My Wedding Engagement Story

Ah, what it was like to be kids once
Ah, what it was like to be kids once

My wife and I have been married for 16 glorious years as of this June 6th (yes, we married on D-Day). From time-to-time we get asked about our engagement story, so I thought it appropriate to share here on my blog for your enjoyment. The date was October 15,1997

Here’s how I planned it:

My wife worked at a church in Glendale and she lived in Mesa, so she would be arriving around 9pm at my house in Peoria. My plan was to hide in her car trunk at the church, with a note for on the door to get in and put on the blindfold I had provided her. Then I would hop out of the trunk, get in the driver’s seat, and drive her to Sahuaro Ranch Park, a beautiful park in Glendale. Once we got there I would escort her to a gazebo surrounded by flowers and get down on one knee – the whole 9 yards.

Here’s how it ACTUALLY went down:

She arrived early and sick! At 7:45 after leaving work early she knocks on the door because she wasn’t feeling well (which rarely happens by the way!) I answer the door in my dress pants, shirt, and tie and we both have a look of shock on our faces. Mine being: what are you doing here? And hers being – what are you still doing in work clothes? (I was interning at Merrill Lynch).

We went in to the house where my equally surprised stepmom greeted her. I change back into more appropriate at-home attire and we decide to watch a movie. Funny enough, the title of the film was “Indecent Proposal”. Once the movie ended it was time for her to grab another tissue from the Kleenex box for her cold. Little did she know that I had put the ring box directly behind the upsprouted tissue, which was revealed once she pulled it up.

Tia started crying more once she realized what I had been trying to do.  The ending is like I planned: me  on one knee and she said yes!

I think our engagement story ended up exactly as it should have. We love to get dressed up and have special times together, but the trueness of our relationship is when we are just comfortably hanging out at home, with our absolute selves (and usually watching a movie).

Married friends – what was your engagement story like?  Please comment below!

About Negativity

120770-118948

Was chatting with a friend of mine today who runs a successful Disney blog , about people. Share with him that I am in the process of being more active with my blog efforts, and wanted to know if he had any wisdom or words of advice. The conversation took a very interesting turn when he started discussing the kinds of people that read Disney blogs. The majority of them & their readership tend to have very negative slants and comments.

Could this be true?!

People that supposedly love what Disney stands for are attacking each other’s opinions and beliefs and Disney ideals? I couldn’t believe it.

Then I got to thinking about the pervading mentality of most people, and decided that is wasn’t so far-fetched. Most people are generally negative. What fascinates me is that the internet and social media tend to amplify one’s personality: if you are generally positive you may come across as being over-the-top on Facebook status updates, whereas if you are generally negative it seems as if everything is going to hell in a hand basket.

So why are people so negative?

Lots of reasons. To understand this we really have to delve into a psychological level overlooked and understood by most, but it’s really pretty simple. You see, where-ever you are in your life today is the total culmination of all of your experiences, but more importantly, your interpretations of those experiences, to date. And there isn’t much that you can say to change my mind about this truth.

The problem is that we rarely take the time to step outside of ourselves and look at our own behavior objectively. Although we have NO problem judging or criticizing others when there is an opinion that may conflict with our own.

So even if you deny it, there is no doubt that the sum total of all of your teachers, friends, parents, church leaders, classmates, colleagues, work associates, people that have spoken to large audiences, the media, your spouse, kids, and so on have brought you to become the person you are today.

Who are you hanging around on a consistent basis? Are they positive and affirming, or do they have an edge, a sarcastic side, and mostly find what is wrong with things?

I assure you this is not mean to be a motivational post, although if this does that for you, wonderful. Just an observation in people’s behavior in relation to who they are, what they have, and the impact and influence they have on other people.

So as I begin my journey of personal blogging, rest assured that I will never go down the road of negativity. First, life is too short to be negative – no one is getting out alive. And second, negativity has an insidious energy that eats away at all that is good. Do you remember the last time you felt energized? elated? on a life high? I do, and there are few feelings in this world that are better than that.

On the other end of that is feeling drained, defeated, tired, depressed – no one wants that yet there is so much of it in our world! And remember, although we live in a highly-negative world, you can create your own positive space within that world. A world is made up of individual people, that make their own choices and decisions as to how they wish to behave. Now most people don’t even realize they are being negative, they just say they are being realistic or something like that. It’s subconscious and lines the walls of our personality, so watch out!

What are your perceptions of people – do you believe that most people are good and helpful or constantly looking for how to cut down others so they can feel better about themselves? Please leave a comment below.

 

 

 

Working With Preschool Children

Pre-school creations
Pre-school creations

This week I was parent helper at my son Miller’s preschool class.  I have to admit that I went into in with a less-than-excited attitude. Although I am a parent, I tend to have a high degree of impatience and expect a lot more from others than I know I should.

