Friday, September 30, 2011

The Lost Art of Multi-Tasking

I’ve noticed that it gets harder for me to focus and pay close attention to more than just one thing at a time.

When I was in high school I could be doing homework at the kitchen table while my mom and dad would be discussing their day or some bills or family matters; my brothers would be rough-housing with each other and my sister might be joining in with them or doing her own homework while talking to any one of us.

As always the television would be running in the background like some crazy, demented uncle just babbling to himself, no one really listening. Yet the TV always had to be on, that was a given.

Even with all of this going on around me I had no trouble concentrating on and understanding my homework while still keeping track of all that was going on in case my parents might mention going to the store; in which case I would put in my order for them to “bring me something”.

Then I got married and became a mother. Anyone who has been a parent knows
that you have to have a remarkable ability to multi-task. There is dinner to be prepared, laundry to be done, diapers to be changed, homework to be helped with, stories to be read, baths to be given, tears to be dried, knees to be bandaged, shoes to be tied again and again and again…those never-ending shoes to be tied!!! *sigh* and a husband to pay attention to as well, and the same demented Uncle TV babbling in the corner the whole time. Somehow, miraculously I managed to do all of this and do it well without losing my concentration and bandaging dinner while tying my husband’s shoes instead of the children’s!

Then I went back to school and again had to use my talent for multi-tasking and concentration during those study sessions with my study group when we would meet at the local El Torito and attempt to come up with a presentation while eating chips and salsa and drinking margaritas and listening to Mexican music and Mexican waiters and waitresses, not to mention the customers. But even this was a breeze; I think the margaritas really helped the most!

Then with degree in hand I landed a job managing a large insurance agency. Talk about having to have great concentration and the ability to listen to 100 things at once and keeping everything straight. But I managed to train and assist several agents, balance the books, prepare bank deposits, handle the VIP clients and keep my bored boss happy by pretending I really did care about what he was saying.

But I got tired of the rat race and the long 10 to 12 hour days and decided I would find something easier, 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, and I got the job I have now which is a breeze compared to managing the insurance agency.

I’m noticing though, that my ability to multi-task, to concentrate on more than one thing at a time, is diminishing. Sometimes I’m concentrated on one task and someone will come in and tell me they need or want me to do something and I see them talking, I see their lips moving, I hear words coming out of their mouths and I seem to be able to make the appropriate, “Oh, Uh-huh, I’ll get right on that” responses but then they walk out the door and I’m left wondering, “What the heck did they want? What am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to go? When am I supposed to be there?”

I also notice that while I used to be able to sit in my living room and read a book while listening to a TV show or sit at my computer and write a blog post while watching TV, I’m unable to do that anymore. If I read and watch tv I can get through the pages but not comprehend what I read, let alone remember what I just read. And blogging with the TV on? Forget about it! I now have to turn the TV off, even muting doesn’t help as I still have great peripheral vision and it’s distracting to me to see the flashing changes on the screen.

Could this phenomenon be the result of getting older? Is that just what happens? Or is this Adult ADD? Or is it just that I am out of practice in multi-tasking as this new job is so much more low-key?

I don’t know, but it’s frustrating because I have lots of TV I want to watch while I read and work on my blog. I also have emails that I want to read while I check my facebook, tweets I want to make while I bind policies. What’s next? I won’t be able to drive and listen to the radio at the same time? Walk and chew gum? Pat my head and rub my tummy?

Anyone else going through this? Have any suggestions other than locking myself up in a room with no distractions?

Monday, September 26, 2011


In Cleopatra: A Life, Stacy Schiff digs into the history books to share with us who the true Cleopatra was. As a member of From Left to Write book club, I received a copy of this book for review. You can read other members posts inspired by Cleopatra: A Life on book club day, September 27 at From Left to Write.

I must admit I've not finished this book yet but I'm enjoying it very much. As a member of the book club, From Left to Write I'm not doing a review of the book but writing a post inspired by the book itself.

When I first saw the book's cover immediately what came to mind was my mother's pearls and the fun I had as a little girl using them to play dress up.

Growing up we always lived in a home provided by what ever ranch my dad happened to be working for as he was a ranch foreman. Because of that we usually always lived more than 8 miles from the closest town or city. Once we were 30 miles away! That was a long way in those days, now I commute that far just to get to work every day.

We also didn't have cable and the shows we did get on TV were not interesting enough to keep me and my sister and brothers busy, therefore the job of keeping us entertained and out of trouble fell to my mother who was a stay at home mom. Luckily for us she had a wonderful imagination!

I can remember her dressing us up in her many scarfs, tying them around our waists and pinning them on our heads with bobby pins. I remember that when she dressed us up in that particular outfit I always called myself Cleopatra. How I knew who Cleopatra was I really don't know, but I did. I would pin my mother's pearls like a crown around my head and do the dance of the seven veils. Well I did a dance, how much it looked like the dance of the seven veils I don't know.

