Monthly Archives of: June 2011


The Turtle Beats The Hare…

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Sometimes we have to slow down to go faster,” was the advice I gave my nine-year-old son, Vance, the other day–and advice that I need to take myself.    This advice can be applied both mentally and physically.  For instance, Vance is a super bright kid and was blessed to inherit his father’s photographic memory, at least it appears that way since his drawings have such incredible detail.  I don’t think at his age there is any other explanation for that.  But unfortunately at times we can be our own worst enemies no matter how smart we are.  He is an A student but brings home the occasional B in a subject here and there, and that’s mainly because he is going to fast when taking tests.  He brought home a few bad papers in a row and I was aghast.  What had happened to my little man?


I went in and had a talk with his teacher, who didn’t seem the least bit concerned that he had gotten a few D’s on his worksheets, me on the other hand was dying inside.  I was a straight A student and so was his dad, if he came home with a C on a report card I would certainly look at that as failure on my part because I know how smart he is.


“It’s because he is rushing,” the teacher said with a smile.  “It’s his age and all the kids are doing it.  They think that the first one done is the smartest.”


Ah ha.


When we went home that evening I sat down with Vance and explained that just because you are the one to get to the finish line first doesn’t mean you are the smartest.


“Well, Stephanie is always done first and she thinks she’s the smartest.”


“Does she make straight A’s all the time?” I asked him.


“No, she get’s B’s too.”


“Does what she get’s on her report card, whether it’s all A’s or all F’s effect what you get on your report card?”


“No.” he answered.


His teacher had gone on to tell me that she wasn’t worried about this grades, she knew that he had already learned all the skills in Math and that he just wasn’t applying them.  So that night I got out his bad papers and I rewrote them on fresh paper and made Vance do all of the problems over.  He got them all right this time except for one.  It made me feel a million times better knowing his teacher was right and he did know what he was doing, but also frustrated that I didn’t address the issue sooner as a parent.  He ended up with a B in Math, which I can live with, but more importantly I got my point across to him.  I want him to know that when you rush you miss opportunities to correct yourself and you also miss attention to details.  He doesn’t rush when he draws–he takes his time and creates masterpieces.


Last year handwriting was his weak subject.   And once again he was rushing to get it done.  He wasn’t dotting his I’s or crossing his T’s.  I looked at him one day and said, “What?  A B in Handwriting?  Vance, you have no excuse buddy, you are an artist.  You can make that pencil go whatever way you want it to.  You have the ability to have the best handwriting in the class.”  And from that day on his handwriting changed and now he has beautiful penmanship.


Sometimes situations just need a little tweak and are much easier to fix than we think, and sometimes we just need to slow down to get ahead.  And other times we just need to believe in ourselves a little (or a lot) more.  Physically I have found this with running.  I’ve been trying to run for ten years now and every year I re-injure my knees (from a car accident I had when I was eighteen.)  I do the same thing every time, I increase my speed and I start getting such bad knee pain that I give up and say, “I just wasn’t meant to be a runner.”


Well, I think I’m wrong.  The past few weeks I have been trying a few other strategies.  First I have slowed down!  I don’t care how fast I’m going, I’m just going for distance—NOT SPEED!  I ran a total of 21 miles in eight days, and guess what?  Not one pain!!  And in that there was a six-mile-run and a seven-mile-run (non-stop).  Never in my life did I ever think I would see that.  It took me 1 hour and 20 minutes to do it, but I don’t care.


One the longer runs I found myself asking myself why I want this so bad?  Is it to run fast and beat other people?  No.  Is it to succeed at mind over matter and conquer something that has been conquering me for the last decade?  Yes.


So with my new mindset to slow down, and new found belief in myself that with patience I can succeed at running longer distances, I’ve been enjoying the outdoors and the time with myself.   It’s somewhat meditating really.  I think being consistent with taking it slow and stretching properly that with time I will have just slowed down enough to build up the muscles around my knees and will be able to go a little faster in the future.


Confessions of a flushaholic…


I have a confession to make….and when my husband reads this he may divorce me. Hell, my friends and my mother may even disown me. This has been weighing on my mind and I feel if I confess then maybe the allotted bad karma that could result from my actions may be deterred to some other unfortunate individual.

