Wednesday, January 28, 2009


And she's back. Literally. I've been on a one week driving tour of Louisiana and parts of Texas I never care to see again. All part of the merger of which my client is a part of. Odd to find yourself evaluating a real estate portfolio where the sales and/or real estate model is completely different than your own- but I've found myself in po dunk no where too many times to count this past week. Clearly their model of real estate is "build it and they will come" and it seems to work. These little stores are busy. They are friendly and people, I think, come to chat with the employees more than they come to conduct business. I think an upgrade in cell phone or service plan happens while talking about last weeks football game. Whatever. Clearly it works.

Not so nowhere

About an hour south of Wichita Falls is a little town called Graham. Population about 12,250. When this little town showed up on the portfolio list I volunteered to go. My reasons were personal. At the corner of East and Second Street you'll find two small houses. One is rock and the other is a small white frame house with yellow shutters. My fondest childhood memories were made here.. in Graham, Texas. My great grandfather was a carpenter..he built the small rock house and raised his three daughters there, my grandmother being the youngest. When she married, she and my grandfather built the small white house with the help of the family. All in all my grandmother lived some 84 years at the corner of East and Second street in the small town of Graham, Texas. My family took pride in their homes. The yards always immaculate, the paint fresh, and the shrubs pruned. My great aunt Ina (yes I said Ina) still mowed her own yard and pulled weeds by hand well into her 80s. Her proudest moments were quite possibly getting yard of the month multiple times. My grandmother who we affectionately called Grandsam always said she painted her shutters yellow because it was a happy color. Maybe that's why yellow remains my favorite color today.

These houses were not castles. They weren't filled with the finest of things, but they were always tidy and the doors were always open to whoever wanted to come for a visit. My Grandsam would tell me that she never wanted a big fancy house- she didn't want to clean it. The older I get- the more I can relate. But her mantra was always "I want my house to be neat and tidy, warm and for people to feel welcome here." I think she succeeded. The family sold these two houses back in 2004 when my Grandsam could no longer care for them. She moved to Florida to live with my Aunt and Uncle and spend some time where it was warm. Moving her from her little house on Second Street was impossibly sad. My roots had been up-rooted.


I'm a 3rd generation Native Texan. In this transient world we live in that just doesn't happen much anymore. My Grandsam was pretty proud of the Texas roots too. She always said of people in Texas "Ashley they're just friendlier" I could go on and on about my Grandsam. That's probably another post. But in 2005 she became ill. By the end of 2005 we moved her back to Texas.. She said she wanted to die in Texas. She brought in 2006 in a nursing home near my parents house. I would visit her often and we would talk about life and the impression she had made on mine. I'd tell her how much I loved her and on January 16, 2006 I was getting ready for work when my mom called to tell me that my Grandsam had died. I was going to see her that afternoon to tell her I was pregnant with Cole. I hadn't been back to Graham since we buried her in the family plot in the Graham cemetery. I think that's why January is always such a hard month for me. A new year in front of me and the reminder of her death and a period of time spent missing her and wishing she were still here. I wonder what she would think of the decisions I've made and what she'd have to say about my Cole. I've missed her guidance and her input and the fact that she never called me Ash.. I was always Ashley or Sugarbabe.

Pulling up to the houses that were still present at the corner of East and Second Street was particularly difficult for me. I cried. Gone were the small quaint homes I remember from my childhood.. gone was the sand box I use to play in and the porch swing I would sit in. Instead were two poorly kept houses with a Winnebago parked in the yard. The new residents had painted the yellow shutters gray and the sight itself was equally as gray. They had ripped the rock off the back of my great grandparent's house and left it in the yard. I didn't stay long. I guess there's just a difference between a house and a home.

I'm blocking that image from my mind. I'll choose instead to remember sitting on the back steps with my Grandsam and my Great Aunt Ina tending to the yard in a dress, sneakers and her bonnet. I'll freeze these images in my mind. Remembering them as homes and more importantly remembering the people who cared for them.

That's all I've got for now. It's time for a bath, some coco and last DVD of Season Three of the Gilmore Girls. I am Lorelai. Holla!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chew on This

Sometimes you just need to chew. I find myself reminding Cole frequently to chew his food rather than swallowing whole. I've been chewing a lot on noks myself. I find when I run more- I'm hungrier and therefore want to chew on things. Now comes the debate for me..fruit or cookie? I wish I could say fruit always won out. Doh!

