Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Accidental Bullet

CRACK! What sounded like a gunshot echoed directly outside of my open office window on Monday morning, startling my colleague and me. We looked at each other and one of us said, "that couldn't be what I think that was? Was it?" But it was.

A clear October morning interrupted by a single shot from a gun. A bullet from a gun that went off accidentally while the owner was cleaning his gun in an apartment directly behind my office. The bullet tore through his concrete wall and wooden window sill, continued over our patio, and drifted through the trees, dripping their autumn splendor. The accidental bullet entered our event center through the only open window in the entire room, whizzed past a table of people using the event center, slashed the carpet, and grazed an arm chair before embedding itself in the wall on the opposite side of the room.

No one was hurt because everyone was miraculously away from the open window that was cracked open a few inches. No glass was shattered. No one was hit as the bullet bounced up from the ripped carpet to finally rest in the wall.

The group who was renting the event center were obviously shaken and retreated to another, safer part of the building for lunch. This group dealt with people in crisis every day. Perhaps that prepared them somewhat and helped them cope with a random stray bullet interrupting their meeting.

Staff were visibly distressed. The police arrived to verify the 9-11 call that the incident was an accident. I watched them carry a very large rifle case out to the squad car.

I did not have to pull out the Crisis Communications plan that I wrote and did not put it into action. This story could have ended so differently as many horrible headlines ran through my mind during the aftermath. Someone could have been killed.

But that did not happen. Instead we revel in life. That accidental bullet stopped our world if only for a moment. It made us realize how truly fragile life is. Instead of managing a crisis, my colleagues and I along with the guests at the event center can rejoice! Amazingly, except for some holes in walls and carpet, all was well. Today and every day that we walk past that window, we will rejoice!

I must give credit to my colleague Julianne whose words inspired me to release this blog post.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

D. None of the above

Welcome back to the reality of the 2016 American Presidential election. Here is where we stand today:

A.  Hillary Clinton

B.  Donald Trump
C.  Random 3rd party candidate
D.  None of the above

We are now only 5 short weeks away from the end of this long, ugly race to the White House. Like most Americans I am looking forward to the end of a Presidential race that has brought us the political antics of Chris Christie, Bernie Sanders, and Ben Carson. However I am somewhat frightened about the actual outcome of this election. I do wonder how in a nation of 318.9 million people we ended up with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the top of the ticket. [Insert your random political conspiracy theory here.]

I will not tell you who to vote for or against—the candidates and media do an excellent job of that every day. I don't have a candidate in this race. My candidate won the state of Minnesota but dropped out like the rest of the field of candidates. This Presidential race seems ripe for a 3rd party candidate to come in and steal the Presidency away from the party favorites. Alas, not one 3rd party contender has emerged.

Here in Minnesota there are at least nine names on the Presidential side of the ballot, ranging from Trump and Hillary to Evan McMullin, Independence Party, to Dan R. Vacek, Legal Marijuana Now, to Jill Stein of the Green Party. None of these 3rd party candidates can gain any ground against the Democratic and Republican parties.

This election has soured American politics. It is very sad when people who live and breathe politics are perplexed, dismayed, or even completely disengaged from this election. I've taken to watching Saturday Night Live skits about the debates instead of watching the actual debates. Anyone else doing this too? South Park as well. Perhaps injecting some humor into the Presidential election takes the edge off or makes me momentarily forget the reality of what is at stake. 

Only a few weeks remain for what is probably the largest voting bloc, undecideds, to make up their minds and turn out to vote. It would be a curious thing if the "undecideds" were the ones who decided the outcome of this election. Headline on November 9: Unprecedented! 'D. None Of the Above' Wins U.S. Presidential Election.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Five Ways to Find a Sense of Balance

