Saturday, April 28, 2012

40 To 40 Day 40! On Turning Forty

Turning 30 was hard for me. I wasn't very happy then. I had two kids under the age of 5, wasn't really doing anything other than taking care of them, and had an overwhelming sense of  "is this really it?" I was still just coming off of a career as a legal assistant, and still thinking that I needed a career to be considered successful. It's a hard thing to do, change the way you think. Change the way you see yourself in the world.

By 2006 I had really found what I wanted to do in podcasting and the radio, but then by the end of that year my foster father was really sick, and I had a falling out with another family member. My father passed in early 2007, and I never made any real amends with the family member, though I really did try (at least I think so).

It's cliche', but it took great loss to get me to appreciate what I have. To stop wanting more than what is necessary, to try and only stick to what I need. To know how quickly it can be over, and someone you love can be taken away, or can leave you. It's hard to learn that you can't change others, you can only change yourself. You definitely can't change things when someone passes on, and maybe that is what helped me learn to let things go easier. In everything. Not saying I'm completely Zen with it, we all slip up, but for the most part I feel I have a much better awareness of things than I did when I turned 30. If I am aware of my actions, and stay in control of what I do, that's enough. It has to be- because it's the only thing I can control.

You know what the biggest test is? Driving. If you can let all those other cars pass you by, or cut you off, and still keep a smile? You're doing pretty good. Driving is the ultimate test of our stress level. Think about it.

So here I am now, forty. I'm in a good place. I'm trying new things when I feel ready. I know that it's ok to not look too far ahead, so I can enjoy the moments I'm in even more. I have two amazing daughters who I love to watch grow. I have a husband who has indeed been the love of my life, and I can't see anything changing. Well, you know, as far as I look ahead I don't see anything changing. ;)

I feel better physically now than I did at 30. Hell, even at 20. I certainly feel better mentally. I'm more confident than I have ever been, and have stepped out of my comfort zone more times in the past couple of years than I would ever think to 10-15 years ago.

Forty is this. And this.

So forty, I embrace you. I start this decade not hiding behind hair color and dreams of the future, but as a woman who has both feet firmly on the ground. Confident in who I am and what I look like, and ready to take on the future- not with dreams, but only when the future becomes the now.

Friday, April 27, 2012

40 To 40 Day 39: On The Last Day Of My 30's

For a dollar, I will make this
face for you. Cheeks and all!
I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow, but today I felt great. I had to say goodbye to Andy, so that was a little sad. He was replaced by my friend Scott, who is here to do some traveling, and is also going to take me to see American Idiot tomorrow for my birthday! (which of course, came into town JUST FOR ME.)

So today it did hit me that it's the last day of my 30's. Not in a OHMYGODWHATAMIGOINGTODOWITHTHERESTOFMYLIFE kind of way, but sort of like, "Oh. Wow tomorrow is my birthday." And then I went and picked up Sam from school.

It's been a really great week of celebrating, even in ways that had nothing to do with my birthday. Tomorrow will be a nice finale' to the 40 To 40 series, and a great beginning of another decade!

40 To 40 Day 38: On Upcoming Awesomeness

Just got home from an awesome Yelp event- and I'm so very, very, very tired. So I leave you with a taste of what I'm doing on my birthday Saturday! No, Green Day won't be there, but I think I'll be ok. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

40 To 40 Day 37: On Being Super Cool

Rebel Mamas.
I think having company is good for me. It "forces" me to take a break. I put that in quotes because no one is keeping me from doing anything. It's a lot easier to go out to lunch, or go to a movie when you are hanging with family and friends who happen to be staying at your house. You want to spend time with them, since it's temporary. The to-do list and responsibilities will always be there. At least with the internet and tech today if someone needed me for anything I'm right there. Not doing much has sort of been a mental health vacation, and I didn't realize I could use one until I wasn't doing anything.

I have been a little worried about Bret though. He hasn't had any down time at all. No down time includes no break from work between racing a triathlon, Pat's Run, and planning my birthday party. I want him to take a mental health vacation! All I can do is try and make things as calm as possible at home. He's a super cool dude, I love him and don't want him to burn himself out!

I read another thing today, and this time it made me smile. It was the opposite of the stupid "what you NEED to do by 30" list from yesterday. Boy that list still makes me grumble. So when I read this other list it was everything I would want- and you don't even have to make sure you accomplish any of them by a certain age.

You are all ready super cool. Not matter what your age. :)

A taste:

You are super cool because you:

*know that if you are having a bad day, tomorrow will be better
*know that 30 isn’t the new 20, 40 isn’t the new 30 and 50 isn’t the new 40 and you are grateful
*don’t fit into your skinny jeans, gave them away and bought jeans that fit you.
*do serious things without taking yourself too seriously
*are a rebel mama
*are starting to recognize what matters

There are plenty more- read them and know that you are super cool!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

40 To 40 Day 36: On What Every Woman Should Know

I read a really dumb thing today. Side note- is it just me, or is the Huffington Post becoming a bastion of crazy paranoid ridiculousness?

Ok, this particular thing isn't crazy or paranoid, just a little stupid. "Turning 30: What Every Woman Should Have And Should Know" Well ok! I'm turning 40- so I should have all this down, right? So I clicked.

Oy. Why did I click on this nonsense? Here's a sampling:

You should have by the time you're 30:

3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.

4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.

6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.

11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.

And here's some of what you all should know by the time you're 30, ladies:

5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.

9. That you can’t change the length of your legs, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.

13. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.

Do women take this shit seriously? Besides, I can name plenty of women I know who don't have this any of this figured out yet. And you know what? It. Doesn't. Matter. This is why women get so paranoid about their looks, where they are going in life, and getting older. Why is the goal a juicy past? I would have LOVED to have the most boring, uneventful past. Lace makes my boobs itch- am I a total failure?

A lot of these things I didn't figure out until just a few years ago. Several things I'm still working on. Why does life have to be like a standardized test? Can women just live their lives and accept themselves the way
they are, without having to feel like they have to achieve certain things by a certain age?

Fuck you, Glamour. Now people are going to spend money on your nonsense, because you have famous people validating this stupid list.

We are works in progress, never failures.

Monday, April 23, 2012

40 To 40 Day 35: On The Beatles

Last night at the party Bret had a bunch of songs on the iPod for the DJ to play. Poor kid, he couldn't have even been 20... probably didn't know half the songs.

Going back further, in my late teens I really became a huge Beatles fan. It all started when I saw Paul McCartney in concert for the first time, in 1990. In Orchestra we were able to earn money for tours by working concessions at Sun Devil stadium for games and other events. My sophomore year we handed out water when The Pope was in town. Bret still kicks himself over not working THIS particular concert.

