Last week was my 40th birthday. I turned the big 4-0. I feel like a rebellious teenager, full of dreams and ideas, yet not quite old enough to be responsible for making all these grown-up decisions. How did I get to be 40 so quickly? I had the best time in my 30’s and I don’t mind being 40. The fine lines and wrinkles. All of it, I wear proudly. It’s been an awesome ride and I look forward to another 60 or so years of awesome, no matter how wrinkly I become.
Watching the events unfold in the news over the past 24 hours has left me raw with emotion. How in the hell can something so evil be happening so often in our schools? Much like the vivid details of the morning of September 11th that is freshly imprinted my brain, in all likelihood, these images won’t soon leave my consciousness.
I have been volunteering in my second grade daughter’s classroom on Fridays since she was in kindergarten. I will never forget the first time the school practiced their monthly lockdown drill. In all honesty, it horrified me. In order to not process the reality, I pushed out into the far recesses of my mind, wiped my tears away and told myself it couldn’t happen here in our town again. Besides, these horrible things don’t happen in elementary schools. Right?
We live about two miles away from Santana High School, in the east San Diego suburbs, where in 2001, one of TWO high school shootings happened in the school district in a period of two weeks. Santana High School will be my daughter’s high school if we continue to live in the same area when she attends high school. Because I lived in San Diego when the shootings happened and later worked for the high school district where the tragedies took place, the memories of those tragic events prominently loom in the back of my mind each time I drive past the school.
This evil is something you never forget. We have chose not to share the tragic news of Newtown, Connecticut with our seven year old. I cannot bear to strip her of her innocence and belief in the power of good over evil. When it comes right down to it, these acts are not accidents—they are carefully orchestrated acts of pure evil. It is something I cannot make sense of and DAMN IT! No one should have to make sense of this madness. It should never, ever happen.
I tried to stay off of Facebook or watch the news for most of the day. For one, my heart could not take the sadness. I could not process the images or synthesize the fact that evil like this happens every damn day. I was angry. I was frustrated. I was downright pissed off that this is the world that our children are inheriting. It is overwhelming to conceive.
The fact that I have the luxury to tune out to what happened is not lost on me. The parents of Newtown, Connecticut cannot change the channel or shut down Facebook. What has been lost can never be recovered. It cannot ever be undone. I recognize all too well that this could have happened in Anytown, USA. It has happened in my town before and I don’t know what safeguards are in place to assure it won’t happen again. No, there is nothing to restore the sense of security. There is a gaping void where security once occupied. Vulnerability and fear occupy the spaces where security once lived. That´s why it´s important to always have the best security systems in your home, like this crash rated gate installation.
My heart is breaking for the 20 plus families that left their children at school—a place that should be SAFE, that did not get to tuck their little ones in bed last night. I had the luxury of hugging my family members tight, where others will never be able to wrap their arms around their loved ones again. It breaks my heart at the carnage that has been left behind after this senseless attack. I have been praying since I heard about what happened, because frankly, I don’t know what else I can do, but hold these people in my heart. I cannot imagine the ways in which this tragedy will change lives. I am angry. I am so filled with so many emotions, I cannot even begin to express. It is all so terribly wrong. It isn’t fair.
Various media and Internets almost immediately called for gun control and outright bans on guns, hardly before the news was reverberated—before most of the details have been revealed. I am burned out from the politics of November. The fighting. The Great Facebook Debates. It all sucks. It makes me absolutely disgusted.
Not even 24 hours after this event happens, people are spinning the political rhetoric. BAN ALL GUNS! Blah. How about a few moments of grieving, of embracing each other, of honoring the victims and opening our hearts?
Before we get our proverbial panties in a bunch about gun control, let us have a few moments to wrap our brains around the wicked horror that took place yesterday. What happens if we ban guns and strip ourselves of our Second Amendment rights? How are we going to stop bombs, like what happened in Oklahoma City or even more recently—our US Embassies? Remember the hijackers of 911? They didn’t have guns. They had ordinary box cutters. It’s not only guns we have to worry about. It is knives, box cutters, swords, sticks, stones, cars with Fatigued Driving Accidents | Kelly & Soto Law, clubs, batons, and 500 other benign instruments that can be turned into weapons. We need to think about stopping evil in its tracks and not focus on any one aspect.
