Wednesday, November 11, 2009
They sold a painting at Sotheby’s today. One of Andy Warhol’s earliest, actually a silk screen, 200 One Dollar Bills, sold for $43.8 million. Looking back, I was just reminiscing about how much $200 could buy when I was a girl and what it’s worth now.
For starters, my parent’s mortgage on their house in 1953 was $11,000 dollars. This is the house that I and my three brothers and one sister grew up in. A three bedroom, one and half bath with formal dining room and fenced back yard, on a large lot on a monopoly board, all-the-same, suburban neighborhood in the East Bay of SF. With an added full bath and family room, the same home that my parent’s still live in, worth $650,000 two years ago, now about half that. Today, there is probably somewhere in the US where $200 would pay the rent, but not anywhere that I would want to live.
A family of four would eat rather well on a lot less than $200 a month back then. The drive-in restaurant that we frequented and can still remember had hamburgers for 19 cents apiece. Today the whole wad could be blown on a meal in a nice restaurant for my childhood family of seven, not including alcohol.
My mom sewed all of our clothes, or we gratefully wore hand-me-downs from the neighbors with smaller fabrics. Going shopping before school, meant new underwear, socks and a pair of brown and white oxfords. I doubt that my mom spent more than $200 on clothes for all five of us. Now, $200 might buy one outfit, including shoes, or maybe only the shoes alone.
The point being not only have prices changed but the perception of money itself. There is an entitlement attitude today, that such expenses are necessities. Adults teach children that they must have the latest and the greatest at any cost. It is an expendable attitude towards all goods and merchandise. Few things are used up, made do, or done without. The current economic crisis is not making the impact that it should. There are still people with money spending and people without trying to catch-up with them. The consumers of our country need to change their attitude and start treating $200 like its worth the Andy Warhol print.
Friday, November 6, 2009
On Father’s Day I wrote about my dad who suffers from Alzheimer’s. November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. For that recognition, I am writing about his caregiver, my mother. Given all the other service oriented activities she has been part of: PTA, scouts, Little League, and church, this would not be out of the ordinary. But my father is the fourth family member with Alzheimer’s that she has given, or directly supervised their in-home care.
Her first experience with the disease came with my father’s parents. I cannot remember when they were stricken, or what their ages were. I remember their 50th wedding anniversary; my grandmother was 58, and my grandfather 12 –15 years older. They both seemed fine at the event. But shortly after that my mother began to make more and more visits to their home. They lived about 40 miles away and my mother made several trips a month to take them to the doctor, for haircuts, or to make sure they had food in their cupboard and refrigerator. My father’s sister lived a few blocks away from them, but because she was a single mother and worked full time, she had little time left to spare.
My mother was truly the sandwich generation, as I had three younger brother’s still living at home. I know that home and child care were her career, if not verbally chosen, by unspoken agreement, between my father, his sister and herself. It was a given, because she didn’t “work”, that these responsibilities would be hers. Even though the current social climate touted women’s rights, liberation and the importance of career, my mother’s dreams of being a writer were squeezed between appointments and errands and all the other aspects of her busy life and giving nature. She had no time to think about whether or not she was liberated.
With the death of my paternal grandparents, the needs of her own parents, crept in and once again began to take over her life. When her own mother began to develop the same types of symptoms that her in-laws had shown, she moved them from their farm in the country, which was two hours away, to their own new home about a mile from her own. Her older sisters were two states away, and the burden of care for her mother fell on her shoulders. Once again her time was spent in the busyness, stress and exhaustion of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient. As her mother’s condition worsened, they tried a care facility. Its effects were devastating not only to her mother, but also to her father who could not handle the toll the confusion it brought on his wife. Luckily my mother found a dear friend who took over much of the burden of caring for my mother’s parents the last few years of their lives. Despite the help, my mother was very much involved in their care. She was continually at their home doing what she could and again, the sole driver for appointments and outings.
After a few years respite, the ugly signs of Alzheimer’s appeared in our family, this time afflicting my father. After her experience with her mother and in-laws, one might think she would be an expert, but not so. Seeing your parents change into people you no longer know, cannot be the same as having your beloved spouse of almost 60 years, not only not recognize you, but demand that you leave your own home.
My mother has risen to this challenge with fortitude, determination and a sense of humor. She has become an expert on the holistic treatment of this disease, and in a sense, she has won. Whether it is the day-to-day battle or the full war, only time will tell. My father continues to live at home. Each day he takes a handful of pills and vitamins that have allowed him to retain enough of his personality to care for his physical needs and for the most part function as a small child in their home. The war will be over when my father is taken home. Hopefully that will happen sometime in his sleep and then my mother will be victorious, as she has finished this last act of marital service and love. I cannot imagine the emotional pain this has wrought on her, and the torture she has felt as she has lost her soul mate, bit by bit. Her perseverance and optimism are amazing. Her example reminds me that we are never given more than we can handle. And through this all, she has developed her talents and her career. The disease and her life have given her a story that she shares in a blog, www.annromick.wordpress.com. Eventually there will be a book – an example of courage and service for other caregivers and her legacy of service and love to her family.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I almost decided to skip voting this time around. It was only a city council vote. The candidate for my ward was the incumbent and fortunately he had pulled through a few months ago on an issue that I was feeling pretty passionate about. I wanted him to win and felt pretty certain that he would. The other two candidates were for at large seats; one had no opposition because his opponent had been disqualified, the other had almost won the last mayoral election, so I was pretty confident she would be elected too.