Apparently Josephine aka Joey needed to chew on some things too. I wish we were talking kibble or the bones I leave strategically placed throughout the house. I had my 1st MOPS meeting last night. So I hurried after work to pick up a light snack & some bottled water for the group, and to run home and let the Joey dog out and to feed her. I debated and decided to let her have a little freedom and baby gated off the majority of my house. She had access to the kitchen, the living room , and my room. She'd passed the test with an hour of alone time in the I figured we'd try a little longer tonight.
Cole and I pulled into the garage at a little after 9pm. I put him in his PJs and he all but crawled in his crib himself...It was then that I went looking for Joey. I found her in her kennel in my room looking at the mess she'd created like "whatcha gonna do about it?" I guess she decided to do a little light reading

That would be two of my books chewed up and all over her bed and the floor. Isn't it greatness? They were two really old books that I still pull out occasionally and they were in the basket of books, and magazines by my reading chair... I've had these two old, worn looking paperbacks a very long time. Gone forever are Power Astrology and an all time favorite How to Survive the Loss of a Love. Good thing I can add them to my cart on Amazon-but they won't be the tattered and worn reminders that that these copies were for me... A very sad day. I guess Joey isn't a fan of the self help book.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Best Compliment Ever

I was on the receiving end of the best compliment ever last week. It really came out of no where, but when it was said it was possibly the nicest thing that had been said to me all week.

Just about every Wednesday during my lunch hour- if you were to stalk me- you'd see me walk out to my car and drive to see counselor Sherri. I like to think of her as my life coach. Many people don't talk openly about seeking counseling, but as I've previously stated I'm not a person with secrets and I've learned that it's truly the strong people who seek out ways to grow personally. Counselor Sherri helps me do that. I have no qualms about blogging about my efforts or admitting openly that I seek counsel. Give me half the chance and I'll give you a referral to Sherri.

Here's what I love about my sessions. She calls me on my crap. She has expectations of me. We laugh. Often I cry, but I leave there with a purpose of things I need to do, perceptions I need to change or emotions I need to accept. If there is one thing I have learned it's that when it comes to things relational- sometimes you just can't change it.

So this past week, it had been a few weeks since I'd seen Sherri because of the Holidays. We had some catching up to do. I updated her and she commented on my general "blah" state. Clearly I wasn't what she calls my spunky self. I just said "January makes me feel blah. The year is out in front of me and I'm still a little tired from last year."

It was then that Sherri made me talk about 2008 & all that I'd accomplished Here's where the best compliment came in: She said " It takes an extremely strong person to do what you did last year. Many people wouldn't have the courage...and the common denominator for all things great you accomplished last year was you."

I don't generally look at things like that. Maybe you don't either. So I wanted to post about it. To encourage you (if you're reading my random blog) to think about all the great things or happenings in your life over the past year and to recognize that you're the common denominator too. I wanted to pass an awesome compliment on to you.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Power Song

Everyone should have one. One of the coolest Christmas gifts I received this year was the Nike + iPod (good job marketing boy) Let me explain: If you're really cool you buy the Nike running shoes that are equipped with a pocket for this little sensor thing that communicates with your iPod and records your workouts. Since I'm not a fan of the Nike shoe and an Asics girl you can also buy a little pouch to strap on to your shoes and it does the same thing. I must admit my first few runs with Nike + iPod totally pissed me off. I calibrated the damn thing. I followed the directions, but there's nothing quite as frustrating as running 5 miles and having your workout being recorded as 1.5 miles in 50 minutes and now my stats on the Nike Plus site show my average as 15 minute mile. I received some advice that my pouch thing for my sensor wasn't strapped down tight enough and the sensor needed to be facing I re calibrated on a 1 mile run and poof! I have Nike + iPod greatness.

Here's what I love: I pop the little Nike + gizmo into my iPod, scroll through and tell it how far or how long I want to let's me pick the play lists that I want to listen to while I'm running I hit start and I'm off. During my run, a pleasant sounding voice tells me when I've run a mile and what my pace is... as you near the end of your run it starts counting down the end in meters... and at the very end Lance Armstrong comes on to tell me that I've completed my run and good job. There's another chick too that informs you if you set a new personal best in your pace.

Sometimes I need a little reinforcement during a run so my only suggestion to Apple & Nike would be to have drill Sargent voices saying things like " My grandmother runs faster than you..." or "You're slowing down you wuss- pick up the pace.." or "You faster" or perhaps "if you hurry up and finish there's some bread pudding waiting for you" would be greatness too. After all is said and done I can sync my iPod and upload my workout to the NikePlus website and track my progress.

