Saturday, March 29, 2014

My 10 Favorite Apps

I went for years without converting over to my smart phone.  I held out as long as I could, but finally gave in 3 years ago.  Every year I go through and revisit my expenses and consider giving up my phone for a regular one.  A week ago I walked into the AT&T store to do just that and they cut my bill by $40 a month and I got unlimited calls and texting.  I didn't think the minutes would ever be an issue, but I found out recently that my Dad is a chatterbox and my minutes were running out.

Well, I am glad I got the savings I wanted and I got to keep my phone addiction in tact.  Why do I love my phone so much?  I can access anything I want from it.  It is remarkable.  I think back to before cell phones.  Really, we drove around without being in constant contact.

Anyway, I have a bunch of apps on my phone that help me and I am going to share my favorites and most used with you:

1.  Waze Social GPS -  Not only are the graphics cute, you have other users updating on traffic status. It tells you where there are red light cameras, accidents, other "Wazers" in the area.  I recommend that you have a passenger do the updating for you.  It will ask you if you are a passenger, if you are moving.  The free version is great.

2.  Facebook - It's nice to take a break at work and check up on my friends. You all know about Facebook.

3.  Groupon - This is an awesome App and dangerous if you are a shopaholic with insomnia.  You can shop right from bed.  I have gotten some great deals at 2 and 3 am.

4.  Natursound - There are a wide variety of white noise or nature sound apps.  These help me sleep.  I keep my phone plugged in through the night.  it helps when I am traveling for work.  My favorite sounds are the Ocean or Rain.  I have to say that  before I started meditating on my patio in the mornings, I would get up and rush to get ready and go to work without looking outside.  I would be dressed for rain and it was a clear day.

5.  iTrackbites - This is an app that I actually paid for.  It tracks food with a similar point system to weight watchers, but without the monthly fee.  The app is 3.99 and worth every penny.

6. Restaurant App - this is associated with iTrackbites and it gives nutritional information on virtually every fast food  or other restaurant.  It will track your eating with the iTrackbites app.  It is cute and easy to use.  My favorite food track of all that I have tried.

7.  Audible - I love listening to Audio books on road trips, on my commute, or just doing work around the house.

8.  Jesus Calling - This is my daily devotional and I share it on my facebook account everyday.  It is the first thing I read everyday.  I think it is around $10.  I was given a leather bound copy of this book for Christmas in 2011 and it speaks to my heart.

9.  Pretty Fit - This is a new app, but I absolutely love it.  You get video workouts on your phone.  The problem is I have NO excuse anymore not to exercise.

10.  Blogger - I can post on the fly...Weeeeee

What are your favorite Apps?

I Love Audio Books!!

I love audio books, mainly because I can work around the house or on long road trips I can get in entire books.  I am a bit dyslexic so I read slow, this makes it much easier.  However, I will say that I prefer when the author narrates.  There is nothing worse than a monotone narrator, or that woman that is narrating and trying to do a mans voice when a man speaks.  Ugh...

My favorites are the ones that have helped me grow spiritually or emotionally.  I have done the self help stuff all my life, trying to fix that thing inside that was broken.  Honestly, until I was ready to let go of how I was doing things and DO things differently, nothing was going to work, and it didn't.  That is for another blog post.

My Favorite audio books are:

  1. Eat, Pray, Love narrated by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author.  What a journey! I have listened to this book over and over.  I listened to this book when I was finally opening up to letting God take control of my life.    
  2. The Power of Vulnerability, by Brene Brown - Recorded Live:  This is a very powerful book that gets to the core of my issues.  I was able to move forward after listening to her insights and facts.  If you are one who wants facts and figures, this is for you.  Brene is a statistics, fact and numbers based person.  She appeals to my logical brain as well as my heart. 
These are my favorites and definitely must reads if you are actively on a spiritual journey.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

5 Ways I Get Closer to God

Since I have made these things part of my daily life I have noticed problems are easier to face, forgiveness comes more quickly, I sleep more soundly, I love more deeply and I am starting to trust more freely.  Trust is a difficult thing for me, so any progress in that area is a miracle.

I have two places in my home where I just feel more open to hearing God.  I don't mean an audible voice. I mean my defenses are down, my mind is open and my brain becomes more still.  The noise in my head quiets enough where I can obtain thoughts that are clearly direction from God.  Kind of a tug in a certain direction.  I have learned over time not to ignore those tugs.

