the moment and be happy for right now!

 

The Reaction Factors

I belong to an organization called Blue Star Mothers Of America, Inc. A dedicated group of men and women who have children who are deployed.  I am Proud to be a Blue Star Mom. This flag hangs in my window- A single blue star representing my child who is currently deployed- and it will stay there until she comes back home to America.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love talking about my children and I’m lucky to have a job where I get to talk to a lot of people who are on vacation at the beach.  We mostly engage in conversation that is light and fun but sometimes an opportunity presents itself to talk about my daughter’s deployment.   However, no matter how big I smile or how peppy my deliverance, by the time I’m finished raving about my awesome daughter, most people still end up looking at me like this:

Apparently, the phrase “deployed to Kuwait.” seems to trigger loss of proper body mechanics. First their smile slowly slides into a tragic frown. Then I watch as their eyebrows begin to raise slightly causing concerned wrinkles to form in their forehead. Lastly,  Cervical Dystonia sets in and their neck muscles fail causing a dramatic tilt in their head to one side.

Thank you Zach Galifianakis for your concern.

Now, I completely understand people wanting to express their empathy for me as a mom of a deployed soldier, but some people look at me like I just told them their dog got hit by a car.

My first reaction is always to try to make them feel at ease by saying something relatable to home like, “‘No, no, she’s doing very well.  She’s in a place with a Starbucks and a Subway.”  I know that sound kind of silly, but it works a lot of the time and at least brings a half-smile back to their face and makes their head stand up straight.

When I start to see a really dramatic face change, I’ll try to keep it light by telling  a funny story about Janessa-  like how my daughter’s idea of camping was to stay at the Marriott and not be able to order room service. 🙂 – tap, tap — hello? Is this thing on?


And other times, in the midst of saying she’s doing great and she can buy toothpaste at the PX whenever she wants, I see their eyes glaze over as they search their brain for something to say to me.  I’ve dubbed this look “The Nicolas Cage Effect”.

Just a simple Thank You and a smile is fine, Mr. Cage.

Then there was the time I saw Mr. Ice Cube at Fro Yos eating a strawberry-shortcake cone He looked up at me, mid-lick, and caught me staring with a big cheesy grin on my face.  I took it as an invitation to fly across the room and start talking about everything, like- how I could recite every line from Friday, the up coming Last Friday movie, frozen yogurt, Janessa’s deployment.  I was rambling a mile per minute and his expression never changed once.

         Thank you for your support Mr. Cube!

He was completely interested in what I was saying, wow.  When I was almost done talking, he flashed me the peace sign and I knew exactly what he was saying.   That he’s very proud of my daughter and supports our troops and wishes peace for the world.  Wow! Ice is Ah-maz-ing!   I took the cue, turned and walked away in a daze.

__________________________________________________________________

I love talking about my daughter and her life.  War has become a part of that life but just because a subject has a negative connotation, does not mean the person talking about it has a negative experience to share.

My 5 Reaction Factors

  1. Notice the expression and stance of the speaker.
  2. Give your undivided attention.
  3. Take cues from the speaker and relax your mind. You’ll begin to feel the story.
  4. Share your similar experiences if applicable.
  5. Hugs are optional.


 DO THIS                                                        NOT THIS

33 Random Things On My Dreamlife List

squish, squish, squish

These are the thoughts that run through my mind on a regular basis- thought I’d share a few!

  1. Build a collapsible roller rink and take it with me when I travel- plans are in the works.
  2. Rescue and animal from an abandoned house or an abusive person- currently following a culprit in my neighborhood and plan to take action soon!
  3. Pay off someone’s house, car or debt for them.
  4. Win a trophy, ribbon or major award!
  5. Win a pie eating contest- or any non-utensil eating contest.
  6. Go to the airport, catch a flight to a random city, hop off the plane and see what happens!
  7. Warrior Dash!
  8. Swing a hammer next to Jon Bon Jovi to help build a house for Habitat For Humanity!
  9. Sing with a black gospel choir and keep in perfect rhythm as I sway.
  10. Write a song and play my guitar on YouTube.
  11. Teach a Social Media Marketing Class and a Blogging Class.
  12. Give a motivational speech to a crowded room.
  13. Accept the challenge of a Double-Dog-Dare and do it!
  14. See a ghost, a bigfoot and an alien (not all at the same time) and get an exclusive interview with each one.
  15. Dance a choreographed dance routine on stage and nail it!
  16. Take an acting class to see if I have “what it takes” to be an extra on True Blood!
  17. Make that phone call I haven’t been able to make in 25 years- before it’s too late.
  18. Climb a rock wall and ring the bell- then climb down without incident!
  19. Interview a real-life prostitute about her career choice.
  20. Do yoga in the middle of Stonehenge!
  21. Have my dinner comped because I did something awesome!
  22. Solo Karaoke to  LL Coll J’s Rock The Bells! (Yes- I know all the words)
  23. Write Eminem a letter so great that he turns in into a rap song.
  24. Get my S.C.U.B.A. certification and then come face to face with a wild dolphin and give him a hug.
  25. Feed a giraffe and have him lick my hand with his long, black tongue!
  26. Stomp a vat of grapes in a vineyard then drink the wine that I helped squish.
  27. Answer a question wrong then get slimed!
  28. Run a half-marathon with a group of amazing women.
  29. Get another turn to participate in a bikini relay race.
  30. Get a VIP pass to a sold out arena show and the after-party by the amazing new up-and-coming rap artist, John Sisco! 
  31. Open a branch of my business in my hometown Johnstown, PA because some of the best people I know live there.
  32. Create a new app- for that.
  33. Spend the night in a truly haunted place with nothing but a sleeping bag, a flashlight, some oreos and a really good friend.