The best feature of this little get up is the Power Song. I can hold down the center button of my iPod and my power song plays. The power song being the song that gets you moving. A song that makes you bob your head, shake your booty & run faster. Mine is "Black Horse and a Cherry Tree" by KT Tunstall. I was somewhat disappointed in America when I learned that the no. 1 power song is "Eye of the Tiger" ugh... We're so not original any more. But how awesome is it to press a little button during your run and instantly hear that song that makes you pick up the pace? Life should have a power song.

You'll Never Finish

So on my life list I have down that I want to run a marathon. Reality has set in- and I am learning that's not really a realistic goal. I'm an almost 32 year old mother. These hips have given birth and I'm just not that svelte. BUT I have signed up to run the Austin Half Marathon on February 15, 2009. That's 13 miles if you were wondering. I'm a little stressed, but I have a training schedule and my lazy butt hasn't missed a run this week.

I know me and the more people I commit to, by telling them I'm running it- the more apt I'll be to finish. So there you have it.

I told my family over the break. My awesome new sister in law had my back, my mother had my brother and my dad.. not so much. My Dad said "'ll never finish.." This, of course, instantly got me good and fighting mad. This could just be my Dad knowing that if you tell me I can't do something- I'll be more determined to do it..or it could be my Dad acknowledging that I'm not in the physical shape to do it. Regardless, the challenge has been made.

As I reflect on my childhood and remember my Dad always encouraging us to be competitors, athletes, and yelling at/coaching us from sidelines of soccer fields, I'm reminded of a particular soccer game where I got pegged in the face with the ball and landed flat on my back in the middle of the soccer field. My Dad trotted out to the center of the field where I was, of course, crying and certain that my nose had been broken. I was expecting an "it'll be okay Ash" He helped me up, walked me to the bench and gave me about two minutes before he informed me I'd better shake it off and finish the game. You might be reading this thinking "that's harsh" and it might have been, but these are the moments where our parents help us define our character.

Hopefully, I'll finish 13 miles. I do, after all, have the greatness of the power song.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The 1st Post

This is the 1st post of 2009. I'm so excited to be writing it-- because well- I've got nothing to ramble about. A first I realize. I can always ramble..but I guess I find myself looking out onto 2009 and sort of cocking my head to the side and saying "hmm?" I get this way this time of the year nearly every year. But something is a little different about this year I suppose. I don't feel that there's any huge internal conflict to resolve or write about. I'm not preparing myself to trudge through another year, but rather I'm hopefully optimistic. I have my list of things that I want to accomplish in 2009 and of course the unspoken things in my heart that I don't share with anyone but the Big Guy Himself. It all seems "do" able and manageable. I suppose like most of America I'm concerned about the economy and my job. I worry about my kiddo and the things that need to be fixed around the house and finding the money to fix them, but for the most part I'm in a "hmm" state of mind. I'm ready to shake it off.

The Holidays are over and I've packed away all the decorations. I've received the credit card bill and I stayed within my budget and will gladly send my Christmas payoff into Mastercard. I'm ready to clean out my closets and the garage and maybe that will help clear the crazy cob webs in my mind. While it seems a little dusty in there- I know this: I am hopeful that 2009 will be good to me. I feel sort of like I've been through battle and I'm experiencing the calm before the storm. I don't fear the storm- I feel like it will be an amazing experience.

I'm going to make myself a promise for this year: I won't look back on 2008. It is over. It is done. I felt it and lived it and I can't do anything about it now.

On that note: I do have a random thought. Does Facebook ever make you feel like a stalker? I mean you can download it onto your mobile device and see what your friends are doing at any given moment so long as they update their status...Over the holiday I found lots of my old high school friends and connected with them, but could see recent pics of them before ever really even chatting with them in email.. and so I found myself wondering..Am I a stalker? Is Facebook legalized stalking? Craziness. Now I know several of you marketing guru people will tell me that it's social media.. and a tool for sharing and discussing information among people.. but are we sharing or are we just nosy? I know we tell ourselves that we're so busy that a web based application helps us feel connected.. but I miss connecting over coffee, lunch or drinks and Facebook makes me feel like a loser sometimes.

Facebook loserness aside. I'm hopeful about 2009 and thanks to a fellow blogger Random Cathy My theme for 2009 is Hope. Holla! My flavored cardboard otherwise known as Lean Cuisine has been consumed and I have some work to do.