1. Coffee with God:  I get up each morning and grab my coffee, my journal and I sit on my balcony. I love sitting outside sipping coffee and being quiet and still.  It's one form of meditation I do.  Even if I am late for work I take this time.

2. Journal:  I started out just journaling what ever was on my mind.  Kind of a data dump of sorts.  It has developed into a conversation with God.  I thank Him for everything and everyone he has put in my life. I ask Him to walk me through my day.  I pray for all my friends and family and anything else he has put on my heart.  My day isn't always awesome, but it IS always easier.  If I skip this in the morning I tend to be a bit of a grouch.

3. Random Acts of kindness:  Paying for the person behind me at Starbucks in the morning, paying someone a compliment, opening the door for someone, or just making someone laugh.

4. Hanging out with my cat:  I swear I have him so that can God can show me what unconditional love looks like.

5.  Meditating before bed surrounded by gifts of love that my friends and family have given me.  I play ocean sounds and ask god to calm my mind as I send love and light out into the universe.

The Job that guaranteed my Bachelor's Degree.

My least favorite job?  How about the job the ensured my completion of college!!

It was summer 1982 and I got a job working at the Jafra Cosmetics and Perfume factory in Westlake, California.  I thought, how hard can it be to work on a production line?!  I'm smart and athletic...outta my way!!

I was put on the line where the spray tops are put on the perfume bottles.  This is done buy hand...seriously...this skill is not in my wheelhouse.  I started by watching this woman pop these tops on  super fast...boink, boink, boink.  Then travel to the end where another lady puts them in a box.

I've got this!  No problem I am thinking.  This is not like on I love Lucy where you can eat the chocolate.  I do believe this job gave me my first panic attack ever.  I lasted exactly 4 hours.

While I was eating lunch with my coworkers, they were telling me how they had been doing this same job for 5 to 10 years.  I went to the manager and said this is not for me.  I finished out the summer in the shipping department filling orders.

I worked my way through school, while raising a family and it took until 2000 to finish but I did it.  Today I am finishing up my last two classes to sit for the CPA exam.

Thank you Jafra for lighting my path.

Office Etiquette: Pet Peeves

I have worked in an office environment since 1988.  I have heard, seen and smelled some things that have made me wonder about the people I work with.

1. Speakerphones:  I am not sure if they think it is cool, they want everyone to hear their conversation, they are too lazy to pick up the phone, or in very few cases, they are trying to work while on the phone.  I will say that in 99% of the cases I have seen, they are not working while on the phone.  I have seen men leaning back with their feet on their desks, talking about car racing, or real estate, stock market...none of which have anything to do with their position.  All of the coupled with yelling at the phone, makes me want to walk in and end the conversation.  I will say that I tend to be a little more forgiving when it is a work related conversation or it is someone I know  actually does their job, or I have some level of respect for them.  These people rarely make this mistake.

I have this great book "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" by Peggy and Peter Post.  Awesome book and I have been tempted to make copies of pages form this book and leave it certain peoples desks.  I would be assuming a great deal by doing that, that they would read it, understand why they received it and would change their behavior.  So I don't do it.  Rather, when this loud intrusion happens again.  I politely walk up to their office door and signal that I am going to close their door for them.

2. Loud talkers/making requests over the cube wall.  I will admit that I tend to be a loud talker and my voice naturally carries.  It took me many years to accept that yes, I can consciously keep a lower voice in the office.  It kind of like an ex-smoker, you have a lower tolerance after quitting.  I have the same problem, it just gets on my nerves.  I have to say clearing my throat to hint has no effect on this situation at all.  Short of saying something I will generally get up and go for a walk outside and pray for help holding my tongue.

3.  Food in the work place:  I have no problem with people eating at their desks, I do it often.  However, heating up fish in the workplace is a big no no.   I have a funny story that combines the yelling over the cube with the heating fish in the work place.

This was my first office job and it was basically cube land, even executives were in cubes. We had a cube kitchen ( cube with a microwave) and someone was heating up fish.  All of a sudden I hear this woman, who is in middle management, yell from her cube "Is someone cooking fish or is that me I am smelling?!"  I lost it!  I think I laughed every time I saw her after that.  It actually lowered my level of respect for her.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

5 Things I have too many of...

I thought that I had really minimized how much "stuff" I have.  I tend to move frequently and that makes for donating and downsizing regularly.  However, it seems there are a few things I tend to collect...not use very often, but I have built up a nice collection.

