Thursday, December 29, 2011

Worry...Why Do I Let Myself Worry?

This was a facebook status of mine from last night. 

I am a worrier.  No matter how much "older and wiser" I get, I still manage to work myself into a frenzy of worry.  I am not a daily worrier, but occasionally things pop up that have me fretting. I have a history of worrying about the worst possible outcome of a situation.  My imagination gets the best of me and I prepare myself for the worst, always.  I let it consume me and it's awful.  And 99% of the time, I have worried over nothing!

I am also one of those people that never wants to hurt anyone's feelings or to leave anyone out.  I want everyone to be happy, if I can help it.  So when that occasion happens when things go slightly awry, I am always certain I am to blame.  Sigh.....I am a bit of a freak, right? 

I realize there are things I can't control and I need to let go and let things happen.  I can only do my best to do the right thing whenever possible. But, I do make mistakes.  I sometimes do or say the wrong things.  And it festers inside of me. 

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles; it empties today of its strength."  

I got this from a co-worker several years ago.  What a great quote and if only I could abide by it....maybe a good new year's resolution?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Is It Over Already?

Ahhh.  The holidays.  A month long + of decorating, preparing, shopping, wrapping, entertaining, party-going, cooking, baking, eating, drinking, laughing, maybe some crying...And's over??  After my week long of hustling and bustling a week ago, this last week found me on pretty much cruise control.  And it felt good. 

For the first time since I have lived out here, we took the kids to Candy Cane Lane to see the lights on Christmas Eve.  I have absolutely no idea why we have never done that before.  After watching the Cowboys lose, we needed to get out of our funk....we drove to Starbucks and headed to Cat City.  All I can say is that we will now be making that a new tradition.  So incredibly cool and beautiful what that street looks like.  We picked up a pizza afterwards and came home and watched "It's A Wonderful Life."  Love this movie.  Have you ever stopped to think about what your friends and family's lives would be like if you were never born?  

Christmas morning and day were great.  I was shocked that the girls slept til 8:30.  We opened gifts, had breakfast....and it was nice and quiet.  No TV.  No music.  Just quiet and relaxing.  Later, Craig's dad and brother and my aunt and uncle came over for one amazing prime rib dinner.  Delish.  

Today, we did not brave the stores for any shopping or exchanging.  Instead, we hung around here and did some cleaning and organizing in the garage.  This time of year, I love being able to do my half-yearly cleanout, so that we can begin the new year nice and light and somewhat organized!  I looked around and halfway debated cleaning up and putting away the decorations.  Rylee convinced me not to.  And really, I am not ready for that, either.  I need a few more days.  We celebrate this time of year, not so much in the religious sense, but for the beauty of the season and being with friends and family and giving to and remembering others.  We put up our tree and we light our menorah.  Tonight, Rylee and I laid on the couch with all the lights off, except for the tree, and just took it in.  Just the quiet and the beauty of the tree.  If just for a few minutes, it was just lovely.  I need just a few more days of this and then I can move on...I'm just not ready for it to be over quite yet!

Nursing school update:  I got my clinical assignment this week and found out I will be doing my first rotation at Eisenhower.  Ordered my textbooks and am about as giddy as can be!! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Learned From the Best

Not sure what happened this week.  It's all a bit of a blur.  But, in the end, I worked my part-time job, teachers gifts got made and delivered, a final was taken, shopping was done, errands were run, a lot of food was made and parties were had.  And in the midst of it all, I might have had a minor breakdown for about 15 minutes.  But, was all good. 

And I'm not done.  There's still this week.  More goodies to bake/make.  A few last minute things, no doubt.  Luckily, I have "Happy New Year" cards to send out...those can wait, right?  (I planned it that way...I'm smart like that sometimes).  Looking forward to making latkes later this week...always my favorite.  :)

I have a problem.  Make that two. I am one of the most indecisive people around and I have this need for perfection.  Just when I start to let go of these issues, I find myself right back in the thick of it.  When I shop for people, I stress over trying to find just the right thing.  Random gift exchanges are one thing (and between me, Craig and the girls, we had 7 of them!), but when shopping for a specific someone...really difficult for me.  I spend way too much time fretting over all unnecessary, and I know it.  This goes back to my previous post about the stress of the holidays. Each year I keep saying I will simplify.  It never works.

We had Craig's staff over here on Friday night.  I do love to entertain and we just don't do it often enough.  I don't really stress when I am entertaining as long as I am nice and organized.  Everything was beautiful. And delicious.  I'm not sure why I didn't take a picture of my table, but picture lots of candles, gold and silver, the most perfect beef tenderloin, shrimp, grilled veggies, cocktail meatballs and a variety of dips and cheeses.  (Thanks to the chef at the Citrus for preparing the tenderloin for us and cooking to PERFECTION).  It was a great night....lots of fun, laughter and meeting new people.  Craig works with a great bunch!  

I have to say, I do learn from the best.  My mom was not only a great hostess, but amazing in the kitchen.  At a fairly young age, my parents often entertained and always did it right.  And my mom always made it seem effortless.  Everything was always classy and elegant.  Thanks mom, for passing this down!  Along the same lines, I am grateful for all that my parents exposed me and my sisters to...good food/restaurants, the ballet, the theater, etc... I feel so lucky to have been exposed to all that growing up and feel good passing that down to my own daughters. 

