Monthly Archives: March 2015

Swim With The Manatees Giveaway !

I’ve lived in Florida for almost 20 years and have always wanted to take a day to head up the Crystal River/Homosassa area to swim with the manatees. My kids did it with their father years ago and so has my husband with his son long before we met.  And while they all loved the experience, I got the “been there, done that, don’t need to do it again” response whenever I mentioned it in the past.

What? Why wouldn’t you want every opportunity to get face to face with these adorable creatures???

Manatee

So call me crazy but…when a really great Crowdsavings.com deal appeared on my screen a few months ago for a 4 hour private tour on the Nature’s Coast Manatee Tours 32 foot Nautaline Houseboat (aka Yabba Dabba Doo), I grabbed it and immediately sent out a message to a group of 6 girlfriends to arrange a date before the voucher expired on April 17th.

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Yeah, easier said than done. We tried…but it just wasn’t meant to be it seems.

So now it is a few weeks away from that expiration date and I decided rather than it go to waste, I will do a Rafflecopter giveaway *
Well, technically, I’m just hosting the giveaway because OJ Mortgage (aka the hubby’s company) has agreed to be the official sponsor…Thanks Stan…you really are (insert shameless mortgage company plug) THE MAN! 

If you’d like to enter to win, you must do so by 12 am on 4/4/15 .  The random winner will be announced by 5 pm that same day. As previously mentioned, the coupon does expire on April 17th, 2015 so take a look at your calendars and make sure you have a day available to do it. Otherwise, it will really go to waste and that defeats the purpose of this giveaway…just saying.

That’s it for now…Good Luck!…#BlackerOut!

 

*The giveaway includes a 4 hour private tour for up to 6 people. You must call to reserve in advance. Tax and gratuity not included.

Click here to enter:  Rafflecopter giveaway

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Florida Life, Travel

Lessons We Can…Correction…Must Learn From Monica Lewinsky

The internet has been all abuzz the past several days with news about Monica Lewinksy. Yep, that Monica, the one who made the mistake in 1998 of falling in love with her boss who just happened to be the President of the United States at the time (aka Bill Clinton) and subsequently has been subjected to years of humiliation and shame thanks to a lot of shock jocks, late night show monologue jokes, over 40 rap songs (yes, 40) and, most unfortunately, the internet.

Did you know that the “affair” and the country’s obsession about that infamous dress was the first major news story to break on the internet? Try living that down…or, for that matter, being branded as  <insert any very negative term for a female>.

Sorry, I won’t put any of them here because
a) there is no equivalent name for a man who does the same thing and
b) I don’t ever think there is a place for name calling

In case you missed it, Ms. Lewinsky made the headlines because of her  TED Talk last week entitled The Price of Shame.  And everyone, I mean, everyone, needs to watch it.

I am making my son watch it. He was a baby when the scandal reverberated through cyberspace and has probably heard a few of those 40 rap songs. More importantly, he is part of the first generation to grow up pretty much desensitized by the internet. My job as his mother is to try to make sure he leaves the nest understanding this is not the way the world really needs to be…or at least not the way he needs to accept it.

Call me crazy but…if you have sat in judgement of Ms. Lewinsky, I’m not saying you need to forget the mistake she clearly knows she made, but try to forgive her because her message is very clear. We, as a society, must stop the insanity. You know, the right that so many think they have to humiliate and bully people, especially online and sadly, a lot of times, for monetary gain.

Public humiliation is a commodity

This past weekend I volunteered at a local fundraising event for Powerstories Theatre here in Tampa. I cannot say enough great things about this organization and their mission. In a nutshell, it is all about “opening hearts and minds”and giving people a stage to tell their story. And their Girlstories Leadership Theatre, held every summer for middle school aged girls,  “serves as the impetus to talk about important issues and to educate girls about achieving their goals and dreams”. They received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award in 2010 and truly hope one day to be a nationwide program.

Girlstories Leadership Program participants rehearsing for the Powerstories Gift of Gala 2015

Girlstories Leadership Program participants rehearsing for the Powerstories Gift of Gala 2015

While they deserved their standing ovation, the fact that these 11, 12 and 13 year old girls have such stories of shame and humiliation to tell in the first place is so sad. And trust me, none of them did anything to deserve it. They are just the victims of insensitive and cruel kids. A program like Girlstories Leadership Theatre, though, can help any girl trying to navigate the very difficult teenage years build confidence and courage.

