Category Archives: Call Me Crazy

Social Media: The Great Uniter and Divider

It goes without saying that social media has become a place for us all to voice our opinions in the hopes that if we “shout” loud and long enough, we will be heard.

This is not, of course, a new phenomenon… you know, the idea of expressing ourselves.  It’s been going on since the beginning of time and is definitely the reason why countries like the United States made sure to include freedom of speech in our Constitution without having to fear some despot would chop off our heads. I know, terrible image so here is a rainbow with a unicorn to counteract it…Rainbow and Unicorn

Anyway, in theory, the idea of freedom of speech is a fantastic concept. We can say whatever we want…whenever we want, right?

In reality, though, it doesn’t play out so great especially these days on social media. And if the past week of monumental U.S. Supreme Court decisions and debates in state capitals throughout the South hasn’t proven that I don’t know what will.

I am not here to argue for or against any of the hot issues du jour, but I am here to plead for common decency as I became yet one more victim to another human being’s very mean and cruel spirit via social media. I am talking a message of such hate that I couldn’t sleep after reading it. It was only 5 words long but I am telling you they were the ugliest 5 words I have ever had directed at me personally. And while I know I have to ultimately feel sorry for anyone that feels it is necessary to use Twitter, Facebook or any of the thousands of online outlets to make such horrible statements, it still hurts me to my core.

If you don’t know me personally, don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook and have never read any of my blogs until now, then I will tell you that I am a rather tongue-in-cheek kind of gal. I simply try, as my tagline claims, to keep things real one day at a time.

I suppose my definition of “real” is mine and mine alone, but I am overall a good person who is just trying to get through each day with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. I know, very corny but true and it is the reason I embraced social media years ago. Sure, I wanted to spread the word a little faster and easier about the baked goods business I had at the time, but I am a people person and to me that is what social media is about…the people, especially the ones we might otherwise never meet.

So, call me crazy but…when I saw what was a very disturbing message from someone on my Call Me Crazy Maybe But fan page after the #SCOTUS gay marriage decision, I seriously questioned closing all of my social media accounts. I know, I shouldn’t ever give one person that kind of power, but I definitely didn’t feel like smiling or singing the rest of the day.

The following morning while I was still feeling my social media sting, I was compelled to do something with the overwhelming disappointment I had regarding such a hateful message. I am smart enough to know I will never change anyone’s opinions on such matters, but I was still curious about the person behind the message.

I checked out the woman’s Facebook page (yes, I was kind of shocked that it was a woman) and it wasn’t filled with what I expected…more hate and disdain. It was actually a page filled with messages that if I didn’t know better was from a person with great compassion and no tolerance for ignorance especially this one…Ignorance is the tragedy

Side note: The source for the photo above was the Single Parents of Children With Autism Facebook Page but they had nothing to do with the woman that posted it.

I guess the problem is the woman who sent the message to me wants all of us to walk a day in her shoes as a parent with an autistic child but doesn’t appear to be willing to do the same for others, most obviously anyone who is part of the LGBT community.

Ignorance is the true tragedy of our society ladies and gentlemen and I wish more than anything I could sprinkle some magic pixie dust and make it disappear into thin air. And, yes, that does make me a dreamer as well as a realist.

A few months ago I wrote a blog about two women that I met through a local business organization who were finally able to get married in Florida after the U.S. District Court officially made it legal in our state (Brenner v. Scott). As I mentioned in the blog, I was so honored to have been there to witness their union.  And I didn’t receive a single negative comment on that blog nor on any of the social media pages that it was posted.

I do remember, though, someone asking me whether I was afraid to “put it out there” that I was in support of gay marriage and how it might affect the business I now work for.

My response?

If I only did business with people that shared every…single…one…of…my…beliefs I honestly would have no one to do business with. Isn’t that what we were supposed to learn in kindergarten, play nicely in the sandbox?

I know major companies were very quick to show their support of the historic gay marriage decision…big, well established companies with deep roots in Americana like Sears

 

CokeKFC

Levis

I have to wonder if the haters that are gonna hate will be giving up on Garanimals and Original Recipe Buckets anytime soon.

So here’s the deal people…just be nice and stop trying to convince everyone you’re right and they are wrong. I honestly don’t think any one person or group has the answers. Agree to disagree and move on. I’m fine with those that feel it is necessary to unfriend and unfollow me as a result of anything I may post but for the love of whatever you believe in, don’t be nasty about it.

Maybe being part of a religious minority (i.e. Jewish) all of my life has made me more sensitive to the discrimination and hate that seems so pervasive in our society and world at large. Or maybe I am simply just a very sensitive soul who thinks that being 100% tolerant of all people regardless of race, religion, creed, color or, dare I say, sexual preference, is an all or nothing thing. Either you are or you aren’t…period, end of story.

