Friday, April 26, 2013

Prayers for Dominican Republic

People have asked what they can do to pray for my team while I'm in the Dominican next week.  My teammates names are Kyle, Joanna, Makaela, Joel and Emily.  I find sometimes it's nice to have names in my prayers.  I don't really know any of my teammates so I hope we all get along well and can function as a team with little or no conflict.  We could definitely use prayers for safe travels both getting there and once in country as well as good health.  We've all done what we can to guard against illness and will continue to be careful while we are there but there is still risk.  Also, prayers for energy would be great.  I don't expect to have an excess of downtime and expect there to be a lot of heavy lifting (we are building a dugout for the I Love Baseball facility) as well as activity with the kids.

Most importantly though it would be great if prayers would be sent up for the people with whom we come into contact.  My prayer is that God will open my eyes to what I can do in the moment to help and to leave a positive impact.  I spend a lot of time in my everyday life thinking about myself and what makes me happy or sad or comfortable or uncomfortable.  I am hopeful this trip will make me uncomfortable and that within that I will have to look toward God and his plan for us being down there.  My main prayer will be to focus outward for a full week instead of selfishly looking inward as I feel I do to often in my everyday life.

Thank you for your support here at home.  I know despite the 3500 miles and three timezones I will feel every prayer.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Deep in the heart of Texas

As I've mentioned Jenny, Adrienne, Molly, Erin and I spent our 2nd Annual Girl's Weekend in San Antonio, Texas.  It really was a great weekend.  The weekend started out with a huge blessing.  I flew through Denver and Adrienne was scheduled to go on the flight from Denver that was about two hours before mine.  We had schemed that she would try to either get on my flight or if my flight was early (which that Spokane-Denver flight on Southwest often is) I would try to get on hers.  She spoke with the gate agent and she informed Adrienne that if I wanted to get on the earlier flight I would have to pay a significant amount and she couldn't guarantee Adrienne's seat on my flight.  We resigned ourselves to the fact that she would just get there a few hours before me, get the car and be ready to pick me up when I landed.  While she was waiting for her flight though there was an announcement made that they needed volunteers to be bumped off the flight she was scheduled to be on.  To make a long story short, she was first on the volunteer list and they ended up pulling her off her flight and putting her on mine.  PLUS they refunded the price of her flight AND gave her a credit.  I'm telling you, God takes care of us.

So that was a pretty great way to start the trip.  Once we got to SA we had sometime before the other girls landed so we did the running around needed (Costco, HEB) so we wouldn't have to do that during the week.  After scooping up Erin and Molly we went to the house.  I have had great luck on VRBO finding places that are clean, inexpensive and perfect space wise.  Our spot in AZ was great.  This one was great.  I'm hopeful the place I'm staying in Leavenworth next month is great.

We of course had Mexican food and (very yummy) Mango Margaritas the first night and spent some time on the patio in the back yard enjoying the view of the Alamo Dome and The Tower of the Americas.

On Saturday morning we went north of SA and enjoyed exploring the Natural Bridge Caverns and floating down the Comal River.  The Caverns were pretty impressive to someone like me who had never done anything like that.  The closest I have come to it was going through the Ape Caves at Mt. St. Helens.  That was unlike anything I've ever done and didn't have paths or a guide or anything but the Natural Bridge Caverns were neat in their own way as well.

They told us very early on in our tour not to touch the stones because it basically kills them.  It is a living breathing organism.  Of course as soon as they said not to touch anything I wanted to touch EVERYTHING.  I almost fell off the path a couple times (on accident) but also joked around about touching the stones a lot.  The girls started calling me Cave Killer.  I did what I could to live up to my new nickname. (Thanks Erin for sending this picture and reminding me of my immaturity haha)

After we were done at the caverns we decided to go float the Comal River which is a man made river that wasn't too far from where we were.  We knew Saturday was looking like it would have the warmest weather so figured that would be a good way to soak in some of the sun.  We didn't take any pictures of the float because we were warned not to take anything you didn't want to get wet but this is a picture of one of the shoots we went through.

The best part was watching Molly and Erin getting stuck in the current coming off the first shoot and not realizing they could stand in the waist high river to get out of it.  A nice guy eventually saved them and we were able to make the float down.  We ended up getting into the current with a group of guys from Boston.  They were in SA visiting a friend who was in the military there.  They were entertaining and the whole float trip was really enjoyable.  If you have a few hours to kill and it is a bit of the off season (given pictures I've seen recently the place gets nuts in the summer and it might not be as much fun) I would suggest checking it out.