But we are kidding ourselves if we think the teasing, the name calling, the harassment ends when handed a high school diploma.  Some people who actually do the whole public humiliation thing for a living try to claim freedom of speech. Ms. Lewinsky, however, pointed out, “There’s a difference between speaking up with intention versus speaking up for attention“.

We all have a story, right? And while we can’t all get the opportunity to tell it as a headline TED Talk, the most important thing is, of course, to just tell it. You may still think what Ms. Lewinsky did was immoral, but humiliating her or anyone else who has seen their name smeared across cyberspace will never be the answer.

Put yourself in her shoes for just one minute and imagine what it has been like for her for the past 17 years. And then imagine what it has been like for her mother who feared her daughter would be “humiliated to death”. No one deserves that…no one.

As Ms. Lewinsky mentioned in her speech, how many more stories like Tyler Clementi, the 19 year old Rutgers student who was ridiculed and ostracized after his roommate released a video online of him engaging in an intimate act with another male do we allow to happen?

Public Shaming As A Blood Sport

Several years ago I went through a very difficult court battle with my ex-husband. We had already been divorced for a few years and what was supposed to be a very simple discussion the previous spring ended up as a full day trial the following winter. I’ve never written or publicly spoken about it before. And I debated for the past few days whether to even make mention of it. But I pride myself on being genuine and authentic and if saying this out loud and across the internet doesn’t make me very real…and vulnerable…I don’t know what will.

I really have no desire to air any “dirty laundry”, but I can tell you waking up and finding your name on the front page of your local newspaper is not something you want to have to explain to your two young children. And when the wire services actually picks up the story and you are getting phone calls from radio station morning DJs from around the country essentially using you for a laugh, I promise you, nothing ever really prepares you for that no matter how much confidence you have or how thick of a skin you have developed. My story certainly wasn’t of the magnitude that Ms. Lewinsky experienced but, trust me, it hurt…a lot.

So if you’ve been humiliated, bullied, ridiculed or ostracized, how do you want your story to end?

You Can Insist On A Different Ending To Your Story

I promise mine isn’t ending with being a victim and I hope the same for Ms. Lewinsky. Here’s to her new ending living on the internet forever as one that truly makes a difference.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Cyberbullying

Out of Focus?…Cut Yourself Some Lack of Productivity Slack!

I woke up this morning and realized it was Wednesday and I hadn’t given any thought nor written one word for a blog this week. Normally I keep a list of different things that I read about or experience first hand that strike a chord but I guess this past week nothing really stood out.

In a world with news streaming live 24/7 and social media making sure we don’t miss a single photo of video of anything, can I really say that?…out loud?

No, truth be told I feel like I’ve been a little scattered lately and my focus is way off.

I mean waaaaaaaaaaay off.

I honestly don’t know what the problem. It could be as simple as the fact that my favorite yoga instructor left the studio I’ve been going to for years and that’s thrown me completely out of balance. If you have never done yoga, I promise you this is kind of a big deal.

Costa Rica Summer 2013 Yoga Retreat when I apparently was more in balance

This is me in balance

Or maybe I’ve just had a little too much fun celebrating with family and friends the past month? We’ve had three weeks in a row consisting of 4 different life cycle events, two of which required travel to LA and Tallahassee in the same week.

Rocking it out at a family Bar Mitzvah

Rocking it out at a family Bar Mitzvah

Or could it be that when you have to spend what seems like an inordinate amount of time on the phone taking care of non-business related things (like dealing with a doctor’s office who lost all of the paperwork you filled out months ago after an auto accident requesting information sent from another doctor’s office to be able to accurately submit a report for an insurance claim…seriously?), your focus has to be on those personal matters.

Or could it be I am just not feeling “it”?

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Whatever the reason, the thing I have realized is the more I fight it or stress about it obviously the worse it gets. I honestly don’t remember ever feeling this way for an extended period of time when I worked for anyone else. Maybe it was the fear of losing my job that kept me from getting off task for too long? But shouldn’t that hold true for being an entrepreneur too? I may not technically lose my job but I will certainly lose business or even go out of business if I can’t deliver what I’ve promised to clients.

