Goodbye Coffee

I think that it’s time to say goodbye to coffee. I’ve always battled with coffee, but lately things have gotten really bad. If I drink a regular cup of coffee with a spoon of sugar and some creamer, and I don’t eat anything substantial with it, I get really sick. Sometimes, it’s immediate– less than two hours. Today was one of those days. My stomach is still reeling from a cup of coffee I had five hours ago. It’s not just my stomach either, I sneeze too and need to use my nasal allergy spray so that my sinuses don’t get completely blocked up.

I’ve known this on some level for years now. There are ways for me to drink coffee without having a major reaction and I guess I could do those now and then. The best way for me to drink coffee is one of the Nespresso’s with a LOT of almond milk and something to eat. And then I drink lots of water through the day.

But what I really need is a good replacement. So far, I am leaning towards trying out Teeccino. I like tea but I love my coffee even though it’s very cruel to me. Has anyone tried Teeccino? Amazon has it at $30 for three packs. I wonder if Whole Foods carries it and if so for how much? I’d like to try it without committing to three packs of it, you know? And yet I’m willing to bet if I go to Whole Foods, I’ll find one pack is going to cost me at least half what Amazon has it for the three. Because that’s how Whole Foods works.

Anyhow, if you have some input on some effective coffee replacements I’d love to hear them. My stomach thanks you.

More Happy Research

Last night I watched a documentary on Netflix called Happy. I think it was on someone’s list of really awesome documentaries or something so I had added it to my list ages ago and yesterday we had some time while the kids were at Karate and I was making tutus (something I am doing every single day).

Great little documentary. It’s just over an hour or so long. It was done about three years ago and it goes over all of the research that has been done in the past several years on happiness. Really interesting research. All kinds of scientists weighed in and then their research was highlighted with anecdotes.

What I got from it was that there are some things that have an immediate effect on your mood and that by doing them constantly you are likely to be a happy person. Those things are:

  • Generating dopamine in a novel way (exercising works but fun exercising is even better).
  • Creating gratitude by focusing on what you have and letting go of what you don’t have.
  • Connecting to fellow humans in positive ways such as:
    • Acts of kindness: Doing something nice for someone else reminds us that we are part of something larger
    • Teamwork and cooperation: Working together helps us focus on what we have to bring to the table and makes us feel good for being able to contribute.
    • Socializing: Coming together with people, especially across various generations, feeds into our need for fellow humans and by socializing with different kinds of people we are more likely to learn new things.
  • Intentionally changing it up even if only in small ways (like taking a different route on your morning commute) or trying a new food.
  • Challenging ourselves in some way so that we find ourselves “in the zone”. Being in the zone is really good for our happiness levels.

Watching the documentary and seeing these different kinds of very normal, very humble, very happy people was moving in a way that is quite different from reading about happiness and the research.

It also made something very clear to me and I know that it’s somewhat fleeting in a way but it’s important to try and remember it– happiness really just isn’t that elusive a thing as we are taught. The thing is, there are a lot of messages in our daily lives that tell us we can’t possibly be happy because we are lacking this, that, and the other.

And I think that is what was so prominent to me. We hear about happiness being a lifestyle and I understand that. Happiness means truly turning your back on very powerful dictates and expectations that come from all kinds of places and just relishing what you have, what you are.

I can’t help but think, how wonderful and simple that is and how unfortunate that it is so easy to lose sight of.

Another thing that kept swimming through my head is really how interesting the research is and that I totally could have been a psychologist. Not the kind that listen to your problems but the ones that conduct studies and do research and try and understand why we do what we do, why we don’t do what we don’t, what drives us, what sinks us, etc.

Anyhow, really interesting little documentary that’s worth your time. Hope you all have a great weekend.

Is it ok to talk about Christmas yet?