Yesterday found me, yet again, prepping for the next party..Rylee's cheer party, which was tonight.  Up til 1:00 am getting their craft project ready...super cute flip flops with strips of colored fabric (their team colors) tied on them.  If it wasn't so late and I could easily figure it out, I'd post a picture.  Party = success.  They are a great group of kids and I am lucky to be "team mom" to them for the 4th year now.  

Also, earlier this week, I had my first nursing school orientation.  This was for all the instructions of getting cleared to do clinical work at the hospitals.  Yikes...lots of red tape, for sure.  "Start now" they say...physicals, background checks, drug tests, titers/vaccinations.  All required and takes time.  Anyway, I look around the room for someone I recognize in my earlier classes.  No one.  Hoping I find someone to connect with soon!

Off to dreamland and ready for another week ahead.  Sweet dreams.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bring on the New Week

Accomplished so much this week.  Marking lots off the endless "to do" list.  And I'm feeling good.  :)  Ready for the new week which involves work, studying for and taking a final on Wednesday, hosting Craig's staff party over here on Friday and planning and having Rylee's cheer team party on Sunday.  Bring it on...I am ready.  

Earlier this week I had my first meeting with the nursing program counselor.  It was a get-to-know you sort of meeting.  She wanted me to know that she is the "go to" person for anything...academic or personal.  And also to forewarn me that I may not see the same results of my efforts in school that I have previously been seeing.  Nursing school is a whole different ballgame.  Yikes.  OK then...thanks for the warning.  Bring that on, too.  I am ready.  (at least if I sound confident, maybe I will be, right??)

Last night, we had dinner with friends at La Quinta Resort.  If you are local and you haven't been over there this season, check it out.  One of my favorite holiday movies, "It's a Wonderful Life" was written by Frank Capra.  He wrote it there at the hotel.  As you drive into the entrance of the hotel, they have these wonderful lights strung from the trees across the drive and there is a sign that says, "You are now in Bedford Falls."  So very cute.  They also had the movie playing outdoors.  And the tree was beautiful.  La Quinta Resort is one of my very favorite places.  

Time to check Tivo to see when the next showing of "It's a Wonderful Life" is. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's The Most Wonderful Time of Year...

I've been a little out of sorts lately.  My computer seemed to have a virus (after trying to download a "free" livestream of a Cowboys game....word of caution...DON'T DO IT!).  Seems to be ok for the most part now, but last Sunday, it threw me for a loop.  I had major amounts of things to do that required my computer and I had nothing.  Not to mention that the Cowboys ended up losing that game anyway.  Also, I seem to have been writing like crazy.  Just coming off of writing my life story in summary on this blog, I wrote a six page paper on violence in children's t.v. programming, another "autobiography" for my psych class and now working on another essay for a grant I am applying for.  A little worn/burnt out, just a bit. 

When thinking about what my next blog post would be about, I was planning to write about how this is not the most wonderful time of year for me.  I know it's tough for many people in some way or another.  It's not a depressing or lonely time for me.  When I walked into Macy's before Thanksgiving (how 'bout early November), I instantly felt anxiety with all the Christmas decorations out and the gift sets, etc. all displayed.  This time of year always makes me anxious.  What to buy for who?  How much money do we have to spend?  Planning parties.  Sending out cards.  It's all a little overwhelming sometimes. There seems to be a lot of pressure; or maybe I put too much pressure on myself.  I try to start early.  The year we moved to Oklahoma, I had everything done before Thanksgiving (since we moved Thanksgiving weekend).  I did all my shopping online before we left.  I addressed cards in the car.  It was a beautiful thing.

Anyway, today I had a bit of an epiphany.  I went hiking with a friend.  First time I've been up Bump & Grind in six weeks.  And boy have I been feeling it.  Getting out and getting some exercise and talking with him and he just saying very simple but sensible things to me, seemed to make all the difference in the world.  I love to be able to give and be together with friends.  I love the beauty of the season.  That is what's important to focus on.

On the schedule for next week:  One final, two parties (that I am planning/having) and a grant application and essay due and hoping I can get some teacher gifts done up ('s out a week from tomorrow!)...yep, I am a little overwhelmed.  But, I'm making my list (and checking it twice.)   And breathing.  Wine helps, too. I am determined to enjoy every minute of this beautiful time of year. 

Tomorrow's another day...looking forward to marking more stuff off the list.  Happy Friday!

Friday, December 2, 2011


The other night in my Psych class our professor posed a question:  How do you assess your level of happiness?  I had just written the other day about how the last two years of my life had been some of the happiest, yet, I sat there and thought...hmm...I didn't know quite how to answer the question.

We all know the adage, "Money doesn't buy happiness."  But, I think we all agree we get some degree of happiness from buying that little something, right?  But, it the latest iPhone or that super cute pair of shoes that will bring us happiness?  (Maybe, just a little, right?)

So, my professor went on to discuss some elements in our lives that we can enhance that contribute to our level of happiness.  I thought it was worthy of passing on.

Positive Emotion:  This is easy...something in your life that brings you pleasure.  Something that you can anticipate and savor and be able to repeat it.  For me, I have lots of things that I find pleasure in...that I look forward to.  For's my bed.  Often, I find myself thinking about how I can't wait to get home and crawl into it.  I love my bed.  
Engagement:  Being immersed in whatever it is you are going.  A hobby?  A class?

Relationships:  Having enjoyable and supportive interactions with others.

Meaning:  Serving something greater than yourself!

Achievement/Accomplishment:  Completing our goals and following our core values.

