Five of My Most Embarrassing Moments

Charra Muddy 1

I admit it. This picture has nothing to do, whatsoever, with this post. But ya’all have forced me to bring out the Big Guns: with the approaching holidays and all the stress it entails, people need laughter more than ever. And at the Sunshine Express, that’s what we do best. For your reading please, I’ve chronicled 5 of my most embarrassing moments throughout my life. Enjoy. 🙂

1. Falling in the mud in front of the love of my life.

I was in first grade. Alvin was a mature 7th or 8th grader. He was tall, dark, handsome and mysterious. (Whatever ‘mysterious’ meant.)

The bell rang, and it was recess. At long last! I could run outside and spend a few minutes in his glorious presence.

We surged out of the classroom toward the playground; I ran toward Alvin with abundant joy. Yes! He was there! At the swing set! I could bask in the glow of his beautiful smile, and hear his mature voice as he said ‘hello’ to me.

I ran as fast as I could, wanting to squeeze every minute I could out of this moment. Just as I approached the swing set, and right in front of Alvin, I slipped in a huge mud puddle, and landed SPLAT on my butt.         Pause.

Mortified, I jumped up, feeling my white cotton undies with the eyelet trim wet and gooey with mud and sticking to my bottom. I immediately turned and ran as fast as I could back to the schoolhouse.

From that moment on, I have no memory of Alvin. Probably because I was too embarrassed to ever talk to him again. 😉

2. Forgetting the words to a song in front of a huge crowd of people.

There’s a reason none of you have ever heard me sing unless I’m buried solidly in a group of people.

It could be that I just really stink at it. (My husband has told me I should keep my day job.)

I was a 15, and a candidate for the town’s festival (called the Homecoming) Queen. I was pretty much clueless.

I didn’t really have any talent. What could I do? Hmmmmm.

In a moment of lunacy that I’ve been smart enough not to repeat (thank goodness there was no YouTube then!) I decided I would sing acapella (meaning, there wasn’t even any accompaniment to drown me out)an older song that my grandmother dug out of her musical stash.

I was incredibly nervous. Back then, the only thing scarier than the idea of speaking in front of a crowd was a dental procedure.

I got started off on the right foot, although I can’t say I had much in the way of stage presence.

And then suddenly…I went blank. Utterly, completely, positively blank.         Pause.

I’m looking out at a crowd of people. Lots and lots of people. (Okay, it seemed that way then.) I said, “I have suddenly forgotten the words”…and I’m sure I said something else…finished the best I could, and hustled my a$$ off the stage.

A few people said, “You handled that really well.” It was like the elephant in the room for a couple of days. If nobody mentioned it, I could convince myself nobody heard it. 😉

The funny thing is, to this day I’m not sure if I have a talent. Oh sure, I can do a lot of things well. But TALENT? Bah.

3. Getting “pants-ed” at a college party.

My college friends who are reading this (and we know who you are) right about now are going, “OMIGOSH I FORGOT ALL ABOUT THAT!”

I was about a sophomore or junior in college, and we’d gone to a party with my roommate’s then- boyfriend (if I remember correctly). It was rather late in the evening (ahem) and fortunately, I don’t recall their being a ton of people there.

I’m thinking there were a couple of baseball or basketball players there who were kinda hot, but thankfully, not a big crowd. There’s also been enough water under the bridge that I can’t remember if it was spring or fall, I just remember I was wearing shorts.

Navy blue shorts with white piping. Very similar to the ones that are in style now.

I was standing in the center of the room (OF COURSE), minding my own business, when one of the guys at the party who clearly had had too much to drink at that point and apparently had not had much success with women or he would have known better, walked up behind me and pulled my shorts down.

Like, down nearly to my knees. Seriously?

Did I mention I was standing in the middle of the room? SIGH.         Pause.

Because it was late in the evening, my initial reaction to the whole mortifying experience wasn’t necessarily one that in my own best interest. It was just instinctive.

I collapsed onto the floor into a pile, and cried. SIGH.

My roommate was off talking to some people, and her then-boyfriend came up to her. “Ugh, your roommate is sitting in the middle of the floor crying with her pants down.” My roommate, bless her heart, stepped in and saved the day, collecting me, pulling my pants up, and ushering me back home.

If I’d have been smart enough just to pull my pants up, no one would have noticed.

But noooooooooooooo….instead, I cried. Which everyone noticed. What a wimp. 😉

4. Walking out of the break room with my dress stuck in my underpants.

When I was in college, I worked at Wal-Mart. It was during the summer, and I was wearing a super-cute sundress to work. I have no idea what it’s like now, but I have all kinds of friends, still, that I worked with at the Wally World. We hung out a lot after work, and really looked forward to seeing other when we went into work. We had a great time!

One afternoon I’d taken a break, and popped into the bathroom just inside the break room. I walked out, unaware that the whole back side of my dress was stuck down inside my underpants.

There were probably a dozen people inside the break room.

Randy, a good friend of mine who happened to be on break, just said, “WOOHOOOOOOOOO!” in a tone that I’d never heard before.

Fortunately, his pointed look clued me in, the  planets all came together, and I picked up on his meaning and fixed the problem before walking out into the store. (That in itself was remarkable.)

5. The last time I pooped my pants.

I was a busy kid. Outside on the farm, I had animals to play with, bikes to ride, all kinds of activities to keep me busy.

I was about five or six, old enough to know when I needed to go to the bathroom.