Ahhhhhhhhh…wait…there it is. I don’t have clients that I am actually working for yet.

Well, that’s not true…I have continued to help with the marketing and community outreach for my husband’s company (insert shameless plug for OJ Mortgage…hey, why not right? After another brutal winter up north, there are lots of people ready to move to Florida and will need an honest and trustworthy mortgage resource…if I do say so myself).

So when I am not out and about in the community on OJ’s behalf or promoting them online, I have spent my time since the beginning of the year researching and working on the structure of my new business to try to do exactly what I’ve been doing for OJ in a much more efficient and streamlined manor for a handful of other small business owners.

The past week or two, though, I’ve just sort of lost track of where I am at and where I’m going.  I know I’ll get back to whence I came or move forward in the direction I need to be but for right now…call me crazy…if there is one thing I hope I’ve learned by the age of 52, it won’t do me any good to beat myself up over a few less than productive days. In fact, there is tons of research supporting the need every once in awhile for taking giant steps back and peeling back the layers of our so called life “onion” as to why any of us go through these unfocused, unproductive times so we can actually leap ahead.

It’s called getting clarity.

And on that note, I think I am going to cut myself some slack and go find a new yoga teacher to start to restore a little balance and bring things back into focus.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut

This is me not so balanced!

This is me not so balanced!

 

 

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Productivity

“Tying The Knot”…To Love, To Commitment And To Us ALL Living Happily Ever After!

Last week I had the pleasure to witness the marriage of two people I have gotten to know over the past few years through Tampa Bay Business Owners, a local business organization I have mentioned numerous times before in previous blogs (mostly recent on this site as well as on my former blog over at tcP! Sweets) and on social media.  I was so honored despite the fact that I don’t think they really intended for anyone to be there other than their officiant, owners of the home where the ceremony was taking place and two other witnesses to make it legal.

In an email exchange after receiving the invitation to their celebration dinner a few days after the ceremony was taking place this is what I was told…

“You’re welcome to attend our ceremony if you want, and we’d love to have you! It’s on (TBBO) Main Event day so we didn’t want people to feel torn or rushed. We really want to keep it simple, and that can still include you! ”

That can still include me???

Ummm…

Call me crazy but…clearly they don’t understand I never miss an affair if I can help it. And I certainly never miss an opportunity for a good tears of joy / cry fest, especially one that represents so much about love and commitment. In a world that sometimes seems to do everything in its power to stack the cards against marriage, I am going to do everything in my power to be present and whatever energy I can bring to get them off on the right foot, I’m totally there.

I suppose I could have just gone to the dinner a few nights later and celebrated with everyone else. But despite the fact that I had just returned from Los Angeles less than 2 days before, was still feeling jet lag, had what seemed like a never ending amount of work to catch up on and was leaving the next day for Tallahassee to attend my daughter’s film screening (she’s a junior at FSU Film School …awesome program, by the way, for anyone thinking about going to film school), I put on a dress (a rarity these days) and arrived ready to see them literally tie the knot…

Official tying of the knot

Official tying of the knot

I’ve never seen a wedding where they actually used two pieces of rope and tied them together to symbolize their union. So that got me thinking about the origin of the phrase and this is just one of the many I found thanks to a quick Google search (seriously, what did we do before Google???)…

“There is a suggestion that this expression derives from the nets of knotted string which supported beds prior to the introduction of metal-sprung bedrames. The theory goes that, in order to make a marriage bed, you needed to ‘tie the knot’.”
(Source: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/tie-the-knot.html)

Who knew???? There are many other theories that include stuff about girdles worn during the Roman Empire, illiterate sailors and soldiers sending pieces of rope to prospective brides and Hindu necklaces made of flowers but the exact origin…no one really knows.

And does it really matter? I loved the gesture which only made me cry more and feel greater joy for the happy couple.

But what really got me most of all was knowing what it took for them to arrive to this day. It was years in the making. They met in 1998 and on March 4th, 2004 actually did get married in Oregon.

A few days later, though, it was annulled…not at their request but because the state essentially revoked their license and thousands of others who got married on or shortly after March 3, 2004 when the county clerk began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (For more on that history click here.)