Earlier in the day my daughter had called saying that they needed a copy of my driver’s license and social security card for a grant she was applying for. I pulled them out of my wallet and stuck them in the fax machine. When I got to the polling place at 7:00 pm, I was annoyed when I found they weren’t where they should be. I used to complain in California when I was voting that anybody could pretend to be anybody else, because they never asked for an ID of any kind ever, just a signature and your address. I don’t know if that has changed or not, but in Utah they want a photo ID with your address on it.
So back home I went to get the driver’s license, making two trips to the polling place for, as far as my vote went, a pretty unimportant election. The point is that it was an election, a chance, especially at the local level, to make my voice heard. Voting is a privilege, but it is also an obligation. No election is ever trivial enough to skip, no matter how busy or disorganized I am, or how inconvenient it may be. My niece, who may never have the intelligence to make a wise vote, is excited about turning 18 and voting. I need to show the enthusiasm for voting that she has, and never take it for granted. That which we don’t use, we may lose. We need to take advantage of every chance we have to participate in the democratic process and exercise our rights as free citizens. Too many other people made the ultimate sacrifice so that we have the freedom and continue to have the freedom to vote. The times we live in are precarious and we need to take our citizenship seriously. I hope you voted too.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
A golden aura permeates the air. Everything seems to be bathed in liquid sunshine. A last chance of warmth as Indian summer peaks out, playing hide and seek. Temperatures in the 70’s belie the fact that in a month or more the harshness of winter will prevail, and things now green and living will become black and shriveled.
Fall – the tumbling of leaves, of temperatures, of summer joys and giddiness, a sobering time to prepare for the deadness and silence of winter. Being hushed by thick fluffy whirling masses of snow, silencing life and the living. Waiting for that time, we revel in sky that is intensely blue, of leaf in brilliant hues of red, orange and yellow. In foreshadow of a distant spring, autumn rains turn baby grass a brilliant green. Knowing that it lies there waiting under heavy snow gives some comfort that the earth will once again be warm again and full of new life.
The first snowfall came this morning. You could feel the sense of change yesterday as people scurried around, working on last minute preparations before the cold weather set in. My sister-in-law, niece and I went and picked all the grapes we could find, so they wouldn’t freeze and be ruined for juice. We picked up walnuts, a tree full of beautiful pears, and the last of the apples to harvest before the freeze. Like the summer drop in temperature, this will probably be equally shocking, Indian summer to the biting chill of winter in one day.
Living in the mountains gives me a wake-up call to the severity of nature and the callous indifference it shows to living things. Nature doesn’t care if you hike up into the mountains and get lost, spending the night in shirt sleeves and shorts while the temperature drops 40 degrees. It has no thought to the tender green tomatoes left to ripen on the vine. If they are left out, the next day they are frozen solid, while the plant shrivels to black.
Life, like nature, cares not whether we are prepared or whether we did something on purpose or accidentally. Like preparing for winter, protecting the good things that we have accomplished is as important to our life survival, as bringing in the unripe tomatoes from the garden and emptying and turning off the outdoor water spigot. Preparing and protecting our loved ones from a cruel and indifferent world is as necessary as making sure the heater is on in an empty house and protecting pipes from the freezing temperatures.Times are changing as surely as the leaves change color and the first snow brushes the tops of the mountains. Preparing for the future, paying off debt, embracing a simpler, more frugal life style, storing food and water are as necessary as those steps taken to prepare for the winter. When ye are prepared, ye shall not fear. Advice for the times and the seasons.>
Saturday, October 31, 2009
There were no fancy seasonal blow-ups, no gruesome scenes of horror and blood shed, not even a fancy haunted house, with eerie music and lights. Instead, a small string of white lights framed a cozy fire pit and hundreds of carved Jack o'lanterns (only 50, but it looked to be that many) lead trick or treaters up to the fire area. I was irresistibly drawn in, not just to ask about the pumpkins, but because the scene was so homey, so welcoming and so utterly free of commercialism and store bought plastic.
The owner of the home, my neighbor Mary is like that. A move-in from Tennessee, she sports strawberry blond braids that almost touch her knees. She home schools her kids and her corner lot lacks backyard fences, her garden open to what ever nature or the neighborhood happens to bring her way.
She has absolutely the best vegetables around, and willing shares with whom ever passes by. She is the ultimate source of plant wisdom, and knows what and how to grow to get a good yield. Despite the fact that she lives in the city, Mary lives a life of simplicity that to me is enviable.
In this era of scarcity her resourcefulness should be copied. I found out that she got the pumpkins for free from her the throw away bins at the fruits stands on the highway. Except for the gas to pick up the pumpkins and the candles to light them she didn't pay a penny. Her friends and neighbors and their children, spent a fun time this afternoon, carving like crazy. So not only was the wonderful seasonal display almost cost free, so was a warm afternoon of creativity and friendship.
Mary's resourcefulness should be an example to all, that the simplest way to engage in traditions are often the most lasting and memorable. And that money doesn't have to be spent to decorate or entertain.
The picture is of my niece Jessica, carving her first pumpkin by herself.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Our Hayward Home, First Real Estate Investment and Seed Money for Utah Business
By now you have probably figured out that I am a real estate investor. This was supposed to be the easy way to retire. Learning a lot in the last four years, we done some things right and some things wrong. It has not been an easy way to retire. Truth is, we didn’t really retire, we just changed careers. The real retirement will come when we can make enough money to pay someone else to do what we do. Hopefully real estate investing will allow us to do that.
