I spread love everyday, but in honor of Love’s special day…Happy Valentine’s Day!
Three take-aways from today…
1. Any chance you get to brighten someone’s day…DO IT. There is a widow who comes into the store EVERY day and she’s normally a curmudgeon to the nth degree. I’ve never lost a spouse so I do not know the road she is travelling, but she’s still a grump pot daily. Nonetheless, I made small bags of Hershey kisses and tied them with a bright red ribbon to distribute to co-workers today. I also made a handful for the friends that I’ve made who come in daily. This woman was not on my original list, but when I saw her this morning, I was overwhelmed with the spirit of making her smile. I took one of my ribbon-clad treats to her table and she looked up and was stunned as I presented her with the treats and a “Happy Valentine’s Day” and then came a genuine smile to her face.
2. I absolutely love the arts! I went to the dress rehearsal of the local community college’s production of Big River and although the performance was just that—a dress rehearsal, I was still in awe of the magic that happens on that floor. I can’t wait to start dancing again, gliding across that stage floor is an amazing experience. Throughout the performance I kept focusing on the stage floor—grounded and yet high as a kite from euphoria.
3. I will own you Lent. Each year during Lent I give up something that helps to make me a better person as I walk with God. I also take on something also in hopes of righting my walk with God. This year I have given up diet coke, processed foods and a negative attitude. I have taken on daily time spent with God’s Word and giving back to the community in some form or another each week. As I retire for the evening, the scoreboard reads: LaTonya 1, Lent 0.
Shalom, my friends and know that you are loved.
Alert Customs, I’m back.
I’ve been wanting to write and express for days now, but haven’t had the courage to do so. I think I’ve been living in a parallel universe for several weeks. Well, alert customs, I’m back.
To ease back into this, I’ll regale you with a few odds and ends from my world over the last few weeks. I do have some drafts and notes for future posts that have a little more depth.
This is probably the best summation…You’ve all seen the chip that looks like Mother Theresa or the bite of toast that looks like Jesus, etc. But have you seen Homer Simpson? Yeah, that’s my world. I shed like a dog, so when washing my hair in the shower, I throw the strands that fall out on the shower walls to dry (easier to clean). Well, I returned for the next shower and the hair that I had randomly thrown on the wall appeared in the form of HOMER SIMPSON. That’s right, freaking Homer Simpson.
I wish I would have taken a photo of the hair art. Just imagine Homer from the nose up, including the couple of hairs on top of his head, in a profile shot.
I’ve been in Charlotte now for or a month. My social life is very full and I’m having fun. Now only if my bank account were as full and I could stop pulling out my hair.
I’ll get there.
I am so grateful for my friend Greg, as I’m still starring as best damn house guest ever—for a month now. He’s a saint. Thank you, Gregory.
He has, however, created one house rule—I am not allowed to sing. (and he brought me breakfast this morning KNOWING that I was in full boycott of Chic-fil-A. I cursed him the entire time I ate that chicken biscuit).
I’m still working part-time at Dean & DeLuca, but my life as a cheesemonger was foiled by a little mold. Sure, I know that cheese is mold and I’m aware that I’m allergic to mold, but I eat cheese all the time so I didn’t think that it would bother me. I didn’t notice anything the first two days on the job as I was uber excited to share my knowledge of cheese, the cheese-making process and learning even more about one of my first loves—cheese.
It started with a headache and queasy stomach on the third day in Cheese & Charcuterie and turned into a breakout on my face the following week and finally trouble swallowing while in the presence of the cheese. Mold, you win. Spending eight or so hours breathing you and handling you did me in. I was so sad to leave cheese, but happy to still be employed by Dean & DeLuca. The managers didn’t want to lose me, so I was moved to prepared foods (customer service) and will begin working in the wine room next month.
I interviewed with two of the assistant general managers and asked to come back later that week to meet the head of the Cheese/Charcuterie department and the GM. A great interview with the GM, however, it took a little convincing to get Regina’s blessing.
Regina has been with Dean & DeLuca for the last seven years and knows her cheese. She was impressed by my resume and was encouraged that I already knew a lot about cheese, but she was worried that I would be bored in the department. I convinced her that I would be fine and was eager to learn more from her and sell cheese.
