Tea With The Queen!

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Join me for a fun and fabulous Holiday Tea in my home on December 10th. This is a fundraiser to support my Soroptomist Club. Please go here to reserve your spot! Space is limited!

Not only will you get to enjoy delicious home made goodies, and a signature drink, but you can finish your holiday shopping too!

“Dress for Less?” NO! Dress for FREE!

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Ladies listening to talk
The ladies being given the big list of “2 Rules” before shopping!

We hear a lot about dressing for less, sustainable fashion, thrifting and doing with less. How about dressing for free? Who wouldn’t love to dress for free?

A while back, when I was married to a financial IDIOT, there was absolutely no money left at the end of the month for buying clothes. Heck, there wasn’t even enough money to pay the bills, lets be honest! There I was, working as a Realtor, in the day where you wore a suit, heels and PANTYHOSE for work every day. To “be a success,” you had to dress in the “appropriate attire!” Great if there was money to do so. One can only rework your combinations of suits so many ways before you begin to look tired, and feel bored!

Woman in Chinese robe
Char got this AMAZING Chinese silk robe with embroidery at one of the swaps! The back has a huge stitched dragon on it! I was a bit jealous of this one!

A PLAN IS FORMED

I had had an idea kicking around in my head, but wasn’t sure how to do it, or if it would even work. I decided to try to put together a clothing swap, where a bunch of women got together and brought some of the stuff from their closet that they weren’t wearing. I didn’t have a big “structure” to it. No specific way for it to be done. I just wanted to get together for a fun evening, and hopefully everyone would find something fun to add to their wardrobe. At that time I had never heard of anyone doing it.

I’ll never forget the week I was having the first swap. My computer had crashed and wiped out my whole client data base. My phone had crashed and wiped out all of the phone numbers for friends, family and clients. I had 3 big escrows fall completely apart (all of the properties I had in escrow at the time I believe). I had WAY more bills to pay then there was money, in fact, it was probably one of the million times my ex had managed to overdraw our bank account by thousands of dollars……….

Not my best week, to say the least!

Char got this gorgeous LBD at one of the clothing swaps. Imagine the places you could wear this little number!
Stella in a classic white top and slacks she got at one of the recent swaps!

But, we had the clothing swap set. It was to take place at another woman’s much bigger home. I went, feeling about as low and depressed as I think I possibly could! We had a few dozen women, there was a lot of laughter, a few drinks, and FREE clothes to shop for! I remember coming home at the end of that party, with a huge stack of beautiful clothing- much of it with BRAND NEW TAGS on it! I couldn’t have felt more lifted up! It had been forever and a day since I had had anything new to wear. And here I was, with what seemed like a new WARDROBE! I remember one outfit- a turquoise top with a long golden India inspired skirt. The woman who had brought it to the swap said she’d only worn it once. I LOVED it! I had the perfect belt and jewelry at home. There was a Realtor’s event coming up at the race track, so I took a hat I owned, spray painted it bronze like the belt, added some flowers and turquoise trim and felt like a million dollars- all for the price of the paint and flowers!

My daughter KT with one of her finds! This dress looks GREAT on her for business functions!
My daughter KT with one of her finds! This dress looks GREAT on her for business functions!

AN ADDICTION IS SEEDED…

That was the beginning of two addictions- clothing swaps and dressing for little to no money, and still looking like a million dollars! Here I am- twelve years later, LONG away from that financial sucking marriage, in a position to spend whatever I want on clothes, but still LOVING “dressing on a dime!” It’s my passion!

It’s a rare day that I don’t get a number of compliments on what I’m wearing, and that I have gone into a clothing store and paid retail for ANYTHING I wear, other than undergarments and shoes.

Woman posing in dress
This fun and comfy little dress could go from casual to dinner, depending on the accessories you’d choose! Not bad for FREE!

COULD I spend more on my clothing? ABSOLUTELY! I’d rather spend my money on travel, adventure and nice restaurants. OK, I’ll admit, I’d rather have a $15.00 fancy-schmancy martini, than spend $150.00 on a dress. It is about priorities. There is no better money spent than on travel, in my opinion, and I’d rather travel more lavishly, and go looking great in an out fit I spent five dollars on!

Woman in black dress.
Karen found this great dress at one of our swaps! Imagine what you could do with it! Here she wore it to my Breakfast at Tiffany’s brunch. It would also make a great flapper dress, not to mention a fabulous LBD for a dinner date!

IT’S SIMPLE, NOT STRUCTURED!

People always ask me what the “formula” is for the clothing swaps. A question I get often is, “Do people get to take one item for every item they bring?” or “Do they put the value of an item and trade for similar costs?” OH HELL NO! Ain’t nobody got time for THAT! I’m not into all that structure!

Woman in robe
Char found this fabulous brocade robe, lined in terrycloth at one of the clothing swaps! So pretty and so cozy!

The way we do it is SIMPLE! I just put up a few clothing racks and make sure there is some table space cleared. As the women come in, they hang up clothes where they can pile folded things, and come into the kitchen for a little food (and a signature martini.) Everyone brings a little something to share.

I ask the women not to start “shopping” until it looks like most of the women are there and the clothes have been put out. That way everyone is on a pretty even playing field. I’ve only had that rule, and one other in the dozens and dozens of clothing swaps I have done.

Woman posing in outfit
I got the lime green jacket at one of the swaps, along with the necklace. Neither are something I would have bought, but I’ve worn both NUMEROUS times! The dress is a Ralph Lauren that I got with new tags ($138.00) at a resale store for about $10.00! It makes me think of a Monet painting! Not bad for a $10.00 outfit, huh? BTW- You can purchase this purse from my on line store!

The second rule had to be put out there after someone showed up with her daughter, and, unbeknownst to me, grabbed huge stacks of clothing and walked out the door stating they could get money selling them……SERIOUSLY? So now I give a little 1 minute talk before declaring it “shopping time.” My talk is basically, “Don’t be a piggy! Take a few items, try them on and then take a few more when you put the ones you don’t want back on the racks.” It’s pretty simple!

What typically happens is that women who may not even know each other grab something off a rack, hold it up and say to another woman, “This would look great on you! You should try it on!”

A happy clothing swap participant! You can see the melee’ in the background! Clothes and people EVERYWHERE!

When I have the swaps I have to send my man away for the evening. We have women in every nook and cranny of the house trying on clothes. Every surface is usually COVERED in clothing. One woman might find 10 items she loves. Another, only one. Often women bring in huge bags of clothing, and they tell us they don’t want to take anything home. They are purging!

At the end of every swap I have numerous black trash bags full of clothing that gets donated to a local women’s charity. If there are women at the event who have a charity they’d like to take some of the clothes to, they are more than welcome to grab them and donate them.

WHAT IS VIABLE TO BRING?

Woman in black dress
Char got this gorgeous LBD at one of the clothing swaps. Imagine the places you could wear this little number!

What gets brought to the clothes swap? Obviously women’s clothing, but we’ve had some gals clean out hubby’s closet and bring those clothes. Kids’ clothes too! Shoes, belts, jewelry, scarves, parkas…… anything you can think of. We’ve even had some really great household knick-knack stuff brought here and there, and it’s usually snapped right up!

Some of my FAVORITE clothes have come from these clothing swaps! I personally HATE to spend money on exercise clothes. I am not one to wear casual clothes much, and my exercise clothes get worn for one thing……. working out. I have gotten GREAT exercise leggings, tops, tennies, sports bras,,,,,,everything I need to go to the gym! It’s like a DOUBLE BONUS to me to get this stuff free. None of it is that attractive to me, so being able to go work out without spending money on that ugly stuff make me REALLY smile!

Stella and Patti in clothes from one of the swaps.
Stella and Me at one of the swaps, both wearing outfits we have gotten previously at a clothing swap.

There is definitely something about bringing items from your closet, and kind of “knowing” the person who ends up with it! It seems easier to part with those pieces of clothing that might have cost you a lot when you bought them! We’ve even had a mini “fashion show” a few times when I’ve asked women to come wearing something they got at a previous clothing swap! Women always get a kick seeing someone else wearing what they have brought!

Gerri, shopping outside at a clothing swap
Gerri shopping. We had so many clothes we had to move racks outside to fit everything!

It’d do great to bring items from your closet, and kind of “knowing” the person who ends up with it! It seems easier to part with those pieces of clothing that might have cost you a lot when you bought them! We’ve even had a mini “fashion show” a few times when I’ve asked women to come wearing something they got at a previous clothing swap! Women always get a kick seeing someone else wearing what they have brought!

