2015

Way back when I worked a corporate gig our chief would start hounding us for a ‘year in review’ months before the year actually ended. This became an elaborate report and presentation and ever since the phrase ‘year in review’ makes me itchy. So, why am I writing a review of 2015?

Because it was the year of too much. As I rounded the corner from Thanksgiving into December I was counting down the days until January 1st. Until I could be done with what may have been the absolute worst year and start the new book of 2016 fresh.

All I could think of were the ER visits (for me and Sinatra) the endless rounds of antibiotics as we chased infections. Too, too many of my peers were diagnosed with big, scary illnesses and every time the coach in me hung up the phone, thankful I could be of service –  the friend in me cried. I buried  friends. I buried friendships that no longer served. There were countless ‘procedures’  and endless hours in medical waiting rooms. Too many hours I could have been doing something more productive, more fun.

Then there was an afternoon in December when I lost all composure at a prestigious NYC hospital and ended up getting everyone in the radiology waiting room free parking.To be fair I was seen 2 and a half hours after my appointment time and others waited even longer. The blase attitude of the staff pushed all my buttons. I will admit the parking refund of $27 an hour (plus tax) earned me many, many smiles from complete strangers. But, it was all too much.  I’m a coach, but, I’m human, too and no matter how Zen we are, sometimes we snap.

That day, after I snapped, I sat in traffic on the Henry Hudson and in an effort to get myself under control I forced the good memories to come forward. How many good ones were there? Well, at first only one or two… but that was enough. And, that’s why I’m writing this post. Because If I don’t force myself to recall the trips to Sesame Place and Crayola Experience, if I don’t remember the days on the beach and the perfectly sublime days at the Children’s Zoo I will erase an entire year of my life. I will erase eating ice cream on the boardwalk, Sinatra’s first Fundraiser Walk for St. Jude’s. I’ll erase the afternoons at the Ocean and the silly mornings chasing bubbles in the park. I’ll erase my baby’s first day of school, the trip to Rockerfeller Center and Sinatra’s wonder at seeing the Rockette’s dance. That’s when it dawned on me, I can’t keep the goodies without recalling the things I wish I could forget. It’s all intertwined.

In the end we all hope the New Year is a Good Year. A year with more joy, more laughter, more vacations and more ice cream – but – we can’t deny how the other memories we’d prefer to forget shaped us, either.

So, let’s not forget. Let’s remember it all and greet 2016 with a smile. Where ever you are and how ever you welcome January 1st I hope the New Year is kind to you and those you love.

 

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Photo Finish Friday: Meet Sarah!

IMG_3264Yesterday, I stopped at Stew Leonard’s for milk. Literally, two cartons of milk since we were running low and Sinatra can easily drink a quart a day.

This little lady was holding court in the covered entry way. Now, if you’ve never been shopping at Stew’s there is something you need to understand: it is awesome. Awesome iwth a capital AWE – outstanding customer service is the norm and there is a ‘little farm’ with cows, chickens, ducks and goats the kids (young and young at heart) can feed and greet. Not to mention the animatronic displays through out the store which keep Sinatra singing along and make shopping a breeze. Seriously – I make the left onto their road and Sinatra starts yelling “I See Cows!” with glee.

Back to that turkey. Sarah was pardoned and will be living the rest of her days on a farm in Connecticut – per the sign on her cage – after she’s done greeting shoppers. I’m not sure if she’ll help or harm the turkey sales with her cute gobbling ways, but, after a decidedly rough week this was a laugh I really needed. Thought you might, too, so I’m sharing her.

Laughing Goddess Photography is my passion project. I share photos that are meaningful and beautiful and donate a part of all profits to charity. Follow me on Instagram for wonderful, hand mounted notecards.

From now until February 29, 2016 50% of all profits will be donated to help my friend battle cancer. One of the very best people I know, I met Rob more than 20 years ago… which means I’ve known him more than half my life.

There is a lot about cancer that, well, just sucks. A lot. One of the things that sucks the most is how quickly it can drain finances – even when you have insurance. The co-pays, costs of over the counter medicine, travel costs (gas, tolls, parking) really mount quickly. Toss in reduced earnings and the potential for lost wages among caregivers and it’s a recipe for crippling stress levels no one should have to deal with on top of the soul crush of already dealing with cancer.

 

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Photo Finish Friday: Now on Instagram!

My passion project is Laughing Goddess Photography. I sell prints and hand mounted note cards of my original photos and generally share my brand of creative with the world.