We’ll see you on Monday to start your training.
I kicked butt in cheese. Customer service comes naturally as I am able to engage with all kinds of people. I loved the customers who knew a lot about cheese and our conversations ranged from paste color to terroir and science to the simple pleasure of taste. I also savored the customers who were new to cheese and wanted to learn a little more. Describing cheese, explaining cheese and giving them suggestions for cheese made me happy. I set daily sales goals for myself (the GM was impressed as this was not required). I was selling cheese left and right.
And just like that, my cheese-mongering days were over. The case was set up so that the blue cheeses were at the far end—the end that was closest to my left side while standing at the counter to help customers. The left side of my face had triple the breakout as the right.
I am still proud of the trio I sampled on my second day on the job. It made those fluent in cheese smile and those new, eager to know more.
Here are the three cheeses I shared with customers
From left to right: Greenfields, Brin d’Amor & Abbaye de Belloc. All with beautiful paste, a cow’s, goat and sheep’s milk. I tasted them in this order to explore complexity and texture. (and I highly rec Culture Cheese Magazine for everything you need to know about CHEESE.)
Now I sling food from the prepared food cases. It’s mindless, but I’ve met some cool people and have my favorite customers and I’m already the “teacher’s pet.” The head and sous chefs and managers have all noticed my superb customer service skills, dedication and work-ethic. I now have to work a few closing shifts to whip a couple of co-workers into shape.
Greg called me a snitch all weekend after I may or may not have voiced my concern to an assistant GM for their less-than-satisfactory caliber of work, attention to detail and customer service of the aforementioned co-workers. They got a “talkin’ to” from the boss that day and let’s just say that the final two hours of my shift were icy.
I am a hard worker and have high standards for myself as well as for the people around me. Fair or unfair, if they do not live up to them, I can’t deal. (Explains a lot, huh?)
While living in Miami I’d gotten used to being spoken to and speaking in Spanish while at the market, restaurants, etc. I thought once I moved to Charlotte that no one would make the assumption that I was a native Spanish-speaker. Well, not the case.
Here we go again…
First it was in college when my best friend asked me why I didn’t speak more Spanish.
"That’s because I’m American, Cicily, and English is my native tongue."
For the first two years of our friendships she thought that I was Puerto Rican.
When I first started at D&D the Spanish-speaking ladies told me that I had Spanish features, and were taking bets that I was Puerto Rican. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m just an American mutt. The staff and I continue to converse in both Spanish and English throughout the day.
Things that make me smile since I’ve arrived here in Charlotte…
- Asian people with southern drawls. I love it. (I’m part Chinese so I can make these observations and speak about them).
- My co-worker (he’s a great guy, trained me and makes work fun) calls pesto, PRESTO and chutney, GLUTTONY. Normally I would correct someone, but it makes me smile in a happy way, so I let it go.
- Normally I would be annoyed by the nouveau riche who come into the store, but now it just makes me smile.
- Walking outside and greeted by the crisp Fall air.
- Walking into the Wine Shop next door to my house and seeing Sam, the super wonderful and hot bartender. He even has his own garden with lots and lots of veggies. He’s going to help me with my moonshine making. ;-)
It’s not all fun and games here. I’ve had some horrible days with grand pity parties for one.
Posting this blog and working on another one for tomorrow. I’m back!
Look for signs before you sit
I’m settling in here in Charlotte, however, it is still frustrating to me. I’m the type of person who wants to be there already. I wrote a post earlier about adjustment, should probably take my own advice. ;-)
I’ve found a new favorite wine bar—which is good and bad. The good is that I’ve made friends with the bartender (yay, Sam!); the bad is that it is 100 or so yards from my temporary address.
(Have I mentioned that I have the best domestic partner in all the land?)
Greg, my domestic partner.
I’m learning my way around the city, yet getting really comfortable in my current neighborhood. I’m not sure that I’ll even venture out to the other neighborhoods in the city frequently. I do enjoy Uptown for a change of pace and a big-city feel.