Bottom line, social media is awesome but let’s all use it responsibly and then, maybe just maybe, as John Lennon said, we can in fact…

“Imagine all the people living life in peace.”

StrawberryFieldsJuly2007

That’s all for now…#BlackerOut!

 

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Marriage, Technology and Social Media

Life Is Like A Game Of Poker

I was all over social media (or at least more than usual) on Father’s Day this past Sunday. And no, I wasn’t searching for YouTube videos about funny, stupid, smart and/or inspirational dads.

I spent the day cheering on my husband, but not for the typical Father’s Day reasons. Don’t get me wrong, he is an awesome father to his 29 year old son and equally awesome stepfather to my 18 year old son (well, 18 in two days…Happy Birthday Nathan!) and 21 year old daughter.

So call me crazy but…I spent a day posting like, well crazy, in support of and his quest for one of these…

WSOP Gold Bracelet

That ladies and gentlemen is the coveted World Series of Poker gold bracelet and my husband, Stan, a long time poker player, went to Las Vegas to win one of these in their first ever WSOP Super Seniors Tournament. For years they’ve had a “Seniors” event which meant you had to be 50 and older, but to be a Super Senior?…65 and up baby! Stan happens to be 66 so this tournament, if he won, would have sort of eliminated the need for any AARP discounts moving forward.

This was actually his second time going to the WSOP. He was sent two years ago through the poker club he belongs to here in Tampa and made it through the first very long and grueling day which was highlighted by helping knock out a rather famous player, Barry Greenstein around midnight. Obviously he was on cloud nine going into Day 2 only to be smacked with a big dose of “that’s why they call it gambling” when the cards just weren’t stacked in his favor 19 minutes into play. 

He had to spend another day in Sin City dealing with his somewhat wounded pride. However, when he landed in Tampa my son and I were there at 1 am with this sign…Go Stan The Man

I know, I know…Wife Of The Year right?

Anyway, I know better than to actually go with him to Vegas. Way too intense not to mention way too hot in June and that’s coming from someone living in Florida. This is totally his thing except, of course, if he wins and then it’s totally our thing.

That being said, I’ve kind of picked up a thing or two about the relationship between poker and life as I have travailed the ups and downs of tournament play with Stan…figuratively speaking of course.

1. Believe in luck
krispy kreme

Yeah, you need mad skills to be good at poker, but there is most definitely some degree of luck involved. Stan’s may come in the form of something hot and sickly sweet but whatever makes you feel good/lucky in life that gives you an edge, go for it. Don’t let anyone ever take it away from you. I cannot tell you how many detours to Krispy Kreme we have made through the years. I personally would choose something that can’t be inhaled in less than 30 seconds, but welcome to #lifewithstan.

2.  Age is just a numberyoung whippersnapperWhile Stan may have been the “young whippersnapper” in the crowd, our society, for the most part, considers him “old”. However, I choose to believe he never would have had the stamina to be at WSOP if he let his chronological age dictate his behavior.  Same goes for this guy, Russell Moncrief.

Russell Moncrief

He may have motored around the Rio Hotel and Casino in a scooter but still, come on…HE IS 92 AND COMPETING IN WSOP!!!

3. Take chancesWSOP 2015 Super SeniorsPoker is not for the faint at heart and walking into a giant room of approximately 1500 people can be intimidating, but if you aren’t willing to “go all in” every once in awhile you will never win whether at poker or life in general. Stan is a gambler by all counts. Seriously, he left a very safe job 21 years ago and started OJ Mortgage. Trust me, the mortgage industry is not a safe bet by any stretch of the imagination.

If you’ve read this far and were waiting for me to announce that Stan even got through the first day, sorry to disappoint. I received this text about 6 hours into play.Stan has left the building

 

I spent the next 45 minutes on the phone with him doing some consoling but mostly trying to get him on a flight home the next day. No sense in continuing to put salt on that WSOP wound. Besides, this adorable thing was waiting for him at home…Come Home Papa Stan

What better consolation prize could a person ask for?

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut !Poker as a sport

 

Proud to be joining this week’s #MidlifeLuv Linkup hosted by Kimberly Montgomery of Fifty Jewels and Elena of Living With Batman. Check it out…I promise it won’t hurt 🙂

#MidLifeLuv Linky

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Life Lessons, Random Stuff

When Lightning Strikes, Build A Sense Of Community

Let’s get one thing very straight…I am not a sports fan.

sports-fan

I sort of want to blame my father for my overall lack of interest even though he actually loves sports. I know, it’s Father’s Day on Sunday and I do wish him a very happy one, but as a child, if there was a University of Michigan football game that conflicted with a special event there was a lot of discussion about whether he would be there.

