a work in progress

Most of us become aware at some point that what we desire for ourselves falls short of who we have become, that we are not living the life we imagined.

“Revolution begins with baby steps, not with dramatic leaps.” ~Patrick Lindsay

I have been caught in a rut.  I tried to break out.  I explored a new path and now I am on the mystery tour.

I have no idea who said this “Do something you love and the real you will emerge.”  I went to a networking party a few months ago and during this event people got up and started telling everyone a new project they are working on or with.  Most of them were talking about ways they support the “green” movement but some of the people have taken what they do here to other countries.  Providing villages with jobs or clean water…

“The best careers advice to give the young is ‘Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it.”  ~Katherine Whitehorn

When I was in tenth grade I was pretty sure I wanted to be an interior designer.  I wrote a paper about it in english class.  My teacher asked me to see the guidance counselor to see what types of extracurricular activities I should start doing to get scholarships.  Once I realized math was involved, I bailed.  In third grade I received an “N” in math and it has held me back my entire life.  But nobody ever told me that I could change my perception.  I slept through my geography class in eleventh grade and had to go to summer school and I got an A.  I actually use math in my current career path.  I even found myself working as an interior designer.  Well sort of.

So in eleventh grade my passion for the fashion industry started.  I loved my Fashion Merchandising class.  I really enjoyed the fashion show production.  The planning and being a model.  I ended up taking FM2 my senior year and went to college for Fashion Retail Marketing.  Looking back on my career path, I wish I would have interned instead of worked.  I didn’t need to work.  My dad sent me a pretty great allowance.  I just spent most of it on alcohol and clothes.  It was a good lesson in money management.

I was seduced by the paycheck. If I was interning I would have been seduced by the fashion.  I would have had a different path.  I have no regrets, only trying to share that I knew I wanted to be in the fashion industry since I was in high school.  Are you doing what you set out to do?  Did you follow your passion?  I just saw on FB that a friend from HS owns and italian restaurant.  Not what I thought he would be doing?  Not sure what circumstances led him on his path but I know that his exit ramp led him right where he is. As the successful owner of an italian restaurant getting ready to open another.

So here I am, unemployed trying to follow my passion.  I know my path might not be direct.  I may have to surrender ground to progress.  But I have a goal in mind and I am just going to have to adapt my means to suit the circumstances.

So this “time” I have been given has allowed me to expand my horizons and change my direction.

I am chasing my passion and it happens to be fashion.



“The aunt exists outside the immediate family unit, ambassador to a universe of other options, as well as a grown-up who isn’t an authority figure or disciplinarian.” ~ Kate Bolick

I have 5 sisters and my husband has 3 siblings.  We have a combined total of 21 nieces and nephews.  And I became a great aunt last year.

I don’t get to see them all with any regularity except in pictures that are posted on Facebook.  In fact there are some I have never met.  I don’t think they understand who I am and it is hard for me to understand.  Stranger Danger.

My role hasn’t really been realized in their lives yet.  I mean the older ones aren’t calling me up and asking relationship advice, telling me about their jobs, or their struggles with their parents.  The younger ones don’t even remember me from year to year.  There is always this warming up period that happens and then I am gone.  The visits are too short.

I remember being so excited to be an aunt.  I over did it with gifts and crafts.  I started out with actual gifts that were hand selected with love.  Then it was gift cards to Target so they could get whatever they wanted and I didn’t need to worry about whether it fit or they liked it.  As the years fly by the gifts and the crafts have stopped.  I had an Aunt that sent a $25 check for Christmas and Birthdays without fail.  Until it was expected and we stopped writing Thank You notes.  She never had any kids of her own and she just wanted the family connection we botched that by not saying Thank You.

This summer I had the pleasure of spending some real quality time with my a few of my nieces.  I got a good sense of who they are and I feel as if they got to know me a little better.

This past weekend I was hoping for a similar experience but instead my nephew didn’t want to hang and the younger ones had no idea who I was.  Except for my youngest sisters eldest.  We had some quality time in the kitchen.  It was nice.  If I lived closer I could see this type of event becoming a regular event.  I had no idea if she was allowed to use scissors or a knife so she had to tell me.  I asked her about school and subjects and if she liked to read and dance.  I told her how much I liked each of those things.  I asked her to try some of the unfamiliar foods that we were eating and she did it without protesting.  We bonded.  But my sister had to leave in a rush and I thought I was going to get to see them again and I didn’t so my goodbye was unsatisfactory.

My sister called and I spoke to her for a bit and then she asked my nephew if he wanted to talk to Aunt Valerie.  He didn’t know who I was and he certainly didn’t know what to talk to me about.  I have seen him about 3 times in his life and this was to be expected.  But it still hurt.

I wonder…Do you have a picture of me up in your house?  When sharing stories of your childhood do you say “my sister” or “Aunt Valerie.”  I am supposed to be the cool aunt that lives in California.  Not the stranger that comes around once a year.

We decided not to have children.  So being the favorite aunt is a goal of mine.  I am going to start thinking of ways for them to know who I am so the “Stranger Danger” doesn’t happen on the next visit.





enjoy the music

We all have unique soundtracks to our lives.