I’ve made new friends (Thank you ESPNU and UVa Club of Charlotte) and beginning to acclimate to the climate. It will actually get into the 60s soon and the leaves will begin to change colors. I’m excited.
Last Sunday was my most interesting experience of the new locale thus far. I went to a church with my newly-minted friend, Dawn, a fellow Wahoo & chemist. We drove darn near to South Carolina to the church (I had to ask a few times if we were still in Charlotte). I was impressed with the multi-cultural experience at the church. It happened to be a mixed service in English and Spanish on this day. The two congregations came together for a cultural experience. Latin food was served following the 11 a.m. service to commemorate the six-year anniversary of the Spanish church.
I have been spoiled by Cross Bridge Miami, and although the service was fine, I was not keen on this contemporary worship.
I have a hesitation about people who stand in front of a group of people and use very directed hands while talking. Let me explain, I talk with my hands, and a lot of people do, these motions are not choreographed, but involuntary actions.
I find it, and this is going to be a use of the word for lack of a better one, cult-like. The directed hand motions, that very piece of body language says to me, “You are robot, you must follow me. I know what is best for you.”
Think about another time where we are given directed hand motions—policemen directing traffic. They want us to follow very specific instructions. They want us to do as they say. We do. If you’ve flown on Delta since 2008, you’re familiar with Ms. Deltalina.
I admit, I never pay attention to this portion of the pre-takeoff ritual, but these men and women are using very direct hand motions to get passengers to do as they say, follow them, blindly.
Think about it. So I was put off by this pastor’s very directed hand motions as he spoke to the congregation. I know, you’re thinking, “You have been paying attention to the Word?”
Well, yeah, but once my little spidey senses go off, it’s all over. I was thinking, processing, thinking, and solving the entire time. I think the homily was about being part of God’s team. Something about tying in the Olympics and various countries all being under his umbrella. Yeah, something like that. (No disrespect, JC, but you created me, you know that when I prayed I was present, but during the homily, I was using one of my gifts).
On a lighter note, I think I have mentioned before that my singing voice is only loved by God. I love being his little girl. The first song of the day was in Spanish. After hearing the medley, I joined in for the second verse. I’m singing along in Spanish, I even lean over to my friend to translate a verse of the hymn. I’m sitting next to my friend, her friend and her husband (from Sri Lanka) and a woman from the Czech Republic, so no native Spanish-speaking tongues on my row. All of a sudden they begin to chime in singing in Spanish, I’m thinking it was to probably drown out my (un)melodious voice.
I kept singing.
Now, for the creme-de-la-creme…I introduce Little Murr. I haven’t written about her of late, but this was right up her alley.
With Little Murr | American Airlines Arena | Playoffs 2012
I am not going to do this anecdote justice, you have to hear her tell the story (perhaps I’ll record her re-telling it to share on this blog).
Little Murr moved to Miami in July prior to the 2011 football season. Upon her arrival she wanted to find a church home so began to try various places of worship, sometimes even going to multiple services a day. Little Murr ventured out on her own to these places, showcasing her adventurous spirit.
Everything seems normal right? Ok, I’m getting to the HILARITY…
Little Murr arrives at a church and open a door, walks in and takes a seat. Perhaps most of us would have noticed the matching robes or clothing and location of the seats, but Murr let it ride as she sat in the choir.
In her words…
The singing. It sounded odd, but I literally did a double take thinking “right, like I should judge others’ singing..” and then awhile later I noticed a man a few rows front and to my left was wearing a bicycle helmet. In church. I truly still brushed it off.. I was new to Miami and wanted to be open-minded to all the diversities I was sure to encounter.. And then later in the service a woman hugged on me and wanted to chat. Then I was like… Ok seriously, what’s going on this Sunday?? And after the service ended and I said bye to the friendly woman.. I filed out of the pew and saw the sign that said, “Reserved for the Special Needs Field Trip”. That’s what I get for coming to church late and quickly hustling into a pew.
And then it was the time that she was actually early to church (She quickly adopted Cuban Time upon arrival in Miami).