It was a spring day, the weather was nice, and after being shut in for so long, I had a lot to do outside. I was too busy, apparently, to pay much attention to Mother Nature when she came knocking at the back door. I knew I had to go, I was just…busy. I kept thinking, “I’ll go in and GO after I do this.” Just like hitting the snooze button, I kept putting it off.

Well. I waited just a tad too long. Suddenly, my pants filled.         Pause.

It was not a good feeling. SIGH.

I went inside to look for my mom, who happened to be occupying our only bathroom at the moment. She was seated on the toilet looking out the window (it was an Anderson window), and the bathroom doors were open, as we were the only ones at home.

I walked in, seating myself carefully on the side of the tub in spite of the grossness in my pants, and tried to play it cool. I said the only thing I could think of, trying to work up the courage to confess to my mom the completely irresponsible, immature and utmost mortifying thing I’d done.

“So, what are you doing?”

Really original, eh?

I told Jimmy this story years ago. Every once in a while, he’ll walk into a room and go, “So, what are you doing?” 😀

I’d love to be able to tell you that these were the ONLY embarrassing moments I’ve experienced. But no…they happen with enough regularity that I’ve ceased to be embarrassed about them anymore. (Age has a lot to do with it too.)

I am not, however, above embarrassing anyone I’m with. BWAH HA HA HA HA HA… 😀

The Perfect Snowy Sunday

Snowy Street ViewWe love days like today. Especially when it falls on a Sunday.

“The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful; and since we’ve no place to go…”

There’s no place we have to be.

There’s nothing we have to do.

Snowy Pond

We don’t have to feel guilty because we’re not working outside.

Or just not working, period.

It’s a perfect day to snuggle in and do some quality puttering.

We decided it would be fun to cook together and try out a new recipe. Jimmy likes to cook, and he’s a good one. We just don’t do it together very often.  He had helped me a little at Thanksgiving, and enjoyed it enough he was willing to try it again. 😉

Let the Cooking Begin!

Those of you who know both of us well know two things: I am addicted to the Pioneer Woman’s recipes; and that Jimmy and I have a very different approach to some things. (In other words, we’re very different, yet very much alike.)

That probably doesn’t make much sense. But that’s the way we roll. 🙂

We decided to make Spaghetti and Meatballs. From scratch. With fresh herbs, wine, garlic, ground pork and hamburger…the works!

Chillin'

I believe in the phrase, “Love, Honor, Negotiate!” We negotiated over who would do what.

He wanted to use a jarred sauce. I refused, having learned that nothing can beat the taste of homemade.

He prepared the meatball mix, I made the meatballs. He chopped the onion and garlic, I sauteed the meatballs.

Sauteing the Meatballs

Here they are just hanging out and waiting for the sauce. And while the meatballs were waiting for the sauce, someone else was in the sauce.

Ready for Sauce

I learned what “cut in chiffonade” means today. I had to Google it.

What did we do before Google?

Saucy!

At this point, the house was smelling so good that Jimmy couldn’t stand it. He sampled. And sipped.

Sampling and Sipping

He had pasta. I had spaghetti squash, my ‘go to’ choice instead of pasta. Tomato, tomahto.

Spaghetti Squash

The finished project was delicious! And we actually had so much fun, we decided that preparing a new recipe together should be a regular ‘Bad Weather Sunday’ event.

YUM!

I’m tellin’ ya, preparing a dish from scratch not only feeds your body, it feeds your soul.

While Jimmy went off for a long winter’s [Sunday] nap, I cleaned the kitchen and finished some Christmas decorating.

Ballsy Tree

I don’t have any gifts under the tree yet, so I picked up some galvanized pails at Tractor Supply and made a little display.

Yes, my tree has big balls. 😀

Actually, I need one more bucket, and they didn’t have the size I wanted, so I had to improvise.

I’m pretty sure that within the next 24-48 hours, I’m going to regret putting pine cones in those pails under the tree. Ekko may be two, but it’s more like being two in people years rather than dog years. 😉

Christmas Cards

And now, I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine, find a Christmas chick flick, and work on Christmas cards. (If you look close, you can see the three little black dogs on my cards).

It’s shaping up to be a great Sunday! Hope you’re enjoying yours, wherever you are.

Cheers! 🙂

My Thanksgiving Surprise

Charra (2)The original title of this post was going to be “Why I Didn’t Enjoy Thanksgiving.

In fact, I was actually imagining my writing the post from that angle as I was starting my prep work for Thanksgiving. I had stressed myself out just thinking about it for two days.

Jimmy had even said to me, “I don’t know why you volunteered to cook; now you’re going to be foul the whole weekend.”

(I know some of you will find it shocking that I actually can be crabby. But true story!) 😀

But since we cancelled what would have been our third annual trip to St. Charles on the Monday morning before Thanksgiving, I felt like I should cook. After all, I was really enjoying cooking again. And thanks to my addiction to the Pioneer Woman, I had several dishes I was excited to make.

I had my schedule all planned out. (I’m a list-maker, remember?) On Monday, I bought the turkey, and had planned to finalize my menu, my shopping list, and space out my activities so I wouldn’t have to do a lot at the last minute and it wouldn’t be stressful.

And, I wasn’t going to make a bunch of stuff just because we’d always eaten them before. I was going to prioritize, make our favorites, and call it good. And that would still be more than enough food.

And then, something happened.

I came home from work Monday evening only to find no less than 6 rugs and 2 dog beds needed washing, the coffee table I’d arranged to sell a friend had been chewed on all around the bottom, with splinters lying on the rug, and there were at least 15 additional throw-up spots that needed cleaning up in various places around the house.

