I’ve always found Valentine’s Day to be an unusual day. Such significance placed on a day when really the 364 (or 365 in this leap year) other days of the year are what really constitute love and endurance. My thoughts on this day are generally too philosophical to share easily so here are some random thoughts:
Chocolate covered strawberries (well chocolate covered almost anything) are yummy.
Money comes and goes. Apparently so does love.
“Sometimes one smile means more than a dozen roses” – on the wrapper of one of the Dove chocolate squares (given to me by my best friend for my birthday) my kids and I melted in a small pot before dipping strawberries & mandarin oranges in it.
Love shows up in the strangest and sometimes most unexpected of places and people.
My kids are my best valentine’s “dates” ever, and they are showing me how to dance the “shuffle dance.”
My son showed me that you can search Wikipedia in different languages.
My daughter’s smile and laugh melt my heart.
Google’s Valentine’s Day home page video (you tube link; embedded below) is so simple and true. People fall in love when someone quits giving you stuff you don’t want or need and “connects” with who you are and what you enjoy.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! The purple Christmas tree was in the lobby of Emler swim school. It looks even more purple in real life. May those of you who celebrate Christmas receive the gifts (tangible and intangible) that you want and the blessings of the season.
The Thanksgiving holiday just passed here in the US. It’s a time where we reflect on all that we are thankful for and, of course, eat turkey. I was thankful I was able to spend it with family (new and old). We had turkey and lobster which was a very nice combination.
I’m thankful for so many things and I, like others, lose sight of how lucky we are to live in the time we live, have the things we have, are for the most part healthy, etc. I think I need to record the things I’m thankful for and play them back to myself every day, because like so many I get caught up in the day to day stresses of life and forget to be grateful for what I do have.
Thank you to all my loyal readers who have stuck around despite my inconsistent blogging and my often random topics. I am in the morass of a full life right now. I am still trying to find my way while at the same time helping two little kids find their ways…
My resolutions this year are to believe/trust in myself, believe in my kids, believe in the kindness and beauty in others, smile/laugh more, make others smile/laugh more, create songs and sing a song (Carpenter’s lyrics link).
Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud, sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad
Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not good enough
For anyone else to hear
Just sing, sing a song .
Happy New Year to all of you my loyal readers and everyone else who happens upon my blog when searching for something to help them with their life, their posts, their kids, or their businesses. May you find the courage to follow your dreams…in other words your heart! <3 <— that’s a heart symbol for those of you who didn’t know that.
We’ve all heard the saying “You only live once,” so may you conquer your fear just a little bit at a time to live life (at least next year) grandly and to it’s fullest. It’s not easy but it’s worth it…even if you get what “it” means for a few short minutes…you will never forget, can never go back, and will never compromise to the point that you lose yourself again.
I hope you are all having a great Christmas Day. Ours was full of presents and things in our stockings…well at least the kid’s stockings. They already tangled up their slinky’s that I got from the dollar bins at Michael’s. Even mom got a gift from Santa (from a very talented cousin) and from the kids (a camera and a tool kit!). They got some gift cards from Grandma so they will get to buy even more presents!
The kids are surprised that Santa came and gave them more than one gift and ate the cookies/sweet breads we left for him overnight. My 8 year old kind of knows but wants to believe anyway because he knows if he believes he’ll get presents…smart kid.
The kids got more than they needed/wanted and are already playing with their gifts. One required some C batteries, which I don’t have. Most toys don’t seem to use C batteries these days. The Husky Powertek screwdriver has come in handy to open all these battery compartments! Now, I have to find some tweezers to get something out that my son got stuck in his new soccer ball that he gets to decorate!
So Merry Christmas to you all. No matter what religion you might follow, ’tis the season to be jolly, giving, and take some time to enjoy the excitement generated by the children in your lives. Oh and eat some Japanese food since all the other restaurants are closed. Our favorite is Kobe steakhouse so we’ll be there later today. Ho, Ho, Ho!
Thanks to the generous help of my neighbor, the trees I mentioned in my Planting Trees post have now been planted this Christmas Eve morning. It took almost a couple of hours to plant both. It was the first time my kids and I had ever really planted trees and it was a fun experience. And as if to say the timing was right, it rained for about an hour a couple of hours after we finished to give those tries a nice drink.
I think it’s a good skill to have to learn how to work with the earth. I used to mow our lawn when I was a kid and lived in Lubbock, Texas when I say about 11-13 years old until I accidentally ran over the power cord a couple of times. I think my mom decided it was safer to hire someone to mow the lawn then. Although, I drove her crazy as a teenager, I think she still wanted me to live. I like to have plants around the house…even though they are in the background. It’s nice to have green living things (with no pollen) in the house.