I’D LOVE TO HEAR WHAT’S ON YOUR LIFE LIST!

Alligators Live In The Woods?

What is Geocaching?

First Cache Ever!

This one-minute video tells you all about this world-wide treasure hunt that’s probably right in your own back yard.

Geocache Name:  Sunny’s Favorite Spot

Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

Another Geocache down for Team Aissa, Woo!

My son, Jaren and I decided to go out last Sunday afternoon for a quick park and grab.  We drove a few miles to the geocache named, Sunny’s Favorite Spot  (named after the hider’s dog Sunny)  This cache was a 2/5 difficulty and 2/5 terrain.  Part of the clue was-

…when you get to the area of the cache you will see a fallen tree on the right side of the trail. The tree points to the hollow stump….

We parked in a new development and walked to an open field lined with woods.  No muggles were present. As we walked into the thick brush, he warned me to watch out for alligators since there was a lake nearby.  I didn’t know if he was trying to throw me off the trail or if he was serious.  I choose to believe him, just in case.  Every small animal I heard sounded like an razor-toothed alligator walking in the underbrush behind me.  We wandered around the path for about 20 minutes.  It was very overgrown and I wore flip flops.  Note to self:  buy all-terrain, treasure hunting shoes.

As we walked, we noticed several trees had fallen in the woods. I wonder if they made a sound when they fell?  All of the fallen trees seemed to point to stumps.  We checked them all for the cache.  No luck.  Although we were working together, we were also in competition to find the cache first.

As we walked the path careful not to step on any alligators, Jaren pointed to a stump that was about 15 feet off the path and said, “Mom, go check that one.”  So I walked up on it slowly (I get so nervous when I’m close to the cache- I think I have spider senses) and peeked around the stump. At this point my heart beats fast as I spotted the large, steel box sitting in the hollowed-out stump covered by some well-placed wood pieces used to camouflage the cache.  After the find, we spent the day debating on who found the cache: Jaren for pointing out the right stump or me for using my spider senses and physically finding it?   I think the Wonder Pets said it best when they sang, What’s gonna work? Teamwork!

Misti With Cancer

“When people ask me what kind of cancer I have they seem almost relieved it’s ‘only skin cancer’. But skin cancer is still cancer. It’s very real and can kill you. It has a low success rate of survival and the treatment is one if the longest and hardest treatments out there.”

Misti

Recently someone said to me “you joke about cancer too much” and that got me thinking. So I decided to write a little about it. Here’s what happened.   A few years ago I had a funky freckle looked at by a dermatologist. He said “it’s nothing now and never will be, don’t worry about it”.   So I didn’t.   Even as it became larger, his words lingered in my head.   “Don’t worry about it! Don’t worry about it!” So I didn’t! Why would I?  

The Culprit

Two years later, now a big, ugly mole, I just wanted it gone!  So I went to a free cancer screening. The mole had recently started bleeding and crusting over but I didn’t really “worry about it”.   After all, there is NO HISTORY OF CANCER in my family and I pretty much always expected to die of heart disease.   So I went and the doctor decided to remove it.  

I didn’t ask about results because I didn’t “worry about it”. I went in on a Friday, had it removed, five small stitches later and I’m done. A cute little scar with a story, right?  Wrong! Sadly, I had a reaction to the betadine.  

“Normal freckles and moles don’t change for no reason. If it starts changing, it IS a problem that needs to be addressed.”

Allergy to Betadine

My arm swelled up, blistered, and burned like a bad sunburn. I saw the dr that Monday and found out it was an allergy I didn’t know I had so he couldn’t have known I had it either. It was awful but he popped the blisters and I felt immediately better. That night I was having dinner with my family. I made rice, broccoli, and some faux chicken! I’ll never forget that meal! It was nothing special, but what happened during dinner would change our lives forever.

The dr called. I figured he was checking on me to see how the blisters were doing. I still wasn’t “worried about it.” I had no reason to be, right? The conversation went like this: Dr: “Misti, your mole was tested and was shown to be a Clark level 3 melanoma”Me: In a chipper happy voice “oh ok! Good!”  Pause – Me: “oh wait, you said it IS melanoma? I have cancer?” There it was! The dreaded “C” word. I was the first to say it. I was still in shock but we talked some more.

“If you get just ONE bad sunburn before you’re 18 you are much more likely to get melanoma as an adult.”

He’s an awesome doctor who took time after office hours to call me and explain stuff to me. He told me to come in his office the very next morning so he could go over the process. I returned to the dinner table, clearly shaken but unable to speak. Of course, if you’re reading this, you know me well enough to know how odd that is.

Misti with her kids

I excused the kids and just stood there in the doorway. It was hard to say that word. I was so vague that he didn’t really understand what I was trying to say. So then I just said it “that was the dr. he says my mole was melanoma…I have cancer!” I have to admit, if they had tested the mole and somehow found that I had heart disease, THAT would have made more sense to me than cancer! I guess it was ok for me to start “worrying about it?!”

