Monumental…the Movie

Monumental MovieTonight I saw Kirk Cameron’s movie “Monumental.”

The showing was a one-night “live” event, with Kirk (from a viewing party in his living room??) on real-time video feeding into 550 theaters across America.  It was like he was right there…in our theater…only he wasn’t.  He had a buffet of salads on his dining room table.  We had sticky floors and the smell of stale popcorn.

You would think that a low-budget documentary is not going to draw a crowd.  But, walking in 2 minutes past showtime proved to be a BIG mistake.  I lacked the personal responsibility to be punctual and plan ahead for dinner.  This banished me to the 2nd row….with a bunch of sweet potato fries smuggled inside my purse.

The place was totally packed.

Without giving away the movie, Kirk traces the footsteps of the Pilgrims…from England…to Holland…back to England….to their ride on the Mayflower to Plymouth Rock.  The film’s overarching message is that the United States is headed for moral, social, economic, and political disaster if we don’t get back on track and hold up the principles that America was founded upon….particularly religious freedom and Christian beliefs.

To me, the film was not particularly entertaining, but then again, it wasn’t meant to entertain.  It was meant to deliver a message….a call to Americans to take personal responsibility for their own lives and the State of the Union and to demand that our government base American law on the country’s founding principles.

Personally, I believe that government should reflect the will of the people.  Once, the collective will was a strong, consistent message.  Then came the 1960s…and the 70s….and today the messages sent to Washington DC by the “will of the people” are many….and mixed…and confusing….and some would say, interpreted in public policy in ways that are screwing up our country.

I know Kirk’s position…that a government based on biblical “law” is the way to go.  For me, I think that there IS a strong “collective will of the people” brewing but too many are sitting back, watching Dancing with the Stars, and waiting for someone else to voice it.

Our Constitution is about the rights of free people.  Many people fought and died for these rights…for the benefit of their descendants…that means me and you.  If these rights are weakened and lost, it will be because we didn’t defend them….we didn’t continue to demand them…we didn’t express our will.

Do you have strong personal convictions?  Do you express them, or keep them to yourself?

Driving the Train

There are two types of people in this world.

People who actively steer their own destiny…

Purpose Life

…and people who essentially sit back and let life happen to them.

A few years ago when the economy went into the toilet tank and I was a brand new business owner, someone said to me:

Think of this situation like a train ride.  We’re the passengers.  We can’t control what track this train is on…or how fast it goes…but we can stick our hands out the window and grab the positive things within our reach.

I believed that….for a while.  Now, I think the person who gave me that advice attends too many Grateful Dead concerts and smokes the happy pipe of life.

There is no doubt that I was a passenger on the train of life the past few years.  Some situations, like my mom’s death and the economic climate were out of my control.  In fact, it seemed like I wasn’t in control of much at all.  After a while, the train ride in the passenger cabin took a harsh  toll.   I felt very UNcertain…UNappreciated…UNinspired…and UNmotivated.

Just before the holidays of 2011, I decided that enough was enough.  “Passenger No More!” It was time to march up to the front of that train, kick its incompetent engineer aside, and take over.  And that, my friends, was the last and final day of the UNs.

Being passive and letting life happen led to a life where my hopes and dreams were unrealized.  In fact, at some point I got off the train altogether and watched it pass by, waving goodbye from the platform.

(c) A Motvicka

As a passenger, we aren’t responsible if the train runs of the track.

From the platform, we play it the safe and avoid all risk of a crash.

As the engineer, we have control. We may not be able to change tracks right away, but we can decide on our own speed, see what’s ahead of us, and make decisions about where to stop and what to pass by.  We can also insist that all dead weight be removed.

There are certainly going to be periods in our lives where we simply must buy a ticket and go along for the ride.  But, there are also times when we must take control…drive our own train…shape our own destiny…and sound the steam whistle.

 Train © A. Vörös Woooh! Wooooh!

What about you – do you feel more like a passenger or a driver right now?

The 12-Week Break

Hey everyone!  If you’ve been checking up on me, THANK YOU!

I’m a-okay and unfortunately did not take a 12-week break from blogging because I hit the Super Lotto.

I overindulged for the entire 2011 holiday season….


…. then headed to the California coast until the holidays were officially DONE.


I took complete and total advantage of the time off from work…off from blogging…off from all responsibility.  And, it was glorious.

To ring in the new year…I headed to the desert.  Some people find the desert bare and ugly. I find it amazingly beautiful.  The Palm Springs / Palm Desert area of California is one of my favorite places to visit.