This is a secret I should probably take to me grave–but here goes. A few weeks ago I was at home and from my recollection I had a lot on my plate that day, which is par. I went upstairs to the bathroom because Sloane (my 3-year-old daughter) had to poo. So since she can’t manage to do it alone, I get the pleasure of accompanying her–I am officially her “poo partner.” I have to say there are times that it’s just down right funny, she makes some pretty funny expressions (and sounds) which kind of make up for the smell–and there are times it’s just down right messy. This particular instance was messy, diarrhea to be exact. (This blog is not for the weak-stomach type.)

So she was sitting on the potty with her underwear around her ankles, and she was so happy that she completed her mission that she kicked her foot into the air…and somehow her underwear flew up and landed behind her and into the toilet. She looked at me. I looked at her. What to do???

I asked her to get up so I could assess the situation. There they were, her Minnie Mouse undies covered in you-know-what. At that moment I had a few flashbacks…I thought about the time my sister was forced to eat pea soup by my mom. She was eight, I was six. She threw it up on the toilet and my grandmothers spoon (family heirloom) fell in and mom made her fish through the vomit with tongs to get it out.. I flashbacked to my wedding day when my basement flooded massively and we had to call rooter-router. They found a broken terra-cotta pipe where a bunch of tampons had gotten stuck and caused the back up. Mmmmm…

I looked back into the toilet with a complete brain fade. I couldn’t think of one thing I wanted to stick down there to pull those undies out. I could have used a chopstick, a tree branch, Davey’s comb….but I didn’t. Before I knew it my hand was on the handle faster than Bill Clinton could say, “Lewinsky me.” I saw the mouse ears go down as Sloane started screaming, “you flushed my favorite underwear!”

I stood there in disbelief; the horror, the idiocricy…I heard my mother’s voice, “Shannon, no you didn’t. I taught you better.” Yes, she did, OMG. I started asking myself questions like: Are those biodegradable? Was that illegal? Is Sloane going to tell on me?

I guess only time will tell if they come back to haunt me…Davey, sorry. Maybe one of the top ten dumbest things I ever did, but it was funny…I can’t quit laughing about it.



Girls Gone Wild…

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Or more like into the Wild…or rather into my backyard…

So, I have a confession to make.  Until about two years ago I knew two species (is that what they’re called) of flowers:  Roses—of course every gal knows what that is, and Hydrangea’s—because I think they are the most precious, delicate, scene stealers there are and I fell in love with them at first sight.  Just recently I figured out the difference between a daffodil and a petunia,  the difference between a Calla Lily, an Easter Lily and a Lily Pad, and learned that an ornamental cherry tree just doesn’t produce cherries.

Even though I grew up in the country and even though my mom is the biggest nature lover I have ever met, I’ve never been very interested in learning about flora or fauna, or planting a garden, or spending any more time than I had to out in nature swatting off mosquitos and running from bees—until now.   I’m not sure why the sudden urge to figure it all out, I think there may be a plethora of underlying reasons.  Maybe because it’s just flat-out embarrassing that I really don’t know even the basics,  maybe because it would be nice to teach my children how to plant and sustain plant life—I do know we need all the oxygen we can get, and maybe because it’s truly a challenge for me to get past my fears of creepy, crawly things that typically lurk outdoors.

I’ve recently asked myself:  Does it make me shallow that I learned all the names of shoe designers before I learned the difference between a Ficus tree and a ….crap, I can’t think of any other tree.  Wait, they’re coming to me…Maple, Palm, Mimosa, Pine, Douglas Fir, Blue Spruce, Redwood…and that’s about it.  Sad, I know–mom stop cringing.

Does it make me arrogant that I learned as much about wine starting at the age of twenty-one as humanly possibly, including studying French wine for well over two years, before learning how to prune a bush?

Probably not and probably not.   I’ll just say I’ve been a bit distracted with building businesses, traveling the world, and raising kids.  But it makes me ignorant not knowing what these beautiful, flowering things are called–and I can’t go on like this.

I’m officially a student of the outdoors, and learning as I grow.  I now know that you have to water your nicely potted plants more than twice a week to keep them alive.  (It’s more like twice a day, and if you’re travelling you better have a back up plan.)

I’ve got a long way already since last summer when I decided I would try to grow tomatoes–that was interesting.  My mom and I planted them, well she did and I watched, and a few weeks later they started to show their green little faces.  And then a few weeks later I had hundreds of them, and then before I knew it I had massive amounts of big, fat, juicy, red bombs laying all over my flower bed.  I called my girlfriend Joy—who has a green thumb—up to survey my attack of the killer tomatoes.

