Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it! Do you get in the spirit and dress for the occasion?
Here are some cute outfits for the entire family to inspire you!
Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it! Do you get in the spirit and dress for the occasion?
Here are some cute outfits for the entire family to inspire you!
Note: I struggled over whether to post this. I rarely get into the viral things going around the internet, because usually I don’t care, but this one struck a chord with me. Mostly because I am really struggling with the culture of outrage right now. I know I’ll offend someone, but I always think it’s better to go with what my gut says to write and not what is going to be popular especially when it agrees with my heart. I got an email yesterday from someone who obviously didn’t mean to copy me on it….I guess she was writing an article on “Flagrant Americanism” and my views fall into that category somehow:
Flagrant: (of something considered wrong or immoral) conspicuously or obviously offensive.
Americanism: a custom, trait, or tradition originating in the United States.
I’m not that intellectual, so I have no idea what that means. But I have seemingly managed to offend someone with a post about making friends with other cancer patients. It kind of sealed the deal on hitting “PUBLISH” on this post. Flagrantly I go…
A few days ago I read an article on the Huffington Post that resulted in Nordstrom removing a pillow from their shelves recently because a customer complained about its message. The message:
To hell with beauty sleep, I want skinny sleep.
The saying was on an e-card a while ago that made the rounds. It was one of those funny memes shared over and over:
Ok, so it’s a bad joke, but I’m more concerned by the fact that someone was outraged or offended enough over a pillow in a store to ask that it be removed. Outrage is an epidemic right now. It’s like people look for things to be offended by. It’s easier to blame than to take responsibility. Here’s the thing, I am sympathetic to the woman who was sensitive to the pillow. I’m glad she said something about it, it’s good to speak up…because eating disorders thrive in silence. Eating disorders are serious, and also an epidemic. But eating disorders also thrive on the demands of others, and asking that a pillow be removed is looking to someone on the outside to fix something inside. Eating disorders are about control, and they sometimes morph into many other types of behaviors: shopping, alcohol abuse, hoarding etc. Removing a pillow isn’t going to solve the eating disorder epidemic, it’s only redirecting the denial so desperately sought to dampen some desire or hunger.
You see, I, too, am an eating disorder survivor. An entry in my diary from 2001 shows what a dark place I was in years ago:
I’m just so tired. Looking in the mirror today I noticed that my face is a little thinner. I always tell myself that there is a line I will draw but I think I’m way beyond that. This strict detox program I’m on is nothing but an excuse not to eat. I’m scared to go to the dentist. I’m scared to go to the grocery store for fear I’ll buy everything with no self- control when I get home. My anxiety attacks are at an all time high. Dr. C’s medication is keeping the heart palpitations at a minimum but the flushed cheeks and constant sweating are enough to bring them back again. I have nightmares that my teeth are crumbling into pieces and falling out.
I have also struggled with other forms of addiction in the past. I get it. There are triggers everywhere. My triggers include everything from Bud Light commercials and margaritas to P90x commercials and skinny jeans. I learn to deal with them. That is part of the healing and recovery process.
Eating disorders are not about the word skinny on a pillow. Skinny is not a bad word. I am naturally thin, many people say skinny. Does this make me less of a person? Does this make me a bad example for my daughter? Eating disorders are about emptiness. Eating disorders are about anger. Eating disorders are about a hunger for self-love. Someone very close to me once said: it’s not what you’re eating, it’s what’s eating you.
And the story of appetite became, essentially a story of substitutions, or a chain of substitutions, in which each failed attempt to fill emptiness leads to another attempt and another: longings in search of replacements, forever attaching themselves to things, to people to behaviors which then take on lives of their own, become organizing principles, fragmented of hope that always promise transcendence over pain and longing and always disappoint. –Caroline Knapp, Appetites
The thing is, I want my daughter to be able to walk through public places and discern for herself what is reality….and what is meant to be a funny pillow. I want my daughter to be able to see through advertising messages that play on our deepest insecurities and emotions because they are never going to go away. Anorexia has been around since the middle ages, maybe longer. I don’t want the world to be sanitized for her. I want her to learn independent thinking. I want to help my daughter form her own values, by showing her how to question the ones our culture throws at us. It is my job to present her with alternatives.