I mean, it IS mid-October. And yet I am sort of annoyed with myself. I am not even Christian so why I get totally caught up in Christmas is hard for even me to understand. I mean, I love getting together with people I love and I love buying presents and I love sparkly lights and I really am easy to please so I guess it’s not THAT confusing. Maybe harder to accept.

Anyhow, yes I am totally plotting for Christmas right now. I submitted my FSA claims today so that I can get the money just in time for Black Friday which is actually not a thing I ever participate in but this year I just might. Or at least, I am not buying much until the sales start happening. I do sort of feel hypocritical going shopping hours after contemplating how grateful I am for everything that I have. So instead I’ll focus on the fact that I am grateful I can go shopping at all. Yay!

I am pretty sure I am going to get the kids a communal gift this year. One big ticket item for them to share plus stocking stuffers is what I have in mind. They will not be with me Christmas Eve and Christmas morning so I don’t really feel like a bigger Christmas is necessary. They’ll come to my house fresh after opening a bunch of stuff and my whole family will be there with all of their stuff.

I want to make some things for presents for my friends and family. But I don’t know how that will turn out. If I get very busy again with Christmas tutus, I might just go shopping instead.

So are you all thinking about Christmas yet? I am willing to bet at least some of you have been thinking about Christmas for a while already!


I need sum edumacation

Nothing exciting to report– thank goodness am I right?

I have been really very buys with tutus and will be very wrapped up with all of that for the next ten days or so. Maybe more.

I did manage to get the Halloween bins into the house last week and let the kids decorate. Now I have to get the bins out of the house.

This is typically a chaotic month for me. My conference is usually looming around the corner, there are holidays, and school gets very busy with lots of activities. But it’s ok, I like this kind of chaos. When you’re always busy, you don’t have much time for silly thoughts and doubts and that works well for me.

That being said, I am really looking forward to December. I just want to get the conference out of the way already. I have a lot of things I really need to actually think about and yes I am primarily concerned with my future. I keep making all kinds of attempts at getting my life on a path of sorts but I just end up all wandering and stuff.

I really do struggle with the idea of, “What am I going to be when I grow up?” and I just don’t really know much. The one concrete thing I have is that I don’t want to work for other people for the rest of my days. I really, really, really don’t. I want to work for me.

And the other thing that is somewhat concrete to me is that I want to continue my education. I do not want to stay with my Bachelors. I definitely want to pursue a Masters at the very least and am interested in a Doctorate if it provides me a leg up.

I’m just sort of ambiguious on what I want to learn more about (why can’t I get a Ph.D. in Everything?) and this is where I struggle. I feel like I’m floundering about and would have much rather toyed with this in college years ago but my life just didn’t allow for that experimentation in college.

Kids, might I just chime in and say that academic experimentation is the MOST IMPORTANT type of experimentation you should do in college. Seriously. I know that you will feel other types of experimentation are more important and/or more interesting but this experimentation is pretty much guaranteed to help you have a much clearer and brighter outlook than other types of experimentation. Not that experimentation is flat out bad and wrong but I’m just saying, life-changing experimenation is a thing and it can go either way.

Right so anyway, I want to have a plan for higher education in place by the end of the year. Whether it’s law school (so back and forth on this, you won’t even believe it), or business school (also back and forth), or computers, or psychology, or numbers, or something else not on my radar right now, I am definitely sure I want more school somehow.

Now, I have compiled a list of things I think I should consider in regards to higher education but if you have other ones to add (I should check NicoleAndMaggie, they may have done this in a post already) please do so:

Growth. Is the field growing, declining, or steady? Is there a lot to be learned still or do we pretty much know most of what there is to know? What is the affect of emerging technology and advancements made on the field?

Investment and return. How much is the advanced degree for this going to cost? If loans are needed, will I be able to get post-graduate employment that allows me to easily repay those loans?

Jobs. What kind of jobs does this kind of degree program lead to? Do I have a good chance at being self-employed a few years after graduation or am I likely going to have to seek employment in organizations? I consider working as a consultant self-employed btw even if it leads to exclusively working for one organization for a specific time period.