Disclaimer:
For those of you who may be reading this and are very much against gay marriage and/or relationships, I officially give you permission to stop reading, but please don’t leave negative comments ranting about the evils of it all. I promise you I will not approve them. 

Oh and by all means, unsubscribe to my emails, unfriend me on Facebook, stop following me on Twitter and delete my contact information from your phone. Yeah, your entitled to your opinion but if you are going to get ugly, I won’t allow that negativity to be part of my world…sorry.

I’m not here to debate anything.

I’m here to share my day to day life experiences and, as I say, keep it real.

For the record and in case you didn’t know, I’m not a lesbian and attending a wedding or merely having friends who are will not make me a lesbian. And to the haters out there who think gay marriages destroy the institution and the notion of what a family should be, well, that shipped sailed a long time ago with heterosexuals divorce rate significantly higher than homesexuals.

What was so real to me standing beside those two women on an absolutely glorious sunny day, overlooking one of the channels leading into Tampa Bay was a feeling of commitment that they clearly have for one another. And truth be told, it was stronger than any other wedding I’ve ever attended. Maybe it was because this was, in fact, the first legal gay wedding I’ve been to and I can so appreciate everything they have had to go through to get to that day, that moment.

My decision to get married…both times…was simple. I was in love and believed in the life we could make together. My first marriage may have ended in divorce, but, still, no one told me I couldn’t get married when I decided to do it again.

Why should it be any different for these two women?

The very happy and very deserving couple!

The very happy and very deserving couple!

Congratulations to them, to love, to commitment and to equality for us all to live happily ever after.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut

 

37 Comments

Filed under Call Me Crazy, Marriage

Back To Life, Back To Reality…Why Can’t Every Day Be a Vacation Day?

I just got back from a week in LA visiting a lot of friends from various times in my life as well as celebrating my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah and, suffice it to say, re-entry is definitely tough.

While I certainly can’t complain arriving home to 80 degree temperatures when the vast majority of the country is still dealing with crazy winter storms, sitting here at my computer in Tampa I can’t help but feel like the ridiculous number of emails, messages and reminders of things I MUST DO  is making me want to crawl back into my vacation hole and never return.

Call me crazy but, why can’t every day be like the previous 7 days of fun, frolicking and freedom?

I suppose if I won the lottery or found out some long lost relative left me a big inheritance I could be on permanent vacation mode but the odds are sufficiently stacked against me it seems.

So here I sit…the morning after… mapping out the rest of my day and it doesn’t look pretty.

No lemoncello iced tea at my old camp friend’s fabulous store…

American Tea Room

American Tea Room

only to be followed by a famous chopped salad lunch at La Scala in Beverly Hills.

(Sorry no salad photo…too busy talking…but it was really good…trust me)

No long conversation over a bottle of wine hanging out at my post college roommate’s Benedict Canyon home …

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No 2 hour power walk along Manhattan Beach checking out the very cool architecture of the bazillion dollar beach homes

and lunch at Lemonade with a high school friend

(OMG!!!! I could eat there every day) …

Manhattan Beach

Ok, so I am possibly the worst at taking selfies but these visual memories for me are priceless and in my mind, I will travel back to these moments whenever I want a mental break from the monotony of any day.

Is that enough of a daily “mini vacation”? Eh…probably not for most of us. Yet the demands of life in our society put the majority of us in a kind of full throttle mode during the work week. And as much as we read and hear the advice to take the time every day for some “vacation” moments like going to the gym, having coffee with a friend or maybe even just sitting still and breathing, for many, if it isn’t scheduled in our smart phones, it simply doesn’t happen.

Planning a few extra days like I did in LA to see as many people as I could took a lot of coordination. Trust me, I relied heavily on Tripit for keeping all of the details in one place and providing quick access to addresses to get me from point A to point Z and all of the points in between.

Planning a few extra moments every day to feel like you can be “away from it all” may not require a special travel app, but it still requires putting forth some degree of effort.  Hopefully, though, once you are in those moments, you savor them. And when you have to head back to life, back to reality again you are refreshed and ready to go.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut

42 Comments

Filed under Call Me Crazy, Friendship, Travel