Month: March 2010

Success in Work

“Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”

Harvey MacKay

I know I talk  a lot about work in this blog but that is partly because work is the biggest part of my life as far as time and effort.  I would love to say it is church (that’s the second) or family but sadly it is not the case.  Especially lately I’ve been working Saturdays, Sundays, all day every day.  It’s a good thing I love my work or it would be unbearable.  Even so it can be a bit overwhelming.  I think finding balance in life is the hardest thing and I for one am not good at it.

With so much time devoted to work you can understand why finding success in it is so meaningful to me.  In many ways my work is my great passion and it feels so good to accomplish my goals at work.  Recently there are two instances I will mention.  First, I was the manager for the Grabber Warm Team at the International Sportsmen’s Expo in Sandy.  This was a huge event that went on for 4 days (how ironic is that I am working at an event for outdoor sportsmen.  God must have had a good laugh at that one!)  Due to the long days I brought in reinforcements including my uncle Jim, Ashlee Emig and her friend Megan. We each worked blocks of time trying to make sales and give out free product.   Even though I worked less hours than anybody else on the floor I still lead in sales income!

I honestly believe that salesmanship is one of those gifts that you are either born with or not.  You have to have a killer instinct and an ability to read people for their likes, dislikes, needs and wants.  A look, a comment can be enough to point them to a product they would otherwise miss out on.  I am fortunate enough to be a good saleswoman both in managing the rental properties and selling warmers.  I don’t want to toot my own horn but I think I have a way with people and can easily build a repertoire with them.

The Expo was exhausting but very satisfying.  All of the salespeople worked very hard and we ended up beating our sales goal by over $300 and giving out 18 cases (over 8,000) samples.  Not bad!

The second success I’ve had lately is in my rental business. Up to this point my rental clients have included my dad (4 homes- long term and vacation rental) and Brian Matthews (him and his family used to be our ward).  As I’ve had a lot of my plate it has been difficult recruiting other clients.  Fortunately my friend Emily Whitman mentioned my management services to her friend Michelle who gave me a call a couple of weeks ago.  After some discussion she agreed to hire me to manage her condo in Provo.  This made me so excited because I would love to get into the Provo market and expand my client-base.  Last Wednesday I posted an ad for her place on craigslist, at BYU housing, and on KSL Classifieds.  By Friday I had 3 appointments set up and believe it or not the first appointment fell in love with the place.  I just left a meeting with them where they paid their deposit and first month rent and signed the contract!  It took me under a week to find tenants for this place! Wahoo!  I am excited and a little proud of my efforts.  It just feels good to have such success.

Finally, the last piece of success I’ve had lately is I was made a full-time employee by Grabber Inc.  I was already doing 30 hours most weeks.  Now it is official.  I have even been made salaried and will receive benefits (don’t worry I’ve already made an appointment to see a doctor on Friday!).  It is a little overwhelming to have so many responsibilities but exciting also.  I know I can do it!

Growing up I never felt like I was great at anything.  I knew I was good at a lot but never felt great.  Finally at 29 I feel great at something (at a lot of things really) and that feels GREAT!!  Thanks for letting me share my excitement with all of you!  I have the best support and friends in the world.  I hope you all have such success and find something in life that you LOVE to do- something you are great at too!

Dolley Madison- A Modern Woman in an Old Fashioned World

Last week I watched a documentary on the PBS program American Experience about Dolley Madison.  Previous to that moment, I knew nothing about Dolley except that she had carried the painting of George Washington out of the White House when it was on fire in the war of 1812.  If you get a chance to watch the documentary do it.  See if you can get it at your local library.

Dolley was the wife of our fourth president James Madison.  The documentary has: historians, actors portraying key figures in Dolley’s life, her letters and even actual photographs of Dolley late in life.  Becoming first lady was only one of many fascinating aspects of her life.  She was raised as a Quaker with strict parents who monitored her social life, behaviors and even strongly encouraged, if not forced, her to marry her first husband John Payne Todd.

