Trying Not to Suck at Something

I’m not a good cook.

No, seriously. There are things in life I can face with no fear: volunteering to go first at karaoke, taking the last remaining spot in Zumba class (which happens to be right at the front), joining my kids in goofy running on a playground, and so on. Once I was on the way in to work and an entire tree of snow dumped on my head – goodbye, hairstyle. I laughed in the bathroom mirror and went to my desk ready to explain my hair throughout the day.

So I don’t balk at many things. I balk at cooking. Why? Because in the kitchen I’m a lot like this:

I wish I was exaggerating, but it’s a sore spot. I was lucky enough to marry a guy who is great in the kitchen, but the reality is that he can’t cook every meal – nor should he – and teetering between cheese quesadillas and Annie’s mac-n-cheese each night might be what the kids love, but it’s not what we need.

Facing a cooking task is tough for me because, while I feel fairly confident in many other things, I go into each trial expecting things to go badly. And they have; I have good friends and immediate family members who have choked down something I’ve made.

But dammit, I’m going to get this done. Would I rather not? You bet. Will I fail again? Duh. Am I going to keep at it?  (sigh)  Yes.

Which is why this morning I prepped up the slow cooker with all the fixings for chicken noodle soup. My outlook was bleak and I fully expected to come home to something either very burned or very awful. Instead, I just had to add a touch more salt and we were all able to dine on a tolerable-bordering-on-tasty helping of soup.

So now I feel a bit more like this.

For now. 🙂


What Happened to 2014?

Instead of sending out one of those “here’s what happened to us this year” Christmas letters, this makes way more sense to my sober brain at 11:33pm on December 31st.

In 2014:

  • I tried out bangs. They finally evolved into a reasonable state, but when I first had them done I felt like I was wearing a wig.
  • Both kids finally started attending the same school at the same time. This development caused me much rejoicing and a decrease in gas consumption from removing the constant treks to Littleton for daycare.
  • At work I received a promotion and rapidly began to work harder at any job than I have ever worked at before. My laptop bag began to get far more use, and my workplace organization went through at least a few reboots just to help me accommodate all of my new tasks.
  • I graduated college from my 20-year higher education plan with a BS in BS: Bachelor of Science in Communications. I totally have my tassel hanging from my Jeep’s rearview mirror to remind me to avoid going to more school (and more hours of reading, paper writing, and message boarding) at all costs.
  • I turned 40! How do I feel about this? AMAZING. I really and truly feel fulfilled at this stage in my life. I still have things to accomplish, but our family and my sense of accomplishment are both solidly intact and progressing right along.
  • I started cycling with a purpose. It all began on Bike to Work Day when I decided to get off my lazy ass and commute on two wheels to work and back (with my husband uttering cheers of support mixed with exclamations of “it’s about damn time”). Once I realized I wasn’t dead from the effort, I figured cycle-commuting was something I could conquer. Physically it was a great endeavor, and you wouldn’t believe how gorgeous the sunrise is over the Denver Tech Center.

That’s the somewhat-short and sweet breakdown of 2014. I’m really looking forward to 2015, though I have to admit I’m not sure if and how it can surpass this last year. Many I know have been through one hell of a ringer and want nothing more than to bury 2014 deep down, and my hope for them is for peace and being able to effectively bid adieu to this last year.

For my part, I’m ready for tomorrow to get here in roughly 3 minutes.

Why Holiday Movies Save the Holiday

I’ve noticed a trend with each holiday season which I’m not proud of: I start over-wanting.

Things are good, and I certainly have just about everything I need and most things I could ever want. So why do I feel my wheels spinning and turning fruitlessly in a muck of dissatisfaction?

Believe it or not, I think I’m overdue for some screen time with my holiday favorites to get out of my funk. Why? Because those classic, bittersweet, laugh-through-tears holiday flicks often remind me of two things: I’m glad for what I have, and I’m glad for what I don’t have.

Die Hard is one we watch each year (my husband’s self-declared favorite Christmas flick). No, really – as much as I pulled an extreme eyebrow raise when he first suggested his stance, I was ultimately convinced. It’s Christmas-time at Nakatomi Plaza when shit goes down for John McClaine, and we relish each and every line. We also consider that life could be far worse: my husband and I are happily married, which means he doesn’t have to worry about traveling across the country into a fish-out-of-water setting where he winds up battling terrorists with C4 and a machine gun (“ho, ho, ho”) while quipping his way through filthy air ducts. We’re able to laugh through the action and get nostalgic over the shoulder pads and hairstyles while appreciating how far we’ve come.