Travel. Does this degree allow for easy migration later? In other words, if I get my degree here will I be able to find employment in other places relatively easily? Or what about vice versa? Is there a good local market for this degree or will I most likely have to be willing to relocate in order to secure decent employment?

What else? What do you think are some good ways to get a feel for a field and your compatibility with it especially in a post-college situation?


As I have been doing every year since I joined up with Goodreads, I signed up for the reading challenge at the end of last year. Last year I set a goal of 40 books and finished with 45 so I thought, ok 45 sounds good this year again. I don’t really kill myself if I don’t make it but the little bar thing is fun to watch.

For whatever reason though, I have been TERRIBLE about updating Goodreads. Today I went in and sort of tried updating but yeah I am sure I am missing books. I updated my little Amazon widget on the right that shows the 30 books I have remembered to track so if you’re not into it, you don’t have to see my literary action on Goodreads.

I am having a trashy year with books. I don’t want any heavy stuff or any self-help stuff. I want light as a feather books. I am in lust with Gail Simone and am reading all of her comic books. I read all four game of thrones books (mostly good but ugh gross). Quite a few young adult novels. That kind of stuff.

I need to get my hands on The Book of Life from the All Souls Trilogy that came out months ago. And really I just want stuff like that. More of what I have been reading. I have lots more comic books and that makes me happy. I am finishing up the Secret Six ones I got from the library and I have Saga waiting for me after that and also Guardians of the Galaxy. I just want to live in pretend land. Far, far, far away from reality land. Can someone just send me a care package filled with pretend land books and maybe fuzzy socks and chocolates? If you can also fit a nanny and a housekeeper and a cook, that’d be totes amazing.

What have you read lately? Anything awesome? Funny? Nothing life-changing please, my life changes more than enough all on its own dontcha know?

A Recap and a Forecast

I am kind of getting into Mondays. They feel fresh and new. They are good days to look back and to look forward at the same time. Ironically, it’s my understanding it’s not a great practice to spend too much time dwelling on the past or the future but I like to use them as guides, you know?

Last week was a good one. Overall, I felt I was pretty up even though I had a really full week. I am really busy with work and with tutus. Figures the high seasons for both of those things would coincide. Things are ok at the office. I like being busy but it’s also in the back of my mind that I really do need to figure out my next move. This job can get too comfortable if that makes sense. I’ve been doing this work for four years, it’s time for the next step.

Besides work stuff, I had a busy social calendar with Wine Wednesdays and the school’s wine and food festival Thursday.

The weekend was a little crazy. It’s always baffling to me where it all goes. I had all of these things in my mind to get done and when I finally collapsed into bed last night, I was surprised at how little got done.

I did have a big project that took longer than I expected it would but I think it was well worth it. I went through the vast majority of my wardrobe and got rid of about half of it. I went and tried on everything I owned with the exception of a couple of my drawers. My significant other is a very stylish bloke so I had him help me. It ended up being a bit emotional because most of the wardrobe went not because it was outdated or worn out, but because it just didn’t fit me anymore. Not even close. That was really hard on me.

It also showed me some disconnects I have.

For example, my favorite things to wear are jeans and pants but they are the things I have the least of. I have a larger selection of outerwear than pants and that’s bizarre considering I live in a tropical climate. I am lucky if I have weather that justifies outerwear four weeks out of the year.

Mentally, I disconnect work clothes from casual clothes. I blame this entirely on my uniform-wearing upbringing. We were in uniforms K – 12 so I dunno, I just see things that way. These things are for work, and these things are NOT. The boyfriend is trying to help me with this part of it. My office is business casual so there is no reason I shouldn’t be able to wear most of the stuff I wear to the office, outside of the office. Like the outfit I put together today would be perfectly acceptable, I think, out and about, but I’d feel weird wearing it. It’s my work clothes. I am a t-shirts and jeans kind of girl but I do covet the style of others. You can probably guess this if you look at my “Looks” board on Pinterest especially.