Are you searching for that work and family balance in your life? Join the club. After taking a bit of a blog break to try to figure that all out, I'm back on my blog. I've not yet come up with "the" solution to balancing out the family life and work life pulls, but I did stumble upon a few simple ways to ease the strain and put life back into balance.
  1. It's OK to say no. For me this is the most difficult item on this list. I have a very hard time saying no to both work and family. However if you always say yes to everything, you can end up buried in endless things that perhaps you do enjoy, but end up resenting because there is just too much to do. Say YES carefully and thoughtfully.
  2. Find a hobby or activity and actually take time to enjoy. Once you start to say no, you will actually have time to pursue activities for you. Cleaning your house does not count as a hobby. Take up something that you have always wanted to try or return to a lifelong passion. Life is just too short not to try kick-boxing, mosaic making, or horseback riding. Do it for yourself!
  3. Detach from your screens. Another tough one given that smart phones bring the office and the family right along with you out in the garden or to the gym. Remember your family is watching you. If you want them to spend less time on their devices, you have to set the example. Set down your tablet and take the kids and dog outside to enjoy a lovely fall day.
  4. Build movement into your day. Believe it or not, moving around makes you more productive at work and gives you more energy for the end of the day when you are at home with your loved ones. Sitting at your desk in front of your computer for hours at a time is just not healthy. I'm known for taking laps around the halls of my office or walking down to Lake Phalen during my lunch break. Movement makes a huge different in my day.
  5. Family first. Do you suppose you will remember all of those extra times that you stayed late or worked for a good chunk of Saturday while everyone else went to the State Fair? I've learned that work will ALWAYS be there. Your kids will not always be there. Go to the choir concert, watch a youth football practice, or hang out in the lobby of an orchestra rehearsal. You won't be sorry.
Don't get me wrong . . .work and careers are incredibly important. Success at work and at home is more than just putting in the hours. Finding that healthy balance makes life more manageable. Maybe these few easy steps I've outlined will help you too!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Senseless: Innocent Lives Lost in Falcon Heights and Baghdad

Feeling numb and shocked by the senseless loss of innocent lives thousands of miles away and right in my own backyard. I cannot articulate what I want to say so I will let others speak for me tonight. I do not understand the evil that has made these incomprehensible events happen.

Philando Castile Shooting in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, Sparks Protests

Protests erupted in Minnesota overnight after a man was fatally shot by police during a traffic stop in front of his girlfriend and a child.  The aftermath of Philando Castile's shooting in Falcon Heights was apparently captured in graphic detail on Facebook video. Angry crowds gathered outside the governor's mansion as news spread about the death. Castile, 32, was a kitchen supervisor for the St. Paul school district.  Full story and videos (graphic).

KING: ISIS terrorists aren’t Muslims — they're just evil men hell-bent on carnage and destruction

Maybe you missed it since “pray for Baghdad” didn't trend on Twitter and Facebook didn’t give you the option of overlaying an Iraqi flag on your profile picture, but something truly horrific happened there Sunday morning. A suicide truck bomb tore through a busy shopping district in Baghdad. ISIS has already claimed the attack as their own.
The carnage it left behind was comparable to our Oklahoma City bombing, but worse. It tore through an entire block, ripped gaping holes in huge buildings, and killed at least 215 people — including dozens of women and young children. The death toll is expected to rise. It was the single deadliest attack in Iraq in nearly a decade. As you read this, people are still combing through the rubble hoping to find their loved ones alive. Read more  . . . 

Both acts are so very wrong. . . .what will it take to just make people stop?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Freedom in the 21st Century

In his 2012 song, Freedom at 21 Jack White's lyrics sing of freedom in the 21st Century at the pivotal age of 21. The freedom you might feel at age 21 seems very different than how freedom feels in this 21st Century.

Freedom on the surface on a sunny, Minnesota 4th of July looks like sparkling lakes dotted with boats, swimmers, and water-skiers. Picnics in pavilions on the shore. American flags flying from front porches. Tonight the sky over the Twin Cities will be illuminated by fireworks. A typical American 4th of July.

But scratch the surface, dig a bit deeper, and remove your age 21 rose-tinted sunglasses. The 21st Century is now and freedom does look different.

As a blogger I feel that my freedoms are diminishing. Freedom of speech. Blog posts that scream for a voice cannot be written and posted live because of feared repercussions from people who will disagree, taking their anger to extremes. So this blog remains empty of a voice that now fears touching issues and sparking debate on what matters to Americans. Freedom in the 21st Century means freedom for some, a strong voice for some, and silencing of others.