This week I joined Instagram and I invite you to follow me my user name is laughinggoddessphotography.

I will be posting note cards which feature hand mounted original photos (4×6) on lovely ivory cardstock (5×7). The cards sell for $3.50 each or 3 for $10. Shipping is free.

note card featuring a bicycle on the boardwalk in Ocean Grove, NJ.

note card featuring a bicycle on the boardwalk in Ocean Grove, NJ.

From now until February 29, 2016 50% of all profits will be donated to help my friend battle cancer. One of the very best people I know, I met Rob more than 20 years ago… which means I’ve known him more than half my life.

There is a lot about cancer that, well, just sucks. A lot. One of the things that sucks the most is how quickly it can drain finances – even when you have insurance. The co-pays, costs of over the counter medicine, travel costs (gas, tolls, parking) really mount quickly. Toss in reduced earnings and the potential for lost wages among caregivers and it’s a recipe for crippling stress levels no one should have to deal with on top of the soul crush of already dealing with cancer.

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Perspective & the power of the purse

In my last post I shared my love of Thanksgiving. It’s true, I genuinely love not just the holiday but the idea behind the holiday. Spending time with people you love, enjoying one another – no need for gifts, no material expectations and pie. If your family is anything like mine there will be lots and lots and lots of pie.

Over the past few weeks there has been talk about Black Thursday / Black Friday. Who is closing on Thanksgiving and thereby allowing their employees a day with family. Who is opening Thanksgiving night  – early – so dinners and celebrations are cut short.  Oh and please remember the job market has been tight for so long many older Americans have taken retail jobs to make ends meet. So… yeah… Mom and or / Dad may have to excuse themselves from the table early to rush off and report to ring up socks and shirts.  How will you feel if your Grandparents excuse themselves early because they had to report to work greeting folks who entered their store?

What are we doing? Really. What are we doing? What are we teaching our kids? Where are our values? And, has anyone bothered to notice if you really want to shop on Thanksgiving you can do so, online? Without exception the internet is open for business? Most stores offer nearly identical online / in store discounts?

That bit that really makes my blood boil? The news I’m hearing that some mall management companies will lay excessive fines on stores who choose not to open. One mall chain is being reported at threatening an $1,100 an hour fine. I haven’t been able to verify this – nor disprove it – beyond learning that each of the mall manager’s locations is operationing on a different schedule, determined locally. I just verified, with a call to the mall office that our local mall is actually closed all day on Thanksgiving. The lady I spoke with couldn’t (wouldn’t?) comment on other locations run by the property manager, and that is fair. It’s enough to know that some locations are holding the holiday as a day of thanks.

I realize ranting on retail shopping schedules isn’t quite a typical life coach topic. Bear me out a moment. Life coaching is about being 100% authentic and teaching how to live an authentic life by example. So, I’m going beyond the rant. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share my favorite small business, artisans and crafts people. I’m going to share my favorite (and always well received) out of the box gift ideas.

Here’s why. I am a committed ‘small shopper.’ I am a small business owner x2 (Life coaching and a small boutique photography operation). Oh and I absolutely believe a well-played boycott will change minds… seriously the power of the purse is huge and my friends we hold the strings. Shop with your heart and remember your purse strings are powerful.

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Photo Finish Friday: Gourdy

Continuing with my theme of November = Thanksgiving today’s Photo Finish Friday is a homage to the images of Autumn.

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Tea in the Garden

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Jumbled Gourds

My passion project is Laughing Goddess Photography. I sell prints and hand mounted note cards of my original photos and generally share my brand of creative with the world. It keeps me sane, it’s fun, and it raises funds for worthy, home-grown causes.  From now until February 29, 2016 50% of all profits will be donated to help my friend battle cancer. One of the very best people I know, I met Rob more than 20 years ago… which means I’ve known him more than half my life.

There is a lot about cancer that, well, just sucks. A lot. One of the things that sucks the most is how quickly it can drain finances – even when you have insurance. The co-pays, costs of over the counter medicine, travel costs (gas, tolls, parking) really mount quickly. Toss in reduced earnings and the potential for lost wages among caregivers and it’s a recipe for crippling stress levels no one should have to deal with on top of the soul crush of already dealing with cancer.

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Remember when November meant Thanksgiving and Christmas was in December?

Alternate titles for this post I considered:

  • What’s the rush?
  • Is there a Turkey coalition brainwashing us to skip Thanksgiving?
  • Red cups are back – this early?
  • Why do you HATE THANKSGIVING?

