Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Waiting for the Right One

I love a good bargain. Who doesn't?

So instead of spending $150 - $200 on a new juicer, I'm holding out on Craigslist to wait for a deal. For example, last week I saw a Breville Juicer that normally retails for $200 on Amazon listed for only $100, used only a couple of times AND it was in my town!

I emailed this person, but he or she never got back to me, so I was too late. I've got an RSS alert set up so that anybody who has a "Breville Juicer" for sale will land in my inbox right away.

I think it's the thrill of the game that's exciting more than anything.

Oh and speaking of Craigslist, reselling my strollers I use for my reviews has worked out fantastic. I just got a new one a few days ago to review, I was just waiting for the rain to clear to take it out for a test drive. Today's the day to do just that!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Experimenting with More Generosity

My family and I are not awash in financial wealth. We get by though and through careful choices we are debt-free and shall remain that way. That being established, we need to give more money to causes we believe in. We just need to give more.

I already donate time to my son's school: two hours per week plus an art lesson once a month. And while that reaps the rewards of a closer relationship with his teacher, I need to practice more dana, or generosity, particularly in the form of cash donations.

Most religions encourage, even require, tithing. Many expect 10% of your income to go toward giving. It is said that you reap what you sow, and it is the law of karma that you get back what you give.

I can't help but think that if we gave more then we'll be better off just knowing we're doing our part to support organizations that reflect our values. Right now we give small donations every now and then such as special occasions or to emergency situations such as the Thai floods or Japanese earthquake. I always felt good afterward, but a feeling always lingered that I could and should give more.

My goal is to give more regularly this year.

Let's see what happens.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Reflections on my Past

I had a vivid dream last night about my first love. I was 17 years old and a new girl in high school with no real friends. So when he came into my life, not only were those feelings exceptionally strong, as teenage love is, but my entire life was wrapped up in him.

So much so that decades later I can still have dreams about him that have profoundly strong feelings. I dreamed he died in an accident and I was communicating with his mother, both of us deep in grief and I was despondent. An absolute wreck.

Why do I still have these feelings? I have no intentions with anybody but my husband and with my first love, well, we're friends on FaceBook and the last time I saw him was at his wedding 4 years ago or so. We chat occasionally on the phone.

But sometimes I have these incredibly emotional dreams about him and I think the significance is not necessarily with him but with the feelings.

So after waking this morning I meditated on the "why" of those feelings and thought about what else was going on in my life and how I can help Aidan become a better success than myself once he becomes a teenager. Looking back, I can see how these circumstances profoundly affected the direction my life took and why I am where I am today. I wrapped myself up in what felt good emotionally because I had no other focus or encouragement, except one little thing: something my dad said.

My dad told us to complete college. He was supportive but didn't otherwise get involved. He said to me and my sisters that we should complete college and he repeated that throughout our high school and college years. I had no direction - no idea what to do or what was interesting, but I knew I had to complete college.

High school became background noise to my boyfriend. I took after school jobs to earn my own spending money. I maintained average grades despite daydreaming, doodling and even cheating to get by.

Now this post is truly NOT a "blame the parents for my problems" screed, it's more a reflection on what happened. I've heard here and there that parents tend to back off their kids once they reach high school level because they look like adults and well, they must know what to do! My parents were pretty hands off with me and my sisters, as long as our grades weren't awful and we didn't get into trouble.

But because they were hands off, I never knew what to explore within school. They never questioned me, that I remember, about what interested me. Mom and dad never encouraged me to pursue a club or outside activity. So I wrapped myself up in my boyfriend and took a job so I could buy nice clothes and go out.

I went to community college and met Melanie while working at Taco Bell, who became my best friend and life from then on was about going out and having fun and boys. Fun and boys, fun and boys with a part time job and school on the side.

My parents had their own stuff to worry about and they never questioned or pressured me. Just stay in school, you'll eventually figure it out.

The fact that I vividly remember my dad encouraging me to finish college proves that teenagers do listen. And I know that if they encouraged me more to pursue a student foreign exchange program or join a debate team or make an appointment with the career counselor or start my OWN business instead of just getting a job, my life would be vastly different. I was a late bloomer and a job drifter, dissatisfied with my jobs (until now) because I lacked direction and put all the energy I had onto my first love and subsequent hedonistic parties well into my 20s.

I don't want that for Aidan. While I don't plan on being a tiger mom, I'm certainly going to be involved, be more nosy about how he chooses to spend his time once he becomes a teenager and encourage him to explore his options with help from me and others who can help him become aware of those options. Join clubs and have after school activities. And understand when he gets wrapped up in girls, especially once he finds HIS first love, but not let her become his entire existence.

And so this is how last night's dream evolved. Lots of introspection of the path my life has taken and how I can improve it for my son who's only still 6. There's no blame, only observation on how I can make my son's life better and understand where I am today and why. It's been an interesting ride.

Monday, January 09, 2012

A better year in 2012

I'm an optimist! What can I say... well, I can say that since the first week of 2012 has gone by, I'm feeling quite good about this year. I think it's going to be better than 2011.

For a huge variety of reasons, there are lots of people who bid 2011 with a good riddance. Someone said maybe it's out of desperation that we hope for something better this year. I don't like to look at it that way. 2011 wasn't horrible, but I still think this year is going to be much better and I'm excited about welcoming it in.

I've been actively sowing the seeds of my business since 2009 and I have faith that all that hard work is going to pay off soon. I've delved into my stroller reviews business with more vim and vigor, producing videos and personal photographs to enhance my articles. I fully intend to be at the top!

In that vein, let me give you a taste of this personalized review that I'm talking about. Here is a review of the Mia Moda Atmosferra stroller, complete with the video review. You can also see the video here or watch it right now:

So here's to a glorious 2012! No resolutions, just hard work with the faith that producing something of good value will return its rewards.