I told my kids that when they were older they could drive by the house in the neighborhood and tell their kids that they helped plant those big Oak and Elm trees because my guess is we probably won’t be living in this house by the time the trees we planted are as big as the other trees in our neighborhood. The process got me wanting to plant another tree where the one we had rotted/fell down a few years ago. There are deer in our neighborhood so it will have to be a tree (maybe a flowering one like a crepe myrtle) that they don’t like to eat.
Merry Christmas everyone. Here’s to planting of new things and growing of new businesses in the New Year! (Yeah, I know that was an entrepreneurial stretch!)
This past year has been one of my most challenging personally, and I am so thankful for many things including my friends, family, my kids, my kid’s teachers, and the fact that I managed not to jump off the Entrepreneurial Ledge. [Check out Fred Wilson’s post: Thanks for the Entrepreneurs. I’m thankful for them too since they are the main motivation for me to go to work everyday…other than my neat co-workers!] There were times that some people certainly pushed me to the limit (some intentionally and others unintentionally) but somehow by the grace of God, I kept it mostly together and didn’t completely fall apart. I’m not out of the woods yet, but I have started to see some light in the green and inviting clearing ahead.
I wonder if there is a handsome man on a white horse waiting to understand me, connect with me, make me laugh, and take me away to an easier life waiting in that clearing. But that sort of stuff just happens in fairy tales like Tangled (based on Rapunzel), which the kids, their cousins, my cousin and I saw over the break. It was a great movie, but I left wondering why we perpetuate this ‘night in shining armor’ fairly tales to our kids when no one falls in love in 3 days and princesses (women) don’t get rescued from evil parents/mothers by handsome thieves who turn good to get the girl. Everyone always lives “happily ever after” in these fairy tales, and they leave out the part where Rapunzel will eventually need loads of therapy to get over the fact some evil old lady kidnapped her, used her for her powers, locked her up in a tower for 17 years, and pretended to be her mother. During that time she also made her feel not worthy to live her own life and made her doubt her survival skills. Talk about ‘trust issues!’ Prince Charming (a.k.a. Robin Hood type) won’t know what hit him after their kids are born.
Anyway, I digress. I really enjoyed this Thanksgiving as I had time with family, and the kids and I were able to just be and relax. We ate a wonderful tasting brined turkey with mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, and sweet potatoes. We also had three fabulous pies and my favorite was the berry/strawberry/raspberry one. Yummy! I was in charge of the sweet potatoes and they turned out fairly well…especially with the marshmallows on top. Oh and a family tradition is crab curry. It was delicious and very meaty for crab! We even did (first time ever) the classic singing of Christmas music around the piano and the kids were fascinated to see the grownups behave so musically. I think it surprised them. My son even played us some songs on the piano he had learned. All in all, the trip was short, the conversation enlightening, the feeling peaceful which made it a wonderful Thanksgiving trip. It made me wish I lived closer to my family.
I hope all of you out there had a nice Thanksgiving and that you had an opportunity to think about all the things you have to be thankful for…not just during this time of year but always!
And now for a really quick post…Happy Halloween! My kids dressed up as Super Girl and something called a Metal Skull Rider and went trick or treating with their dad. I didn’t dress up, but at my son’s soccer game today I asked one of the mom’s to spray gold glitter in my hair so my daughter would try having some in her hair.
This weekend I showed up to help advise companies that are part of a program called 3 Day Startup hosted by the Austin Technology Incubator (where I work) and coordinated by our wireless/IT director, Bart Bohn. Check out the ATI Blog for an update on the students that were involved and the companies that emerged from the weekend lock-in. Three teams presented tonight to a panel of judgest so that’s where I spent my Halloween evening…with glittery hair.
Check out this post by Michael Arrington on TechCrunch to find out if you are a Pirate (a.k.a. entrepreneur in search of adventure because finding that pot of gold is rare). He says, “Entrepreneurs, though, are all screwed up. They don’t need to be rewarded for risk, because they actually get utility out of risk itself. In other words, they like adventure. The payouts for starting a business are just terrible when you account for risk. A tiny minority of entrepreneurs ever get rich. And the majority of entrepreneurs would probably make far more money, and have more stable personal relationships, if they just worked for someone else.”