And Charra followed me around the house. “Momma, I don’t feel good, I NEED you.”

SIGH.

I felt like I’d just stepped on a fast-moving train and passed overwhelm, going straight to zombie. I was too tired to read. Too depressed to talk. I sat on the couch playing one game of solitaire after another on my laptop, with Charra (who, by the way, was feeling better after throwing up about another 6 times) snuggled next to me. I needed a mindless activity.

I really don’t know why Charra being sick derailed me so much. And I don’t know why I was stressing so much over cooking.

Nothing I was making was that difficult. It was some new recipes, sure. But not difficult. It was me, doing it to myself. In my head.

My friend Sophia and I had gone shopping on Wednesday, and after we got home, I dove in and started my prep work. I’d thought about it all day, of course. And the day before that. So it was almost a relief to dive in and get started when I got home.

I wondered how my mom had done this every Thanksgiving and Christmas for all the years she did. How did she not dread it? It was so much work! Did she dread the holidays? Did she even enjoy the food? How on earth did she do it with so little counter space?

And then, something else happened.

The first dish I prepared was my Mom’s noodles. As I methodically rolled out the dough, I suddenly felt all the stress evaporate. Like, poof!

Making Noodles

I started to relax.

I began to feel at peace, and to really enjoy the actual process of making them.

My mom had done this hundreds of times over decades. She made the best noodles, and I had finally mastered her recipe. It’s almost like I was channeling my mother.

Ready to Dry

 

As I spread the noodles out to dry, I remembered how much I liked to eat the raw noodle dough as a kid. And how my late grandmother would scold me: “Those noodles will plug up your butt if you eat too many!

One dish at a time, over the next two and a half hours, I made the noodles, skillet cornbread (for the stuffing), cut up bread to dry for the stuffing, and made two pies.

Peanut Butter Pie

I prepared them with love, and I looked forward to sampling them with my family. I actually enjoyed myself. The whole process became very soothing.

Jimmy and Noodles

My husband not only helped, he also helped make sure they tasted the way they should. 😉

Messy Counter

My kitchen looked like a wreck, because I worked straight through without stopping to clean up.

Messy Counter2

I am somewhat neurotic when it comes to organization. (My friends will all testify to this.) My husband came home and, eyes wide, said, “Boy, something’s going on here!”

I actually found it both amusing and rewarding. I knew I had created something!

How is that possible?

I think food connects us in ways that we don’t even realize. The ritual of cooking food connects us to the women in our lives who preceded us, and who showed love for their families through the art, and heart, of cooking.

In return, we express our love through the same time-tested rituals.

Sure, I still had more stuff to make the next day,  but it was just as satisfying.

The irony of all this was that nearly everything was homemade. There was nothing that was a short-cut or a convenience food. And the funny thing is, the real thing wasn’t so difficult to make.

I remember a day when a ‘convenience food’ was a treat. Now, it seems it’s the way so many live today. Maybe, like electronics, they’ve only added to our stress and our health issues.

I felt like I’d stumbled onto a secret treasure.

I think you have to be willing to look at your life and your family, see what works, see what you enjoy, and either continue, or maybe make a change. After so many years of obligatory family dinners, we really enjoy going to St. Charles…but because we were here, I chose to cook. And it wasn’t an obligation.

Some traditions should be tweaked, and that’s okay.

Pumpkin wine

 

For instance, instead of pumpkin pie, we had pumpkin wine. 🙂

It was a beautiful day, a great meal, and we all took naps afterwards.

And Charra?

She is fine. Although I doubt she’ll ever have the opportunity to run free in search of deer poop again. 😀

The 3 Things I Learned in College

 

logo

Some people want to be married, or have their first child by the time they turn 30. Me? I just wanted to graduate from college. 😀

I was on the 12-Year Plan.

I started my long-standing college career on the campus of Northeast Missouri State University, now known as Truman State University.

Ultimately, I ended up moving to Las Vegas, and transferring all my college hours to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It was a fresh scene, I was in love with the West, and by that time, I was a little older and more mature. I really wanted it. (The picture above is of the famed Thomas & Mack Stadium on the campus of UNLV).

UNLV

I went to UNLV during the Glory Years: Coach Tarkanian, the Shark Tank, a national basketball championship. The National Finals Rodeo. Las Vegas was growing by leaps and bounds! (But that’s another story.)

Getting my degree, and wanting it from UNLV, became a personal best.

I wanted it bad enough that over several years, I worked full-time and took classes at night. And also in the summer. I remember sitting out in my backyard many a night on the weekends, studying.

I saw the brightest comet I’d ever seen on one of those nights; it literally lit up my whole back yard! That was like a special gift. (As I look back now, I really enjoyed this time of my life.)

When I changed jobs and went from an administrative job into retail, my unpredictable schedule forced me to drop a class. That was not in my plan.

My long-suffering but optimistic father agreed to allow me to quit my job, and pay for me to finish college. I just needed one year. 🙂

I also realized that each semester, after studying and cramming for tests, you take your final and have a break. Then you repeat the cycle the following semester. Only a small margin of what I learned the previous semester really stuck.

campus

After all those years of learning, I remember 3 things:

1. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

I first learned this in Econ I in Missouri, and later at UNLV in either Microeconomics or Macro, I forget which. (See what I mean?)

The ‘opportunity cost’ for a free lunch is the lost opportunity to do something else, which means the lunch wasn’t really free. It just may not have cost you any money.