As a young married woman she had 2 boys and did the best to be happy and love her husband.  By all reports she was beautiful and vivacious.  However, just 3 years after marriage, in 1793, her husband and baby boy died from a yellow fever epidemic that struck Philadelphia.  With another son to support Dolley knew that her only choice was to marry again.  Luckily she was charming enough to be highly courted and the government was still being mostly run out of Philadelphia bringing Congressman and other dignitaries calling on Dolley.  One of the men was James Madison.  A shy founding father who was 17 years older than Dolley.   Despite his non-quaker status (which meant Dolley was removed from the religious group) the two fell in love, married and rarely spent a day apart for the rest of their lives.  (It was interesting to see that Dolley and James have few letters because they were always together unlike their popular contemporaries John and Abigail Adams).

Unlike almost all women (and certainly all proceeding first ladies including Abigail Adams) Dolley became involved in the politics at hand and she did so in a very savvy way.  Instead of pounding the street corners or giving speeches, she held dinner parties, introduced friends, and forced sparring debaters to enjoy an evening together.  I admire how she used whatever power she had to make a difference- to make her stamp on the world.  One of the scholars in the documentary claims that Dolley was the first true grass roots campaigner.  This is significant coming from a woman with no formal education, in a time where a woman with political know-how was considered a scandalous notion.   One biography describes her as:

“Once Dolley Madison became first lady in 1809, her status as the central figure of Washington society was confirmed. The vivacious Dolley’s expansive memory for names and ability to make everyone at home in the White House attracted guests by the many. Her lavish dinner parties were noted for the surprise delicacies served.  She began holding Wednesday evening “drawing rooms”  (receptions) that became immensely popular with politicians, diplomats, and the citizenry. Not only was Dolley renowned for her charm, but her knowledge of politics and current events was significant as well. She proved an asset to James’s political career in two ways: her outgoing demeanor complimented his reserved and stonefaced disposition and her political insight influenced his decision-making. Undoubtedly, Dolley was one of the reasons James won reelection in 1812.”

Then there is the famous incident that I mentioned above- removing the artifacts and paintings from the White House before it was burnt.  The interesting thing I didn’t know is that the reason she was at the White House (most of Washington being deserted at that time)was due to her refusal to leave until her husband had returned from a meeting with his generals. With the British coming closer she realized that nothing would give greater glee to the invading troops than to lord over the documents of our founding and the painting of George Washington.  Deciding that such disgrace was not going to happen on her watch, she loaded a wagon full of such items and when her husband raced back they sneaked into hiding until the invasion was over.

I am sure I will learn much  more about Dolley as I read her biography, but what I have know so far gives me much respect and admiration for her spirit, spunk and determination.   All of the women in America owe a debt of gratitude to founding women like Dolley Madison, Abigail Adams and more.   Their husbands sometimes get all the glory, but we all know where most men end up without a strong woman to guide them (and vice versa- especially back then).  I highly encourage you all to find the documentary and learn something about a fascinating woman who made America great!  (Shouldn’t they make a movie about her?  Why does it seem like they only make movies about the scoundrels?)

Funny Glimpse into the Past

Here I am with the floppy disk!

Change

Change the poem, change the line,
change the meaning, change the rhyme,
change the outcome change the plan,
change the mood, change the man.

Change your looks, change your smile,
change your going, stay awhile,
change your past, change your time,
change your future, stay be mine.

william greer

Today I was filling up my new bookcase (which despite purchasing 4 bags of books from DI leaves my other bookcases markedly sparse!).  While personally oogling over each and every book- even the ones from my childhood such as the boxcar children and babysitters club- I started looking at my old books from college.  This is always a sentimental trap for me because I look at my college experience as the most defining one of my life.  My mission was the most difficult, college was the most defining.  I know it is such a cliche but I really did find my voice as a young political philosophy student.  All of the sudden I had the words to say what I had been feeling my entire life.  I can recall the first moment of reading Plato (something most would shutter at) as one of the most liberating of my life.  Particularly his teaching on forms- the belief that eternal forms have always existed.  He uses the example of a chair. We know something is a chair because it uses the form of a chair.  Abstract concepts are the same way.  We know what justice is because it fits the form of justice.  There were so many times in my life when I had been trying in vain to describe my heart and to know that this struggle with words was eternal was an ah ha moment if there ever was one!  Since then I have had many ah ha moments but none came with such fluidity as they did in college. Suddenly reading became easy and fun, writing (and even grammar) became a passion and learning new concepts an adrenhaline rush.  This love of learning has never left me and I believe is now one of the distinctive parts of my personality.