Tonight as we feast with friends and family before we gather to recline on the grass and gaze skyward for the fireworks, think of what it took to get where we are today. Think about the sacrifices of those who came before us, think about the military service members defending this country, think about those millions of people across the globe who do not know freedom and live in fear. Think about America. Think about your own freedoms and what you might do if suddenly your freedom wasn't quite so free.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What He Left Behind

The rain pours down, but it does not matter. Last week it mattered. Today the tent is down. The chairs and tables are gone. Lawn games stashed away in the garage. The balloons released. The party is over. All that remains is left over Chipotle and cake. And his worn out shoes. The shoes may always remain.

My son Patrick recently graduated from high school, and my family is coming off of a month of intense graduation planning and partying. Americana, Midwestern, traditional graduation. Cap and gown, rounds of pictures, a celebratory dinner after the graduation ceremony. Finally the graduation party. I'm pleased to report that we (and our house) have survived a fun-filled Sunday afternoon celebrating Patrick.

Now all is done. All that remains tonight are two refrigerators crammed with left over party food. A box of cake, plenty of beer, and very little white wine. What also remains are bits and pieces of Patrick's childhood. School pictures in frames, his high school diploma, scrapbooks created in elementary school, sweet family portrait drawings of his family. What now amounts to a large bin of memories.

His shoes remain—scattered on the mudroom floor, tucked away in his closet, or strewn about his room. Shoes that only he can fill. A reminder that he was here, but has moved on to better times that might include a Dairy Queen feast with his buddies, taking in a baseball game, or just hanging out with his girlfriend.

Empty shoes that I cannot ever possibly fill. But shoes that protect those strong feet of my little boy. Shoes that will encase a part of him when I cannot. Flip flops that will lead him forward into a future of his own making.

Some shoes will remain behind this fall when he leaves for college. Just like a part of him that will forever remain. Not left behind, but always with me.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Every Day, Not Just Mother's Day

While basking in the glow of Mother's Day yesterday, wouldn't it be refreshing to carry the spirit and tradition of Mother's Day to each day? I'm not talking flowers and breakfast in bed every day, although that would be lovely. I'm talking about treating not just your Mom with love and respect but those around you as well. Your co-workers, other drivers on the morning commute, your own family, and yes even those who  really annoy you.

Given the contentious state of American politics, the  ugly run for the White House ,and all of the nasty words and accusation flying around, honest and actually kind and respectful conversation would be most welcome.

Give it at try today. Try being as kind to your fellow humankind as you were yesterday. Bring the idea of love, no arguing, helping out around the house, and doing things without being asked to your day. See how it goes and bring that Mother's Day concept to each and every day without gathering in a large circle and singing Kum By Ya.

Treat others the way that you want to be treated and see if it makes a change in your life. Happy Today!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sometimes It Snows In April . . .A Goodbye to Prince

Prince . . . where to begin when his life is so abruptly over? I have never been a huge Prince fan and never had the chance to see him perform live. Following his tragic death on Thursday, Prince stories, memories, and music are unavoidable. Prince songs are playing everywhere. I've not heard this much Prince music since I was in high school and my younger brother Tim , who was obsessed with Prince, played his albums constantly. Tim remains a Prince fan and maybe someday he will let me share his incredible stories and Prince encounters from the many concerts and events he attended at Paisley Park.

Here in Minnesota Prince is not just a music icon and legendary musician. He is part of the community and was known for giving back to Minnesota, surprise concerts, and being spotted around town. Meetings at work sometimes started with people sharing stories from a weekend Pajama Party at Paisley Park. That's why the all night dance party in Minneapolis at First Avenue (the club where Prince's movie Purple Rain was filmed) began the night we learned of his death and continued on for the next three days. A sort of community wake that was full of his music and tributes to Prince captured perfectly in a moment with thousands outside of First Avenue singing along to Purple Rain.

Prince's star on the First Avenue wall. Photo MPR
It seems like part of what makes Minneapolis iconic is gone. We lost the genius of Prince far too early. Reports of what remains in his musical vault are astonishing if accounts are true. Unreleased albums, videos, unfinished songs, recordings. Prince's influence on music will live on. 

Today a cold, heavy rain falls on the spring flowers. It might as well be snow in April.

For all you ever wanted to know about Prince's music and his influence on Minnesota and the world visit The Current.

