Pages

Friday, December 16, 2011

Book Review: The Glass Castle

I’ve seen extreme poverty. I’ve traveled throughout Mexico, lived in Argentina, and visited Peru. I’ve sat in the humblest of homes without electricity and/or running water. I’ve watched women wash their family’s clothing in a muddy river and cook family meals over an open fire. I’ve walked streets with children playing near open sewers. I’ve seen people wear the same thread-bare clothes day in and day out, with no shoes.

So when I read the true-life story of Jeannette Walls in The Glass Castle, the descriptions of poverty were not shocking to me. It was reading about neglectful, inattentive and selfish parents I found disturbing.

Jeannette’s parents, Rex and Rose Mary Walls, claimed to love their children but did very little in providing guidance or supervision…let alone the necessities of life such a food, shelter and clothing. More times than I can count, the father lost his job. And the mother, who had a college education, could not be bothered to work with rare exceptions. What money they had was spent on alcohol, art supplies and frivolous items. And the parents refused to accept any government or community assistance…even as their children were digging through the school garbage to find scraps of food.

Although the author never directly makes the statement, it’s apparent her parents were mentally ill. The children do the best they can to manage the household and essentially learn to survive in incredibly difficult circumstances.

In the end, the children rise above their upbringing. The author leaves her parents at age 17, and goes on to graduate from college and have a successful career.

I wouldn’t go so far to say it’s a heart-warming story, but it inspiring in a manner. As the author’s sibling put it after reaching adulthood, “It’s really not that hard to put food on the table if that’s what you decide to do.” The book was a reminder that immaterial things such as determination and dreams can’t be taken away from someone.

I recommend Half Broke Horses by the same author before reading The Glass Castle (my review for Half Broke Horses can be found
here). It will help set the stage for some of the craziness to come.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Book Review: The Alchemist

I acquired The Alchemist by Paul Coelho at the Mountain Green Book Group book exchange in November. My neighbor told me she had read it many times and was one of her favorites. I asked her if it was sad or depressing, because heaven knows I don't need anything else to put me in a somber mood these days. She assured me the book would lift my spirits.

I've been reading many years, and until now I've never found a book that after I finished it, I wanted to immediately start over on page one. The Alchemist was incredibly inspiring...a wondeful metaphor for life.

This is a story of a young shepherd named Santiago who chooses to leave a simple, comfortable life in search of treasure. Along the journey, he encounters various people who guide him, deceive him, teach him, protect him, and love him.

A watered-down definition of an "alchemist" is a person who can turn ordinary base metals into gold through an intense refining process. So it is with the young man Santiago. In his treasure-seeking expedition he opens his mind, heart and soul to the experiences along the way.

As Santiago overcomes obstacles, disappointments and pain, he comes to know his personal calling as a human being on this earth. His journey allows him to become a stronger, more wise individual. Along the way he achieves greater satisfaction, gains deeper knowledge and experiences more meaningful love.

One of the things that I truly appreciated about Santiago is he takes time to meditate and reflect on his experiences. Rather than wallow in self-pity and bitterness, he turns trials into opportunities for growth and achievement.

I needed this wonderful story to remind me right now that life is a journey with a purpose. In our journey, we experience both joy and sorrow. And while we seek for those people and experiences that make bring us happiness, it is often the difficulties allowing us to learn the most about our own personal calling.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Review: Half Broke Horses

While others have been occupying Wall Street, I’ve been occupying my mind with Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls. Described by the author as a true-life novel, the book is about an amazing woman named Lily Casey Smith born in 1901.

Imagine Little House on the Prairie on steroids. And that’s putting it mildly.

Lily takes you through her childhood in the West Texas desert where she learned to break and train horses at age five. She spent her teenage years in New Mexico, and at age 15 she became a teacher in a one-room school house 500 miles her parents’ ranch. It took her 28 days traveling on horseback, by herself, to get to her new job and home.

After spending some time learning important life lessons in Chicago as a young adult, she returned to the west and ended up in Arizona. Her passions in life were teaching and ranching. Lily was fearless and tougher than any cowboy around.

Along the way she gets married and has a couple of kids. But don’t get any ideas…this isn’t a love story. If you’re looking for romance, find a different book. She respects her husband and is loyal to him, but I couldn’t figure out if they were truly in-love. Lily tended not to trust men.

(Side note: Lily’s husband was a Jack Mormon born into a very large polygamist family. And Lily herself took a job for a year on the Arizona strip teaching the children of polygamist families. I’ve read several books about polygamy in that area…all written from the points of view of the polygamists themselves. It was interesting to get an outsider’s perspective.)

Lily wasn’t much for compassion or tolerance…didn’t have time for any sort of political correctness or worrying about offending people. She could get a grasp on most any situation, except her wild and head-in-the-clouds daughter Rosemary. (Being the mother of two girls, reading this story made me a little nervous.) I learned at book club last night that Rosemary is the main character in another book, The Glass Castle, by the same author. (Now on reserve for me at the library.)

I thoroughly enjoyed Half Broke Horses. It’s a book full of humorous and life-is-what-you-make-it stories. Lily Casey Smith was one tough broad. I like her.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Gateway We Call Death

It may not come as a huge surprise that I have been reading books about death and grief. My wonderful father passed away after a brief, unexpected illness on September 11, 2011 at the age of 65.

The past three months have been the most difficult of my life. As a result, I have sought professional grief counseling as well as personal study to help me better understand and deal with the complex set of emotions that come with losing a loved one.
I purchased The Gateway We Call Death by Elder Russell M. Nelson. Not only is Elder Nelson an Apostle in the LDS Church, but he is also a reknowned physician and surgeon. Elder Nelson visited my father twice in the hospital and spoke at his funeral. He is a humble, loving and caring man.

Reading this book helped me find peace, and gave me a better understanding of death as part of a greater plan of happiness. Elder Nelson taught me grieving is an expression of pure love for the person who has died, and gratitude for the gifts they have given you in this life. I recommend this book to anyone who has lost a family member or close friend.

A co-worker gave me the book The Birth We Call Death by Paul H. Dunn and Richard M. Eyre. This book is also written in the context of the LDS religion. A quote by Molinos that rang true with me:

"Thou art never at any time nearer to God than when under tribulation, which he permits for the purification and beautifying of the soul."

I believe few experiences in life are more humbling than watching a beloved family member fall critically ill and pass from their mortal existence. This tribulation has brought me closer to my Father in Heaven, and my Brother Jesus Christ. I can't say I'm grateful my dad died, but I'm indeed thankful for the many beautiful and spiritual experiences I had surrounding his death.

I've read two other books in recent weeks: The Orphaned Adult: Understanding and Coping with Grief and Change After the Death of our Parents by Alexander Levy; and, How to Survive the Loss of a Parent: A Guide For Adults by Lois F. Akner.

These books are written by professional therapists who counsel adults dealing with the grief of losing a parent. The books touched on similar points, but I found The Orphaned Adult more beneficial to my situation (even though my mother remains very much alive).

