Minute by minute

my thoughts on making the most out of all of life's minutes…


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When you know better…do better

Sea World came to San Antonio (where I grew up) in 1989.  I was a junior in high school and beyond excited.  I was determined to work there.  I just had to be a part of it.

I spent days and weeks on my breaks between classes, after school, before track practice putting quarters into the pay phone trying to get through the job hotline.  To no avail.  I could never get through and I didn’t get a job – just like the other half of San Antonio didn’t get a job at Sea World that summer either.

But the next summer I did!

shamu1

And the morning after my high school graduation, I showed up, donned the uniform and reported for work.

I worked the front gate department.  We sold tickets, staffed the gates, and processed annual passes.  It was a great job!  David Robinson came through my turnstile one day!  The Admiral, from The Spurs.  We were outside most of the time, greeting happy people and bidding them farewell after a day spent with Shamu.

…great perks

The job had some great perks too.   Each employee got ten annual passes to give to family, 10 day passes, an opportunity to shop after the season where we could get Sea World paraphernalia for a fraction of what the public paid.  But by far, the best perk was the ability to go back into the park, after our shift and watch any of the shows we wanted.

And that’s what we did.  Since many times, my shift would include ticket sales or staffing the front gate and we closed these areas with a couple of hours left in the day,  I was able to leave my post, change out of my uniform and catch the final Shamu show.

This show was amazing.  While all of the other shows throughout the day were talking and showcasing the trainers with the whales, the final show of each night was called Shamu’s Playtime.  It was about thirty minutes of just Shamu playing – jumping, splashing, spinning, waving.  They played rock music and dimmed the lights.  For a land-locked girl, it was heaven.  It was like Shamu was performing just for me.  I was in love!

Another perk about working at Sea World was the Shamu cards and stickers.  This was a reward system in which supervisors could give a Shamu sticker when they felt a good job had been done.  These stickers were placed on a card.  Once the card reached five stickers, it was entered into a drawing to be held at the end of the season employee party.  The prizes for having your card picked ranged from t-shirts, cups, stuffed whales and the grand prize was a Toyota 4×4 truck.

I think I won a t-shirt.

The end of the season party was the best.  Not only did they open the park just for the employees….the finale was going to Shamu Stadium and watching the big whales play for what seemed like forever.  It was Shamu’s Playtime on extended mix.  It was amazing, an experience I will never forget.

I only worked at Sea World for the one summer.  It was a seasonal job and I was heading to college.

…moving to Seattle

Jump ahead a few years and I’m waiting tables at a Chili’s.  One night, at one of my tables was a young couple talking about a trip to Seattle from which they had just returned.  I was engaged at the time to my now husband and he was stationed in the Navy up the Seattle area.  I mentioned this to the couple and told them that I would be moving to Seattle in a few weeks.  I was nervous about the move and having only been up to visit once prior, their stories were positive and encouraging.  And when they told me – “you have to go on a whale watching tour”, all my doubts faded.

 

whale_orca

It would be a few years after I moved up to Washington before I went on my first whale watching tour.  And when I did, it was more amazing than I could have realized.  To see these amazing creatures, in the wild, moving so fast.  They were so huge and so strong.  I was in love all over again.

…whales in my town 

 

I’m very lucky to live where the whales live.  Just this past summer, a few whales came to visit my small town, chasing seals in our bay. They are with us always.  We have two pods that are here all the time and then we have migrating pods that drift in and out.  The chance is seeing a whale in our waters on any given day is highly likely.  I think we’ve taken anyone who has visited us on a whale watching tour and no one has been disappointed.

Blackfish

I saw the documentary Blackfish last night.

I was on the fence as to whether or not I’d want to see it; but I’m glad I did.  Over the last few years, I’ve been having mixed feelings about Orcas living in captivity.  The longer I’ve lived with them, and read about them and gotten to know about them, the more I feel environments like Sea World are not a good idea.

Maya Angelou says:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

When I was  young and naive, I didn’t think about the living situations of the whales.  I didn’t know what stresses the whales were under.  I didn’t know how they were separated from their families.  I didn’t know how much water they could cover in a day, how long they live, how tight their family bonds are.

I know better now.  

And I won’t be visiting the whales in captivity anymore.

I encourage you to watch this movie, if for nothing else, to learn more about the whales.  It’s a hard movie to watch…the first 20 minutes were the hardest for me.  I’d love to know your thoughts.

~Amy

 

 

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I’m not driven by competition

Let them know…

Someone, somewhere told me once – if I am unable to make a deadline, be it at work, on a committee or anything, to let the person know who is organizing it well in advance that I won’t be making said deadline.