People ask if there are “fights” over the clothes. I won’t lie. There have been times for all of us where someone else spotted something we would have loved to have. But, it’s all in good clean fun. Many times two gals have had their eye on something, and one kindly says to the other, “You take it. It’s going to look better on you!” Stella and I both grabbed for the same pearl and rhinestone “statement necklace” one time, so we decided to have shared custody of it. We pass it back and forth as desired!

All in all, my clothing swaps are a hit. I’ve only been to one other than the ones I put on. I loved it. I’m a bit confused as to how I got there, however. I got an invitation through Facebook. I didn’t recognize the names of the gals putting it on, but I figured one of them probably had come to one of mine as a guest of a friend and decided to reciprocate. I went. They didn’t know me and couldn’t figure out how I had been invited. I didn’t know them. It didn’t matter, because I ended up with a boatload of great clothes!

Woman with a martini
I don’t know if Ohla found any new clothes, but she definitely found the martinis!

If you haven’t tried doing a clothing swap, do it! It’s a great way to weed out the dead wood in your closet and to get some fun new garments. At the very least, it’s a great excuse for a girls night out!

Picture of martinis
We can’t just shop! There are always martinis and food involved too! This time they had 2 different martini choices!

If you haven’t been following me on Instagram, I invite you to do so. @TheQueenofDarnNearEverything. I often post my “dressing on a dime” outfits, which come either from clothing swaps, thrift stores or plain ol’ hand me downs! It’s a fun way to see how you can dress on almost no money!

October is Breast Cancer RESOURCE Month!

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When dealing with cancer, giving up is NOT an option!

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

October has come to be known throughout our country as “breast cancer awareness month.” Someone asked me the other day, “What the hell does that mean?” We are all pretty aware that breast cancer is rampant. I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been touched by it in a profound way, or is unaware it exists. Everyone seems to have a sister who had it, a friend who is dealing with it, a friend’s parent who died from it, or the neighbor who is suffering from it- most of us have a number of people we know who have been through it, if it hasn’t hit us personally.

People who aren’t too close to it may not realize how financially devastating dealing with cancer can be. Some think that everything is covered by insurance- so what’s the big deal? However, many things aren’t covered at all. Some only partially. My good friend thought she had a great insurance policy, until she got cancer. Then she realized that “outpatient” procedures weren’t covered. Chemotherapy and radiation are outpatient procedures. She had bills in the tens of thousands in a matter of one treatment round. (She has been getting treatment now- every 3 weeks for over 6 years…… add that one up!)

Then there are the treatments. There is a biopsy. Then possible mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. None of the 3 are a walk in the park. A combination of them is a very tough nut to crack. The way one person’s body reacts is completely different than how another’s reacts. No one knows what to expect until they go through it. And while they are going through it, day-to-day life goes on. After the actual treatment there may be reconstructive surgeries. More recovery. More missed work and downtime to deal with, not to mention the pain!

Can we also consider it Breast Cancer RESOURCE Month?

AVOID STRESS

Then….. there is the stress. Stress of the unknown. Stress about how to continue working, taking care of a family and paying your bills. Stress over the fact that the treatment your doctor would REALLY like to see you have isn’t covered by your insurance plan. Stress about how you look, how you feel, if you will recover. Stress about whether the treatments are working, will continue to work, and if they will completely cure the cancer, or if it will morph to another area of your body, or if it will show up in another form. Once you are considered “cured”- stress over the tests years later to make sure you are still clear of cancer.

The stress is ironic, because what’s the first thing EVERY doctor tells you? AVOID STRESS! Sure doc, that’s just what the little ladies facing their breasts being cut up, throwing up from chemo, and being burned by radiation are going to do. They are going to AVOID STRESS! That’s a great piece of advice.

I could describe the journey of woman after woman. Many who I know personally. My longest-time friend, Linda has been battling cancer for over 6 years. My sister went through it 5 years ago. Two different wonderful women I know through business networking groups we were in years ago recently went through it. A friend I know from dancing is going through the battle right now. Every one has had a different journey, every one has had a different treatment, everyone has had a different attitude.

Instead of those stories, I decided to share some resources that I am aware of that help women going through breast cancer. A few are national and some are local to Southern California. (If we have something here, there is likely something like it near you too. )

SHADES OF PINK CALIFORNIA

Shades of Pink California  board of directors
Shades of Pink California board of directors

Shades of Pink California is an amazing resource for women here in the San Diego area. (There is also another Shades of Pink in Michigan, which our local group was modeled after.)

What they do is to provide $2,000 grants to women going through active breast cancer to help with unexpected financial challenges. Potential grantees are referred to the organization by oncology nurses and nurse advocates at local San Diego area hospitals. About 90% of the grants are used to pay rent. Almost all grants are awarded within 48 hours of the application, quickly easing a bit of the stress the women are dealing with.

Local Encinitas resident Vembra Holnagel currently heads up the 6 year old foundation which she helped to put together with her daughter and a few other friends. I know Vembra to be a “giver” since WAYYYYY back. We worked on fundraisers together when our children were in grade school. She hasn’t changed. She continues to make our community a better place for those in it!

Shades of pink tee shirt
Shades of pink tee shirt

Stories about the women they have impacted, or how to donate to this small, but powerful organization can be found on their website. This is an article that the Union Tribune recently published about Shades of Pink California.

CLEANING FOR A REASON

This is the best thing EVER! In fact, it is what originally got me thinking about doing this article. Cleaning for a Reason is nationwide with 547 partner companies donating their cleaning services. If a woman is undergoing chemotherapy they provide FREE housecleaning once per month for 4 months!

How amazing is THAT? All she has to do is sign up and have her doctor give them a note confirming the treatment.

As women, when our house is out of order it adds to our stress. When you are ill, the last thing you want to do is clean your home, and adding a paid house-cleaner would just add to the financial burden already mounting up. I have to give Kudos to whoever came up with this idea, and God bless the companies that participate! Pass the word on this one to someone you know who might be able to use the help. I’m sure that if you felt so moved, you could also donate to this great cause!

CHEMOCARS

Have you ever thought about the logistics of someone getting to and from chemotherapy and radiation treatments? Sure, many may have a spouse, friend or loved one who can pitch in and help them. But what about those who don’t? What about people who aren’t well enough to drive, or don’t own a car?

A young man named Zah Bolster, living in the Charlotte area saw the need firsthand when he took his own mother to her treatments. He came up with an ingenious plan, and partnered with Lyft and Uber to provide special ultra low rates to transport patients. So far, ChemoCars is only in the Charlotte area, but he hopes to expand the service to help other patients throughout the country.

BE WELL

Yoga is known to be a stress reliever, and Be Well offers Yoga for those working through cancer, those in recovery and their caretakers. Classes focus on using the breath as a vehicle to cleanse the body and calm the mind, building strength, improving balance, increasing flexibility, improving the body’s immune system, and creating a state of deep relaxation to help promote self-healing. Classes are offered throughout San Diego and Riverside counties. Their website also lists a number of resources that I have not covered in this article! Be sure to check out their fabulous list

TATTOOBIE

Alissa Leahi is a cancer surTHRIVor. At 39, still reeling from the breakup of her marriage and with 2 small daughters she found out she had breast cancer. Her first surgery removed all breast and nipple tissue. It was followed by other surgeries and chemotherapy.

Alissa’s attitude throughout was pretty amazing. Her mom brought up the idea of masectomy tattoo art. It was a new idea to Alissa, who had never heard of it. However, there was one problem. Alissa couldn’t decide on just one piece of art to live with permanently. So, she came up with the idea of Tattoobies- temporary tattoos designed especially for women with breast reconstruction following mastectomy. These beautiful temporary tattoos help women to feel beautiful and in charge of their body and body image. I love their tagline, “Tattoobie is on a mission to reconnect every woman with her inner artist, warrior, and exhibitionist through playful sensuality and bold self-celebration.”

For every set of Tattoobies sold, one is donated to a woman going through cancer. Isn’t that impressive? Go to their site, and tell a woman who can benefit from Tattoobies to visit too!  

SUSAN G. KOMEN

The Susan G. Komen foundation is best known for the big “3 Day Breast Cancer Walk.” It was suggested to me that I might connect with them to see what they offer. The link here goes to the San Diego area, however, I’m sure you can find them anywhere. When I went to their link, services include care coordination, food assistance, financial resources, healthcare assistance, support groups, transportation assistance and more. They seem to be very well rounded in the services and help they can provide to women dealing with this beast!

I saw this tee shirt and just had to put it in this post.
You can get it here.