If we can enhance and focus on each of these areas of our life, it helps raise the happy factor!

I have learned a few things about myself in the last couple of years.  First, I find that I am more keenly aware of how fulfilled I get from helping someone out.  Whether it be from something I am physically doing for them or from saying something to them to make them feel better about themselves or their situation.  Second, I have learned that the thought I once had that I could be a stay at home mom and not work or do something outside the house is not true.  Each time I have finished a class or two each semester, I find myself a little depressed.  I love being immersed and focused on something that challenges me.   And let me tell you...I have been challenged with this whole back to school thing.  I need to have this in my life.  When KDI called me back to work, the timing was perfect.  I had been looking for jobs all along and finally I had the opportunity to work part-time, take a class and do the mom and wife thing...The perfect balance.  

So, now my house is. a. mess.  Need to clean.  Want to finish decorating.  And I have a paper to write.  Rylee has her first cheer competition of the season tomorrow.  Lots and lots to do.  

Happy Friday! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"The Best is Yet to Come"

As I go back and read some of my blog posts I realize there is much that I have skipped.  I mean, no one really needs to know all the gory details, right?  The fact is, I have made a lot of mistakes along the way.  Things I shouldn't have done.  Or should have and didn't.  Or things I should or shouldn't have said.  But, we learn from our mistakes (or at least we hope we do).  I really try not to dwell too much on mistakes for too long because I know it's the forward that we need focus on.  But, I can't help it sometimes.  I do have some regrets.  Like moving back here from Tulsa.  I know in my heart we should have stayed there.  If I could have a "do over", I would go back and embrace it.  From the beginning.  There was so much good there.  I think it would have been better for us as a family.  If there is any advice I could ever offer someone in that position, it would be to wrap your arms around your new surroundings and make the choice to be happy.  And give it a chance.  

Coming back here was difficult in so many ways, but mainly financially.  Our little nest egg soon dwindled after buying the house in Tulsa, dipping into our savings each month, coming back to California, paying rent here along with our mortgage in Tulsa and then eventually buying a house here.  Although Craig and I both had good jobs, it just was tough to ever get ahead.  And we had little to fall back on. 

As a parent, I know I have made plenty of mistakes.  All the times I said "no" when I should have said "yes."  Or all the times I said "yes" and should have said "no."  Sometimes I lose my patience.  Sometimes I yell.  Sometimes I am not there in the moment...when I am lost in a Words With Friends game or Facebooking.  But, I know I am a good mom.  My kids know I love them and I am there for them whenever, wherever.  I often wonder what memories they will have of me.  Will they remember how I tucked them in at night?  Or how we snuggled on the couch watching a movie?  Or the lunches I made them?  Or how I taught them some of my old high school cheers?  Will they always think that I am a complete dork (because that is what they think of me...they have no idea how cool I actually am....).  I may make plenty of mistakes with them, but, if I can manage to raise two healthy, happy, smart, courageous, strong, tolerant young women, then I know I did my job.

When I lost my job two years ago, I was devastated.  I had no idea what I was going to do.  One morning I came out of the bedroom, dressed and ready to take Rylee to school.  She asked why I was actually dressed.  I told her that I had an appointment to meet with a counselor at COD.  When we got in the car, she asks, "So, you're going to work at COD?"  I told her no, that I had a meeting to meet with a counselor to go back to school.  She says, "'re going to go to school with COLLEGE AGED kids???"  I couldn't help but laugh.  I told her, yes, and was anything wrong with that?  She then asked, "Well, you're not gonna try out for the cheer team, too, are you??'  OMG....I will never forget that moment with her.  

If there is anything that I can hope for, is that my going back to school is nothing but a positive influence on my girls.  For them to see that there will be bumps in the road, but we pick ourselves up and dust off and we keep going.  They have been able to see my study habits and that they have proven to work...with my good grades.  I know they are proud of me.  Rylee happens to verbalize things more.  She remembers when I have a test and it will be the first thing she asks me when she gets home..."Mom, how did you do on your test?"  She gets it, that kid.  And Chandler, she is now thinking she may also want to pursue something in the medical field.

The last two years, as difficult as they have been have also been the happiest of my life.  Not working and being able to focus on and cherish the little things...the good my life.  I soaked in every moment I had to be able to spend time with the kids.  And even when I had my occasional moment, I made sure to find reason to be happy every day.  

For the last 6 months, I have felt like my life has been in limbo.  Felt a little mid-life-crisis-like.  It was stress and anxiety filled.  My dad's favorite expression these days is "The best is yet to come."  He keeps telling me that.  And I believe him.  We all make mistakes.  We all have regrets.  I am a generally upbeat, positive person, but occasionally, I for sure have days where I have my doubts.  

But, you know what?  I know he's right...The best IS yet to come.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Week

Whew!  I am back.  It was a whirlwind of a a blink of an eye, I can't believe it's over.  