A common theme in both books is when a parent dies, the child loses the unconditional love found in most parent-child relationships. For most human beings, our parents give us a type of love and security that simply cannot be replaced...not by a sibling, spouse or child.

Another major issue addressed in these books is society's lack of understanding on how long and in what manner an adult child should grieve for a parent. After all, we have come to believe that the natural course of life is an adult child should bury their parent. But there are no set timelines for the grief process. Grief can be as unique as the individuals involved in the loss. As one author put it, "Grief must be transversed moment by moment."

I've learned more about death, grief, sorrow, love and compassion in the last three months than I ever knew in my other 41 years put together. I'm still learning from my father's death, and expect lessons from this experience will continue throughout my life.

If you or someone you know is grieving for a parent or loved one, you/they may find these books benefical in the healing process as I have.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day Spa Facial + Hot Rock Massage = :)

A few weeks ago I purchased a Groupon to get a facial at my favorite day spa (New Image Day Spa in South Ogden). Getting a facial is among my favorite things EVER. I treat myself two or three times a year to this indulgence.

The last couple of weeks have been more chaotic and stressful than usual...so I booked my spa visit for the Veterans Day holiday (one of the many benefits of working at a credit union...11 paid holidays!).

This morning, when I arrived at the spa, I was informed that my husband had upgraded my visit to include a hot rock massage. Oh my gosh...does it get any better than that???

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Daycare Finale

My life took such a dramatic turn in August/September 2011 with my father’s sudden illness and death that I overlooked a major milestone in our marriage.

An event that we've eagerly looked forward to for years.

It was a date of significant importance that comes once in a lifetime for working parents everywhere.

We are finished with paying for long-term daycare!

It's over. The end.

Oh glory hallelujah!

For nine years we have paid for daycare.

$100 dollars a week, per child-not-in-school, for nine years.

Although I don’t have an exact dollar amount, my best guess is that we’ve paid $60,000 in child care expenses for our two daughters over the last nine years.

What does $60 grand mean to us?

Half of what we paid for our first house.

Three times what we paid for my car.

15 week-long Caribbean cruises.

25 week-long trips to Disneyland.

150 3-day weekends at the Blue Boar Inn B & B.

600 dinners at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

1200 pairs of shoes (just kidding…I’m a bargain shopper, so probably more like 1500 pairs of shoes).

So now that we’re daycare free, can we go crazy with the spending?

Nope. Now we get to pay for braces. And piano lessons. And singing classes. And Girl Scout uniforms.

And shoes…not for me, but for two pairs of feet that are growing way too fast.

Oh, the joys and expenses of parenthood. It's the most expensive and best job in the world!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hiking In Utah's National Parks

Utah has five national parks (only Alaska has more), and our family visited all of them in 2011. Ryan, the girls and I hiked in every national park in Utah between April and October.

Pretty cool, eh? Below is proof in photos...

Arches National Park, April 2011.
Photo taken at Delicate Arch.






Canyonlands National Park, April 2011.
Photo taken at Mesa Arch.





Zion National Park, July 2011.
Photo taken at Weeping Rock.





Bryce Canyon National Park (October 2011).
Photo taken on Navajo Loop Trail at Two Bridges.




Capitol Reef National Park (October 2011).
Photo taken at Hickman Bridge.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book Review: Pope Joan

Based on a book club recommendation, I put Pope Joan on reserve at the library in July. The long waiting list meant that it didn't become available until September. I was not disappointed.

Pope Joan is not an easy read. In fact, it's quite complex with names, beliefs and customs that are more than a thousand years old. The book is historical fiction based on a ninth-century woman who disguised herself as a man to make a better life for herself.

In the 800s, girls and women were not educated. It was considered unnatural for them to learn to read or write. Females were considered inferior in every measure of society. The descriptions of abuse and neglect towards women are disturbing.

Joan defies the odds, and through a series unusual events learns to read and write in Latin and Greek. She is incredibly bright and gifted. To continue her education, she disguises herself as a man...taking on her dead brother's identity after he is killed in battle. Joan (now John) becomes a monk, studies for years as a monastery, expands her knowledge to the field of medicine and is ordained a priest. All the while, she is disillusioned by the corruption she witnesses in the church.

She makes the pilgrimage to Rome, and it short time becomes the personal physician of the Pope. Joan witnesses corruption and scandal in the church, yet remains. She quickly rises up the ranks of the church, despite attempts by power-hungry men to destroy her.

One person knows her true identity as a woman...a man who has been her only love-interest since her youth. They plan to run away from Rome together so they can be become husband and wife. Everything changes when she is unexpectedly elected the new pope, and he becomes her chief protector. She reigns for two years...her trued identity never discovered until her death.

According to the author, Donna Woolfolk Cross, Pope Joan is not a fictional character. Cross's seven years of research on the subject all point to the validity of Joan's rise to the throne of St. Peter. Modern Catholicism does not acknowledge her existence in any realm of the church.

This is a stop-and-make-you-think type of book. The conditions that the poor lived in during the dark ages were deplorable. Women and girls were treated as property, without any rights...or hope that they could make a better life for themselves. Joan's courage is admirable. Not only did she ignore the widely-held belief that women were inferior to men, but she also fought against corruption and ignorance.

I like to think Pope Joan is more than a myth. I want to believe she is a legend.



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Managing Expectations

Another day, another study about working moms and stay-at-home moms.

***Sigh***

For your reference, here you go http://www.washington.edu/news/articles/lesdepression-for-working-moms-who-expect-that-they-2018can2019t-do-it-all2019

This study suggest that moms who work outside the home are less depressed than their stay-at-home counterparts. However, that's only true when working moms don't take on the I-am-supermom-and-can-do-it-all-perfectly attitude.

In a nutshell, working moms need to chill. No mom ever picked raising a family while managing a career because it is the path of least resistance. It's hard. Dang hard. And we all need to realize that some things may need to slide in order to maintain our sanity.

It all boils down to priorities and attitudes for working moms. Choose your priorities both at home and at the office, get a positive attitude about your choices, and forget the rest.

Pardon me for stepping on my soapbox, but I am weary of women who whine about the need to work outside the home to help financially support their families.

Get. Over. It!

It is not the opportunities and challenges that present themselves in our lives that define us; rather, it is the way we choose to respond to those opportunities and challenges that reveal our true character. Great blessings are in store for us when we embrace opportunities and challenges rather than throw ourselves a pity party because "life is hard."

I can't tell you how many times I've been blasted out of my comfort zone in the workplace. And you know what? Those experiences have made me a stronger and more determined person. That tenacity has been helpful during the last few weeks as I've learned to deal with my father's illness.

I don't write these words to diminish stay-at-home moms. The above-mentioned article states there is truth to the adage "Stay-at-home moms have the hardest job in the world."

My hat is off to you ladies who are in the trenches on the homefront 24/7. I value the stay-at-home moms who take on the roles of school and community volunteers. I appreciate their watchful eyes and kinds words towards my own children.