I may never live down the fact that I decided to get married to my first husband on the day of the Michigan-Ohio State football game in November 1988.  My mother, the ever so smart woman that she was, threw my father a tailgate party at the hotel where all of our guests were staying in lieu of him possibly following through on the idea of chartering a plane to go to the game in Columbus and thinking he could still make it back in time for the wedding. So much for the day being all about me.2012_12_29_08_48_230699

He was also very involved for many years in our community’s Little League…VERY INVOLVED !

And if there was a sporting event on Sunday afternoon that ran late, we couldn’t go out to dinner until it was over.

Side note: My mom had a general rule about the kitchen being closed most Sunday nights..have I mentioned she was really smart?

Don’t get me wrong, my father did a lot of stuff with us as kids and until we became teenagers with the typical teenage angst and attitudes, he set aside at least one afternoon a month to take me and my siblings separately to an activity of our choice. We joke about his sports’ obsessions now, however, at the time I really didn’t get it. It’s amazing what years of therapy can do to help, right?

So call me crazy but…I resented sports by the age of 6. I suppose it also didn’t help that I was not the most coordinated child and still have terrible depth perception. I blame that on being born cross-eyed and to all the boys that teased me about it in elementary school, sorry if karma has paid you a visit but you kind of brought it on yourselves.

Yeah, sports weren’t, aren’t and probably never will be my thing.

Well, that’s not 100% true but I will get to that in a minute.

It is true that I don’t like watching sports and I really don’t understand most of the rules.

Seriously!

I mentioned in a recent blog my inability after 14 years of watching my son play soccer both at school and on competitive teams that I still don’t know how to tell when a player is off sides.

In addition…
I think baseball is like watching paint dry…
I have no clue where the puck is through most of a hockey game…
I don’t get spending 4 or 5 hours trying to put a little ball in 18 holes or watching a car go round and round a track (I do, however, think horse racing is beautiful and my friend Laura will appreciate me saying that especially since today is her birthday)…
I don’t like the idea that a lot of athletes use their status to feel entitled or it gives them the right to be above common decency and the law…
And I will never be able to justify in my head why athletes make more than teachers and nurses.

All that being said, I live in Tampa Bay and all three of the major sports teams…Lightning, Buccaneers and Rays…work very hard these days at raising the profile of our region especially when you have them involved in initiatives like Give And Grub, a fantastic non-profit food truck with a mission to fight hunger.  

When I moved here almost 20 years ago, the Bucs were by no means a winning team (ok, no need to talk about whether or not they have been the past few years), the Lightning were toddlers (the franchise was only 3 years old although holding their own by making it to the playoffs in 1996) and the Rays were still just a twinkle in some soon to be owner’s eyes (their first season was 1998).

This was not a diehard sports town/region…yet.

Slowly but surely, Tampa Bay has put itself on the map as a legitimate place for fans to be, well, fans. And after watching the Stanley Cup playoffs and finals over the past several weeks unfold in the national spotlight, it does seem they are finally taking us seriously.

Yes, I said us.

I watched more minutes of hockey in the past month or so than I previously watched in my entire life. I grew up in Detroit and lived in New York for many years so I know about hockey towns. I just went and read a book when my father or now ex-husband were watching a particular game.

Another side note: My first date with the ex? A U of M – Notre Dame hockey game. Yeah, it was a sign, I know.

I’m thinking the biggest reason I willingly sat through all of the recent games was because I understand now more than ever how important it all is to the future of the place I now call home. Before I owned my baked goods company for the years I did and now work as the Director of Strategic Relationships for OJ Mortgage, I guess I wasn’t really invested in Tampa Bay. I volunteered at my kids’ schools and engaged in a lot of fundraising for our local Jewish Community Center but I would be kidding myself if I said any of that helped the overall region grow.

Truth be told, I never thought I was here for the long haul. When my first husband moved us here in 1995, I thought we’d stay 10 years tops. After he made the money he thought he would in Real Estate development, I figured we would move to Northern California and open a cute little bed and breakfast where I would cook fabulous food with local ingredients and he would manage the finances and wine cellar.

I think I still cook fabulous food, do a pretty good job at managing the finances in my second marriage and keep enough wine on hand should a group of friends come for dinner at the last minute. But it is unlikely I will ever own a B&B in Napa or Sonoma. It’s all good, though, I have plenty of other dreams to work on.

As I watched the final minutes of Game 6 the other night knowing the Chicago Black Hawks were likely going to win 2-0 and claim the Stanley Cup title, I also watched Tampa Bay’s pride swell on social media. “Great effort”, “Intense series”, “Way to go Bolts”, “Here’s to next season”, “Always The Thunder” and many other very positive comments filled my news feed.

