Friday, July 24, 2009

20 year Update

****20 YEARS AGO (1989)*****

1) How old were you? 21

2) Who were you dating? Married for 1 year to Terry

3) Where did you work? Part-time: Washakie Cafeteria Full-time: Student at University of Wyoming

4) Where did you live? Laramie, WY

5) Where did you hang out? Home

6) Did you wear contacts or glasses? Contacts during the day, glasses when I first got up in the morning. (Still do that!)

7) Who were your best friends? Jeanette & Michele

8) How many tattoos did you have? 0

9) How many piercings did you have? 2 holes in each ear

10) What kind of car did you drive? Dodge Colt

11) Had you been to a real party? Yes

12) Had your heart broken? YES

13) Were you single/taken/married/divorced? Married

14) Any kids? No

****15 YEARS AGO (1994)****

1) How old were you? 26

2) Who were you dating? Still Married to Terry

3) Where did you work? Natrona County Circuit Court

4) Where did you live? Casper, WY

5) Where did you hang out? Home

6) Did you wear contacts and/or glasses? Contacts during the day, glasses when I first got up in the morning. (Still do that!)

7) Who were your closest friends? Jeanette

8) How many tattoos did you have? None

9) How many piercings did you have? Still 2 holes in ears

10) What kind of car did you drive? Dodge Colt

11) Had you been to a real party? Do kids' birthday parties count?

12) Had you had your heart broken? Not over romance, but other life events

13) Were you Single/Taken/Married/Divorced? Still Married

14) Any Kids? 1

***10 YEARS AGO (1999)***

1) How old were you? 31

2) Who were you dating? Still Married to Terry

3) Where did you work? Trinity Lutheran Preschool

4) Where did you live? Roselle, IL

5) Where did you hang out? Home

7) Who were your best friends? Jeanette

8) How many tattoos did you have? None

9) How many piercings did you have? Same 2 holes in ears

10) What kind of car did you drive? Hyundai Elantra

11) Had your heart broken? Life - ya know

12) Were you Single/Taken/Married/Divorced? Still Married

13 Any Kids? 2 kids

***5 YEARS AGO (2004)***

1) How old were you? 36

2) Who were you dating? Still Married

3) Where did you work? Fitzgerald Law Firm

4) Where did you live? Cheyenne, WY

5) Where did you hang out? Home

7) Who were your best friends? Jeanette, Rhonda, Tobi

8) How many tattoos did you have? None

9) How many piercings did you have? Still 2 in each ear

10) What kind of car did you drive? Dodge Grand Caravan

11) Had your heart broken? Just life

12) Were you Single/Taken/Married/Divorced? Still Married

13 Any Kids? 3

****TODAY (2009)****

1) How old are you? 41

2) Where do you work? Fitzgerald Law Firm

3) Where did you live? Cheyenne, WY

4) Do you still keep in touch with your old friends? Oh, yes, even reconnected with some others through FB! Jeanette - always, Michele-one of the few good things about high school!, Rhonda & Tobi - amazing sisters God sent me, Carla-a long distance friend for decades, some things time just can't erase.

5) How many tattoos did you have? 0

6) How many piercings did you have? Still same 2 in each ear

7) What kind of car do you drive? Dodge Grand Caravan

8) Were you Single/Taken/Married/Divorced? still married!

9) Any Kids? 3

Monday, July 20, 2009

Introducing my 1st Guest Blogger - Cody Sanford

Cody is my oldest daughter. She just graduated from high school where one of her main activities was participating in Speech and Debate. This last year she qualified for the National Speech & Debate competitions in Oratory and CX. You debate types will know CX stands for cross-examination. If you still don't know what type of debate that is then you'd better Google it. I just know that she and her CX partner did well and were fun to watch in meets. You see, my daughter is extremely talented and smart and gifted. And, I, her mother, am not. I'm okay with that, though. I thoroughly enjoy being the proud mom even while secretly wondering if this amazing creature who calls me Mom was somehow switched at birth. On the off chance that she really is mine I say a prayer of thanks every day that God brought her into my life. I know that it is only through His intervention that she has turned out as amazingly well as she has.

So, enough gushing over my baby. Let's get to the point of this post. I asked Cody if she would be willing to let me post her Oratory speech on my blog - because it is wonderful!! And, you don't have to just take MY very biased word for it. Obviously it must have held some merit for others or she wouldn't have qualified for Nationals with it. Of course, it would be much better if you could actually watch her present it in person, but I never got a video tape and she probably wouldn't have let me post one if I did.

So, now, please enjoy this guest post from my daughter, Cody Sanford. (You may hold your applause until the end.)