Maybe I remember this because who knows what I might have missed out on by going out to lunch too much. Or dining on the freebies at Sam’s Club. (I was a student, remember?) 😉

2. Cognitive Dissonance is the scientific term for Buyer’s Remorse.

I’m quite certain I know why I remembered this. Probably because at that stage of my life I still liked to shop. 😉

My degree is in Marketing, so we studied why people do things quite extensively. And how to get them to do what you wanted them do to. The problem with a Marketing degree is that it didn’t really tell us what WE were supposed to do.

Some of my college classmates got boob jobs and did cocktails at a hotel, because they could make more money doing that than in an entry-level marketing position. (And nobody thought anything of it because we it was Vegas, baby! Everything was different in Vegas!)

3. Perception is Reality.

Basically, your perception of things is based upon your reality. And my perception of things is based upon my reality. And sometimes the two can be vastly different! Which explains how you find yourself wishing you had a translator to help you talk to your husband or a GPS to help you avoid someone in the grocery store.

Las Vegas

 

Living in Las Vegas was a terrific time in my life. I had an opportunity to figure out who I really was; I grew during the same period of time as Las Vegas grew and matured. I made a lot of friends, had a lot of fun and learned a lot.

I went to Las Vegas not knowing anyone, and making a life for myself. And then I came back to Missouri and did it again. That was powerful.

And college?

I wouldn’t change a thing! I made lifelong friendships at both colleges. I learned how important learning is; and that college isn’t about how smart you are, but how much you apply yourself.

I created some of the best memories of my life in college. Sadly, two of the best friends I had during those times have passed, both of them too young. But they forever remain in my heart, and I’m a better person for having known them.

I can’t think of two better reasons to be thankful that I’m here, to keep learning, and to make this life the best that it can be. 🙂

My Struggle With Time Management

This week, I looked at the calendar and realized how long it had been since I’d blogged. Where did the time go? lol   🙂 You would think that someone who was edumacated and a smartie-pants would instinctively know good time management, but no, life doesn’t work that way. 

 

All My Lists

I am always looking for better ways to do things.

For instance, I love lists. (See the picture above?) That’s all my lists.

When you’re self-employed, you become in charge of your own schedule. And since what you put into your business is what you get back, it’s important to be productive and maximize your time working so that you can truly enjoy your downtime and have fun, rather than play guilty. 🙂

If you also happen to be a visionary, it’s even worse. The curse of being a visionary is that you can see the big picture of what needs to be done. Thus, life becomes one big ‘to do’ list!

If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog, you might remember that I have a constant  stream of non-punctuated sentences running through my head on any particular day. To keep my mind  as quiet as possible, I write it on a list, and then I can forget about trying to remember it.

Did I mention I love lists?

Anyway, I have a lot of lists, all of which I use, and all of them are different.

I have a list for large projects that I plan to work on when I have time.

Big Projects

 

A list for the projects I want to do at home.

House ProjectsA shopping list for decorating projects.

Decorating ListMy Master List, from which I make notes of things I need to do. I check this frequently, and pull items to complete from it when I have time.

The Master List

My calendar even has small lists or reminders along with appointments. (And by the way, my calendar has to have pages with the months, because I like to see my month laid out in front of me…and space to make lists on the weekdays. 🙂

Calendar

This does not include my grocery list, Wal-mart list, and shopping list for any time I’m at Sam’s Club or Kohl’s. (Yes, those are separate lists.)

Can you tell I love lists?

So a few weeks ago, my schedule began to ramp up, and I began to worry that I would forget things. I was wearing myself out trying to remember what I didn’t want to forget!

With a desire for efficiency and productivity paired with the satisfaction of crossing things OFF lists once they were done, it seemed totally natural to start making a daily list of appointments, errands, and tasks.

Wednesday List

The theory seemed simple: I always carry a notebook with me which has most of my lists. When I had extra time in my day, I’d move over some things from my Master List.

It totally ramped up my productivity!

I was a Rock Star! I was getting so much done each day: tasks that had been lingering on my list for weeks were suddenly getting done. Errands were getting ran. I was crossing things off like crazy! It was awesome. I was like the Tasmanian Devil, spinning through the day.

Yesterday List

I was also more stressed.

And I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t having any fun. Life suddenly felt like one big “To Do” list and I realized I simply wasn’t enjoying my days near as much. Was this all life was??

And then, one day this week I had an hour of uninterrupted time where there was nothing else I could do but wait. So I started reading through a backlog of emails.

Dr. Alan Zimmerman is a motivational speaker. I’ve subscribed to his newsletter for years, “Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip.” It just so happened the topic of it was “Time Management Strategies.” For a list-maker, this was going to be eye candy.

As I read it, I realized that I’d been working very efficiently, I hadn’t been working very effectively.

I’ve excerpted parts of his newsletter here, in italics:

The true basis of time management … and therefore life management … is knowing which targets to focus on.  And one way to do that is to apply the 80/20 principle.
 
The 80/20 principle states that in many situations about 20% of what you do yields about 80% of the results. With a typical to-do list of ten items, the 80/20 principle suggests that two of them will yield about 80% of the value.  The remaining eight will yield the remaining 20%.
 For example, Peter A. Turla, a former NASA engineer on the Apollo moon-rocket design team, found that 20% of your customers give you 80% of your sales.  (Concentrate on those customers.)  20% of your customers make up 80% of your complaints.  (Keep your perspective.)  20% of the inventory gets 80% of turnover.  (Keep these items well supplied.)  20% of the house gets 80% of the dirt.  (Clean other parts less frequently.)  20% of your friends call you 80% of the time.  (Call them back at your convenience.)  20% of the newspaper has 80% of the news.  (Skim the rest.) 