That night we went down to explore Riverwalk.  We had great BBQ and people watched.  I love the Riverwalk.  It's easy to get around, the food is great, it seemed safe, etc.  I wish we had more of a culture similar to that in Spokane.

The next day was Palm Sunday and Erin and Molly wanted to go to church.  I wanted to run and Jenny and Adrienne decided they would join me so we took the girls downtown and then went on a run that ended on Riverwalk.  It was a gorgeous day although not as hot as the day before but exploring the city on foot was a lot of fun.  Erin and Molly enjoyed the service in a gorgeous cathedral as well (at least I think it was called a cathedral.  We were educated about the difference between a church and a cathedral by a volunteer there but I can't remember which one it was now.  Darn.)

Don't you love my funny glasses? I bought them so I wouldn't lose my Oakleys in the river the day before.  Every time I wear them now I have a flood of good memories.
Later that day we went on a cruise of the Riverwalk and learned the history from our great boat captain Juan and then went back to the house and enjoyed the nice back yard.  In AZ the year before the girls ganged up on me and cheated together.  They thought they were SO funny.  So this time I kept my eye on them.  We played Farkle and Erin thought it was a good idea to throw the dice in her margarita - Farklerita was born.

Oh - there also was possibly a spontaneous lip synk episode at dinner.

That night was the previously blogged about Silver Haired Fox night so I won't go into details about it other than to say it was a blast and I love it that we are all confident enough with each other that we can just have fun.  It isn't often that a group of five gets along as well as we all do.

Monday we went to the Alamo because you can't miss that if you are in SA.  I learned a lot about Texas history that I either never knew or never cared to remember.  I love history and I find it very fascinating that Texas was independent for a period of time. I asked a question of one of the information people at the Alamo and it turned into a long conversation where I learned a ton.  It's great to ask questions.

That afternoon we went out to Breckenridge Park.  I got it in my head I really wanted to have lunch at the Japanese Tea garden.  I don't know why.  I will tell you though it was well worth it.  I had no clue the gardens would be so gorgeous.

That night we went to a famous Mexican bakery which Adrienne, Jenny and I ran by the day before for appetizers and had one more meal on Riverwalk. 

On our last day Jenny had to leave fairly early so while Adrienne took her to the airport I went for a run down to the Riverwalk and by the Alamo Dome and Tower of the Americas.  We tried to have happy hour at the Tower of the Americas the night before but it was closed for a private event so instead Molly, Erin, Adrienne and I had our last lunch there before heading to the airport.  I think it's always important to get up in elevation in a city you haven't been in before.  You always learn a lot about a place that way.

You can see our little house!!
The weekend couldn't have been any better.  We've started scheming for next year and I can't wait to see where we are headed.  It's hard to think we could top San Antonio but I thought that about Phoenix so.....

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tune Tuesday - petnames

The most recent "petname" a man has given me is Pretty Girl.  It's a really sweet one actually from a sweet guy.  It's too bad there is no way that relationship is going to work out.

This is a new song they've started playing on country radio and I fell in love with it instantly.  There is something about it that almost lulls me into a trance or something.  I hope you enjoy it as well.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fox hunting

I was told by a friend I must give details about a specific portion of my San Antonio trip.  She believes people will find my story entertaining and maybe a bit funny.  I'm not sure I'll be able to do the story justice without big hand gestures and the intermittent laughter you would get if you were sitting across from me with a glass of wine but I'll do my best.

On the second night we were in SA the girls and I decided to do dinner at our house but then go out for drinks on The Riverwalk.  The challenge had been quietly placed before me to continue a tradition that started at Adrienne's wedding.  At her bachelorette party I found a way to get into the good graces of a guy at the piano bar we went to after dinner so that he paid for our (and a lot of other people who joined our gravy train) entire tab.