Last night, December 31, 2009, we had a blue moon. Most years have 12 full moons but every 2 to 3 years we have an extra full moon and it’s called a blue moon. We saw it coming back from the airport after a really nice visit with my cousin and her family. On the way out, after getting up at 3:30 a.m. to make a flight that was 3 hours delayed, we ended up being almost 7 hours late getting to our final destination because of an issue we had leaving Austin having to do with de-icing our plane. Just before they had us get off the plane to wait it out, my son said loudly “I knew we should have flown Southwest!” which caused all the people around us to laugh. He doesn’t even have to try to be funny…this wonderful kid of mine. This was the first time I traveled by myself by plane with the kids, and they did really well. I told them how happy I was with them because despite the delays, it was one of the least stressful times traveling with 2 kids that I’ve ever had. We even had a 4 hour layover in Memphis, TN and by a stroke of luck some of my long time family friends who live there (who I hadn’t even told we were flying through Memphis because we were only supposed to be there for 45 minutes) interrupted their plans to come hang out with us for a couple of hours at the airport! I was so happy to see them…kind of like seeing land when you’ve been lost at sea for a while.
My favorite aunt and uncle (we spent summers and other times with them growing up) were supposed to have left earlier in the day from my cousin’s place, but they waited for us before driving back to their city a couple of hours away. I was so grateful that they waited…kind of felt like a pilgrim lost in a fog coming home.
So back to the blue moon. It’s a rare event and thanks to Erin, who picked us up at the airport, it was probably the first time in my life that I was aware we were having one. He had seen something about it on CNN, so I looked it up on my trusty iPhone. The moon last night was uncharacteristically huge and bright and to me seemed full of hope and promise. I started singing the song Blue Moon by Ella Fitzgerald (lyrics) and thought about the upcoming new year and new decade that was upon us. Although I was invited to a friend’s New Year’s eve party, I was so tired I called it a night at 10:30 p.m. Lame I know, but I figured it was best to start the new year rested so I could think about whether I should make some new year’s resolutions.
So today is the first day of the new year and last year I made non-resolutions: “So my non-resolutions for 2009 are to sing more, laugh more, write more, make more funny faces at my kids, be less repressed, empower people, unashamedly love people, continue to take yoga, find a purple hat (any suggestions?), make some life changing decisions (I already got my hair cut short), and move the ball forward one day at a time on Babble Soft and at ATI.” The funny thing is that I think I achieved all of those to varying degrees with various outcomes and some I didn’t even do consciously (a higher power at work). I guess I should be careful what I non-resolute!
One of my friends, Julie Fergerson, who happens to be a leading expert in identity theft, got me a purple hat. I transferred majority ownership in Babble Soft to my fabulous partner, Nicole Johnson, who I finally got to meet in person while visiting my cousin because she lives in the same city. My cousin had met her before I did. Nicole also runs the Baby Sleep Site and our online meeting has got to be a case study (GigaOm) in successful partnerships between two people who have never met in person. It was like we were old friends catching up when we met with our kids at a nearby mall. As far as writing more, I didn’t write more on the blog, but I wrote song lyrics and did a lot of personal journaling (I’m already on my second spiral notebook). My daughter likes to hang out with me when I write in the mornings and, of course, add her personal touch to my pages. Maybe she’s a budding writer despite not being able to even read yet…
So I think I’ll stick with most of the same non-resolutions for 2010 and maybe add something about making upward progress in my career and doing more cardio exercise. I’m not planning to eat black eyed peas or kiribath (rice cooked in coconut milk – yummy), a Sri Lankan new year’s tradition for auspicious occasions, so I’m throwing caution to the superstitious winds and hoping for the best.
And in case you are wondering why the title of this post includes the words “It’s Complicated.” Well it’s because I saw the movie today with my movie buddies Michelle Ewalt (a great business/life transitions coach) and Cindy S. (she’s an offline kind of gal). We see a lot of movies together and our next one might be Sherlock Holmes. It’s Complicated was hilarious and included fabulous actors and actresses including Meryl Streep, Steve Martin (so cute & funny), and Alec Baldwin. It was much better than the Alvin and the Chipmunks – The Squeakquel movie my cousin and I suffered gladly sat through for the kids. While watching “It’s Complicated,” I kept thinking, while laughing out loud, that although my life seems complicated, thank God it’s not as complicated as that!
I couldn’t end the year without at least one more post! It has been quite a year, and I needed to take a break so that my off blog/real life wouldn’t bleed too heavily into my online blog life as it seemed to start to do. For those of you who are writers, you know how hard it is not to let your real life affect your writing even if it’s only subtly profound. For those of you who are writers (or creative people), you know how hard it can be not to write. It’s like holding back the tears or your laughter when you want to cry an ocean or laugh uncontrollably.