Love Actually is my favorite must-see of the season and I shall never be swayed from that trench. I love the diversity of the storylines and characters, watching them each experience highs and lows in their lives based on their own situations and dysfunction. Jamie wastes his love on a cheating hosebeast, but ultimately finds it again with Aurelia: you should see the looks my husband and I give each other as they repeat each other’s thoughts in different languages while falling in love. Watching Karen struggle with Harry’s flirtations and possible affair with his secretary brings both of us to quiet reflection (ok, I go straight to the tears while my husband rubs my shoulder) about how precarious a marriage and family can be through a series of fairly simple choices. Daniel and Sam? GAH. That’s my favorite story of all – though I think my husband digs Billy Mack and his producer Joe the best – because of the loss and gain both experience so vividly.

See? Even while I’m reliving these scenes of fiction in my mind, as fictional as they are, I’m carried out of my own ridiculous dissatisfaction and reminded of what there is to be thankful for… even if it IS just a movie we watch each December. We all have our thing(s) that help us reassess and recenter; this month, mine just happens to be a couple of movies. Yippee-kye-yay, because love actually is all around.

Can I Be a Female NFL Fan?

I’m at a crossroads with the NFL. ::waves to everyone else who is here or has been here::

I’m a woman.

I get steamed when I dwell on the fact that my husband could be doing my job for roughly 30 cents more per hour than I make because of his anatomy. I want politicians to drop their battle to legislate my choices about my body when, if they had to experience a menstrual cycle, they’d quickly mobilize to rectify anything necessary for their appeasement. I am frightened daily for my daughter who has a 1-in-5 chance of being sexually assaulted in her lifetime.

So yeah, I’m incensed that when it comes to abusing a woman, figures of prominence – specifically ones who bring mighty income into certain pockets – get a proverbial slap on the wrist. This last week the NFL “endured” (go ahead and take a moment to fume over that word choice) one of the worst weeks in its history with report after report of yet another player charged with violence.

For example, thanks to the NFL’s policy of punishment for certain offenses, Ray Rice initially received an irrelevant two-game suspension for knocking his fiance out in an elevator. It wasn’t until the video was released by TMZ that backpedaling began to reassure fans and the general public that the NFL began to back itself – and its commissioner Roger Goodell – into a corner of revamping punishments and appeasing the masses.

I’m a football fan.

This is where my roads cross. I really dig watching pro-football. I’ve watched it over the years with friends, cheering on our team, reacting to calls and plays – all the things that make watching football socially fun. Do I get into the finer details of plays and strategy? Nope. I leave that to my husband.

Which is another point with which I struggle. Watching football is something my husband and I do together. He chuckles at my quips about the awful NFL commentators; I react in awe to his uncanny ability to assess flagged calls aloud before the commentators can. We cheer on our team together and converse about it throughout the week as we hear updates and speculate on results.

An additional disclaimer to this is that I in no way am or have ever been abused by my husband or any other figure in my life. I enjoy an existence which is thankfully free from that level of degradation and harm. I know that is not a truth for millions of women across the globe. Therein lies my crossroads.

I’m a voice.

I need to decide what to do with this conflict. Many options are before me:

  • Do I stop watching football altogether because thus far it has prioritized money over humanity?
  • Do I abstain from involvement with fantasy football leagues to indicate my displeasure?
  • Do I continue to watch football games to selectively cheer on players or teams who haven’t compromised my beliefs as a woman in this society?
  • Do I up the stakes of my digital voice to keep the conversation about player violence alive after the hoopla assuredly dies down?
  • Do I keep reaffirming for my kids that abusing another human being can be glossed over based on certain circumstances/

These are just a few things to consider; there are certainly more. I don’t write this to get sympathy, since I deserve none. This is hardly as difficult of a crossroads as women encounter when they must face their abuser daily – even hourly – in full-on survival mode. Which is probably the most important consideration I can assess as I decide what to do.

Additives and Preservatives (the Human Kind)

Relax. I know hardly anything about nutrition except “too many carbs bad, organic good,” so that’s not where we’re going today. I’d rather talk about human nature once again and how two words which are negatives in the dietary realm can be desirable traits in the mortal coils we all occupy.

Summer tends to be a season overwhelmed by activity. You should see my Google calendars (all five of them), overlaying each other with color-coding and alerts so I can try to keep everything straight. There’s rarely a day now where something extra isn’t going on, or when I’m not feeling a bit stressed or spread a bit thin.