I can’t help but think about the recent cleaver, hammer and knife attacks in schools that have harmed or killed young children in China over the past few years or the bombing in Norway that killed 77 people last July.
The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791 and yet this barrage of violence in school is a contemporary problem. Even 50 years ago, kids weren’t bringing guns to school, although the Right to Keep and Bear Arms made its prominence in the 18th century. Is it possible the the prevalence of guns has changed little, but clearly our society has changed enough that such evil exists today? Are we that naive to think that guns and not the people that senselessly attack children are the real problem?
I have to wonder—is banning guns really going to stop evil in its tracks? We see it everyday in our news. Wickedness is everywhere and is not settled on one implement to carry out its destructive and vile acts. It is terrifying. Why is this violence happening? What can we do to change it?
The real question we need to ask is, how are we going to disarm evil?
Over the past three years, I have been to many conferences. For me, the blogging conferences are my excuse to have a girl’s weekend out in whatever city the conference is being held in. Last year, I went to Bloggy Boot Camp in Denver, Colorado, which meant a few days with my best friend who lives in Denver and lunch with a sorority sister. This weekend, I went to Bloggy Boot Camp in Las Vegas, mostly to spend the weekend with some of my favorite Southern California bloggers, but what I got out of it turned out to be so much more!
I have to say that with all the conferences I have been to in the past couple of years, this year at Bloggy Boot Camp in Vegas was my favorite conference yet! Not only did I get to spend time with some of the smartest women I know, I learned so much!
Friday night, about 10 of us got together for an ice cream social downstairs in the Southpoint Casino we were staying at. We had great conversation about blogging, networking, husbands, working with brands, and being moms. There were not many topics we did not touch. We ended up laughing, talking and hanging out until 3 a.m. We weren’t drinking, gambling, dancing or anything like that. We were enjoying great conversations and everyone was excited about the conference the next day. I did not get a full 8 hours of sleep and it was totally worth it! It is so important to me to connect with other bloggers and to network. The result has been that I have a really fabulous network of friends.
I came back home with so many ideas in my head and so much gratitude in my heart. I am so grateful to have found this community of supportive women that I have had the privilege and honor to know. I have so many plans in my head, I do not know where to start, but I know which direction I want to go. I feel inspired and I am excited to start moving on! It is going to take me a week or so to synthesize all the information I got out of the conference.
I got to see many San Diego bloggers I have met many times, as well as some Southern California bloggers I know from Facebook and Twitter that I have not met before. I loved listening to all the women speakers of the day. I was inspired by the strength and courage of the women in the room, including the Warriors in Pink that were at the conference sharing their stories.
Some important lessons I learned (that I may or may not have applied yet!)
1. Set working hours. I think my working hours are going to be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. I need to make myself wholly available to my family during the hours I am not working.
2. I need to come up with a business plan. No more of this throwing things on the wall and seeing if they stick. I need to focus on where I want to be and work my way backwards.
3. I need to find ways to simplify my life so I can focus on my work during my business hours. I think this means a housekeeper is in order. I need someone to come in and do the deep cleaning so I can focus on my business and get this enterprise feedback management to help me keep track of my client´s reviews.
4. Wednesday nights are for Mr. Bear and I. We are going to have a date night every Wednesday. We need some time together, without interruptions from our little bundle of joy.
5. I do not need to worry about my critics.
“Don’t try to win over the haters. You’re not the jackass whisperer.”
— Scott Stratten, author of Unmarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.
Some of the people I hung out with that I think are AMAZING!
Tiffany of SITS and one of the women behind Bloggy Boot Camp. She is one of the funniest women and I love her! I left the conference so inspired and ready to put the work in to get where I want to be. I found out she is also my friend Tracey’s neighbor. We will have to invite her over at our next get together.
Gigi of Kludgy Mom. I got to bend Gigi’s ear for a while at the conference and she is awesome. She has so much knowledge and I learned so much in such a short conversation.
Melissa of Miz Meliz She is one of a kind! I had so much fun with her! She seriously has one of the most contagious smiles of anyone I have met before. She and her husband joined Mr. Bear, me and a few others at the Hofbräuhaus in Las Vegas. It was a lot of fun and I am so glad she joined us!