And truly, I'm not so worried if working moms or stay-at-home-moms are more or less depressed than the other. I'm concerned that moms are depressed.

Life is about managing expectations. Don't set the bar so high that you can never achieve your goals.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bravo Ladies!

Due to recent events surrounding my father's illness*, I've spent dozens of hours at the hospital in the last three weeks. Hanging out at the hospital has given me the unique opportunity to meet many women in the healthcare profession.

It may sound nutty, but I've really enjoyed watching these women in their professional element. And because I'm a talker, I've come to learn that many of these ladies are also moms.

This evening I attended back-to-school night with my daughters and met their teachers. Both teachers appeared professional and quite capable in their jobs. And both teachers mentioned in the course of their presentations that they are moms.

I'm so impressed by these women, both at the hospital and the school. They approach their jobs with enthusiasm and professionalism. Their attitudes are refreshing and uplifting. They have inspired me to do more good at my own office.

Bravo ladies!


*updates on Dad's illness are found here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/cliffordwhetten

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Thankful

The last two weeks have been among the most difficult of my 41+ years. Someone said it's like an emotional rollercoaster, but I feel more like it's an emotional climb of Mt. Everest.

On August 6th, my parents made an emergency return from their mission in Peru. A few days later, my father was diagnosed with a malignant pancreatic tumor. To complicate matters, the tests that were performed to assess the tumor resulted in an extremely severe case of pancreatitis that caused most of my Dad's organs to not function properly. As a a result, 5 of the 14 days my Dad has been in the hospital were spent in the ICU.

At this point, we still don't when my Dad will be strong enough for surgery. And it won't be until after the surgery that we know the extent of the tumor that is in my Dad's pancreas and bile duct.

But even during this incredible challenge, there have been many sweet moments.

When I've been alone in the hospital room with my Dad, we've had very special father-daughter talks. He has shared with me his testimony, thoughts and beliefs. At times, the Spirit is so strong I feel more like I'm in the temple than a hospital.

I had the privilege of being at the hospital when Elder Russell M. Nelson unexpectedly walked in the room, spoke with Dad, and gave him a Priesthood blessing. It was an amazing experience.

There have been other moments when I've been in tears at my home, or the office, or in my car, and the Spirit has calmed me almost immediately so I can carry on with the things I need to do.

And I've had the privilege of reading the many guestbook messages posted on this website http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/cliffordwhetten along with other emails to my Dad and Mom. I've always known they are wonderful people, but to read how Dad and Mom have touched the lives of so many others has been a blessing.

I have had many friends, neighbors, co-workers and extended family members offer me their support. Your kinds words and sweet acts have lifted me up when I've felt sad. Thank you.

My husband continues to be a rock, and wonderful support to me. And my girls are understanding that their Mom is going through a rough time.

Although this is an incredibly difficult experience, I have been truly blessed. I have learned a lot about myself in the last two weeks. My testimony of the Plan of Salvation has been strengthened. And I have come to know what it means to have the Comforter in my life.

I am thankful.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Updates on Dad

I've learned a great lesson in the last seven days: we don't get to pick our trials...we just get to choose how we respond to the challenges that come our way.

Updates about Dad's health situation are available at this website:
http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/cliffordwhetten

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Zuchinni

Yesterday we harvested our first zuchinni, and tonight we made our first batch of zuchinni bread. It's a family favorite...especially with all the chocolate chips we add to the recipe. Of course, this is completely justified because the zuchinni are fresh vegetables grown in our backyard, and it's a great way to get the family their veggies...right?

So the family could hardly wait for the bread to cool a little bit before we devoured it, and I said "Save the end piece for me...that's my favorite."

And my husband said, "You mean the bread butt?"

Really? Bread butt?

How appetizing. How mature.

It was just one of those times I was reminded that even though I don't have a son, I still have a boy living in the house. "Butt" I love that guy...dumb jokes and all!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I don't know if I've ever read such an intriguing "who done it" as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It's no wonder that this book, originally written in Swedish, is an international best seller. The twists and turns of the complex cast of characters have kept me up way past my bedtime too many nights in the last week.

The main storyline centers on a teenage girl and her mysterious disappearance more than 40 years ago. She was once the member of a wealthy and influential Swedish family, and almost everyone in the extended family has been a suspect at some point. A middle-aged, hardcore journalist and young, troubled computer hacker become unlikely partners in determining the truth. And the sub-storylines...oh, the drama!

That being said, I was more disturbed by the book than I was entertained. For starters, the violence is horrific. Of course, this is the opinion of someone who can't even sit through five minutes of Law & Order. But truly, many scenes in the are book absolutely appalling.

Second, I was quite uncomfortable with author's casual approach to sex...even though I've known for years that sexual promiscuity is "normal" behavior in Sweden. Nonetheless, the actions and attitudes of the characters in the book are very different from what I believe to be moral. Call me a prude...I don't care...but I still believe in monogamous intimate relationships that begin only after a man and woman are married. (But that may be a completely different blog topic for another time.)

Third, the language. Quite simply, it was offensive.

So despite all of the rave reviews, I have chosen not to read the other two books in the trilogy. Sadly, I'm left hanging with so many questions to storylines left unanswered. But I just can't justify the entertainment value when it comes plagued with such intense violent and sexual content.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mom Genes

We recently had an enjoyable extended weekend in St George. Among other things, we hiked in Zion National Park, shopped at the outlet stores, swam in the pool, and attended The Little Mermaid musical at Tuacahn. And let’s face it ladies…we love staying in hotels where someone else makes the beds and picks up the towels.

With so much non-stop togetherness, upon arriving home after a five-hour road trip we all scattered to different parts of the house. My husband went to his office. One daughter headed downstairs to play with her neglected Barbies while the other daughter spent some quality time with the cat in her room.

Me? If you’re a mom, you already know…I headed for the laundry room.

I spent the next three hours managing loads of dirty laundry that had accumulated over the last four days. In between washing and drying, I unpacked/put away everything else, made dinner, sorted through the mail, checked on the garden, updated girl scout uniforms with new patches, and essentially restored order to the entire Windley family universe.

Is there some sort of “mom gene” (not to be confused with mom jeans) that prohibits us from sitting still for two minutes with unpacked suitcases and piles of dirty laundry hanging around the house? I can have a fun-filled and relaxing vacation, but the moment I’m home my life becomes a multi-tasking marathon.

Unless I’m soaking in the jetted tub, I cannot relax in my own home. I’m buzzing all over the house like it’s going to come crashing down if I’m not running around to hold it up.

At this point, I imagine you’re saying to yourself “Diana, if you’d just kick the Diet Coke habit you could probably chill out a little.”

Yep…already been down that road. You can read all about it
here.

So this is my latest try-to-relax-at-home idea…hire a housekeeper. Of course I need to sell this plan to my husband, which won’t be easy.