Some songs free your spirit.

Some songs let you surrender to the rhythm.

And sometimes you might need a playlist that will just let your mind chillax.

It is what you make of it.

It calms or raises your passions.

It transports you back to a time or a place.  With an old friend.

It recalls memories.

I think about this today because R.E.M. announced that they are calling it quits as a band.  Last night Jamey played some hits and I had a dance party.  I thought about where I was and who I was with and how much I loved each song.  They will be missed but not forgotten.  Shiny Happy People!


“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
~Maya Angelou

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche


say cheese

I have a big smile.  I only use it when there is a camera around.

I am getting ready to visit my family in Virginia and I know there will be pictures taken.  I also know that the thing you will be drawn to in all pictures is my cheesy smile.  I can’t help it.  It’s like my teeth have been waiting for their chance to shine.

I have big teeth.  Some people would call them “horse” teeth.  My teeth are also white.  Not as white as Ross got them on Friends but I maintain the whiteness by flossing, using whitening toothpaste and using crest whitening strips every couple of months.  I am an avid drinker of coffee, tea and cranberry juice which are major teeth stainers.

I am a big laugher as well.  I snort.  I give it my all.  I love laughing.  There was this Hallmark commercial a few years ago and the premise was laughter and I pretty much cover all of them when something is really funny.

The ironic thing about my cheesy grin is that my normal face is a natural frown.


portion control

With restaurants having to put the calories on the menu now I struggle to find something to eat.  All of my “go-to” meals far exceed 1200 calories.  I had no idea.  If they served their meals in portions it would get people familiar with what a serving should look like.  Cheesecake Factory is the worst offender.  Their portion size is absurd.

One of the reasons I like Trader Joes is their prepared meals are for 2 people.  Serving size 2.  You don’t really have to think about it.  Just split it down the middle and make more veggies because you will still be hungry.

This summer my father-in-law decided that his way to weight loss was to cut bread out of his diet.  But I watched him eat a row of crackers and cheese every night as an appetizer.  I told him over and over that the serving size was only 5 crackers.  But he was no longer eating bread so for him this was ok.

I read the serving size on packages when I cook at home.  I know how many of each snack food I can have.  When I started packing my husbands lunch for him and bagged his potato chip portion he said it wasn’t enough.  I proceeded to tell him that he will enjoy them more because he will savor each one.  My new favorite “lil something sweet” is pretzel M&M’s.  I know that you can have 17 in a serving.  I count them into a snack bowl and enjoy them one at a time.  If I decided to eat them from the bag I wouldn’t trust myself.  One more won’t hurt.

My friends husband started a company that is devoted to portion control.  http://www.lifesizeportions.com  I found out today that he will be on Dr. Oz later this month to promote his product.  How awesome is that?!

I have a few friends that have lost weight on Weight Watchers and a few that ate Lean Cuisine.  The Lean Cuisine eaters had a better understanding of portions because they read every label.

I think that is the first step.  Become aware of how much you are eating and then adjust accordingly.

And don’t forget to enjoy!




A tribute to my threadbare companion from childhood and beyond…

We were introduced Christmas 1982.  He is a character from the Saturday morning cartoon “Shirt Tales.”   He is a walrus.  My dad had a hard time shopping for us as my parents were recently divorced.  He liked to put socks and underwear in our stocking to fill them up.  My father knew how much I loved stuffed animals as I had a bed filled with them.  He did the best he knew how while keeping Santa’s secret.

Wally wears a pink t-shirt that says Loveable.  So his nick name is Lovey.  But mostly he is called Wally.

He went away to college with me.  He posed for many portraits and was a centerpiece on my bed.  He has been on every trip I have taken.  Shoved into my carry-on just in case my luggage were to get lost.  I have had to sew up his tattered body more than once but he still the same Wally.  Older, yes but still a big part of my life.

When I introduced him to my husband all those years ago I thought I would get laughed at but he cares for him as much as I do.  Giving him a place of honor on our bed.  He is useful.  I use him to prop my Kindle up while reading in bed or my head while watching tv.  But most of all he just provides me with comfort and keeps away the boogie man.

As a birthday present about 10 years ago my husband found Wally Jr on Ebay.  The show has been off the air since 1985 so I was surprised that he was able to locate him.  I haven’t had to use him yet but he is waiting patiently for his time to be loved.

  Wally Sr. and Wally Jr.

finding inspiration

“You can’t wait for inspiration.  You have to go after it with a club.”  ~Jack London

After so many years of getting up and going to work and becoming uninspired, I thought having time would allow for my creativity to blossom.  I am waiting for inspiration to make an appearance.

I sometimes use lack of inspiration as an excuse for not doing the things I love.  Like sewing or painting or crafting.  Today I am going to go ahead and do what I love and not wait to be inspired.  If I have to, I will make my own inspiration.

I have an idea for a bracelet.  Made with denim scraps and buttons.  (I wonder where I got the denim scraps from?)  I will add pictures when I am done and it will be my new fall accessory.  I will be taking orders.