THE CARE PROJECT

The CARE Project Inc., is a non-profit organization created by a breast cancer survivor to emotionally and financially support male and female breast cancer patients. Located in The Inland Empire in Southern California, they give one time grants for utility bills, rental assistance, gift cards for groceries and household items, Chemo “CARE” packages and more. The even have a Prom Project, where they will help a teen of a patient get to prom by sponsoring all their prom expenses!

Their website also lists a number of fabulous resources to be found in their area.

SEXY SURVIVORS

What an amazing group! This organization doesn’t just help cancer patients, but also veterans who have been through trauma. The founders knew that body-confidence and relationships deteriorate during treatment and surgeries. This effects both the survivor, their partner, and the family. The patient often isn’t given the tools and resources to deal with the changes in their bodies, the reaction of others, and the way this will effect intimate relationships. Check out their website to learn more!

SUPPORT GROUPS

My mother went through cancer over 40 years ago. Back then there was a national support group called Make Today Count, which was for people with long term or life threatening illnesses and their families. My mother and I attended regularly, and my sisters were also involved. Having other people who were going through, or HAD gone through similar experiences helped us more than I can say.

I don’t know that Make Today Count even exists today, but many hospitals, hospice organizations and cancer organizations offer support groups. Google your area and you will see what is available.

Keep in mind, each and every one of this type of group will have a different “personality.” Depending on who is leading the group, what the organization over the group is, and the particular attendees, they will all feel very different. If one doesn’t seem to be a fit for you, try another. Just like every Zumba class you attend will have totally different songs, energy and passion, so will a support group! Make sure the one you choose “dances” to your beat!

In sharing these resources, I obviously haven’t even put one drop into an ocean the size of the Pacific. However, if one of these resources can be of help to even one woman that is reading this, or one woman that you know, or I know, it’s worth having written it.

KEEP ‘EM HEALTHY!

Meanwhile, ladies- do what you can for breast health. Many of you do mammography. I personally don’t do that any more. I believe that the crushing of my breast, which have implants, along with the radiation is a bigger risk than it’s worth.

If you wonder what “the girls” look like with thermography, these are mine last year.

Personally, I use thermography– which is said to find breast cancer 6-8 YEARS before it will be found on a mammogram, and I do breast ultrasound. Many insurances won’t cover these procedures, but whether they would be covered or not, I feel it’s worth it to keep my breasts healthy, happy, unradiated and unsmooched!

I am by no means giving medical advise, I’m just sharing what I believe and what I do to know my boobies are safe. My sister went through breast cancer about 5 years ago, and should anything ever decide to take up residence in my girls…….. I want to know as far ahead as possible!

So, as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel says, “Tits Up!”

.

Coach or Con?

Raves & Rotten Reviews, Royal Ramblings!, Serious Shit, Uncategorized, work

Patti recently at a "branding seminar."

Patti recently at a “branding seminar.” Do I appear to be GRIMACING?????

Motivation Moment Momma

I love to learn and feel that we can always pick up new ideas and skills, and build upon those we already have. Being a former Toastmaster, I love hearing a good speaker, and watching a powerful presenter on state.  That being said, I have attended various “motivational” type of seminars for years.  I’ve been to many of them— the “Success Seminars” that used to come around yearly In our area, Tony Robbins and many others.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that when you get an invitation to a “free” all day seminar, you are going to be upsold.  I get that.  I’ve bought various training CD’s over the years, and have worked with Real Estate coaches through the Tom Ferry company.  I know that people putting on seminars are there to make money.

However, an experience that I recently had with one of these “gurus” left me a bit unsettled.  No, I’m lying when I say that. It left me irritated, angry and outraged, if the truth be told.  Recently, I received an invitation to a one day “branding” seminar in San Diego.  On the advertisement for the day you see a number of celebrity’s faces, making you think that they will be a part of the event.  Instead, when I arrived at the said address, it turned out to be a small Marriott hotel in Mission Valley, and the meeting was being held in a small ballroom.

The woman who greeted participants upon arrival wasn’t the most cheerful or friendly person I’ve ever met, but by the end of the day I understood why that might well be. They advertise that registration started at 8, the event at 9.  Not knowing what morning traffic might be like, I always like to leave a bit of extra time.  I got there about 8:20, and was tersely informed that the doors would open at 8:50. That was interesting, because the lobby had about 4 chairs, all occupied.  There is nothing better than standing around in your heels for 30 minutes. I found it interesting that you not only had to show your ticket for this small event, but had to prove it was you with a state issued ID.  Did they think that ticket scalpers were copying and  selling tickets to this FREE  event in some seedy back alleys of San Diego? It was seriously an unneeded step to the “checking in” process. She was sitting there with her laptop, after all, and this wasn’t a 20,000 person amphitheater..

The meeting room was set up for about 80-100 people, not a surging mass of humanity, by any means.  The morning was started out by two different speakers. One of them was far more polished than the other, but they both gave some interesting information.  Then, speaker number 2, a man named Reggie got us prepared for his “boss”- a person I will call “The Wolf.” You may ask why I would refer to him as “The Wolf” rather than his real name?  I have been told by people I know in the industry that if you refer to this clown by name, he will, in no short term have his lawyers  all over you like flies on shit.  So, I won’t be referring to this guy by name, but his name is actually an animal VERY close to a wolf…..

I had no idea that “The Wolf”  was the man behind the event when I signed up, but I’ll be honest….. I didn’t have any idea who he was anyway.

“The Wolf” is about 36 years old, and took command of the small group of people.  He began to share about his big event that he puts on, which is going to be in Anaheim Nov 20-24th.  Initially I was interested.  He told how he works with a number of celebrities and has them talk at the event.  Rudy Giuliani, Silvester Stallone, Arnold Swarzenager………. On and on went the list  went.  “The Wolf” told us about his event, how he got where he was, etc. He even admitted that he pays the celebrities a HUGE amount of money to be there, so that he is a success “by association”... a step he teaches at the one day seminar.

I was still neutral about him by the time we broke for lunch.  I thought he was arrogant, but probably had some valuable information I could learn from.  I admit, I purchased his  $250 program where you could listen to all of his training programs.  Again, I believe we all can learn and improve.

One part of the morning that I wasn’t uber impressed with was how he talked about the fact that Southern California just didn’t bring out the number of people it should for his type of training.  Especially San Diego.  He went on and on about how people come to his big event from 80 plus countries, but people from our area don’t show up.  Sorry buddy, this isn’t my fault. Quit complaining to us about it!

The Bully in the Room

Soon after lunch, “The Wolf”  asked us who owned their own businesses, and might like to come up in front of the room.  Many in the room raised their hands, and he called 4 of us up.  He put 2 on each side of the room, a male and a female.  He started on the other side of the room, looked at the young man over there and said something about how he can read people and their body language, and this was the man in a nutshell….. things like scattered, not enough focus, no systems, no help…. Blah, blah. Things that probably cover about 90% of entrepreneurs- especially in the age of those under 40. He then asked the young man what he did for business, and I was a little shocked when his “coaching” immediately seemed like he was demeaning and putting him down. There was nothing in his manner that was kind, helpful or positive.

Then he spoke to the first woman. He threw out a number of her “character traits”- many of them the same as the young man, but also added, “Your hair hurts you, but no one will tell you.”  She had a hairstyle with some braids and mahogany color at the front. Then he asked what she did, and she told him. She mentioned what he had to say about her hair, and said, “I just went through breast cancer and…..” But before she could even finish her sentence he interrupted with “That is just another excuse. I don’t want to hear your excuses and how you are a victim.  I have had many clients with stage 4 cancer and they just keep quiet about it.  No one likes a crybaby.”  I was appalled and shocked that anyone would be so insensitive or rude.\

Agree……… Or Forever Hold Your Peace……

When anyone from the audience had anything positive to say about someone in the front, he turned to them and lambasted them. “You are enabling her to have an excuse.”  “I don’t care if you like her hair.” “You are as bad as her.” Blah, blah.  Soon, people knew they were going to be singled out, and few were willing to speak up, unless they were showing agreement with him.

Then he got to the young man next to me. He and I had exchanged names.  His name was Ryan.  “The Wolf”  was absolutely brutal to him. Ryan said he coached people on how to sell over the phone.   When he said the list of character traits he felt that Ryan couldn’t sell at all.  He called him a fraud.  He had a word that he used frequently, calling Ryan a “fugazi.” This is “The Wolf’s” word for being a fraud, or an imposter.  (I have no idea how this is spelled, or if the word actually exists, so I’m spelling it like the theater in San Francisco.)