Anyway, McCartney was in town, and I signed up to work. We were there early enough we got to listen to sound checks, and he waved up at us as we cheered. That night, it turned out that concessions stopped being sold soon after the concert began, and although we didn't have seats we could still hang out and watch the concert. That's when my obsession love for Paul and the Beatles began.

What, doesn't everyone put the birthday of their favorite musician on their calendar?

So, my little group of airport- crashing friends are also Beatles fans, and there were many nights of driving around singing and living it up like 1965.  Hey Jude is my favorite Beatles tune, and we never missed a chance to "Jude" at the top of our lungs every time we heard it, and every time was in a car.

Last night at the party, was the first time we "Juded" on roller skates. Katie, Rob, Bret, and me- the 4 original dorks!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

40 To 40 Day 34: On Being Grateful

Tonight as I blew out candles on the amazing birthday cake my sister Jenn made for my birthday, the very young Skateland DJ kept yelling at me to make a wish.

I looked at the group gathered around me. Friends, family, all there for me. For some weird reason to celebrate me. They came in costume, they hung out, they donated to causes that are important to me. They (hopefully) had a good time.

My wishes have all ready come true, there's no need to make more. Thank you all.

My heart is full tonight.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

40 To 40 Day 33: On Charitable Celebrations

Pat's Run was another great morning. Unfortunately Sam hurt her knee at school Friday, so while running today it really started bothering her. We walked after 2 miles, then for the last mile we ran. So we've been icing a swollen knee all afternoon. It was still a good day, and I'm so proud of her for finishing, although I'm feeling a little mama guilt at letting her finish by running. I hope I didn't break my daughter!

I'm hoping it's going to be a very charitable weekend. We started with Pat's Run, which benefits the Pat Tillman Foundation. It continues tomorrow with my 40th Birthday Party. Yep, even though my actual birthday falls on a Saturday and is uber convenient for party-throwing, we decided to plan it around Pat's Run so my sister Katie could come out and do both! (I also think her kids are on Spring Break so that makes it a little easier to travel too).

I'm really not into focusing on me all that much, but I figure what the hell I'm turning 40. I also went to a friend's party a few months ago at Skateland*, and had such an awesome time that I decided that is what I wanted to do. A roller skating party, and people are dressing up in their decade of choice. I also decided that rather than gifts, I'm hoping people will donate to a few charities that are important to me:

CASA: Voices for CASA Children is the non-profit that raises funds to help educate and train new Court Appointed Special Advocates in Maricopa County. Currently there are less than 400 CASA's in the county, and over 7,000 children in foster care. As you have previously read, I was one of those foster children in Maricopa County once upon a time, and am currently on my first case as a CASA.

Planned Parenthood: Conservatives are trying to do everything in their power to defund this very important organization. Arizona has a bill out there now. A reminder: only 3% of what Planned Parenthood does are abortions. It's about women's health- exams, physicals, breast screenings... all for women who don't have access to insurance. They even offer men's health options. Access to health care is not a bad thing, and in this time more than ever they could use a donation.

Leukemia Lymphoma Society: Leukemia took my foster dad at least 20 years before his time. That's really all I have to say about that. There is also a great need for marrow transplants. If you haven't been swabbed- perhaps you might consider? You never know when you might have the opportunity to save a life, like my friend Amy did when she donated a kidney now one year ago!

The best part? It will make you feel good to give too. See, I'm giving YOU a present for my birthday! So thank you everyone for considering!

*I do wish I could have invited all 300 local people I know via the social media scene, but you know, you have to cut it off somewhere. I hope that if you read this and wonder why you weren't invited, that you understand. And hey you can still donate! Nope, no shame in me at all tonight, but I've been awake since 4:30 this morning so my gauge is off. ;)

Friday, April 20, 2012

40 To 40 Day 32: On Pat Tillman and Motivation

It's that time of year once again, the 8th annual Pat's Run is bright and early tomorrow morning. This was my very first race, and my third time running it now. I wrote this little post right before the first race. It all definitely still applies. The race now fills to capacity- this year they actually sold out! Just amazing, but it's a true testament to Tillman and also the work that The Tillman Foundation does.

I also have a great respect for Pat's widow, Marie. There was a great article in the Arizona Republic about her today. To use her pain and grief and turn it into something positive, she is one strong woman. Now she's remarried and a new mom- yet still keeps the Organization going. I can't wait to read her new book coming out in June.

Our crew of friends that runs each year seems to keep growing. My first year my friend Scott flew in and joined us by walking. Allison walked/ran it, and Sam only did the kids run. Bret took photos. :) Last year it was Scott, and my sister Katie joining me, and we all ran. Allison ran again, and Sam, Kimber's son and our friend Jill and her family also ran the 4.2 miles. Bret ran with the kids, and at the end of it he said he would like to seriously run it and see how he does.

This year Scott didn't make it out for the run, but Katie is here again. Plus, my whole family will be running. My brother Andy is running too, and our good friend Rob. Sara, who is a friend of mine and Kimber, is running for her very first time- and I'm so excited for her! I am guilty of planting the seed in Sara. Back in December I did a little presentation on running for the Girl Scout Troop, to prepare them for the Thin Mint Sprint we ran in March. Unfortunately no one signed up in time, but I guess it planted enough of a seed to encourage Sara to see what she can do. I for one can't wait and see how all her training with Kimber pays off!

Me, I have no goal time for tomorrow. Sam and Allison want to run it with me, so I think we're all going to try and stick together. It probably means I'm going to slow them down, but I'm going to try my hardest to keep up with them! Pat Tillman was always challenging and pushing himself, so I will keep that in mind as I run with my family tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

40 To 40 Day 31: On Boredom and Airports

Picking up my foster mom and sister tonight from the airport prompted this post.

Life is difficult when you're 18-20 years old. You're an adult, but you are still under legal drinking age, so it's not like you can go clubbing unless you are at some all ages show. You're also pretty broke too. You could go to the mall, but that closes way before a teen is done hanging out with friends and staying up all night. Movies were an option, but there had to be something you wanted to see. Or see several times (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves anyone?) Though you still have the cost factor. So a group of us decided one night to just go hang out at the airport. It quickly became a favorite pasttime.

Some of the best nights were spent at the airport just doing.... nothing. You didn't need a ticket to go through security and hang at the gates, so we could go watch planes take off and land. We'd wander around aimlessly for hours people-watching. We'd page each other. We'd go to the top of the parking garage and play that silly "hot lava" game. There was even a moment of taking a wheelchair ride down the winding exit of the Terminal 3 parking garage. As Bret says "yeah we only did that once." Apparently you can go really fast. And the place NEVER CLOSES. Which was great on hot summer nights when there truly is nothing else open.