Anyhow, that closet purge took a LOT longer than I imagined it would.

I also got to spend Friday night with my youngest because his older siblings went to a slumber party at the karate dojo. We played Skip-Bo, he is really good but swears he’s just lucky, and then we snuggled on the couch and watched The Princess Bride. He fell asleep on me and I was in bliss. He still has a little of that baby smell. So faint. Significant other was watching something on the computer so I took the little guy to his bed and climbed in with me because he had said he wanted to sleep with me. I passed out and woke up when I heard the significant other heading to bed himself.

Saturday, we picked up the older ones at the dojo and went to Target to pick up some stuff we needed. My grandma asked me to drop her off at the casino so she could meet a friend and while I was doing that, the significant other and the kids went across the street to explore a tree that had split apart and was filled with honeycombs. Later at home we watched Transformers Age of Extinction and ate popcorn and then all went to sleep.

Sunday, they went to church with my folks. I worked on tutus and super minimal house stuff. When they got back, they played a bit and then we went to see Boxtrolls (it was great, funny and gross and amazingly well done). We went to Barnes and Nobles to get my sister in law a birthday present and then we met my family at her mother’s house for some Chinese food. I couldn’t stay up much later than the kids so I am pretty sure I was out before 11 but waking up this morning was a tough thing to do.

So now I’m here at work and am busy busy with work stuff, just taking a quick mental break from it all.

This week, I need to get things in order big time. My tutu work station needs some major cleaning out and organizing. Laundry is a tad bit behind. Groceries could use a refresher. Tutus need making. I need to keep focusing on the two younger kids who are developing readers– one more eagerly than the other. Halloween decorations need to get put up.

Book Club is on Wednesday, my first one! Saturday, Significant Other and I are driving up to Orlando so he can go to Horror Nights with his daughter. I will be hiding in the hotel making tutus while binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. And then next Monday it’s the Significant Other’s birthday. Hooray.

Your turn: recap and forecast for me!


Happy Thoughts with Research

The other day I found this neat post and I thought I re-blogged it here but I don’t think that happened. Anyways, it’s called Happy Thoughts: Here Are the Things Proven to Make You Happier. If you have the time, I do suggest sitting down with it and reading it through, even enjoying the amazing linkage in it. It’s a rabbit hole of happiness research.

As you can imagine if you’ve been reading me lately, I was intrigued. Happiness has been in short supply for me lately. Things were getting downright unsettling even. People who see me often and know me well were starting to get genuinely concerned about what exactly was going on with me. Which only made me feel worse of course because you see I believe emotions are sort of spirals.

Ok so anyways, things have been getting a lot better.

Some sort of financial stability is making its way into my life and that has been nice. So of course, now I am trying to work really hard on taking that financial stability and building off of it. Get as many things done as I can now so that if finances get shaky again, I will be in a better place. And I think that really that is the best that I can do.

Like I was told, maybe I need to let go of the fantasy of a stable life. And if that’s the case, it’s kind of like admitting you live in a flood zone and you’re not going to be able to move out any time soon. So yeah that’s where my mental energy will be for the near future– sandbagging.

Fear Factor

Why is it scary to do things we need to do sometimes?

I don’t understand that but I find that it is a constant struggle in my day to day life. It plays out in little ways and medium ways and big ways. And the only thing I can sort of sense lurking behind all of that resistance is fear, but what am I so scared of and why don’t I know?

This is where I get unsettled and slightly disturbed with myself because… I am pretty sure I didn’t used to be like this. Or maybe I did, but not to this extreme.

I will talk myself out of many things. And for each thing I will have very good arguments and justifications. But there must be something that is behind all of that. Something has me scared. Something has me timid. Something has me risk-adverse.

Fear of change?