Anyway, as I was reminiscing with each old book I came across a book from my Marriage and Family course (ironic that I took 3 such courses I know!) and from inside the book fell out my old floppy drive from college!  What a blast from the past that was.  I knew it was the floppy I relied on because it was black with a green and white label.  I used to put everything on that floppy (everything that would fit that is!).  At the time it seemed more than sufficient for my back up and storage needs.  Looking at it now it has 1.44 mb. To put things in perspective one song on Itunes has 5 mb.  My current ipod has 160 GB.  The flash drive I carry on my key chain has 4 GB and my back up capabilities are over 1 terabyte.  This means that in my personal back up system I have over a million floppy drives! Amazing.

What am I getting with all those bytes- tons of added photos, videos and software space, back up for many projects, and perhaps most importantly thousands of downloaded songs and cds at my disposal. With all that I am only using about 1/3rd of my storage capacity.  It is hard to imagine filling it up but I am sure someday I will.  Perhaps someday I will be looking at my loud noisy back up hard drive and think it is so old fashioned- just as I am with the floppy drive.

That said- I wonder if my life really is any better?  Back then I still had a laptop with music files, software and was completely satisfied.  In fact, I would love to be able to look at this floppy and see what kinds of projects I was working on and items I thought important enough to save.  Most of it is probably papers that I put on the floppy to print at the SWKT computer lab (my printer was notoriously fickle- something that doesn’t seem to have changed much with ink jets!)

Do you all ever have moments like that where a simple item will start you down the reminiscing trail and lead to questions, to pondering?  Happens to me all the time.  Please share!  I haven’t had a comment in a while.  Not since my President Obama post and let’s be honest you guys don’t want me doing political posts all the time do you!!  (Btw, I’ve lost 8 lbs so far on my new fitness regiment but that’s for another entry!).  Thanks for reading.

California, Disney, Great Friends

Isn’t that nice of them to put an R out for my arrival! Ps. Don’t I look skinny in this picture?!

I haven’t posted for several weeks because last week I went on a trip to Southern California.  This trip was made possible by the fact I had a free ticket for which I had volunteered my seat for last year (more on that later).  Plus, my dear friend Emily Whitman agreed to be my host and let me stay in her home.  It was a wonderful trip- the perfect get-away after 2 months of relentless overtime at work!

The trip started last Monday the 22nd.  Through planning on Emily’s part we coordinated our flights so we both arrived at the airport minutes from each other.  She was coming back from visiting her mother in Texas and I of course was coming from Utah.  I admire the energy Emily had after a long day of travel.  Plus, she was such a good hostess even though she was probably exhausted from having been on vacation (I swear it takes me a week to recover!).  Her mother, Maria, also flew back with her and she was kind enough to give me her room during my stay.  Maria has a lovely home with lots of space and a very homey feel.  I can’t say enough about how accommodating and kind they were to me.

After our day for travel we relaxed and had a couple of leisurely days in the Temecula area.  On Wednesday we went to downtown Temecula where I particularly enjoyed all of the fun gourmet food stores.  We went to a root beer store (I had birch beer for the first time since living in Maryland- that brought back memories!), nut shop, cheese shop, jerky store, olive oil bar and a candy shop!  Since my entire trip was so cheap I indulged and bought some amazing vanilla and fig balsamic vinegar.  I’ve already made a salad with it and it is delicious!  They have so few independent shops like the ones in Temecula in Utah that it was a nice treat and a fun afternoon.  (my camera was out of batteries but Emily took some photos that I will post when I get them).

On Thursday and Friday Maria was kind enough to watch Emily’s little one, Jackson, so myself, Emily, and her husband Derek could go to Disneyland.  They had a special Southern California 2fer ticket where for $80 you get 2 parks in 2 days.  This is not a park hopper, so you can only do one park each day.  However, this worked out fine for us- doing California Adventure Thursday and Magic Kingdom Friday.  It was the perfect time of year to go to Disneyland.  The weather was gorgeous and the crowds manageable.  I think we only waited longer than 20 minutes once for the new Toy Story ride.