Hello Desert!   Oh how I have missed thee…

IMG_5068 The battle of the UNs #10 and #11 were conquered bright and early on this mountain.

Next up was the Rose Parade…

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There are two things that are not shown during the TV broadcast:

1) The before-parade craziness….


and 2) the after-parade mess….combined with religious fundamentalists on roller skates, dodging the trash and crowds.

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And then came….2012.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the paper placemat at your local Chinese restaurant,  this is the Year of the Dragon….which, according to my previous co-worker Linda Sun, is supposed to be a great year for me. I distinctly remember talking to Linda 12 years ago about how 1999 was such a bad year.  She asked my birthday and said not to worry, because 2000 was the Year of the Dragon and I would have a super year.  It follows the absolute worst year, the Year of the Rabbit.

I don’t know much about the Chinese Zodiac other than what Linda told me and the tidbits on the paper placemats at China Garden. Regardless, if the Chinese are right, the worst year ended and the best year began….and it’s been a fierce 6 weeks so far.  I’ve been working intensely, playing intensely, and ready to start blogging again.  Most of all, I’m super excited to find out what you’ve all been up to!

Oh….and I almost forgot to tell you about the final, top-secret, #12 task that I completed to officially Battle the UNs.


…it will take a while to explain, so be sure to check back for the next post.

How has 2012 been treating you so far?

Time of Your Life

Eleven, Eleven, Eleven (11-11-11) has come and gone and the world didn’t end…crap!…because over at The Chameleon’s Backbone, we partied, ate, drank, and blew money like it was our last day on earth.

It was also Mr. Backbone’s birthday, so we pulled out all the stops.

We rented car service…picked up some friends….

Elite Limo Forever Friends

…and hit the town.

Every once in a while, we need to treat ourselves like the rock stars we want to be.  Until now, I’ve never picked a random (or not so random) date on the calendar and acted like I would if it was my last day alive.

Sure…serving food to the homeless might have earned me a place in heaven.  Spending my rainy day fund on some sinful gluttony happened instead. (Where’s that pamphlet I filed about going to Hell?)

Most of our evening was spent at the swanky downtown Pittsburgh restaurant, Eleven.

Eleven Menu

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(If you ever visit Pittsburgh, the menu at Eleven is fabulous.  The food is perfectly prepared.  The wine selection is unbelievable. The atmosphere is trendy and cool.)

A thought crossed my mind on Eleven, Eleven, Eleven, at Eleven, as dessert was being served at minutes before Eleven p.m.

Salted Caramel  IMG_2744

You have no idea if you have decades to live, just a few years, or a single day.  Whatever it is that you want to do…don’t wait until tomorrow. If you think it’s over-the-top, unrealistic, or too expensive without a coupon, put those thoughts out of your mind. I’m not suggesting that you disrupt your life.  I’m suggesting that you enhance life…enjoy it…stop sitting around in your robe and slippers and waiting for a day that might never come. Minutes turn to hours…turn to days…turn to years…and then it could be too late.

If there’s an 11-11-11-11-11 moment that you’ve been waiting to make happen, don’t delay…put the wheels in motion today.

If you only had one day left, what would you do?

My Pumpkin is Frozen…and other things that don’t go as planned

Lately, my life has not been going “as planned.”

The calendar tells us that autumn has arrived….and we welcome it.

Welcome Fall

Autumn is wonderful.  It’s a time of hearing the crunch of leaves under our feet…for breathing in the crisp, fresh air…for finding beauty in the witness of nature changing slowly from one season to the next.

Beauty of Autumn

But on this Saturday morning, October 29, many of us wake and scream…my pumpkin is frozen!

Frozen Pumpkin

We find that winter has made an unexpected early arrival.

Winter in October

Winter in October 2 Winter in October 3

Each day, we go about our lives, expecting the expected…until the unexpected happens.

Yesterday, my family received unwelcome news.

Like snow in October, we adjust.  We deal.  We go into our closets to find our boots and our gloves.  We tromp through the snow and the slush.  We shield our faces from the wind.  We muddle through the unexpected…knowing that one day, maybe when we least expect it… we will again feel the warmth of the sun.

It will thaw our pumpkins…………………………….and brighten our days….

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…and fade the memory of an unwelcomed season.

How do you deal with unexpected and unwelcome news?