Cody Sanford
Cheyenne East High School
Original Oratory
April 27, 2009

Beyond the Box

When I was in first grade, I remember recess as being a very sacred block of time, and I always used that time very wisely doing the same things. Slides first, then monkey bars, and then swings. It was a routine that was not allowed to be changed, however that spring they put in a new piece of equipment - A balance beam, with little rings to hold onto as you went across. And I was fascinated by them because they were new and AWESOME. I was scared, but I put my foot down, and went for it. The first thing I did: fall off and scrape my knee. But I was proud of that scar because it proved that I went for it, and the next morning I fought with my mom that I could not wear tights and a skirt because I needed to show it to my friends.

As I begin to grow older, I can see that so many of us are becoming so entrenched in our daily lives that we’re losing that sense of wonder in new things, and in reality that means a sense of the world beyond just ourselves. We can see the world that we live in, but how many of us have an idea about the world beyond? What would happen if we were to look at that world? Marshall McLuhan once said, “Once you can see the boundaries of your environment, they are no longer the boundaries of your environment.” Once you’re willing to put one foot forward toward trying something new, it then becomes a part of you, and your limits are pushed that much further. So, we need to push the envelope. First, we need to consider our boundaries today and what we lose by never looking beyond them, then we’ll look at the possibilities of the world beyond, and finally we’ll discover some of the ways to get there. But what if you’re saying to yourself, “I like the world I’m in? What if I don’t want to change?”

The truth is there’s nothing wrong with being happy with the way things are. It’s much better to be happy than not, but there’s always room to be curious. Too many of us spend too much time doing what we’re supposed to do, or expected to do, rather than what we’d actually like to be doing. We’re given a simple list of instructions: graduate high school, go to college, get a job, work. Now, that’s not a bad plan, if you find something that you love to do, but according to a 2005 study conducted by the Conference Board less than half of Americans are satisfied with their jobs. The Mayo Clinic recognizes this trend and says that some of its causes could simply be that for many people work is boring or it doesn’t match their skills and interests.

That may seem decadent to say in a time of economic turmoil, when unemployment is climbing and we are being told that the few things that we understand could be crashing down around us. But out of the darkest of times bloom some of the greatest opportunities. But when you hit rock bottom, the only place you have to go is up - so make it a new direction that you control. If you never even try to find something new, what you have now is all you’re ever going to get.
When things seem difficult, it may seem easy to become apathetic and accept the mentality there’s nothing I can do about it. But our curiosities and our discovery are too important to allow that to happen. We’ve become resigned to the monotonous duties of things we have to do, rather than discussing our latest discoveries of what we’d like to do. This trend of apathy is eliminating our curiosity and stifling our innovation. Paul Takayanagi, a holistic gerontologist at the University of California, Berkeley, states that rather than suppressing our natural curiosity, we should be encouraging it.

After all, that’s the way we learn as children, is it not? To a 2-year-old, everything is fascinating and they are willing to explore EVERYTHING. They are willing to try new foods – like play-doh and dirt. They’re not afraid to explore new places – like the top of the fridge. (No seriously, that was my sister.)For some reason we grow out of that natural curiosity, but Mr. Takayanagi says if we were to inspire it, we can prevent dementia later on in life.

What happens when we look at the rest of the world? When I was in second grade, my teacher wouldn’t let us ask, “What if?” questions. She said it wasted too much time. But I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with anything more. Now more than ever is the time to ask, “What if I want to try something new?” and the truth is you don’t know what will happen. But that’s what makes stepping out of your box worthwhile. Dr. Michael Ungar, a professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, says, “To grow, we need to experience challenges.” “By bubble-wrapping our lives, we may inadvertently be taking away opportunities to experience the building blocks of physiological growth” It’s scary to step out of your comfort zone, but for many of us, that’s what we need to do the most, because on the other side of that fear awaits opportunity.

Growing up, my parents always told me that if I encounter something new I need to give it a chance and try it at least once. If I don’t like it in the end, at least I know for sure. Many times, this was applied to food. My dad is an excellent cook, but an experimental one, and not everything ends up tasting great. But on the flip side, I’m glad that I’ve discovered that I have a very wide palate, and that it does not include cantaloupe, French toast, or Middle Eastern fermented milk. It’s a mentality that I’ve tried to carry with me to other areas, and last year when I had the opportunity to be an exchange student in Finland, I jumped at the chance. It was something new that would bring new things to try. However, as I was preparing for my trip I began to second guess myself. This is a place 9 time zones away, with a language I’ve never heard (much less know how to speak), and a completely different environment. “Why am I doing this?” But in the middle of this internal debate I got an e-mail from my host sister, Noora. We began to write back and forth (always in English – she at least knows some English as opposed to my Finnish) and before I’d even met her, I was able to realize that Noora may come from a different place, but deep down she’s a teenage girl too. We had similar tastes in music, did similar activities, and shared a passionate distaste for cantaloupe. Just talking to her helped me to overcome my fear and realize that people are people no matter where I would go.