If we happen to run into a pillow that talks about skinny sleep, CONTINUE READING
Yesterday I picked up a iced coffee from McDonald’s. I know all the cashiers, and they know how I like my coffee. I love them. As I stood there an older man ordered and turned towards me. I knew immediately that I knew him but couldn’t place him.
Me: You look so familiar.
Mr. S: I do?
Me: Oh, I remember. You are Mr. F’s friend.
He looked at me for a second and then a light went off.
Mr. S: That was you!
Me: If you mean at Dr. L’s office, yes. You came to keep Mr. F company during his chemotherapy. You made me laugh the whole time. The nurses kept kicking you out, but you’d sneak right back in.
Mr. S: Oh boy, we had fun that day.
Me: Yes, thank you.
And then I asked him how Mr. F was and he said:
Mr. F didn’t make it.
And I was reduced to tears in McDonald’s.
Mr. S: Yes, he had a rough time. The cancer went from his throat to his lung and then he just went downhill.
We talked for a few more minutes and then I gave him a hug goodbye. I saved the huge ugly cry for the car.
This is the dark side of being a cancer survivor.
I met so many people…and many of them didn’t make it. One of them was Sharon. Our treatment coincided on a few days. I remember she brought this black and white floral handmade quilt that folded into itself. I thought she might sew for a hobby so I asked her about it. She was on steroids and she joked to her husband that she had chipmunk cheeks. I asked her about her small hometown in the middle of the desert and how she survived without a Target.
In May 2012 I got an email from her niece Kara:
I don’t know if you will remember a certain beautiful lady that shared time with you (while also receiving her own chemo treatments) in Palm Desert. Her name is Sharon E., and she spends most of her winter months in Blythe. But she sure remembers you! She was diagnosed with Stage 4 Waldenstroms Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in January of this year.
I am her niece Kara, and I just wanted to contact you to give thanks and love for keeping her spirits up while she was in Palm Desert getting her chemo. [...] Poor babe was life-flighted from her hometown hospital on May 6 to her current location in Springfield, where she still is this very day (5 days of which she was on life support). You are probably wondering just why I am contacting you. Well, her mood has been more down than up, and there’s been several times we thought we were going to lose her (and we still may) but all logistics aside, I wanted you to know that she spoke to me of your website and of YOU when she was barely able to talk after she was taken off life support. She was very down, and had made the decision to die, was feeling hopeless, tired, frustrated, etc, but we had a rare chance to be alone for awhile, and through a whispered voice she said to me: Lil Blue Boo……of course I questioned…..or actually said, What?
Together we found your website on her phone. I asked her how she found your website, and she replied She’s my friend…from chemo. [...] She’s been very concerned about you during her whole ordeal, and I just wanted to share that love with you. I will never know the relationship of your talks or friendship, but I wanted you to know that somehow you made a big impact on her during your visits. I just wish she had the fight in her that you have, she did, but it seems to be faded now, as she’s stated to the family that she just wants “to go” and that she’s “tired.” She’s losing faith that she will ever be better. We, as a family, still hold our faith strong that she will get through this, but her will is what’s holding her back now. I guess all we can do is pray. Again, thank you.
I think about this email all the time. She was concerned about me. Nothing is more humbling than that. What did I do to deserve her love? All I did was flash a smile, make conversation, crack a joke or two. That’s what Mr. S did too, and I realized from the other side what an impact that made: he made my day more bearable, and he didn’t even know me. As I’ve said before: sometimes there is so much light in the world that the darkness should be very afraid.