1.  Feng Shui Books -  I love the idea of Feng Shui.  The concept of keeping positive energy moving through my living space.  Apparently I think having 5 books on the topic will make this happen.  I am closer now than ever before.  This is not because these books are collecting dust on my book shelves. I realize that I am only peaceful when things are in order.  Decluttering is a good way to do that..maybe I should start by getting rid of 4 of the 5 books, then actually read the one I am keeping.

Move Your Stuff Change Your Life

Feng Shui for You and Your Cat

These are two of the books and I have actually read and love them.  I am keeping them both!!  Progress not perfection.

2.  Bath and Body Works Lotion - I have 23 various containers of lotion.  I will NEVER have to buy any more lotion.  The kicker is I rarely remember to use it.  So if you need lotion let me know I will share.   I had a ton of shower lotion and scrub, but I actually have used all of that up.  I guess I have a new routine of self care to begin.  It kind of makes me think of Silence of the Lambs..."It puts the lotion on or it gets the hose again."   Maybe that's why I don't use it..hehe.

3.  Make-up - I have more make up than anyone could ever use!  I rarely wear it.  People always ask what the occasion is when I do.  I buy it constantly.  Does make up expire?  I am sure I have make-up from 20 years ago in here.  Do you throw it out or give it away?  This one for some reason is going to be a tough one.

4.  Hair products - I have thin, fine hair and, evidentially, I will buy whatever you are pushing when I am in your chair and you have scissors in your hand.  I am challenged when it comes to styling my hair anyway.  I have to keep it simple.  This I can let go of.

5. Empty Wine Bottles -  I decided last year to start decorating bottles as a craft and thought I might sell them.  I mentioned this to a couple people at work.  Who would have thought people would bring me boxes and boxes of wine and liquor bottles.  I kind of felt like some kind of a dealer.  I had people coming to my cube and say "I parked by your me outside and we can move the boxes over without everyone seeing."  One lady came up and said "here...don't judge." and walks away.  I had to laugh.  If they only knew that if I were still drinking I would never have had to ask for bottles.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Unexpected Vacation California Style

I was talking to a couple friends the other day and one of them said, "I'm not a free-spirit like you Brenda."  What a great compliment that is for me today.  I have spent so many years trying to control everything and everyone.  I never felt "free", I always felt trapped and afraid.  It did make me think about a vacation I took in 1990 (I think that was the year).  I was going on my first vacation with the guy I had been dating for a year.  We had at that point not gone or done anything that wasn't part of a family or group event.  I was terrified.  It was a last minute trip where I had absolutely no control over anything except packing.  Our first stop was to drive straight through to Sacramento to deliver his son back home, at some ungodly hour of the night, which was perfectly normal to these people.  "Hi!  I know it's 2 am, but here's your son."

Growing up my family vacations always consisted of 7 people in a Ford station wagon, everyone in one motel room, timed and planned down to the minute.  At some point that rubs off on you, even if you don't want it to.  Needless to say, this was, initially, a very uncomfortable experience.  We loaded up our bags into the brown, Chevy, dually headed to out of Van Nuys California straight to Sacramento.  The next day it was down the coast.  No hotel reservations, plans, back up plans...nothing! 

Our first stop was Santa Cruz...easily one of my favorite places.  We found a motel room and went to the Pier.  The roller coaster was a total blast and it was 1920's night and all tickets were 5 cents.  We had so much fun.  What a great surprise.  I highly recommend visiting Santa Cruz.  At this point, Brad realized that when I packed his bag, his first mistake, I packed all red t-shirts for him.  Not my intention, but I was just getting clothes in the bag.  I NEVER heard the end of that one.

Our next stop on the way down the coast along Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is a vista point overlooking the ocean, a blue tarp over the bed of the tuck and 2 sleeping bags.  That's where we stayed the night.  We went and picked up a tent and foam pad the next day.  We camped at a camp ground in Big Sur over looking the ocean the next night.  What an amazing place!  I could wake up to that view everyday.