Hmmmm. This made a lot of sense to me! I was interested to read more.

I hate to say it, but there is never enough time for everything in life.  One of keys to success is to spend your time on the really valuable things instead of the low-payoff activities. 

 Quite often, things that have a high payoff do not have a high urgency. They are things that would be great to do … like investing in your team’s development, building a stronger marriage, or getting yourself in better shape physically and financially … but are easily put off until later.  Don’t fall into that trap!

In other words, you can’t increase your time, but you can increase the value of your time just by defining your objectives.  A specific destination … or set of targets … will motivate you more than aimlessness will, and when you’re motivated you automatically use your time more effectively.
 
So I challenge you … right now … to choose your targets.  Select your high payoff goals or objectives.  Write them down.  And make them as specific as possible.  

Suddenly, a one-million candlepower light went off in my head. (And those do exist, I have one.) 😉

I realized that I was so addicted to crossing things off my list – being productive – that I wasn’t focusing on the high-priority items: the things that really meant a lot to me and that I enjoyed. The highest priority work, which I should do first, was getting pushed back by the smaller stuff; leaving the bigger things unaddressed raised my stress level. For instance, blogging is a high-priority item for me…but I was pushing it back to accomplish other, smaller objectives.

This light-bulb moment totally refocused the way I do my daily planning. Now, I focus on my high-priority, high payoff items first. The details can come later, as I have time. Because I will never get it all done.

I still have my daily list; I just now focus on my high-priority items first. And, I’m MUCH happier. And you know what? I’ve gotten some things done since then that should have been a high priority months ago. They just weren’t urgent. And I feel good, because by doing them I helped advance my business. Funny how that works. Life is good. 🙂

I Have the Weirdest Dreams!

The Big Mags First of all, let me say that I know I suck.  I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks because life simply got in the way.

And secondly, this picture has nothing at all to do with this post. It just makes me laugh. Big Mags and the Mean Toofies. Hey, she could be her own band! ha ha ha

And thirdly, (is ‘thirdly’ a word?) this is also not the post I had planned to do, but sometimes inspiration happens in funny ways.

Like the dream I woke up in the middle of the night before last. I wish I could say this was the first time I’ve done this.

At this point in the story, a little insight into the way my mind works might be helpful here.

On any normal day, my mind works in a constant stream of chatter. And run-on sentences.

This is why I can relate so much to my friend Heather’s yellow lab, Libby. Libby does the same thing.

When Libby is outside to potty, I can sense her internal dialogue goes like this:

“Woohoo! I’m freeee, where should I go first is there anything new out here who’s car is this oh it must be her car I smell something there I like to ride in cars I wonder if she’ll take me a ride in her car [shooting a look at me, this is how I  know she is thinking this] she must have dogs I HAVE TO POOP gotta find a spot where where where where no that’s not right I don’t like this spot gotta hurry I gotta go AHHHHHHHH Unnnhhhhhhhhhh woohoo that felt great I love the way it feels after a poop where’s Bear I don’t see him gotta find Bear he might have found something cool has he found something BEAR there you are WOW what did you find gotta see!!!!….

My thoughts, fortunately, aren’t as urgent. I think I wore myself out just typing that.

So the night before last, I was in the middle of a dream.  And I happen to dream in full-blown, living color, very realistically.

Fortunately, I believe most of my dreams are just fragments of thoughts that somehow got buried under something in my brain, and they get all jumbled up and come to the surface when I sleep. Most of my dreams I can trace to a random thought from some point in the last day or so.

Sometimes people I know are in them; sometimes there are people who are representations of people I know. Once in a while a hot celebrity will pop up, and I guarantee you I will wake up right before it gets to the good part. Every. Single. Time.   And, sometimes if I don’t like the direction of the dream, I will change it. Sort of like changing the channel.

Like the other night.

So, the dream started as a murder mystery. Several people and I were on an unrecognizable college campus (I assume it was a campus, because it was older, institutional-like buildings), and one of my Realtor(r) friends, Scott, was there wearing a striped shirt. There’s a reason I remember this particular shirt so well; it’s because he had forgotten his shirts at one of our Leadership retreats, so literally the only shirt he had with him was the one on his back.

Aside from a few…um…bad-tempered moments that I might possibly have had….I’m normally a happy person by choice. So to find myself embroiled in a murder mystery was somewhat disturbing. It was like watching Anna Nicole Smith’s reality TV show: utterly painful to watch, but hard to look away.

And then, it turned out that I was one of the killers and had to figure out a way to get myself out of the mess I was in. And it turns out Scott was the investigator, and since he is a pretty smart guy, it was only a matter of time before Scott and I wouldn’t be friends anymore and I would never have to worry about cooking a meal again.

Well. That’s a pretty heavy dream which takes a lot of brainpower at 2:00 a.m. while sleeping. It looks like a change of channel is in order.

The next thing I know, I’m standing on a stage in this same building on the same campus watching someone on stage sing.  So let’s be in a pageant instead! It’s SOOO much easier and less stressful. Not.

I turn to my friend Michelle, our trainer at work, who’s standing next to me. I have about 30 seconds to make a decision before it’s my turn on stage.

“Michelle! What am I going to do? I DON’T HAVE ANY TALENT!” I’m panicking.

“Of course you do. Just go out there and sing something. You’ll be fine.” Michelle has clearly never heard me sing.

“What am I going to sing? I don’t know any songs!”

“Just pick something you know. You will be fine, it’s not a big deal.”

