Thursday, September 23, 2010


September 23 -

Today is my grandmother's birthday.  She is such an incredible inspiration to me.  I wanted to be with her on her birthday this year in particular because just one week ago she had to move her husband of 60 years into a memory care unit.  After losing him in bits in pieces over the last few years, it was difficult to finally acknowledge that the Alzheimer's had progressed to the point that he could no longer live at home (or in fact, know where home is).  During yesterday's visit to him, I marveled that she had the strength to smile as my grandfather looked at her and asked, "Who are you married to?"

Grandmother is a soft-spoken woman, but her example has had a huge impact on me.  So today, in honor of this wonderful woman, I'd like to share some things that my grandmother taught me over the years:

1.  The table should be set for breakfast before going to bed every night.  It's one less thing to worry about in the morning, and a well-laid table sets a positive tone for the rest of the day.

2.  Dishwashers are for sissies.  Real women wash dishes by hand (and rinse in hot water because dishes rinsed in cold water take longer to dry).

3.  House guests should be served coffee with pastries of some sort two or three times a day.

4.  Any animals in the vicinity should and will receive regular meals.

5.  Don't waste time; we're given precious little of it, and we should do something productive with it.

6.  Take time to be quiet.  Activity is just busy work if you don't take time to reflect.

7.  Put others ahead of yourself every time.

8.  Real love requires few words; it is felt in every action.

9.  Seek advise and accept help.  Don't expect others to get you out of a bad situation, but admit when you can't do something on your own.  Accept assistance with grace.

10.  Yes, life is hard.  Yes, it can be sad and painful.  But there is always reason to rejoice.  Hope springs eternal.

I did not give my grandmother a JA Greetings card for her birthday.  Our snarky cards don't really express how much I love and respect her.  I am working on a superwoman card inspired by her, and I hope she (and everyone else) will enjoy it!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Leave Paradise In Its Place

If I have not adequately made my point thus far, starting a new business is stressful.  I spend so much time thinking about insurance and taxes and filing with the correct government agencies that it's really hard to think about anything else.  Thankfully, I have a darling friend who took me on a lovely Caribbean cruise where I could clear my head.

After nearly a month of learning important business lessons, (such as: envelopes are necessary to sell greeting cards, paper is way expensive, and 'entrepreneur' is a fancy word for 'unemployed') I was definitely ready for a break.  The plan was to sail out of San Juan and arrive in a different port every day.  Hurricane Earl wreaked some havoc with the itinerary, but we had an amazing trip.

Actually, it was an amazing vacation.  There is a world of difference between a trip and a vacation.  A trip is mainly characterized by activity.  They can be fun and exciting and exhausting.  I went on a trip to Singapore and Indonesia earlier this year, and it was an incredible life-changing experience.  It was not, however, very restful.  A vacation, on the other hand, is characterized by rest.  It's a time to sleep, to eat, to sunbathe, and to sight see if there's extra time.  I love vacations!

I spent a week lounging in the sun (I actually have a tan!), eating delicious food (fillet mignon and melting chocolate cake), and losing my breath at the beauty around me.
Exhibit A:

The Pitons, St. Lucia

Exhibit B:
Champagne Reef, Dominica

Exhibit C:
Magen's Bay Beach, St. Thomas
My pictures don't do any kind of justice to these places, but I spent the whole week taking mental snapshots of these miracles.  To stand in the presence of such beauty is an amazing balm for the weary spirit.

However, my vacation was not totally without pressure.  I love my dear traveling companion like a sister, but she is married and I am not.  Since she went through her share of set-ups before she met her husband, she now feels it is her right and duty to put me through the same thing.  Consequently, she tried to turn our time into an episode of the Love Boat.  While we were on the cruise, she tried to make me go to speed dating, go dancing at the disco by myself, and get the 2nd captain's phone number. Now, I got out of speed dating because there were a lot more women than men.  I did go to salsa dance classes while she videotaped my clumsy effort, and it was a lot of fun.  And the 2nd captain was a beautiful man--a tall dark Italian with wavy hair and startling blue eyes.  Still, I don't think that all of these efforts are really necessary.  I haven't given up hope that I might actually meet someone on my own.  So Darling, I love you like whoa, but please don't go through with your plan to sign me up for!

My vacation was so lovely that I was really not looking forward to getting back to the real world.  I was so relaxed, and work is so stressful!  My body was even revolting against the idea of work by developing a truly atrocious cold.  At the San Juan airport (a disgusting little hole of a place, in case you were wondering), I stood in line after line; first, I had to have my bags inspected by the USDA, then I had to check in with the airline, and then go through security.  It was while I was standing in one of the six security lines (all of which lead to two employees who chatted happily to each other while ignoring the growing line of frustrated travelers) that I saw this sign:  "Leave paradise in its place.  Beyond this point you will be subject to additional scrutiny."  I was a little shocked because most signs about security are something long and insincere about how all employees are instructed to be courteous and apologizing for any inconvenience.  This one might as well have said, "Suck it up, Jamie!  You're a freakin' adult who doesn't have to go to an office or pay rent.  Get over yourself!"

So that is what I've tried to do.  I've been back a little over a week, and I've been fairly productive.  I met with an accountant to go over all of the forms I filled out (she gave me a gold star!), set up a business checking account, did some technical consulting, and listed the first five cards in my online shop (see!  But I am also keeping those snapshots of cleansing beauty in my heart, ready to review when I become overwhelmed.  So all due respect to the Puerto Rican TSA agents, but I know exactly where paradise belongs, and it's not in line at the airport.