I’m going to try hard to write a few posts this week and catch ya’ll up.  I’ve truly missed being here on a regular basis and commenting on your posts as well!!

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Imagine that you’re attending a fancy wedding.  Everyone is dressed up in suits and dresses…and gowns and tuxedos.  Photos are being snapped.  A nice-looking crowd is kicking it on the dance floor.

Out of the corner of your eye, beyond the stemware and centerpieces…

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…you see one of the other wedding guests…


…dressed in a coral sweat suit.

You think….you believe…you KNOW that that wearing a body-hugging, split-to-the-knee, mid-drift showing, yoga outfit to a wedding is just plain wrong.

And, it irritates you because this girl looks comfortable and you’ve got a blister from doing the hokey-pokey in heels.

Do you…

  1. Ignore it;
  2. Think you’re out of touch with the fashion scene.
  3. Gossip about her outfit with the other well-dressed guests;
  4. Casually touch her arm to discover if the fabric is velvet or velour;
  5. Get drunk and ask her to dance; or
  6. Get confused, go to the hotel gym in your formalwear, and start running on the treadmill.

I usually try #1, then ponder #2, then do a little of #3, then blog about it.

Have a Happy Monday Everyone!

#9 – The Fear of Failure and Blame

Hi everyone!  My apologies if you’ve been checking in finding me AWOL.

The past few weeks have been VERY busy.  Plus, I’ve been working on #9 in the ongoing Battle of the UNs, Conquer a Fear.  I had hoped to finish battling the UNs by the end of summer, but the last few tasks on the list are taking some time, particularly #9.

For #9, I did some deep thinking about my fears and determined that I have two.

# 1 – Chatting with someone on the Internet, arranging to meet them in person, and then realizing they are completely psycho.  My #1 fear is getting famous on the nightly news as “Missing Woman Found Stuffed in Port-a-Pot by Internet Stalker.”



I’m not sure how to conquer this fear, so I decided to move on to fear #2.

#2 – Trying to be successful and failing.  I thought about this fear for a while and determined that the Fear of Failure is a misplaced fear.  It’s not the Fear of Failure that I’m afraid of…it’s the Fear of Blame.

There should be nothing to fear about trying something and failing.  You start a business and it flops.  You run and race and come in last.  You publish a book that doesn’t sell.  You put $10 on black and the roulette wheel stops on red.  So what.  It didn’t work out.  Who cares!?!  Just move on and try something else.  Failure not a legitimate fear…it happens all the time…every day…to everyone.  So, what is the real fear?


I think it’s the Fear of Blame.  The fear of criticism.  The fear that someone…or lots of people…will look at our failed attempts and call us out on them…saying the reason we failed is because we’re not smart enough, or not talented enough, or didn’t apply ourselves.

The Fear of Blame has a power over me.  In a good way, it pushes me to do my best at work and to follow through on my commitments.  In a bad way, it terrifies me from stepping out of my comfort zone.

Over the past few weeks, I’m taken a few steps out of that zone.  I agreed to speak at a National Conference at the end of October.  I proposed an idea to a client that was really thinking out of the box.  I agreed to write an article that a lot of my peers will read.  And, over the past eight weeks I’ve been intensely training to get myself back in shape.

If I fail, people might point a finger at me.  I might get embarrassed.  My confidence will probably get crushed.  But, that’s the worst that can happen.  I’m not going to end up homeless and no one is going to die.

If you need to conquer the Fear of Blame, ask yourself this….

“If I try this and fail, what’s the worst that will happen?”  If the worst is that you’ll be criticized and your feelings will be hurt, then don’t let the fear stop you!

On the other hand, if there’s a chance that you’ll lose your life at the bottom of a Jonny-Jon, then give into the fear and run the other way.

What is your biggest fear?  Does the fear of blame stop you from trying new things?

A Man Day

Regardless of your gender, do you consider yourself more masculine….

….or feminine?

I fall centerline.  Hanging out with the LADIES is fun, but I don’t do bake sales or pilgrimages to the mall.  Being with the MEN FOLK is awesome, until the conversation turns into a debate about some ridiculous man-topic…like how to free yourself from a seatbelt with one arm if your Ford flips over on the highway.

Sports-talk is another area where I don’t quite click with the guys.  So, when I told my husband that I had an interest in going to a football game, he almost didn’t believe me.

MAN DAY began with a walk over the Roberto Clemente Bridge in downtown Pittsburgh, with about 60,000 other people wearing matching outfits.