If you have a few minutes take a look at their photo montage, Around the World in a Day: 64 Photos Documenting the 24-hours Following Princes' Death.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Adventures Outside of Suburbia

Would you feel comfortable in these situations?
  • Working the welcome table at a Somali community event attended by toddlers, elders, and every age in between.
  • Mingling around an award ceremony with local literary luminaries.
  • Interviewing people about their experiences with a prayer experiment.
This weekend gave me the opportunity to break away from the safe confines of my normal routine and venture out into the unknown and into situations that may have made me a bit uncomfortable. Circumstances that might make you uncomfortable too. Three very different weekend episodes all drew on the power and support of community and, quite unexpectedly, books.

Spending part of Friday at a community center in Minneapolis, pushed me against the boundary of my own comfort zone. Plenty of frightening and even controversial stories have been written about the Minneapolis Somali community. However, Friday's experience was most positive. A couple of hundred people showed up at an event sponsored by my work, the Minnesota Humanities Center. I was fortune to greet most guests at the door to our family event. Along with free food and entertainment, everyone received a free book—a bilingual Somali folktale.

Saturday evening was the Minnesota Book Awards. Although I do have this blog, I'm not one to hang around in literary circles or attend poetry readings. With instructions to meet up with some local authors and make new connections, I delved in. What seemed slightly daunting turned into a lovely evening celebrating Minnesota writers and readers who are united over a common love of books. 

Saturday evening quickly morphed into a Sunday morning interview session at my church about prayer, faith, and community, circling around that one classic text, the Bible. Some may find this experience the most uncomfortable situation. Prayer is not easy to talk about, but the experience pushed me into a spiritual, limitless place where conversation flowed easily.

Leaving the comfort zone is a good thing. By saying yes to a full weekend of sometimes difficult and uncertain circumstances, I did learn more about myself and about the vibrant communities that surround me—Somali, literary, and faith. Even though I found myself in different places and conversations, all revolved around themes which give me comfort: community, sharing, and books.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

More Than One Message Captured in Brussels Airport Photo

Did you see this photo after the latest round of ISIS attacks in Brussels? The shell shocked woman sitting on the bench covered in ash and bleeding from the foot, wearing her shredded yellow jacket that leaves her midriff exposed. You could not have missed it as her portrait was plastered on the front page of every major newspaper. A photo that so eloquently captured the aftermath of terrorism on the face and body of everywoman.

But this photo really disturbs me now that I know the actual story behind the photo, which sends a strong message in more ways than the obvious. This photo was taken by a Georgian journalist, Ketevan Kardava, who was also at the airport that morning. Since she felt she could not help any of the victims in this emergency situation, her journalist instinct took over, and she took pictures of victims of the aftermath of the bombing until she was asked to leave the airport. She took the photo of Nidhi Chaphekar, a flight attendant and mother of two from Mumbai, that has come to symbolize this attack in Brussels.

An interesting story, yes? But how could you not stop and help these people even if you were not a nurse or a doctor? As she worked her way through the airport with her iPhone and snapped photos, did she assist any of the victims she encountered or just photograph them in their state of shock and disbelief? Maybe she could have saved someones life instead of taking their photo. 

It is bad enough that this terrorist act happened in Brussels and people were killed and injured. But when people see it as their "duty" to take photos instead of assisting the victims of a bomb, you have to wonder about the state of humanity in this media-dominated world.

What would you have done? Would you have taken photos of people in distress or dying? Or would you have stopped to help Nidhi. Even if stopping to help just meant being with her or using your own intact clothing to stop her bleeding.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


The political establishment in Washington, DC is rattled to the core. The aftermath of Super Tuesday II has left many both Inside and Outside the Beltway wondering what is happening with this Presidential election. Like many, I'm watching from the sidelines and keep waiting for the political wind to shift. I may be waiting for a very long time; as Donald Trump gives the proverbial bird to the Washington establishment this new political reality is not scattering in the breeze.

According to recent HuffPost/Pollster polls of Unfavorable Ratings:
  • Hillary Clinton 53.8%
  • Donald Trump  62.3%
Do you know what these numbers mean? The majority of Americans do no like the top two Presidential candidates! This is a sad state of American politics. How can we vote for candidates that no one really approves of? Couldn't either the Republican or Democratic parties put up better candidates that the majority of Americans might actually like? The only one coming out on top is President Obama...his approval rating is hovering just above 50%. Thanks to American voters dislike of Clinton and Trump, Obama actually looks pretty good. 