That said, I just had a solid week. Each day consisted of interactions with people who I feel very fortunate to have in my circles. Coworkers were dedicated, fun, and made the hours go by faster. Family members were supportive, fun, honest, and dramatic (you know where I get it!). Friends were patient, fun, dedicated, and open about their own successes and challenges.

In the wake of about 72 hours of constant interaction with these people, I realized what kind of wake I want to leave behind. I want my people to leave our interaction feeling that I just contributed something to their life. Whether that’s a new joke or insight, or possibly a feeling of warmth or reassurance – or even a slightly uncomfortable truth – that kind of additive is what I hope to permeate my people with.

Along the same vein, maintaining these relationships is a constant struggle. Remember the five Google calendars? I’m thinking of creating a sixth just for cultivation of relationships (or at least its own color code). While I have a fairly wide circle of influencers in my life, the net of closer, more vital connections is smaller. I hope to coalesce the former along adequately; I need the latter to thrive if I can help it. Thus I commit to being a preservative in my tighter circles with all the gusto I can muster.

See? Told you this had nothing to do with food. And if you’re feeling like I’ve been light on the additives and/or preservatives in our relationship…


(No, really, come at me. I’d love to hear from you!)

Feelings Are Very Feely

There are arguably a few constants in the universe in addition to death, taxes, and change. One from which none of us can escape, unless we decide to abscond to a deserted island, is interaction with that muddlesome factor of other human beings.

Coping or engaging with others is tiresome. To attempt any kind of adept navigation through the relationships which make each day complete, I often find myself making slight adjustments to my approach for each type of person. Do I lose myself in this? Not at all. But there are nuances to how I choose to engage with others based entirely on the situation, the person, my person, external factors, and so on.

I say all this because getting caught in this muck can be all too easy. As much as I might begin to vent to my innermost circle about a coworker, even engaging in that action can replicate the action I find so annoying in them. I can inwardly judge another for being irrational or hanging on to petty or temporary issues, but the longer I dwell upon it the more similarities develop between me and the person with whom I’m irked.

Here’s the thing:  I hate human muck. I think it can be fascinating to dissect and assess each person’s motivations, but I don’t want to get dragged down into the personal hell someone else has created for themselves which is all too ready to customize a sinkhole that fits me perfectly. And if I were to have any shot at all to help them claw their way out of their own muck, I need to be clear of it myself. (In this instance, I don’t think Leo was referring to situations like this when he talked to Josh Lyman about climbing down into a hole to help him out. It’s a great quote, but a human muck hole can get awfully crowded.)


How do I stay clear of my own human muck? Well, I laugh. A lot. I seek out humor in just about everything, even if it makes me the target. I get my solid share of feeling stressed or beat or targeted, but I look to the foundations of my life which are, like death/taxes/change/muck, unchanging. I seek God when I’m focusing too much on these temporary issues instead of the big picture He surely has designed. And I always recognize the very real truth that His mercies really are “new every morning.” As each day dawns anew, I gain a refreshed perspective on what lies ahead.

I’m so thankful for my proclivity to all things cheery. I hope I never lose that focus, and more so that I’m able to feed it to others. I realize not everyone can shake off mortal coils of muck as easily as I might. But maybe prayer on my part, as well as a little light shone their way, can clear away a little muck for everyone.

Two Years, Turkish

A lot can happen in two years. I’ll just confess right now I was not even remotely thinking of blogging about any of it. Sanity seemed a bit more precious.

So let’s pretend this is a very quick catch-up to bring us ’round to the present, mmm-kay?

Since my last blog post exactly two years ago, we lived with my mother-in-law. We got a cat and named him Scooter Bill (brainchild by me and my son). My husband stopped doing his side mechanic business to get more hours at the bicycle shop. I became disillusioned with my office administration job because the promise of future marketing duties vanished like a puff of smoke, right before the boss who had assured me of their possibilities vanished to her new job. My son took jiu jitsu at a place populated by bitchy moms. My daughter took dance classes and had a recital. We sold our rental house and bought an amazing house, just nine blocks south of our old house. (Enter the shit-eating grins once we had moved out from my MIL’s home.) I switched jobs to get a marketing title, even though it came with a huge commute and psychotically dysfunctional management. I decided to finish my bachelor’s degree with CSU Global. I switched jobs again, six months later, for a shorter commute and one of the most amazing work cultures I’ve ever experienced. And now, in about four days, I’ll finish the last assignment of my last online course to earn my degree.