On October 8, 2012 I got an email from Sharon:
I’m home after 92 days in the hospital, feeling much better and learning how to walk again. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the necklace you sent me–you’re a sweetheart and each time I saw you at our treatments you managed to pick up the entire room with your positiveness. So glad to see your doing well–God bless and I CHOOSE JOY TOO!! Luv you Sharon
Sharon passed away 8 days later.
Looking back, here’s what I am thankful for: That I said yes to Sharon.
That I said yes to Mr. F.
That I said yes to the cranky man who didn’t want to sit next to me.
That I said yes to the young girl who was scared just like me.
That I said yes to the man who yelled expletives in his sleep.
That I said yes to Mr. B whose wife safety pinned notes to his shirt for the doctor.
That I said yes to the woman who refused to let the hairdresser cut off the last patch of hair she had left.
That I said yes to the elderly woman who teared up when she talked about her daughter.
That I said yes to the man who used to sell encyclopedias in his younger years.
That I said yes to the elderly woman who announced she was wearing a diaper to the entire infusion center.
That I said yes to the man with lung cancer and his friend Scott who asked for my autograph. I was famous for a day.
That I said yes to Mr. W who once won the lottery, but had already lost 2 wives to cancer.
That I said yes to the woman with pancreatic cancer who said she was worried about her husband, because she knew she was going to die.
That I said yes to the woman who said she wanted to throw up every time she had to step foot in an oncology office.
That I said yes to the man who wished he could send a ham sub through his stomach tube.
That I said yes to the young man who had testicular cancer for the second time.
That I said yes to the woman who could knit in her sleep.
That I said yes, yes and yes.
And that every single one said yes back to me.
Because I could have said no. I didn’t always feel like saying yes. I could have felt sorry for myself. I could have sulked. I had the right to. I had cancer. I felt miserable. I said no to cancer, but I said yes to the rest. The cancer patients and their families and friends that I met along the way are precious to me. They are part of my story, and I am a part of theirs. And they woke something inside of me.
Farewell Mr. F, for now.
Rest in peace.
The last 30 days of posts for the Year of Joy can be found here.
Could I ask you a favor? And maybe you’ll say yes
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Sitting at the car dealership today getting an oil change, the woman across from me was crying on the phone. All I could do was give her a smile.
Another lady was reading a Nora Roberts book. One woman just stared oddly out the window the whole time.
The technician gave me my keys to leave and I had a panic attack. You know my issue with cars if you’ve been reading for a while. I can’t find my Prius in a regular parking lot, let alone a parking lot FULL of Priuses.* I looked at him and asked if he could walk me to my car in the sea of Priui.*
*I have no idea what the plural of a Prius is.
As I sat in the dealership I thought about our neighbor’s house that burned down last night. They think that the outside grill was left on. A friend from the news asked if I might do an interview and I declined. I just don’t feel comfortable talking about other people’s tragedies (unless someone says “hey, please talk about my tragedy”)
I watched a PBS documentary on the Amish last night. Something the narrator said struck me:
They are in our world, but not of this world.
They are pilgrims passing through.
They don’t get attached to this world.
They don’t get attached to the things of this world.
I wish I could get closer to that place. I mean I don’t want to convert to Amish-ism, but there is a part of how the Amish live that is very appealing to me.
And sometimes I just shouldn’t talk to people. In trying to reach out to the owners of the burnt house last night I said “well….it was a house.” The owner did a half smile and said, “yes, and we are all safe, that’s all that matters.” But then I thought how much my comment minimized what had just happened. Stupid comment. Of course it was just a house…but full of years of memories, photos, etc.
I stood outside after most of the crowd had left and watched the firefighters work. They cut the roof out with saws. It was just me and a policeman blocking traffic.
“Ma’am, step away from the hose please.”
All I could think was: What are they feeling right now? What if it had been my house? What would I have saved? How do you start from scratch? They don’t even have underwear.