Telling an overachiever that something is not a big deal is like telling someone who’s wearing mis-matched shoes that no one will notice. It just doesn’t compute.

Panic, panic.

Then suddenly the light dawns. I’M A STORYTELLER! I will just do a comedic monologue.

Piece of cake.

So I launched into my monologue, stumbling a little, trying desperately to remember some of my funnier stories to share with this very serious audience who really wasn’t amused. It was mostly men, and they were all wearing lace-up dress shoes and dress pants. And one of them had on white socks. (See what I mean?)

And then I woke up.

Well, I actually woke up because I had to pee.

But I didn’t want to leave my audience hanging, so I finished the monologue first. 😀

Things Not to Do When Selling Your House

Morty the Moose

Morty the Moose

 

I’m in a good mood today.

It’s a gorgeous fall day, and we’re headed to Kansas this week for NASCAR. Life is good.

This week we’re going to take a humorous look at some things you really shouldn’t do if you’re selling your house. I can’t promise there won’t be a funny story or two here or there. I’m just sayin’.

But first, a disclaimer: All these pictures are taken on my own personal properties. These pictures do NOT refer to any specific listing that I (or any other agent I know) have or may have had. These are just general tips from a professional stager. Who happens to be me. 🙂

This here is Morty the Moose. Morty, short for Mortimer, has resided at the Stanton residence since October, 2006. He’s here to start the week off and introduce the first tip.

Remove dead animals from your walls.

I promise no animal died just so I could write this post.

Morty was already dead when we got him. In fact, he was taken in 1989 in British Columbia by a doctor from St. Louis. Or so we were told when we got him.  Morty is quite large, but he happens to look really good in my living room.

I love Morty. But then, I am not selling my house.

If you are selling your house, you should remove and stow away any dead animals. This also goes so far as to include urns with the cremains of beloved family members or pets (with much respect and sympathy for your loss.)

“The way you live in your home, and the way you market your home are two different things.” Barb Schwarz, the inventor of Home Staging.

If your home is for sale, you want it to appeal to the largest pool of buyers possible. Anything you do to ‘customize’ it more to your own taste shrinks your pool of buyers.

Suppose you really love the tropics, so you decide to paint your living room or your kitchen Flamingo Pink. Great! For YOU. But that is only going to appeal to a small niche of buyers who happen to really love the tropics.

Having mounted trophies and memories of YOUR loved ones, and not the buyers or even anyone they know can sometimes creep people out. That means the showing won’t go well. Which means they won’t buy your house.

I know some of you may be saying, “We live in the deer hunting capital of the world; everyone expects to see mounted deer heads on the wall. That’s a whole LOT better than a moose!”

Yes, that argument may be logical; but then you’re going to shrink your buyer pool to people who are not bothered by seeing a deer hanging on the wall. And that may not be the nice people from California who are cash buyers who have been lifetime members of the Sierra Club. No matter where you live, it’s just a good idea to put away anything that could be considered creepy by buyers.

Back to Morty.

Moose in pickup

This is Morty when he arrived at our house. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of Jimmy pulling in the driveway, with the long line of cars backed up behind him because he had to drive really slow. It was like a funeral procession.

Do you suppose people wondered what in the world he was doing with a Moose?

One antler comes off to make it handy-dandy to haul him around.

Maggie Sniffing

Maggie was freaked.

Maggie and the Moose

She knew he was an animal, but she couldn’t figure out what. She kept trying to stick her nose in his ears to try and get a bead on what he was.

She was very confused.

Convinced that Morty was stalking her, she kept an eye on him for weeks just to make sure he was still in the same spot.

Jimmy and the Moose

Here’s Jimmy getting him settled into his spot.

“Can we raise him 3 inches, please?” I was kidding. HA

My poor, long-suffering husband. He was not terribly enthused about this moose project, but he humored me.

His life has certainly been a lot more colorful since we met. 😀

 

The Poston Project: A Downstairs Update

This was a case of a family who loved the house they were in; they were Beth was just ready for a change. 😉 What they needed most was someone who could objectively give them some ideas and to help keep everyone’s stress level on the manageable side. That’s where I came in.

When you’re living in the midst of a home remodel, it can be very stressful. I managed to stay married and speaking to my husband after several of them, so I know it can be done. Although I can neither confirm nor deny that there may, or may not have been, meltdowns which occurred during the process. HA

Sometimes, just simply getting started – or knowing where to start –  is the overwhelming part!

So without further ado, here’s the scoop. 😉

The Kithen Before

If you looked at the photo album on Facebook, you know this is the kitchen before.

Beth and Bobby actually remodeled the kitchen ten years ago when they moved in. They were Beth was overall pretty happy with the kitchen, just wanting it painted and a new backsplash.

Beth has a clean, uncluttered style without a lot of extra stuff. (When I say a ‘clean’ style, I’m not referring to the state of cleanliness of her house – although she is that too! – I’m actually referring to the fact that she prefers ‘clean lines’, without ornate styles or patterns.)

What amuses me about this picture is two things: the wallpaper actually makes the kitchen look cluttered. And, you don’t really notice the cabinetry; you notice the wallpaper, and the white fridge.

The Kitchen After

The rich, beautiful color is now the focal point of the kitchen. You may notice one other small change: during the remodel, her microwave died, so she switched it out for a matching white one. Now if that stove would just die… 😉

Because successful marriages always involve compromise, we ‘blended’ their favorite colors for the accent walls. Bobby loved burgundy; Beth loved red. So we looked for a modern combination of the two, and found Behr’s Wine Tasting. While it looks a little more red in the photos, it’s a little lighter than a nice Merlot.