Not only did I cut down on blogging (although I am the main blogger for the Austin Technology Incubator blog in case you really miss my blogging), but I also significantly cut down my twitter usage (probably by 90%) so I tweet maybe once every couple of weeks but they haven’t been very inspiring ones. However, I do find myself on facebook every couple of weeks which is up from every few months. Maybe 2010 will be the year twitter and facebook figure out a winning business model?!
I hope to be blogging more in the new year about one of my next entrepreneurial endeavors which currently involves music. In lieu of blogging, I have been singing more. I continue to take voice lessons from my great voice coach, Gene Raymond at Octave Higher. He is so encouraging, and I know my voice and singing confidence have improved significantly since I started taking lessons from him some 6+ months ago. Singing is such a personal journey that to find someone you feel safe enough to miss a note, croak, or fall flat occasionally is priceless.
I was introduced to Gene by Scarlett (who is featured on his home page), who I met when taking the Landmark Forum. Being involved in Landmark was the beginning of me finding my inner voice and facing my fears, and I wrote about the forums in a couple of posts called A Transformation In Process and Who I Was Being Was Not Exactly Who I Am. I also took a course recommended by one of my business advisers/mentors and his wife called The Search Within, which was much more music, heart, and soul based, that totally knocked my emotional socks off! As I re-read those posts, I am reminded of how much has changed in my life since a year ago this month when I took the first course. As a child who experiences growing pains, the pains are just as real when you are an adult but it’s not in your bones…it’s in your mind, heart, and soul. There are too many changes to list here, but suffice it to say I will be heading in new directions in 2010!
So you’ll probably see more entrepreMusings about my musical endeavors next year and maybe more purple hat wearing. I’ve been writing lyrics and Gene introduced me to another student of his who plays guitar and wants to collaborate in songwriting. To me, lyric writing usually comes easy although I have no idea if they are any good or not. I’ve never written music but according to Gene and the guitar player, the lyrics are the hardest part and to me the instrumental is the hardest part. I don’t know how to play an instrument so if the easy parts for them are the instruments, then we just might create something!
My boss introduced me to a fabulous musical guy called The Fat Man who hosts jam sessions from time to time. Oh how fun and uplifting they are! I feel so honored that they include me. I can’t always keep up because my voice is comfortable in certain vocal ranges and they play some songs in keys that don’t work for me as well as play songs that I don’t know…like for example written by the Rolling Stones. I can imagine some of you rolling your eyes.
“To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.” –Confucius from Jeffrey Fry’s Potent Quotables
The thing I enjoy most about 4th of July is the fireworks. I remember my dad taking us to parks to watch fireworks when we were kids and letting us light fireworks at his house or other friend’s houses.
I have a great friend who has a house on the lake and every year, they throw a 4th of July party. This is the same friend who got me the purple peacock hat for my birthday. You get a perfect view of the fireworks right from the back yard of her house and there’s nothing like watching fireworks in an uncrowded place while sitting on chairs.
Needless to say I got my pyro-fix for the time being with a few firey delights which shall remain nameless. I’ve always been fascinated with fire. My mom used to get really upset with us for melting candle wax on the fireplace ledge and making things out of the wax when she wasn’t there. Rightly, she was worried that we were going to burn the house down. Fortunately, that never happened.
I did accidentally burn my sister’s fingers when we were kids. I got in huge trouble with my grandfather who rarely got upset with us. He sent me to a corner and I was devastated. I think I was about 9 years old and in my mind I was conducting an experiment with medical tape wrapped around my sister’s finger and lighting one end of the tape with fire. I have no idea what I thought would happen, and I had no idea how quickly it would burn. I guess I just thought it would just stay at the end like a candle wick, but I was wrong and after my sister screamed, I knew I would get in trouble!
With little kids around, we don’t burn that many candles in the house these days but when I do see fire, I find myself mesmerized by it for a while. It’s sort of calming in a weird way.
I wonder if other entrepreneur’s have a fascination with fire because really what we do is play with fire with some of the risks we take…
For some reason I felt compelled to write a Valentine’s Day post. My husband spent most of the day with the new head of school for The Magellan School (bilingual Spanish immersion school he is founding) that is opening Fall 2009. She flew in from Colombia this weekend to start meeting people and getting ready for the school opening. I really like her! She reminds me a little bit of my husband’s sister. One of the reasons I knew she would work well with my husband is that she grew up with several engineers in her family and knowing how to work with the ‘engineering-type’ is a plus because often I don’t understand how my husband – the rocket scientist – thinks (or doesn’t think)! They met with interested parents and were interviewed by the local news station KVUE. The segment is supposed to air on the Sunday night news after the Oscars. I took the kids to swim class and we joined them for lunch at PF Changs.