And I checked the expiration date on our fire extinguisher. And I told another neighbor that if he ever saw smoke from our house to please rescue the dog if no one was home. And it made me think about things that I hoard and how those items intermingle too much with the items that I would want to save, how they dilute the things that are of special importance like photos, Boo’s drawings, etc. And how many copies do I need of a single photo? Can’t I just throw out all the duplicates? Everything that isn’t in albums….can’t that stuff just go away? Yes, probably. And why do I still keep my wedding dress? To show Boo one day? It’s not like it’s vintage….it’s c. 2001. It cost $800….and overpriced at that. I wish someone would just come in and get rid of all the excess without me knowing. I’d probably never notice.
Here’s what I’m thinking today: Things are just things….except for a few special things worth saving and protecting. And if, God forbid, I lost even those few special things, life would go on.
I think I’ve said this before, but when my grandfather died, there were all these trinkets in his drawers that he had obviously kept because they were sentimental. But no one had a clue why they were sentimental. I went through my jewelry box recently and got rid of almost everything….and anything that was sentimental I put in baggies with a note as to where they were from and why I kept them. Part of me thinks: yay, when I’m gone someone will appreciate that I kept this….but the other part of me thinks: I have now made this a burden for someone because they will feel like they can’t throw it out. This is a problem. People own too many things now. We consume and we consume. Remember when people could fit all of their belongings into a single trunk? I used to take a trunk to camp, it had almost my whole life in it! Now I would need 4,893 trunks if I estimate off the top of my head…just for my books and paperwork. Although, Mr. LBB and I did go through boxes and boxes of paper work the other day and sent six file boxes to the shredder. We are officially SIX file boxes lighter this week. Congratulations to us.
I want more joy….not more things. Things take energy. I only have so much energy.
So, what do I do? I make more things, because that makes sense right? More stuff. Like some “Banksy” inspired art:
Please Love Me is what we are saying when we accumulate and accumulate. Because that’s the only thing we really need. Love. And that’s really our only assignment in life right? To love others. And when love is missing we fill it with things.
P.S. As I cleaned out my purse today I found this fortune at the bottom:
Love and joy are pretty much the only things that can please people around us.
The Lil Blue Boo photo challenge is coming to an end! Only 2 more days! Here are my photos from days 16 through 23 plus some of your photos as well:
So yes I keep track of almost every funny thing that Boo says. Here are some of my favorites from 2013:
Random thoughts by Boo:
Just so you know……it takes 11 months to make a piano.
Do you think we should pray for the devil tonight?
Will you show me some bad drugs one day so if someone tries to sell me drugs I will know not to buy them?
Well you know what John McClain says: “no one’s going to die today.”
The great thing about James Bond is: he never loses.
If Johnny Cash is in heaven then he knows Grandpa.
Dear God, thank you for Iron Man 3, breakfast at Keedy’s, the bank, the Christian Bookstore and my water bottle.
Typewriters are the best invention since the computer!
Made me laugh out loud:
Me: This song reminds me of Brave.
Boo: I’m wearing Brave underwear.
Me: See this guy? He ran the Boston Marathon…he ran for 2 hours straight.
Boo: 2 hours?! without even TURNING?
Me: What should I pack in your lunch?
Boo: Oh I don’t know….chicken balls?
Boo: Oh my gosh….this is the cutest little trashcan!
Me: That is…..a thimble.
Me: Tell me one word that describes you.
Me: Didn’t you want me to straighten your hair this morning?
Boo: No, it’s still too close to the first day of school. I don’t want to confuse anybody.
Made me think:
Boo: If babies grow big into grown-ups, and grown-ups have the babies……then who had the FIRST babies?
Boo: I don’t understand….why would someone BUILD a Tower of Terror?!
Boo: Let’s go outside and see the Dipping Spoon.
And of course I couldn’t leave out the house tour (with the controversial gun comment):
And from her Tales from her Kindergarten Diary (find them all here):
And just sweet:
Mr. LBB: She’s a movie star….and he’s just a regular guy….like me.