The legend of the Silver Haired Fox was born.  (His name was Michael just to give him a little dignity lol)

Now before I get too far into this story I have to explain a little bit.  CB and I have been using the term "Silver Haired Fox" for a long time.  It is a long standing joke between us.  It seems a little bit like it's derogatory in the way it's being used in this story but it isn't at all.  My ex's nickname on here is/was SHF.  Get where that came from?  CB and I always talk about finding a Silver Haired Fox of our own.  CB is married to a brown haired handsome man so we decided it was really up to me but it isn't going to be something that makes or breaks a relationship.  Again, it's a bit of a longstanding joke.  SHF has light hair and unfortunately given his life circumstances the past couple of years (and his age - let's be honest) he has become partially "silver".  He didn't like it when I first pointed it out but it was something I really liked about him.  It made him look distinguished and I always thought he was a handsome man - even when he had his stupid mustache for Movember.  Even with facial hair, which I generally turn my nose up at, I thought he was very attractive.  A big part of that was the silver in his hair.  SO while SHF might seem a bit like a negative nickname, or rude, or derogatory, or condescending it really isn't any of those things for my ex or the random men in this story and in stories in years to come.  I was proud to have found my Silver Haired Fox.  And the same goes for the Silver Haired Foxes I've met randomly throughout the years.  The scenarios with them have all been positive and have made me happy.

But anyway, I digress.  Back to my story:

Adrienne's wedding was in 2011.  In 2012, Adrienne, Erin, Molly, Jenny and I started a girls trip.  The first year we went to Scottsdale/Phoenix and laid by the pool/baseball diamond for a few days as well as exploring Sedona and some parts of Northern Arizona where none of us had been.  At one of the baseball games there was yet another Silver Haired Fox.  This interaction was FAR more benign and less financially beneficial for us but still, it continued a trend.

So this year, when we went to SA, the girls made it clear they were challenging me to find this year's Silver Haired Fox.  Now for those of you who know me, you know if I am challenged to do something I'm going to find a way to get it done.  It might kill me but I'm going to die trying.  The same can be said for the Silver Haired Fox Challenge.  On Saturday we met a group of men from Boston as we floated a river north of SA.  They were nice and I enjoyed drinking Margaritas out of a gas can with them but they were far too young and definitely not in the financial place I hoped This Years Silver Haired Fox would be.  The Chemical and Oil Convention was in town.  I figured if I couldn't find someone fairly wealthy I was a failure - and I'm not a failure.

Saturday night was perfect for a girls night but I struck out on the Silver Haired Fox.  We were still too focused on getting to know SA and spending time together after not being together the five of us for a year.  Sunday night though I knew it had to happen or it wasn't going to.

We ended up going to an Irish Pub that was also a piano bar called Durty Nellies.  We heard from a number of people that this was a good place to go and we gave Molly the nickname Durty Nellie early on in the weekend - really because it's the most ironic to use on her.  We walked in the door and I immediately went on the lookout.  At first there didn't seem to be any type of even remote prospect.  Too many couples.  Too many young people.  Not enough "silver".  But then. THEN. A group of men in suits walked in.  I spotted Brian immediately and knew he was done for. (haha)  He was just old enough but not too old (I found out he is 50 - that's the sweet spot - 15 years), he was dressed well but not over the top and he went straight to the bar.  He was with a group of about five other guys all dressed well and it was very clear they were there for the convention.  The only problem was Brian went to the bar and stayed there.  We were at a table a little bit away from the bar where we could see the piano and also see what was going on.  I struggled with how to make a move but then Adrienne used Molly as a pawn and sent the two of us up to the bar to get some waters.  Classic move A.  Classic.  And money.  I saw there was an opening next to Brian at the bar so I practically shoved Molly out of the way and moved in next to him.  At first he didn't acknowledge me.  It took me asking him a question about getting service I think before he noticed we were standing next to him.  We chatted a little and he made fun of us for getting waters but then the conversation sort of died down.  Molly and I got the waters and I went to sit down but then Brian stopped me and told me he wanted to buy me a shot when I was done drinking water.  Of course at that point I knew everything was fair game.  I took the waters to the table and went back to him and his buddies and he ordered a round of Patron for everyone.  The conversation was pleasant but I could tell the one shot was all I had earned so far, when the guy from California moved in.

That kid was either stoned or drunk out of his mind.  And he REALLY wanted to talk to me.  So of course I teased him mercilessly because he was an easy target in his inebriated state.  When Brian's guys heard me teasing him they decided to get in on the act as well.