But hey, I’ve had a full-time career for 17+ years and 9 ½ of those years include children. And it’s not like I want to hire Alice from The Brady Bunch to move in with us and date the local butcher. I just some bathroom scrubbing, floor cleaning and window washing to happen...and not by me.

So let me know if you have any recommendations on housekeeping services. Oh, and how to convince my husband it’s a fabulous idea.

I’ll keep you posted on the results.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Follow Me Please!

Dear Gentle Reader,

I'd appreciate it if you'd kindly follow my blog.

You can do so by find the "Follow Me Please" section on the right hand side of the screen... keep scrolling down past the word cloud, blogs-I-read list, witty Twitter comments, etc. (If that doesn't work, contact me and I'll walk you thru the process.)

I'm not giving away a doo-dad if you follow me. (But I might buy you a Diet Coke during Happy Hour at Sonic.)

I'm not entering you to win a what-cha-ma-call-it if you make a comment. (Unless you're interested in my snowman collection. If not, I'm going to "Give Stuff A Second Chance" at the Deseret Industries.)

I've got nothing to sell to you. (With the exception of a mortgage, auto loan, and/or checking account from my favorite credit union. Contact me for great rates!)

I barely have time to blog, let alone come up with cutesy, creative give-aways.

Besides...marketing is what I've been doing for a living for 17+ years. I need a break from that stuff at home.

But if you find it in your heart to officially follow this blog, it would make my day.

Thank you,

Diana Windley

PS -- And I promise not to stalk and hunt you down if you decline this gracious invitation.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Postmistress

I bought The Postmistress by Sarah Blake earlier this month. It came highly recommended by Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help...which is one of my favorite books ever! (You can read my review of The Help here.)

The Postmistress is historical fiction about two women in the year leading up to the USA officially entered World War II. One woman is radio reporter covering the war in Europe. The other woman is the postmaster in a small, resort town on the cape in Massachusetts. Their lives intersect when fate has tasked them with personally delivering news bad news to the same person.

At the beginning of the book, the women take their professional responsibilities quite seriously...almost to an extreme, robotic level. But as events in Europe begin to hit closer to home, each is ethically conflicted. What was once black and white has become shades of gray.

Although the book is very well written and thought provoking, I just couldn't get past all of the sadness. In particular, the reporter who traveled through war torn Europe helplessly witnessed so many heartbreaking scenes. Many of the events written about in the book actually occurred in 1940-41.

I was a disappointed in the The Postmistress...it wasn't what I had anticipated by reading the back cover and reviews. The book was heavy and somewhat depressing. In fact, in all of the storylines threaded through the book, there were no happy endings.

The Postmistress...not really my thing.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Eavesdropping at DFW

Last week I was sitting in the DFW airport with my husband and our girls waiting for our return flight to SLC. Airports are awesome for people watching and eavesdropping. (Don't judge…you do it too.)

In the waiting area at our gate, we sat across from a man and a woman dressed in professional business attire. I gathered they were work associates on a business trip. The very tan, 30-something woman was dressed-to-the-nines in a black skirt, silk blouse, high heels, and some swanky bling (didn’t notice a wedding ring). She spared no expense on her appearance.

As I was attempting to control my 5 year-old, I overhead the woman tell her travel companion that she was tired due to a late evening at the salon. While she was getting her hair done, Mark Cuban’s wife came in for her appointment. Mark had given her an expensive bottle of wine to take along…no doubt to celebrate the Mavericks’ recent NBA championship. All the ladies in the salon stayed late into the night getting pampered and drinking fancy wine out of paper cups toasting the Mavs.

Oh, the glamorous life of a female business professional.

How must it be?

Wait a second…I’m a female business professional too.

But I do not live in fancy clothes and jet around the country for business meetings. Nor do I rub shoulders at the salon with the wives of NBA team owners. There’s not a lot of glam in the world of Utah credit union marketing.

I buy work clothes at consignment shops and bling made in China. My last business excursion was to Provo, driving the bright-yellow company Scion 100 miles round trip. And I sip Diet Coke alongside whoever walks into Essensual Salon in South Ogden on an occasional Tuesday evening after a long day at the office.

The experience left me wondering a few things:

Which scenario (mine or Mrs. Cuban’s salon drinking buddy) is the stereotypical female business professional?


Is this the difference between women working in upscale Dallas and not-so-alluring Ogden?

Would she look that great with a couple of kids climbing all over her?

And finally, how much does it cost to get your hair done at the salon that caters to Mark Cuban’s wife?

I guess that’s what I get for people watching and eavesdropping…plenty of questions for which I’ll never know the answers.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Traveling with Children

Traveling with children is the ultimate test of patience for a wife and mother.

On our flight back to Utah from Dallas this week, I was sitting next to our 5 year-old trying to keep her occupied with coloring books, puzzles, tic-tac-toe, story books, snacks, etc. For 2 1/2 hours, every 10 minutes I was finding something else to keep her entertained.

A very generous flight attendant gave her a full can of Sprite, so I had to take her to the "lavatory". She loves the little bathroom with the little sink, little mirror, little towels, etc. For her, it's like a dollhouse. (Nevermind that there was a line for the only working lavatory on the plane...she was in no hurry to get out of there.)

Sitting across the aisle from us was my husband with our 9 year-old daughter. For the entire flight, he was reading a book and thoughtfully taking notes. Every time I looked over at him he was peacefully pensive...completely unaware of the battle taking place between his wife and 5 year-old. It was like he was at the library and I was at the zoo.

So I've decided that on our next family vacation I'm flying first-class and leaving him in the cheap seats with the kids. I'm going to put up my feet, read a book and sip a fancy non-alcoholic beverage. And if the 5 year-old has to go to the lavatory, I'll have the flight attendant remind him that passengers in coach are not allowed to use the first-class facilities.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Right Word

I'm having issues with a word lately...and that word is PARTNER.

In a book that I recently read, the info about the author stated that "she lives with her partner and their two children in England".

So my question is this...is the partner of the author a legally married spouse, or are they just shacked-up?

In the book, the author described a male character as living with his partner, who was a woman, and their daughter. So I don't think that I should assume that when the author refers to her significant other as her "partner," that it is a same-sex relationship

Part of me thinks that it doesn't matter because I didn't like the book in the first place, so why should I care?

But the other part of me is screaming "it does matter!"

A "partner" is your companion in business, your co-conspirator in crime, the person that you do-si-do with in a square dance.

This guy I've been living with for the last 13+ years isn't merely my "partner"...he is my husband, my best friend, my one and only love, and the father of our children.

Is my husband my partner in life? Yes, technically speaking. But I think the term "partner" sounds cold. Like referring to your children as offspring. Or your cat as a mammal.

It's just not the right word.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Room

I read Room by Emma Donoghue on a recommendation. I had it on reserve at the library for more than a month before it became available, so I thought it must be a good read. I brought the book along on our family vacation to Dallas.

The fictional story is told from the point-of-view of a five year-old boy. He has lived his entire life in an 11x11 foot room. He was born in "room", delivered by his own mother who had been held captive in "room" for seven years by a random kidnapper.