Boo: Daddy…..you are NOT just a regular guy.
Boo: I think I’d like my room to be the color of your and Daddy’s room.
Me: It already is that color.
Boo: Oh….then….great job. I love it.
Me: I’m so sorry you are coughing so much!
Boo: Thanks Mommy….but it’s not your fault.
Super Bowl Sunday is on February 2nd! Who are you rooting for this year!?
Food is a huge part of game day! So, I have rounded up 10 amazing appetizers that will make you want it to be Super Bowl Sunday every day.
Buffalo Beer Cheese Fries via Bake Your Day
Pepperoni Pizza Pull-Apart Bread via Just a Taste
I’m scared to see the movie Wolf, because I’m worried it might trigger PTSD. I read the recent NYT article for For the Love of Money and I had flashbacks of an earlier life. It would take years to tell the whole story. It’s all a huge circus under a tent called “investment banking.” But I can condense some of it into a quick short story…with a few pages from my journal at the time:
Imagine you are in a conference room with a deal team making a $50 million dollar pitch based off of a spreadsheet that has been together in haste. It’s a small amount compared to other deals you’ve worked on, but you are completely unqualified to be doing this.
Very rarely is an idea pitched to a client over the phone, but this happens to be one of those rare occurrences. You don’t have any real world experience in finance, you don’t even balance your checkbook. Your boss starts going through the numbers for the client. As he speaks to someone thousands of miles away through the speakerphone in the center of the conference table you suddenly realize in horror that the numbers he is going off of are wrong. It’s a stupid mistake but the math is incorrect because a formula didn’t copy correctly into the cell below it as it was put together in Excel. You try to comprehend how this could have happened and how you are going to prevent a decision from being made based on what your analyst and you have put together. Dear God, a fire alarm would be great about now. You write the words MATH WRONG! on your copy and slide it over to your boss. He keeps talking into the speakerphone and you see his face slowly turn bright red in anger as he realizes how far off the numbers are. You are slightly relieved that he knows about the error but then he begins to stutter and stammer and you realize he’s trying to do the math in his head to recover. You’ve forgotten your financial calculator and you try to do the math quickly by hand but your boss beats you to it. You glare across the table at your analyst, a young girl just out of college who doesn’t have any experience either. “I’m going to kill you,” you mouth at her and she quickly avoids the issue by glancing down at her papers.
This is my boss’s fault you tell yourself. He’s put too much faith in me. I am human after all. He should have at least glanced over this before sending it to the client. You hear your boss apologizing for sending over the wrong version of the analysis and then he mutes the phone. “This is a shit show,” he yells at you and his face is beyond the shade of crimson at this point. He un-mutes the line to continue thanking the client for their time. When the client hangs up you dart out of the room and run to the nearest bathroom to throw up. You sit on the toilet seat and put your head against the wall. You drift off to sleep for a few minutes because you’ve slept a total of 4 hours in the last 72. You wake up to the sound of the door opening and, thinking you’ve blacked out, you wonder if there’s a certain point where 4 cups of coffee and a Red Bull backfire.
As you make your way back to your desk you run into one of your other bosses. You have several bosses, managing directors or MDs are what they are called.
“Hey, I need you to catch a plane to Atlanta in a few hours for this Project Pea.” You nod okay because that’s what good associates do.
You finally make it back to your desk and you pick up the phone to call your analyst just to re-enforce how bad she should feel about what happened.
“What the f@%k,” you say into the phone before you realize she’s crying.
“My grandmother just died…” she begins.
“Well she has horrible timing.” You slam the phone back down and think about crying too.
“Does anyone know what Project Pea is?” You yell loudly over the cubicles but no one hears you. The bank uses secret code names for projects that are a merger or acquisition. You are forbidden from using the actual company name.
You pick up the phone and call your administrative assistant across the floor. “Can you book the next flight to Atlanta? Hotel too.”