The airport became our special thing to do: Me, Bret, Katie, Andy, Rob, at times our friend Eric, Jayson... oh my goodness we were such hoodlums! Bret and I even went out to the airport one Christmas to exchange our gifts. That's the great place it was to us. Every time I head out there I always remember the good times we had.

What kinds of things did you do as young adults when you were bored?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

40 To 40 Day 30: On Being Confident

I have to say, I love this photo.
I look happy, and perhaps even confident.
I sometimes feel like a fraud. Not a fraud in the sense that I am not sincere or truthful. More about my confidence level. I'm really a big chicken, and I struggle with it all the time.

If you've been following along the past 30 days, you know the connection. I certainly don't use what happened to me as a child as an excuse. For the most part it doesn't slow me down, but it does still to this day affect how I see myself, and what I think I'm capable of.

It pisses me off that at nearly 40 years old my childhood can still haunt me. I think that is part of the reason I have a hard time saying no to things. I  get this great need to conquer my insecurities, so screw you childhood I'm taking it ALL on. I also seem to surround myself with extreme Type-A motivating crazy people, who are very good at talking me into things like leading a Girl Scout troop, leading a tech conference, and doing some public speaking (yeah, you all know who you are).

I love them for it.

When I really think about it, it isn't just being coerced guilted persuaded. Before any of that, I was president of the parent-teacher organization at my daughter's school. For two years. That was my own doing. Going back even further, I stood in a court room and made a statement in front of a judge and my step-father and brought myself closure on a dark time. Coming back to the present, no one talked me into speaking at PodcampAZ last year. That was all me. Hell, no one made me start a podcast. I think you need a certain amount of confidence to let your voice be heard. Especially with the topics I cover.

A friend helped me train for Pat's Run. Running and becoming healthy and fit brought me more confidence, and now I'm about to run my third one. No one talked me to running a half-marathon. That was all me- and I think I was the one who coerced a couple friends into it this year! Soon I'll be running my first full marathon, and I'm confident it could kill me I will finish.

No, it's not persuasion, or guilt. It's about support. All the things I've accomplished over the years happened because of the support I've had. The support I do have. I've always looked for it, I've always known that I can't do things alone and there is nothing wrong with asking for help. The times that my confidence levels are down, when I feel like I'm drowning, it's a sign that I need to start reaching out to my support. That I need to ask for help.

They are all right there, waiting and willing to help. I just have to be confident enough to ask for it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

40 To 40 Day 29: On Friends

I have a wide variety of friends. Friends of nearly every religion, race, political, and sexual background. I have friends that are much older, and much younger. I have friends that make me laugh, cry, roll my eyes, piss me off, and think.

They aren't always in my life at the same time. Some I don't see for years, yet when we see each other again it's like I just saw them yesterday. There are times I need some friends more than others. There are times I don't want my friends around at all.

I have book wine club friends, twitter friends, Facebook friends, High School friends, neighbor friends, Girl Scout friends, social media friends, friends I've never met in person, friends I've only met in person once, parents of my daughters' friends-friends, family friends, friends that became friends via other friends, podcasting friends, old friends, and new friends.

Friendship is very important to me. I had a lot of neighborhood friends when I was a kid, and I have great memories of playing flashlight tag and hide-and-seek using our bikes and the entire neighborhood to hide in. I had a best friend, Denise, and had many sleep-overs with her until about 8th grade. After that, I had to struggle to keep friends, and friends were always scrutinized by my step-father. I didn't get to see friends more often than at school or orchestra events. I became very isolated. My senior year of high school I could finally interact as a normal kid again, and one of the high points was having a year-end Orchestra party at my house. From then on out I couldn't have enough friends!

Bret takes friendship a little differently than I do. Where I can embrace many levels of friendship, he likes a small, intimate circle of friends. Naturally that is what makes us clash when I'm ready to throw a big party and he'd rather have no more than 5. Even so, he knows I have a higher social need than he does, and I get my time out with my friends when I need it.

With my children, friendship has been interesting. We live in a time where people from many different parts of the valley can go to the same school. It makes maintaining friendships a little more work, since coordinating times and driving is involved, rather than just going up the block or next door to a friend's (though I'm very lucky that Sam has one of her BF's right next door!). The internet helps too, now with all the social media tools out there friendships can stay strong even when someone moves away or changes schools. Sam also keeps in touch with a friend that moved to Colorado this past year, mostly via Skype. It takes work, but the extra "work" is totally worth it. I think it will help them maintain their friendships even longer.

Even when new friends are made, the old ones will never fade away. It's a great time to be a friend!

Monday, April 16, 2012

40 To 40 Day 28: On Having Daughters

Confirmation Bias was really kicking me in the butt today, which told me it was time to write about this. Anyone who has even been watching 5 minutes of news lately knows that there is quite the anti-women movement going on. And yes, it's anti-women. If you are going to pass laws that take away choices for anyone, you are against that race/gender/sexual orientation. You take away power over their lives.

I link to Debbie a lot, because she has a lot to say. She also doesn't give a shit what anyone thinks. I wish I were that brave. Many tell me I'm opinionated, and that is surely true, but I always worry about what others reading will think. I need to work on that. I tend to be sensitive about other people's feelings, and sometimes I take it too far when I don't have to worry so much. Debbie writes a lot of great things that have made me feel stronger and braver speaking up about, because frankly I agree. I get tired of hearing others mouth off with their own opinions all the time as if it's the only way to live and they are better than YOU because of it. It's not the only way, and no, you are not better than anyone else.

Another friend, Mur, who isn't just a great writer but a great person also wrote about the anti-women movement happening lately, and how it's always been there. She nailed it in the very first sentence. And it's all true, every single word. We are seen as less, treated as less. No this does not mean that everyone (read: every man) sees women this way. You need a big brush to paint this picture, and you can't cherry pick your information. You have to really look at the world and look at history to see the truth. Even the poorest white man didn't have to fight for his right to vote.

I spent almost 17 years in a household where I was treated as less. Where I was raised to think that if I couldn't make it with the one talent I had, I would be a failure at life. I believed it. I saw my mom and my sister treated as less. Our lives were dictated to us. When I met the man who would ultimately start the snowball that started my new life, I didn't realize at the time that he was also holding me down, keeping me from my independence. This wasn't necessarily because he was a bad man. He wasn't. He was just much older than me, and when you're at a different place in your life you want and expect different things.

Once I did get married, it was with someone who was in the same boat as me. Meaning, we didn't really know what the hell we were doing, we just knew it would be the two of us doing it together. But I could still make the choices I wanted to within the marriage. Sure, we struggled with gender roles, but at least we were able to discuss it together, and work it out together.