Chandler, Rylee and I ventured out on our road trip to El Paso on Monday.  I tried to leave early enough to where I wouldn't have to drive at night, but that didn't happen.  I am not a fan of driving at night...sometimes I hallucinate...and here's why:

Side Note on Why I Don't Like to Drive at Night:

While I was at Texas Tech, I drove home one weekend.  I had two friends with me.  In Texas, you can drive for what seems like hours and still be in the middle of nowhere.  We were just over an hour or so outside of El Paso.  It hadn't been dark for long, when suddenly a family of deer appeared in the middle of the road.  When a deer is spotlighted, they freeze (or so I am told, and now I know).  The "deer in headlights" expression is forever imprinted in my mind, as I plowed right into the daddy deer.  Hit him so hard, he ended up in two pieces after he busted my whole front end and flew up over my car.  I don't know much about deer, but apparently it was a five-pointer, I later found out, after a rancher pulled over and asked if he could pick him up.  Anyway, angels were certainly with us that night not only because we weren't hurt, but, because when I pulled over, we just happened to be directly across the street from a border patrol check station.  I was able to call my parents (in the days before cell phones....) and my mom came to get us.  Freaky night and it took me a very long time before I would make that drive again.  And that is why driving at night and I aren't really friends.

Anyway, back to my trip.  All I can say, is that it was great.  And it's always too quick.  There is never enough time to spend with any one person to catch up and for sure that happened.  I can't remember the last time when everyone was together (minus my dad....he and my mom are divorced now and he lives in Florida, and Craig, he had to work).  To get everyone to come, it was a great effort.  We had family come in from New York, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and California.  Some drove.  Some flew.  Some traveled as a single, some as a couple and some of us with our kids.  Kids ages from almost 2 to 17.  It's not easy to travel....especially during the holidays.  It's stressful...financially and otherwise.  But, we all did it, and I think everyone agrees it was well worth it.  

When my family gathers, it's always around meals.  We eat.  A lot.  I made sure I made it to my old stomping grounds to get my fill of Charcoaler's burgers and Avila's Mexican food.  For Thanksgiving, there were 38 of us!  38!! There was football, chatter, laughter, crying and whining and it was all great.  I don't remember any family gathering where we had so many little ones around!  And lots of fabulous food.  My grandmother produced 5 daughters that all inherited her knack for being an amazing cook.  Friday night, we had another big family meal that consisted of some amazing Chinese food.  Yes, we ate a lot...

The day after Thanksgiving was one of my favorite days.  It was cold and rainy when we woke up.  The girls and I drove over to my cousin Allyson's house for breakfast (yes, another meal).  My sister Andrea came with her kids and and all my cousins were there.  Sitting around, drinking coffee, eating breakfast watching it rain.  Kids playing.  It was so great.  It was just us "kids".  Our parents were off at their own "cousins breakfast".  It strikes me as funny to think about it....I think of us still as kids, but here we all were with our own kids, doing our own thing together.  I treasure that morning.  Once it cleared up, we all went to ride horses at (cousin) Alec's was chilly and windy, but what a great day.  Kids had so much fun.  Which by the way, I am so freakin' sore.  Not sure if it's from riding, or a little bit of walking I did or from driving.  But, dang, I am hurtin'.....

Yesterday, we made the trek back.  Again, hoping to leave early enough to where I wouldn't have to drive in the dark.  This time, we made the trip in one shot.  Didn't want to spend the night anywhere.  10 hours in the car and the last 2, tired and in the dark...nope, I wasn't super happy about that.  But, made it home, safe and sound.  We missed having Craig with us.  And it was great sleeping in my own bed last night.  

Traditions of old are hard to keep up.  I miss my grandparents so much.  They are what held us and all of our traditions together for so long.  They would be in hog heaven to see their great-grandchildren running around.  Too, it's hard as we get older and our families expand and we spread out.  At some point, we make new traditions with our new families.  So, for this, I am grateful that we were all able to spend this time together...who knows how much longer it will be before it happens again?  Sooner than later, I hope!

It's been a re-cup day around here.  Homework, laundry, cleanup and grocery shopping.  I think I just heard the Christmas tree box come into the house, so let the decorating begin! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Just a Perfect Day

Today was a great day.  Typically on Sundays, I love being home.  Drinking coffee, reading the paper, cooking breakfast and watching football.  There's grocery shopping and laundry, too.  I know people that are busy all the time...never home, even on the weekends.  For me, we are so busy during the week, I look forward to just being a homebody.  If I can, I'll stay in my jammies all day.  

Today, we went to have brunch at the Adobe Grill over at La Quinta Resort.  We almost never go out for brunch.  I had so much to do today to get ready for our trip, but I am glad we took the time to get out.  We sat on the patio and it was beautiful out.  Food was great, service was great and the margaritas even better.  I highly recommend!

Afterwards, we hung out and walked around the plaza and just felt like we were on vacation.  Took some pictures, hoping one turns out cute enough for a holiday card (which I haven't done for the last 2 years).  It was some great family time, which we rarely get to do anymore, it seems.  The season is here, Craig works all the, time like this is precious.  It was our little Thanksgiving together.

Tomorrow, the girls and I are venturing out on our road trip to El Paso.  Craig will need to work, so it will just be us.  We did this 2 years ago (girls road trip) and had a blast.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and is sometimes tough for me being so far from my family.  I grew up with lots of aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins around.  We were together often...not just on the holidays.  My kids don't have that here.  Most Thanksgivings we are here in town.  I love to cook.  I try to include anyone that doesn't have family to spend the holiday with, but usually it ends up being just us and Craig's dad and brother if he is in town.  I like to (and need to) have lots of people around on Thanksgiving.  Even though we don't have much family here, I try to make sure we have our own traditions that I hope my kids will always remember. I get excited about these times, though, when I have the chance to take my kids back so that they experience what I had when I was growing up.  I can't wait!

So, tomorrow we head out.  So looking forward to seeing the whole "fam damily." 