Possibly. I mean I am tired of things changing all of the time. Which is weird because I am a fan of adventure and spontaneity, but massive changes are exhausting and stressful and there have been so many of them in such few years. I mean I just wrote about a counselor advising me to let go of my desire for stability a few days ago and how baffling and enlightening that was. Well, guess what? I’m still not really sure how to do that and I’m still not really sure I want to. I know I should…

Fear of failure?

Also a possibility. I feel a lot of pressure to succeed. I feel like people expect me to do everything well because I’m “so smart”. If I don’t try to do something, I can always just say “Well I didn’t try” and that lets me off the hook. Everyone would just accept that because clearly if I had actually tried, I would’ve knocked it out of the park. Except that’s not true and when you don’t knock it out of the park, when you swing your hardest and it’s a total air ball… that sucks.

It’s funny, because the more the years pass since I separated from my husband and then divorced him, the more wounds I find. You would think that it would be the opposite wouldn’t you? I did. I thought, ok yeah I’ll have some scars for the rest of my life but I don’t know. Maybe I understimated how much damage I was inflicting on myself.

My ex-husband and I had a strange relationship. We were infatuated with each other, the way most couples are in the first year they are dating. And it was in the middle of that infatuation we found out I was pregnant with my Eldest. But I can tell you honestly, because I vividly remember saying it to him, that I just could not envision what spending the rest of my life with him would be like. I tried to imagine us old and together and couldn’t.

But everyone assured me that was normal and silly and we got married.

It wasn’t normal and it wasn’t silly, it was a warning. And I ignored it and many others. Repeatedly.

I felt intense pressure to make that marriage work. I felt intense pressure to stay in it, to have a family, to really give it a go and do all of the things married couples do. And it was a disaster. Because in that process, I had to swallow a lot of painful things. And I told myself a lot of ugly things. And I felt a lot of ugly things. And I experienced ugly things.

Now I am here and now is when I am starting to get a feel for what the hell I did. And I don’t know how to fix it.

It isn’t the divorce that breaks you, it’s the relationship. The divorce itself is fast. Even if it drags out in court a year or two, it is most likely much shorter than your relationship. No, it’s not the divorce. It’s the relationship.

And in my case, and in that of many other divorced women, you have the added factor of motherhood. Motherhood changes you. And yes while there are many positive changes that come with motherhood, there are negatives as well. What are they? Specific to each individual is my guess. Oh sure we write all the beautiful words on how being a mother is the best thing that has happened ot us and that it has changed us in profound and meaningful ways.

But it also fucks with you.

I am pretty sure that I have never known fear the way I have known it since becoming a mother.

And I am one of the laidback ones. Or so I have been told.

But it’s there. That dark creature.

You suddenly check on your sleeping baby, panicky looking for signs of breathing.

You are wary of strangers meeting your child.

You become educated about healthy food and toxics in your food and beverages.

You stay up at night envisioning what you would do if a fire broke out in your home and it happened to be in the hallway between you and your children. Ditto for what to do if someone breaks into your home while you all sleep.

You become anxious when any kid in your child’s class comes down with something contagious.

You try and get a good, no excellent, idea of who your child is friends with and what their families are like. Are they the wrong crowd or the right crowd?

You wish your child would tone it down because to attract attention to oneself can lead to bad things.

You wish your child would be more assertive because to be a doormat is painful and dirty business.

You are all at home and they are playing in a separate part of the house and suddenly you notice they have been quiet for too long and the little goosebumps come up on your arm.

Fear. The fear that comes with motherhood. I am not saying I feel all of these things. I am not saying I feel them all the time. I am simply saying that I did not really understand fear until I had my kids. I didn’t get anxiety until they came into my world screaming and crying, hungry and bewildered.

I don’t know. I really just don’t know a lot actually. But the one that’s bothering me a lot these days is what the hell am I so terrified of exactly and how the hell do I fix it?