Danielle Smith of Extraordinary Mommy She inspired me so much, listening to her speak at the conference. She is one extraordinary woman for sure! She inspired me to pursue my dreams and to make them happen. She also reinforced the working hours rule that I will be soon implementing.
Carolyn West of This Talk Aint Cheap and founder of SoCal Lady Bloggers. We got to chat about a lot of things over the weekend. Carolyn was inspired over the weekend too and I cannot wait to see the incredible things that result! Carolyn joined us for dinner at the Hofbräuhaus after the conference. (We got to see quite a bit of spanking, which was very interesting. Every time someone ordered a shot, the servers would swat the shot-taker.)
Lolo of Crazy About My Baybah. Lolo is one of my good friends and although this is only the second time I have got to hug her in person, I feel like I have known her forever! It was great to see her!
Bibi of Bibi’s Culinary Journey. Bibi is from Canada, but joined the Southern California ladies meet-up on Friday night. She is a lot of fun and I am so glad we got to meet. She and her friend also joined us at the Hofbräuhaus Saturday night. She was kind enough to give us a ride over.
I also got to see Ali, Theresa, Surferwife, Laural, Wendy, and many other bloggers. Unfortunately, one day was not enough time to get to hang out with everyone.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.
When I got the opportunity to read Dr. Brené Brown’s latest book, Daring Greatly, I was thrilled. Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of hearing her speak on two separate occasions. I knew this book was going to be a great read because I have heard what she has to say and she is one of the most genuine speakers I have ever heard. Her work on shame, shame resilience, fear, vulnerability and daring greatly resonated with me in an authentic way, I could not put the book down.
The above quote by Theodore Roosevelt is an excerpt from a speech given at the Sorbonne in Paris, France in 1910. The quote encompasses the theme of the book that through being vulnerable requires that we take risk, in spite of our fears, we give ourselves the opportunities to make real connections with others, bringing purpose and meaning to our lives. Vulnerability is not weakness, she argues. In fact, it is one of the greatest acts of courage. We need to put ourselves out there, even if we might fail and be vulnerable. We need to be vulnerable in our relationships and in every facet of our lives if we want to be connected with others. She examines our innate human need to be loved and to have a sense of belonging. Having a sense of worthiness gives us the ability to be vulnerable and take the risk of getting hurt, but in the end that result can give us that connectedness that allows us to feel loved and a sense that we belong. According to Dr. Brown:
Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust-building process.
The book struck such a chord with me on so many levels. I am in sort of a cross-roads right now and I want to be courageous through this phase of life. It is a scary prospect. We all have those critics that tell us we aren’t enough, but our biggest critic sometimes lives within ourselves. We need to take the risk, EVEN IF we may fail. That is courage. I found myself nodding my head in agreement, taking notes, dog earmarking pages, and feeling inspired to truly live my life daring greatly.
The book was excellent! I am an even bigger fan of Dr. Brown than I was before.
Disclaimer: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own. I was compensated for my review, and received a copy of Daring Greatly HOWEVER, I only recommend products and/or services I personally believe in.
Mr. Bear and I have become completely addicted to the show Tanked on Animal Planet. The last episode we watched brought back so many memories of our own experiences at the Magic Castle. Wayde and Brett meet up with Neil Patrick Harris at the Magic Castle to discuss a “magical” fish tank to be built on the lower level of the Magic Castle, near the W.C. Fields bar—a fixture of the Magic Castle that I immediately recognized. Wayde and Brett arrive at the front steps of the Magic Castle in shorts, tennis shoes, and t-shirts. Neil Patrick Harris explains that there is a dress code and what they are wearing is unacceptable. He gives them an hour to get their attire in order before he will let them in.
An hour later, Wayde and Brett return to the Castle in their tailored suits and dark sunglasses, looking sharp.
Here are some clips from the episode:
There are some particular rules of the Magic Castle that must be strictly adhered to. One such rule is the dress code of the Magic Castle From their website:
Dress code strictly enforced. Coats and ties for men, evening wear for ladies, no casual wear (jeans, tennis shoes, etc.).