We good? Now that I have more time and a little more motivation, I think I’ll be around here a bit more often. I also publish on LinkedIn, but that’ll be more of a professional tone. This? This is me. It’s really Rachel.

Engage as the Page

Time and time again I encourage social brand managers to put down the megaphone and use their brand’s page to engage – that is, to create and promote dialogue between the brand and its fans.

Thus far, Facebook and Google+ have allowed this feature. Even Pinterest joined the fray with their Pinterest for Business profiles. And now, true to their ever-progressive form, LinkedIn allows brand managers to post and engage as the Company Page. (Cue the heavenly choir and soft ethereal light from above… even though this feature is slowly being rolled out.)


Social media has gotten so much more brand-friendly over the past few years, and we digital marketers rejoice at each new embracing of the trend. In a realm where marketing job titles now sport terms like “community” and “relationship,” does it not make perfect sense to provide for companies to get as touchy-feely as any individual’s profile? Billboards are great for getting a message across, but they don’t do squat to generate a conversation.

If your brand hasn’t engaged as a page yet, there’s no time like the present to get started. Put down the megaphone, pick up some authentic tone and let the good times roll.
photo credit: mikeyp2000 via photopin cc

What Inspires Me: The Play on Words

Reality Bites circa 1994

Know How to Use Words.

There’s a reason Ethan Hawke’s character in Reality Bites elicited quite the fan base in myself and others of the Gen-X era. Sure, he was a slacker – jobless yet elitist – but the guy had a way with words. His impromptu phrase, “You have reached the winter of our discontent,” as he answered a phone call still stands out as an example of great wit and an appropriate play on words for his character.

The play on words just does it for me. I don’t care what your social status, educational level, title, or political persuasion is; if you can play on words like nobody’s business, you pretty much have my ear. If you’re that good, you may live in my brain’s creative reservoir until I shuffle off my mortal coil.

And let’s not trifle with the obvious… today you must be good with words. With so much communication from so many millions now engaging in an eternal online conversation where anyone has opportunity to bend anyone else’s ear, you must know words.

I dial back to yet another date-stamped cinematic example of why words are my inspiration. In the film With Honors, Joe Pesci’s character is a homeless man who leaves a lasting impression on four college students. As they are reading his self-written eulogy over his grave, he observes one thing about each of the four. The best one, in my humble opinion and regardless of the note not being about the main character, was directed to Patrick Dempsey’s character Everett Calloway, “who knows how to use words.”

I’ll take a footnote of that caliber on my tombstone, TYVM.

Are you inspired by those who know how to use words? Drop some names (& links!) below so we can all be inspired!

Be More. Be Bacon.

 What’s your bacon?

That is to say, what is something you know you can add to a good thing to suddenly make it over-the-top?

Bacon is and has been trending for what seems like ages in the social media sphere.  There are countless memes about bacon. There are normal products made using bacon imagery. Did you know there is even bacon-flavored vodka?

But enough about the food that is bacon. Let’s drill down on the concept of “being bacon”.

What if YOU were the additive that makes everything better?

In your workplace, your family, or even standing in line at the next shop you visit… your presence could, by small to larger degrees, improve the dynamic and experience going on around you.

“Being bacon” (or “being fill-in-your-blank“) doesn’t have to be about contributing your expertise or forcing an interjection.  It’s about seizing opportunities to make the world around you better.  You can authentically add to experiences and environments to leave them better off than they would have been without you.

photo credit: nerissa’s ring via photopin cc

What’s the payoff of “being bacon”?

Yes, I know you might well be wondering the id-focused question, “Fine, but what’s in it for me?” It’s OK to wonder, but this is where we enter the Shiny part of today’s post. You may not get an immediate or even postponed ROI on “being bacon”.

Here’s the big BUT though:  if you are consistently being bacon, people will notice. Your reputation will reflect your shine, and ultimately your presence will be sought after in your circles: professional and personal. Your ROI could be increased pay, promoted titles, more networking referrals, and even longevity at your job. Holiday meals with family might go smoother, your spouse and kids may be more responsive,  and your friends may ensure you’re on their invitation texts and Evites.

Oh, and one more payoff: if more people focused on “being bacon”, the world might have a real shot at being a better place overall.

Want to read about how bacon led to some epic publicity for a hotel? Check out my guest blog post on The TAB Blog for Business Owners.