You scramble to staff an analyst, pull materials together and figure out what the Project Pea meeting entails. You speed to the airport and barely catch the plane. The plane is half empty and you actually lay down on the bench of three seats to nap for an hour.
In Atlanta you catch a taxi to the hotel and ask hotel management if they can dry clean your suit and shirt overnight. The concierge picks up the clothes and you are left wearing nothing but a bathrobe until the morning. You try not to think about the possibility of a fire alarm.
At 8am the next morning you are in a meeting at a company you’ve never heard of before and you pretend to be an expert while asking questions of management. “Is the auto accessory industry seeing stronger consumer support this year?” The more generic the question the less chance of making yourself look like an idiot.
Afterwards you catch a taxi to the airport which is a piece of cake because you have zero luggage. When you get back home you find your car in the overnight lot and you have to pay out of pocket for half the parking but you wouldn’t have caught your plane otherwise. The bank only pays for a certain amount a day. The second you sit down into the driver’s seat you check your Blackberry and you have an email from a third managing director asking what your plans are for the weekend. You already know: You’ll be working.
That’s a true story. Every bit. Just a typical day. A glimpse into my life ten years ago in investment banking. I used to think that being an investment banker was all about the pursuit of money, but I think it’s also about arrogance, and the competitive need to prove you are ruthless and super human. My doctor said she had more young investment bankers come through her office with heart attack symptoms than any other profession. I got my first taste of money when I was an analyst right out of college. I worked in foreign exchange and I kept track of the traders’ profit and loss. I remember the head trader had about $60 million in profit at one point on the books and he would make millions from that in bonus. I knew I wanted to come back and do something like that. Everyone told me that was the right track. I applied to business school and graduated in the top of my class with an MBA. I was offered a full time investment banking position back at the bank in between my first and second year. I worked my ass off. They threw money at me. I say yes. more. yes. more. thank you. but mostly: more.
By my third year as an associate, I was one of the highest paid associates in the bank. I got the “sleeping bag” award for spending the most time at the office. I was in the top 5 of my associate class. My husband, at a competitor down the street, used to say that I was “un-firable” because I was a woman, a rarity in the IB world at the time. Sad but true. It seemed so wrong. And I was miserable:
I had two bosses who ran the investment banking division I was in. One had come from a competitor bank and they threw loads of money at him. He drove Lamborghini or Ferrari….some type of flashy car. (Update: hubby says it was a Ferrari. I can’t even find my Prius in a parking lot, so shows how much I know.) He had a huge house with an impressive poker table and bar. The other boss was more humble. He didn’t drive a flashy car. His house wasn’t what I expected. He cared if I was overworked. He stood for something. I was torn between the two lifestyles.
It would take the equivalent of an entire novel to explain what happened, but basically I slowly lost it. I was raking in the money, but I was miserable. It was a soul-sucking job. It owned me. I slowly began revolting against the bank machine. There is even a day I can point to when I basically cracked:
I was working for several managing directors by this point, this particular one I’ll call MD5. MD5 had a trophy on his desk from one of the airlines for traveling an astronomical level of miles in one year. He asked me to put together an analysis of a telecommunications company, but it wasn’t a simple request. He wanted me to prepare an analysis that would require complex financial risk scenarios run twenty times over. I looked up from my paper where I was taking notes and as if I was bored out of my mind replied, “Um, no.” The room went quiet and I wondered who had the balls to say no to MD5 and then I realized it came from me. The analyst in the room put his head down to avoid any eye contact. MD5 looked at me with a funny little look on his face and said in defeat, “Oh. Um, okay.” The meeting was adjourned. Everyone was silent. It was like there was a glitch in the matrix. I was the glitch.
The interaction with MD5 made me a rock star for a few days. “Hackshaw said no to MD5,” quickly became floor folklore. I remember another MD saying: You are turning into a real bitch. He was joking but I agreed with him. I was.