Then he came to me, told me my list of traits and asked what I thought. Again, many were what can be said about many entrepreneurs— scattered, doing too much, no focus,  etc.  But one thing he said didn’t ring true at all, and I told him. He said that I struggled financially. I said that he may be correct on some things, but not the financial part.  I told him “I’m not a multimillionaire like you are (because that is his claim), but I live a very comfortable life.  He then asked what I did. I told him I’ve been in Real Estate for years, but I’m moving out of it to pursue some other interests I love.  He asked what I made in real estate, and I responded that I have earned 6 figures for many years.  “What do you mean by that?  Like what? How much?”

To begin with, I think that’s totally inappropriate to put me in that position in front of an audience of people.  It’s not their business. I responded that my income had been about 125k-175K most years.  He asked what I am doing now, and I said Comedy. Although I am doing a number of other things, I figured that was the simplest thing to say at the time.  He then turns to the audience and says, “Does anyone believe this woman? Does anything she is saying ring true?  Why would she walk away from real estate if she was making that kind of money to go to Comedy, which doesn’t pay anything? She is a lyer.”  On and on he went berating me, and calling me names, just as he’d done with Ryan. I was so rattled up front by the time I sat down that I could hardly put together a normal sentence, I have to be honest.  I must have looked like a complete fool!  (If you know me, you know I don’t rattle easily!)

I’m sorry, but this is not coaching. This is bullying, straight out. Coaching helps people, it doesn’t try to destroy them.  We sat down, and then he still went on about us.  He asked people in the audience to tell him why they think I am “not truthful.”  One woman stated that it was because I referred to him as “honey” when I was up there.  Believe me, me calling him honey was FAR better than what I would have loved to call him at that point.

He then went on, referring to all of us who had been up there in derogatory ways.

“Crowd Think”….In Action is FRIGHTENING!

Then it got even more interesting.  He asked the audience who liked him BETTER now that they had seen him in action, some raided their hands.  He asked it again, because he obviously didn’t get quite the positive response he wanted, then as he looked around more raised their hands.  He asked how many still felt the same as before, and a few did. Then he asked who liked him less.  I was the only one to raise my hand.  He acted stunned that I would have had the nerve to raise my hand, and asked me why I felt that way.  I told him I thought he was a total dick the way he spoke to, and about people. I may also have said that if I was his mother I’d be ashamed of him! Of course that was turned around to me being “an angry woman.”

What was amazing about the number of people who raised their hands to each question was that it seemed to really be an example of  “group think”.  For the first time in my life I understood how it could come to be that people like Hitler get others to follow a jaded way of thinking.  People don’t want to stand out, they don’t want to be singled out. They want to go along with protocol. They hope to “fit in” and be accepted.  It was really frightening. I immediately knew in my heart-of-hearts that all of these people could not POSSIBLY think that what he did, what he said and his treatment of us up front was A-OK!

The way he treated others was by no means OK…….

After his demonstration up front,  had his woman assistant pass out some papers, face down, which were to try and sell us his coaching package.  It was evident when we “were allowed” to look at the paper, that the printer was obviously running out of toner when they had been copied.  When he saw it, he went ballistic on his staff member. I was appalled that he would call her out and say the things he said in front of a room of people.  That’s when I understood why she was so stressed out in the morning when we were doing check in.  I can only IMAGINE  what this nut job must be like to work for. A leader doesn’t rip apart an employee in front of a group of people.  He sits you down, face to face afterwards and discusses how to do it better the next time around.

Then it was time for a break so they could “interview” those who were willing to spend the big bucks for coaching (so they could determine if they were worthy of being coached by “The Wolf”) At the break, Ryan walked by and said he was leaving, we’d be in touch.

When we came back from the break and “The Wolf” saw that Ryan had left he began to call him names again, once again making big use of the word “fugazi.”  He then proceeded to tell the audience that he KNEW Ryan wouldn’t be back.  He kept bringing him up throughout the afternoon, putting him down the whole time.  He then went on to say that Ryan would probably post something negative about him on Social media, but if he did, “The Wolf”  would turn his lawyers on him and get whatever little money the guy had.  SERIOUSLY? If someone makes a bad comment about you, and what a complete douchbag you are, you are going to have your lawyers handle it?  That just shows that this guy has some serious issues.

Julia Roberts…. He’s Not Your Friend!

He showed a number of pictures and videos of him with various celebrities. I was surprised when he showed a photo of him with Julia Roberts.  She is wearing glasses in the picture, and looks like a “regular person” rather than the glamorous woman we are used to seeing in the movies. Next to the picture he showed an ad she’s in for Lancome, and in a condescending tone said something to the effect that she should use those cosmetics all the time, so she didn’t look like she did in the picture with him. He went on to say how awful she had looked “in real life.” What a jerk!

Like Ryan, I had been tempted to leave at the break too, but didn’t for two reasons.  I didn’t want to give someone like him the satisfaction that he had “won” or “broke me.”  I also knew his personality enough to know that he would talk crap about me to make himself feel better. And, by now, I wanted to see just how big of a jerk this guy was, and how the audience would respond to him the rest of the afternoon.

Narcissistic Disorder Poster Boy

“The Wolf”  spent a good part of the day telling and showing us with pictures, just how very, very wealthy and successful he is. He also made a big deal about telling us how much he gives to charity, and showed us pictures with orphans, etc.

If you aren’t familiar with Narcissistic Disorder, “The Wolf” could be their new poster boy! He is as charismatic as they come, but his true colors bleed through quickly, and brilliantly.

His “coaching” is interesting.  We were OH SO LUCKY to begin with, because his claim was that he wasn’t due to be there that day. He only came at the last minute because one of his trainers couldn’t make it, and he’s a guy who “does the right thing.” Sure, I believed him.  I believed him just like I believe the tooth fairy will show up in the bedrooms of every child who loses a tooth today. Right after telling us how he filled in at the last minute in San Diego, he was mentioning how VERY busy his schedule is, and popped up a list of his many events coming up over the next few months.  Weird that San Diego was listed on that list, for September 15th, when he wasn’t scheduled to be there.

Late afternoon, another one of his staff members (I think his name was Myron) was doing a segment, giving us “30 Ways to Succeed” or something similar. one of the steps said something like “Be like The Wolf.”  As he started to explain what was meant by that, “The Wolf” butted in and told him he didn’t know what he was doing, that’s not what was meant by that, then proceeded to publicly humiliate him in front of the audience.  He asked if he’d “listened to the tapes.” And he said no. “Why not?” Myron replied that he’d requested the tape, but had never gotten it. “How many times did you ask for it?”  Myron said five times.  “From who?  I highly doubt that.  And why didn’t you ask me?  I’m right here.  Well, on our ride up to Orange County we’ll have 90 minutes in the car, and believe me, we will be discussing this the WHOLE way.” This wasn’t the end of it.  Oh no. “The Wolf”  brought it up a few more times, letting Myron know he was in big trouble.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  You could see his staff member clenching his jaw and red faced with embarrassment.  WHO CLAIMS TO BE A SUCCESS, A MENTOR, A COACH and treats people like this?  And how do people think it’s OK for him to get away with it?

We were pretty darned lucky though, because we were getting “the best deal” he has EVER given on his coaching programs! Geez, it pays to be in the right place at the right time! If you are wondering, we could get $100,000. Worth of coaching for only $4997 (if you didn’t finance it. If financed it comes up to $5997,  and— wait for this $7 MILLION worth of coaching for only $19,997! Such a steal! And what do you get for that?  For the “big bucks” he puts you up on stage at his big event, (but shhhhhhhh……. Don’t tell anyone if you’ve never spoken before, because the millionaires in his audience don’t want to know that he’s put an inexperienced person up there for them to listen to!) After that, you will then be recruited to speak around the world! WHAM! It’s just that easy-peasy!

In the time after the afternoon break, it was brought up a NUMBER OF TIMES, by “The Wolf” and by his other trainers that we should take the training, no matter how little money we had. That should come first above everything…..

After the event, a few interesting things happened.  About 10 people from the audience came up and told me that they were impressed with how I handled myself up front, with him being such a (bully, jerk, a—hole…).  I thought it was interesting that they would seek me out, yet none had had the nerve to raise their hand to say they didn’t like him (back to the crowd-think mentality I mentioned earlier)

Why Work for a Bully?

I went up to Myron and asked him how in the world he could work for someone who publicly humiliated him, Myron’s response was “He is making me into a better person.”  OK Myron.  Line up in the corner with the women who take the blame for their husband beating them.  You’ve got a lot in common buddy.  Someone asked Myron for his card when I was standing there, and he responded that he isn’t important enough to have a card! YIKES, grow a pair Myron, or that beautiful wife you kept mentioning might just find herself a man.