Over the next few months I had 3 more surgeries. One more mole removed. Countless blood work, PET scans and MRI’s. I’ve been poked and injected with dye and radiation. My entire life has changed. Forever! At first I didn’t want to become this disease. I didn’t want to be “Misti with cancer”. But, as it turns out, that is EXACTLY what I am.

Just like other things I can’t change about myself like my skin color, my height, and my DNA. I AM Misti with cancer! I embrace it because it’s part of me now. I have always loved humor because laughing feels good! So the two may not seem to go together but in my world they combine nicely. IT SUCKS! Treatment SUCKS. Being dependent on others SUCKS! But I have learned so much.

Paul ♥ Misti

Firstly, Paul and I are closer than ever. I always knew he was amazing, but he stepped up to this and has taken control, and for that, he is truly MY hero. My kids are super helpful and rarely complain though it’s taking its toll on them, I’m sure! But mostly what I learned is that the people you think will be there to catch your tears, drive you to appointments, cook your family dinner on days when you can’t get out of bed, come sit with you when you’re lonely, or just offer an ear are not always the people you think it will be. Unexpected relationships have been formed and for that, I’m so grateful.

“This is my cat Riley, he’s blind and he loves me!

Sadly, some of the people I expected to be there for me, haven’t been. That includes family and friends. It’s been a real eye opener. I’m not saying they are bad people. I’m just saying that I learned a lot and I will keep that with me forever. So yes! I talk about cancer a lot!

I joke about cancer a lot! I AM Misti with cancer! And I’m doing my best to beat it. I am not always chipper but as a self-proclaimed, hopeless cynic, I think I’m doing pretty well. Thank you for reading! 🙂 p.s. If a doctor EVER tells you “don’t worry about it!” please think of this story.

UPDATE

Today, I asked Misti for an update on her treatment and prognosis.  Unfortunately, this week was an especially difficult week in our hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania where a  tragic incident resulted in the death of Misti’s childhood friend.  But she still took time write a few paragraphs.

Since diagnosis on June 20, 2011 I have had 6 surgeries SO FAR! I have 1-5 dr appointments every week, which are all cancer related in one way or another. Treatment is very hard. I get chemo three times a week. The days after treatment are the worst because that’s when I really feel the effects. My husband has to give me treatments through a subcutaneous shot every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night. Which means every Friday and Saturday for the last 7 months have been horrible. 

The first month of treatment you have to go to the hospital every single day for 2 hours of treatment. They pump you so full of fluids that you’re freezing and headaches start almost immediately then the body aches. Like you were hit by a bus.

I am not technically considered in remission until I am done with chemo for a certain length of time. Right now there is no sign of the disease but since my tumor was ulcerated, that means it got into my blood stream and I will have to be checked for the rest of my life. I actually have an MRI tomorrow so I’m hoping all is clear.

I’ve lost my hearing in my left ear and can barely stand up without getting dizzy. There have been so many horrible side effects. Feel free to google interferon alpha 2b for melanoma and check out all of the horrible side effects from it.

My current cancer stage is 2b melanoma. That can never go down. It can only go up. I have had one precancerous mole removed since diagnosis…so that’s 2 tumors I’ve had. At stage 2b my 5 year life expectancy rate is 67%. Ten year is 43%. Keep in mind, I’m only 37.

To check up on Misti and read the second part of her story here –> Misti’s Milestone, Now What?

Continue Scrolling for an important video, facts and links to awareness.

May is Melanoma Awareness Month- we urge you to find a free screening near you and go get those moles, freckles or questionable skin spots checked out.  Visit The American Academy of Dermatology to find a Free Melanoma Screening near you during May.

Dear 16-year-old Me (A Must See Video)

Is Tanning Worth It?  No it’s definitely NOT!

“After the first 4 weeks of high dose, you move to a lower dose 3 x a week for 48 weeks. You, a friend, or family member has to administer these injections.

That’s 144 injections at home. Plus countless blood work (because interferon can cause kidney and/or liver failure) and constant checkups. It hardly seems worth it to get that tan that will fade away.”

10 Facts About Melanoma

1. If caught in the earliest stages, melanoma is entirely treatable, but because it spreads quickly, early detection and treatment is critical.

2. Melanoma is now one of the most common cancers affecting Americans younger than 30.

3. Among women between 25 and 29 years old, melanoma is more common than any non-skin cancer.

4. Melanoma kills nearly 8,000 Americans a year.

5. An estimated 80 percent of sun damage occurs before age 18, which can set the stage for skin cancer later. (Protecting children from sun is very important!)

6. If untreated and allowed to spread, there is no known treatment or cure for melanoma.

7. Risk factors for melanoma include fair complexion, family history, severe sunburns as a child, and using a tanning bed ten times a year or more before age 30.

8. UVA rays from tanning beds penetrate deep into the skin; they destroy skin fibers and damage elasticity, causing premature aging, wrinkles and leathery skin.

9. Tanning beds put out three to six times the amount of radiation given off by the sun.

10. With the numbers climbing rapidly, now 1 in 50 Americans has a lifetime risk of developing melanoma

Resources:

melanoma.com

American Cancer Society

dosomething.org

Fox Chase Cancer Center

Promise Foundation

MelanomaSkinCancer.net

Writings In The Sand

Why is writing in the sand so darn fun?  I’ll tell you why.  The beach is miles and miles of blank canvas yearning to be written on.  Who can resist poking their finger in the sand and sketching out something that inspires them? Not me!