My job was simple but had a lot of moving pieces. First, I would instruct the children to color their Green Monster face with a marker. Each child was given an 11″x14″ sheet of paper to make their creation. Next, cut out the nose and mouth and glue to the appropriate area on the face. After this I gave them 4 circles – 2 white and 2 yellow. Those were to be the eyes (glued down of course) and stacked on top of each other and then they would use a sharpie to make pupils. For hair there were 5 strips of purple paper they would adhere to the monster’s head, and then the finishing touch was to lick 5 small marshmallows and place them across the monster’s mouth, signifying its teeth.

What fascinated me was to watch the kids as they worked. Some worked quickly and efficiently, others more deliberate, and a few of the children needed constant assistance throughout the project. Some of the kids cut outside or inside of the lines, colored with different degrees of brush strokes, or got glue on themselves.

Children have such different learning styles. I found myself adapting to each child’s situation, and I found it to be pretty telling about life. I wonder if I came back and visited each of these people in say 30 years from now, if they would still have the same tendencies as they showed that day.

I observed varying personality traits in each of the preschoolers – some were shy and reserved, others were constantly talking & updating the others of their progress, and some were very focused on the task at hand.

At the end of the day I was able to remove myself from the equation and just appreciate people and their different approaches to life. It’s always nice to learn, and it can definitely change your perspective to learn from those that are less than half of your height. 🙂

 

 

Battling Depression and Anxiety

depressed_man_210761
credit Anne Lowe on publicdomainpictures.net

Hearing the news of Robin Williams passing yesterday, which was most likely due to suicide, greatly impacted me.  As I watched countless updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram I found myself  disturbed, inspired, saddened, confused, and upset.

As the world paused to remember this great and wonderful man who entertained millions, I couldn’t help but to reflect back on some of my experiences dealing with depression and anxiety just a few years ago.

At times I recall it so vividly and it seems that I was a completely different person at the time. When reflecting back it was as if I could float outside of my body and observe how different the person I am today differed from the person I felt subjected to be at that time.

While many medical professionals (and the public for that matter) like to treat symptoms or the effects of an illness, I have always been of the belief that it’s best to take a look at the root cause and how to fix it. To take a look at what I believe the cause was, it’s best if you understand my personality.  I’m a pretty intense guy and I tend to feel lots of differently emotions on a daily basis, so I may be the type of person that has a proclivity towards being anxious or depressed. This intensity can also mean very high highs as well, aka the roller-coaster effect.

At the time I had a rough couple of months financially. I’ve always been on a commission-type of income, from waiting tables in college, to marketing financial services to selling real estate. It seemed my marketing efforts to find clients were not panning out. And despite having a fairly successful 3  years in real estate, it seemed that the business had dried up.

“…how different the person I am today differed from
the person I felt subjected to be at that time.”

Now my self-employed friends might be able to relate to this better than most, but when you feel like you aren’t providing for your family the way you could or should be doing, it messes with your head. Gradually over a period of time I kept feeding myself subconscious negative messages, which only compounded and grew in strength. I eventually got to the point where I was scared to take any positive action to generate business, because I somehow knew that it just wouldn’t work out.

I felt like the world was against me, when in reality the world
doesn’t really care what happens to you. It merely conforms
to your perception of it.

My thoughts were incoherent and scattered. I couldn’t put things together in my mind anymore in a way that made sense, and I actually found myself intently having to think about what I was going to say before I said it, even in simple conversations.

Simple daily tasks became formidable challenges which I felt hopeless to overcome. My brain built up anything I would normally do habitually into something that was the equivalent of moving a mountain.

There were memories of me waking up in the morning, looking up at the ceiling, wondering why I would even bother getting out of bed. When I came home from work each day all I wanted to do was get back into bed, shut my eyelids and hope things would get better, although there was no reason to believe they would. What was the point? No one cares anyways and my life doesn’t make any difference. More than once my thoughts drifted to the pistol in my bedroom and contemplated just ending it all.

What a pack of lies.

The depression and anxiety impaired my ability to be a good parent and husband. Although I wanted to be with my boys and wife, I wasn’t really able to be there 100% mentally because I constantly had these negative thoughts in the background trying to stomp out any personal joy I may have experienced.

In social settings I felt I had to wear a mask, because who wants to have a conversation with someone that is wallowing in a river of self-pity? Looking back, I think some people may have known what I was going through.  Because when you feel something internally it’s very difficult to hide those feelings from others, as they generate a certain type of energy.

So what turned it around for me? 