I was actually early but it was a mega church and I had no idea what to do in such a big, busy sanctuary. I sat to the right on the side in a little covered section because it felt cozier as opposed to the big lit up open space in front of the preacher. It was empty when I got there but slowly a few more people joined the little pews. Nobody really responded to my ‘good mornings’ but I just figured they weren’t sure what to think of me because I was white in a mostly black Baptist church. It didn’t bother me, I just busied myself reading the bulletin until it was starting time. Then when I looked back up there was someone standing and blocking my view of the front.. They weren’t moving, instead actually had a metal music stand set up facing our pews. Whaaaat? And then the signing started. I realized looking around that I must be in the deaf section I had seen in some other churches but thought it would be rude to get up and leave so I stayed put and just listened and enjoyed the view I had. I also made a friend there.. Toward the end of the sermon the lady to my left gestured that she wanted me to have her notepad. It was magnetic and I really liked it but didn’t know how to thank besides a smile and a thumbs up. It was a nice moment and a good reminder to learn a few more words in sign language. All I could remember was “I love you” and even though they were Baptists I thought that a little much!
I thought she once almost set in the choir, but she tells a different story…
I have never sat in the choir to my knowledge.. But I did almost slap a deacon handing out bulletins. I was fresh off the boat in Miami and it was my first intro to the ‘Cuban Kiss.’ I didn’t think his intentions were very Christian at the time but thankfully once I took a step back I suspected he was only going for the air beside my cheek and decided it would be best to just take my bulletin and hustle on without making a scene. I gave him the benefit of the doubt that week but avoided that doorway when I returned for more services.
There are a few more of these, but the aforementioned stories should give you a chuckle. I’m still waiting for the day that she makes her way into the pulpit. It could happen.
Look for signs before you sit.
I may be the busiest unemployed person in the country. Today’s “to do” list again kept me moving, but the most interesting thing on the list was a trip to the Goodwill depository. I made several trips to Goodwill before I left Miami, but today’s trip was to drop off my friend Greg’s stuff. Greg is an old friend from Charlottesville who has been in Charlotte for five years.
Greg made the mistake of offering to let me stay at his place upon moving to Charlotte. Note for the future: If you offer me, there’s a 90% chance that I will take you up on your offer. So be careful what you say to me.
I truly appreciate Greg’s generous offer and thankful to have such wonderful friends.
Greg and I hanging out at home Monday night.
I arrived Saturday afternoon and Greg and I unloaded several boxes and bags from my car into his house. I guess the expression on my face was enough to suggest that some of his things needed to go to the Goodwill when I saw his second bedroom. We decided that it would be a task for Sunday.
Greg was kind enough to let me sleep in Sunday morning. I finally rose for the day at 11 a.m. and made us French Toast. We needed fuel for the ensuing cleanup.
Three garbage bags of items for Goodwill, two boxes and a bag of trash later we have a respectably clean room. Greg kept giving me dirty looks and swears that he wasn’t mad at me. I guess I should not have been so demonstrative about things that needed to be thrown away.
I’ve infused a little of me in his house with the addition of a recycling container and throw pillows on the couch. Tomorrow I’m adding plants and storage for shoes in the entryway.
He still claims not to be mad, but he does come home every day and asks me if I’ve found a job yet. I’m just going to keep having wine and dinner ready for him when he gets home from work.
You’re stuck with me for a few more days, Greg.
Too Soon & Moving On
The dating story is in a delay in the bottom of the third inning. I tried to finish it yesterday and it is still too soon. I am hurting, but not hurt. I’m ready to date again, but just not ready to delve back into the story. I will finish it; it is therapy.
In other news, it is official—I am moving to Charlotte, N.C. It just feels right and I do a lot of stuff based on feelings. In an earlier post I went through the thought-process of selecting a new city and Charlotte won. I’m making it official by actually packing up my stuff and driving to the Queen City next week.
I posted on Facebook to let the world know that I was moving to Charlotte and in need of housing suggestions as well as employment leads. The Facebook, e-mail, phone and text message to send me names of realtors, job suggestions, contact information for people that they know in Charlotte has been overwhelming in a great way. THANK YOU to everyone who has reached out. I truly appreciate your time and feedback. I even received a resume critique and positive feedback from that.