If you are thinking about real estate investing as a way to retire, what are some basic steps to do just that? A good education is the best way to begin. After spending thousands of dollars on investment education, seminars, colleges, and books, I would advise beginning investors to go online first, but only after you hide your credit card. There is so much information, it can be mind-boggling – so how do you separate the cream from the crap? My advice? Talk to local investors, go to local investment meetings and seek out the help of a local investor. No one knows your market better than a local investor, and that is where you should start. Though some guru’s extol the benefits of online investing, I would not recommend it to the beginner or someone not willing to lose a few, meaning 1000’s of bucks. It is just not the place to start
1.Get your education online for practically free.
Don’t go to seminars, unless they’re local. Just network with local investors, and read, but don’t buy, everything and anything you can find online. Most online gurus these days make their money not from investing in real estate, but by selling real estate education. The basics of that education are available for large sums of money, or none at all. Sign-up like crazy for any guru you can find. Attend their online webinaires, pay for their introductory offers and study them like crazy. And then cancel or opt out. Don’t buy anything from anybody online that costs more than $40.00. Make sure you keep track of anything you sign-up for, and then cancel, so you don’t get sucked into monthly fees etc. Learn all you can about basic real estate. If you want to spend money on education, find a real estate course, for local state agent licensing, and take it. Learn the lingo. For around $350, this will get you a basic introduction to real estate laws and practices. This is their only motive, not to sell a bunch of other classes and websites, and this is cheap, basic education done in about 40 hours. Take the test, but you don’t have to get the license. And then implement. This is sometimes the hardest thing a beginning investor does. Just getting started. But you won’t make any money until you do.
2.Don’t fall prey to the doom gloom predictions, especially regarding real estate investing. The economy has little to do with success in real estate investing. Booming economies don’t make millionaires, bad ones do. There are more bargain properties with less competition in a bad economy. If you know how to do the deals prevalent in a bad economy, you can make lots of money and help people out of bad situations. The thing to remember is that all real estate is local, so find out from your local investors how your market works. And then be able to quickly change investment strategies as the market turns.
3. You don’t need a lot of money to succeed as an investor but you do need some. As in any business you are going to have to spend something. There is money for signs, for Internet service and websites, and dedicated phone lines. By spending a little bit of money for these services, you can make more money just by finding deals for other investors and letting them buy those deals from you. A broker is someone who matches deals with money and real estate investing is a business that allows you to do that. When you become proficient at finding good deals, and successfully closing them, private lenders may let you use their money. Learning as much as you can about real estate investing by reading and discussing real estate with other investors will help you become more confident in the field and a better investor.
4. Have money, but not the time or inclination? Real estate is still a good investment. Maybe you have attended a few local REI meetings. Maybe you have decided that you want to invest in real estate, because you see that logically, it is a good place to put your money. There is still opportunity in the real estate investment field for you to make money, even if you don’t want to look at property, be a landlord, or remodel houses. Real estate is an excellent investment with minimum risk. By learning about real estate you can make wise decisions in what and how to invest, and then allow others to do the investing for you. Real estate loans to other investors are secured by real property. Even if you don’t actually become involved in the possession of the property itself, allowing others to invest in property for you can you get you quick returns on your money, with minimal amounts of cash outlay. As other investors prove their success, your confidence in their ability to give you a quick, safe, return on your money, will let you continuously lend to them and increase your returns.
Given persistence, patience and a never- ending quest for education, real estate investing can help you generate lots of wealth. No matter how bad the economy is, you will have the ability to create income simply by changing strategies. A good knowledge of real estate, learned from formal education and the help of mentors, will help you succeed as a real estate investor.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Summer is drawing to a close and it makes me sad. We went to Provo last weekend and I saw it beginning to leave as we were driving next to the mountains. The green is gone from the wild grass and some of the leaves are starting to turn. The little oak tree in our front yard is starting to have lighter colored leaves, just around the edges, and I picked the watermelon out of the garden. Despite all of the warnings, no one stole it. I took it to church and shared it at the linger-longer. It was one of the best watermelon I have ever tasted, and the first I have ever grown.
The kids went back to school last Monday, always a harbinger of fall, but now it is even earlier. I went and helped my daughter and grandchildren with her home school. She was feeling a bit overwhelmed, it’s the first time that she has had to be accountable, with a schedule that she has to follow. I wonder about the wisdom of all the structure. Her kids have learned a ton for the seven years that she has been homeschooling them. Is more structure really that necessary? The older ones like it, but the little one’s are little confused, not used to such restrictions. It’s still August, and the pool is still open.
Why this melancholy mood for the loss of summer? Partially because of the current situation, the economy, the possible threats from our government over loss of freedoms and control. I have spent the whole year worrying about whether we could refinance one of our properties. It is being appraised, but it’s still not a done deal. What a waste, all that worrying, and it doesn’t really make that much difference. Things just seem to work out, that’s part of having enough faith, and that is a lesson I learned this year. To have faith and that what happens will happen, if I worry or not.
This summer has been especially pleasant; lots of warm, not too hot days, with bright beautiful blue sky and enough wind to keep the haze away. Sometimes there's a little thunderstorm here and there, to break up the monotony. I am not anxious for it to end because it has been delightful. It is like the perfect vacation, when you’re not ready to go home. I really am having too much fun and I really don't want to do the piles of laundry that show up when you get home.
Fall is coming and that too is a gorgeous season here in Utah. The mountains start to change, and daily I can look up and watch the colors spread, like a multi-colored silk scarf flung by Mother Nature. The first snow flurries are welcome, promising future adventure in the nearby mountains. But winter is harsh, and lasts way too long. And the bleakness of the season is a foreshadowing of the suffering that the economy may bring. But this has been a season of hope and prosperity, of remembering what is important and what is not. Worrying about things I really had no control over in the bounty of summer was a waste of time and energy. Worrying about the future as the seasons changes is equally non-productive.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
RECOGNIZING A STROKE
Thank God for the sense to remember the '4' steps, STRS . Read and Learn!