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Coming Back

It took us 10 months to sell our house in Tulsa.  We couldn't even afford to buy a house even remotely where we were living before we moved.  We ended up buying a house in north Indio.  A great house, but what feels like in BFE.  It was almost double the price of our house in Tulsa.  

Craig and I are both working.  A lot.  We both have good jobs.  Me, at KDI Elements and Craig is at La Quinta.  After a year, he gets transferred to the Citrus course.  He's happy.  My job is good.  Times are good.  Building is going nuts here.  I am working long hours...usually til 6:00, sometimes til 7:00.  It's a great job, I loved what i did, but it was definitely super stressful.  

After a few years, the economy slows.  The recession starts to hit.  People are being laid off and I pray everyday that I am not the next one.  I survive several rounds of layoffs.  And then, on September 29th, in 2009, it happened to me.  It came out of left field.  I mean, I knew that things were slow, but it had been so long since anyone had been laid off.  I was devastated. 

I was both shocked and truly touched when several of my clients/builders rallied in support of me.  Trying to find ways to get me back to work.  It reaffirmed that I was good at what I did and that I truly established great relationships with so many.  

When it came down to it, I needed to figure out what I really wanted to do next.  For now, we had some money put away, but it wasn't going to last long.  When we were in Tulsa, for a fleeting moment, I considered going to nursing school.  I looked into it and quickly was talked out of it.  But,'s something I wanted to seriously consider. 

I tell Craig this is something I want to do.  But how were we going to make it work, financially?  I look for work and end up getting into some classes at College of the Desert, which wasn't easy.  I knew how the budget cuts in California had affected our education on the level that my kids were in (teachers getting pink slips, increased class sizes, etc), but now I was seeing first hand how it was affecting my ability to get into classes...almost impossible.  Not only are people losing their jobs, they can't even go back to school to try to re-tool themselves!  I remained persistent, though, and got the classes I needed.  

Can I just say that I have LOVED, LOVED, LOVED being back in school?  I was incredibly intimidated at first, but I have enjoyed every second of it.  I have made some amazing friends.  If only I "knew then what I know now."  What focus and determination I have now.  I continually look around my classes to see if I am the oldest one there (I am not.)  I am so proud to say that I have taken about a dozen classes over the course of the last 18 months...some online, some at night and a few during the day.  I have managed to maintain a 4.0 through all my classes.  I had to take a public speaking class last semester.  Something I DREADED.  I mean, talk about heart pounding outside of my chest, not even being able to hear myself as I am up in front of the class speaking.  Turns out...I'm not so bad at it.  In fact, at the recommendation of my professor, I entered a public speaking competition at the college and finished 2nd Place!  There's definitely something to be said for being a more "mature" student, but I have to say, I feel almost younger than ever!  

In the meantime, we ended up selling our house.  We could no longer afford it and were underwater by over $200,000!  Yikes.  We are grateful we were able to sell it and are now renting a great house in an amazing location.  I have never looked back.

So, fast forward to the last few months and now.  I apply to the nursing program last spring and get rejected.  The selection process for the program at the community college is lottery based.  I have the grades, but not the luck.  I am feeling defeated.  What if I keep trying and I never get in?  Meanwhile, my former employer calls me to come back, on a part-time basis.  I am reluctant to go back....and only because it's not what my focus is anymore.  I am actively looking for work in the medical field and trying to get into the program.  I did go back and am still there.  Working part-time, taking a class and managing the's been the perfect balance.

In August I re-apply to the nursing program.  I have been stressed and anxious waiting to find out.  Tired of the waiting to see what road I am going to take.

And then it happens, late last month....first I get an email from the College, saying I have been invited to the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.  Then a few weeks after that, I get the email.  I have been accepted to the program!!  So, so, so excited!  It's gonna happen!  

Whew.  So, there it is.  My life, in sort of a nutshell, up until now.  My "Dear Diary" entries lumped into about 5 or so blog posts!  

And now that I am all caught up, time to watch a movie with the little one.  G'night!

To Tulsa and Back in 13 Months

Shortly before Easter in 2001, Craig came to see me at work one day...unexpectedly.  He came to tell me that he had just been let go from his job.  We were both equally shocked.  Devastated.  He was mortified.  Scared.  He had just come off a favorable performance review and was given a raise just a few months prior.  A new management company had come in and decided they were "going in a different direction."  Whatever.  If anyone knows Craig, they know that he is one of the most honest, hard-working people around.  In fact, he's a workaholic, if anything.

We had just bought a new house.  He was stressed and panicked.  He started to question whether or not he even wanted to stay in the golf business.  He considered buying a local pizzeria.  About the same time he decided that wasn't for him, he was offered a job in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Craig and I had talked about the fact that we did not want to raise our kids in California.  We both had agreed we would eventually move back to Texas or Oklahoma.  So, here was our opportunity. 

The long story short...we moved.  We sold our house in Palm Desert and had a nice little nest egg.  But for dumb, dumb reasons I cannot even begin to explain, I did not want to go.  I felt like California had become our home.  We had good friends.  A life.  Our kids were born here. 

We moved to Tulsa and we were instantly welcomed by everyone.  A close family friend of Craig's lived there.  His sister was in Norman.  Other than that, I knew no one.  Everyone was so good to us, but I managed to find things wrong with being there:  The night we drove into Tulsa, we went to a grocery store.  I am looking up and down the aisles for the beer and wine....I finally ask an employee, "Excuse me, where can I find the wine?"  Employee:  "I'm sorry, ma'am, we don't sell wine here. They sell that at the liquor store.  But they're closed." 