Now here I am and thanks to the extra X's, I have two daughters. Well, that's just great. Obviously they are not going to have the same upbringing that I did. However, I constantly worry that I'm going to behave in a less-than-independent fashion that they will tap into. I still deal with a lack of confidence in my life, and a lack of worth (hey look another topic to cover!). I never EVER want them to feel that way because of me. They will have enough problems just growing up as females in Arizona, they don't need their mother's insecurities seeping into their psyche. So I try and give them as many opportunities as I can for them to build their confidence and learn about themselves. So far this seems to be happening with the older one more, but she also has a lot of Bret's personality in her. He's got the confidence and drive to push himself, and it shows in Allison. The girl took a plane by herself up the west coast to Alaska last summer and spent two weeks hiking with her Uncle and Grandmother. Hiking equals that plus kayaking and glacier-climbing. Every sport she takes on she seems to master. On top of this she still makes all A's and B's. In a prep school.

Sam is a lot more like me. She sticks close to home, dips her toes in the water but most times doesn't want to jump in. I encourage what I can, and I'm hoping next year when she is at a school with more opportunity she might find a little more confidence in herself. I'm also hoping as I've been working on my confidence lately that perhaps that will seep into her psyche instead of my fears. Still, I can't help but worry as I see how much more passive Sam is.

One thing I know for sure, I will never deny them an opportunity simply because I'm afraid of it myself. They are not me, and they deserve to try anything they want. Succeed or fail in anything they want. Now, affordability is another story...

The other thing I know for sure is I will do my best to educate them enough, to make sure they are empowered enough that the last thing they want to do is settle down in Arizona. Unless the politics here takes a complete 180 turn, I'd never recommend Arizona to anyone as a place to live, if someone was lucky enough to have a choice in where they live.

I hope you'll take the time to read the links here- I also had them on Facebook. My friends know what they are talking about, and I love them for their outspokenness. One more thing I hope you'll check out when you have time- this Ted Talk by Melinda Gates, speaking about the dire need to have birth control be back ON the agenda as a family planning choice, with a world view that is sure to make you think. It's about 25 minutes but very engaging and informative.

Encourage your daughters, encourage your female friends and family members. Stand behind them and support them, because there will be more than enough holding them down in their lives.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

40 To 40 Day 27: On Another Lazy Number One Hit Post

Well, only semi-lazy. I'm finding it interesting that for a decade or so I had no idea what was going on with top 40 music. Then as my kids reached 7 or 8 years old, that changed. All of a sudden I started knowing the songs again, because my kids were listening to it!

And most of it sucked. I kept listening though, because connecting with their interests is important to me. For the most part. I gave up on anime. I really can't get into that stuff.

Anyway, as I go down this list of number one songs from 2007, I find I know all but three of them. So, here's what was number one my birthday week the year I turned 35. Can't go wrong with a little JT, even if he's just featured!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

40 To 40 Day 26: On A Five-Year Plan

So, where do you see yourself in five years?

Is that question really necessary? I don't like the time frame. Five years is too far out. I like taking things moment by moment, and that time frame really depends on the moment.

Tomorrow I see myself cheering my husband on as he completes his first sprint triathlon.

Next week I see myself running 4.2 miles with my family. Then having a kick-ass party to celebrate my birthday.

In 7 months I get to see the final product of my first year leading a valley tech conference.

Within a year I see myself running my first marathon.

Just a sampling, but if anything else comes up, I'll just take it as it comes. It might make me seem like I do not have any motivations for my future. Really it comes down to just living in the moment and not losing the experience of now because I'm trying to achieve something too far down the line.

If I were going to have any long-term visions of my future, it wouldn't be for my life. It would be for my daughters'. And the only way I want to see them in 5 years is satisfied, healthy, and doing what they want to do as they begin their adult lives.

You can't ask for any more than that.

Friday, April 13, 2012

40 To 40 Day 25: On Happiness

To get right to the point, I think this poster nails what being happy- especially continuously happy- is. I think it does a disservice to reality.

I know, here we go, the bleeding heart liberal is about to pontificate. So what- it's my blog. However, I am only able to tell you what I think. I would never claim to know if I'm right.

I really have no problem with people being happy, actually I wish more would be. I was so happy when my daughter scored a goal at her soccer game today. I am so happy my foster brother arrived today to spend time for my birthday. Being happy is a good, temporary emotion. The problem is when happy people assume that all you need to do is just change your attitude, or your job, or your location and suddenly that will change everything. You know, because they are happy. What I don't think they are paying attention to is that there are some very real problems out there, some very sad situations that you can't just poof away with a big dose of happy. I know this from experience of course, but I think of all the others who need help or are stuck in situations they can't get out of.  Life keeps beating them down. I think of my CASA child whom I try to bring some happiness to, but I know the child can't possibly be feeling happiness with the situation. And I'd never expect it.

Am I saying we should all feel sad? Of course not, and I am not saying no one should feel happy either. To me, feeling happy comes in waves. It's meant to be a temporary emotion. Here's the definition:

hap·py  (hp)
adj. hap·pi·er, hap·pi·est
1. Characterized by good luck; fortunate.
2. Enjoying, showing, or marked by pleasure, satisfaction, or joy.
3. Being especially well-adapted; felicitous: a happy turn of phrase.
4. Cheerful; willing: happy to help.
a. Characterized by a spontaneous or obsessive inclination to use something. Often used in combination: trigger-happy.
b. Enthusiastic about or involved with to a disproportionate degree. Often used in combination: money-happy; clothes-happy.

Personally, I think it would be exhausting to feel this elation all the time. What I prefer is keeping a cheerful attitude towards life:

cheer·ful  (chîrfl)
1. Being in good spirits; merry. See Synonyms at glad1.
2. Promoting a feeling of cheer; pleasant: a cozy, cheerful room.
3. Reflecting willingness or good humor: contributed her cheerful labor to the project.

It's a bit more subdued, yet you can maintain a positive attitude towards life. People try so hard to achieve happiness, and have so high of an expectation that if they don't achieve that elation, they feel even more saddened. It's an extreme emotion, like anger. It's meant to pass.

I think if we focused on living life with a steady stream of cheerful versus an elated happy high, the lows wouldn't effect us quite so much. Who knows, we could possibly have a more cheerful society because of it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

40 To 40 Day 24: On Hit Music of 2002

Yeah, I'm being lazy. Shut up Debbie. ;)

What is scary here is now I have the age gap. I've never heard of this chick. When I turned 30 my favorite movie was Moulin Rouge, and I listened  to the soundtrack All. The. Time. I look through the list of what was number one that year, and I know maybe 3 songs.