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.
Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:
- S *Ask the individual to SMILE.
- T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently)(i.e. It is sunny out today.)
- R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
- T *TONGUE Stick out their tongue. A crooked tongue is another sign, leaning to one side or the other.
If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The example that he set for me is something that I will never forget. He was always such a giving person sometimes to the point of fault. His life was spent in service to others. He spent over 30 years of service as a Boy Scout leader in some capacity. An avid Little Leaguer, he worked with each of my three brother's teams, spending countless hours between April and July at the ball park, coaching or as an umpire for all the years they played.
Camping, hiking and the great outdoors were always important to him. When he was no longer a scoutmaster, he took over for the girls. The hikes were shorter, but his love of nature and hiking was something that he shared with hundreds of young people.
My father's affinity for people was sometimes embarrassing. He had the uncanny ability to start a conversation with a perfect stranger and within twenty minutes, you would swear that he was talking to a long-lost, best friend. He had a wonderful sense of humor. Though after many years we finally knew all of his high school and war stories, it did not make them any less entertaining.
If anyone needed help, my dad was always right there.His deep love for my mother and his children was a standard that was difficult to follow. I knew that no matter what happened in my life, he would be there for me. Whether it was to rescue us from a broken down van in the middle of the desert, or to help my husband figure out how to do some electrical wiring in our home, by dad was there to help.
My father had an impressive love of learning that I feel was passed on to me. He was constantly buying and reading books. At the tender age of 16, he left high school to serve his country, lying so that he would be able to fight in WW II. He would be confused by the lack of patriotism evident in so many places today, including the views expressed by some of his own grandchildren.
Leaving school at such any early age did not deter him. Using the GI bill, he went back and became a civil engineer, His own perseverance an example to me as I struggled to finish college and get a teaching credential while I was in my forties. I speak of my father in the past tense, though he is still alive. Besides his memory, Alzheimer's has robbed him of much of his personality. He is no longer the Dad that I remember. Yet even in this condition, I still admire him for his perseverance. He may be confused, but he continues each day, facing the challenges that life continues to put in his way. Striving to be excellent and living his best life in the only way he knows. I appreciate him as much as ever as he goes through this last phase of life, always an example to me and the rest of his family. I write this because I doubt that he would understand why, if I tried to call and wish him a special day. Letting the world know what an incredible person he is the best way I know of wishing him a Happy Father's Day.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Why I Organized Utah's First Tea Party on March 6, 2009.
14 years ago the world was an exciting place--the Berlin Wall had fallen; Russia was imploding; and her satellite countries were throwing off the bonds of long, dark years of political and economic oppression. My brother and I found ourselves looking at a relic of the Cold War--an old fighter airplane made at a factory in Poland that was desperate for work. My brother turned to me and said, “These guys could make an aluminum-bodied Cobra!” Captivated by this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I packed my bags and left BYU and my dreams of medical school behind. I landed in Poland, with a toy model of a 1965 Ford Cobra, a Polish-English dictionary, and a new dream.
There, I wandered through an enormous aircraft factory which produced 3 MiG's/day at the height of the Cold War. Times were tough and where 60,000 men and women once worked, only 24,000 remained. Day after day I walked past somber lathe and mill operators who stood motionless behind a thousand silent machines--waiting for someone, anyone, to give them work. The lights were turned off--because the Polish government could no longer afford to keep them on, even in their own defense industries.
I saw the worry of an uncertain future etched across the countenances of those craftsmen--whose faces were worn with far more years than they had passed on this earth. In time, my mother joined me on trips to Poland--only to be routinely mistaken as my wife. What a startling condemnation of the trials of life women in Poland endured under socialist rule.
We were at the factory in Poland the day over 20,000 of those remaining 24,000 men and women were turned out into the cold--in a city of 100,000. We watched as displaced workers haltingly mounted their bikes and wearily pedaled home--only to be greeted by anxious families and haunting memories of the not-distant-enough specter of food rationing. The bailouts were bankrupt. The once thunderous skies over the “People's Aircraft Factory” were still.
Under these conditions, workers at the factory regularly stuffed their pockets with anything they dared. When you inevitably saw them stealing, they would simply laugh, point to the sign on the door, and exclaim, "People's Aircraft Factory; I'm 'People' too." Even today, doctors are routinely bribed to treat the simplest of conditions or to “certify” a worker is sick so they can defraud their employers and the government of social benefits. Bureaucrats endlessly blackmail companies with threats of lengthy audits in exchange for hefty bribes. Socialism breeds an egalitarian society of misery by debasing everyone to the lowest common denominator--criminal.
To get out of their hole, the Poles booted Socialism and set up a Special Economic Zone at that old MiG factory. They slashed taxes and offered land and buildings for sale. We bought some buildings, we bought some silent machinery, we bought some land; but, most importantly, we hired some of those anxious men and women.
Republicans and Democrats, like the Roman Senate of old, promise bread and circuses as they loot the productive by taxing our children without representation. The recent bailouts and spending bills--polluted by the toxic brew of arrogance and lard--extinguish hope and change our economic freedom for a pot of porridge. Personal responsibility is humiliated in exchange for the pompous promise the government will pay our defaulted mortgages and fill our empty gas tanks. I utterly reject these arguments. I have seen the disease of wealth destruction--masquerading as wealth redistribution--metastasize into trickle-down despair. Private investment pried open doors governments had long shielded from the sanitizing light of day and triumphed where untold billions in bailouts had long been lavished on the rat-hole of squander. As we created jobs in Poland and Utah, a factory of war was beaten into plowshares.