Even if  it’s only there for a fleeting moment- Even if nobody else sees it- It makes us feel good to leave our mark on the world.

My grandson Braylon making his mark.

I live at the beach, so any given day I can go out and read the thoughts of strangers.  Some of them are to the point- “Ray loves Kelly” and some are confusing- “b2” (?)

Yesterday, while walking on the beach scouting for interesting writings/drawings, I spotted Hailie scribbling in the sand while Mom and Dad proudly watched nearby.

Notice she is writing her words upside down.

Hallie

“DON’T MAKE ME SMACK YOU WITH MY FLIP FLOPS!”

Great sense of humor Hailie!

HAILIE’S ALPHABET

Hailie sketched out individual letters in the sand. Dad photographs each them and Mom will frame and hang them on the wall, spelling out the names of their family- one framed letter at a time.  Great idea Mom!

Walking a little further, I stopped to watch Meme drawing  a fish-tail in the sand.  I watched the fish-tail become a beautiful mermaid. And she was drawing the entire thing upside down.  How does she do that?!  Meme is considering attending an Art Institute near her home after graduation.  I should say so Meme.

MERMAID MONA LISA

MEME’S BEAUTIFUL MERMAID

MEME WAS HERE

MORE WRITINGS IN THE SAND

JESUS

SPRING BREAK 2012

DANCE DANCE - That sound like great advice!

DANCE DANCE – That sound like great advice!

NANNA ♥ AUSTIN

SOMEONE LOVES H

S.O.S

MY HEART BELONGS TO THE SEA

SHANNON ♥s

I WONDER WHAT THE QUESTION WAS

LIFE DON’T LISTEN TO ME MUCH ANYMORE

My contribution – PEACE

What have you written in the sand?

The PMS Diaries

onegreenplanet.org

2012- April – Day 3

I knew today would be the worst.  I could just feel it when I woke up- like an evil clown had taken over my mind.  Smiling on the outside, evil on the inside. I tried to stay calm, happy, peaceful- but it wouldn’t let me.  I gave fair warning last week to my family so they should have made preparations for the storm.

During the midst of an argument with my husband- somewhere  between why can’t he put the toilet paper on the roll and me taking a stand against processed chicken, I noticed nobody was listening to me.  So, I did what any PMSing woman would do- I unplugged the cable from the TV, unscrewed the internet modem, closed the laptops and hid them in the closet, I even unplugged the coffee pot and put it under the sink. Then,  matter-of-factly declared this week  No Technology Week! I felt like I had to win – at something and I didn’t care what.

My son, Jaren, who was watching said TV didn’t even flinch.  He quietly got up to make a ham sandwich and waited for the storm to pass.   My husband was sitting back on the couch smirking at me which only fueled the fire.  We exchanged sarcastic unpleasantries for 20 minutes- each of us trying to one-up the other. I wanted to win that too!

It was exhausting- or I was exhausted, either way I was going to win.

Ever feel like this?

So I decided to do laundry- the PMS way.  I stormed around the house gathering the laundry from each room- and with my arms flailing ,  threw them in the basket,  slammed the detergent on top (because it feels good to hurt inanimate objects when you’re mad) and headed to the laundromat.  Maybe watching the dryers go round and round would calm me down.  It was worth a try.

I slammed the car door, cranked up my Bon Jovi CD  and loudly sand along- “It’s My Life, It’s Now Or Never…”  that felt good.

I sat at the laundromat texting to my friends- laughing at their empathetic replies to my breakdown.  My friend Diane text-  “I threw my toaster out the back door once because my husband was complaining about the burnt toast I served him for breakfast.”  My reply, “You made him breakfast?!”  –Almost all of my girlfriends have stories of temporary insanity due to PMS.  I felt validated.  My technology ban wasn’t that bad, was it?  I was about to find out.

By the time I arrived  home, I felt better, but could tell that my husband and son did not.  As I walked passed them, I felt their icy cold stares on the back of my neck.

I decided it would be best to take a nap.  After a few hours of sleeping, I awoke to the smell of chicken- unprocessed chicken, and the toilet paper was indeed on the roll.

The next wave of PMS hit me.  Sadness and guilt.  But then a thought came to me-  In my lifetime, I’ve suffered through PMS 1,630 days of  324 weeks in 27 years.  If they don’t know what to expect by now, I can’t explain it to them.

My fellow blogger Nicki knows just what I mean.  Click to see Nicki break it down for you!

Jaren’s First Cache Ever! (Misty Passage)

What is Geocaching?

First Cache Ever!

This one-minute video tells you all about this world-wide treasure hunt that’s probably right in your own back yard.

Geocache Name:  Misty Passage

Location:  Myrtle Beach, SC

Entrance to the tunnel on Ocean Blvd.

We had just moved to Myrtle Beach and I was anxious to see what kind of fun caches were hidden at the beach.  I logged on to Geocaching.com and found a cache named Misty Passage  less than half a mile from my house.

