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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dead Wake - From Left to Write

I've never been good at History. Never really even liked it. I know, I know...as Edmund Burke once said, "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." 

Maybe the reason I don't like History is because it seemed like every year we would start with the same old American History book and we never got beyond the Civil War. Or maybe I stopped listening after the Civil Way.

But I've been reading an excellent book by Erik Larsen called Dead Wake, The Last Crossing of the Lusitania and one of the things that has made an impact on me is when he writes about the death of the wife of then President Woodrow Wilson.

Photo Credit - National First Ladies Library
Ellen Axson Wilson died on August 6, 1914, just a couple of days after Britain entered the new war in Europe and a year and a half into President Wilson's first term. I stopped to think about how devastating that must have been, to go through his wife's illness with her and then her death and still have to be the President of the United States. It's just mind boggling.

This got me to thinking about tragedies that happened to other Presidents during their term in office.  


Photo Credit - The American Presidents
There was our drunkest president, Franklin Pierce. He was the 14th President of the United States and while he was likable and popular president during his term he struggled with his wife Jane's illnesses and depression. They lost two sons, one just a few days old and the other at the age of four. They had another son named Bennie who lived to the age of 11 and died horribly in a train accident when the train they were on went off the track and rolled down a hill. Bennie was instantly decapitated and the President and Mrs. Pierce witnessed the whole thing. President Pierce died March 4, 1857 of cirrhosis of the liver. 

Maybe this book has opened up an interest in me for History.



This post was inspired by Dead Wake by Erik Larson, a thrilling account of Lusitania’s last voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and the U-boat that attacked it. Join From Left to Write on March 26th as we discuss Dead Wake. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Sleep of the Innocent

I've always been a good sleeper. 

I inherited that ability from my dad. He could fall asleep anywhere, anytime.

I can remember when I was a kid, that he would come home during his lunch hour and he would eat the lunch my mom made him, then he would lay down in his recliner and take a nap before he had to go back to work. He would instantly start snoring. Sometimes we would jump into his lap and he would wake up and look at us with bewilderment and then he would go right back to sleep again. 

My mom who always had a hard time sleeping would get so mad at him that he could sleep like that. That soundly, That deeply. That restfully. Like it was his fault! My dad would tell her that he could sleep that soundly because he slept the sleep of the innocent. Without malice, without worry, without strife, without stress. I think that really pissed my mom off. Probably because she took it to mean that she couldn't sleep because she had malice, worry, strife and stress. I don't think my dad meant it that way, but I'm sure my mom took it that way. 

I sleep the sleep on the innocent as well. I can lay down at night and turn off the light and my body knows it's time to go to sleep. The bad thing is that they can lower the lights at a movie theater and my body thinks it's time to go to sleep. I can start reading a book and my body thinks it's time to go to sleep. My body thinks it's way innocent-er than it really is!

My sister and my mom both still experience bouts of insomnia, while I sleep soundly through the night. I also love naps during the day. I normally can't nap unless it's the weekend but I can lay down around 2pm on a Saturday and catch a 20 minute nap or a 1 hour nap and awaken refreshed and ready. 

I've been reading the book Thrive by Arianna Huffington for my online book club, From Left to Write.



In the book Arianna talks about how important it is to get a good nights sleep. It can help you to deal with stress better and is a great aid to losing weight. Sleep brings lots of good benefits with it. 



I wish I knew the secret to being able to get a good nights sleep. If I knew the secret I would definitely share it with my mom and my sister and with anyone else that has trouble sleeping. I just know that for me sleep comes easily and in fact I very rarely dream, or maybe I dream and just don't remember them, but when I wake in the morning or after an afternoon nap I am well rested and ready to face the day. 

Do you sleep the sleep of the innocent or do you toss and turn and sleep fitfully?

This post was inspired by Thrive by Arianna Huffington who challenges women unplug and sleep more to create a balanced life. Join From Left to Write on March 19th as we discuss Thrive. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Baby J Every Day...she's not just for Sunday anymore

I haven't done a Baby J Sunday post for a while. We still get a super fun visit from that little cutie pie every weekend, but it's getting harder and harder to snap pictures of her because she's always on the go! Such energy that child has!