“OMG,” I think were her exact words.  “You didn’t stake these?”

“Um, no.”

“I’ll be back.”  And five minutes later she returned with a ball of twine and wooden stakes—perfect for a vampire massacre.

Joy started holding up the vines, which were heavy as could be and I followed her direction and tied and tied and tied, for over two hours.

“Shannon Coombs, don’t ever do this again,” she said to me in a motherly way.  I had to laugh.  She bought me tomato cages for my birthday this year, I will put them to good use.

Thank God tomorrow is another day, so I can drop to my knees just like Scarlet O’hara did in Gone With The Wind, scoop up some dirt in my hand, and as it falls through the cracks between my fingers say, “As God as my witness…I will never let my plants go unwatered again.”



I Know I Can…


Ahhhhh.  It’s 5:30 am and I can’t go back to sleep.  I haven’t been up this early in a while, but I awoke to my mind going a mile-a-minute and I really just wanted to be sitting in front of my mac with no one else around, thinking and writing about what this day will bring.  My mind is jumping from my son, who has his last day of school today, to tonight’s soft opening I have with my brother (my other son, lol) for our Dugout Pub and Grille adventure, but my mind just keeps coming back to the book I picked up last night called What to Say When You Talk To Yourself, by Shad Helmsetter, Ph. D.


His premise for the book seems to be–what we think about we bring about.  And I believe there is no greater theory in life.  Our mind, and therefore our thoughts, get us to where we are in all areas of life; success, love, and self-acceptance.


How do you talk to your best friend when you are pumping them up for something versus how you talk to yourself?  That’s a reality check because I think we sometimes believe in others more than we do ourselves.  But what if we believed in ourselves more?  What if we pumped ourselves up like we do our bff’s to go after our dreams, to run that extra mile, or to search more for what truly, simply makes us happy?


In this book it says that leading behavioral scientists say that seventy-seven percent of all thoughts are negative, counterproductive and they work against us.  Whoah Nelly!  That’s not a boat I wanna be on.  And to make it worse, they say that seventy-five percent of all illnesses are self-induced, and I believe those stats 100%.  Most of this comes from our programming from our parents (who tell us no and average of 148,00 times from birth up until eighteen-years-old—and this is if you come from a semi-positive household) and from society.   And here’s the kicker:  Some parents are only telling their kids during those same critical years that they “can” do it an average of a couple hundred times.  Dear God.


I will say the one thing I do right as a parent is getting my children to dream big.  I tell my son, who just turned nine, that no matter what his friends say, (because he is very much so on the creative side and his athletic buddies think he’s a bit weird at times because he’d rather be creating a scene for a Super Mario Bros movie he’s about to make than passing a football) he is amazing, and that his differences in his artistic ability will allow him to be super creative in his future–may it be taking over his father’s legacy to be a magazine guy, becoming an incredible movie producer, art teacher, actor, or whatever it is his little, but passionate heart desires.


As parents we can change the world by instilling more positive values in ourselves.  It is this role in life that we need to embrace because the future of our world lies in a change in old thinking habits and executing a better, more positive role model to not only our own children but the children of the world.


These next two paragraphs came straight out of Helmstetters book:

Why are some people, day to day, happier, more productive, more fulfilled than others?  What makes the difference?  Is it Kismet, a kind of fate, which in some mysterious way charts our destiny and leaves little of the steering of our course through life up to us?


Is the control of our lives in our hands or isn’t it?  And if we can, or should control our lives, what goes wrong?  What holds us back?  If we truly would like to do better, be the way we really would like to be, and be happier and more successful every day in every area of living, what is the wall that stands in our way?


Helmstetter says it our thinking–our negative self-talk that steers our ship in the wrong direction, along with the lack of positivity of those around us.  I believe it’s really just that simple.  And my own personal experience agrees.  When I look at the times I have excelled and the times I have failed, it all goes right back to just that—my thinking process.  I am my own best cheerleader and my own worst enemy at times.


Today I’m putting on that short skirt and mid-riff (so to speak) and I’m standing on my own sideline and I’m cheering me on–I hope you do the same.  I’m over sleeping with the enemy.


Vance drew this, his digital version of Mario Bros….