My mom would use her eyebrow pencil and paint cat's eyes on me, something like this. . .

And I would always beg for a beauty mark, like this. . .

My sister usually just wanted to wear her scarfs as a cape like Superman (not Supergirl, she always wanted to be Superman) and she would play with the boys and I would be lost in my own little world of dancing and palaces, walking a tiger as a playmate as I imagined Cleopatra would.

"The key to life is imagination. If you don't have that, no matter what you have, it's meaningless. If you do have can make a feast of straw"  ~  Jane Stanton Hitchcock

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An American Hero

I love the show Dancing with the Stars. But this season I love it even more. They have such a varied cast of contestants. Stars we love, Stars we hate and Stars we love to hate!

I enjoyed watching Nancy Grace and Ricki Lake solely because they are larger women and they moved with such elegance and grace and were both so light on their feet.

But the Star that stole the show and stole my heart was J.R. Martinez, an American Hero. You might not have heard much about him in the weeks leading up to the premiere of the show because there were other much more visible and controversial stars such as Chaz Bono and Rob Kardashian. I definitely had never heard of J.R. Martinez and am so happy that DWTS brought him into my life.

J.R. Martinez, who is now 28 years old, joined the military when he was only 19. In 2003 while he was deployed in Iraq he drove his military truck over a live land mine. He was badly injured and suffered burns over 40% of his body. He's had about 33 surgeries and various skin grafts. He's missing one ear and most of the hair on his head.

One would think that after all he went through he would be out of the public eye but instead he landed a role on the soap opera All My Children as an ex combat veteran turned police chief. I've never watched All My Children but now wish I had just to have seen J.R.

Here's a video of the first dance performance for J.R. and his partner Karina Smirnoff. What an amazing young man, an amazing dancer and an American Hero. Good Luck J.R., I hope you win! Regardless you are a winner in my eyes!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Another Bathroom "What the Heck!" Moment

Earlier this year in May, I did a post about something I took a picture of in the bathroom of the building where I work. Not sure if you remember but I posted about and asked you all, why someone would be eating this certain thing in the bathroom and why they would leave the evidence behind. In case you missed it you can see the picture and the post HERE.

Believe it or not my fine friends...I encountered another "What the Heck!" moment just today!

Now, before I show you the pictures, let me just explain that the reason that I have my cell phone with me when I'm in the bathroom is because during the Great Sciatica Event of 2010, I happened to go the bathroom and somehow the door got jammed and I was stuck inside without my phone and still in intense sciatic pain! Since then I am always sure to have my phone with me so I can dial 911 and get some cute firemen to come rescue me!

And to be totally honest I'm hooked on Angry Birds and find myself with free time in the bathroom so I play a little game., relatively free of Sciatica; I went to the bathroom and there in the stall I saw and took a picture of this!

Do you see anything wrong with this picture? Let me see if I can get a close up of it.

Your eyes do not deceive you. That's a plastic FORK! Seriously people. A fork. Sitting on the toilet paper dispenser. It appeared to be unused...but I wasn't about to touch it!!! Who knows what someone was forking with that thing! Ewwww!

So again...why? Let me hear your best made up story of why someone would need a fork in the bathroom! And why they would leave it behind! Unbelievable!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Undercover for Labor Day

Labor Day was spent doing anything but laboring for me. I'm not ashamed to admit that I vegged out the whole day watching TV.  I started out with a How I Met Your Mother marathon. I soon tired of that and moved on to a Picker Sisters marathon. I could have watched that all day but the marathon only lasted until 2pm, what kinda marathon is that?

But it's good that it did end as it forced me to channel surf until I found another marathon, the Undercover Boss marathon. I was hooked on this for the rest of the day until the Keeping Up with the Kardashians season finale!  I know, I know! I need to get a life, but c' was Labor Day! And over 100 outside, so I was perfectly fine just sitting on my couch with a bag of sunflower seeds and a diet Pepsi!

Anyway, back to Undercover Boss. I had seen promos for this show before but have to admit I wasn't thrilled about watching it. The first one I got to see was the boss in a casino in Las Vegas. Since I had recently been to Las Vegas I thought this would be interesting...and it was.

Scott Sibella, President and COO of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, goes undercover within the walls of the second-largest hotel in the world. The MGM employees are told that he is a contestant in a reality show where two individuals are trying to win as the best employee. He goes undercover wearing a wig and glasses and tries several of the jobs at the MGM, starting out as a card dealer. It's hilarious to watch him trying to shuffle the cards the way his trainer Eddie instructs him. And Eddie wasn't hard on the eyes either! Just check him out standing to the right in this picture.

The one who really touched my heart was Donn, the 62 year old roulette dealer who is a Vietnam Veteran who promised himself after all he saw in Vietnam that he would never sweat anything ever again. His biggest issue was the cigarette smoke as smoking is allowed in the casinos and it really bothered his breathing.