This last weekend I was able to snap some photos of her while she was quietly drawing on the Dry Erase Board I got for her that she loves!


I love how comfortable she looks laying on her tummy! You get to my age and not only can you not lay on your tummy like that but you probably can't get back off the floor either!



She has the sweetest expressions and just loving her hair!



She was telling me a story about whatever it was she was drawing. Not sure what the story was about but the orange dry erase marker was important to the theme!



I don't know...but by they look on her face I would say she's plotting something!






She's back and focused on her drawing. That Dimple!!! That Dimple!!!





How I love this child!



 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Stupid Little Brothers

From the Halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of Tripoli. We fight our country’s battles, in the air, on land and sea. First to fight for right and freedom and to keep our honor clean. We are proud to claim the title of United States Marine! Ooh-rah! Semper Fi!

While at work today, I glanced out my window to see some cadets across the street that are training for a career in law enforcement and I said to my co-worker that it reminded me of my days in the Marine Corp (which of course I never attended or was a member of) and she said “You were in the Marine Corp?” I laughed and told her no and told her a story of when I worked at another office I jokingly told another co-worker that I had been a drill instructor in the Marines and she believed me and a few days later brought her young daughter to meet me. I was so embarrassed to admit I had just been kidding and this poor woman brought her daughter to meet me because she had admired my accomplishment. 

So then I sang my current co-worker Angie, the Battle Hymn of the Republic and she didn't know that was their song. 

Then I showed her the technique the cadets across the street were learning, on how to control riots with their batons and how to move as a group. 

Since I had a captive audience (literally because we’re at work and neither of us can go anywhere) I started telling her some of the sayings that my brothers (both ex-marines) had taught me when they got back from Boot Camp. 


This is my Rifle and this is my gun; this is for fighting, the this is for fun! 

I of course had to make that same gesture as in the photo. C'mon! We were just having fun and sometimes at work you have to take a break and just laugh at yourself and each other!

Then I told her there is a serious one about the Marine and his gun: 

The Creed of the United States Marine

This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My rifle, without me, is useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will...

My rifle and I know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit...

My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...

Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.

So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!

I remember my brother Fred when he got home from Marine Corp Boot Camp reciting that to us while my little brother Jaime watched, knowing that someday he would follow in Fred's footsteps.

As I typed that it reminded me of the fact that while my brothers were learning these things and receiving training to protect and serve their country, to me they were just my stupid little brothers! But they returned as men!

I hope my little brothers know how much I admire and respect what they did for their country. Neither of them actually had to fight during a war, but they were prepared. They left home, family and safety to take their turn at protecting their country.

Wow, I didn't mean for this post to be about my brothers but I guess that is where my heart led me, stupid little brothers...I love you both.

My Brothers with our Dad
My Brothers with our Mom


 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

No More Excuses - From Left to Write

I agree that we should exercise to be fit and not skinny. I don't know how many people, myself included, will go on some crazy diet because they want to fit into a wedding dress, or a bathing suit, or they have some event that they want to look good for. They (I) punish their body and if they punish their body hard enough they may lose 5 or 10 pounds, only to gain it back, plus more, within a few weeks after the event.

Very few of us make the commitment to exercise to strengthen our body, to prolong our life, to avoid illness. Exercise is not easy and it's not for the weak either. It takes dedication and sacrifice.

I'll be honest and admit that I'm not a big fan of exercise. The most I do is walk from my office to the bathroom several times a day which is just down the hall. Every once in a while I'll get on a kick and maybe do an exercise video, well about 5 minutes of one; or I'll get on my stationary bike and ride for...oh about 5 minutes and I'm done. I constantly promise myself to do better, when the weather is warmer, when I'm not so stressed out, when the Moon is in Jupiter, every time except RIGHT NOW.

Eat to nourish your body. I really try hard to follow that one. I follow a low carb/high fat diet and I really try to stick with it. During the week it's not so hard, I fast in the morning. I read recently about Intermittent Fasting and it made sense to me. I've been doing it for about 6 months now and if I stick to my low carb diet I can lose weight but since I'm not sticking to it as well as I should I'm just maintaining the weight I'm at right now.