There was man-stuff everywhere!

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Finally, after a long journey though the urban jungle…


…we entered through the iron gates of man heaven….


 …and saw a bright light.


And the men where happy.


Very, very happy.


Are you more comfortable around women or men?

The Truth and Tyra Banks

Truth.  Truth is such a virtuous word, isn’t it?  After all, everyone wants to hear the truth.  Or, do they?

Sometimes I do.  If there was a piece of Charmin stuck to my shoe, I’d want someone to tell me the truth.  Or, if there was parsley in my teeth.  Or, if I accidentally dropped a few Benjamins out of my wallet. 

Other times, I’d rather that people kept the truth (or their perception of the truth) to themselves…unless I ask…or unless it’s totally positive…or unless it’s given as constructive criticism with a tactful and respectful delivery. 

A lot of times people tell me to stop talking and listen…to be more contemplative…and less direct with my choice of words.  I know they’re right… it’s the truth…and I’m working on being a better listener.

Listen Up MuleThat’s called ear to ear communication.  Oops!  Maybe I should be more serious in my efforts to improve.

With the wrong delivery, or inappropriate timing, or the lack of discretion when speaking the almighty truth, the words free-flowing out of your mouth can be ugly.  Sometimes the truth can hurt.  Sometimes it can scar.  Sometimes it does not need to be said out loud.

By now, you’re probably wondering how former supermodel Tyra Banks fits into this topic.  I’m sure that Tyra never gets tired of people speaking the truth about her beauty and success.  But, she probably didn’t like reading all of the media reports last year about her weight gain…even though it was the truth.

Take it from Tyra

This reminds me of something that Tyra  said about THE TRUTH on the spring 2011 cycle of her reality TV show, America’s Next Top Model. I’ve never forgotten her words.

Two of the contestants were arguing.  Girl #1 said that Girl #2 was shallow and undeserving of winning a spot to model in a PSA campaign.  It was true…the girl seemed shallow.  But, was announcing it to the world on national TV in full attack mode the right thing to do?  I’m not so sure, and Tyra agreed.  Said with confidence and poise, Tyra made an excellent point about how telling the truth can be outright rude.  She said,

A lot of young girls think that the opposite of fake is rudeness. And just as ugly as fake is, so is saying whatever is on your mind just because it’s the truth.

– Tyra Banks, 2011

I agree with Tyra.

Do you think the truth should always be told?

Excuse me….but I think there’s a hole in your underwear

Labor Day was dreary and rainy here in Pittsburgh. 

With some time to kill, no sunshine to be found,  and no laboring to be done, I headed to a trendy section of the city to window shop. 


Some of the stores were closed for the holiday, but many were open.

Victoria’s Secret had panties on sale….


…and it was hilarious to watch people walk past the sign shaking their own badonkadonks.


I don’t shop at Victoria’s. 

I USED to shop there…but then along came the moment when I realized that 1) their product line might be TOO YOUNG-STYLED for my age; and 2) the big “secret” is that Victoria is laughing the entire way to the bank.

I’ll risk embarrassment and share the exact moment of this realization…


Laundry is the household chore that I hate the most….because laundry never ends.  Just as soon as all the laundry is done, you change your clothes, and POW, there’s more laundry.

So, it was laundry day.  The dark cycle, to be exact.  Trying to beat the laundry demons, I slipped off the shorts I was wearing and threw them in the washer.  “Smart thinking,” I said to myself, “one less thing to wash next week.”

Mr. Backbone’s eyes were glued to The Golf Channel and I could easily sneak past him without ever being noticed…or so I thought. 

And just as I was starting up the stairs…

Mr. Backbone:  Hey, there’s a HOLE in your underwear.

Me:  Yeah, I know. 

Mr. Backbone:  Just checkin….didn’t know if you knew.

Me:  They’re VICTORIA’S SECRET.  It’s a DESIGN.  The hole is SUPPOSED to be there.

Mr. Backbone:  Huh?

Me:  I said it’s SUPPOSED to be there.  Can’t you TELL?  It’s ON PURPOSE.  There’s a cute little BOW on the top.Undies

Mr. Backbone:  Oh, I didn’t know.  Usually when your underwear gets a hole, it’s time to throw them out.

Me:  It didn’t GET a hole.  It HAS a hole.  There’s a difference.

…and that, my friends, is how this story ends.  Any smart husband would do exactly what mine did…turn his attention back to the TV and pretend the HOLE conversation never happened.