Beth and I joked that we would never forget the name of the paint color. And then I forgot it. But that’s probably because I drink white wine.

Beth chose a multi-color gray glass tile backsplash. They are small tile pre-set into 12 x 12 sections, so you don’t have to apply one small tile at a time. This dramatically changed the look of the kitchen, and ties together the countertop and the existing gray tile floor.

Because there was very little open wall space in the kitchen, we painted all three walls. Not only did it make their cabinetry POP (she’s been asked if she got new cabinetry!), but it also makes the kitchen look much brighter and warmer. Their new French door now makes a beautiful picture frame for their very pretty back yard.

The Family Room Before

I think the most dramatic change is in the family room.

Beth’s instructions to me were to leave the fireplace as is, or maybe paint it; they were going to eventually tear it out someday – if they added on the back of the house – because they had not been successful in getting it to work properly.

I couldn’t stand it. Fireplaces add value to your home; the minute you tear one out, you’re taking value away. Besides, think of how many family memories are created around a fireplace! Stockings at Christmas, a mug of hot cocoa in the winter, curling up in a cozy chair with a book and a glass of wine (wait, maybe that was me), etc.

 

The Family Room After

Fabulous!

The ‘Bamboo’ laminate flooring and the oak cabinet-grade built-ins (built by Dwayne Lawson) completely transformed the room. The room only had the one window, so we added lighting in front of the cabinetry. These, and all the other walls, are Behr’s Pecan Sandie.

Or maybe the archway is my favorite.

Divider Wall Before

If they removed this whole wall, they would lose the wall space, and the ability to place furniture there. I suggested several ideas, and showed them some examples. Reid sketched their favorite; now they wondered how they lived without this counter all these years!

 Divider Wall After

The Bar

I love the bar stools! And now you can have a snack or be in the kitchen and see the TV, or just simply feel like you’re a part of everything!

 The bathroom was made much more spacious just by simply reversing the swing of the door. It had quite possibly the leetlest vanity I’ve ever seen! We replaced it with a larger one that made sense in the space and dressed it up a bit.

The Bathroom Before

And the wallpaper went away.

 

 The Bathroom After

 Now, a downstairs bath that’s proud to meet guests, no matter which side it sees. 😉

And then there’s the living room. Maybe that’s my favorite.

The Living Room Before

We took a room with no clearly defined purpose, and gave it a new life.

Several years ago, the family lost their finished basement, which served as a family room, to a flood while on vacation. They were down to one TV room, and the living room was being used as a computer room and office.

The Living Room After

Fabulous! The bamboo floor is also in here, with a large area rug to make it cozy. Reid added an overhead light and cable, and now this has become daughter Katy’s favorite room to do homework.

The accent wall not only gives the room its Wow Factor, but it will also look fabulous from the outside. (Have you ever thought of how your room might appear from the outside?)

And the new spindles on the stairway? What a fabulous change that is! Reid ran the bamboo up the stairs, but added a carpet runner, which will really make it easier to clean. Fabulous!

The Stairs Before

What.A.Difference.

The Stairs After

And did I mention that the top of the railing and the main post stayed the same? It looks fresh, clean and uncluttered. Traditionally modern. 🙂

One thing I didn’t mention is that we also switched out the original doors, which were flat hollow core, for 6-panel oak doors. Reid did a terrific job of matching the other woodwork. They say life is in the details, and a remodel is no different. Updating the doors made a huge difference.

If you want to see a little more realistic view, you can watch the visual tour here: http://www.visualtour.com/show.asp?T=3169754.

Thank you, Beth and Bobby. It was a terrific project, and we’re glad you love it. I had a blast! 🙂

 

Getting My Head in The Right Place

Will Work For Shoes

Will Work For Shoes

I was ready to quit.

Seriously.

After a year of challenges, setbacks, discouragements and wasted moments, I was ready to hang it all up.

As I told a friend of mine recently, “I know that ‘failure’ precipitates success; but how do you know when it’s ‘failure’ or if it’s a sign?”

I’m a big believer in signs.

I’d told some of my friends. I was sure I’d made the right decision. And yet, I wasn’t really sure. I kept pondering and looking for answers, but there were none there. It’s like I was in limbo. And I’m not a big fan of ‘limbo’. I like to know where I’m going!

So there I was for most of the summer, waffling.

Periodically, I would ‘check in’ with myself, looking for inspiration or conviction or answers or something to provide guidance. No answer. Nothing. More waffling. Waffle, waffle.

Get the picture? 😉

And then something happened.

Last week, some really phenomenal things occurred. First, I graduated with a group of outstanding Realtor(r) leaders in my Leadership Academy class. We had conversations, we learned, we shared. I benefitted greatly from the final lesson on leadership and their sage advice.

My friend Carolyn said it best: “When discouragements or negative things happen, each thing chips away at you like someone with an ice pick. It eats away at you a little bit at a time.”

Then, unexpectedly, I was honored with the Brady Stevens Award from the Missouri Association of Realtors, awarded each year to “the preceding year’s Outstanding Graduate, Realtor Institute(r)”.

The validation and acknowledgment of my hard work was wonderful! “Is this a sign?” I wondered. “Should I stay in this business? Which is the right path?” Still no answer.

SIGH.

And then, something else happened. I was sitting at the Board of Director’s Meeting on the last day with my friend Beverly, listening to one of the speakers. I had zoned out briefly, messing with my phone, when suddenly, Beverly nudged me.

“Are you listening to this? She’s talking about YOU!” (?!?!)