I’m always good to people because you never know when you’re going to need them. It is a great feeling to know that so many people have your back. I am truly blessed.
I learned a long time ago to treat everyone as I would want to be treated and that I was not better than another human walking this Earth. It has been how I’ve lived my days. I speak to everyone and I will help you if I see that you need help. I prefer to spend my time around people who are not elitist or employ the “if you can’t do anything for me, I don’t have time for you” attitude.
I encountered a lot of the latter during my time at the Darden Graduate Business School. It made me sick to my stomach to observe the futile interactions as one person found out that the other, on the surface, could not do anything for them. Never judge a book by its cover. That person you’re snubbing could hold all the keys to all the doors and you just shot yourself in the foot. I ran into it again at Miami, not to the extent of what I saw at the B-school, and again, it made me ill.
The housekeeping crew at Northwestern still remembers me and will give me hugs and are excited to see me when I return to NU. I left Northwestern more than seven years ago. I always spoke, smiled and even helped out if I could when they came around to clean my office. I learned a few words in Polish and they appreciated that. Recently, I learned that Maria, the sweet lady who was responsible for housekeeping in my office at Miami, cried when she found out that I was gone. I can’t tell you Maria’s last name, but I can tell you that everyday we had a little conversation in Spanish and sometimes in English. The conversations were about the weather or the fact that it was Friday or something along those lines. The content doesn’t matter, it is the quality of the interaction that does. I knew all of my student-athletes from the superstars to the walk-on who would never see the playing field. I treat everyone the same.
Now, who wants to help me move? I loathe moving. I have, on occasion, given away most of my possessions when I leave a place and just restock at the next place. The sad thing is that I’m a minimalist so I don’t have that much stuff, but it is still an overwhelming task. If you’re smart, you’ll be hanging around my address this weekend, lots of good stuff for the taking.
Putting on my happy face, some loud music and will just get it done. Perhaps I can come up with some Olympic games to make it more fun.
We make decisions everyday. Some are simple while some are more complex and have a huge impact on your life. Today I had to decide if I would use the green or the black pen to complete the crossword puzzle. Then if I would do the butterfly or backstroke for today’s swim. Finally, if I would have a Mai Tai or strawberry daiquiri. Clearly I had a very taxing day. I went with the black pen, swam the backstroke and had a daiquiri.
I make light of today’s decisions, only because I have larger decisions looming. I’ve come to a crossroads in my career and deciding my next steps. I’ve always worked in higher education, spending ten years as a collegiate athletics publicist (Nebraska, Northwestern, Big Ten and Miami). I’ve been an events planner, fundraiser, admissions coordinator and a director of a university program. I enjoy the comfort, if you will, of the university setting and thrilled by the fast-paced and unpredictable nature of collegiate athletics. As much as I enjoy that, the lifestyle is taxing, I find that more and more people are in the business for the wrong reasons and that sickens me. I’ve always made changes or spoken out when things hurt at the core of who I am. This was one of those times.
I made a decision to walk away a month ago. I walked away with no job waiting for me. I walked away knowing that the following hours, days and weeks were not going to be easy. I’ve cried. I’ve prayed. I’ve laughed.
A wise woman once told me: Trust your instincts. Make decisions based on what is important to you. You never know where it will take you.
I’m taking those words to heart and trusting who I am. Trusting my gifts and talents and trusting the Universe.
Although this is an exciting time and I am eager and ready to begin something new, it is overwhelming and really not much fun trying to figure it all out. I’ve thought about it and based on a long-term goal, I want to find a 9-5 in banking or do some consulting work.
I am a big fan of lists and writing things down. I like the feeling of crossing things off and completing a goal.
I wrote down four places in which I would like to move because 1. I already have networks in place. 2. They are in cities with collegiate athletics so I could volunteer, and 3. They are in or near a city with an international airport. (I need to be a direct flight away from Europe at all times. ;-) ).
Richmond, Va., East Lansing, Mich. (Detroit is close enough), Charlotte, N.C. or Miami.