In 2002 I knew a lot of these songs too. Guess I'm out of lazy hit music topics!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

40 To 40 Day 23: On All The Jobs I've Had

In order to the best of my memory:

* Babysitting
* Mesa Symphony
* Bagged groceries
* Grocery store deli
* String Quartet
* Telemarketer
* Librarian for the Lyric Opera Theater at ASU (work study)
* Back to bagging groceries
* Grocery store cashier
* Legal Assistant
* Mom
* Radio Host
* Freelance writing (just one article, but it counts!)
* Volunteeraholic

Best jobs were the ones associated with music, especially the Lyric Opera Theater. I had so much fun being in the pit for these performances, we always had a great time. Worst one was the telemarketing job. At least with this one people answered an ad, so I didn't have to cold call anyone.

How many jobs have you had over the course of your life?  What was the best and worst one?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

40 To 40 Day 22: On Higher Education

Most of my childhood I never really thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Once music entered my life and it was discovered I had a talent, I was raised to think that was all I had going for me. If I screwed it up I wouldn't succeed at anything else. During high school while everyone was working towards what college they wanted to go to, I was mostly waiting it out so I could leave home. College just didn't seem part of the equation.

Once I started life with my foster family, I pretty much had one year to figure out all the things my friends had all ready figured out when it came to where they would go after high school. I did enjoy music and knew I was good enough for a scholarship. I looked at universities that had a strong music focus, but at the end it seemed best (safer) to stick close to home. That means I tanked my SAT's, and just barely made the cut on the ACT. So I applied and was accepted to ASU. I also managed to receive a music scholarship which helped cover tuition.

It was scary and exciting, and I even went one step further and stayed in one of the dorms instead of staying at home, which was only a couple of miles from campus. I was doing what any normal person would do after high school- and for me it sucked.

I didn't know the first thing about living on my own. I also was very unprepared for college life and the self-discipline that was involved. I had no study skills, and quickly fell behind in classes. Eventually I just stopped going. That was also when music became more of a chore than fun, and I began to avoid it all together. I lacked a lot of self-confidence and took on too much, and the consequences of that was I flunked out of college my first year.

My foster parents have told me they blame themselves for a lot of this, but you know I don't blame them at all. None of us knew what we were doing, and they were only doing what they did with their other two kids. They have two highly intelligent children of their own and they both went off to prestigious universities. Then there was me, average intelligence and no skills in which to broaden it. I was trying to live up to the wrong standard.

I tried community college for awhile, but by then college started becoming less and less important to me. Eventually Bret and I were living together, and I had a job cashiering at Fry's Food. He graduated from ASU a couple of months after we were married, and for his last semester of student teaching he quit his job and I supported the both of us. My life was going in a different direction, and I didn't worry about higher ed. or a career for several years.

All this time I was cashiering at Fry's, and I was really starting to hate it. Leave it to a bad job to get you thinking about school again. At this point though, college looked really daunting and I still didn't think I had it in me. Then I discovered a trade school where I could get some legal training in just 8 months. I researched the school, talked it over with Bret and also my foster parents. I was a little afraid to bring it up at first, because I felt by going to something less than a university I would be disappointing my husband and family that all had bachelor's degrees. Turns out I was wrong. They all just wanted me to be happy and succeed, and if this was the way then I had their support. I got my mad legal assistant skills, also had a baby in the process, and found a job with a bankruptcy attorney who did debtor work.

When I had the second child, I stopped working and you know the rest of that story. I've had a couple of moments of thinking it would be great to go back to school and finally get a degree. I toyed with my two loves, political science and journalism. But you know, my thoughts on having a career have changed so much since I was cashiering in a grocery store. I look at that cashier job now, and I could totally do it and be perfectly happy. I don't need a college degree or a career to feel successful. With all the extra things I do with the radio and writing and the connections I've made over the years, I have a full social life, and a life full of "hobbies" that I take quite seriously. It's also help me build a resume' that could help me should I want to expand on the hobbies and make it a career.

My feelings on college make it hard to discuss it with my girls. Yes, I want them to go. I still do see the importance, and they of course have a better shot than I did graduating. However, where I separate from my husband is if they said they didn't want to go. I wouldn't have as much of a problem with it as I know he would.

It's just a matter of figuring out what you want in life, and then figuring out how to achieve it. It took me a little longer, but I have no regrets. And I always have options and even things to fall back on should I need them.

Just do what makes you happy.

Monday, April 09, 2012

40 To 40 Day 21: On Losing My Religion Part 2

Part 1 HERE

I like bumper stickers. Those who have seen the butt of my van know this to be true. It's a place to make a statement, just like Tshirts. This one is my favorite, and it keeps me centered when it comes to religion and belief.

When I hit my thirties, I went through another personal struggle. I blame the internet a bit for this. When you first start connecting online, it's a lot to take in at first. The information, the people, the range of thought and opinion- you get really sucked in. If you're in a place where you're not sure what direction your life is going, it's easy to be pulled in many different directions. What I knew for sure is I wasn't happy, and I didn't know what to do about it.

I met some great people over the years online, several I still call friends today. Several I've only met once in person, or not at all. Others come in and out of life but leave a lasting impression. I had many religious discussions and arguments on the Truth Seekers message board prior to the podcast beginning. I had decided at this point that I was definitely searching for something, but I also knew I couldn't just pick a religion and join a church. I didn't go completely off my rocker as in Eat, Pray, Love (I have many issues with her story), but I knew I was searching for... something.

 Eventually my journey brought me to Buddhism. It's sort of a "safe" religion. You find what you need on the inside, within you. A friend bought me a book and CD with some meditations on it, and when I was away at a greeting card convention in NY (yes they have conventions for that!) I tried it out. Have to say it was amazing. I don't think I ever felt so centered and totally in the moment. It was being in the moment and yet again being aware that started bringing me inner peace. I learned to let go of the emotions that do not matter. Put my ego in check, you might say. Now, I no longer meditate regularly, really I don't at all. I have learned how to be by myself and be quiet when I need to. Shut off the computer and the world around me and just sit for awhile. Yeah, I'm a freakin' Zen master. ;)

As I look back through this journey, I have discovered that really, there never was a place for religion in my life. Deep down, I was always skeptical, and I never fully allowed myself to believe in a God. I think it's more accurate to say I was looking for something to prove me wrong in not believing, and I never found it (insert Poison's 'Something To Believe In' here). This isn't to say that I'm not open to it should the proof come to me at some point in my life, but for now, I have to say I'm good putting the search to rest. I love talking religion and learning about other religions in the world, because it is a part of how societies function.  I always want to understand why people believe what they believe.

Today, I know without a doubt that I don't need God or a religion in my life to be happy. I make my own happiness, and I try really hard to find it within me. I have a community of people, both friends and acquaintances that I stay connected to enough online and off, and that brings me contentment. I give back to my community in several different ways, and that brings me fulfillment. I have a husband and two daughters that I will continue to share my life with and love deeply, as well as a very large extended family, and that brings me security. It's just the worship part that I can't bring myself to do.