There are so many types of caches.  Ones that look like drainpipes, rocks, I’ve even seen caches that look like the bark on a tree.  This particular cache was a level 2 called a nano-cache (very tiny container).  All caches have a clue to help you locate the cache once you are in the vicinity.  The clue was  “Look above the turtle looking up.”  – I thought the cache might be near a pet store.  I jotted down the coördinates and my husband Byron and I headed out the door with our dog, Aissa.   I walked up and down the street trying to match my walking GPS with the exact spot that matched the coördinates, my husband spotted stairs that led to an underground tunnel connecting one side of the street to the other for safe crossing.
We entered the tunnel we were pleasantly surprised at what we found.  The tunnel is carpeted (although I’m not sure why) and painted in an aquarium theme.  Ahhh, turtles, now I get it.  There were many turtles painted on the walls along with sharks, whales, jelly fish, octopus and a few well drawn divers.  It’s a very cool little place and provides an interesting backdrop for a cache.

This should be easy, I thought.  The tunnel is not very long and there doesn’t seem to be many places to hide something.  We searched the brightly painted walls for turtles- they all of them seemed to be looking up.

Skyward looking turtle

But one turtle in particular was stretching his neck and looking straight up.  I was sure he held the secret to the nano-cache.  Above him was  light fixture.  “It must be up there.”  I pointed to the light and asked my husband to boost me up.  I reached up and felt along the top of the light, but found nothing.

We searched above other turtles in other light fixtures but without knowing exactly what you’re looking for, it’s harder to find it.  When a muggle would walk through the tunnel, we just pretended to look at the art work on the walls.  When they were out of sight, we’d start searching again.  It’s actually pretty fun being sneaky.  We searched for a long time.  I couldn’t believe that we did not find it- there isn’t much down there except two garbage cans and lights.  We left disappointed.

When I got home I checked the website again to make sure people were logging that they had found it- someone had found it just the day before so I knew it was still there.  But where?

Day after day, I walked Aissa  always stopping for a quick look.  Pretty soon,  I knew all the turtles by heart.  I’d walk up to each one and search around him.  I would jump up and down trying to see  above the light fixture to spot the cache.  If a muggle was coming, I’d stop jumping and pretend I was petting Aissa.  She always provides a good cover.

After almost a month of searching, still nothing.  I told my son Jaren, about the cache and he wanted to try to help me look for it.   So Byron and Jaren and I decided to take Aissa for a walk to the beach and stop in the tunnel along the way.

Checking every possible place

Jaren looked above the lights and crawled around a bit and came up empty-handed. What?! I couldn’t believe none of us could find this small, level 2 cache.

A few weeks passed with no luck.  One day while going to the beach Jaren, Byron and I headed for the tunnel.  I had not even bothered jumping up and down this time to look above the light.  It wasn’t there.  I walked over to my usual long-necked turtle and stared at him in dismay shaking my head.  What was he looking at?  Certainly not the nano cache.

Just then, I heard Byron say, “What do you have there Jaren?”  I turned around to see Jaren holding a very small- what looked like a tiny bolt.   He smiled and said,  “I think I’ve found it.”  – What!  I missed seeing another find because I was to fixated on that lying turtle!  But I ran over to Jaren just as he was unscrewing the cache!  He had found it!

I had never seen a nano cache before and didn’t realize how small it really was.  The turtle who kept the cache’s secret was not the one I was focusing on- he actually lived on the opposite wall.  The cache was a  hollow magnet that was fixed to the metal part of the light . Well played Mvillian, well played.

The turtle guarding the cache

Hiding place

Inside the cache were strips of rolled up papers each with the name of past geocachers.  I logged the find joining the other 715 finders of the Misty Passage Geocache!

Nano cache magnet

Team Aissa (Jaren) 3/9/12

WHAT I LEARNED FROM THIS GEOCACHE:

You already have all the tools needed to find what you’re searching for- just have patience, ask for help if you need too, and most importantly, never ever give up no matter how long it takes.

Slipperier When Wet – why tribute bands rock!

Last night I went to see a Bon Jovi tribute band called Slippery When Wet at the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach.  I wasn’t expecting too much, after all I am a slightly obsessive Bon Jovi fan.  In fact, I remember the very moment I fell in love with Jon Bon Jovi.

~~~~~~ wavy reminiscent lines ~~~~~~

Bon Jovi circa 1985

The year was 1984. “I want my MTV!” was the chant of our rebellious generation.  The all-music channel had taken over our young lives and the introduction of the music video would change music forever.

A video called She Don’t Know Me was about to début – (the second single released from their début album Bon Jovi.) was about to be played on MTV.  I was lounging on the couch and decided to get up to grab a Pepsi and some Doritos.  (those were the days)  As I walked into the kitchen, the video started playing and it stopped me in my tracks.  I turned around to the most beautiful man I’d ever seen- with his long flowing permed hair, stone-washed jacket that beautiful teal shirt.  I hit the floor- literally, I sat down on the floor to get as close as I could to our Zenith floor model TV.  I will never forget that moment. Thinking back, that could have possibly been my first feeling of love at 13 years old.

~~~~~~ wavy present day lines ~~~~~~

We arrived at the House of Blues, bought our tickets and went up to the balcony.  My husband was content sitting in the balcony above the stage gazing down at the crowd.  WHAT?!   If I couldn’t see the real Bon Jovi live, then I was going to feel his music up close.  I agreed to sit with him only while the opening band played and warned him that I was going down to the floor, front and center with or without him.

As I watched the opening band perform, I peered over the balcony to the crowd below.  There was a good mix of fans ranging in age from 16 to 50.  I thought this spoke volumes about the staying power of  Bon Jovi’s music.   As soon as the opening band had played their last note, I jumped up- “Come on!”  I darted down the steps never looking back to see if my husband was behind me.  If nothing else, I was going to hear Jon’s music performed live and tonight, that was enough for me.