Thanksgiving. I love it.

I love baking pies. I find the phone calls planning who will bring what to dinner fun. I love the Macy’s Parade. I love watching the balloons get inflated the night before the parade and when I worked in a building near Herald Square it was pure magic to come to work the Monday before Thanksgiving and find the street in front of Macy’s painted for the parade.

I love the month of November with the in between weather that forces you to check a forecast before you leave the house. The bright clear blue skies, the tang of wood burning fireplaces smelling up the neighborhood and the deafening crunch of fallen leaves underfoot during an early morning run.

I love the natural pause that Thanksgiving prep brings as it sort makes you slow down and spend time with your family with no expectations beside sharing a meal. If your household is like ours – you have some Thanksgiving day football rivalries adding to the banter between brothers. It’s a time to count your blessings. It’s a time to visit family. It’s a time to enjoy.

Last night while preparing dinner I realized we were down to our last banana. A quick inventory of our fridge also revealed we were low on apples, raspberries and carrots. My child has been impersonating a fruit bat the past few weeks so these low levels of vital supplies simply wouldn’t do. It had been a bit over a week since I’d been out of the house and I was actually looking forward to a solo run to the grocery store. I drove ten minutes to a store located at one end of a very pretty shopping plaza. I was shocked to see Christmas lights on every lamp-post, garlands with oversized red and gold ornaments hung and a large holiday house standing in the middle of the area. Mind, this wasn’t a case of decorating while the weather is still relatively mild – the decoration were lit, and stores where doing their windows… for Christmas.

Friends, I’m confused. And suddenly understand what my clients mean when they talk about how hard it is to live according to their own ideals when the outside world is so dramatically at odds with them. I want to scream “What the fuck? Tuesday was Election Day – unplug the lights!”

Maybe being a coach is just making me more aware, but it seems like not a day goes by when an article doesn’t land in my news feed promising to help me ‘live in the moment.’ Bloggers talk about simplifying and social media outlets are over run with pithy quotes and meme’s about ‘living in the moment’ ‘quality time’ ‘savoring experiences’. Yet, every year Christmas arrives earlier and earlier. I don’t know about anyone else but at this rate I’ll be done with eggnog lattes and pine candles by mid-december.

Why are we in such a rush? Why do we shop Thanksgiving night? Is it because we can? Are we so busy that we have to get ‘a jump’ on everything. Are we incapable of slowing down and using the collective power of our purses to send a message to the big marketing machines… slow it down and let Thanksgiving have its moment?

Please, let Thanksgiving have it’s moment.

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Small Things Done v Big Things Planned

A wise person once said “Small things done are better than big things planned…” or something to that effect. I do love a good quote and if you follow me on facebook you know I post one daily. Which means I collect a lot of quotes and can’t always remember them verbatim or put my finger on where I read them.

If you said this, I bow to you.

I’ve been in full planning mode, playing full-out and my thought had been to update in this space once I was ready to announce. Let’s face it a big announcement is always fun. It’s grand. It’s exciting. It’s wonderful. It’s also been derailed.

I’ve had a health scare / set back / challenge and since I struggle with being an introvert in extrovert’s clothing (or am I an extrovert in introvert’s clothing?) I’m not entirely ready to share the details here.

What I am ready to share is this simple realization.

The small steps are worthwhile. The small steps are noble. The small steps are Divine and will help get you from where you are to where you want to be every single time.

Currently, my small steps include the daily to-do’s aimed at revamping two websites (www.jenniferbellber.com and www.laughinggoddessphotography.com). I am creating beautiful hand mounted note cards, building inventory and devising a way to get them in your hands more easily (more on this soon) and taking care of my health.

Here’s a note to all of you Momma’s out there. I know it seems impossible to take care of yourself. It’s hard to get a sitter. It’s hard to leave the house when the small ones are crying and clutching your leg. It’s all tough. It hurts your heart to listen to the cries. I know it goes. Know what else I now know? It is 1,000,000 times harder to be out of commission because you let something small slide and now it’s a big something. It’s excruciating to call people you love in the middle of the night to ask them to come babysit because you’re in the hospital and your husband can’t leave without a sitter in the house. When the bottom is dropping out of your world and the tailspin is making a category 5 hurricane look tame you’ll really wish you’d paid a sitter to go to a doctor’s office.

Please listen when I say you’re worth it. You’re family’s worth it. It’s a small step toward ease in the long run.

Be well friends.

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