If you think about it, I'm living my life the way God wants and intends everyone to live, and in that respect I am worshiping Him.

I mean, if I believed in that sort of thing.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

40 To 40 Day 20: On Losing My Religion

Religion has always been a fascinating topic for me. I was raised Catholic, and from as early as I can remember going to church was a big deal with my Mom. When we first moved to Arizona we lived in the Southern/Priest area in Tempe, behind Peterson Park. The church we went to was around the 42nd street/Southern area, and most of the time we walked.

I took the faith very seriously. After all, why would we put so much effort into attending church every week if it wasn't important? I went to bible school, and eventually celebrated my first Communion. I don't think I really understood it all, just that everyone else was doing it and it must be pretty special if I got to wear a nice dress. We even had a party after and there were presents! After that I kept going, even the times my mom couldn't make it. By then I was old enough to walk or ride my bike on my own. I don't know why I kept going, just that I had to. I think I also liked the independence of going by myself. Eventually we all stopped going, but the faith stayed with me.

When the abuse began, I did a lot of praying. What else did I have? I couldn't tell anyone, I didn't know how to stop it. All I could do was pray for it to stop. When it finally did come out three years later, I had lots of time in the shelter to think about what sort of God could take so long to answer a prayer. I even went so far as to wonder if perhaps I just wasn't worthy enough, that maybe I was supposed to go through this. Eventually my wonder turned to anger. I felt jilted. I left home on my own, it was me who eventually told someone and tore apart my family. It was me who stood up in court, faced my stepfather and made a statement. If I had stopped praying and found my own strength several years earlier, I wouldn't have had to go through the pain I did all those years. So I let God go.

Over the years after I went back and forth on religion. Mostly it was indifference. We were married in a Catholic church because it was Bret's church and that made it easier to have a place. I went through the motions, but the only thing that mattered were the vows and not the church-related parts. Several years later we were having some problems, and we went out looking for a church thinking we needed faith to save our marriage. I was never comfortable in any church we visited, and we eventually worked through our issues without finding a church. It was in the new century that I found a comfortable place to be spiritually, but even then that didn't stop my questioning faith.

To be continued...

Saturday, April 07, 2012

40 To 40 Day 19: On Being A Humanitarian
The past two weeks we've been doing some remodeling to the house. Being at home most of the time, I've been around for most of the process. It's only been 2 guys up until the last couple of days (highly recommend this person by the way, if you ever need some contract work done). The man we hired, A, and the man he brought along to help, J. A (not his real name) is the sweetest man, and I've gotten to know him fairly well since we've been spending 8 hours a day together.

The most amazing thing I discovered is how A met J. J was a manager at a fast food restaurant, and was training A's daughter. It was then discovered that J was pretty much homeless and sleeping out of his car. Without hesitation A opened his home to J and let him stay with his family.

This was a couple of months ago. This story alone is amazing to me. It takes a big heart and possibly some empathy to be able to open your home and life to a complete stranger. Coming from a background where I left home and my future was unknown, I still don't know if I could do that.

I've always been a trusting person. At times overly-trusting. It's bitten me in the butt a few times over the years, but the bottom line is I believe that people are generally good. I try and think about the "whys" of a situation before jumping to a conclusion about a person. The homeless person on the street? It probably wasn't the plan. No one wants to rely on others for help. It's not like the single mother of three working two jobs decided that is what her big dream was in life. Children in foster care didn't make that their top priority when they were born. I'm not interested in a big debate here (maybe some other time though), but I want to show where I'm coming from. We all have the same purpose in our lives, and that is living a happy life. The argument is in the details of how to get there.

Since we all are living for the same purpose, and are in the same boat, I have always felt we have a duty to help. Will the guy at the freeway exit with the sign asking for money use the change to buy alcohol? Maybe he will, but maybe he won't. Are there people who stay on welfare so they don't have to work? Sure there are, but that doesn't mean everyone works the system that way. A lot of people look at anyone struggling and automatically assume that it is something they did, or did not do to themselves. They just didn't try hard enough to keep their job. They should have tried some birth control so there aren't so many mouths to feed, etc. etc. We are quick to judge, and I think we do that so we don't have to feel any responsibility towards our fellow humans. The whole "I made it myself, so you should too" attitude. That is what politicians tap into when they try and pass laws to make social programs harder to access, or cut funding.

We really have to get over ourselves. No one is any better or more deserving than anyone else, but sometimes people need more help than others. We are all unique individuals, and yes we have different levels of what we are capable of. It's unfair to hold that against someone and blame them. We need to have a higher awareness not of everyone's personal situation, but of the fact that everyone has a different reason for being in the place they are. We have to give humanity the benefit of the doubt.

We ended up hiring J to do some extra painting around the house, and in the course of this Bret found out that J has some mental issues he is trying to deal with on top (and probably contributing to) his current situation. J hasn't done the best job painting, and at times we were very frustrated. I had to keep reminding myself (and Bret) that we are still helping him out, even if it's just for a little while.

I have a good life, and I have a happy life. It's not an extravagant life, but it's comfortable, and secure. I can't say enough how grateful I am for it. I want everyone to feel this way, and I will do all I can to give as many as I can a hand up, instead of pushing them down.

Give people the benefit of the doubt.

Friday, April 06, 2012

40 To 40 Day 18: On Hit Music In 1992

Haha! When I turned 20, this was top of the charts baby!
It's wiggitywiggitywiggity wack!

 Here's the list for the whole year!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

40 To 40 Day 17: On Feminism and Raising Daughters

I'm not much of an activist. I mean, I get out there and support causes as much as I can, and I'm always out there rooting for the little guy and the underdog. I realized recently that what is more important to me than getting out there and being loud, is spreading information. I first realized this a few years ago. I went to a protest when GW Bush came to visit a business in Mesa. I went to check it out, and I just didn't feel like screaming and yelling like the rest of the people there. I was more about getting audio and video from the people there. Getting their take on things, then spreading the information to others who might not be there. That is my podcast in a nutshell.
Honestly, when people get too extreme in their activism, it's a real turn off for me, and I do a lot of eye-rolling. I love animals, but PETA is too much. I love the environment, but Greenpeace goes over the top. I understand the right of everyone to own a gun, but the NRA is one dangerous organization. On the other hand, I do understand that at times nothing is going to move forward if you don't make a stink about it. This is why it is SO important to be informed on topics and know what you're talking about.