Jason Morey- vocalist Slippery When Wet

I made my way through the crowd until I was standing front and center when the curtain opened.  The familiar beats started and in one fluid motion, Jon Bon Jovi (aka Jason Morey) ran across the stage, grabbed the mic and with one hand pointing skyward, asked if we were ready to rock!  I stood motionless for a few seconds in awe of his stage presence.  I gave him a quick critique.  He had the haircut, the body and the clothes but could give a worthy performance?

They started off the night with the 2009 hit- We Weren’t Born To Follow and was immediately taken back by the way the band members were all in character from Richie Sambora (Anthony Cappolino) to “Tico” Torres (Brian John Martin) to Hugh McDonald (Brian Nielson).  Not only did Jason have the moves down, he sounded like JBJ too!  I was impressed!  He’d passed my test with flying colors!  After a few verses, I started belting out the words along with the crowd.

(L) Anthony Cappolino- Guitar and (R) Jason Morey- Vocalist Slippery When Wet

I felt my husband standing in the usual husband place- right behind me.  As I jumped up and down and danced,  I had no fear because I knew he was there to catch me if I stumbled (from excitement not from all the beer… yeah that’s it.) Once in a while, I’d spin around and sing a lyric or two to my husband- “Oh oh we’re half way there, Oh OH livin’ on a prayer, take my hand and we’ll make it I swear…”  then jump back around to face the band.  I did notice that my husband wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic as I was but I couldn’t let his slight disconnect keep me from being the best Bon Jovi fan I could be.

Jason, Anthony, Brian M. and Brian N. rocked us all!  Each song was met with more enthusiasm than the last.  I saw a few lighters in the sky, which really made me nostalgic.  The best part of the night was when Jon…err- Jason came over and sang to me (probably me), “You were born to be my baby and baby I was made to be your man.” I was flustered.  How could this be?! My mind knew it wasn’t really JBJ but my other senses didn’t seem to know that.  I was embarrassed at my giddiness and forgot the words to the song for a minute.  By end of the show, I was sweating and screaming like a groupie. I didn’t want it to end.  I wasn’t ready to return to 2012 just yet.

Slippery When Wet The Ultimate Tribute Band Brian John Martin — Drums, Anthony Cappolino — Guitar, Brian Nielson — Bass, Jason Morey– Vocals

In those short hours, I felt connected to 500 total strangers,  Some of whom could very well have stood next to me at a Bon Jovi concert in 1985- when hair bands ruled the world- when MTV was the only channel we wanted- when we rock-n-rolled all night and partied every day.  That night we were all together again- young and free.  Although nobody, and I mean NO-BOD-Y can ever make me feel like Bon Jovi, these guys are a close second to the sound, performance and passion of the band Bon Jovi.

For a diehard Bon Jovi fan or just a fan of really great rock music, Slippery When Wet, The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute is the total experience- totally.  In 2007 the band was officially authorized by Bon Jovi to perform their highly entertaining show.  The band’s drive, musical ability, showmanship and dedication to duplicating the Bon Jovi live experience simply cannot be outdone*

(reference: (http://slipperywhenwetband.com/about.htm)

Our First Cache Ever!

What is Geocaching?

First Cache Ever!

This one-minute video tells you all about this world-wide treasure hunt that’s probably right in your own back yard.

Geocache Name:  SQ – Harger Hill

Location:  Novi, MI

We liked the fact that the geocache was in a very old cemetery nearby.  We figured that we’d have a good chance to find the container in a fenced in area.  When we arrived, I was busy fiddling with my GPS  typing  in the exact coordinates while Byron darted off up the hill.  After a few minutes of not getting a signal, I heard a yell from the cemetery. “I found it!” – I was so mad at myself for trying to do everything in order, I had missed the find.  Grrr!

Byron  could already tell by my jealous pouting that this was going to be more of a competitive activity for us.  I was already keeping score in my mind.  Byron-1 Jennifer-0.   Drats!Byron ran down the hill with the waterproof, blue envelope in hand. Waving it at me like a trophy that I did not win.  Even though I was being a brat about the find, I decided to document the find anyway- for historical purposes.

BYRON’S FIRST GEOCACHE FIND.  CAN YOU SPOT IT’S HIDING PLACE? –LOOK UNDER THE TOMBSTONE TO THE RIGHT.  IT’S A LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPE PEEKING OUT FROM THE BOTTOM.

INSIDE THE WATERPROOF POUCH WAS A NOTEBOOK TO SIGN AND AN INKSTAMP.
WE ADDED OUR GEOCACHE NAME (TEAM AISSA), DATE AND NOTED IT WAS OUR FIRST FIND! 

Since Byron found it, he got to open it first.  It’s such a rush knowing that someone left it to be found.  We noticed that a few people that very week had signed the log book.

NOTICE THAT THE LOG IS A SIMPLE NOTE PAD.  SOME CACHES HAVE KEYCHAINS OR TOY SOLDIERS.  IN THOSE CACHES THE RULE IS- TAKE SOMETHING, LEAVE SOMETHING.  AND NOTE YOUR FIND. YOU MUST PUT THE CACHE BACK EXACTLY WHERE YOU FOUND IT.