Going into the trip I wondered if I would feel a like a bit of a third wheel being a single with a couple.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Emily and Derek are such an awesome couple.  They are funny, interesting and good conversationalists.  I did not feel excluded at all.  It’s always a good experience as a singlite to watch  couples and see how they interact and gel.   Emily and Derek are very thoughtful and are always making one-another laugh.  Along with my sister Megan and her husband Seth, Emily and Derek go on the list of my favorite couples.  They also always had a smile on their face- even when waiting for me (I’m a slow walker!).

The park itself was great.  I know that some of my liberal friends feel disdain for Disney and its brand of corporate cheese it sells to children.  While I admit this is true, I still enjoy it.  I love Disney films and love Disneyland. It’s hard to even explain why.  I just think it is fun!  I even like all of the schlock cheese of  Main Street and Sleeping Beauty’s castle (I found out Sleeping Beauty’s castle is in Disneyland and Cinderella’s Castle is in Disney World).  I guess I must admit to being pretty mainstream- I love Disney and shop at big box stores like Walmart, Target and Costco.

Anyway, we had a great trip.  We were very thrifty and only ate one thing at the park- the Dole Whips at the Tiki Room.  We had to eat these because the only other place you can get them is at the Dole Plantation which is about 5 minutes from my beloved Hawaii house! (Plus, amazingly enough they were a great deal $2.79 each!).   The rest of the food at the park was exorbitantly priced.  $6.99 for a hot dog! Oh my!  Most of the time we packed a lunch and ate breakfast at the hotel.  We did go to Tony Roma’s across from the park on Friday for dinner. 

On Friday I had the treat of meeting up with my friend Melissa Noyes.  I have not seen her since July because she is a first year law student at LaVern law school in Ontario, California.  Since I was flying out of Ontario (and Emily had a baby shower on Saturday- I know the woman never sleeps!) I stayed at Melissa’s house Friday night.  Even though it was just one night it was a lot of fun to catch up with an old friend.  Melissa was my MTC companion and we have remained close ever since.  She is working so hard in law school, and I really admire her dedication to her studies.  She seemed happy and as well-adjusted as a first year law student might hope to be! I’m very excited for this June and July she is coming back to Utah for an internship with the Provo Courthouse!  It will be so much fun to have another friend close by.  (By the way, Emily and Derek might be moving to Provo so Derek can go to BYU.  We will see!  I hope they do!).

This trip was perfect in many ways.  It was very inexpensive, fun, relaxing and full of great friends. I don’t know what I did in the pre-earth life to deserve such wonderful friends.  I’m particularly grateful for the friends that have lasted the longest.  As a single person my world feels constantly in flux.  There isn’t that solid companion that others enjoy.  It is a sad reality that some, maybe most, friends come and go quite quickly.  The friends that last are worth more to me than they will ever know.  Thank you to all such people in my life and particularly thanks to Emily, Derek, Maria and Melissa for making my trip so much fun! You’all are the best!

So, I almost forgot to mention the exciting news about the plane flight.  On my way home I was able to volunteer my seat again!  This means that the following has happened:

2008- Got a free ticket to Hawaii off of my grandparents mileage plus- It was a gift for my graduation.

2009 (January)- Used the free ticket and volunteer twice on my flight home from my cruise.  That means 2 free ticket.

2009 (October)- Used one of the free tickets to visit Megan for the roommate reunion.

2010 (February)- Used last free ticket to go to Southern Cali, got another free ticket.

2010- Where will I go? and can I keep the free tickets alive!  This is now my 5th free ticket from United!  Wahoo! Plus, I volunteered for Delta once in 2008 but they don’t tend to over-book like United does.  I think I am the only person who is happy when I have a connection because it gives me more opportunity to volunteer and get free tickets.  Plus, connections usually happen at hubs which ups your chance at volunteering. I should write a book- How to Never Pay for Travel!