From The Receiving End

In Personal Finance, lots of topics stir up some serious discussion– nice and not nice. And that makes sense, because Personal Finance is… Personal. One of the topics that always made me sort of uncomfortable to read about is in regards to loved ones helping loved ones financially.

I think it is fair to say that the majority of the advice says if you care about a relationship, don’t give or loan them money because financial dynamics have an often devastating effect on relationships.

There have been many times in my adult life where I have needed, and received, financial assistance from loved ones. There have been a few times where I have provided financial assistance to loved ones as well but that’s not what I want to talk about today.

Today, I want to talk about what it’s like to be the loved one that needs, and receives, your help.

I’d like to start by pointing out the obvious– this is a personal story and a personal experience. I don’t think I am the universal representation of people who need and receive financial assistance. I speak for me.

Hmm… this is turning out to be harder to write than I thought. Oh pride, you silly monster.

The thing that I want to say is that receiving charity is not an easy thing to do. I feel like I really should say that and that I should try and explain that.

I have received a lot of charity in my life. There have been little things and there have been big things and there have been the things in between. To put it bluntly, a big reason my kids and I have what we have is not because of me or their father but because of the metaphorical village.

It is my family that arranged a deal with their friend so that I could live in a 3 bedroom home in Coral Gables next door to my Grandmother while paying the equivalent of a 2 bedroom apartment in West Kendall. It is my family that pays for my children’s private school tuition, that bought me the car after mine died, and that pays for my kids to go to Karate class. Most of my nice clothes is birthday and Christmas gifts. It is my family that pays for our annual winter trip. It is my family that chips in and contributes a significant amount to, or outright buys, the children the more extravagant of the gifts they ask for– Walt Disney World tickets, tablets, Nintendo DS systems, a laptop, etc. Not to mention, there have been instances in my life where we have been given significant gifts by close friends, acquaintances, co-workers, strangers, and anonymously.

I am trying to explain to you what a giant conflict of emotions that creates in me. On the one hand, there is a major amount of guilt, there is a feeling of inadequacy, and there is a bit of humility.

On the other hand, on the other much more massive hand, is this insane overwhelming sense of gratitude. I am lucky. And I know that I am lucky. And I do not take my situation for granted at all, I promise you that. I might not be the best at expressing gratitude, especially as my family tends to dismiss any attempt I might make at saying thank you, but I can tell you that I feel it immensely. My family’s generosity makes me cry a lot and often. My gratitude is wet and salty.

But it’s sincere.

Now, that is one aspect of charity– nice extras. But there is one more, and that is help when there is a crisis.

When things are a mess, when everything that can go wrong does and it all goes wrong one after another after another, I fall apart. I spend a lot of energy worrying and thinking and calculating and stressing and timing and counting and adding and recounting. I sleep poorly. I eat poorly. I cry a lot of the not good tears.

I keep those moments close. Or at least I try. I really try and not let anyone catch on to how dire a month (or YEARS) might be for me. I’ll make a joke or two, ha ha money sucks, and I am freaking out inside. Eventually, one of my parents will finally figure out what is going on. They’ll get me talking and they’ll get me to slip up and before I know it, it’s all pouring out of my mouth– a vocal vomit.

And when that happens do you know what they do? They help me. And I fight it. I beg them to please not do that. I explain to them that it makes me feel worse when they give me money. I tell them that I hate that I’m like this and their helping me isn’t a solution. I compare myself to others and feel that I have failed my parents and my children, that I am not living as I ought to be.

Recently, this happened. Crisis level was reached. Help was offered. And I was protesting again. I was pacing my bedroom on the phone with my father. I was raking my fingers through my hair shaking it crazily, working it into a stress-induced frizz cloud. I was telling him that I am too old for this and that I feel like crap when they have to step in and I just need to figure things out.