Yep...pretty heavy stuff.

The mom does a pretty good job of raising her son given the circumstances. But she's starting to lose it mentally and the boy is getting more curious about their little world.

The first half of the book is extremely repetitive, as you might imagine for two people trapped in a small space. I was bored while reading it, but just interested enough to discover if/how they would get out of their little prison.

So I kept reading.

The mom and boy did escape about mid-way through the book. I must admit that those were heart-pounding pages. But after they made it to safety, I still had more than one hundred pages to go.

The last half was even more depressing as the mom is trying to come to terms with everything that happened to her and in the world during the last seven years. She is so unstable that she can't even help her son. And the boy, he is so confused and scared that he just wants to go back to "room" to live alone with his mom. In the end, they both begin to cope with their new surroundings and make plans for a new life together.

It took four days to read the book, which is record time for me. But it was not a light, fun summer read. I found this book to be dark and depressing. Definitely not something to take along on a relaxing trip.

I was probably supposed to be inspired about people overcoming adversity and moving on, but this book was not inspirational. It had a few funny moments as the five year-old was discovering the world around him...kind of like a puppy...but other than that, it was mostly dreary and disturbing.

So I will only pass on this recommendation: unless depressing literature is your thing, don't read Room.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I like wearing high heels. However...

Okay ladies…you may have noticed that I mention high heels in my blog posts from time to time. So I just must share this online article with you about the latest big-city trend…biking in heels.

You got it…dressed to the nines, including high heels, on a bike in crazy traffic urban areas. And when I say bike, I’m not talkin’ motorcycle. These ladies are cruising around on bicycles…the kind you pedal. With your feet. Wearing heels.

We get a lot of bikers in our neck of the woods, I’ll keep you posted if this latest fashion trend makes it all the way to Mountain Green.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cuticles


No one has asked me for beauty tips lately (go figure?!?!) so I thought I’d just share something any way as a gift to this blog's readers (all eight of you).

Go get yourself some Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream (BBLBCC).

I have horrible cuticles. Painfully cracked and bleeding cuticles. My poor little fingers are not helped by the fact that I live in the second-driest state in the nation. My cuticles are unaware that all of northern Utah is under a severe flood watch.

Google “cracked cuticles” and you’ll be presented with options for all sorts of remedies. Everything beginning with Vaseline and rubber gloves (no thanks) to exotic lotions and potions from around the world (too expensive).

I love Burt’s Bees lip balm, so when a site recommended the cuticle cream, I was on the hunt (found it at Ulta and Wal-Mart). I purchased cotton white gloves to wear at night with the cuticle cream along with the Burt's Bees hand cream and body butter.

I'm not messing around...we're talking about curing cracking cuticles!

My husband doesn’t allow me to even wear socks to bed, so you can imagine his reaction to me wearing gloves. I suppose he was tired my whining about the pain, so he granted me permission to wear the gloves. (Seriously…this is a big issue on our marriage. I can wear flannel PJs from my neck down to my wrists and ankles, but my feet must be naked.)

After a week of cuticle TLC, I purchased two more BBLBCCs. I have BBLBCC everywhere I go…one for home, one for the office, and one for my purse. (
Add it to the list!)

I.Love.My.Cuticles!

Obviously…who else would blog about her cuticles unless she was being paid by Burt’s Bees? (Which I’m not. However, if Burt’s Bees wants to send me some more BBLBCC, I’ll gladly accept it.)

So there’s the beauty tip you didn’t ask for…from your friendly non-beauty-expert blogger.

Give BBLBCC a try. Your cuticles will thank me.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Women at Work

There are a couple of stories in the media today that I found interesting about women in the workforce.

One of the articles is about the low percentage of women and minorities serving on boards in corporate America. In the nation's largest publicly traded companies, women make up on 18 percent of director positions and only 8.4 percent of highest-paid positions.

I find it ironic that companies such as Urban Outfitters, who specifically target females, have boards made up of all white males. There are other companies such as Principal Financial Group that realize the value of gender diversity throughout the organization. They subscribe to the theory that good gender balance is a competitive advantage for the company.

More details are in the article found
here.

The other article is about my favorite topic of work-life balance. It specifically addresses how work-life balance is important for healthy marriage relationships. What I found most interesting is that once children are added to the marriage, there is often a shift in the work-life balance dynamic for both the husband and wife.

You can read the full article here.

Enjoy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Office Reputation

Word-for-word conversation held in my office today...

Co-Worker from Training Dept, and fellow working mom, pokes her head in my office door and said: "Hey Diana, can I ask you a question?"

Me (Marketing Dept): "Sure, what's up?"

Co-Worker: "Does Coke Zero have sugar in it?"

Me: "Nope. No sugar, just like Diet Coke...only it tastes better."

Co-Worker: "Good. I figured if anyone would know around here, it would be you. And you're right, it does taste better. Thanks."

Me: "No problem. Any time."

And that's why I refer to the marketing department as the nerve center of the organization. All of the truly important conversations impacting the good of the business (and for human race in general) take place in that office.

If only walls could talk...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Water For Elephants

There are some pretty unsavory characters and happenings that went along with train-traveling circuses during the Great Depression. My imagination ran wild reading all about them in the historical novel Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

From one week to the next the main character, Jacob Jankowski, goes from getting an Ivy League education in veterinary medicine to mucking-out train cars carrying exotic animals. The less-than-reputable circus is a rag-tag group of performers, freaks and laborers who are on-the-take from patrons of the show as well as eachother. Jacob manages to form a few alliances along the way but risks everything when he falls in-love with the wrong girl (or right girl, depending on how you look at it).

This book is a great example of why I love historical fiction. The author provided incredible insight into the desperation people felt during the Great Depression as well as life on the road (or the tracks, as it were) of a traveling circus.

I was hook, line and sinker for this book from the get-go. I found the plot's twists and turns thrilling...especially the ending.

WOW...what an ending! LOVED. IT!!! (I stayed up way past my bedtime because I could not go to sleep until I finished the book...and then all I could do was lay awake and think about the I-didn't-see-that-coming ending.)

The setting also provided for a handful of sad moments, as well as a few crude scenes and some foul language that I found distasteful. I'm a PG-13 kinda gal...what can I say?

Now I'd like to go see the movie which is currently in theaters, but I have even less time to watch shows than I do to read books. Let me know if you've seen the movie...and your thoughts compared to the novel.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

If The Shoe Fits...

It’s the semi-annual closet clean-out event at the Windley house. My girls are growing like weeds and they just can’t squeeze into last summer’s shorts and sandals. Clothes and shoes that are salvageable from my 9 year-old (Lauren) go into a plastic tote in the basement to await their resurrection in three years for my younger daughter. If clothes and shoes have survived the beatings from my 5 year-old (Jenna), we give them to an extended family member .