There didn’t seem to be any bitterness or blame. I’m guessing it’s because we still won a lot of recognition and credibility, that is, with the exception it seems from Suntrust Bank that didn’t feel it was necessary to light up the top of their very prominent downtown building in Lightning colors during the games. Boo Suntrust

Topher Morrison is the Managing Director of Key Person of Influence USA and definitely understands a thing or two about raising your profile in your community and, more importantly, supporting your community. Kudos to him for displaying the photo above the way he did…I am sure Sykes Enterprises appreciated the Tweet, Suntrust not so much.

My husband, of course, the fierce independent mortgage broker that he is said it’s just one more reason not to trust big banks for your mortgage needs. Gotta love the big guy for always finding his own silver lining.

And besides, who needs Suntrust when Wallet Hub recently ranked Tampa Bay as #4 in the nation for hockey fans … #GoBolts !

Sports may not be my “thing”, but a sense of community definitely is and will remain one whether I stay in Tampa Bay or not. I just needed about two decades to figure it out.

So here’s to Lightning striking, Buccaneers invading and Rays…ummmm…stinging????….again and again. And here’s to all of our communities getting bigger, stronger, better.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Community Building, Tampa Bay

The Land of Love: Where Kitschy Meets Marketing Genius

My husband reads our local newspaper every day as part of his two hour morning ritual and will sometimes leave articles on our kitchen counter for me to read that he thinks I should see, including the occasional obituary.

A few weeks ago I found this one, circled and with arrows pointing to the specific article of interest…

Why? Well, we need to go back to the summer of 2003 when my daughter spent her first of many summers at a sleep away camp in the Poconos and my son went to one in the Berkshires…2 states and 3 mountain ranges away…and, of course, his visiting day was the same day as hers.

Seriously, why should anything in life ever be simple? It’s so much more “interesting” to be challenged by these kind of logistics right?

Side note: Both camps had an “alternate” visiting day on Sunday, mostly for divorced parents who didn’t want to share the few hours with their children. And while I was divorced by the time my kids started going to camp, the alternate days for us were especially important because of the distance between the two camps. Why were they in 2 different states? Sigh…we’ll have to have a few cocktails one day to get to that story.

Anyway, for anyone that has ever tried to get a hotel during a camp visiting day weekend, you know the rates are usually at least double and, oh, there are 3 night minimum stays.

So call me crazy but…I didn’t need want to spend 3 nights in either location. I wanted to leave Tampa on Friday morning and return Sunday night.

And not spend thousands of dollars in the process.

Apparently, I was somewhat delusional.

Ok, wait, we’ve already determined I am crazy so I guess delusional isn’t much of a stretch.

The first year I literally spent months combing the internet for reasonable multi city airfare (arrive in Scranton…yes Scranton…on Friday and leave from Hartford…not as bad as Scranton but still…on Sunday) plus hotels with no minimums and a car rental that didn’t charge a ridiculous fee for dropping off in a different city than the one picking up.

Gotta love supply and demand economics!

Finally, I came across what was at the time a Sheraton about 30 minutes from my daughter’s camp through Orbitz that didn’t have any restrictions whatsoever and was very reasonably priced.

Only one room left…I didn’t even bother looking at the hotel’s website and grabbed it before it was gone as quickly as it had magically appeared. I’ve stayed in enough Sheratons, Holiday Inns, Hiltons and Marriotts off various highways and they are all pretty much the same.

Yeah, well, the hotel I reserved, Cove Haven on Lake Wallenpaupack in Lakeville, PA, clearly was the exception to that little rule.

Unbeknownst to me, I had reserved a suite at a place referred to as “The Land of Love”, one of the infamous Poconos resorts that was/is advertised incessantly on Northeast radio and television as a “blend of romance and recreation”, complete with…

silo-like rooms (meaning no windows)
round beds (uh…not at all practical for my 6’4″ husband)

mirrored ceilings (OMG)
glass enclosed individual indoor heated heart shaped pools (aka giant germ/disease tanks)
and, yes,  a seven-foot champagne glass whirlpool bath-for-two complete with celestial ceiling (I thought they were a myth..I was so wrong)

At the reception area, they advised us that “Betrothed Badminton” was starting in 10 minutes to be followed by “Cupid’s Archery” and then some name for the cocktail hour I have obviously blocked from my memory.

I had entered hell.

My then fiance now husband, Stan, was in heaven.

Honestly, I love the big guy but I have never known anyone more attracted to cheesy stuff like this than him. He actually proposed to me in the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel complete with an Elvis impersonator so Cove Haven had him written all over it. 

Me, not so much. Truth be told, not at all.

It was going to be the longest 16 hours of my life…8 of them hopefully sleeping…before leaving at 8 am the next morning for visiting day #1.