I do know that since beginning to eat low carb/high fat I eat healthier because I eat a lot more salads. Salads filled with romaine lettuce, diced cabbage, jalapenos, cilantro, bell peppers, cucumbers and always some type of protein. I didn't use to eat many salads before. So I definitely feel better and I know that the last time I saw my doctor my blood pressure was good, my cholesterol was ok, no sign of diabetes, she gave me a clean bill of health, except for telling me to lose weight! Grrr! I also drink tons of water, hence making it easier to maintain my exercise routine of heading down he hall to go to the bathroom!

It's that next part in the quote above that gets to me, Ignore the Haters, Doubters and Unhealthy Examples that were once Feeding You. That is harder to do than even exercise! The Haters and Doubters live in my own head! For as long as I can remember I have had a hate/hate relationship with my body, my weight, my self-image. It had nothing to do with seeing pictures of beautiful, thin models. Nothing to do with the fact that my Barbie was thin, or the ads on TV of thin women living gloriously fabulous lives. I didn't want to be thin because Barbie was thin, anymore than I wanted to be blond because Barbie was.  It's something within that I was born with.

As young as age 14 I hated my body and felt that I was fat. I look back at photos of me back then and I was so thin! There's another saying that makes me laugh every time I read it. "I wish I were as fat now as I was the first time I thought that I was fat!"


I remember crying and begging my mom to take me to a doctor to help me to lose weight. My poor mom, what a hellion I must have been because she actually did take me to a doctor who prescribed diet pills for me. This was way back in the day and pretty much these diet pills were basically speed. I can remember taking them and not having an appetite at all. All I wanted to do was clean and I was like a little energizer bunny. But I lost weight and started high school with a thin svelte body, but still I struggled all through high school and after.

I punished my body in high school, I realize that now. I wouldn't eat any breakfast and for lunch my friends and I would walk about three blocks to a convenience store where I would get a small bag of Doritos and a bottle of Dr. Pepper and a bag of peanuts that I would put in the Dr. Pepper, and that was all I would have for lunch. I was involved in lots of activities after school, cheer leading, softball, volleyball, etc and I did all those activities with nothing in my body but the foods mentioned above. Is it any reason that my metabolism now is all screwed up!

Then don't even get me started on my body right after I had my first child! I can remember trying to lose the baby weight with my own version of what was a healthy diet. I remember eating one slice of toast in the morning with nothing but honey on it and my coffee. Then the rest of the day I would eat nothing but air-popped popcorn and water until my husband came home from work and I had to cook for him so I ate what he ate. I can tell you right now, this doesn't work at all, especially not for me that needs to eat as few carbs as possible!

So maybe it's time to just listen to that last line in the quote above, YOU are worth more than you realize. I really have no problem with understanding that. I love myself, I think I'm pretty great, I'm smart and kind and loving and generous and hard working and I could go on and on all day long about the great things I am...but, I'm not happy with my body and honestly that is not what makes me worth more than I realize. I understand my worth, I just wish I could fit all my greatness into a thinner body. 


This post was inspired by The No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang who shares the no excuses philosophy that motivated her to become more fit. Join From Left to Write on March 12th as we discuss The No More Excuses Diet. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.



 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Shadows of My Dad

Today I cried at work.

I hadn't cried at work since my dad passed away in July of 2013.

See, this man called me at work. He was one of our clients and he speaks only Spanish. He is a trucker and was involved in an accident.  He was calling me because he didn't know if he should report it to the police. I asked him what exactly happened.

He said he was driving along, minding his own business, just putting in another day at work when a tire came off of a car. I don't know if the tire actually came off the wheel or if it fell from the bed of a truck...I don't know all the details, he just said a tire came off the other vehicle and rolled underneath his truck-tractor causing quite a bit of damage to his truck.

He said he was there with the other party and the other party didn't want to call the police. I told him to call the police. He said the other party wouldn't let him and said he thought there was something fishy about the other party, like maybe he was on drugs or something. The other party didn't speak Spanish and my client didn't speak English very well so it was also a communication issue.