Well, the speaker wasn’t really talking about me personally. But what she said was something to the effect of “If you work really hard and you keep doing the right things, eventually your hard work WILL be rewarded.”

THERE’S MY SIGN! 🙂

So on the way home, I had about 3 hours to ponder. I felt like a new person. I realized that what I needed was to get my head in the right place and to get out of my own way. (You know, “Let Go and Let God.”)

See, when you’re in the sales business, judging your success by someone else’s is an easy habit to get into. It’s easy to forget to be authentic – to really be yourself. The problem with this is that then you aren’t being yourself; you’re dancing to the beat of someone else’s drum. And how is it possible to be successful when you aren’t living your definition of your own life?

The honest truth is that I don’t have a desire to burn up the MLS and have the most listings and make the most money. There’s always going to be someone who does that; and by the time I caught up, the game would have probably changed!

What I DO have is a passion to provide outstanding customer service to the clients I work with, in a way that’s ethical, morally correct and authentic; and I have an incredibly passionate desire to advance our industry.

And that, my friends, is my definition of success.

The Road To Success

The Road To Success

 

Your definition of success is probably different, and it should be. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be yours. And while people may look at you and think you’re climbing the ladder straight up to success, those of us who are on the path know what it really looks like (see the picture at left.)

Is it any wonder it’s easy to get discombobulated on the journey?

And you know what? I think I might actually be taller with my head on straight. 😀

My Trip to Key West

I love to travel; it always makes me feel more interesting. More alive. But that’s just me.

As human beings, it is part of our nature to like routine: doing the same things in the same manner and at the same time. Routine brings comfort.

But if we get too complacent, to do something new becomes painful. So we don’t. It’s easiest to keep doing the same things, and to stay comfortable. Slowly, without our noticing, our world begins to become smaller. And smaller.

Mile Marker 0

This is Mile Marker 0, in downtown Key West. It’s the most photographed point in Key West. How they know this, I have no idea. But anyway…

Travel keeps me fresh, alert, and focused. When I’m home, it’s too easy to be too close to the forest to see the trees. When I’m away, I can access the “30,000 ft. View” of my life. I always learn something about myself, something I want to do differently, something that needs changing.

Sometimes they are big things. Sometimes they are small things. But I always come home with new ideas.

For instance, this trip, I decided that I should watch for the occasional piece of “signature” jewelry, rather than just pick up anything I find that I like.

I should pamper myself more often.Room ViewThis is the view from our balcony. It was worth it.

I should paint the underside of my deck light blue, as they are in the tropics. (That actually serves a purpose: they say that it discourages wasps from building nests because they think it’s the sky. I’ll let you know if that’s true.)

It’s time for a leather coat I have to be ‘retired’.

I need to simplify some parts of my life.

I need to slow down, and remember the little things really ARE the big things. (In other words, I need to live better.)

As favorite author Alexandra Stoddard says, “Do your creative work first. You’ll be happier when you’re doing your chores.” Yeah. What she said.

We had a wonderful weekend, filled with new adventures and new experiences, an amazing amount of conversation, and many shared favorite things. I love traveling with my husband, but the reality is that when you travel with girlfriends, the little-known secret is you actually have a better time, simply because you’re doing ALL the things that girls like to do!

(My biggest tip if you’re planning a weekend away is to spring for a room with a Balcony. Trust me on this.)Wine

One of the smartest things we did was to have a wine and cheese tray waiting for us when we got there. After spending 7 hours traveling and “lunch” consisting of 3 teensy bags of peanuts, we were starving.

And one of those little bags only had 11 peanuts in it. Seriously! (I counted.)

We spent a lot of time, and consumed a lot of wine, on that balcony. It was some of the best parts of the trip!Fruit & Cheese

Sometimes, something as simple as a fruit and cheese tray can be a sublime treat. We finished it off for breakfast the next day!

We rode the trolley around Key West, and learned lots of interesting historical factoids. We learned that “Key West is a party town with a fishing problem.” (Quote from one of our servers.) HA HA

We shopped on Duval Street, ate lots of good food, and saw some beautiful sunsets. (Sometimes you can see a green flash when the sun sets ‘into’ the ocean, so sunsets are a Very Big Deal in the Keys.)

We had a wonderful spa experience. I had a Milk and Honey Whole Body Treatment with a Vichy shower. It’s a long bar with 7…yes, 7…shower heads, and in between the showering you have a salt scrub, honey, then milk, then lotion treatment. Then their Jacuzzi. It was phenomenal. And I bonded with the aesthetician. She even ordered me a Mimosa, just because. 🙂 And told me how to do a Milk and Honey bath at home.

Nancy got stoned. (Snicker snicker). Just kidding. She enjoyed a hot stone massage, and the sauna.

We took a sunset cruise with a band. We powerwalked the entire length of Duval Street to the other end. We found all sorts of new restaurants that taking a day trip simply didn’t allow time to discover.Me & Nancy

The highlight of it all was an outstanding dinner on Sunset Key. We took the ferry over to the Island, and our Concierge got us a prime table outside with a premium view. It was, without a doubt, an experience to remember.

Sunset Key

The best part of it all was it wasn’t crowded. Apparently, September is the deadest month of the year. With school starting and this month being typically an active month for hurricanes, it wasn’t nearly as crowded as peak season, when we’re there in January. Our Hotel BeachThis is our hotel beach, taken from the catamaran ride we were on.

It was awesome.

I love the Keys. Each of them have their own beauty and atmosphere, and I can’t wait to go back. 🙂