Why did I organize Utah's first Tea Party? My brother and I have navigated the ashes of socialism for 14 years at our factory in Poland. We know the predictable consequences of callous governmental control--along with its cruel effects on every day workers and their families. When I read about the nascent Tea Parties on www.instapundit.com I resolved to leave my dream of building cars behind to stand against the madness--long before “right-wing billionaires and Fox News” were interested. I have seen the end of the dark road of socialism. I do not want my children to grow up in a society which tatters the moral fabric of the soul into the impoverished rags of a beggar--or to labor in a world where the only profitable investment is a campaign contribution.
Will our children struggle from a hole with the odious chains of financial bondage Congress yokes upon them, or will our children be free to dream as I did with my brother? How much longer can Congress borrow money before we too are forced to turn out the lights? Who then will walk into our own darkened factories? What dreams will they bring?
The first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole is quit digging. Mr. Obama--put down that shovel.
David Kirkham, President
Utah Tea Party Organizer
Monday, June 1, 2009
Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio
"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written."
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful..
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."
Sunday, May 31, 2009
I miss March in California. Nothing is greener than the hills of the Bay Area. Right around St. Patrick’s Day, I have been told that the spring green of California is similar to Ireland; hence Bay Area city names like Dublin. Green hills in California have always been a harbinger of spring, and it can come as early as December. March in Utah is somewhat dismal. Everything is brown and seems pretty dead. The mountains may have snow, but if it is in the valleys, it soon melts to a dirty slush.
Spring in Utah arrives slowly, piece by piece. You can see it coming, like the melting snow, drip by drip. First in the daffodils and forsythia that start to bloom in April and then in the trees with their barely visible shoots, surrounded by a green mist. Like the spring-melt, when May arrives, it becomes a full rush. Everything pops open, tulips, lilacs, poppies, then roses and countless other flowers. Northern Utah rewards its residents with a dazzling jewel box of color, amply making up for the last four months of cold and dreariness.
Yesterday, on a rather dismal and cloudy May day in Utah, I was rewarded with some of those treasures. Parking one car at the trail-head for Indian Creek in Ogden Canyon we drove to Rainbow Gardens, to another trail head there. Climbing my neighborhood mountain, looking up to the top of Mt. Ogden, was a glorious tapestry of hundreds of different shades of green, equally as beautiful as the solid emerald intensity of those Bay Area hills.
What an amazing hike, really two hikes in one. The west side is totally different from the east. I knew there was a trail from Rainbow Gardens, but had no idea where it connected. Up ahead we could see the switchbacks that went up the mountain, but not a direct trail, so we went up the skinny little bike path. Straight up, passing meadows of wild flowers, many unfortunately covered with the cursed dyer’s woad, which doesn’t look all that bad in the spring. There were asters, and wild sweet pea, yellow lupines, and an occasional wild delphinium. An occasional cactus poked through the rocks and now and then a wild primrose. The scent of sage trailed us up the hill, especially when I used one as an anchor to pull me up. Thousands of little oak trees would have provided shade but we didn’t need it that day. Stopping for a breath we could see all of the Northern Valley spread out below us and the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island in the distance. It was hard to believe that I was only one or two miles from my house.
Finally reaching the main trail, we continued our upward ascent, on switch- backs now, but nevertheless up. We went into the canyon and the oak gave way to beautiful evergreens. I had seen these driving through the canyon and wondered if there was a way to get to them. And now here I was. A big yellow, daisy-like flower grew in abundance all along the trail, and the dyer’s woad was mostly gone. Wild lily-of-the-valley were interspersed with a number of other wildflowers that I didn’t know the name of. The views changed, canyons of pine and fir went way back into the mountains. To the north, a close up of the amazing geologic formations that make-up Ogden Canyon, something you miss when on the road below.
The trail was not quite as difficult. We were on a ridge and the ascent was slower. There were some downs, interspersed with the ups. That is my idea of hiking. Reaching the crest, we scrambled among some rocks and then started down. The trail was lush and green and I saw patches of wild raspberries, mixed with elderberry and of course more oak. The grasses were green, the trees were green; everything ached of springtime and new life. Reaching the creek, we stopped to let the dogs get a drink of water. The rushing waters were cooling to their feet. It was a beautiful spot for lunch.
Finishing the hike, we went along the creek for a while, and then some more switchbacks down to the parking lot below. I missed the smell of bay trees, always there on my Bay Area hikes, but I think the sage and wildflowers made up for it. We have been given this great planet for our use. Its variety is amazing. The chance to be so close to nature and the wild is something that I hope never to take for granted. Utah is a wonderful place to live.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Utah Tea Party
show details 2:39 AM (13 hours ago)
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“At a moment like this, the last thing we can afford is four more years of the tired, worn-out, old theory that...prosperity trickles down...” Sadly, we now know President Obama meant it when he embarked on the path of the greatest wealth destruction in history.
I have witnessed the cruel consequences of callous governmental control across the world and its devastating effects on every day workers and their families. As a young missionary for the Mormon Church in Peru I witnessed many things I care not to remember...only now I feel I must recount them to serve as a warning to the ever increasing governmental intrusion into our lives.
Peru is a desperately poor country. I served among the poorest people who lived in crowded slums which smelled like a mixture of the sewer and the dump--because there were no facilities for either. Living conditions were abysmal. Day after day throngs of desperate men waited in the town square hoping someone would give them a dollar or two for a day of back-breaking labor. To "control" food prices, the government instituted price controls--snitching neighbors ensured compliance.