I started paying attention to the people above me on the investment banking ladder and none of them seemed happy. They made gazillions of dollars and it never seemed like enough. It was an addiction.
I remember running late to the airport in late 2006. The bumper sticker on the car in front of me read: The aliens have just landed and they are eating the skinny blondes first. I passed the car and expected the driver to be brunette and overweight, but she was actually blonde and skinny. I arrived at the entrance to the airport at 7:15 and my flight was supposed to depart at 7:10. I made it through security and two terminals and the plane was somehow still there waiting for me.
“Wow, cutting it close this time,” MD6 said. It was this first time I was working with MD6 and this was not a great first impression to make.
“Well, I guess I’m just really supposed to be on this flight,” I joked, “because I did everything I could to try and miss it.” It was a fairly short flight to Norfolk, VA. We were on our way to meet with the private military company Blackwater located in Moyok, N.C.
A wood sign posted in front of a chain link fence marked the entrance to Blackwater. As we entered the 6,000 acre property the chain link fence ran to the right all the way to the horizon and the gravel road in front of us did the same. A small red sign read 3.8 miles and had an arrow pointing to the left showing which way we are supposed to go. It felt a little like we were entering Area 51.
In my company research I had scoured article after article about the four Blackwater contractors killed in Fallujah, their bodies burned and dragged through the streets but I also learned a more personal side of CEO Erik Prince. Erik Prince was an ex-Navy SEAL, and the heir to an auto parts fortune. His wife had died in 2003 from cancer and he was left with seven children to raise. When Erik joined us in a conference room and he was humble and gracious, nothing at all what I expected. I was not sure why I was so surprised that he was human. I learned that Erik Prince started Blackwater after the Rwandan genocide. I had just watched Hotel Rwanda.
When our meeting concluded, Erik asked one of his employees to take us to firing range to test out a few weapons. A weapons specialists showed me how to shoot an M-4 and with the first pull of the trigger I was almost thrown backwards. I replanted my feet and I killed my target 10 times over.
“You’ve shot a weapon before,” the Blackwater guy whispered and I winked at him. I heard MD6 make a long whistle sound from behind me.
“Beginner’s luck,” I said but I didn’t let on that I just happened to frequent the shooting range. The M-4 was so heavy that with each shot the bullet holes hit lower and lower towards the abdomen of the target sheet. “Why are you aiming for the groin area?” MD6 asked, “should I be worried?”
All of the sudden I felt ashamed of where I was. I was sure that every investment banking group that had paraded through here was taken to the firing range because that’s what we expected, entertainment. We were important. We had the money. They needed us. And my life consisted of flying first class, staying in nice hotels, working late hours, drinking in excess and boasting about how little sleep I could go on. It was a guy’s world, and I had been overly proud that I could hang with them.
Shortly after the trip to Blackwater, I was flipping through a National Geographic magazine and I came across a photo of a dead bird:
Victim: Albatross Chick, Age: 6 Months, Cause of death: Starvation due to full stomach. Contents of stomach: cigarette lighters, pump-top sprayer, nutshells, shotgun shells, broken clothespins, hundreds of plastic bits.
The photographer had taken the time to dissect the bird and lay out every single content that was in the baby bird’s stomach. I was overwhelmed at the mass collection of items the bird had eaten and was not able to digest. I felt kind of like that bird. I was trying to amass money, things, anything I could….and I couldn’t even digest it. Worse, I helped recruit new analysts and associates with the promise of a never-ending feast of money and glutton. I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.
Ah ! well a-day ! what evil looks
Had I from old and young !
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.
When I read The Love of Money the other day and it put all of this into words for me:
The satisfaction wasn’t just about the money. It was about the power. Because of how smart and successful I was, it was someone else’s job to make me happy.