Oh and by the way, they close on Sundays, too...I found out, in a very inopportune time. 

Looking back, the only thing that sucked about our time in Tulsa was my attitude.

We rented for a while and then bought a house.  A great house in a wonderful neighborhood.   The day we closed escrow on our house, we drove over to see it.  We pull into our driveway to see our neighbor, a guy about our age, mowing his lawn.  His neighbor, also a guy our age, mowing his lawn, too.  How cute, I thought....people mow their own lawns out here....

We get out of our car, and these two guys immediately come over and introduce themselves to us.  Instant friends.  Their wives...equally great.  From day one.  Our neighbor had a son.  When I asked how old he was, Tanya (the mom) tells me that he is about to have a birthday on June 3rd.  "Oh, that's my birthday, too!" I say.  A week later, on June 3rd, I am in the house, unpacking, and Tanya comes to the door, with flowers and a birthday balloon for me.  I will never, ever forget that she did that for me. 

Our neighbors were great.  We sat in the driveway and drank wine and watched the kids ride bikes, we BBQ'd, we watched football together and went out together.  Thinking about it, living in California, we have never lived in a neighborhood where we have had the same relationship with anybody.  Not even close.  We have never had one neighbor introduce themselves or welcome us. Is it a California thing?  Or we just are unlucky?  Hmm...

So, over time, it becomes clear that I need to work.  Craig's income is not enough and we are dipping into our savings every month.  I am finding jobs that are paying $6.50 an hour and they want me to work 40 hour weeks.  Do the math.  It's not even going to pay for child care.  Eventually, I find part time work as a runner for an oil and gas accounting firm and another part time job working at Pottery Barn Kids at night and weekends. 

Craig could see that I wasn't happy.  But, I was really starting to be.  Trying to be.  We made great friends.  Our kids were in great schools. A mom at Chandler's school said the words to me, "Happiness is a choice.  You can choose to be happy here."  It was an "aha" moment for me...just a little too late. 

After a year, Craig was offered a job back here in the Desert.  At La Quinta Resort.  At the same time, a tile contractor that had done work for the builder I worked for heard that I might be coming back and they offered me a job.  We both were going to have good jobs....did we want to move back?

Craig insisted we'd be happier if we went back.  I wasn't so sure.  Poor Craig.  He'd do anything to make me happy.  He had seen how unhappy I had been over time there.  He thought this was the right thing.  For three weeks, we tried to make the decision.  One day it was "yes" we were definitely going.  And the next day it was "no."  We were a mess.  I was a mess.  I cried every day.  My sister-in-law said it best..."If in doubt, the answer is NO."  It's advice I try to live by, now. 

So....we move back. 


A quality I possess that I am most proud of is my ability to not hold a grudge.  I forgive.  And pretty easily.  I know people close to me that hold grudges, harbor resentment and are angry.  It's like a poison that festers.  I am so glad that is not in my nature.

Labor Day weekend in 1991, a close friend and I had a falling out.  She did something that completely hurt my feelings.  Something I would never do to a friend.  When I tried to talk to her about how she made me feel, she turned the whole situation around and blamed me.  Told me that I was completely selfish and she could not believe that I could feel that way.  I was shocked that she and I could be so completely opposite in our views.  We didn't speak for a couple of weeks.  Finally, I decided enough was enough.  Seriously, for how much longer was this going to go on?  I decided to take the high road, be the bigger person and make the first move to mend our relationship.  I walked into her office.  I know she was surprised to see me.  I told her that this was silly...blah, blah, blah...that we were too good of friends to allow this to affect our friendship.  She agreed.  So, I asked her, "So, what are you doing tonight?"  That night, we went to Monday Night Football at La Cantina at La Quinta Hotel (it doesn't exist anymore).  Cowboys and Redskins were playing.  At halftime, we were walking to the bathroom, when we passed a group of guys.  My friend waved to one of them.  "Who's that?" I asked.  "Oh, don't you know him?  That's Craig Freeman.  Robin and Jeff's brother."  I mentioned how cute he was.  And then she introduced us.  And that was pretty much it.  He was Cowboys fan, from Oklahoma, a golfer, had a job, had a car and was a genuinely nice, good, good person.  

Craig was working at Moreno Valley Ranch at the time as an assistant pro.  He was in town playing in a golf tournament.  We started seeing each other from that night and we were married 2 years later in a beautiful candlelit ceremony at Mission Hills Country Club.  A year later, Chandler was born and then Rylee came along.  Both of them, the lights of my life.  (More on them, later.)  See, people?  Forgive more only brings good things in return.  :)

Over the next few years, Craig ended up getting his first Head Pro job and I left La Quinta where I was then doing the buying for the pro shop and went to work at Palm Valley Country Club.  I was the buyer for the golf, tennis and spa shops.  After about 10 years of working retail, I began to burn out.  A new job fell into my lap.  I went to work for a builder in his design center.  I had absolutely no experience in this field.  I was initially hired to fax, file and copy orders.  I was working less hours and making more money.  Eventually, I started working with clients and helped coordinate finishes for their new homes.  It was a great job and I loved it!  We bought a new house, Craig and I both had good jobs and life was good!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Brush With Fate and a Really Bad Couple of Years....

Note to self:  Do not blog late at night, before you go to sleep.