“What time would you like the photographer to come to your room to take the photos of the two of you in your champagne glass bath?” asked the front desk clerk.

“Not necessary,” I said.

“What do you mean?” said Stan, looking extremely surprised that I didn’t want a complete stranger in our room taking pictures of us  in a bathtub. “Come on babe, it’ll make for a great memory.”

“I’m good,” I said. I already had plenty of images from this place permanently seared on my brain and we hadn’t even left the reception area.

champagne-glass

FYI…searching for a photo of the champagne glass tub that was “free to use for commercial purposes” you will find some very interesting ones.  The one above was the least creepy one I could find.

Look, no disrespect to anyone who has stayed in one of these resorts and thought it was awesome. It just isn’t for me. But I will give Stan major props for making me laugh…A LOT…during our brief stay.

More importantly, I really do admire, Morris Wilkins, for taking a vision, no matter how kitschy, and making it come to life. A former electrician, he took over ownership of what was then called the Hotel Pocopaupack in 1958 and renamed it Cove Haven. For the next few years it was just another couples-only hotel until he came up with the idea for the heart-shaped tub, followed by the champagne glass one and both truly put the Poconos on the map as a modern honeymoon and romantic getaway destination.

Morris Wilkins

Despite several more years of visiting day weekends, we never returned to Coven Haven (please tell me you aren’t surprised).  I did, however, feel a bit nostalgic when I read that Mr. Wilkins had passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 90 and found the one photo I did allow to be taken while there. I wonder if they would want it for their marketing materials?

Then again, we probably have on way too much clothing for their needs.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Random Stuff, Travel

Getting To Graduation Day Only Slightly Unhinged

I started “writing” this blog (thanks to voice to text on my cell phone) while driving back from Tallahassee yesterday. And before anyone starts accusing me of improper use of a vehicle, I promise both hands remained on the wheel and both eyes on the road the entire time.

Trust me, it was much safer than having me rocking it out at the top of my lungs to 70s and 80s music with some occasional Broadway tunes through in for good measure since I can easily get lost in the lyrics.happy-quotes-1753-520x245

Anyway, I was there for a few days while my daughter was filming her senior thesis at FSU, just a few days after my son graduated from high school and less than a week after returning from the experience I shared in my previous blog about Camp Jenny.

Yeah, it has been a crazy busy time.

I had actually been thinking about this week’s blog ever since the curtain rose at Ruth Eckerd Hall last Thursday evening while “Pomp and Circumstance” was played by the high school band and 178 boys young men sat on the stage in their tuxedos (they wore the traditional cap and gown the night before at the Baccalaureate service at school)

…in perfectly lined up rows

…hands strategically placed on top of each of their thighs

…looking straight out at the filled to capacity audience comprised of family, friends and faculty (by the way, my husband did lose the bet about how filled it would get…when will he learn?)

…with the most serious of expressions on every one of their faces

So, call me crazy but… I am getting chills sitting here now thinking about it. It was such a dramatic sight. Everyone gasped and then erupted into applause and a lot of cheering.

I was there with my husband, father, sister and brother in law. And we are admittedly a somewhat cynical and sarcastic bunch (I know shocking). But that moment? Seriously, it took our breath away.

Sadly, my daughter missed it. She started production earlier that day. Truth be told, I didn’t know I should have been prepared to videotape the moment.

Well, that’s not really true.

As a parent, I should always be ready. And with the release of Periscope for  Android last week, I definitely had no excuse and should have streamed it live for not only her but also for my brother and his family out in California.

That, of course, would have required me to know that Periscope for Android had been released.

Sigh…

I did manage to get a photo, albeit a very blurry one, of the scene and immediately sent it to my daughter. The school’s photographer, thankfully, got a much better shot that will go where all other photos go these days…into my Google Photos account hoping to make it into a to be created online album.jesuit graduation

Source: Jesuittampa.com

 My son is in the second row from the top on the left, first seat off the middle aisle. Fortunately I found that out prior to the ceremony or I would have spent the entire time looking for him.

Then again, they were sitting in alphabetical order, but I probably wouldn’t have thought of that until after I spent the entire time looking for him.

Did I mention it has been a crazy busy few weeks?

To say I am proud of my son may seem like a given, however, I need to say it just the same. Yes, he graduated Cum Laude (which was revealed in the program that night and, of course, I cried) and he has been a real team player on various soccer teams for the past 14 years, but my pride goes well beyond his academic and athletic accomplishments.

Simply put, he’s a good kid. He wasn’t too happy that I had him stand outside in his tuxedo when it was 90+ degrees so we could get this photo. One day he’ll thank me or at least that is what I choose to believe.me and nathan

Some may say he didn’t start out such a “good” kid at birth. He came out screaming and really didn’t stop for the first 3 or 4 years of his life. I am talking ear piercing, never ending stuff.