The other day I sent the girls to their closet to begin the process while I prepared lunch. My specific instructions to Jenna:

“Go to your room, try on all your shoes and put the ones that don’t fit you in a pile so we can take them Sarah’s granddaughter.”

Five minutes later, she walks into the kitchen BAWLING. She was sobbing so hard she couldn’t even catch her breath.

Me, to Lauren: “What’s wrong with Jenna?”

Lauren: “She’s upset because she has to give away her shoes.”

Me, turning to Jenna: “You’re sad about your shoes honey?”

Jenna: [Hysterical bawling followed by a head nod “yes”]

Me: “You only have to give away the shoes that don’t fit you anymore.”

Jenna: [More hysterics]

Me, hugging my distraught child: “I understand honey. I love my shoes too. But if they are too tight on your feet let’s give them to a little girl who can wear them.”

Jenna: [Heart-breaking sobs continue]

Me: “Will you feel better if I buy you some cute new shoes?”

Jenna: [Wiping away tears, head nod “yes”]

Lauren, realizing the opportunity presented in this dramatic situation: “Does that mean I get new shoes too? You always say there’s no such thing as too many shoes.”

Me: “Yes and Yes, I do.”

Like mother, like daughters. New shoes help us feel better.

And as the saying goes, “If the shoe fits, buy it in every color.”

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Messages For LDS Moms

I love moms. All moms. Stay-at-home moms. Working moms. Used-to-work-but-now-retired moms. Young moms. Experienced moms. Grandmoms. Future moms. Moms with one kid. Moms with a half a dozen kids. Aunts, cousins and friends who aren’t actual birth-giving moms but act like moms anyway. Moms are rock stars.

I'm a working mom, and I've taken some heat for that choice. I’ve talked to other working moms, and they agree that "working mom status" isn't always met with approval. The heat seems to be more intense for LDS working women. Perhaps we’re just a sensitive bunch, but I don’t think so. Working moms tend to develop thick skins at the office. It comes with the territory.


(Career women may get more outward applause and praise than our stay-at-home counterparts, but we also get more rejection and criticism. It’s one thing to have your kid pull a funny face at the chicken casserole you’ve prepared all afternoon. It’s a completely different thing to have your boss deny the proposal you’ve been working on for weeks.)

Back on topic. (My mind tends to wander…happens in your 40s. I blame it on too much Duran Duran in the 80s.)

I was driving with my girls to a Girl Scout activity during the Saturday morning session of the April 2011 LDS General Conference when I heard Elder Quentin L. Cook say:

"...we should all be careful not to be judgmental or assume that sisters [women] are less valiant if the decision is made to work outside the home. We rarely understand or fully appreciate people's circumstances."

Elder Cook continued, "I would hope that Latter-day Saints would be at the forefront in creating an environment in the workplace that is more receptive and accomodating to both women and men in their reponsibilities as parents."


I kept looking for the remote to push the rewind button. (Doesn’t exist on the car radio, by the way.) As an LDS working mom who blogs about finding work-life balance, this was practically an endorsement! (As a marketing professional, I'm compelled to add a disclaimer that no endorsement is expressed or implied.)

So it's official. Elder Cook is my new favorite general authority. Can we have favorites? Maybe he’s my unofficial favorite. I’ll just sustain him twice next time General Conference comes around.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's Over, Oprah

I may be the only female in the USA who isn’t sad or upset about Oprah ending.

I can honestly say that watching Oprah has not changed my life. It has not inspired me to become a better/worse person. It has not been a motivator to do good/bad in the world. It has not given me hope/despair for the future.

I don’t hate Oprah. I’ll watch Oprah the two times a year I take a sick day.

I can name three times in my life that I watched Oprah on a regular basis, and they are all related to staying home from school/work for a health issue or maternity leave.

Maybe that’s why I’m not upset about Oprah ending. I associate watching the show with pain, misery or sleeplessness. Or seeing Tom Cruise jump up and down on a yellow leather couch.

(Okay…there was that one episode with Bon Jovi that was really good. It actually helped me feel better. You can’t go wrong with those guys.)

I won't be watching the last show (unless I'm sick). And I don't plan on setting the DVR.

It's over, Oprah. Time to put the yellow leather couch on eBay.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Last Jihad

I attended the local book club for the first time last week. I managed to read the entire assigned book, The Last Jihad by Joel Rosenberg, and get it back to the library on the due date with 10 hours to spare. This is noteworthy only because it’s been the busiest May in my 40-year history of Mays.

Is it just me, or is May the second-craziest month of the year after December?

But I digress…

I was reading The Last Jihad in the days immediately following the death of Osama Bin Laden. I’m not a huge Barack Obama fan, but that was a guttsy move by Mr. President to order our military into Pakistan and take out Al Qaeda’s number one dude.

Yet I digress again…

It was quite timely to read this book at the time of Bin Laden’s death. The Last Jihad was written nine months before 9/11. The fictional book focuses on our country's response to global terrorists' acts originating in the Middle East. After 9/11, the author held-off publishing the book until 2002 so he could add the real-world 9/11 events to the fictional story. The author also includes real-world characters such as Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. But the main characters in the book, including the U.S. President and his advisors, are fictional.

Some of the futuristic details are now historically incorrect. For example, in the novel Osama Bin Laden dies shortly after 9/11 but Saddam Hussein is still alive and the mastermind of the global terrorist movement. In my opinion, the factual inaccuracies weakened the intensity of the book. I guess Rosenberg's crystal ball wasn't working 100% while he was writing.

Even so, I found the book to be “this-is-scary-but-it-feels-good-to-be-an-American”… reminding me of the Tom Clancy novels I read in the 90s.

I didn’t realize that The Last Jihad is the first of five books in a series until I went to book club, but that explains the unsatisfying ending. The author totally left me hanging…which I suppose is the point in a series. Looks like I have more books to add to my need-to-read list.

But first...

I’m currently reading Change Anything…a self-help, motivational book. (Because everyone knows I need all the help I can get.)

And sitting on my nightstand is Water For Elephants…which I want to read before seeing the movie. (I hope Robert Patterson has normal skin tone in this show.)

Not to mention, I'd like to start reading the Harry Potter books we gave our daughter for Christmas. (Am I the only person who hasn’t read those books yet?)

But the biggest reading achievement of the last year was definitely getting through 45 learn-to-read books with our Kindergartener.

Whew! Soooo glad it’s summer!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Diet Coke Update

I lasted 40 days without a Diet Coke before I caved.

I didn't make the Biblical connection of the 40-day Diet Coke fast until a few days ago.

According to the Old Testatment, it rained 40 days and 40 nights during the epic known as "Noah and the Ark". Then the rain stopped and rainbow appeared as a promise that the earth would never be flooded again.

(Or something along those lines. It's been alotta years since I took early morning seminary.)

I didn't find a rainbow at the end of my Diet Coke hiatus, but I discovered something almost as good.

One day I found myself wandering down the beverage aisle at Wal-Mart, looking away from the Diet Coke when I spotted "Energy" Crystal Light.