I'm the same way when it comes to feminism. I sometimes wonder if I would have been one of those bra-burning ladies of the late 60's, or even marching along with women who fought for our right to vote in the early 1900's. It was certainly a different time, and rights and equality for women have come a long way. It's certainly not equal yet. We are still paid less on average, treated as less, and what we do with our own bodies is more in jeopardy today than I've seen in my lifetime.

I think a lot of feminism is a crock too. I've been a "stay at home mom" since my younger daughter was born. That's going on 12 years. I have to put it in quotes because basically all that means is I haven't been bringing in a paycheck. We are extremely fortunate to be able to survive on a one-income salary, and Bret works very hard for that. I also know it sucks for him at times, and I try and keep that perspective as much as I can when I'm grumbling about the carpool or making 4 trips back and forth to the school. Or when I get the occasional sad face when I didn't put anything together for dinner and he's home after a very long day and didn't have time for lunch.

Now, some women might read this and think "well he can make his own damn dinner, why do you have to do it?" And that is where I separate from that thinking. It's not putting me back in the 1950's to live this way. I made the choice to stay at home, and that comes with it's own responsibilities, and yep it happens to mirror what was expected of women a generation ago. I did the career thing too. Just before I was pregnant with my first daughter Allison, I went back to school and got my legal assistant degree from a trade school. I worked for a bankruptcy attorney up until I had Samantha. I commend the women who do both- because it's exhausting. But it doesn't make them any more of an independent woman than I am.

It's all about choices, and doing what you think is best for you, or in many cases, what you have to do. No one else but you and your own.

So here I am raising two daughters to the best of my ability. I have no idea if I know what I'm doing, like everyone else I just use my own experiences and beliefs to hopefully give them the tools they need to make it as adults. Sometimes, I go the exact opposite route of what I was raised with. After all, I certainly don't want them to have the family situation I did growing up- and it's safe to say we beat that. I want them to always know they have the power to make their own decisions, and no one has to hold them back. Not even their parents.

It's about choice. I try and raise my girls with choices. For example, not having any religious belief doesn't keep me from explaining belief to them. My older daughter has experienced a few different churches with friends. My younger one has never had the opportunity, but if one of her friends asked her to go along, I would allow it. If she started believing in a God, I would talk to her about why I don't. I would never tell either of them they were wrong. They need to find out on their own, it's not my place to push it on them. Same with politics. I tell them what I think and what I believe, they can decide what they feel is right when they want to.  I figure if they ever want to rebel, they just have to become Christian Conservatives.

It's hard to put your beliefs about things aside when raising your kids, and I don't think we can totally do it. I'd be lying if I said I did. We all think we know what's best for our children. Thing is, I don't think we do. We know what we want for them, but I don't think we can honestly say it's best. What I do know is that there is still a lot of societal pressure for women today, and I don't expect that to change when my girls become adults. All I can do is show them where to go to gain the knowledge and confidence they need to make it in life and be happy.

Hopefully they will look back and see me as a positive in the way I'm parenting.  I'll update you when I do my "60 To 60" series.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

40 To 40 Day 16: On Hit Music Of 1982

Another night in which I am exhausted. So I give you the number one hit this week when I was almost 10!

Ironically enough, it was number one on the charts from March 20 (when I started the 40 To 40 series), until May 8.

Some good songs hit number 1 in 1982. Which ones do you like?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

40 To 40 Day 15: On Music and Escape

In 4th grade the school orchestra came into every class and recruited new members. It was pretty neat, and I was instantly drawn to the instruments. Everyone else was looking at violin, cello, and bass. So I decided that I wanted to play the viola. My parents were cool with it, and we went to Milano's in Mesa and rented an instrument.

Well, without tooting my own horn too much, it turned out I was pretty good, and quickly developed a love for playing. In 6th grade I entered a Concerto Competition at ASU, and won my division. The prize was two weeks at music camp up in Flagstaff, and a nifty trophy. In Jr. High I played in the Metropolitan Youth Symphony also out of Mesa, which is actually where I first met my future foster sister, as well as another life-long friend Tasha (the one who keeps crying over these posts! I just love her!). It's also where I met Aimee, who would end up being quite the rival and really bring out my competitive nature all through high school.

My stepfather really pushed me hard once it was realized I had talent. I was lucky enough to start receiving private lessons in Jr. High from a Professor at ASU, and damn I wish I could remember his name. He's probably passed away by now, I think he was 55-60 when I was seeing him all those years ago.

As with any child though, getting them to practice is difficult, even if they love what they are doing. I started feeling extreme pressure at home too. My stepfather made it very clear that I need to stick to music because it was the only thing I had going for me. Which made me want to practice even less. It actually wasn't until High School that I realized- and wanted- to start paying closer attention to what I was doing.

Part of that was thanks to Aimee. Katie and Tasha can back me up, we were always neck and neck with each other. Whether in the school orchestra, or regionals, or state. We were friends too, so it was friendly competition. As much as we would compete, we'd be right there playing duets together for concerts as well. I loved it- by this time I wasn't just using music for enjoyment, I was using it to escape what was going on in my home at the time too. I loved getting lost in melodies, and of course rehearsals and concerts were all times to be away from home too. The more time away, the better.

I was even professional for a time, during my sophomore year I played in the Mesa Symphony. It wasn't a huge paycheck, but it was a paycheck all the same. I was getting paid to perform! That lasted a season, but it was fun and I even dated a violinist for a short time. A very short time.

My junior year at state will always be memorable, since that is when I was forced to tell an adult what was happening to me. It was my orchestra teacher. My parents had called saying they did not give me permission to make the trip to Flagstaff for the event. Which is true, I forged the document because I wasn't living at home at that time. I was finally pushed into a corner, and I had no choice but to tell. First words out of her mouth were, "I knew it."

So, since I want to stay on topic, let's fast forward to senior year. My competition had graduated, and I was on top of the world. Well, the nerdy orchestra world. I had so much fun that year, because I was really able to shine and I had so much positive support. Me and three others in my class formed a quartet and started playing weddings and receptions (and they played at my own wedding several years later). My orchestra teacher mentored and accompanied me for my music audition for a scholarship to ASU, and I got it. I decided to major in Music Therapy. But by this time my attention was all ready waning away from music. It just wasn't having the same effect on me. I still loved it, and loved playing, but I didn't feel the same need to play.

My one and only year at ASU could attest to that. I couldn't stand my music classes. The only ones I enjoyed were my music therapy ones. Theory? Dreaded. Piano? My short fingers had the hardest time. I began fearing the ASU orchestra, because the conductor warned us that at any given moment he would point to you and you needed to start playing something. So I started skipping rehearsals, and eventually dropped out.

For work-study I did play in the Lyric Opera Theater orchestra, and that was a lot of fun. Was reunited with Aimee again briefly. I was also dating Bret again at that point, and he never missed a performance. Eventually I dropped flunked out of ASU, but that is yet another post for another day.