You know it’s bad when even the grandparents don’t want to be around.

He was, though (in my opinon) a really cute baby… 10

But that screaming?

Painful.

He also didn’t sleep, eat and, forgive me if it may seem like “TMI”, poop. I mean he did a little of each, but not nearly enough of what the average baby was supposed to do.

As a result, I never ate, I never slept and well the third thing…use your imagination. Suffice to say, I became slightly unhinged (by my definition) and it certainly didn’t help an already troubled marriage.

We took him to every specialist in town and while we were grateful there was nothing seriously wrong with him from a physiological standpoint…or at least not via an official diagnosis…it was, nevertheless, a very emotionally draining situation.

Come on moms with difficult children, fess up! You know you relate to this…c09f5d03d153650c1c7614c8bdb71126One close friend who happens to be a pediatric development specialist told us at the time that some kids have a “kink in their hard wiring” when they are born and it just takes a few years to work it out of their system.

Ummmmm…that was all fine and wonderful to hear but going through those years???

OMG!

She was, of course, right because he is now capable of sleeping until mid-afternoon, eating more than his body weight on any given day (or so it seems) and, well, again use your imagination about the third issue.

We never really know what we are going to get when we make the decision to bring a living, breathing human being into the world. I’ve had friends and family who have breezed through the childhood years while others have dealt with everything from some typical teenage rebellion and minor learning disabilities to autism, cancer, mental illness, drug and/or alcohol addiction and even the random, unexpected and extremely tragic death of their child.

So if it meant no sleeping, eating plus that third thing and ultimately going through a divorce to come out on the other side and sit in a room of almost 2000 people knowing I have a healthy, smart, well adjusted, all around good kid heading off to college in a few weeks, ok then so be it.

One final thing, I realize it is unlikely my ex-husband will read this but I still need to put it out there that I am very grateful that he provided Nathan the opportunity to attend a private high school. I do believe it has and will continue to pay off even if he insisted on sticking out his tongue in graduation pictures.20150527_212544 (1)

I guess boys will always be boys.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Motherhood, Parenting

Camp Jenny: How One Weekend Can Change Your Life

I spent this past Memorial Day Weekend eating mediocre food (no offense to those that prepared it…it was what it was), sleeping on essentially a piece of wood and feeling like I was never going to feel or smell clean again but it was the best Memorial Day Weekend ever!

I had the honor and pleasure to participate as a volunteer at Camp Jenny, a 4 day camp experience for students from F.L. Stanton Elementary School in Atlanta on the URJ-Camp Coleman property in Cleveland, GA. I made mention of it in a blog back in February after my daughter had won a film festival award for her documentary, Earning Jenny, about this absolutely amazing program. And as I said then, it was definitely a #ProudMama moment. (If you would like to view the video, please send a request by clicking here. I promise it is worth 7 minutes of your time.)Earning Jenny on Vimeo

So call me crazy but…I thought I really knew and understood everything about Camp Jenny after hearing all of my daughter’s stories upon returning home every Memorial Day Weekend for 6 years…all 4 years in high school as well as after her freshman and sophomore years in college. Seeing her go through the process of creating the documentary and watching the end result?…Honestly, I didn’t think it was possible to get any more emotional about it.

Clearly I was wrong because when the buses pulled up to over 270 screaming teenage counselors and adult staff (yes, that’s 120 more counselors and staff than campers) and those kindergarten through fifth grade kids are just in awe of what is unfolding in front of them, I became an absolute puddle of tears.

Camp Jenny Buses Arrive
My daughter did warn me. And so did all of the Camp Jenny leadership, especially during the 24 hours prior to the campers arrival. They also warned us that many of these kids have never left Metro Atlanta, some haven’t even left their neighborhood and most are more afraid of the woods than they are of the dangerous streets they cross every day to get to school.11329765_911385358903184_5085171261819523805_n

So it was our responsibility to make sure they all felt safe…

…from the time they got off the bus on Friday when many would be crying because they were homesick or simply afraid of the unknown

…until the time they got back on the bus on Monday when they would be crying because they didn’t want to leave after having so much fun or sadly, for some, because of the reality of what is waiting for them back home sets in.