But then California sealed the deal for me with the guys.  He grabbed my arm and asked me how much it would cost for him to spend the night with me.  I knew the kid was drunk and an idiot so I wasn't really offended by the comment but I did tell him it was offensive and asked him if I looked like a prostitute.  One of the guys overheard the conversation and the rest was history.  They swooped in and basically kicked him out of the room the bar was in - into the room where the girls were.  The girls told me he was eventually kicked out of the whole bar for throwing a chair or something.  I'm telling you, the kid was off his hinges, but his stupidity locked me in with Brian and the rest of the guys.  So I talked with the group mostly at first and they ordered drinks whenever I wanted them for me and the girls.  Brian spent some time out at our table talking to Molly and the other girls and the girls spent time in the bar area talking to the guys as well.  I loved being able to walk out to the table with handfuls of drinks to deliver to the table. 

That's getting my job done.

Eventually, Brian and I locked into a conversation.  It turns out that I sort of hit a home run with him as far as finances were concerned.  I asked him what company he worked for (the largest privately held company in the United States) and what his role was (owner/manager) and figured his credit card could keep up with a group of teetotalers like the five of us.  (After we got back to the house I told Jenny who he was and she knew of him and his family and their wealth.  Any guilt I had for taking a bit advantage of him evaporated.)  He really is a nice man; super complimentary of me - all the guys were actually.  I felt like I was a treasure.  They fawned over me.  They wanted to know over and over again why I wasn't married.  It was very nice because I was also very clear beyond the few hours we were spending at Durty Nellies there was nothing in it for them and it clearly didn't matter to them.  That's being a gentleman.

Eventually, Brian started to feel guilty about our conversation and I decided it had gone on long enough.  It was time to get myself and the rest of the girls home.  I sent him on his way.  We parted with a hug and thanks for the great evening.

So what are the rules for a successful end to a Silver Haired Fox Challenge?  First, look for someone who is approximately 15 years older than you are.  He needs to be well dressed and obviously not with a woman.  It really helps if he is with a group of men.  He also needs to have a nice smile.  This gives some insight into whether he is in for a good time or if he is there to unwind and be left alone.  I didn't know Brian was the ring leader of this group (Michael was clearly the one with the money at Adrienne's bach party) but there was a charisma about him that made it clear he was in control to some extent.  That is key as well.

Then you just have to be willing to have a good time and be respectful and appreciative.  Really, I guarantee you Brian walked out of that bar feeling that the money he spent was well worth the fun he was able to have chatting with us.  His ego was stroked by a group of youngish women paying attention to him.  He didn't have to talk to his employees exclusively.  And frankly I would bet it gained him some points with those guys the next day when they were able to ask why he didn't join them at the second bar they went to.

It's a win/win right?

So to my friend AZA who wanted me to write this blog entry - there you go.  The details.  The rules.  The fun.

More SA stories to come in the near future.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Value add

"Value add" has become a regular part of my vernacular since joining the bank.  I speak often to clients about what value I, or anyone else on my team, adds to their experience as a client.  The benefits range from legal expertise to personal attention to the experience of the team to the processes we've put in place to keep court monitoring on track, etc.  Our portfolio managers add value by (hopefully) providing better rates of return than a standard index fund and by being capable of tailoring an account to a client's specific political consciousness or risk tolerance, etc.  The ability to convince a client of the value of what we offer is generally what it takes to convince them to do business with us. 

My personality goes a long way too.  I like to think my big smile is a "value add".

I had dinner recently with a very dear friend.  She is going to be leaving Spokane and going on a grand adventure with her husband and then relocating in a different state at a time far too close to now.  I'm going to miss her greatly.  After our dinner I started thinking about my friendship with her and how it has been a "value add" to my life.  It was an unexpected friendship, we met in a very unexpected circumstance, and it has blessed me in ways I can't begin to list.  Her friendship has been a definite value add.

Since dinner I've started thinking about the concept of people and situations being valuable or detractors from my life.  As I've gotten older the amount of people who I love has gotten bigger and I've had to made the difficult decision to cut people out who aren't value add to my life.  I know that sounds harsh or maybe even a little conceited but it's reality.  I only have so many hours in my day and so many days in my week or month and if I tried to make everyone happy and keep everyone in my life I would have had a nervous breakdown by now. 

On occasion I've had to step back and make some cuts.  It's sort of like a Facebook friend purge.  Every once in a while I think anyone who is as much of a Facebook user as I am should go through their friend list and cut a few people.  It's always a little awkward and can be tricky but it really is necessary.