I vividly remember walking through the Peruvian market places and seeing the bright blue and red labeling on bags of rice, “USDA, For Food Assistance Programs Only, Not for Sale.” The poor built their homes by mixing adobe bricks with their bare feet in the stifling heat--with water carried in from town on their backs. Many sold a day’s toil for a day's worth of USDA donated rice and oil. Astonishingly, I witnessed entire containers of donated USDA Food Aid left to rot on the docks as no one would pay the required bribes to the local officials to unload the containers--all while children nearby went hungry.
One day we met a man who was ecstatic he had been able to purchase some empty 5 gallon USDA oil cans to make a door for his home. Seeing his plight, I offered to help him build his door. We gathered the ubiquitous beer bottle caps from the ground, then drove a used nail through the bottle cap. The bottle cap then served as a crude washer--to help prevent the can from tearing off the nail as ever present thieves tried to steal what meager belongings were inside the home. I pried open those USDA oil cans, flattened them out, and used a rock to nail those cans to a crude wooden frame so that man could have a door on his home. I will never forget the welcome sign on that humble man's door: "USDA, For Food Assistance Programs Only...Not For Sale."
Did fixed prices and massive governmental intrusion lift those destitute people from their despair? No, it didn't. I know, for I lived and worked among those suffering people. I came to realize the government was not the answer to our problems. I came to believe, we don't need the government to take care of us; we need to take care of each other.
Ironically, the “tired, worn-out, old theory” of trickle-down-economics is actually quite new. It was born when 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence and then defended it with their blood. They boldly proclaimed to the world they were free to produce, free to give, free to pursue their own happiness, and free from the confiscation of their wealth by looters and tyrants.
The old, bankrupt theory here is Obama's. For thousands of years kings and rulers have looted their subjects. Then, the productive hid their greatest wealth--their minds--from the asphyxiating greed of those in power; thus, impoverishing all and creating a stagnate world of despair. Poverty will never be banished by turning everyone into beggars. I have seen the disease of wealth destruction--masquerading as wealth redistribution; it inevitably metastasizes into trickle-down despair.
Friday, May 22, 2009
So that is what being self-employed is supposed to feel like. Not working and working and banging your head against the wall. Someone advertised himself or himself on Twitter as a “Professional Time Waster”. So many of us do just that, because it appears that we are busy and working, but unless there is money or at least some sort of reward exchanged, there is no work involved. I get paid for research as much as writing. And I spend time to do research and solve problems. Solving a problem involves research and you can get handsomely paid for doing so.
As much as I love my laptop, I am not going to use it to write anymore, because I can’t write quickly on it. There is something wrong with the keyboard, and as I’m writing along, it all of a sudden the cursor jumps up, and I’m suddenly writing in an entirely new part of the page. I think that it’s time for a new laptop, and someday I will get one.Back to the success story. Like they say, success begets success and it is very true. I have decided that I am going to expect to make a certain amount of dollars every week. I think that if I go back and follow-up on old leads, re-tweek my website and continue working like I am working, it will happen and I will get the work. Now that I believe that I will get paid, (because I have been), I will make money.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I'm getting ready to go on another road trip. This time to Las Vegas with daughter Pam. We are going to a real estate conference on buying REO, real estate owned from banks. And the one thing I have to take? My laptop. It's like an appendage. i can't leave home with out it. The problem is the power cord is broken and I may not have the new one yet. So what is the point of bringing it without a cord? None. Maybe I'll actually spend a little bit of time enjoying myself. We'll see.
Friday, May 8, 2009
What movie would I be pals with the folks in the film?
Being a new move-in to Utah, especially Ogden, I identify with the cowboys and the farmers. Spring has sprung in the Rockies and the giddy feeling I have right now comes from all the flowers and green outside. The music in this movie contributes to that feeling. Our high school put on this musical way back when, so there's an added bit of nostalgia.
Monday, May 4, 2009
That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said ok, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism.
All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.
After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.
But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too; so they studied little. The second test average was a D!
No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F.
The scores never increased as bickering, blame, and name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great; but when government takes all the reward away; no one will try or want to succeed.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
As tempting as it would be to stay, there must needs be opposition in all things. Stress forces us out of our comfort zone and makes us grow. Most people in general take the easy way out. In doing so, they never realize their full potential. While living a life free of stress sounds appealing, I think in the long run that it would get very boring and tedious.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I would definitely not use them to have anything to do with computers or the media. Outside, living in the moment. Enjoying spring and the restoration of the earth. I spend way too much time indoors, sitting somewhere. Three hours of the glorious outdoors and pushing myself to do something physical.
The current media buzz is Susan Boyle. A middle-aged, heavy-set woman from Scotland, absolutely wowed the whole world with her appearance on the British equivalent of American Idol. What an inspiration to those who question their own talents. Or question the package those talents come in. What a slap in the face to those who feel that the outside package is more important than what is on the inside. Her beauty and true purpose overpower what the world may judge as unattractive; her spirit sparkles and shines. No amount of outward intervention can make her better. Her grace, poise, wit and self-assurance do not need the approval of masses or the media. But she got it. She came to do what she needed to do, and then walked off the stage, not even waiting the judge’s decision. The fact that it overwhelmingly echoed approval was only an after thought, frosting on an already heavenly cake. What a tribute to valiant service, and perseverance as she sacrificed her own self-interests, spending her life caring for her mother..
This is truly a woman who took her talent and developed it to the best of her resources and ability. But she didn’t stop there, doing whatever she had to so that her talent was not buried, but set on a shining hill. And thanks to modern technology, available for the whole world to enjoy. What encouragement to those of us who dream the impossible dream and never let it die.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
At 11:00 this morning I looked out my window and noticed big, huge, puffy wet snowflakes. Kind of a deterrent for standing around at an outdoor rally. By the time I finished the work I needed to do this morning, it was 1:00. I grabbed the car keys and went to pick-up my husband. We wanted this chance to be part of something we felt was important, because it was just that. A chance to vent with others of like frustration about something that we feel we have little control over.