My client asked me to call the highway patrol for him. I told him he had to call and he said, “You don’t understand, I can’t call, he won’t let me, he’s watching every number I dial, and I’m on Hwy 58 and” …and then he stopped talking. So I asked him if he wanted me to conference the CHP in and nothing, I could hear talking but he wasn’t talking to me and then the phone call dropped.

So what do I do? I’m imagining all kinds of horrible things; the other party has a gun to his head, or stabbed him, or ran him over with his car or took him hostage! These things can and do happen all the time.

So I called 911 and they transferred me to the CHP and I spoke to someone there and explained what had happened and she pretty much said “Yeah and what do you want me to do about it?” I was stunned! “Ummm, I want you to help him!” She said the driver has to call them and report this, I said “But the other party WON’T LET HIM!” She wanted to know if I knew where he was, what road, what highway? I told her I didn't, but thanks to caller ID I have his name and phone number and you guys can call him and she said no they can’t. That is not what they do, the driver has to call in and report it himself and I told her “So he could be getting murdered right now and you can’t do anything?” She said no, there is nothing we can do.

She told me to call him back and tell him to call them. I told her “Thanks for nothing”, hung up and called the insured and he didn't answer. I called the insured a couple more times throughout the day and no answer; I left him a voice mail and no response! I still don’t know what happened.


I told a co-worker about it and she said, “Oh well it was up to him to call the CHP, not to call you, what are you supposed to do? You did more than I would have done, I wouldn't even have called the CHP like you did.” I told her that I thought of my dad and how when he first came to this country he didn't understand English well, let alone speak it and in memory of my dad I try to help people that have language issues like that so that no one will take advantage of them, and then I told her I had to go before I started crying and then I cried. I miss my daddy.


   

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Camping in February? Only in Southern California! Oh Yeah!

My sister Lisa loves camping! She especially loves camping at the beach. It has always been her dream to own an RV and last year she was lucky enough to buy one. I say lucky, but really it's due to the hard work of her and her husband and her great juggling skills in how she handles their money. I was really happy to see her dream fulfilled but I also know that Lisa having her dream RV home could only mean one thing...that sooner or later she would want me to go camping with her.

See...I'm a hotel kinda girl. I like hot water and soft beds and room service and someone to come in and make the bed for me the next day and leave me clean towels. It's just all so civilized right? But Lisa said that I would have to go at least once with her because she just knew that I was going to LOVE it!

She set the date for February. Now while the rest of the country is in a deep freeze, here in Sunny Southern California we're in the mid 70's, but regardless it seemed crazy to me to contemplate going camping in February. I mean...it's winter!

But my sister does so much for me that I figured the least I could do is to go along with her plan and I have to tell you, I am so glad I did. Did I like camping? Yes! Do I love camping? No! Would I go camping again? Yes! Would I prefer to stay in a hotel? Yes...and No! Both have their strong points.

So I'm just going to post photos of what we did. We left home on Friday morning and stopped and did a bit of shopping along the way and finally got to the campsite which is a very fancy place. Not just a state campground with no amenities. We had amenities up the wazoo! Wifi included people! This is my kind of camping!

We took our friend Lupe with us and it was great to have a girls weekend! Here's Lupe and Lisa opening up the RV or as we kept calling it, the trailer.


Here's where we spent most of our time, the little kitchen and kitchen table.


Pretty nice right? That kitchen table there, it turns into a bed. the couch that you see on the bottom left that is blue and beige, another bed. And this trailer has it's own bathroom with a shower and a bedroom. I don't know why I didn't take pictures of that.

And this RV park was awesome. They had a heated swimming pool, a recreation room with games and books and ping pong and TV, an on site restaurant and bar and grocery store. Super nice!

So what all did we do? Well you have to know that the most important and fun thing had to do with food and drink!

We had our Margaritas! You can get this bottle already pre-mixed for just $10 at Costco! And it is delicious! It's huge too, we barely made a dent in it and I don't think we even finished half.