Our next stop was Pismo Beach and we camped on the beach.  That night we got there and the wind was blowing so strong and steady that we just let it blow the tarp against the truck as a wind break.  Brad grille dinner while I set up the tent.  This tent was like a kite and it took easily an hour to get it put together, staked to the ground and the bedding inside.  I came out and said "TADA!!!" and the wind completely stopped, the tarp dropped to the ground and stayed calm the rest of the night.  After the surprise of it, we laughed so hard.  There was sand in EVERYTHING, the tent, the food...everywhere.

After a quick stop in Solvang, we were home the next night.  I look back on that trip with great fondness.  I learned that it will all be ok.  I don't have to plan everything and sometimes the freedom of not knowing makes for the greatest adventures.

Thank you Brad for teaching me that lesson.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My creation of the day!!

I spent a wonderful afternoon at the Gypsy Muse Studio making my creation below.

Sharen holds her classes in her studio which is connected to her shop.  I enjoy listening to people come in and comment on the striking creations she has displayed.    Her art is vibrant and cheerful.  You can't help but smile when you walk through the door.

As I walk through everything chirps "Pick me! Pick me!!"  I walked out today with 3 new treasures.  I have to say the beauty of Art and creativity makes my soul sing!  I  feel closer to God when I am painting or crafting. I crave this connection and my inner light gets brighter with each stroke!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Love this!!

This picture and statement spoke to my heart.

The link below will take you to a video of Carrie Underwood singing "How Great Thou Art"  It is so beautiful!

How Great Thou Art by Carrie Underwood

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Inner Light Self Portrait - Gypsy Muse in Grapevine, TX

One of my favorite things to do is create something, ANYTHING!  I spend all day behind a desk where there is no real sense of completion.  It just goes on and on.  It is the nature of what I do for a living.  On a spiritual level that is not satisfying for me.

I crave creativity.  I hadn't really allowed myself to nourish this part of me until this past year.  I went on a quest to find out not only what I love, but what feeds my soul.  Valentine's day weekend I went to  pamper myself with a manicure and pedicure at a place in Grapevine.  I got there over an hour early so I could walk around downtown  and take pictures.  

A block away from the salon was this cool looking house, which ended up being a gallery, shop and art studio. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it.   Sharen Chatterton is the owner and artist.  Gypsy Muse Studio

I signed up for her class "Your Inner Light: A Self Portrait"  it was a 2 day class and I had a blast!  She took me from a blank canvas to this in two 4 hour sessions.  It was a small class and we had so much fun!  This is my favorite piece and it hangs in my bedroom in my meditation corner.

I felt like I was a little girl back in school, except the scissors were pointy.  We  were digging through piles of paper finding patterns and pictures that we like, words, designs, whatever spoke to use we grabbed.  Then she tells us that we are to tear the paper not cut it and cover the top of the canvas around the face we have drawn.  I had a moment when my OCD kicked in, what?! Tear the paper?!  I was quickly able to shrug it off and start ripping paper all over the place.  It was strangely satisfying and a good stress reliever.  Then came the glue!  We glued everything down and got to start painting and designing our background, then the hair.  It amazes me how everything always comes together in the last final details.  

I am taking her "Make and Take Bees Wax Canvas Workshop" on Saturday.   I will take lots of pictures.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Do you remember Yugo's?

 My first car was a Yugo. (pause for laughter)  In my defense, I lived in California and it was all I could afford. I have to say the payment of only $100 a month was still too high for this disposable car.

This is exactly what my car looked like, minus the happy people around it.

The good thing about Yugo's is that no cop in his right mind will write a ticket to someone for going 90 MPH in a Yugo.  I was in my 20's and had a bit of a lead foot, but was never given a ticket.  My theory was that they would get laughed out of the precinct for that one.

It had no glove compartment, but what it did have was a zipper in the back of the drivers seat.  I have to say that when you get pulled over for speeding at 2 am, having to get out of the car, take off the drivers seat cover to get the registration out of the back of your seat, then reassemble the seat, serves as a sobriety test.  I am not exactly sure how the cop kept from laughing outright at this insane process.

My car was decked out with a Garfield in the window, fake sheepskin seat covers, and a steering wheel anti-theft device.  Just the thought today that someone would want to steal this car makes me laugh.  I can say that someone did break my window to steal the Garfield.  Seriously...

Less than a year after purchasing this car the engine seized up and the car died.  I am sure it had nothing to do with my driving, but the anti-theft device worked.  It has been Toyota's and Honda's ever since.

What was your first car?

Mama Kat

Mama’s Losin’ It