I approached our youngest son, who was painting one of our rentals and told him where we were going. A very liberal, know-it-all strong 22 year old Obama supporter, I did not mention who was mostly behind these T.E.A. parties. "Interesting". he said, "Are you finally seeing the light? Do you know that there are no actual laws that say we have to pay income tax? Maybe, I'll stop by, he said. When I finished painting." As his employer I would have given him the time off, no questions asked.
As we got to the intersection, we noticed an empty police jeep, parked in a traffic lane, next to a parked car, with lights flashing. "Are there really that many people here? my husband asked, " I thought at the most maybe 20."
Driving around the park to the courthouse parking lot, we found a space within 20 feet of the rally. It was cold and raining and a few people were already leaving. There were lots of flags, and a few tents and tables, most were huddled under umbrellas.
An open mike was there for who ever wanted to speak. A guy grabbed a guitar and lead us in a rousing folk song, with a easily repeated chorus.
"Taxes, No more taxes!"
And then speeches, with a Constitutional slant. Growing up in the 60's it felt pretty natural to me, I had done this before. In fact just about 10 years to the date, I had stood on the steps of the California state capitol in Sacramento, cheering for a much needed raise for teachers. Sometimes I was on the other side. Yet I hoped in this case there wouldn't be side. That those who care about our freedom, our economic way of life, would feel that this really wasn't political. Many there however, said how unnatural and out of their comfort zones they felt.
There was never a big crowd. Probably not more than 50. Obviously the weather was not conducive to this party. But I reiterate again, I am glad I took the time to show my feelings, to become a particpatory part of our government, and to be part of what I hope will become a groundswell. The silent majority at last no longer silent.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Did you mail your teabag? Are you protesting tomorrow? Don’t waste this chance to make stand and let the government know how you feel. Current government spending is insane, wasting our resources and jeopardizing the future of our children and grandchildren. Will the government listen? It doesn’t matter if they do or not. Our forefathers fought a tax of 3% on tea, we are paying way more than that, even if we don’t earn a dime. The point is that in this amazing country we still have the chance to peacefully protest about things that our government does without worry of ramification. And we need to make that stand while we continue to have the freedom to do so. It’s important to remember that you have a voice, beyond your vote and there are times when you need to use it. I feel this is one of those times. It was has been said that the only thing that needs to happen for evil to succeed is for good people to keep their mouths shut. We have rain predicted for tomorrow. It should not matter. Go forth in rain or shine, stand with fellow Americans and let your voice be heard and your presence seen. Do not be part of the silent majority, become the noisy majority and take a stand.
Friday, February 20, 2009
I took this test before, but I couldn't remember what I was so I took it again and I am a daffodil. I love being a daffodil because they glow like little suns from the brown of the dirt. But now that I live in this white and brown world for six months of the year, I appreciate them even more.
The last 2 weeks have been so snowy. On Tuesday, there was over a foot, and now it's been melting. I loved the trees because it was very wet, heavy, snow and it stuck in their branches. They all looked like they were covered with huge white blossoms. But they melted in a day, and as beautiful as it was I am really getting sick of snow.
I usually try and go home the first week of March, but this year there just isn't the money. We may end up loosing a huge amount of equity on a property we should have sold last summer. The real estate business lending business is not good, and there is no money for investor loans. We'll know by the end of the month, the point being that I can't leave until there is some finality to the situation.
But we may have a buyer too. I have sort of given up worrying about it, just working as hard as I can and doing whatever I can. It is the best that I can do. I know that whatever happens, we will be okay.
In California right now, the green on the hills in March can be so brilliant it can make your eyes hurt. On top of that, there is big splotches of yellow mustard flowers on top of the green. I miss that, buried in all this snow, but I also know, that spring will come here too. And when it comes, like waiting for the sale of the property, it will be all the more beautiful because of the faith that we exercised. Faith in spring, and faith that no matter what happens, life will continue to be good.
If you want to know what kind of flower you are, go to this blog: http://www.thisgardenisillegal.com/flower-quiz
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
One day the old dog starts chasing rabbits and before long, discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch.
The old dog thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep doo-doo now!" Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap, the old dog exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard! I wonder, if there are any more around here?"
Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. "Whew!", says the leopard, "That was close! That old dog nearly had me!"
Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So, off he goes, but the old dog sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up.
The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard.
The young leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!
Now, the old dog sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?", but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old dog says...
"Where's that damn monkey? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another leopard!
Moral of this story...
Don't mess with the old dogs... age and skill will always overcome youth and treachery! BS and brilliance only come with age and experience.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
I have been spending the last 2 weeks trying to frantically sell my small apartment house, not because I really want to, but because my husband is literally going nuts trying to be a landlord and because we have a balloon on it and like everyone else, THERE IS NO MONEY, or at least not through traditional means.
So, I have learned a ton of stuff again about what being a real estate investor really means. It is crazy. I am still stuck in the learning aspect, and then I decided that part of my problem lies in my perfectionism. I want don’t want to leave any stone unturned, or not explore any selling methodology. I am bound and determined to use all of the Internet and any other trick I can think of and there is always one more thing to be done. I want to be the best Twitterer, and Facebook poster. I am not content with just doing it a little.