What are Muggles?

Muggles are people lurking around not associated with Geocaching.  You have to watch out for muggles when you play and be sure there are none around watching you re-hide the cache or they may take it and ruin the cache.

This is the ink stamp found in the cache.  We stamped the pad and decided after this cache to have our own ‘Team Aissa’ ink stamp made so we can leave our own mark.

It’s a rush to find a geocache.   There are more than 5 million geocachers worldwide and over 1.6 million caches hidden.  I feel like the Goonies when I embark on a hunt, careful not to let the muggles catch us looking for the prize. That can be tricky, especially if you’re walking around a CVS parking lot pretending to walk the dog…but she’s a good excuse to look under bushes- and it’s oh so fun playing Sherlock Holmes. Watch my very own first cache here!
Register for a geocache name at geocache.com !  We can share our caches and if you’re ever in Myrtle Beach, maybe even go on a hunt together!

Don’t Hit The Send Button Unless Your Friend Works For The C.I.A.

Did you ever say something, do something or share something with a friend, then walk away wondering if it was a good idea?  If you have to ask, it probably was a bad idea.  Once you say the words out loud or hit the send button, you can’t take it back- you just put it all out there to be judged by your friend.

Wait, my friend wouldn’t judge me so I have nothing to worry about.  False.  People who say they don’t judge others are lying to themselves.  Human beings judge other human beings.  It’s implanted deep in our carnal brains to protect us from perceived dangers.   The best you can hope for is that the person with whom you shared the information is trustworthy.  And therein lies issue number two.

Do you really trust your friends?  Friend betrayal is usually unintentionally on purpose – like during a conversation that has absolutely nothing to do with the secret with which you’ve been entrusted- “Speaking of the rainforest, Kelly told me that her husband is having an affair with Jessica.”  Or “I’m not supposed to tell anyone this, so I’ll just tell you– but you have to swear not to tell anyone else.”

Our need to share with others is incarnate.  Early man created tribes- circles of like people sharing similar lifestyles and beliefs. It’s no surprise that we like to share. It’s built into our DNA.  We share information, thoughts, ideas even our bodies with others in hopes of making a valid connection with another person.

Recently, I shared some details about my life with a friend of mine.  There’s something about Facebook that makes you feel braver than you really are.  Sharing that excerpt from my life made me feel so good that I felt the need to share even more, so I followed up our great conversation with a nice long detailed email–until I had spilled my guts all over the place.  I hit the send button without hesitation.   My immediate feeling was- “That felt great!”  –Ahh sweet validation.

My second thought was- what if I typed in the wrong email address and some stranger is reading my private thoughts.  Panic!

Email confirmed- Relief!

Then, after a few days, doubt starts eating away at my psyche-  an important story of my life is out there with my friend- whom, by the way, I completely trust-  (just in case she’s reading this post.)

I want so badly to believe that my friend will guard my email with her life.  I imagine she secretly works for the C.I.A. and has sealed my story in a manilla envelope with the words ”Top Secret’ stamped in red on the front cover.  If anyone ever tried to read it, my friend would run away at lightening speed,  jump through a ring of fire into the sea, swim to a remote island and bury the envelope deep in the dirt- just to protect its contents.

It makes me feel better knowing my friend would do this for me.

What’s the worst that can happen?  I will tell you.  While drinking my morning coffee, I hear Matt Lauer’s voice with late breaking news – -“We’ve discovered a Top Secret envelope buried on a remote island off the coast of Puerto Rico and I will now read its contents to America.”  – I drop my coffee mug in slow motion and it breaks on my kitchen floor as I let out a scream and run to the T.V.  —“Noooo!”

That’s the worst case scenario.

You’d think I would have learned my lesson earlier in life- the day my mother found my diary under my pillow when I was 15.  I can still hear the words she said to me as she waved my diary in the air-  “Never write anything down you don’t want others to read.”   Good advice mom.

Eventually, I relax with a bottle of wine and begin to remember why I shared the story in the first place- and I think – “Hey, that was a great idea!”  – and everything is okay again.

This story and all its subject matter are fictional.  Any persons or places stated in this story are purely coincidental.

My Beautiful Self

Inspiration often comes from unexpected places.  Lately I’ve been feeling extra sassy and wanted to capture those feelings through photographs.  I was inspired to have some beautiful pictures of of myself taken. I began to think about what was ‘beautiful’ was to me.  When I run I feel most beautiful but that wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.  So I grabbed a pen and notebook and came up with a list of great ideas for a photo shoot.  I knew exactly what I wanted to portray but wasn’t sure anyone could photograph my feelings.  I also knew I couldn’t take them myself- so I  employed my husband’s help. 

I went to him with my list of ideas and explained my epiphany.   He was reluctant at first. – This is understandable due to the fact that on several other occasions for which I asked his help, I always ended up taking complete control of the situation and completing the project myself.  So I understood his hesitation when I asked him to take my sexy pictures.  I listened to his concerns-.  When he finished, I promised that this time would be different– that I would not take over the project and I’d give him full artistic control.  With big, wide eyes and a smile on my face, I affirmed that I completely trusted him to get the shots I envisioned. 

I tried very hard to believe the words that were coming out of my mouth, but really, I couldn’t.  I wanted to trust him with my camera, but I didn’t.  But, I also knew that I had zero choice but to surrender my camera to my husband and hope for the best.   He finally agreed.