Last, and this one was just plain weird……. A lady I hadn’t even noticed all day walked up to me and said, “I wonder if you can help me.”  I asked how, and she said, “Can you help me by paying for me to take “The Wolf’s” training?  You know, the last one he talked about.”  WTF?????? This woman must have thought  I was REALLY some sort of special stupid! She was asking me to pay $20,000 for this guy’s coaching!

“The Wolf’s” big event, should you be compelled to take it, is up in Anaheim the third week of November, with a “bonus day” should the other 5 days not be enough for you. Make sure not to buy any holiday gifts this year, so you can keep those bank accounts full to take the “big coaching” package. Due to all of the millionaires “The Wolf” is expecting in this crowd, I’ll bet you’ll have to be springing for the whole 100 G’s on the package when you are up there.

Check out this link for an interesting article someone sent me about someone similar to the person this article is about!   Sometimes, a scammer is just a scammer!

BTW- I just got back from an AMAZING 3 day event put on by Brendon Burchard, and the experience couldn’t have been any further from this one!  Every one of his speakers were positive, caring, had integrity and were heart centered! If you are going to go to a seminar to improve your business, go to one of Brendon’s! Don’t give The Wolf your money!

On Being A Surrogate Mom

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Amanda and Xavier

Surrogate mom Amanda and Xavier- Olivia’s dad

Amanda

I’ve known this bubbly, fun and vivacious woman for a few years through one of my networking organizations I attend.  When she attended one of my recent comedy shows I was amazed, when, in passing conversation she mentioned “when I was a surrogate…….”  A surrogate mom? Yep, a surrogate mom!

I will admit, I was intrigued.  All we tend to hear about surrogate moms, and the surrogate situation typically are the “horror stories” that make the news. A mom goes to court to retrieve her child, months or years after a family has lovingly raised the child as their own.  The story of a couple who refuses a baby they have had a surrogate carry, because it wasn’t “perfect.”  Any number of tragic stories have made headlines over the years, and we have all seen them played out, often with a tragic ending for a number of the people involved.

I always wondered who would choose to be a surrogate.  And why.

So, when Amanda mentioned she had been a surrogate I was intrigued!  I asked if she would consider an interview for my blog. And…… of course, she readily agreed!

Tell Me Your Story…

I asked. She answered. And now I know just about every damned thing there is to know about being a surrogate. (Or at least more than a darned lot of people know!)  Or maybe not, because I’m really not smart enough to have thought of all the questions I should have asked.  That being said……… I’m happy to tell you what I WAS smart enough to ask, and if you think up 2,569 other questions, pose them to me, and I’ll bet, sure as shit, Amanda will be happy to answer them for all of us! ‘Cause that’s just the kind of person she is!

The first burning question I had for Amanda was, “What in the world made you decided to become a surrogate?”  She explained that she had done quite a bit of volunteer and charity work throughout her life, and while a lot of it was great, the impact that was made felt very temporary.  You feed someone a meal, and in a few hours they are hungry again.  You give a homeless person a blanket, they are a bit warmer, but their homelessness isn’t necessarily solved.

But, she explained, “I wanted to change someone’s life, and nothing changes your life more than having and raising a child.” How flippin’ profound is that? (Don’t let anyone say that Amanda is just another pretty face!  Hell no, she is PROFOUND!)

Since I knew that Amanda has a husband and 3 children of her own- I of course wondered how the decision to become a surrogate affected her family. She said that her husband felt that the decision was totally hers, and he was very supportive of it. Her twin boys were almost 3 at the time- and really didn’t even seem to notice.  Her daughter, Kylie, however was 5 and felt that most the people they came in contact with should know, loud and clear, that her mommy was having a baby, but it wasn’t theirs!  THAT got a lot of different reactions, as you can well imagine!

Surrogate mom Amanda with Olivia

Surrogate mom Amanda with Olivia

Traditional Surrogacy vs. Gestational Surrogacy

Talking about the details of how being a surrogate works would make your head spin! Details you would have NO IDEA about, would take a novel to spell out.  The first decision is whether to be a “traditional” surrogate, meaning your own eggs are used, or being a “gestational” surrogate.  In this case, an egg “donor” supplies the egg, and you carry the baby to term.  Gestational surrogacy is the type that Amanda chose, because, as she said, she “just couldn’t imagine her own child walking around out there, without any involvement or communication.” She described herself as kind of “being the oven” until things were finished out!

Typically, surrogates go through an agency, and the agency makes sure that all the legalities are being followed and everyone is doing what needs to be done in the proper manner. There are a number of “rules” you must follow to become a surrogate.  One that REALLY surprised me is that you must have already given birth. I had no idea that was a rule! I pictured a perfect surrogate being a young, single woman! But nope!  And, if you are married, the husband must be willing to support you being a surrogate. That one makes sense to me! It’s hard to show up at the company Christmas party with a VERY expectant wife, and tell everyone from the office the child isn’t yours— if you aren’t FULLY on board with the whole concept!

So, once you get past all of the complicated laws, rules, procedures and paperwork, it’s time to move forward and start the process.

Andrew, Amanda and Xavier. You can see the bond between them in this picture!

Andrew, Amanda and Xavier. You can see the bond between them in this picture!

Who Makes the Choice?

Amanda told me that as a surrogate, you can be as specific as you want as to what parents you choose to work with.  You could decide to only accept a “traditional” married couple. Or a single mom. A single dad.  A specific race. If you only wanted to work with a family that had certain religious beliefs, you could choose specifically by that criteria. As the surrogate mother, you can completely decide what criteria is important to YOU.  Whatever YOUR criteria is, that is the only IP (Intended Parents) the agency would match you up with. And the same goes to the Intended Parents and their choice of a surrogate.

Amanda said she didn’t care about most of the criteria I mentioned above.  Her biggest concern was that the adopting parent or parents be someone who was open to maintaining communication throughout the pregnancy and after the birth. She wanted the Intended Parents to be involved.  One of the first people the agency suggested to her was a single IP in Hong Kong.  Amanda knew that it would be realistically impossible for him to be at any regular Dr. appointments, possibly miss the birth of the baby and the time difference would make communication difficult overall, so she turned down the match.  When the agency contacted her and let her know they had a gay couple in Manhattan who wanted to be involved with the surrogate throughout the pregnancy, and were open to keeping in contact after the birth, Amanda knew she had found the perfect match.

The proud dads-to-be with Amanda during her pregnancy.

The proud dads-to-be with Amanda during her pregnancy.

A “Match Made in Heaven!”

Amanda said that the intended parents, Xavier and Andrew flew all the way out from New York for their “in person Match Meeting” and everyone immediately felt like they had know each other forever.  They all hit it off immediately, and became instant friends.

Her “matching” family had already chosen an egg donor.  Amanda explained to me that getting two women and their “cycles” matched up is really complicated. There are drugs involved for the both the surrogate and the donor which really mess with your hormones, and can give you symptoms of PMS to the EXTREME! Something I didn’t know was the IVF drugs don’t stop once the egg is implanted.  You must continue using them through the first trimester of the pregnancy. Needless to say, ladies, if you had extreme PMS type symptoms for months on end, your husband would have to be a SAINT to be supportive of the decision!

Once the two women involved (in a gestational surrogacy) have their cycles lined up, they must rendezvous in the same location, so that the egg can be implanted into the surrogate. Amanda explained to me that the implanting of the egg isn’t exactly the most delightful procedure.

In Amanda’s case, there were 16 eggs extracted from the egg donor and fertilized, 5 of which progressed into healthy embryos. When it was time for transfer, 2 of the embryos were implanted and the remaining 3 were frozen for future possibilities.

Baby on Board!

Although Xavier and Andrew were not in California for the transfer, they all kept in constant contact throughout the pregnancy. They flew out for both the “confirmation of pregnancy” (an ultrasound to verify implantation and growth) and the 20 week anatomy ultrasound, where they confirmed the baby’s gender with 3d images! At 37 weeks and 6 days, Amanda went into labor and Xavier and Andrew hopped on a plane! Because labor was a bit of an early surprise, Xavier and Andrew missed the birth, but got to party on the plane with Amanda and Neil’s delivery room updates, and they arrived at the hospital just a few hours later!

The lovely little girl that Amanda helped to bring into this world is named Olivia and she is nearly 5 years old. Amanda, Olivia and her parents are all amazingly close.  Amanda’s whole family went to New York to celebrate Olivia’s first birthday.  Most of the family were there for her 3rd birthday, and last year Amanda and one of her twin boys went for her 4th birthday.