Last night, I couldn't sleep.  After writing my post, my head became flooded with memories of the first couple of years of living here.  This blog initially wasn't meant to be a total retrospective autobiography, but, all these events have led me to where I am today.  I have never journaled about some of these things before and probably should have.  (Or gone to therapy).  

A few months after moving here, my roommate and I moved out of Secret Serviceman Bill's condo and got an apartment.  One Saturday night, she went out.  I was sick with the flu and stayed home.  I had a fever and felt terrible.  At some point in the middle of the night, my fever broke.  I was soaked in sweat.  I got up to go to the bathroom, came back to bed and took off what I was wearing.  It was about 4 a.m. when I was awakened by screams from my roommate, yelling my name.  I was so disoriented and didn't know what was going on.  Apparently, she woke up to this guy on top of her.  He said some disgusting things to her and told her not to yell for me (but she did).  Next thing I know, this guy bursts into my room.  I can hear this "huffing" sound coming from him.  My only thought was "He's going to see that I have no clothes on and it's going to be really easy for him..."  I pulled the sheets up to my neck, as tight as I could.  He came over and stuck what I believe to be either an ice pick or a screwdriver near my neck.  I don't remember much.  I think I screamed. I must have screamed.  He jumped up and left my room.  I got up, shut my door (there was no lock on it).  And prayed.  He ran out of the apartment using the front door.  He didn't hurt (physically) either one of us.  He didn't steal anything from our place.  We called the police.  They were there for hours, fingerprinting, etc.  The guy got in through our slider in the living room.  They never caught him.  We never spent another night in that apartment.  We moved and all I could think of was that this guy was watching us and knew where we were moving.  For about a year, I slept with a knife and the phone underneath my pillow.  It is by far the scariest experience of my life.  

Some time went on and I ended up meeting a guy.  Tall.  Athletic. Cute.  Fun.  His name was Tony.  We had fun.  He was in his mid 20s and he didn't have a car.  That should have been clue number one for me.   After a few months, he moved in with me and my roommate.  He drank and partied. A lot.  At first it didn't bother me, but over time I realized he was an alcoholic.  He had one DUI before I met him and another while we were living together.  His parents, divorced, were both recovering alcoholics.  For two years, I believed this relationship could work.  I broke up, but then took him back each time he cheated on me.  I thought he would/could change--for me (co-dependent me).  It was really a horrible time.  He was awful to me.  I wished I had been stronger and smarter from the start.  When finally it looked like things were really over between us, he decided to move to Colorado.  It was the greatest gift he could have ever given to me.  Leaving.  Later, I heard that he got, yet, another DUI while in Colorado.  And after that, I learned that he was killed in a motorcycle accident.  He had been drinking.  Luckily, the girl who was on the bike with him survived....

Those were two of the worst years of my life.  Completely wasted.  Nothing good came out of that relationship.  As much as I would like to think that SOMETHING good came of it....I wished that I could have a "do over."  I probably sound cold and callus because of his passing away.  But, I can't help but think of what would have happened had I stayed with him?  
And a word about grammar and spelling:

Typically, I like to be the Grammar and Spelling Police.  It is my biggest pet peeve when people misspell words or use incorrect grammar.  Having said that, it occurred to me last night while I couldn't sleep that I used an incorrect spelling.  I said "Rylee preceded to tell me...." instead of "Rylee proceeded to tell me..."  I almost got up in the middle of the night to change it.  I am a freak. But, as hard as it was for me...I let it go.  I am not perfect.  There.  I said it. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Earlier Years....

Now that I have entered the blog world, it's clear I have some work to do.  But, I'm just a beginner, right?  This morning I asked Rylee if she read my blog and what she thought.  She said..." was kinda boring."  She preceded to tell me that I needed color.  To change the font.  To make it cute.  I need to add pictures.  Geez...all things I already knew and thought about last night, but the fact of the matter is...I haven't figured out how to do all that, yet.  Actually, I don't have the patience to figure it out.  I think I have developed a little bit of ADD as I have gotten older.  I need someone to tell me or show me.  Just like Pinterest.  I love the idea of Pinterest...but I have no patience to sift through everyone's boards and to create my own.  And just like iTunes...I still don't know how to download a song and sync it to my phone (or whatever it is you do with it).  My kids do it for me.  Anyway, I am SURE that my good blogging friend will be happy to help me spice up my little blog know who you are.  :)

I am so happy that I took the first step in creating this blog.  As my friend, Nina, said, "Think of all the people you could inspire....".  It's not that I have this fascinating, wow-type story, but I do think she is's just not really something that I considered as my purpose in writing this.   It is mainly for therapeutic reasons and for chronicling what's to come.

So, how did I get here?  

A little tiny bit of my past.  And I start with this because right now I am taking a Developmental Psychology class and we had the exercise of writing down how we felt or perceived ourselves at various periods of our lives...from early childhood until now.  It's purpose was to show how we have evolved.  It was pretty eye opening.  Very briefly...I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas.  I have two beautiful, talented, successful sisters.  I am the middle child (which probably explains a lot..only kidding).  I was a gymnast from the time I was 6 and continued through high school and was a varsity cheerleader my senior year of high school.  But, I don't have super fond memories of a lot of my childhood.  I was teased a lot for my size (small) and for my last name (Berger).  Kids are so flippin' mean.  There were girls I desperately wanted to be friends with who constantly left me out.  Talk about major insecurities.  Junior high and my sophomore year are years I never in a million years would want to repeat.   It was finally my junior and senior years of high school that I finally felt accepted and happy.  I am so grateful that my kids are making it through these years for the most part, unscathed.