Intrigued, I picked-up the package. Apparently, "Energy" is code on the front of the label for "Caffeine" listed on the back of the label.

Oh. Baby!

I threw three packages into my cart and skipped on over to the self-checkout lane.

I'm telling you...I pop one of those Energy Crystal Light packets into my bottle of water every morning when I get to the office and BAM! I'm ready to go-go!

These days, an ocassional Diet Coke is saved for a Saturday afternoon or a road trip. Or if I'm eating Mexican food. (It's against the law to eat Mexican food without a Coke...just ask my mom.)

Thanks Energy Crystal Light...for being my personal rainbow after the no-Diet-Coke storm.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stress Junkie

I have a new diagnosis: Stress Seeker

According to one expert noted in Women’s Health, some of us think we need to be stressed-out all of the time in order to really feel alive. The “rush” from stress stimulates hormones such as adrenaline, DHEA and cortisol. Tension can become addictive and bring on unhealthy cravings for more.

Like crazy, outta control addicts we actually seek-out stress!

So if stress is a drug, then I’m a junkie.

"Hello, my name is Diana Windley and I'm a stressaholic."

Recognizing that I have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?

I had no clue about what the second step could be, so I did what naturally comes next and “Googled” STRESS, which linked me to “Wiki” STRESS which led me to online info about CHRONIC STRESS.

Hooked, I kept reading. With every click of the mouse I could feel the tension increase in my shoulders and neck.

For the love-of-peaches, I don't just have STRESS...I have CHRONIC STRESS!!!

I linked to another website that said non-stop, stressed-out people feel like they must always be “on” and rushed and frenzied and frantic.

They might as well as added a footnote that said “See Diana Windley”.

Another article said that modern women see stress as synonymous with success. If we’re not totally overwhelmed, we’re not doing enough.

Yep, yep. All true. True blue.

And then there’s this…stress causes weight gain and irritability. (And I thought it was too much chocolate and lack of caffeine.)

My self diagnosis:



I’m just an outta control, chubby hamster running
fast and furious on the stress wheel of life.



It took me about an hour to realize that reading about the negative effects of stress is really counterproductive for someone who is trying to control stress. And writing about it doesn’t seem to help much either.

Hmmmm…

(And you thought you were following a blog about achieving work/life balance…ha!)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Working Mommy Makeover

Sometimes when you're a working mom there are times when your appearance is less than professional. Like when you show up to the office with baby spit-up all over your dry-clean-only jacket. Or you smell like Desitin.

Today was "mommy-makeover" day at my daughter's kindergarten class. She gave me the royal treatment as she rearranged my hair, generously applied three different shades of lip gloss, and "carefully" painted my finger nails with dark red polish. My little girl was quite pleased with her efforts to make mom beautiful.

Immediately following my morning at the Mountain Greeen kindergarten salon, I hopped in the car and raced down to Salt Lake City for a couple of business meetings.

I was able to salvage my hair and lips...but the nails...well, they remained "manicured" for my meetings and the rest of the work day.

And I loved it!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pajama Pants

It's rare that people come to me for fashion advice.

Okay, it's never happened.

Regardless, I have something to say about "What Not To Wear."

And that would be pajama pants in public. You must not wear them outside your home.

Not at Wal-Mart. Not at the grocery store. Not to the quickie mart. Not at the movie theater. Not at school. Not at Starbucks. Not at Denny's. Not at Boston's (like I saw last week). Nope. Not anywhere.

If you are going one foot beyond your driveway, it is completely unexceptable to wear pajama pants. Not even cute pajama pants. Not even expensive, namebrand pajama pants. Not even if you "bling" your pajama pants or make them "vintagey". Even if you want to wear pajama pants with heels, it is not acceptable. Not ever.

This rule applies to adults, teenagers and children beyond toddler stage. This goes for both males and females. There are no exceptions.

No pajama pants in public.

So let it be written. So let it be done.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Weddings & Wars

I'm not a big TV watcher, so last weekend will probably go down in the record books for me.

For starters, it was the Royal Wedding on Friday. It's a good thing that we have the DVR because I just might have been one of those crazies who set the alarm at 2 a.m. to watch it live. Even then, I got up at 6 a.m. to check out Kate's dress. As expected, she was gorgeous.

And let's be honest ladies, so was David Beckham. My, my, my GOODness! But what was going on with his wife's six-inch stilettos? I L-O-V-E heels, but seriously...how did she walk in those things...and pregnant to boot?!?!?!

So after work on Friday night my daughters and I (with occasional participation by my husband) sprawled-out across the sectional couch to watch the wedding. It turned into a hilarious 3-hour commentary on women's hats.

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie? C'mon!

What. Were. They. Thinking?

On a more serious note, the second big TV-watching event of the weekend was unplanned. We turned on the TV for the first time on Sunday after 9 p.m. to find out the Osama Bin Laden had been killed.

Dead. Finally.

My husband and I were glued to the TV 'til midnight.

Stunned.

Last year the war became personal when my cousin was killed in Afghanistan. Until that moment, I had never personally known someone who died in war. My cousin's funeral was one of the best, most patriotic experiences that I wish I never had.

It's hard to explain, but it felt "right" to me that Osama Bin Laden was shown no mercy by team USA. (And this is coming from someone who doesn't support capital punishment.)

When the weekend started, I was proud to be an American because we had the good sense not to wear ridiculous hats. By the time the weekend was over, I was filled with pride for a much better reason.

God Bless America!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Somewhat Poor" EQ

The other day I attended a “Women In Business” luncheon where the guest speaker’s topic was Emotional Intelligence. I was so excited and motivated about her lecture on Emotional Intelligence that later on I Googled the subject to learn more. I found tidbits such as:

Emotional Intelligence is how we learn to be “smart” with our feelings.

And

Emotional Quotient (EQ) can be compared to IQ, or Intelligence Quotient. A person’s EQ measures how effectively they use their thoughts and feelings to make optimal decisions and build relationships.

Then I found an online test to determine my EQ. I took the 106-question quiz and awaited the results in anticipation.

I scored 88 out of 155 possible points, placing me in the 21st percentile (just a clarification...that's not so great). And then the quiz provided me the following summary of my EQ score (I'm providing my personal thoughts in red parenthesis):

“According to your self-report answers, your emotional intelligence is 'somewhat poor'. (What???) People who score like you may at times feel that they have trouble dealing with their own emotions and those of others. (Okay, this could be true.) They sometimes struggle to overcome difficulties in their lives and they are not always able to control their moods. (I’m not moody…am I? Of course, that depends on if I’m on a diet and/or lack of sleep. Or I'm stressed.) It may be hard for them to understand how best to motivate themselves to overcome obstacles and reach their goals. (I’m motivated by food, so that in itself is a problem with my goal to lose weight.) In addition, they find social interactions difficult at times, for several reasons. They may have trouble allowing themselves to get close with others, finding it difficult to be vulnerable enough to establish intimacy or perhaps lacking understanding of, or comfort with, social interactions. (Who has time for social interactions? I’m a working mom! That being said, I avoid “getting down in the weeds” with personal issues. Maybe it’s too many years in the business world attempting to appear savvy and tough.) Perhaps by working on your problem areas, you can become more confident in dealing with your own emotions and those of others. (My problem areas are my butt, thighs and gut. In addition, I have a problem finding time to shop for/cook healthy meals for my family and keep the house in a somewhat clean, orderly state. Another emerging problem area is the lovely crop of dandelions coming up in the yard.)