From front row to back: Maximus, Amanda, Kylie, 2nd; Michael, Olivia and Andrew, Back: Xavier

From front row to back: Maximus, Amanda, Kylie,
2nd; Michael, Olivia and Andrew, Back: Xavier

Not Your Typical “Surrogacy”

Amanda explained to me that she has a VERY atypical relationship with the family she was a surrogate for.  Olivia actually calls her “surro-mom.”  Amanda’s kids are referred to as “surro-siblings.” The titles along with this close of a relationship is not the norm for a surrogate and Intended Parents, but it works for all involved in this particular situation.  The interesting thing is that Amanda showed me a picture taken in June of her son and Olivia.  Although they share no actual DNA, you would SWEAR that those two children are siblings! They have the same heart shaped faces, and even the same shape to their feet!  Crazy, when you consider that Amanda didn’t donate her eggs!

When Olivia was 2, her parents asked Amanda to be a surrogate for a sibling for Olivia. The whole family flew here to California to be present for Amanda’s 3rd ultrasound, and it was there they all found out that baby Ava had stopped growing and no longer had a heartbeat. Needless to say, everyone involved was devastated at the news.

There are risks in every pregnancy, and obviously surrogacy pregnancies are no different. Amanda told me of one friend who had had her own child, then was a surrogate.  Something happened, which resulted in her needing a hysterectomy after the surrogacy.  She had wanted more children of her own, but that plan was changed.

Amanda, Olivia and Maximus

Amanda, Olivia and Maximus

Another friend of hers has 4 children of her own, and has been a surrogate 4 times, resulting in 5 children!  She loves it, and it is fulfilling to her. (Honestly, I can’t in my wildest dreams imagine being pregnant that many times!  Ouch!)

The question outsiders always discuss, wonder about and have questions about is the financial aspect of being a surrogate.  Amanda mentioned to me that often, people’s first response is, “You make BANK on being a surrogate, right?”  Ummmmmmmmmmmm…. no, not really.  Amanda shared with me that each independent agreement and each agency varies in their packages, but typically an amount is agreed upon for carrying the baby.  In addition, there are amounts laid out for the “transfer fee” (relating to implanting the fertilized egg), travel expenses, medical bills, a “missed work fee” and other things. Other agencies offer an “all-inclusive” type of contract that should cover all of the fore-mentioned occurrences.  And while it may sound like a lot to some, as Amanda said to me, “If you’re looking to be a surrogate for the money, you are in the wrong business.”

Personally, I can’t imagine WHAT amount of money would make it worthwhile to me! I know what pregnancy did to my body in the past, and believe me, it wasn’t pretty! Then there is the weight gain, the discomfort of pregnancy, tiredness, nausea………. on, and on, and on, and on. OK- I’m not gonna lie here. Give me 5 million dollars and I’ll be your surrogate.  See, we all have our price!  For that amount I can disappear for a while, have the baby, get my body rebuilt, and reappear, looking trimmer and better than ever!

While surrogacy is not something I could ever imagine doing, (not to mention, I’m about 5,000 years too old to consider it at this point) I’m glad that people who can’t have children can have the option. And women who consider it a true gift to others can decide to become a surrogate.

Hopefully, this article helps you to understand surrogacy a bit more, from the standpoint of a woman who has been through it, and that you can see the positive that can come from it! My eyes were sure opened as to the details of making surrogacy work!  I’m sure that Xavier and Andrew are happy to have Amanda as a part of their family’s story!

Dads Xavier and Andrew with Olivia

Dads Xavier and Andrew with Olivia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mysteries at Maxwell Mansion

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Two  “Old Treasures” in Lake Geneva

Don and I discovered The Maxwell Mansion, in beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin two years ago.  Before our annual trip to the mid-west to see my family, we decided we’d like to spend a few nights up in Lake Geneva, for some well deserved “alone time.”  A little research on the internet, and we decided between one of two beautiful places in Lake Geneva.  It would either be The Baker House, or it’s sister property, The Maxwell Mansion.  A few phone calls were made and we found out that there was literally “no room at the inn” for The Baker House, so we made reservations at Maxwell Mansion.

The bar at The Baker House is really fun!

The bar at The Baker House is really fun!

The Maxwell Mansion is right up my alley!  Built in 1856 as the summer home for a prominent Chicago surgeon, it was the first mansion built in Lake Geneva- long before the enormous lake front mansions you see there today.  The property is two blocks from the water, but at that time, he owned the property all the way down to the beach!  Now a small boutique hotel, it is made up of three buildings, the original mansion, the stables and the carriage house.  Being the “lover of all things old” there was no question in my mind that we would stay in the main house.

Next to the "Stable rooms" at The Maxwell Mansion

Next to the “Stable rooms” at The Maxwell Mansion

The rooms inside the main house are more “period” style, while the stable rooms are a bit more modern and elegant.  All the rooms I have seen are nicely done and very well appointed!

 Ulysses Grant Slept Here….

For our stay we booked The General Grant Suite, and were happy we did!  The suite is named after Ulysses Grant, who was said to have visited there in the 1800’s.  The suite is generously large, with both north and south facing windows overlooking the beautiful gardens, a lovely sitting area in front of the fireplace and a HUGE bathroom with a period claw-foot tub. I couldn’t have been happier with the hotel or the room!

This was our bathroom at The Maxwell Mansion. I couldn't wait to get in this tub! It was so beautiful!

This was our bathroom at The Maxwell Mansion. I couldn’t wait to get in this tub! It was so beautiful!

The property is made up of many pretty areas: gardens, fountains, verandas, a pool and a Bocce’ ball court.  Inside has a lot of little treasures too: a small “media room” with a cozy red velvet booth that can sit about 6-8 to watch a movie, their Apothecary Bar (which was named to honor Dr. Maxwell’s profession), their beautiful “ballroom,” perfect for a small wedding or intimate party, a living room, and other lovely public areas.

Drinks at The Apothecary Bar two years ago when we stayed at The Maxwell Mansion

Drinks at The Apothecary Bar two years ago when we stayed at The Maxwell Mansion

What we didn’t know when we decided to stay at Maxwell Mansion is that some say it is haunted.  (Not that that would have changed my decision to stay.  I’m always open to meeting new friends!)  The first afternoon,  after going out on one of the lake boat tours, and a lovely lunch, Don and I decided to take a little nap.  We laid down, and dozed off.  A short time later I kept hearing someone  walking around upstairs.  I was really frustrated, because it was so loud that I couldn’t sleep!  Later on, when Don woke up I complained to him how loud the footsteps were. He hadn’t heard them, because he sleeps like a log. When we left later to go to dinner I looked back at the windows of our suite and realized that there are no floors above our room!  Back to the hotel I asked the desk clerk if there was an attic, and if so would someone have been up there working that day. She assured me that there was no attic above our room…….

The next day, my niece Kelly was going to bring my daughter Alyse, who had just gotten in from San Diego up to Lake Geneva.  My niece and I have a long standing tradition that every time I’m in town (and the weather allows) we go up to Lake Geneva and hike part of the perimeter of the lake. The mansions surrounding the lake are unbelievably beautiful, as is the view of the lake, and we never tire of it.  The girls showed up for our walk and the first thing my daughter said is “Mom, did you know this hotel is supposed to be haunted? I read all about it!”  I can’t say for certain if it was the ghost I was hearing walking around the day before, but it seems like perhaps it was!

This week,  on our annual mid-west trip, and decided to take our usual trek up to Lake Geneva.  One of the reasons is that we are looking to put on a special party in the future, and have talked about doing it up at The Maxwell Mansion.  (Ah………. the mysteries surrounding the mansion just seem to build!)  We decided to stop in and look at the hotel with the party in mind.  It proved to be just as beautiful as I remembered it!

On our walk this year. This mansion is one of the classic mansions I've admired since I was a child. Rumor has it that it is now broken into condos, which still would be pretty nice! There is a pool on the roof!

On our walk this year. This mansion is one of the classic mansions I’ve admired since I was a child. Rumor has it that it is now broken into condos, which still would be pretty nice! There is a pool on the roof!

This Diamond Is Not Too Rough!

The four of us took our walk, then decided we wanted to get a little something to eat and drink.  We visited a newer local restaurant, called Flatiron Tap and sat outside.  We have found in the past, as with many “tourist areas” some of the restaurants leave a bit to be desired.  Flatiron didn’t disappoint! The food was great, the service pleasant, and they didn’t seem to mind us taking up real estate for an extended period of time! We were lucky enough to have one of those perfect summer days!   We were  enjoying the afternoon, visiting, eating and playing cards when a local couple sat down next to us. We began to banter back and forth, and they suggested we go with them later to The Maxwell Mansion to see a mystic named Joe Diamond.  I was surprised to find out that the mansion also had a Speakeasy, and it would be open that evening!

Kelly and John during one of the card tricks Joe Diamond did with us.