I’d always looked enviously at the people who earned more than I did; now for the first time, I was embarrassed for them, and for me. I made in a single year more than my mom made in her whole life. I knew that wasn’t fair; that wasn’t right. Yes, I was sharp, good with numbers. I had remarkable talents. But in the end I didn’t really do anything. I was a derivatives trader, and it occurred to me the world would hardly change at all if credit derivatives ceased to exist. Not so nurse practitioners. What had seemed normal now seemed deeply distorted. -Sam Polk
The only difference between me and the author is that it wasn’t as hard for me to leave. You see, I quickly saw myself as just a miserable person to be around. My life was empty. I neglected everything that mattered. My husband and I never saw each other. He worked at the competition across the way. I wasn’t doing anything except for creating money from money. I just woke up one morning and I knew it was the right day to quit. I left all my deal “trophies” and belongings behind at the bank. I left my desk and didn’t even clean it out. I walked away. I was, in a way, a starving baby albatross. My husband walked away soon after.
Now we struggle to pay the bills sometimes, especially those large medical ones. Both self employed we have to worry about things I never thought I’d have to worry about. But we are doing things that are fulfilling and that matter. And we keep making changes. We keep simplifying day after day. We want less and less. And we always have enough.
P.S. I started writing this yesterday as Day 22 of 31 for The Year of Joy series….but it just kept growing. So let’s make this Day 22 & 23. Thanks for the slack.
One of my favorite things to eat in the whole world is tabouli. I eat it with water crackers, with chicken, anything. Costco used to carry Hannah’s but ours stopped. Costco makes its own too…but only during the summer months. Trader Joe’s makes some but I end up tweaking the mixture (plus I eat the whole container in one sitting). So I came up with a blended version…and it’s yummy. I eat it alone or sprinkle with feta cheese and pine nuts.
When I prepare it I don’t really measure anything but if I had to approximate it you’ll need:
2 cups white quinoa (dry, will yield about 4-5 cups when cooked)
1/2 of an English cucumber
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 bunch of fresh parsley
2 lemons worth of juice, squeezed (or about 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp garlic salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
fresh ground black pepper
1. Prepare the quinoa the night before (according to directions) and leave it to chill in the refrigerator overnight. (you can prepare it the same day, but I prefer the texture once it’s been chilled)
2. Finely chop the parsley. Mix into the quinoa.
3. Chop the peppers into small 1/4″ to 1/2″ pieces and add to the mixture.
4. Chop the cucumber into small 1/4″ to 1/2″ pieces and add to the mixture.
5. Mix in: garlic salt, lemon juice, olive oil, pepper.
It keeps for several days, so I usually make a large bowl of it and it lasts for lunch and snacks during the week: CONTINUE READING
I disconnected for a few days.
And we just explored.
We drove and drove and drove with a paper map in hand. The view from above Bryson City:
We stayed with our friends Mort and Lainey White, the innkeepers at the Hemlock Inn. The Inn closes down for a few months in the winter…there was no one else there except for us. The Whites feel like family. It was their first time meeting Mr. LBB and they hit it off. Every night we stayed up late by the fire hearing their inn stories from over the years. And we ate some yummy food:
We drove along the Nantahala River early one morning. It was eerie because I was used to seeing the summer crowds. This time of year it’s icy and cold, but I still think it’s so beautiful.
I saw this guy hanging from a pole and froze my bum off getting a photo:
We drove to the Fontana Dam…and were the only humans there. Kind of eerie:
I ran across many an abandoned house:
We explored an old barn at the Hemlock:
Mort let me look through the old inn files. And I found a few records detailing my parents and grandparents stay back in 1979 and 1982. I started crying when I found them. I wanted to find the rest but the basement was cooolllld and my fingers were frozen.
Every time I leave I feel like I leave a little bit of myself there:
A friend of mine said that she thinks the Hemlock Inn is in my DNA. I think so too. Click here to see the photos through the years and how we spent some of our summer there this last year.
So this is Day 21 of my Year of Joy month….technically it’s Day 17 through 21.
All the Year of Joy posts can be found here.