The problem is that I get online, and I get so side-tracked. From what I have heard, most people who use the Internet do, it is one of the main dangers of the media. When I first got my personal computer, over 20 years ago, (That blows my mind that I have actually been using one of these things for 20+ years.) It was little more than a type-writer, and now it is almost a constant in my life. I remember my baby, who is now 19, sitting on my lap and slapping my hands, as I was trying to finish an assignment for college, which I went back to when she was 2, saying, “ No more ‘pooter, Mommy. No more pooter.”
The very first computer that came into our home, my husband brought from work. He was a graphic designer and art director in Palo Alto. Of course he would be one of the first to use a desk-top publisher. It was a little Mac SE II, and we practiced drawing circles and squares in McDraw. Big deal I thought. And now it is an integral part of my life, seeming to suck it away, but sometimes giving back. Like now, getting in touch with people I cared about and lost track of and have now found through social media, But my here and now time, goes quickly while I am doing that, searching my past.
I am reading the most interesting book, Wealth 101, part of the Life 101 series. Published in 1992, I had never heard of it before and then my daughter found an almost brand new copy at the thrift store. My favorite chapter so far, is the one written on the present. How important it is to live in the here and now, because that is all that we really have. Dwelling in the past brings us depression and despair, because there is nothing we can do to change it, (except to learn from it). Living in the future only brings us anxiety, worrying about the would-ifs and the maybes. So grasp the here and now, and live there, because the present is just that, a present. Love it, enjoy it, use it to its fullness.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
It’s not just the social media, it’s the whole electronic hook-up. When is enough, enough? Online I pay my bills, write in my journal, and keep in touch with people I know and people that I used to know. I compose, create, design, draw, fix photos, put them in a scrapbook, read about everything, ( even my scriptures), find recipes, sell things, find the business, do the work, bill the client, all attached to a keyboard. The only things that I don’t do that are at least a step away from an electronic interface are exercise, gardening, grocery-shopping, personal hygiene, eating and sleeping. But I’m sure in some futuristic time, even that can be done on a computer. Aquariums and fires in fireplaces have been available electronically for a long time, and you can grow virtual gardens complete with little plants that will die if you don’t give them enough attention.
I don’t watch TV, or hardly at all, and rarely go to the movies. My entertainment consists of reading and writing to and about other people. I watch their videos, connecting in a personal, and transparent way that allows me to get to know them in what is at first somewhat superficial, but in a lightening speed fashion, never before possible. My keyboard or something like it, has almost literally become an extension of myself.
But is this really good? What would happen if everything suddenly melted down, like some old wind-up record player that has suddenly run out of power? The whole thing is a little terrifying because it has become such a huge part of my life. Would I remember how to do anything? Could I actually write with pen and paper again? It seems that the thoughts come so much easier through my fingers. It’s almost has if they each have their own tiny brains. I thought I would always enjoy curling up with a good book, but I can read so much faster online and my neck doesn’t get a crick in it.
Then social media comes along, and tying me once again to the umbilical cord of my computer. It is almost like a little placenta, feeding me constantly with knowledge, information, and now social connections. I want to know who is following me and whom I can follow. My husband is not a very verbose person, but there are actually people out there who care if my amaryllis actually blooms or if the snowfall is particularly beautiful, or whether the movie I just went to see was good or bad.
It is winter and that is part of the problem. Like butterflies, I want to cocoon. I bundle up and hunker down in my nice warm house, and I am happy to stay home, away from the cold and snow outside. But the snow can really be so lovely sometimes. What I need to remember is that life does exist beyond the computer screen. I can actually reach out and touch a human person.
Come spring, like the butterfly, I will emerge from my cocoon, spread my wings and fly. Nothing really, is more heady than the rich, warm smell of newly turned soil, ready for seed. Not even my little green Facebook garden, no matter how many plants my friends send me.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
I am a goal-oriented person and I always write my goals at the beginning of the year. But before I make them, I figure out what I did right and wrong during the previous year and use that info to define my new goals. Failure is only bad if I don’t learn from it. I’ve heard before that you should hurry up and fail so that you can move forward to success. Figuring out what my weaknesses are and the mistakes I made during the past year, helps me be better prepared to succeed with my new goals.
One of the biggest problems I encountered in 2008 was waiting too long to do something. I don’t really see this as procrastination, but more a matter of timing. Right now we’re in kind of a nail-biting situation because I waited too long to put a commercial property on the market. Part of it was an emotional tie. I really couldn’t see anyone else taking over our jobs as landlords. We sort of feel like parents to the assortment of tenants that live there, and I didn’t want to stress them out with a new landlord. I thought that getting the guy who owns the property to extend the loan would be easy and I made some assumptions that I shouldn’t have.
I think the lesson to be learned is to work from inspiration. To think things out in a better way, and to move when I am inspired, instead of questioning the inspiration. The smart thing to have done was to put the property on the market in July. All of the good things that we had done there were done. Then we would have had the cash to put into the house that we financed for our son a year ago. And we would have been able to put his house on the market without going into debt like we did. So I got a very pointed lesson in speed and why it is important not only in real estate, but in many aspects of business, especially self-employment.
Then I see myself doing a lot of wheel spinning. But this has turned out to be productive wheel spinning if there is such a thing. Last April I decided to change the focus of my business from real estate investing and go back to my educational roots of marketing and writing. I have spent a lot of time building up that business, and I have some clients. I overcame the 10 year mind-block that I had on learning how to put up websites, and I have become much more savvy when it comes to Internet marketing. I have also found that real estate is really a passion of mine, and one that if I use a little more common sense – way more lucrative. I have decided to pay a mentor to help me get more quickly to a higher level in real estate investing. I will also be able to incorporate my newfound abilities in Internet marketing to improve my businesses even more. Over all I think that 2008 was a learning year for me, and that 2009 will definitely be an action year.