No zippered jackets, outdoor jackets, polo shirts, t-shirts, denim (or colored denim), shorts, sandals, flip flops, sneakers or sneaker-like shoes are allowed.
No casual attire will be allowed. Think business attire!
My dad became a member of the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, California in the mid-1990’s after a mandatory audition. Over the years, we have relished countless nights of entertainment in the Hollywood Hills with friends and family. We have made untold celebrity sightings while watching magic and wearing our Sunday best.
Mr. Bear and I had our engagement party at the Magic Castle ten years ago, with 30 of our closest friends and family. Yes, we have made many memories at the Magic Castle—many unforgettable memories have been made. There have been boundless birthday celebrations. There have been laughs until tears stream down our faces. All of this fun and excitement, year after year has also brought some outtakes and moments we wish we could forget.
It was 1995. Mr. Bear and I had met the summer before. We had been spending a lot of time together, by ourselves and with each other’s family. Mr. Bear gave me my first surfing lesson. We had Easter together with my family. Mr. Bear’s family made me dinner at their house numerous occasions. My dad took us flying in his airplane. I was Mr. Bear’s company Christmas party date and he was my sorority date. We had so much in common and we were inseparable. In fact, my family had already decided they would keep him and his family was asking when we were going to take our relationship to the next level. Naturally, Mr. Bear was invited to the Magic Castle for our next event.
I distinctly remember telling Mr. Bear that the Magic Castle was fancy and he needed a suit and tie. I arrived to pick him at his friend’s house up on a Saturday night and he was waiting patiently outside. He got into the car. No coat. Jeans. Tennis shoes. Apparently, we had distinctly different opinions on what was considered fancy.
I was not pleased, yet there was not much that could be done at that point. All we could do was try to see if they would let us in. We continued up the 5 freeway toward Hollywood, while I rolled my eyes and made a few sarcastic comments about Mr. Bear’s attire.
We entered the lobby of the Magic Castle to check-in.
“Sir, you need a coat, dress shoes, and dress pants to enter,” they decreed. There was no negotiation
The staff was as accommodating as they could be, loaning Mr. Bear a pair of dress pants that were about 3 inches too short and a tattered coat that donned holes in the pockets and sleeves that only came up to the elbows of Mr. Bear’s 6’5 build. The coat and pants had been left behind by a magician, but no shoes were left behind. Great. Now where would we go for shoes?
Fortunately, the Magic Castle is on Franklin Avenue, a block north of Hollywood Boulevard. We walked the streets of Hollywood Boulevard until Mr. Bear was able to find dress shoes that fit his size 16 feet. Size 16 shoes are challenging enough to find, without being picky—even in Hollywood. We came across at three shoe stores that had no shoes over size thirteen, before we came across the only shoe store in Hollywood that carried Mr. Bear’s size. To boot, they had several pairs to choose from!
Mismatched and mis-sized, we were finally ready to watch some magic. We stared at the magic owl’s eyes and declared, “OPEN SAYS ME!” Poof! The door opened and our magical evening finally began. Poor Mr. Bear took a lot of teasing that night. From his attire to his embarrassment, he took a great deal of flack from me, friends, family, and the staff. The evening turned out to be unforgettable. We managed to make the most of the hiccups along the way.
It took many years for Mr. Bear to live down his first evening at the Magic Castle. It was not long after that Mr. Bear was fitted for a brand new, fancy suit that he wore the next time we all went to the Magic Castle. I have to admit that I can remember how handsome he looked when he was fitted properly in his new suit.
Mr. Bear has invited many friends and family to the Magic Castle since that infamous adventure. He has made it his duty to inform all parties how important it is to adhere to the dress code. In hindsight, I wish with my whole being that I would not have been so harsh with Mr. Bear. My unkind behavior was very nearly the end of our friendship. I am grateful that he forgave me for giving him such a difficult time for an honest mistake. We have great memories that have made up for that rocky start. I am grateful we were able to create a fresh start and we have better memories we will never forget. I am thankful that Mr. Bear forgave me for being a great big jerk. Without his forgiveness, I would be lonely without him and I would not have a little Allie Kat.
It was an honest error, but Mr. Bear has never forgotten the dress code again and I have not forgot to be kinder. The Magic Castle does not mess around!