Richmond is a short drive from home, I could move in with my aunt and uncle (empty-nesters) until I found a place, I have a lot of family and friends in the area, I love Virginia and it would only be an hour away from the best place in the land—Charlottesville. I’ve never lived in Richmond, but I think I could call it home. One of my best friends lives in East Lansing and I have a very strong network of friends there. I would volunteer at MSU football, hoops and hockey events and I love that college town. Charlotte is three hours from home, again, I have a vast network already in place there and it is such a vibrant city. All three of these places have a moderate cost of living.
Finally after much consideration and prayers, Charlotte rose to the top of the list. I now have to decide between the Queen City or Miami. Although if a great opportunity came along somewhere else, I wouldn’t dismiss it.
Now, to further drill down, I divided a sheet of paper into four quadrants with headers of “Miami” and “Charlotte” and “pros” and “cons” along the margin.
It was a free write so I just wrote down whatever came into my mind without spending too much time focusing on the item.
Pen down. Drumroll, please…we have a draw.
Both lists were about even among the pros and cons. Great. Thanks. Back to work. I’ve learned that nothing comes easy and if it is worth having, it is worth working for.
So I’m back to the drawing board. Where’s a girl to move?
The weather is great in Miami…they have winter in Charlotte, but it doesn’t snow often and I do enjoy wearing sweaters, scarves and sitting by a fire.
It gets a bit more dicey for this next item…Canes football. Football appears as both a pro and con for Miami. I honestly don’t know if I can be in Miami when the football season begins. It will be so hard not being part of the team, not running the press box on game day or not being involved. I love those kids and have given so much. But, I am not 100 percent certain that is how I will feel while sitting in the stands for the first game. Or will I even go to the game? You see, there is so much to consider.
Another item that appeared on both the pro and con list for Miami is the name of the man that I’ve been seeing off and on for the last 15 or so months. Do I hang around waiting on this relationship or do I walk away, cut my losses, move on? I do know that it would be hard being in Miami, at first, and not seeing him. There are how many men in Miami? Exactly. The heart is a muscle and it will mend. Time heals. Frustrating, complicated, uncertainty—on the list twice.
Charlotte is three hours from my family, while Miami is 14 hours. It is less expensive to live in Charlotte compared to Miami. I would love to save a little more money each month.
No one EVER believes me on this one, but I am shy. I’ve just started going to Crossbridge church in Miami. I’ve just starting making God a priority in my life and I’ve finally found a church that matches my intellectual curiosity. I’ve yet to attend a service by myself. I have to go with a buddy each Sunday. I have a lot of friends who also attend the church and both of the pastors know me. I’m just not ready to go by myself. This is all very new to me. Will I find the same type of church community in Charlotte? Probably.
I also feel as though my work in Miami is not done. I don’t know exactly what that means or what needs to be done, but I just have this feeling.
Decisions or a leap of faith?
I’m excited for the new adventure. I’m eager to see what the future holds for me. Two weeks ago I was restless and frustrated and just wanted a resolution. I still want resolution, but I am no longer anxious about the future. I’m trusting.
Some people call me crazy. Some are amazed at my ability to pick up and move (I’ve been travelling on my own since age five). Some ask if I’m afraid. I can’t let fear stop me from realizing my dreams or immobilizing me because of the unknown. When you stop and really think about it, tomorrow is the unknown. Who knows what the day will bring, yet we get up each morning and tackle the day. It’s the same thing.
Wish me luck!
Three things for which I am grateful…
- My family. So happy to have a wonderful family who loves.
- Aloe Vera. I’ve threatened a few times this summer, but I am done with the sun. SPF 30 is like baby oil on my skin. Can’t wait for this ensuing moulting.
- My former interns. I’ve talked to quite a few of them in the last five days for various reasons. So proud of every single one of them and honored that they still consider me a mentor, friend, a professional and someone who is always honest with them and always has their best interest in mind.
This was taken last weekend at my former intern Brittany’s wedding (liliac dress). The other young lady in the photo is a mentee and the lad in the Hawaiian shirt is a former intern. I taught the other two the Tao of Time Out Coordinating.
Awesome read of the day…Keeping with the theme of making decisions…