David Haller, the first director of the program when it was established in 1988 and still a very active part of the leadership team, took us through it’s history on the eve before they arived and outlined the four simple yet powerful goals…Camp Jenny GoalsThere is no doubt we set the groundwork to meet #1 and #2 in the years to come. They already have 28 years of documented proof that they have, in fact, not only improved but drastically changed the direction of so many children’s lives, children that insist the days they spent at Camp Jenny between the ages of 5 and 10 gave them the confidence and strength to overcome the odds of growing up surrounded by things like drugs and drive by shootings, get through high school, go on to college and lead very successful lives.10931171_911388795569507_3987769863272336546_n

Think about it…even if one child earns the opportunity to go every year they will have spent a total of 24 days at Camp Jenny over the course of their elementary school years. So what if that one child goes on to get a full scholarship at Stanford and do stem cell research? Yeah, that happened…all because of Camp Jenny. Impactful for sure!10958795_911952175513169_4774674190361311500_n

I grew up never having to think for a minute whether there would be food on the table, clothes on my back and a roof over my head so there is no way I can ever really know what it is like for these kids on a day to day basis.  But I can certainly imagine it and that, of course, breaks my heart.

At the same time, my heart was overflowing with joy as I watched the kids learn something cool about science…

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Climb a rock wall for the very first time and get to the top…11068384_911388475569539_2827727956525761895_n

Participate in an activity about supporting one another…
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Run around on a big field of soft grass…barefoot…in bathing suits…getting soaked by buckets of water…11330047_911389688902751_672817623916480351_n (1)

And learn how to make superhero super muffins and fruit burritos…

11329905_911390268902693_6694378623161610065_nI spent two full days as a cooking specialist and while that certainly isn’t a stretch for me in terms of the skill set required, I really had no idea how exhausting it would be to have one group after another come through the tiny kitchen. I was so fortunate to have 3 younger staff members there to truly own it. They were absolutely amazing with those kids. If you are reading this Lexi, Daniel and Roni…thanks from the bottom of my heart. Even though it took for us to run out of butter for you to believe that the muffins would, in fact, taste better with mashed bananas as a replacement (and essentially cut all of the fat out of them), I think you are all SUPER! That said, remember…#mamaknowsbest 🙂20150523_110627

I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t give a huge shoutout to all counselors who totally brought serious energy and enthusiasm to the activity. I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to get excited about baking powder …but they did…and that filtered down to the campers for sure!

You know what else filters down to the campers? The theme chosen for the weekend. This year it was Be Your Own Superhero. They made it very clear to the campers that you don’t need a cape or a mask to be your own superhero but they certainly looked adorable “flying” around camp in ones made by their counselors and they got to decorate.11377395_911955328846187_2465898647680067151_n

And channeling their superhero powers…WOOSH!

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The counselors, of course, were all about the costumes…

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These are high school kids giving up not only their Memorial Day Weekend but also for a few seniors attending their graduation ceremonies. The co-directors, chosen by their peers via an election at an annual convention for the National Federation of Temple Youth – SAR and STR Regions, work tirelessly all year to make sure every T is crossed and every I is dotted.

Remember the goals above? #3, build a generation of young leaders, is absolutely in motion.

#4 from that list of goals? Improve our own lives? Well, I was on my way to dinner last night when I saw that my daughter had tagged me in a Facebook post. She rarely does that so I was obviously very curious and then cried as I read these words…

One final shoutout to my mom, Beth Blacker for going in my place. It meant so much to me that you were finally able to experience what it’s all about!

If that doesn’t improve a mother’s life I don’t know what will.

Actually, her being there with me next year would be a fantastic improvement. Unfortunately she couldn’t make it this year. She’s in the midst of working on her senior film thesis so college took precedence. Her spirit, though, was definitely felt and I’m thinking my name tag should have just said “Jamie’s Mom”…I can live with that!

Possibly the only thing that could improve upon my Camp Jenny experience and, in turn, my life would be to have my son and husband join me and my daughter and make it the ultimate family affair. I was so jealous of the other parents there with their kids. At various points in time I was definitely “adopted” by them especially these three families and I really can’t thank them enough.20150525_081556 (1)

The mothers all met at Camp Coleman and have remained friends through the years. Their children essentially grew up together despite living in three different cities and all very much embody what Camp Jenny is all about.

Suffice it to say Camp Jenny not only improved, but changed my life. My brain absolutely has not shut off since I left two days ago with thoughts of how amazing it would be if there could be hundreds of programs exactly like it around the country. I know some do exist but I’m hard pressed to believe they have quite the intensity I felt.

To all of those incredible children, I wish you a wonderful summer and best of luck earning the opportunity to be back for #CJ2016. For those that have “aged out”, as announced during the closing circle on Monday, you can return to Camp Jenny in high school as a counselor. So do what I’ve always said to my kids…make good choices and make your parents proud!

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut!

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Great Causes, Life Lessons

Technology IS The Devil…And The Reason For Vodka!

In the past few weeks I have gone through a technology meltdown. And that means I drank a lot of vodka. Hey, don’t judge…we all have our vices. Mine just happens to be something with a splash of cranberry juice.