At my last “real” job – the one that drove me out of the corporate world and into entrepreneurship, I ran into this very situation.  My boss at the time, had given the team an extra project with a week’s deadline.  This was on top of our normal workload.  Now mind you, this was over twelve years ago, but I want to say that I remember the workload being light at the time, hence, the new project.

I wasn’t going to make the deadline….

My personal workload was not as light as the others on the team, however, and a couple of days into the special project I could see the writing on the wall and I knew I wasn’t going to make the deadline.  I approached my boss and let her know my predicament.

Her reply?

“Well Meg is going to make her deadline.”  

Meg was the team lead and she could do no wrong in our boss’s eyes.

I remember having a couple of thoughts as I walked away:

“Well, good for Meg!”  

“Sure, Meg’s clients aren’t demanding anything from her at the moment.”

I could have come up with a ton of excuses or reasons why I wasn’t going to meet the deadline and why Meg was.

But the reality of the situation was – my boss’s comments about Meg did little to make me want to work harder.  I honestly felt I was doing the best that I could do by meeting my client’s needs.  I wasn’t slacking off, I was already working hard.  In my situation, the fact of the matter was – the deadline was simply unachievable.

What’s  your excuse? 

Jump forward to last week.  Did you see this photo drifting around the internet and the news?

I’ve read some of the follow-up interviews with this mom and she claims “if I can do it, so can you.” 

That’s true – but my question to her is “who is she to set herself as the benchmark.”

I’m no more motivated by her photo to go workout than I was without seeing it.

To me – it is just mean-spirited.

I know some people are motivated by others; striving to be like them or even surpass them.  I’m not one of those people.

I’m just trying to be happy; happy in my own skin.  The Jones are my neighbors, not my competition.

Happy Monday Everyone!

~Amy

PS – what do you think?  Are you motivated by ads like this?

PPS – if you like this post, please Like Me on Facebook and maybe share it with a friend!


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I’m heartbroken – and I can’t let it go….

Sometimes I wish I would learn to keep my mouth shut…..

Here’s what happened:

My office sits in the front of my house and overlooks our front porch, which overlooks our front yard.  Across the yard and across the street is a “common area” of our neighborhood.  There is no house across the street from us – instead there is a strip of grass.  This lawn part is maintained by a professional landscaping service, which includes maintaining the water schedule for the sprinkler system.  This area and the service is paid for by the dues that are collected from our Home Owners Association. 

While I sit and work, I notice that everyday around 4pm the water sprinklers go on and run for about 30-40 minutes.  The west sun is beating down on this patch of grass, it is in full sun.  I was always taught to not water the lawn in the heat of the day so you could maximize absorption and reduce evaporation.  

I emailed the maintenance person on the Board of the Home Owners Association asking about the timing of the watering and wondered if we were wasting water (and money).  I wasn’t sure if they were aware of the time that the sprinklers were set to go off. 

It took about two weeks to hear a reply and in that time, I noticed that the sprinklers also came on around 6am every morning.  

The first reply I heard back was “Thanks Amy, I’ll look into it and adjust it, but the landscaping company oversees that and might change it back.

To which I replied that I was also concerned about the twice daily watering schedule, inquiring if this was necessary from both a water usage standpoint as well as economical.  

I even included in my email this line   “For the record – I’m coming from my Texas mindset, where water is conserved drastically.  I just hate to see water being wasted and taken for granted.”

The reply that I got was the heartbreaking part:  “I water my lawn twice a day.  I go with (landscaping company’s name) settings since they are supposed to be the lawn specialist.” 

There are so many things I find disheartening about this attitude, here’s a little background information:

  • We live in the Pacific NW – outside of Seattle.  Seattle and the Puget Sound Region is known for its rain – it rains about nine months out of the year.  In the twenty years that I have lived here – the words “water conservation” have never been spoken, to my knowledge.  
  • But I’m from (born and raised) South/Central Texas.  My family and friends have been in a severe drought for the last three years and over the last decade and more, water conservation is a way of life.  
  • Just because we have plenty of rain and snow-pack here doesn’t give us the right to be wasteful – and only for what – green grass?
  • The type of grass we plant out here needs to be able to withstand cold, wet conditions.  Because of this, when it is dry and hot, it goes dormant – turning brown.  Once it cools off and starts raining again in the fall- it greens back up.  I admit, I don’t like brown, crunchy grass that our lawns turn into in the late summer.  Lawns can be kept green by over-watering; but in order to keep it green – it needs more and more water.  