My dad starts talking. My dad is a social worker. My dad knows what to do. I used to get annoyed by that, but now I appreciate it. Here are some of the things my dad told me to help me be ok with accepting financial assistance from them (again) and so here are things you can say to someone you want to assist financially (caveat: you must mean them because we know if you’re lying):

  • This is something they have the means to do. They ran the numbers, and this is the number they are offering because this is the right number for their budget. This is not putting any pressure on them financially at all.
  • They want to do something to help and in their situation, giving financial assistance is actually the easiest way that they can help.
  • They see it as an investment in me and I am their daughter and therefore any investment in me is worthwhile.
  • They see it as an investment in my children and they are their grandchildren and therefore any investment in them is worthwhile.
  • If I win the lottery, the offer is off the table. [Humor helps]
  • I am not expected to pay them back. It is a gift. If later on, I wish to make them a gift equal to the amount of money they gifted me, they will not say no. But if they do say no, I am welcome to plan and pay for a family vacation that is equal in cost to the amount of money gifted to me and they will be happy to attend. [No really, humor helps a lot.]
  • And finally, in regards to how crappy this made me feel: They want me to think about what is better for everyone and that is more important than how I feel about the idea. They feel better doing SOMETHING. My kids feel better when their Mom feels better. The boyfriend and I feel better when I am not anxiety ridden. So, I’m just going to have to take one for the team.

Far be it from me to advise you how to spend your money. But if you know someone who is struggling financially to the point it is taking a toll on them physically, mentally, and/or emotionally and you have without question the ability to give X dollars to that person, I want you to know they will most likely appreciate it in a way they will never be able to properly express and if they try they will most likely make a mess of their face and hair. I want you to know that you might very well open doors they didn’t know existed and that you might give a gift so much greater than a bill paid on time. I want you to know that you are a good person, a kind person, and that you are appreciated. Even if it’s not by the person you gave money to, I can guarantee you that you are the kind of person that is appreciated by at least someone, likely lots of someones.

One final piece of advice– if you want to help someone but are unsure how to do so without making things awkward, here are some ideas:

If you see the person physically, you can sneak it to them. You can slip cash or a gift card into a purse for instance. If it’s a co-worker, you can have a bunch of co-workers sign a card and then slip in extra money. You can leave it on their desk with a typed note and sign it Anonymous.

If you don’t see the person physically, you can still be sneaky. You can mail, or email, them gift cards anonymously for instance. If your detective work turns up an Amazon list, you can peruse it for things that seem more need-type things than true Wish List items and have them sent anonymously.

In either situation, take advantage of special occasions to pad their accounts if you can. Sure, a manicure can be very relaxing and a good mood lifter, but it’s not going to do as much for her as a well-stocked kitchen. So get her a mani pedi certificate but throw in a more significant gift card for the grocery store.

If the person has children, you can tell the person you opened accounts for them when they were born and you’d like to see if any of the money that you have been saving can be of service now that the kids are older. Offer to pay for a Summer Camp program for them or extracurricular activities. If they have kids, and they live close by, you can ask for the kids one day and take them shopping for clothes for instance (and hey kids let’s get Mom and Dad something too).

There are many, many ways you can help a friend or a loved one who is in need. And when help is freely given the right way, the relationships don’t suffer. I think most people on the receiving end are bigger than that. I think that at the end of the day, the only one they blame for negativity is themselves and they know that they are lucky to have a genuinely loving person in their life. And I think that most of us on the receiving end eagerly wait for the day they can be on the giving end– especially towards those that were oh so generous to them.

So, on behalf of those of us on the receiving end, I saw thank you to the givers. Thank you for investing in us. Thank you for being patient with our shortcomings. Thank you for seeing us in a way we probably can’t see ourselves. Thank you for not judging us. Thank you for not holding us to standards. Thank you for loving us.




Tutu Couture– The Firebird

I make tutus for fun and for play and for dress-up. My tutus take a couple of hours and are not meant to last a lifetime. However, the reason I love making them is because I love the real deal. Growing up in ballet, I developed such a sense of appreciation for a beautiful costume. Watch these quick five minutes and enjoy watching a work of art come to life.