Dr, Ungar says that this is the approach we need to take when we encounter something new. He says, “The best learning happens just beyond our comfort zone.” To psychologists, this is “the zone of proximal development.” Research has shown that those who enter that zone are more likely to feel accepted, responsible, trustworthy, and capable. I know I won’t forget the sinking pit in my stomach, when Noora had me try black sausage dipped in jelly – a local delicacy. However in hindsight I can say that I’m thankful that I’ve tried it, and in the future I will be able to say with confidence and with good reason, “Ei, kiitos.” No thank you in Finnish.

Beyond the social benefits of stepping outside your box, neuroscientists have proven that it is a fun thing to do. New, challenging, and risky activities release dopamine – a feel-good neurotransmitter. In addition to the initial dopamine release, the Journal National Academy of Sciences reported in 2005 that when you find and practice something that makes you happy, you have less of the stress hormone cortisol, a lower heart rate, and less of the blood clotting factor fibrinogen. Who would’ve known that our bodies are made to reward us for trying new things?
Whether people are happy or not with their cycle of their daily routine, they stick with it because it’s familiar. You don’t have to change the world to be happy, but open up by doing something new for yourself. Take a different route to school or work, order something new in your favorite restaurant, or do I dare say sleep on the other side of the bed. Why not? These little acts of everyday habit are what create our comfort zone, and by going beyond them, we expand our boundaries and open up more to the rest of the world.

Once you’ve allowed yourself to ask, “What if?” it’s time to move one step beyond that, and ask yourself “Why not?” The people that we celebrate in history are the people who were willing to leave their comfort zones and show the world something new. We live here today because the pilgrims risked everything they had to come to a new world – they said why not?, Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. could have stayed at home within their comfort zone, but chose to say why not? History does not reward apathy. It is only after great risk, that we achieve great reward.

Why not try something new? At worst it fails, you fall down and get a scratch – but then at least you have a story to share. We live in the country with some of the greatest opportunities for discovery in the world, but in order to take advantage of them, we need to lose our habit of apathy, reach out, and hold on.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Looking for a new lighted ceiling fan

Yes - we are looking for a new ceiling fan. Why, you might ask? The fact that we need a new one since the formally perfectly good one isn't perfectly good anymore husband's fault. Yes, that's it. Well, it might be because I am not super-mom, which I knew, but evidently forgot for a brief insane moment.

Since my DH could be standing behind me with his arms crossed and a frown on his face - I don't actually want to turn around in case I'm right - I'd better tell the whole story.

It all started when my DH decided to have our oldest daughter clean the globes on a couple of the ceiling fan lights we have in our house. It is his mission to make sure that our children do not dither away their entire summer vacation in frivolous fun. It's true, just ask our daughters how overworked they've been since school got out. Anyway, with Dad's help, my oldest DD managed to get all the globes off of the dining room ceiling fan except one. You wouldn't think one small globe of a light fixture could cause so much trouble - but this one did. I came home from work to find the ceiling fan in this state - all globes but one in the sink to be washed. No one was around to explain why there was one globe left on the light and I didn't think to ask if there was a reason one globe was still attached. I don't know what I thought, but what I did was get up on the dining room table and proceed to attempt to remove said globe. I twisted, and twisted, and twisted - and it didn't come off. I tried another hold - it still didn't come off. I managed to get it partially off and hanging by a wire and it still wouldn't completely come off. At this point my oldest DD came up the stairs from the basement. She got a look of great concern on her face as she said, "Um, Mom, Dad said to leave that one alone because it is stuck and we'll end up breaking some of the wires if we're not careful." I experienced a feeling of somewhat great concern myself as I looked at the condition the fixture was in after my attempts to remove the globe. In my infinite wisdom I just screwed it back into place and hopped down off the table.

Later that evening I flipped the switch to turn on the light and was going about my business when I noticed that there was the smell of something burning. I started asking my three girls if they smelled anything and began searching for the source of the smell. To my horror I found it when I looked up at the ceiling fan I had so confidently thought I could fix earlier and saw smoke pouring from the middle of the fixture. Immediately I hit the off-switch and my oldest DD & I said together, "We need tape!!" Ah, she understands so much. She knew as I did that if we didn't tape over the switch one of us would walk by without thinking and try to flip the light on again. Visions of my house burning down around me flashed through my head quickly followed by visions of explaining to my husband why the light switch was taped over. It's so much nicer when he's the one who screwed up and I can choose to be benevolent. It's not so nice when I'm the one who has to humbly admit I messed up - again. Darn it.

So we are looking for a new ceiling fan which may take awhile to replace since our discretionary budget was a bit stretched with our oldest DD's highschool graduation and various summer activities. In the meantime, I told my DH we could enjoy candlelight dinners and drudged up an old floor fan to keep the air circulating in that part of our house.

So, you can see that if my DH hadn't felt he could leave well enough alone and just let the dratted globes be dusty we wouldn't be in this situation. It has nothing to do with the fact that I assumed too quickly and didn't bother to communicate with the people responsible for the project of cleaning the globes in the first place.

That's my story - and I'm sticking to it.