That’s a lot of information about our grass.

I understand that people want green lawns and we live in a neighborhood (where I have never felt that I truly fit in) who wants to live up to an “image”. They probably hate that my lawn is brown and dormant all summer long.  As you can guess, I don’t water much.  In fact, my summer lawn maintenance motto is  – “I only water enough so my grass doesn’t blow away.

I think that is the part that bothers me the most  – the fact that we’d rather “waste” water (in my opinion, it is wasting) just to keep our lawns green.   But the biggest thing is the reply and the flippant attitude.  The “I water my lawn twice a day.” or as I read it “I don’t care about wasting water, I want a green lawn”  Did he even read or take into consideration where I was coming from….he’s obviously never had to live with water shortage and couldn’t even see my angle. 

I didn’t reply, instead I’ve just been sad about it.  I can’t change his mind.  His response matches the general attitude of the neighbors – and I just don’t fit in.  They have every right to spend their money on what they feel is important to them.  I guess they have their own right to use our natural resources to how they seem appropriate…even if I don’t agree with them.    

I’m ashamed that by virtue of me living here – I’m associated with their attitudes and viewpoints.  And now – a week or more later, I’m still heartbroken.  I’m saddened by his attitude, by the general attitude of the neighbors and by all the wastefulness that is happening…that I’m a witness to…right outside of my front yard….

 

 

 

 


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More tomorrow….

Happy Monday Everyone!

So – I’m haunted by the fact that I’ve done very little writing this year.

I ask myself why is that?

I tell myself – I’m in a rut, I’ve lost my momentum, I need to change things up, I need to find a new angle.

I think it is all of those things….

I think the one thing that really resonates with me is  the “change things up“.

I’d like to change this blog a bit, I just don’t know what direction to take in.

Here’s my vision or dream of what this might become:

A place where people turn for inspiration so they in-turn are inspired to do the things that bring them joy and happiness.  

How do I do this?  How do we do this?

That’s the key – I’d like for this to be more of a WE.

I’m motivated by people!

I love hearing people’s stories; their challenges, their triumphs, their frustrations and how they overcame them.  I love hearing the daily processes that we all go through and still end up being happy.

I love hearing from you!

I’m working on changing the angle of this blog and my vision overall.  I’ll keep you posted along the way.  I’m hoping we can inspire each other and learn from each other.

I’d love it if you continued on this journey with me.  Invite a friend, join a conversation…stay awhile.

More tomorrow….

~Amy

 

PS – I always think of the movie Happy Feet and the quote when I hear the word trimuph

 

“The word triumph starts with “try” and ends with a great big UMPH!”

Happy Feet

 


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Thursdays’ Take – Two things for which I’m most proud…

Happy Thursday Everyone!

As I was lie awake in bed this morning at 3:30AM, catching up on some reading, feeling frustrated that once again I’ve woken up in the middle of the night, and wishing I could get my insomnia under control, I stumbled across an article about creating waste-free lunches for your kids.

For some reason this article created a sense of pride in me.  Maybe because I am happy to report, I am already doing most of the things suggested to reduce waste in my sons’ (and husband’s for that matter) daily lunches.  I work from home, so I don’t need to pack my lunch, but nine times out of ten, I pack three lunches a day.  I’ve taken steps over the years and just last month, I banned all juice boxes from my house and discovered bags like these to help reduce the use of plastic baggies.

Photo Credit 

But as I was thinking and reading this blog, it occurred to me….one of the two things I am most proud of myself is how little trash my family generates.  I know this sounds like a strange thing to be proud of, but for a family of four, we really generate only a tiny bit of trash.  How?  I’ll work on creating a list of how we do it, but they mainly revolve around choosing things that can be recycled, composting and using reusable things over the throw away options (sandwich baggies, juice boxes, paper plates and napkins).  I’ll share this list with you in a future blog.

So – back to my trash….we, my family of four, only have trash picked up at our house once a week.  And we opt for the smaller trash can and usually it isn’t even full.  On the other hand, we have two large recycle cans that get picked up every other week.  Luckily, we live in an area where we can recycle almost everything.

What’s the other thing I’m most proud?

That would be having earned my Master’s Degree.  The decision to get my Master’s was an easy, the two and a half years to get it were tough.  Kids, and more kids (I got pregnant with my younger son about half way through the program), a husband who traveled – A LOT during those years.  It was many late nights and early mornings, but I did it.  And the thing about it was – although the timing of it all was tough, the material wasn’t.  I  always thought the ideas and concepts obtained in a Master’s program were so complex that I’d struggle.  But, you know what…I didn’t.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I had to apply myself and I had to work at it, but overall, the material wasn’t overly hard or impossible to grasp.  Hey – I’m pretty smart!