I knew this wasn’t going to be permanent (even though it felt like it would) and that I could pull out of it , but I needed help because whatever I was doing wasn’t working. Through my church I located a psychiatrist who was able to prescribe some medication that would help alleviate the intensity of my negative, crippling thoughts, and “stabilize” me more so that I wouldn’t keep creating a deeper downward spiral. The doctor said i had Generalized Anxiety. Gradually over time the prescription worked, and eventually I phased off of the medication completely.

cooper_limitless_22530072218_

If you know me, you know how much I love movies and am always looking to relate life experiences to them.  It kind of felt like Bradley Cooper’s character in the movie “Limitless”. And how he used the thought-enhancing medication to improve for a period of time, and once he was in a place where he felt he was comfortable enough to manage himself again, he weened himself off of it.

Remember, it is never too late to get help. There is always hope. You can start by calling the Suicide Prevention LIfeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their site at  suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Have you had any experiences with anxiety or depression or know someone that has? Feel free to leave a comment below.

 

 

 

What’s Your Spend-Ability?

Credit http://discusseconomics.com
Credit http://discusseconomics.com

Trends and people’s behavior are fascinating. They reveal what people believe, what kind of action they take, and how they go about living their lives.  Looking at trends and behavior help us identify what is important to people, which is a reflection of who they are.

Recently I had a conversation with my wife Tia about how people spend their money that looked fitting to share with you. Now please understand what this post is NOT doing – judging. As a general rule-of-thumb it’s easy to make observations of others and less of ourselves, so please take the article in stride.

Entertainment

Take for instance that we have these friends who love to go to concerts and sporting events. They have season tickets to the Arizona Cardinals, and are constantly at one music event or another. Having a good time away from home on a consistent basis is important to them.

My wife and I fit a little different mold – we’d rather take that money and spend on a 1 or 2-day staycation for our family at a local resort, like the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. There is just something we inherently value about down time and relaxation – doing nothing in a nice place.

We also value family vacations and leaving town completely to new destinations. To us it’s all about experiences, and less about the “stuff”/tangible items. The saying “you can’t take it with you” is very real for us, but what is left behind at the end of your life is the memories and experiences you have created with those you love.

Cars

Other friends choose to buy big fancy expensive vehicles, upwards of $50,000 or more, with all the upgrades known to mankind. And that’s great! Glad they see value there. To me, vehicles are a necessary nuisance. Something that can get you from point A to point B.  We have 2 vehicles, a 2011 Toyota Camry and a 2005 Dodge Caravan. While my wife is more than ready to trade-in for a nicer “mom-mobile”, she understands (thankfully) my view to wait.

The van is paid for and we still have about 2 years left on the car loan. What’s important to me about a vehicle is that it’s reliable and lasts a long time. One of the most frustrating things for me is vehicle maintenance. I feel like my life is passing me by when I have to go in for an oil change. Certain models require more maintenance, and interestingly enough, some very expensive vehicles require more maintenance. I guess that’s the tradeoff for image?

Houses

This is a big one for me, not only just because I am a REALTOR ®, but because it is THE biggest single expense for the average household. In the days before I got my license, our real estate professional pressured us into getting a bigger, nicer house than what we wanted simply because we could afford it. That didn’t sit well with me, and it still gives me a sinking feeling today. Not sure how other people think it’s in their place to tell me what I should and should not purchase.

As a result of not listening to that advice, we have never short sold or been foreclosed on. During the 2004-2006 Phoenix real estate market run-up many people got in over their heads & lost everything over the next several years.

So we live in a good, nice neighborhood. It’s not the fanciest or gated or on the water, but we enjoy it. We are happy with our standard of living, and having a manageable house payment allows us to do other things and not feel stressed out, especially because I’m on a commission-only income.

Savings

I’ve always been a saver, even when those around me would suggest I do different. I probably do it to a fault and overcompensate by saving and investing more than needed, but I value getting free at some point and do not wish to rely on selling homes or the government to support me. Hopefully this will happen sooner than later! As a result I am rarely put into a position that I “have” to make a sale , which serves no positive purpose to either me or my client.

Insurance

Most people are insurance poor. We know this because most of the time when we see people die prematurely on the news there is a gofundme site started to take care of final expenses. Life insurance doesn’t have to be ridiculously expensive – go with term, which takes care of you for a specified period of time. Ideally you are saving & investing money that you can live on in the *likely* event that you live until retirement.

This doesn’t just go for life insurance, but health (which is the United States is a total mess but that’s for another post), auto, home, and disability. Most people don’t find this out until they need to file a claim and it’s too late.

Miscellaneous

I could site plenty of other examples like my friend who is the most frugal teacher on the planet, but loves sunglasses and probably owns a good 15-20 pairs of them. Another friend saves money to go on multiple Disneyland trips a year, because he values those experiences with his family.

Although my life isn’t perfect, I like to think it’s pretty darn close. People’s money habits tend to either enrich their life or make it tough to bear.

What kind of money habits do YOU have and what do you enjoy spending your discretionary income on? Please leave a comment below!