I've had to do that with some of my activities as well.  When SHF and I were dating my free time was very limited.  That was from my own choosing because I believed the time spent with SHF were minutes and hours of value add and because I wanted to spend all the time I could with him, but it also made me face the fact I couldn't keep up with everything on my schedule at the time and still make him my priority which was my desire.  So I had to cut.  The thing I had to cut was my involvement in the band.  It was a really difficult decision.  I loved the band but it also created a ton of stress because there was never a set schedule.  With my schedule as tight as it is/was I couldn't be as flexible as they needed me to be.  Even now, with time freed up (haha yeah right) by not being in a committed dating relationship with someone I don't regret the decision.  While the band was a value add for a while, the stress it created actually made it a net loss.

I think my goal for the next month is going to be to really take a look at what I have going on in my life and make sure the relationships I'm putting my heart and effort into are the ones I should be.  The ones that aren't are going to be shifted to a back burner.  The same is going to be done with my activities.  It's time to make sure "value add" isn't just a selling point to my clients but is also a factor in my personal life.

Don't you agree?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Tune Tuesday: there's honesty in those lyrics

I discovered Ben Rector through one of my stations on Pandora. Now on occasion I have a day when he's mostly all I listen to. I adore his song When A Heart Breaks and this song, because of its honesty is one of my favorites as well. YouTube him if you haven't heard him before. He's great. His video of a Free Falling cover is a lot of fun. Enjoy this one.

Sorry - I intended to end this with just this one but I can't.  More bang for your buck.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

What happens in Vegas can only happen in Vegas

My most recent trip included a stopover "on the way home" in Vegas to attend a work conference.  I feel very fortunate that I have an amazing group of coworkers that made being in Vegas fun despite the 13+ hour days.  The first night Steve, Windy, Barrie and I walked down the strip to the Bellagio (my request since it's my favorite spot on the strip) and ended up at Hyde.  It wasn't quite Hyde South Beach but it was a pretty neat spot.  We didn't stay once it transformed into a night club (whatever that means) but we had a drink, watched the fountains and listened to a great DJ.  I've become a huge fan of Hyde clubs.

My Manager and I.  I couldn't ask for a better boss.
The following day was a long one with work starting at 6:30 and getting over after 8 but I was able to meet up with Jason, a very close friend from college.  He is still doing his work as a magician and shortly after I sat down with him at the bar a bunch of colleagues walked by.  Rob was SO excited to get to meet him and it took about 30 seconds before he was asking him to perform.  Jason, ever the showman, was happy to oblige.  He will always amaze me.

That night we went to Mix which is on the top floor of The Hotel at Mandalay Bay where we were staying.  The views from up there were amazing.  The night was cool but comfortable.  It was a good way to end the conference.

I had one free afternoon because I stayed after our conference ended to see a client.  I was at the pool less than an hour after the sessions ended.  The conference was great and overwhelming with information and all I could think about was a lounge chair by the pool with my book. 
My client meeting was a rough one.  It's a very unhealthy kid that I support down there and it effected me enough that I was almost physically sick while at the home.  After leaving the house I went for a drive out toward the mountains to get some fresh air and clear my head before I had to scramble to my flight home.  My job is wonderful and horrible that way.  I have to work really hard to not get emotionally involved in the well being of my clients.  Instead, I have to focus on the professional side of the business.  It isn't easy for me to do which frankly is probably partially why I'm good at it but a meeting like that can set me back a day or two.  I was thankful to get home to my animals and a weekend of fun with friends and family.  I thank God for having a healthy family.

The next post will be about San Antonio.  That trip was ridiculous. I can't wait to go back through the days and choose the highlights of which there were many.

For now, I'm back in Eastern Washington and happy to be here but wondering about my life and what it is going to look like five years from now.

I want my life to be big, not just my out of town adventures.  I want my impact to be memorable.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Tune Tuesday - an Easter "poem"

I know it isn't actually a "tune" but this video was how my church opened our Easter service this weekend.  I went Saturday night and was blown away by the entire service - from the drum line in the opening song, to this video, to Nathan's message, it couldn't have been better.  It put me in a place of deep introspection and as a friend so appropriately put it this morning, spiritual reflection. 

Reflect on the fact Jesus Died.  Reflect on "The cross says payment given, the resurrection says payment accepted."