So there you go.


You are reading the words of a blogger who has a "somewhat poor" EQ. Apparently, there’s not a lot of emotional intelligence going on here.

Of course, I’m probably just confirming what you had already suspected about me. So thanks in advance for being my friend…and in particular to those of you who interact with me socially.

Apparently, I need all the help I can get! :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nugget of Wisdom

I came across this little nugget of wisdom today and thought it was worthy enough to share:


"If the world was a logical place,
men would ride side saddle."


(Hee-Hee!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pre-Vacation Craziness

I am worn out getting ready for a little four-day spring break getaway.

It's not enough that I have to get this family of four ready with laundry, suitcases, roadtrip activities, and picnic lunches. (And where the heck am I going to hide the Easter basket goodies in our car?)

No, there's much more to do than just preping the family. If you're a working gal, then there's the stuff to do at the office just so you can be out for a couple of days.

Fortunately, I have a great team who can definitely keep things humming along in our department. But there are things that I can't/won't/don't delegate. Don't ask me why because I probably couldn't come up with a good answer. Maybe it's just for job security.

The point is, when I take vacation I don't just have to get my family ready and my house in order. I have to get my job duties situated so I'm not buried when I walk back in the door.

There is so much time and effort that goes into getting ready for a vacation that I have determined that I need a pre-vacation to get everything all together for the actual vacation. And then when I get back, I need a post-vacation to everything back to normal.

In the ideal world according to Diana Windley, a four-day spring break trip would actually go six days to accomodate pre- and post-vacation days.

But in the real world, I'll work 'til the last minute, cram as much fun as we can into four days, come home dog-tired with suitcases filled with dirty laundry, and try not to drown in the swimming pool of work, school and home life on Monday morning.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wage Gap For Women In Utah

This article should get women in Utah fired up. Unfortunately, it probably won't garner much reaction.

On average, full-time working women in Utah earn $14,600 less annually than their male counterparts.

You can read the full article in the Salt Lake Tribune here: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/money/51607664-79/women-utah-gap-families.html.csp

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Interview Questions

Out of the blue, the mail carrier dropped off a package with a book at my office. It’s always nice to receive an unexpected gift. The book is titled Profiles in Marketing Excellence by Pamela Lockard. It profiles marketing professionals who are at the top of their game. I don’t know Pamela personally, but I certainly do appreciate her thinking about her partners in crime (errr, marketers)!

In this book, the author asks the marketing pros who are profiled to answer a question with another question: “What is your favorite interview question?”

I don't know about you, but I've been asked some odd things over the years as I have been interviewed for different jobs. For example:

“Would you leave this job if your husband found a different job out-of-state?” (Seriously? Is this 1960?)

“Why did it take you six years to graduate from college?”
(Missionary service for 18 months in Argentina.)


“You are never to speak with anyone in upper management unless you go directly through me first. Will you have a problem with that?”
(Yes...I think I have a problem with you.)


Always looking for fresh material, I decided to borrow some of the interview questions found in this book to use when I’m hiring for positions in my marketing/sales department. It could make the interview process more insightful…going beyond the normal “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “where do you see yourself in five years?” or “what is the last book you read?” Blah! (Everyone already has canned responses for those questions anyway.)


Check out the questions below and ask yourself how you would personally answer them in a job interview.


How do you choose your socks in the morning?


Why wouldn’t I hire you?


What is the best advice you ever received?


What is the higher purpose that drives you?


What do you wish you would have done differently in your career?


What ideas did you have this morning on your way to work?


What would you do if you only had one more day to live?


How much of your success is accidental?


Feel free to tell me your favorite (or worst) interview question in the comment section. I need all the help I can get!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Life Without Diet Coke

I gave up Diet Coke two weeks ago. It’s been a long two weeks…for me, my family, and my co-workers.

And when I say Diet Coke that includes Diet Pepsi, Diet Dr Pepper and pretty much any carbonated beverage that has caffeine. I thought about giving up soda all together, but today I caved and purchased a diet cherry limeade from Sonic.

(Sidenote: Yes, I realize that once they mix in the cherry syrup, they’ve probably added more than enough sugar to make-up for the “diet” part of the diet cherry limeade. I'm not crazy enough to give up caffeine and sugar at the same time.)

I’m not even completely sure why I’m on this quest. I’ve had a couple of friends tell me that giving up Diet Coke helped them lose weight. I can’t see how this is possible because I’ve become a carbaholic in the last two weeks. I’m so tired from the lack of caffeine in my system that I’m grabbing candy, chocolate or whatever other sugary-substance I can find to help me stay awake. (Thank goodness there is an endless supply of Dum-Dums lollypops just one floor down from my office!)

I read online that giving up caffeine would be similar to, and I quote, “coming out of a fog after the first three or four days.” Whatever! If this is what it feels like to be fog-free, then throw me back into the swamp. Things were much clearer when I was on my caffeine buzz.

I must admit that I am sleeping better at night sans the caffeine. Maybe I’m sleeping too well. I’m so tired that I’m dragging myself to bed by 10 p.m. and getting a full eight hours of shut eye. When’s the last time that happened?

I’ve been hitting the treadmill and Thursday-night yoga class to get those endorphins moving. Unfortunately, quality time on the treadmill at 6 a.m. doesn’t give me a boost for that 3 p.m. strategy meeting with the boss.

I’ve gone for long periods of time without Diet Coke in the past. With both pregnancies I gave up caffeine…and went right back to it within hours of delivery.

The jury is still out on the case if Diana will start feeling better without caffeine. We’re two weeks into the trial and I’m not a believer. But I’ll keep the faith. I’m not a quitter…yet.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Work/Life with Dilbert

I love Dilbert! I especially enjoyed today's comic strip because it's about a subject near and dear to my heart...Work/Life Balance. Enjoy!


Dilbert.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Two Cents

Do you realize that it took a major natural disaster in Japan, with catastrophic consequences, to knock Charlie Sheen down a couple of rungs on the news ladder?

C’mon people! What is our problem???

I don’t have the time nor the tolerance for demanding, whacked-out celebrities and diva, show-me-the-money athletes.

And while I’m at it, I think the Tea Party folks are coo-coo-for-cocoa-puffs crazy.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love.

What’s so crazy about peace, love and understanding?

Let’s make the world a better place. For me, and for you, and the entire human race.

After all, it’s a small world.

(Okay…that last part was a little bit cheesy...but at least you know where I stand.)