We were planning on going to my best friend’s son’s birthday party but he got sick and we had a bunch of things going on here, so after my husband finished up his school related activities, we went to Barton Creek Square mall so I could exchange some things at Nordstrom’s that I had gotten during my recent trip to visit my mother. And yes, they took back a pair of shoes I had worn once that didn’t end up fitting well. Now that’s customer service! Given that I usually shop at Target, that was a great experience.
We ended up having Valentine’s dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, where we had to wait 20 minutes for a table. For being in a down economy, the mall was overflowing with people…especially the Nordstrom’s shoe department! The kids enjoyed the pizza with fruit and we enjoyed the eggplant pizza with goat cheese and sausage. I sampled two different kinds of martinis. [As an aside, I’ve decided to make it a goal to try as many kinds of martini’s as I can this year!] The caramel apple martini was pretty darn good!
So it was an unusual Valentine’s Day but we have an unusual household so it was not too odd a day (especially after the martini’s! ). Here are some links to some other interesting Valentine’s Day items:
Twitter raises $35 million! (I heart twitter – although I still don’t really know how they are planning to make money, but I have faith!) You can follow me on twitter @aruni. Currently I have about 1,700 followers. There’s another article on TechCrunch about the investment too which is an interview with one of the new investors.
I’m not looking for a lover, I’m looking for a portal and stop f-ing with my mind, f with my heart instead cartoons by Hugh (aka @gapingvoid who has more than 13,000 followers on twitter). I asked him if he was going through a mid-life crisis, and he said he went through his years ago at a very young age. After I saw one of his cartoons with a naked women, I asked him about it and he sent me a link to one of his cartoons of a naked man…which I won’t link to here to protect the innocent, but it was pretty darn funny! Then @vicequeenmaria who lives in Miami sent me a link to a cartoon with alligators going to some place called Mango’s that I didn’t fully understand until she explained it, but it is too racy to link to here!
Love at first site by @paisano (he has more than 3,000 followers) where he lists logos that were changed to reflect a Valentine’s Day theme (e.g., Google, Yahoo).
Blogging will be light. Many online creatures will be stirring, even late into the night.
I have two paid weeks off from my day job, which is one of the benefits of working for a University. But true time off is still not in sight. With two kids, an existential crisis, and Babble Soft, I’ll be working some days and nights.
So until I am able to blog again, I’d like to leave you with links to two thought provoking articles on leadership and management:
A Harvey Mackey, founder of Mackey Envelope, column called Praise gives a psychological raise about the power of encouraging and acknowledging others in the work place especially during these tough economic times.
They are both great reads on management and leadership and you will not be disappointed if you click the links above.
So Happy Holidays everyone! I’ll try to get a few more posts out before the New Year. I wish you all peace, comfort and the possibility of living a fully expressed life no matter what joy, pain, happiness, sadness, or life changes that might bring…
We’re just a week away from Halloween and last weekend we got around to thinking about costumes. Our son has been telling us for months he wants to be Luke Skywalker but when he walked into a Party City store last Saturday, he decided he wanted to be a Stormtrooper. I think he might have mentioned it once before and I think I said ‘aren’t those the bad buys?‘ and he said ‘Mom, there are good stormtroopers and bad ones and the one I want to be is a good one.‘ I said ‘Really? Well I guess that’s OK then.’
So it was chaos at Party City and they were out of his costume. Our daughter decided she wants to be a princess. Where she gets that I don’t know because I’m pretty far from the princess type (or shall I say dress-up-like-a-princess type ). I was a tomboy. I never had any interest in Barbie Dolls growing up so I’m guessing she’s probably going to go all sugar and spice and everything nice on me! They had a costume she liked, but the bag was broken and I asked the gal who worked there if it had everything and she said it did…well of course it didn’t. It was missing the tiara. She gave me another one which had a tiara but it was taped (yes scotch taped!) together because it was broken. I was annoyed they would actually try to sell that to some unsuspecting soul, and we left.
We came home and did a search on Amazon but couldn’t find what we liked at the price we thought reasonable. So much to the dismay of our kids, we had to put off the costume finding one more day. They did have some cute stuff on Amazon and if you are still looking, you can shop for costumes (linked to Amazon) or Halloween music (linked to Amazon). If you use those links to buy something, a few cents (literally) will go into my Amazon account and some time in the next decade there will be enough in there for them to actually pay me for promoting their Halloween stuff for them!
So my husband took our son to another Party City while I stayed home with our daughter who decided to throw up a few times after going to Maker Faire last Sunday, and they found a Star Wars Clone Trooper costume he liked and a different princess costume for our daughter. She liked the costume. So all was well in the household for at least a few hours and she didn’t throw up again.