We had our Noshing food. Just a bit of this and a bit of that. We stopped at a fruit stand that my sister knows of and bought some Guacamole and Pico de Gallo and Chips. We also picked up a package of Cheese and Ham with Crackers. That was perfect for dinner our first night and then we had it again our second night.


We also had to have something sweet in the evening and made up a little plate of some Grapes and Strawberries we bought at the fruit stand and I just happened to have a Hershey's Chocolate Bar with Almonds. It all went perfectly together and soothed our sweet tooth. Is your mouth watering?



We had some yummy cupcakes that Lupe's daughter baked for our trip. We thought they were so cute because the bottom is red and the top is speckled! They went perfectly with our coffee. Lupe had bought me this lovely coffee cup and I noticed while we sat outside having coffee how the words were reflected in the coffee. Pretty cool huh?


The last day we ate at the Girls Restaurant and I splurged and had French Toast. Lupe had a Breakfast Burrito and Lisa had Chorizo and Egg and we all shared with each other so we got a little bit of everything. Is not your mouth watering again with this picture?


But we didn't just eat. We played games. We played Ping Pong in the Rec Room and had so much fun!


We had lunch at one of our favorite places when we go to Pismo. Zorro's Bar and Cantina. It's such a quaint little place and such nice people and the best part is it's pet friendly. If you go with your dog you can sit out on the patio with them. I had a Mimosa which is what I'm holding in the picture below. I also had half a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich and a bowl of Chicken Tortilla Soup, it was delicious!


Here's Lupe and Lisa. Lupe had a BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Onion Rings that were to die for and Lisa had a Burger that she devoured as we were all starving. We had only had coffee and a sweet roll before we headed to the Avila Valley Barn at Avila Beach.


At Avila Valley Barn we saw animals...


Children riding ponies...


And we bought several goodies at the Fruit Barn, including some Maple Bacon Salt Water Taffy...


On the last day we finally stopped alongside the beach and just let the sound of the waves sooth our soul.





We really packed a lot into that last day. Not only did we walk all over downtown San Luis Obispo, but we made a quick stop first at The Madonna Inn. Lupe had never been there and she loved it!



I have to say that I like Camping and I had a great time and I'm ready to go again. So Lisa...when's the next camping trip scheduled?



 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Trapped Under the Sea - From Left to Write


I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I know that sounds funny, but it's true. I've never found my true calling, my true passion.

Even now if you were to ask me what career path I would choose for myself if I could be anything I want to be I would not know what to say. 

The obvious answers like a famous actress, a singer/song writer, a doctor, a lawyer, all those things don't really appeal to me. 

I've always said jokingly that if I were to win the lottery tomorrow I would become a professional student just going to college to take various classes without really trying to get a degree, just for the love of learning. I know that I would mostly take classes having to do with Journalism and Writing. I've always loved to write.

I remember one summer when I was going to write a book. I think I was in the 7th grade and I had my mom buy me a composition book. Remember those? 

I started out by writing, "Once upon a time" because that is how all great books start. That is as far as I got. I doodled and drew lines and then I just started writing numbers.

I kept going the whole summer until I filled the whole book with numbers. If the Great American Novel is in my head it's taking it's time coming out!

In the book that I'm currently reading, Trapped Under The Sea by Neil Swidey, which is a true story about a team of divers that get trapped...under the sea; I am amazed by the divers and their work. I haven't gotten to the point of their getting trapped yet but I am on the edge of my seat reading this amazing book!

Each of these divers just stumbled into diving and the type of work that they do, and they love it. They live, breathe and eat diving to the exclusion of almost everything else. I sometimes wonder if someday I will stumble into something that I love just like that?

What about you? Are you living your dream career? Did you just stumble into it? Did you always know what you wanted to do? Or are you like me and waiting to see what you're going to be when you grow up?



 

This post was inspired by Trapped Under the Sea by Neil Swidey. In Boston, five men were sent into a dark, airless, miles-long tunnel below the ocean to do a nearly impossible job that would help clean the once dirtiest harbor in America. Join From Left to Write on February 19th as we discuss Trapped Under the Sea As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.