With many months remaining before the general election in November, I hold out hope for a strong, intelligent, somewhat likable candidate who might actually know something about how to govern a country like the United States. Like many Americans, I do not like the climate of this election that leaves me feeling rattled and uncertain. 

I desire a candidate with a plan to ease the migrant crisis in Europe and work to eliminate terrorism worldwide. A candidate who has an immigration policy beyond building a wall between the US and Mexico. A candidate who is transparent and who will not cover up past mistakes with lies.  A candidate who can see the bigger world beyond our shores who wants to work with the global community to solve problems, not create new problems. A candidate who cares about the size of the US economy and not the size of his own personal appendage. Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

One Day Break From a Minnesota Winter

What do you do in Minnesota when it hits 61° on a rare balmy and sunny February day? Wrong question. The question is what don't you do when summer arrives for a day in February? The average high temperature on a typical February day in Minneapolis is 29° and the low is 13°—hence all of the fuss over yesterday's 60° temps. Here's a few of my own observations of what my fellow Minnesotans were doing outside in yesterday's record warmth:
  • Dog Walking. Everyone who owned a dog was out walking myself included. This did result in a very muddy, but happy and exhausted dog.
  • Bike Riding. If you weren't out walking your dog, you were out on your bike, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, of course. 
  • Ice Fishing. The lakes are still frozen enough to support all of the cars, ice houses, and ice fishers out on the local lakes. My favorite image was of people out on the lake ice fishing while others wearing summer clothes jogged, biked, and walked their dogs alongside the frozen lake. 
  • Long Boarding and In Line Skating. A favorite way to get to the local Dairy Queen and grab some ice cream to enjoy while boarding around.
  • Dressing Like Summer. From a young woman wearing a gorgeous, colorful sundress to shirtless teenage  boys walking on a frozen lake, the boots, woolen hats, and down jackets of February were left inside.
  • Driveway party. In one neighborhood, folks were gathering in their driveway for cocktails, complete with lawn chairs, tables, a Tv, and drinks.
  • Bonfires. Yesterday ushered in the spring bonfire season. The backyard neighbors built an evening fire and others were burning along a lakeshore.
  • Windows down and sun roofs open. If you've ever lived in a cold climate you know there is nothing quite like turning up the music and opening the sun roof on a warm spring day. A golden retriever was enjoying the breeze in a car ahead of me—his head popping up out of the sun roof.
  • Not sitting inside blogging. Save that for the next day when temps drop 30° and it starts snowing.
Today snowflakes are in the air and the February wind is bitter. Winter has returned to Minnesota. Yesterday's reprieve was a welcome reminder of what lies ahead. Spring!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Too Much Information

1,913 unopened emails and that is only on one of my four active emails accounts. (Sorry if yours is buried in my backlog.) Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest accounts to tend. And my blog of course. I'm only counting my own personal social media, blog, and email accounts, not my work accounts for which I must also devote constant attention.

Do you feel like I do? Bombarded by information coming at you online and, at times, overwhelmed about how to possibly answer all of those emails; add new pins to your Pinterest boards; cultivate friends, LIKES, and shares on Facebook; and grow your professional network on LinkedIn?

Makes me long for 1995 when no one had email and only one computer in the office had this new thing called the Internet. This tech-free office was actually a Congressional office in Washington, DC. We had a hard enough time answering the letters that came in the mail, meeting with lobbyists who walked in the door without appointments, and answering the phone. I cannot imagine how much time Congressional offices must devote to emails from constituents and maintaining an updated web presence all while monitoring and participating in social media for a member of Congress.

But this doesn't have to do with a Congressional office. This is life. Mine and yours. It seems that we are so tuned into the bells, whistles, and vibrations of our phones and responding to a device in our hand or at our desk that we lose touch with those sitting next to us. Or worse, we cause an accident while reading an email in the car or walk into traffic or a building while texting and walking.

As much as I love social media and knowing what is happening in the world whenever I want, taking a break from technology can be a good thing. Here are a few simple technology breaks:

  • Look up from your phone and out into the world. 
  • Step away from your laptop and walk around your office and talk to people instead of emailing them.
  • Don't allow phones at the dinner table.
  • Don't text and drive.
  • Take a trip to a remote location where you cannot connect every minute of every day.
  • Be daring...turn off the phone for an entire day or just leave it at home.