Kelly and John during one of the card tricks Joe Diamond did with us.

I totally suffer from FOMO-(Fear of Missing Out), so I was thrilled with the idea!  At the appointed hour, armed with the password of the day for the Speakeasy, thanks to our friends, we went up to the mansion! WHAT FUN!   We went in to the Apothecary Bar, got some of their fabulous drinks, whipped up by their mixologist, and we were settled just in time for Joe Diamond, to come up to the table we were sharing with our new friends, Melanie and Chris.

Melanie, Patti & Kelly

Melanie, Patti & Kelly

We were absolutely blown away by Joe’s talent!  He regaled us with card tricks for a few minutes, then blew us away by doing a bit of mind-reading!  I still can’t figure out how in the world he came up with the name of a friend I had in mind for one of his tricks!  It was CRAZY! Joe entertained us for well over half an hour, then we went on down to the Speakeasy.  What fun, having to come up with the password to be allowed in, then entering the secret little bar!  There was a pretty good crowd in the bar, but we found a few empty couches in the back and made ourselves at home.  In the center of that room is a pole that obviously is structural to the building.  I’m not even going to mention the pole dance that one of the males in our group put on for us with that pole.  It just might embarrass John to be pointed out in such a manner! (I should make him pay some blackmail money to keep me from publishing them!)

Melanie, Patti and Kelly wearing the crazy hats available in The Maxwell Mansion

Melanie, Patti and Kelly wearing the crazy hats available in The Maxwell Mansion

The evening ended with all of us going out back to the lovely veranda, enjoying the fireplace and conversation with some new friends. Part of our group had a rousing late night game of Bocce’ Ball, which I was told they won.

When we made our first visit to The Maxwell Mansion we weren’t disappointed.  Our visit this time around didn’t disappoint either!  I think next year we will have to try another few days there, or at The Baker House!

 

 

Moonlight’s Matilda

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The Moonlight

Wednesday evening we went to the opening night performance of Matilda at the Vista Moonlight Amphitheater.  We have been season ticket-holders for about 3 years now, and before that I attended a good number of plays there over the years.  If you aren’t aware of this theater, you are missing out on a true GEM in the North County area. (I’m constantly amazed at how many of my friends have never heard of this theater. Where have you been, people?) Every play that we have seen here has been superb. The last play, The Producers had people who had been involved in the BROADWAY production of the play.  It doesn’t get any better than this folks!

One thing I love about The Moonlight is that it is an outdoor theater.  There aren’t too many of them around the San Diego area.  You have a choice of 3 types of seats- regular theater seating (chairs), general lawn, which is at the top of the hill and first-come type of seating on the grass, or the reserved lawn tiers,  which are between the theater seating rows.  I LOVE the reserved lawn tier seats!  It is fake turf, so no grass or dirt stains….. but you get an area about 6 ft deep and as wide as a “seat” so that you can picnic at your place before the play! They give you low folding chairs to sit on, so you can enjoy your picnic and the performance, without blocking the regular theater seats behind you. We purchase 4 seats each season, so that at each play we can bring another couple that we’d like to get to know a little better and enjoy a picnic dinner before the play.  The tickets at Moonlight are some of the least expensive play tickets you will find in San Diego county, so even purchasing 4 tickets per play is STILL a raving deal! Their highest priced tickets are under $60.00,the reserved lawn tiers under $30.00 each, and the general lawn tickets come in under $20.00.  I think when you buy season tickets it comes to less than that price!  Where in San Diego can you purchase play tickets for that price?  Again, if you haven’t been to The Moonlight, check it out. There are still 2 plays this season!

Matilda

Now, on to Matilda.  I’m going to admit, I knew NOTHING about the play, and wondered if this was just going to be a play for children.  NOT AT ALL!  The minute the first actors come on the stage you are enthralled!  It takes place in England, so everyone in the cast has an English accent. The talented Vanessa Dinning was the dialect coach, and as always she did a fabulous job working with the cast that is made up predominantly of children. (Vanessa happens to be a family friend, but she does the dialect coaching for most San Diego area plays when there is an English accent involved, and does a superb job of it!)

More about the cast later, but it’s the STORY LINE of Matilda that I SO SO SO love! The character of Matilda comes from an abusive household, with parents who have not a bit of kindness or love toward her. There is also a tyrannical headmistress who is awful to Matilda. But this story shows that no matter what your circumstances are, you can succeed. Matilda is a brilliant little girl, with some special powers, and books are her refuge.  Matilda sings a songs that says “Nobody but me is gonna change my story, so sometimes you’ve got to be a little bit naughty.”  This is the childhood version of “Living a Royal Life” that I talk about all the time.  In SPITE of terrible circumstances, Matilda has the courage to do what is right, and makes the best, for herself, and those around her.  She refuses to be a victim. She stands up for herself- in spite of what the outcome may be.  She realizes that no one is going to do it for her, she has to make the best of her life. I wish that more of our society would do this for themselves!  (I get REALLY tired of the victim mentality lately……….. )

The Cast

I loved every minute of this play.  The darling young actress who plays Matilda (Charity Rose @CharityRose) does a brilliant job in the role! She couldn’t be better! The whole cast, singing, dancing and performing the whole she-bang with English accents are beyond compare.  One of my favorite area actors, Randall Hickman, plays Miss Trunchbull.  He has made a name for himself playing the evil female parts in a few plays locally, including Ursulla in Moonlight’s “The Little Mermaid” a few years ago.  I LOVE his acting!

The director is Jamie Tocellini and everything I’ve seen him involved with has been amazing!

Everything You Need to Know About The Moonlight…

The play would be great for kids (probably about 8 and up) who you would like to introduce to live theater, but don’t feel that you need any children with you to fit in and enjoy this play.  The large majority of the audience was adults when we were there, and everyone around was exclaiming how fabulous they thought it was.

Matilda is running through August 3rd.  Do yourself a favor and get some tickets to go see it.  https://www.moonlightstage.com/  You will be glad you did!

Then, check out tickets for the other two plays this season, West Side Story August 14-31 and Victor Victoria September 11-28.

I am SO excited about next year’s season, which is going to have 5 different  performances, and includes An American In Paris, Something Rotten, Cinderella, Ragtime and Kinky Boots!  4 of the 5 plays are totally new to me, so I am thrilled for the 2020 season!

 

 

The Comedy Queen is Performing Soon!

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The Comedy Queen has a show in the works, and you will want to be a part of it!  Get your reservation in while there is space available! This event is being held in a new venue, the lovely Koi Zen Cellars in the Poway area!  Go to their website to make your reservation, or contact Patti personally!  And remember, a reservation PAID, is a reservation MADE………… until then, it’s just wishful thinking on your part!

Go to KoiZen’s website to make your reservation!

A Castle, Fit for a Queen!

Adventures With Attitude!, Day-Dation Ideas!, Every Day is an Adventure, Fabulous After 50, Living a Royal Life, Travel and Adventure

Hearst Castle

We are so blessed to live in Southern California!  There are more places to explore, and more adventures to create than you could ever have time for.  One of our great California treasures, and one which took me FAR too long to go and see is Hearst Castle. I have lived in California almost 40 years and had never been there.

The views from Hearst Castle go on forever. He used to own all of the land from the castle down to the beach. Over 250,000 acres at one time!

The views from Hearst Castle go on forever. He used to own all of the land from the castle down to the beach. Over 250,000 acres at one time!

A few months ago, Don and I took one of our little adventures, flew up to San Jose, and spent a few days driving back home down the coast.  Our main stop was Hearst Castle, which we took 2 full days to explore. I loved every minute of it!  My only disappointment was that I can’t make it my own “personal” castle!  After all, every Queen needs a castle, right? (Perhaps if we all petitioned the state they might consider it????)

I truly believe in “Living a Royal Life!”  Well, it seems that Mr. Hearst had it down to a science!  The decadence and opulence of Hearst Castle is unrivaled, especially here in the United States!

The drive from San Diego to Hearst Castle is a beautiful one. We always make every little trip like this an adventure, exploring along the way. We stop on a whim when something catches our eye.  Fewer plans and more spontaneity make life far more interesting, in my opinion!

When you approach San Simeon, the ocean is on one side of the highway and far, far up the hill you will see the castle.  The day we arrived, in the field next to the highway were some of the zebras, decedents left from the Hearst menagerie that he kept many years ago.

I loved hearing some of the stories about the guests who frequented San Simeon, and some of the strange “quirks” that were passed on about William Randolph Hearst! I just eat it up!  I love it when you have a docent who has taken the time to find out every nugget they can, and shares it with passion! It makes a place like this come to life!