Now occasionally I take out the viola and play for fun. I've played at my daughter's school several times, and that's probably how it will stay. A hobby that at one time had it's purpose, and I will always be thankful for the escape music gave me when I needed it most.

Monday, April 02, 2012

40 To 40 Day 14: On Politics

I've never been very good at speaking up. I can't think very well on the spot, and I really suck at debate. There are probably a couple different reasons for this. One is that I was raised thinking what I thought didn't matter. We didn't express our opinions, we did what we were told. It wasn't really until I was old enough to vote that I started paying a little more attention, which is pretty typical of everyone at that age I suppose. Of course I've always had a liberal attitude toward the way things are run, so I registered Democrat. I don't think I even realized there were more than two parties out there. Seriously- there are!

I did always love politics though, and even though I wasn't good at speaking up or debating, it didn't mean I didn't have thoughts or opinions. Even took a few courses in community college in Poli-Sci. LOVED those classes.

So for all elections leading up to 2000, it was straight Democrat voting, without really much thought or research. They had enough of my checklist beliefs that I could feel good about my choice. Like I contributed. Besides, everything was awesome in the 90's, right?

Then GW Bush was elected appointed. Sure I was bummed out that my team lost. I still didn't pay much attention. I had two children under 4, a new home, and was pretty much in the family-focus stage. Even after 9/11/01 I was of course very interested in what was happening regarding this new "War on Terror", but as blurbs on the evening news.

Then, in March 2003, the President gave Bret and I a 10 year anniversary gift. He started bombing Baghdad. That definitely ruffled my political feathers a bit more than usual. CNN became my new friend over the morning fluff shows. I had a lot of things brewing that I wanted to speak out about, but still no outlet in which to do so. Bret is nowhere near as political as I am. I usually get a two-minute window then the eyes start glassing over.

In late 2003 I began my social networking career with a business network called Ryze. I had a card design business for a couple of years, and someone introduced me to the site. I just looked at it now and I can't believe how archaic it still looks. Anyway, through that site I discovered a whole new world of... political forums! It was like finding Heaven, if I believed a place existed (that's another post). It was amazing- and wow there are other people out there who think and feel the way I do about things! Wow everyone is so smart! And-

Oh. Wow there are people who think I'm full of shit. But hey that doesn't matter because I have friends now to back me up! I made some great connections through Ryze. Many I still keep in touch with, and even though I still have not met them in person, they are my friends.

Eventually, posting on these networks wasn't enough. I even started my own network so I could control it the way I wanted to. I really believed (and still believe) that no one knows actual truth, but we all spend our lives seeking it. That is how Truth Seekers was born.

By late 2005 podcasting was really breaking out, and I was helping out with a couple of audio drama podcasts. Finally, realizing I had all the tools I needed, and I actually enjoyed speaking (especially about politics!) more than I wanted to admit, I started podcasting Truth Seekers on top of the forum. It also gave me the means to actually connect with some of the people I had only been typing back and forth with.

After that there was no turning back- I loved hearing what other people thought about, well, everything. They loved having a platform in which to speak about what they were passionate about. It really was win-win. It didn't come without controversy or even some awful backlash. Not everyone wants to hear what you have to say, and they will do anything to try and shut you up. That just made me louder, and rather than having them shut me up, I pushed back more, even pitting their harsh words against them. I remained focused on the topic at hand, and eventually the haters shut up. Well, I don't know if they shut up, but I didn't stop worrying about it and listening to it. Want to grow a thick skin fast? Get involved in politics!

I also just realized I seem to have a recurring theme in making sure the voice of the "little guy" is heard. :)

Today, with so many shiny things stealing my focus, my shows aren't nearly as often, but I do talk a lot of local news on KWSS. It's just so important to be informed and know what's going on. The worst thing someone can say is that they don't like politics or avoid news. Politics effects everyone, no matter if it's war, or women's rights, or even education. If you don't stay informed about it, and on top of it, someone is going to pull the wool over your eyes and you're going to wonder why you weren't paying attention sooner. As of now, I don't see myself ever stopping podcasting, or writing, or sharing politics.

There really is no excuse not to know what's going on.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

40 To 40 Day 13: On Being A CASA

Lucky 13! I wish I could get these done earlier in the day. I just do not have the time. Honestly this is the only thing I've been able to actually accomplish lately with the craziness of our home remodel. Some women splurge for a tummy tuck or bigger boobs when they hit 40 (both of which I could use). Me? Let's give our floor a makeover instead.

That isn't what I wanted to talk about. I spent this weekend doing some training and visiting with my CASA child. As most of you probably know, back in September I decided to follow this new road and start paying forward some of the good fortune that has been bestowed upon me in my life. If you've been following along, you know why I became a CASA. I knew why I wanted to become a CASA, but I really didn't know the depth of this volunteer position until I began my first case in October of last year. First, some information.

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. Their motto is "For The Child", because that is exactly your role. A voice for the child, and the child's needs only. In Maricopa County alone, there are over 7,000 children in the state system or foster care. Just under 400 of them have a CASA. Now, I'm no math wiz so thank goodness the stats are on this website, but that is about 5%. That's not a good percentage.

Now the next question would naturally be, "well, isn't that what a CPS case worker is for?" Do you know how many cases the case manager in my case has? Over thirty. Thirty different children to keep track of, appear in court for.

I have one, and it's my only case until it's finished.  That means until the child is back with their family or in a permanent placement. So I have the time I can give to really get to know the child, and really get a feel for how the child is doing. Since I'm court appointed, I have access to everything and anyone in the case. It's equivalent to having my own child in a way. The badge gives me badass powers.

But with great power truly does come great responsibility. Remaining unbiased is a huge factor. What I put in a court report weighs heavily on a Judge's decision because of my close interaction with the child. Today I spent the afternoon with the child and family, because the goal in every case is to have them reunify with their parents. Doesn't always happen that way, but that is the goal. So this is one of many opportunities to see how the family is together.

It's rewarding and terrifying. I pull from my own experience as much as I can, especially when the child is frustrated at the process. I know you have to be a team player to get through this, but that doesn't make it easy. It's easy to second guess myself though. I'm a being too trusting? Am I getting the whole story? What if I recommend the wrong thing and it just gets worse?

I just want not only my child, but all the children in the system to know they have a shot. Someone is in their corner, and they are worth it. They deserve happiness as much as anyone else, and it's not their fault they are in this position. Over 6,000 kids in Maricopa County do not know this, because they don't have that person in their corner speaking for them. Speaking TO them. Advocating for their future, for their life.

They are worthy of a chance, and I'm going to show every child I can exactly that.