Think of all of us who lived years of life without an iPhone, a laptop, or Twitter. Somehow we survived and probably sometimes still long for a day without logging into the computer and answering emails.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Early Emergence of the Extremes

I've tried to stay out of the political fray by distracting myself with old episodes of Portlandia, cleaning out closets, even needlepoint. I was hoping that by the time I emerged from my self-imposed hiding out from the reality of the 2016 election, a strong, likable, brilliant leader of the pack would emerge. From the looks of the four, front runners, I'm should go back into hiding.

Tomorrow is the New Hampshire primary--the first state primary following last week's first caucus in Iowa. I have a feeling New Hampshire will follow suit—the forward momentum of the extremes of both parties pushing Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders to the top.

Interestingly most people I've talked with about this election cycle are not happy with any of the top candidates who have emerged. Only a very few are strongly backing one of the front-runners. Most are afraid for our country if the "angry white man" Trump becomes President and others are literally afraid of Ted Cruz's far-right leanings or just downright hate the man. Hillary has the best Presidential resume by far; however, her Benghazi baggage, her mishandling of State Department emails  and server confusion, and being viewed as a liar are dragging her down. Then there is Bernie Sanders. Even my 17-year old son who is taking Economics this semester has learned enough to know that Bernie's ideas are not economically viable.

The extremes of both the Republican and Democratic parties have emerged and are skyrocketing high in the polls. However they will eventually plummet back to reality. The extremes are leaving an opening for the majority of Americans who aren't on polar opposites of each other to support other candidates.

My son Patrick with Marco Rubio in Iowa
Watch Marco Rubio. He came within 1% point of beating Donald Trump in Iowa. He is smart, has a plan for going after ISIS, does not want to build a wall, and is a genuinely nice guy. Having had the opportunity to spend some time with him, listen to a few speeches, and hear his story about how he got to where he is now, Marco provides true hope and change. Plus he is a Prince fan if that matters to you. He is a uniter, not a divider. With all of the extreme division that has emerged, Rubio is a game changer and a genuine person. He is intense, but that is because he is in this race with his heart, not just his head.

Despite his stumbles in Saturday's Republican debate, Marco Rubio is that breath of fresh air with a message of positive change that this Presidential race needs. Check out his story, which really is the foundation of his entire campaign.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Exceptional Sheer Addiction

Have you grown tired of hearing about and being thrust into a horrible customer service experience by retailers? I'm thrilled to report that customer service is not dead, but thriving at Sheer Addiction  Jewelry in Hudson, Wisconsin.

As a lover of vintage jewelry, I was pleased to find a gorgeous antique silver bracelet on the website of one of my favorite jewelry establishments, Sheer Addiction that is owned by the talented artisan Tamara. I've been buying Tamara's works for many years since I discovered her nearly a decade ago tucked away in the back of a favorite boutique in Hudson, Wisconsin—La Rue Marche. Tamara's business has exploded and moved out of La Rue Marche and has become an online sensation.

Sheer Addiction items have a following and has grown so popular that items now sell out quickly, like that vintage silver bracelet. Especially when they have a Flash Sale. Gone! I was bummed out to receive an email from Tamara explaining that many customers had also dropped that silver bracelet into their shopping carts and she ran out of the bracelet. She offered up any other items at the sale price as a replacement.
The blogger sporting a couple of her
most favorite Sheer Addiction pieces.

For starters I was surprised that the owner of the company cared enough about her customer's satification to email directly. That rarely happens anymore. But what happened next has made me a lifetime Sheer Addiction customer and a proud patron of Tamara's creations.

After choosing another (sadly not vintage) bracelet to replace the sold out silver bracelet, I immediately received another email from Tamara offering the replacement bracelet at no cost to me. Sheer Addiction has gained a happy customer by doing the right thing and very generously sending me my new Houston bracelet at no charge to me!

Kudos to Tamara and Sheer Addiction Jewelry! If you like handmade jewelry with a vintage edge, check out Tamara's creations at Sheer Addiction Jewelry. You won't be disappointed. And that Flash Sale is still on!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cutting the Cord

The day has come . . . the land line phone line is gone. Disconnected by choice. As someone who has always had a land line number and who is really bad about answering her cell phone, this new way of life poses a few challenges.