With camera in hand he slowly followed me into the room.  I hurriedly slipped into something that made me feel pretty.  A quick check of my hair in the mirror and then I positioned myself up against the wall in what I thought was a sexy pose. The look on his face told me otherwise.  So we laughed at my forced attempt to be alluring and mysterious and I moved around a bit and repositioned myself .  He snapped the first picture.  I asked to see it immediately.  He quickly told me no and that I’d have to wait until we were finished.  I knew he was right.  I let out a sigh and kept going.

We shot pictures in every room of the house in accordance with my notes.  Periodically, he’d look up from the camera and say something like “What kind of face is that?!”   I asked him what it looked like- he attempted to recreate my expression.  I started laughing so hard that I didn’t even notice he was snapping away- those are some of my favorite photos.

After I regained my composure, I began to just let go and became his muse.  He gave me great direction telling me which way to position my head and which angle looked best.  I had spent the entire afternoon not in control, and I liked it- very much.  I felt confident and beautiful!  However, this has not always been the case.

I’ve had  a love / hate relationship with my body from early on in life.   I think as a woman, I am not alone with this internal struggle.  We stand naked in the mirror and see our lives lived.  The imperfections that come with childbirth, age and bad decisions tell our stories.   Lately, when I look in the mirror I’m reminded that I’m not 21 anymore and- that’s a good thing.

At 21 I was insecure and spent way too much time focusing on my visible flaws. I was careful not to offend anyone with my opinions and often held back my enthusiasm.   Now, 19 years later I’ve slowly created my authentic self.   Now, my enthusiasm shows in everything I do. Being who I have always been rather than going through my life pursuing an idea of  the person I thought I was supposed to be is a far better way to live.  I accept my flaws both intrinsic and extrinsic.  I genuinely like myself and that is a world away from the girl I was at 21. –

I realize that I’m not going to live forever.  I remember the days of my youth when I thought I would.  If  you wait until you’ve reached your ideal weight, or until you tighten up your butt just a little more, you won’t ever do it.  We are young now- we are beautiful now- we are alive now!  Sometimes, we need to remember why God gave us beauty and just go with it.  I truly encourage all women to take time out this week, slip into something more comfortable- or nothing at all- and have your lovey snap some photos of the sensuous woman you are right now.

My Beautiful Pictures are the outward expression of my inward emotions.   They remind me to always be true to my convictions- to keep living a passionate life of self-discovery and to keep focusing on the good parts.  That’s the only way I’m ever going to live my life.

CREATE MORNING ZEN

LEARN TO LOVE YOUR MORNINGS

I love when my morning alarm rings at 5a.m.! It instantly reminds me that I am privileged to continue my journey another day. That has to be the best part of anybody’s day, right? Yet, I still talk to people who dread their morning routine. Well, there’s the first issue. Instead of calling it your ‘morning routine’ which sounds dull and mundane, let’s call it ‘Morning Zen’ Learn to embrace your morning zen by slowing down your mind and body and enjoying the best thing about your life- YOU!

SET YOUR ALARM 

timetimeBegin your morning zen the night before by setting your alarm 2 minutes earlier each day. After just a few weeks, you’ll have added an entire 30 minutes to your day! Then vow to get the phrase, “I don’t have enough time.” out of your vocabulary for good.

BREATHE IN BREATHE OUT

The alarm rings and your mind immediately starts racing thinking of your endless to-do list; walk the dog, feed the kids, send that email. Stop! Before you even open your eyes, take three really deep, focused breathes being aware of your inhales and exhales. This exercise will keep your body and mind in a calm state.

REACH FOR THE STARS

Stretch!Stand up and do a little stretching zen. Stand tall, clasp your hands above your head and inhale, stretch to the right, exhale. Reach for the stars, inhale, stretch to the left, exhale. Ahh, that feels good.

 

 

 

 

 

HYDRATE

Warm Lemon WaterWhen you awake, your body is the most dehydrated so before getting ready for your day, drink a big glass of warm, lemon water. The benefits are plenty. From hydrating your lymph system to flushing toxins from your body to clearing your skin, warm lemon water is the bees knees. If you have a hard time jumping on the idea of drinking warm water, start by re-hydrating your body with a glass of cool, filtered lemon water then gradually increase the temperature a little each day until it’s luke warm.

SMOOTH MOVE

greensmoothieShakes and smoothies are a fantastic way to get the good things in your body craves and will help jump start your good decision making all day long.

 

 

 

WORKIN’ ON YOUR FITNESS

FITMake a morning zen that you will continue to love. By having your morning fitness routine from Maralana ready to go, you’ll keep your health at the forefront of your life. Remember, without YOU- there is no need to be concerned with the rest of your day.

 

 

photo credit: socialmediamom.com

Cliffs of Flat Rock Park – Geo This!

What is Geocaching?

First Cache Ever!

This one-minute video tells you all about this world-wide treasure hunt that’s probably right in your own back yard.

Geocache Name:  Cliffs of Flat Rock Park

Location:  Columbus, GA

Geocache # 10 for Team Aissa!  What a beautiful day at Flat Rock Park, Columbus, GA!  This is our 2nd cache of the day and our first day with a mulit-cache.  The clues were a bit confusing- but the steps were easy to spot.

CLUE:  If you are not a mountain climber, try the stone steps that take you to the top. Grab the cache before you get on the steps.