After high school, went to Texas Tech and graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Clothing and Textiles.  I loved college.  Dorm life, parties, boys, football games...oh yeah, studying...After I graduated I wasn't sure what I was going to do.  I came out to the Palm Springs area where my aunt was living and interviewed for a couple of jobs...the company she worked for (Landmark Land) had just expanded the La Quinta Hotel and there were lots of job opportunities.  At the same time, American Airlines had called me for a job interview.  I struggled a bit with my decision, but I ended up moving west.  Leaving my boyfriend, friends and family.  I knew no one out here except for my aunt.  
My first job:  Tennis Hostess at La Quinta Hotel Tennis Club (as it was known then).  I was making a whopping $15,000 a year.  But, I got to wear super cute tennis clothes everyday to work.  My job was to arrange tennis matches for the hotel guests and members.  Totally fun job in a totally beautiful place.  I was completely enamored with this area.  I mean....perfectly manicured, palm tree lined medians, golf courses on almost every corner, 85 degree temperatures in January, green grass all year long and lots of celebrities.  Oh my...I used to say I could write a book....and's sort of my chance.  

When I first moved here, I lived right down the street from the Annenberg Estate and from Gerald Ford.  In fact, the guy I rented a room from was a Secret Serviceman for Gerald Ford.  I just thought that was about the coolest thing ever.  While I worked at La Quinta,  I met lots of celebs, but there were a few standouts for me...Ahmad Rashad (totally cool), Donna Mills (super sweet and tiny and I loved helping her buy new tennis clothes) and Marcus Allen.  Marcus came in one day needing some tennis clothes.  I helped him pick out some stuff...he tried stuff on and I had to bring him other things while he just happened to be half dressed, and oh my goodness...the man has the hottest body, ever....just saying...

One of the crazier things was starting to get to know a guy by the name of A.C.Cowlings.  A.C. was a good friend of my boss and would often come out with a group, sometimes with Marcus Allen.  I knew he was friends with O.J.Simpson.   I couldn't believe my eyes, when at my 10 year high school reunion, the TV was on showing the infamous car chase with A.C. driving O.J.  CRAZY!!

And one last little funny tidbit was the night I met John Elway.  I was at a bar with a girlfriend and John Elway walks in with a couple of other Denver Bronco players and with who would later become my brother-in-law.  They leave and then we leave.  We end up at a dance club and who shows up, but the same group of guys.  We end up all talking, I end up dancing with one of them and John holds my purse for me while I am dancing.  Later, as my girlfriend and I drive home and pull into where we are living at the time (PGA West), a car pulls up beside us with Colorado plates...I look and's John Elway.  He rolls down his window and says, "What?  Are you following us?"  I say, "Uh, no, we live here."  He says, "Yeah, right."  Jerk.  Whatever.  :)

I've had other silly escapades.  Like the one time that I helped my girlfriend Nina stalk, I mean, track down Matthew McConaughey.  And we found him.  In a VIP area at a club, that was roped off, guarded by bouncers.  I can't remember what I did, but we slyly or not so slyly made our way in.  We made our way to his table, I tried to flash him a "hook 'em horns" sign.  He gets up and Nina's night is made when she gets to talk to him.  
And the other time when a friend called to tell me Tony Romo was playing golf down the street.  The kids and I waited for 2 hours for him to come off the golf course in the cold and rain.  He was as nice and gracious as could be and signed footballs, cards, t-shirts and jerseys for us.  We were some happy campers that day.

I could go on.  Paula Abdul.  George Brett.  Bill Walsh.  Gene Wilder.  Dwight Clark.  But, boy, this is getting lengthy, isn't it? 

And don't get me wrong.  These famous people are just people, I know that.  But, for a Texas girl, fresh out of college moving out was hard to not be so fascinated with it all.  I'm not going to's fun to spot and meet some of these people sometimes!

Good times...and more later.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Inaugural Post and Why The Name?

Wow!  After about a year or so of contemplating starting a blog, here I am.  Over the last couple of years, I have followed several blogs.  I have followed people who have chronicled their illnesses and people who just blog about their daily lives.  I am fascinated by the fabulous ability of writing skills of those out there!  So, here I am, attempting to journal with the best of them!  

So, I will begin with my title.  Lori Belle Love.  What the heck is that?  Well, if I can be honest, I wanted to title this blog "The Next Chapter"..or something of that nature, because that is basically what it will be about, but who knew that that domain and almost everything close to it was taken?  I'm not very original or have much in the way of creative writing skills....Clearly, I missed the boat long ago when it came to blog writing.  Lori Belle.  Many people who know me in my adult life don't know, but Lori Belle is what my dentist's wife used to call me when I was growing up.  I thought the world of her and when she pegged me "Lori Belle" it warmed my heart.  My family called me that and to this day, my sister Andrea still uses this nickname for me.  I love it.  In fact, it's my username on Words With Friends.  And the word "Love"....well, I just kind of love the word.   <3
So, there you have it.  

I decided to start this blog now, so that I can journal a little bit about my past, but more specifically about how my life has significantly changed in the last couple of years and now heading into the next chapter.  My kids are old enough to know what's what, but I hope that later on down the road when they read this again, that they can really appreciate the journey we have all taken together!