My "home" phone connected via cables meant that anyone could always leave me a message that I could check when I got home. Now that I must rely on my cell for all calls; I am always available. My cell will now accompany me around the office, at home, and everywhere in between. That means I should probably try to have the ringer turned on. Challenge number one: turn the ringer on.

However, I'm not the sort of person to use a traditional ring tone that you might find preloaded on your cell phone. I like songs so of course my ring tones are songs. I like Duran Duran so of course my ring tones are all Duran Duran songs. Not terribly professional to have RioNotorious or Girl Panic blasting from your phone during a meeting. Challenge number two: remember to set phone vibrate during meetings.

Today as I bid my land line goodbye and the ease of having a home phone number, I also happily say goodbye to phone solicitors. Goodbye endless calls from TOLL FREE, US Bank, the New York Times and the Washingtonian magazine trying to lure me back into a subscription. Farewell pollsters, Walgreen's, and random calls from the Republican Party of Minnesota. Goodbye to all of that and to the hefty fees and price tag attached to my land line. Challenge number three: remember not to give out my cell number to potential solicitors.

Email me at if you would like my mobile phone number. Challenge number four: share my cell phone number.

Challenge number five: remember to return all of those calls on my cell. I might be missing my land line already!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Let's Dance. A Farewell to David Bowie

As I write this post, David Bowie is blaring through the speakers of my Mac, streaming live on my favorite St. Paul alternative station "The Current." I still feel the disconnect and unbelief on learning this morning about David Bowie's untimely death. 18 months of battling cancer. Who knew he was that sick?

I'm far from a David Bowie die-hard fan. And I arrived late to my realization of David Bowie. A true child of the 80s, my first introduction to David Bowie was through MTV and his "Let's Dance" video. It took another decade for me to realize that David Bowie did exist before 1983—Ziggy Stardust, Heroes, Under Pressure with Queen. The breadth and depth of his music is truly astonishing.

When I think of David Bowie, I remember the songs "Let's Dance " and "China Girl," but I also remember all of the bands I love whom he influenced not only musically but via style and fashion. Most notably my favorite band Duran Duran who remembered him in 2014 with a remake of "StarMan."

Fittingly at the moment, "Let's Dance" is playing on The signal to close. David Bowie. His music will make him immortal.

A self-proclamed "almost an atheist," where is he now? Hopefully in a bright and brilliant place.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Walking Meeting Anyone?

Meetings are killing me. Literally they are. All of those hours spent sitting in meetings cannot be good for anyone. Too much time spent sitting in meetings and limited activity equals a few too many extra pounds on my frame that are especially difficult to remove given lack of activity during the work week. A sedentary life is not healthy.

I had the luxury (if you can call it that) of having the most difficult job I ever loved and despised simultaneously. Stay-at-home Mom for 14 years. As much as I loved staying home with my kids, I did miss my former life amongst adults in an office setting. Now that I've been back in the office setting for a few years I admit that I'm missing the active lifestyle of a stay-at-home Mom, but not necessarily all of the duties that go along with that job title.

After reading far too many studies about the horrible effects of an inactive lifestyle on your body and feeling my own inactivity settling in, I did my own comparative study. Since I don't own a FitBit or a Nike activity tracker, I used the Health setting on my iPhone to track my activity on a typical active Saturday around the house versus a 10-hour Tuesday in the office with the usual volume of sitting down meetings tossed in the mix. Here's what I discovered:
  • A Saturday full of running errands, a workout, taking the dog for a long walk, and cleaning up around the house—10,820 steps/5.23 miles/13 flights of stairs climbed.
  • A long Tuesday at the office with six sit-down meetings, lunch at my desk, catching up on emails and tasks, and taking the dog for a short spin around the cup-de-sac after work—5,437 steps/2.63 miles/12 flights of stairs climbed (at least climbing the office stairs helped).
Interesting isn't it? Half the amount of movement on a typical Tuesday in the office. No wonder adult obesity rates are on the rise in the U.S.

I encourage you to try your own activity study with your iPhone or FitBit. The hardest part was keeping my iPhone attached to my body all day. My little comparative study is very much an eye opener that has motivated me to move around more at the office, go for a walk at lunch if it is not too cold or snowy outside, not skip the gym, and try to tack on more evening activity.

Since my office probably won't invest in treadmill desks perhaps I'll have to recommend outdoor walking meetings once spring finally arrives in Minnesota!