In front of Hearst Castle. I can only imagine how exciting it would have been to be a guest there back in the day!

In front of Hearst Castle. I can only imagine how exciting it would have been to be a guest there back in the day!

If you are a history buff, the history behind Hearst Castle, also known as San Simeon is fascinating! Check it out here! 

Planning Your Trip

We had to buy the cheesy tourist photo, right???

We had to buy the cheesy tourist photo, right???

There are hotels located on the beach, across the street from Hearst Castle. If you plan to have a full day, or even a few days of touring the castle, this is a convenient way to go.  The Castle is located in about the middle of nowhere, so driving back and forth to other hotels can be time consuming. Cambria and Morro Bay are about a half hours’ drive away – and you will find some more charming places to stay there, if you are willing to drive. We spent a few days in Cambria after our tour of San Simeon.

My man in the library! Such a masculine room! I just loved the feel of it!

My man in the library! Such a masculine room! I just loved the feel of it!

We took two full days to see the castle, enjoying two different tours each day.  As it turned out, it would have cost us almost exactly the same had we decided to do a private tour.  We then could have probably seen the whole castle in one day.  I would definitely recommend that you see as much of it as possible, because ALL of it is so interesting and fabulous! It is well worth the time and money spent. You can’t go wrong with one, or two, or four or more of these tours! 

Hearst Castle Sculpture

One of the many beautiful sculptures on the grounds of San Simeon

There are occasional evening tours, where the docents dress in 1930’s period clothing.  I plan to go back for one of those tours in the future. (Of course, you know me- I would be sure that Don and I were also in period clothing! ANYTHING for a costume!)

The artwork and collections that are on the grounds and throughout the castle are just unbelievable!  SO worth the trip!  I would suggest that if you can travel there when it isn’t peak tourist season (summer months) you will have the best experience, since it won’t be as crowded. The castle isn’t air conditioned, so it can be warm during the hot months.

You dont realize how large Hearst Castle really is, until you see the proportion of us next to the front door!

You don’t realize how large Hearst Castle really is, until you see the proportion of us next to the front door!

If you live in California, and haven’t taken the time to go and see it for yourself, you really need to do it.  It is an amazingly interesting and beautiful attraction! Personally, I can’t wait to go back and see it again!

Look at the detail in this room and in the ceiling! It is just amazing what was put into this castle!

Look at the detail in this room and in the ceiling! It is just amazing what was put into this castle!

Life is Worth Cheering About!

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When I Die, I Want To Be a Pink Firework!

I didn’t even know it was possible.  Until last night.  I didn’t know that after you die you can have your ashes made into FIREWORKS!  Seriously!  You can’t make this stuff up!  (Well, you COULD make it up, actually I guess, but I’m NOT making it up!)  Where did I find out this profound and amazing way to get rid of yourself after you’ve gotten rid of yourself?  The movie POM. That’s where!  More about that in a minute, because actually, going to the movie is what this article is about.  But I digress, once again, to becoming a firework.  Since it IS a real thing, I’m just laying it out there for everyone who is left behind after I’m gone.  If they don’t take my whole body for science, and there is anything left behind, please make me into a firework.  Or two.  Pink would be my preference, unless they can do one that explodes into a crown shape. Then I’d prefer to be a crown shape.  Maybe gold.  Or a pink one and a gold crown. Whatever you can do to make the biggest possible SPLASH as I am remembered for the last time on earth.  I want to go out with a BANG!

OK, now that THAT is settled……… on to what the article is REALLY about.

POM Movie Madness!

Girls night out a few nights ago was to see the new Diane Keaton movie POM.  This is a movie about a bunch of women in a retirement community who decide to form a cheerleading group. We had a group of 12 women, ranging from 50’s to the just-past-mid 80’s.  And, you know me.  We can’t just go to a movie, walk in and sit down.  Heck no!  We needed to add a little SPICE to the event…….. so about half of us went dressed as……. what else?  CHEERLEADERS!

You may think that would be the silliest or stupidest thing in the world.  Go right ahead and think that.  I know better.  Maybe YOU wouldn’t do it, but that’s probably because you aren’t nearly as much fun as I am.  And my friend Stella is. And some of my other friends are!

Gerri, Patti, Stella as a blonde!) and Barbara enjoying Happy Hour!

Gerri, Patti, Stella as a blonde!) and Barbara enjoying Happy Hour! BTW- This is Gerri’s actual cheerleading outfit from high school. And it fits her perfectly!  I can still fit into my things from high school too.  I fit into my earrings.  That’s what I fit into.  It just isn’t right when people do this to you!

Here is the thing folks.  I’m WAY past the stage where I worry about what people think of me. No matter WHO you are, there are gonna be haters out there.  Even if I was the most perfect, smartest, most together person in the world (I’m none of those things and never going to be…. but IF, it’s an IF I put out there) there would still be haters with something negative to say.  So, I don’t worry, I don’t care. I just go ahead and be outrageously FUN, and enjoy every darned minute that I can in life.  After all, like I often say- YOU DON’T KNOW WHEN THEY ARE GOING TO CALL IN YOUR CHIP!  It could be tomorrow. Or next week.  Or when you are sleeping tonight.  (That’s a kind of creepy thought, huh?)

“We are all so worried about what everyone else is thinking, but  of course,  the only thing that really matters is what we think of ourselves.” Diane Keaton in POMS

So, instead of worrying about other people’s impression of me, I just constantly think of something new, something fun, something entertaining that I can partake in, and invite those around me to join in.  Sometimes it’s a bit much for others’ taste, and they don’t come along for the ride.  Sometimes they come along for the ride, but they aren’t sitting in the front of the roller-coaster (that seat is reserved for Stella and me anyway!)  They may take a seat further back, where they can be a part of the fun, but not quite so far “out there.”  That’s all fine and good too!

Stella and Patti. We both have no problem dressing up in any costume, any time, for any event! Any excuse for a costume is fine with us!

Stella and Patti. We both have no problem dressing up in any costume, any time, for any event! Any excuse for a costume is fine with us!

Years ago I volunteered for hospice. I sat next to the bed of a number of people as they took their last breaths.  Never once did I hear a person say, “Gee, I wish I didn’t dress in that silly costume that time” or “Gee, I wish I hadn’t had as much fun in life as I did.”  NOPE.  The regrets that I heard about in life were that they had worked too hard, or worried to much about unnecessary things, or they hadn’t taken time to be with their friends or family enough, perhaps they wish they had traveled more.  My only regret will be – no matter HOW old I am when I die, is that I didn’t have more time.  I will know though, that I spent my last years having as much fun as I possibly could, and that I filled every moment I could doing things I love.

One of our late arrivals, Bella was pretty impressive with the splits! I never could do them, and no chance at all now!

One of our late arrivals, Bella was pretty impressive with the splits! I never could do them, and no chance at all now!

That’s what  I am referring to when I talk about Living a Royal Life.  Many call it Living Your Best Life.

Living a Royal Life

There are so many quotes that I love about what others think of you, but this is one of my favorites:

“At 20 we worry about what others think of us.  At 40 we don’t care what they think of us.  At 60 we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.”  Ann Landers.

STOP WORRYING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU!  It doesn’t matter and THEY don’t matter.  Be outrageous.  Be silly.  Look like a nut!  It’s worth it, believe me!

Are you MAKING memories in your day to day life?  Are you experiencing fun times, and enjoying adventures, big and small in your life?

If you aren’t- what will it take to make your life a life you love?

Maybe you need a “cheerleader” in your life, to help you be on the winning team!  There are a bunch of great cheerleaders in this group- give one of us a call and we’ll be over, Pom-poms in hand to help you to Live a Royal Life!

This was most of the "whole crew" from last night! Just ready to walk over to the movie!

This was most of the “whole crew” from last night! Just ready to walk over to the movie! Our ages ranged from 58-86! Now THAT is a bunch of winning cheerleaders!

BTW-  The POM movie is great. Get out and see it while it is in theaters if you can! (Check out POMS trailer here!) We all enjoyed it and the sweet  life lessons that were taught in it! (Not to mention finding out you can be made into a firework after you die!)  We also had a great time at Happy Hour at 333 Pacific in Oceanside, (Their happy hour includes $8.00 vodka specials, and the BEST brussel sprouts and calamari!  YUM!) Then we walked the few blocks over to the Regal Theater. I’m sure there are people who are still wondering WHAT the heck they were seeing as we paraded by with our pom-poms! We had a few other patrons ask to take our picture and the manager of the theater asked if they could put us on the Regal website……….

So there you go.  Silly fun, yes!  A fabulous memory of time with the girls too! It’s what Living a Royal Life is all about!