As I continue to write, maybe I can’t limit my list to only two.  I’m proud of many other things too, my kids, my work ethic, my rescuing of too many dogs and cats, my marriage of almost nineteen years….

What are you most proud of?

Happy Day!

~Amy


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Maybe I’m Not Doing It Right….

Happy Tuesday and Happy Summer!

As I watching the morning news this morning, this commercial aired.

My first thought was – I must be doing it wrong.  I can hardly find one thing to watch on TV at one time – let alone – SIX!  And to find six things that are worthy of being recorded  all at the same time- – I’m not sure that is possible.

Maybe I’m a little bit of a prude these days – I just don’t find much on TV worth watching.  Don’t get me wrong – I do watch TV and I do have some favorite shows I record on my DVR and I make sure to never miss them.  One of my favorites is Top Chef and I never miss an episode of Mythbusters.   And just to share a little more with you – a dirty little secret of mine is that I love the show American Dad.

Just to be clear – I don’t think all TV is bad.  It helps us disconnect, dream, learn about other places and experiences.  But it does concern me that Dish Network is now offering the ability to watch even more TV.  And it goes without saying that if you’re hoping to record up to six shows at one time – most likely, your intention is to watch those six shows at some point in the future.

I challenge you to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are these shows really worth my time?
  2. What am I not doing by recording and watching this much TV?

I remember when I first started Grad School a few years ago.  Our first professor asked – “why are you returning to school?”  One of the answers from a fellow student gave has stuck with me – “If I can play online poker for three or four hours a night – I could probably use that time for a better purpose.”

What are you not doing these days by TV watching?

Happy Tuesday!

~Amy

PS  – yes , I do recognize the irony that my inspiration for recommending to not watch too much TV – came in fact from a commercial I saw while watching TV.


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Thursday’s Take….suck it up!

WHEW!  I don’t usually like to say things like this but….

Man, I’ll be happy when this week is over.

You know how in addition to writing this blog and doing time management consulting, I also do contract work for a little animal rescue non-profit.  One of the projects I work on for them is their annual dinner/auction.  I’m charged with overseeing all the details and organizing the event.  It is a pretty big task with about 1267 little details.

The auction is this Saturday, the 19th.

And this week has sucked.

This week is when all the little details start to come together and now it’s crunch time.   And while when people say “don’t worry, it will all work out.” – sure – that is true….but at some point, someone is going to have to make it all work out and sometimes there are just times when you have to suck it up and make it happen.

That’s been this week for me and the rest of my team.  I’ve been thinking of how could we have done this week differently.  Thinking with my time management guru hat on, I’ve been pondering….how would I advise other people to make this week easier or less hectic.

I think what it comes down to is…no matter how hard you try to not have everything happen all at once, there really isn’t any other way around it.  There are just situations and projects and deadliness like this one where crunch time is going to happen and no matter how hard you try to avoid, you just have to dig deep and get ‘er done.

 

It’s sort of like finals week during college.

Or filing your taxes.

Or getting a pap smear.

You just have to take a deep breath and say “this is going to suck…but it will only be temporary….and we’ll get through this.

And that’s exactly what I did….on Saturday afternoon I allowed myself to acknowledge that this week was going to be tough.  (An added hiccup is my husband had to go away on travel, leaving me to tend to our sons…not an added dread at all…but definitely adding challenges to my already crazy week.)

And even though this week has been tough, I have to say, it hasn’t been all bad.  That’s not to say things didn’t aren’t going perfectly smoothly…yesterday alone I stopped by three places to tend to details and none of them were ready….leaving me to have to make another trip today to each place. Time I don’t have…now I have to repeat steps.

I think having adopting the attitude of “it’s gonna be a tough, but I’ll get through it” makes it better.

This is not to say, that I’m not exhausted.  Because…. I am.!!!  And I’ve missed writing everyday and keeping with my other routines.  But today is Thursday and tomorrow is Friday and then Saturday will be about an eighteen hour day and then Sunday…there is a pancake breakfast in our little town that we’re attending  – – after I sleep in.

Happy Thursday everyone!  I look forward to getting back on track again next week!

Hey- I tried to think of a male equivalent to something that you have just have to suck up like getting a pap smear – – what would that be?  Any ideas?

~Amy

PS (not sure I’ve ever written something and referred to a pap smear and today I did it twice….three times if you count this one.)