So what drove me to drink? My computer, cell phone and two tablets all acting wonky, not to mention the Bluetooth in my car for whatever reason pairing my cell phone for calls but not media. I know, that’s not an end of the world problem but I use my time in the car to catch up on podcasts about business related stuff. (My favorite you ask? Biz Women Rock)

Fortunately, I have a great computer guy who got my laptop back to “I can tolerate this” status. I don’t expect miracles, but I do think it still deserves a shoutout for Carlos and Ivonne at Fix My Computer On Site here in Tampa. Contact them…seriously, they will not disappoint. They didn’t pay me for this endorsement, I just think they are really awesome.thumbs up

My phone carrier and car dealership…well, that’s a different story. No reason to even mention any names…the last time I did that I got banned from an entire cruise line.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not afraid to name names, I just feel like what’s the point? When it comes to technology, all manufacturers and service providers, in my opinion, are the devil and we have all sold our souls to them by constantly buying their products and signing up for their services.

technology devil

So call me crazy but…I hate technology. That said, I know it is a necessary evil in our lives and we’ll never be able to turn back the hands of Steve Jobs time on this earth… may he RIP. But when things seem to be temporarily (fingers crossed) hurting more than helping, I have to stop and rant take a breath.

Easier said than done especially after spending 3 hours at the dealership and 5 hours at the phone carrier tech support center over the span of 2 days plus about 2 hours back and forth on the phone with customer service calls. Oh and everyone was pointing the finger at each other so, yeah, that is always fun.

Truth be told, I have no one to blame but myself. I am way too reliant on all of this stuff and I think I want out

…as I sit here typing this blog

…on my laptop

…that I’ll then upload to my website

…using Wifi

…and disseminate across social media channels

…undoubtedly via mobile devices

Meh…

Honestly, what’s a girl mature woman person to do? I mean is it really too much to ask that if I spend hundreds of dollars on a device or thousands of dollars on a car that they work properly?

#rhetoricalquestion

I haven’t resolved my tablets issues…more than likely I will have to bite the bullet and get another one. I can understand, sort of, replacing the one that’s 3 1/2 years old. It’s slow, painfully slow, and although I am relatively certain that the powers that be in Silicon Valley and across Asia are laughing their corporate tushies off all the way to the bank, I guess this is the price I will have to pay for going down the technology rabbit hole again and again and again.

The other tablet? That was kind of a freebie when I switched carriers last year so I’m trying not to stress about that one. But still…I need to “wipe the cache partition” whatever that means. I tried following the instructions for doing it via a Google search but pressing MENU+VOLUME UP+POWER all at the same time requires, as one of my friends commented, #octopushands.#octopushands

Meanwhile, the phone – Bluetooth pairing issue? Well, that all started because I thought my former phone screen had cracked and I replaced it using my insurance policy.

Note to self: If your phone has a protective hard plastic clear cover it will, believe it or not, actually protect your phone screen. Good idea to check that’s what cracked before paying the $100 deductible for a new phone.

#IAmAnIdiot

Anyway, the new phone was an upgrade so bigger, faster, better, right?

Sure, but apparently only if you get a new car to go with it…or maybe the user just doesn’t know what she is doing???

I stopped at the dealership and asked if they could just pair it back up. There must be a step I was forgetting.

The old phone Bluetooth pairing worked just fine but the car dealership guy said it had to be a new phone issue and sent me to the phone carrier tech support center. They supposedly tried everything and deduced that the car’s Bluetooth software needed an update and sent me back to the dealership.

Ugh…

The car dealership looked at me like I had 8 heads when I walked in again and told them what the phone carrier said.  Hey, I already need 8 arms so maybe 8 heads will be the answer to my technology woes?

They took the keys and about 2 hours later had me go out to the area where 100 other cars were being serviced, lowered my car down on the lift thingy, told me to get in the driver’s seat and the car tech got into the passenger seat. He wanted to show me that his phone paired fine.

Ummmm…so how exactly does that help me?

After sitting out in a very hot garage for about 45 minutes with the guy pushing a bunch of buttons,  nothing was coming out of my phone through the car speakers. My makeup was melting off my face and I was sweating through my carefully chosen dress for an event that I was attending that afternoon. I was done, reminding myself that my car lease is up this summer and this problem will hopefully resolve itself when I do, in fact, spend thousands getting a new car. Crazy Lady v Goliaths

I left the dealership and about a mile later there was sound coming from my car speakers via my phone Bluetooth connection.

Don’t know how, don’t really care. I just went home and poured myself a vodka on the rocks to celebrate a small success for the day and maybe earning 1 or 2 points on the scoreboard of #firstworldproblems.

That’s it for now…#BlackerOut !

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Filed under Call Me Crazy, Random Stuff, Technology and Social Media