There were a couple of other employees that Scott had to work with during his time undercover, but what I really loved was the end when he revealed himself to the employees as their Boss. Some were shocked and you can see them mentally playing back everything they might have said while they thought he was just a contestant in a reality show. I can only imagine what I might have said about where I work! Yikes!

Scott gets to do something special for each one of the employees personally but also finds out what types of changes they need to make overall for the good of all the employees. I thought it was a really great way to get into the trenches and see what the front line is really doing for the company. I believe that deep down employees want to take pride in their jobs and they want to be recognized for all they do. I don't know if there will be a new season of this show but if there is definitely I will watch it. For now I know that you can watch past episodes, including the MGM Grand episode HERE.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Strawberries stuffed with Cheesecake - Yeah Baby!

A co-workers and I are trying to lose weight by watching our carb intake. We've both been doing really well. But then those pesky birthday's come up and you want to be able to celebrate with the other ladies in the office by partaking of some kind of delicious yummy something or other, right?

Well for my birthday in July, my co-worker Angelica made me a yummy low-carb cheesecake topped with strawberries.

So I knew I had to come up with something great for her birthday in August. Thank goodness I have the world at my fingertips and I googled until I found the perfect item!

Click on the picture to enlarge it and you will see they are yummy, sweet, juicy strawberries stuffed with cheesecake and topped with diced walnuts! *sigh* Heaven in a little bite!

My sister and I got together the night before and whipped these up. They are so super simple and look like a gourmet dessert that took hours and hours and a gourmet dessert chef to make them.

But no...if I can make can make these. And I got to break out my beautiful cake plate that I hadn't used in years. It definitely added to the beauty of the dessert.


20 whole large strawberries, hulled
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup Splenda (this is what made them low-carb, but if you want you can use 1/4 cup powdered sugar)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2/3 cup chopped pecans
Directions: (Call your sister and pretend you need her help, then just let her do all the work :-D )
Just kidding...this is how you do it:

Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each strawberry so the berries stand upright. Place berries, cut side down, on a serving platter. Carefully cut the berries into 4 wedges, cutting almost to, but not through, the bottoms with a criss-cross cut. Fan wedges just slightly, taking care not to break them. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until combined but still stiff. Using a teaspoon or pastry bag with decorative tip, fill the strawberries with the cream cheese mixture. Roll the stuffed strawberries in the walnuts. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Simple Simon right? Make, go on, you won't regret it!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


It seems of late that all I do is book reviews! Well be prepared for another one cause I just finished a really interesting, thought provoking book.

The book is Unsaid by Neil Abramson. This book was sent to me to review from Sarah Reck, a Web Publicist with Faith Words at Hachette Book Group

If you love animals of any kind, this book will make you cry, and will make your heart ache, but it will also give you hope that there are people in this world that love animals and will do almost anything to save and protect them.

I can't say that I've always loved animals. I've been partial to cats but never really to the point that I wanted to own one. But my daughter April is a total animal lover and through her beloved Chorizo, I have learned to love animals a lot more now. I mean just look at this sweet little face! How can you not love her and through her...other animals!

In this book Unsaid, Neil Abramson takes us into the life of Helena Colden, the main character. The twist that made this book so intriguing to me is that we see the story take place through the eyes of Helena after her death! She tells us the story while visiting those she loves after she's left them behind.

In life Helena was a veterinarian. In death now she is afraid of meeting the souls of the hundreds of animals that through her hands were euthanized. In life Helena had many pets; dogs, cats, a cantankerous pig and horse and various other animals. In death she's seeing how her animals struggle to carry on without her. Animals don't understand death and they keep waiting for her to come back to them.

Helena also takes us on a trip into the use of animals, specifically chimpanzees for testing of various drugs and medical procedures. Until I had read this book I never thought about how these animals suffer for the sake of saving a human life.

In one particularly haunting portion of the book an attorney is questioning a researcher in the use of chimpanzees for medical research. He asks the researcher how many animals she has euthanized during the span of her career. She mentions tens of thousands. Upon further questioning she says, "Ten or ten thousand animals---it has absolutely no human pathological significance." The attorney then says, "if you must euthanize ten thousand animals to save a human life, then that is an acceptable result? Even if those ten thousand animals are chimpanzees?" The researcher replies, "Oh, yes. Even if they've been trained to recite the entire Declaration of Independence. My job is to save human life. Chimpanzees will never be human. They weren't yesterday, they aren't today, and they won't be tomorrow. Nothing else matters."

I'm not an animal rights activist, but the one line that rings out to me in what that researcher says is "chimpanzees will never be human." Ok...but aren't we humans? As humans don't we feel pain, sorrow, humiliation? As humans don't we have the intelligence to realize we should protect those weaker and less intelligent than ourselves? I understand research is necessary, but at what expense? This book really made me stop and think about this.

If you get a chance to pick up this book I highly recommend it. It is a difficult read for animal lovers, but it's a book all animal lovers and those that aren't should read.