Archive of ‘Sentiments’ category

Thoughtful Thinking


How to be thoughtful and show gratitude | The Champagne Supernova

The post is sponsored. The blog ain’t gonna pay for itself (and I’m due for low-lights!)

How many times have we thought about doing something special for someone to show our gratitude for them and, while our intentions were good, life got in the way and we never got around to doing it? Or maybe we did it, but not the way we envisioned.

This happens to me all the time.

A personalized “happy birthday to you, you live in a zoo” phone call in your best Beyoncé impression becomes a short “HBD!” text message.

Making a home cooked meal and driving it to the house of a sick relative becomes an Uber Eats delivery.

Visiting a friend and her new baby in the hospital becomes hiring Betty-Sue’s Florist to deliver carnations in a beat up minivan.

Sigh.

We all have busy lives. Carpools. Work deadlines. Soccer practice. Tennis matches. Trips to the grocery story. Trying to survive the chaos.

But when did it become acceptable to let being busy get in the way of being thoughtful and showing gratitude? This post here made me realize that life is too short to take someone for granted. To assume there would be another time to tell them you cared.

Then, I recently discovered one of my newest favorite companies. A company that makes it easy to be thoughtful and show the ones we love they are appreciated.

I am a huge enthusiast of supporting small businesses that make our already busy lives easier.

Thanks to Bond, sending a personalized note is as easy as shooting off an email. Seriously.

As in, they have an app and you can do it from your phone.

Riding the subway.

On an elevator.

In an airplane.

Standing in line for a Frappuccino.

Laying on the couch in your pajamas. (Me over here!)

Bond allows you to send beautiful, handwritten notes on customizable, high quality stationery from your phone or computer, and they make it easier than ever to make a habit of being thoughtful.

I tend to be slow-to-learn when dealing with new technology, but it only took me about five minutes to send these personalized note cards to my loved ones directly from my smart phone on the Bond App.

Five minutes!

And even better, the Bond app even addresses the notes, slaps a stamp on them, and has them delivered to the recipient.

Viola!

When you download the app, you can send your first note to a friend or loved one for free!

See the fruits of my non-laborious labor here:

How to be thoughtful and show gratitude | The Champagne Supernova

How to be thoughtful and show gratitude | The Champagne Supernova

How to be thoughtful and show gratitude | The Champagne Supernova

How to be thoughtful and show gratitude | The Champagne Supernova

The new Bond app simplifies being thoughtful and showing gratitude- just in time for Thanksgiving and the holidays.

Cheers to that!

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How to show gratitude and be thoughtful toward others | The Champagne Supernova

    Tips: How to Help a Grieving Person


    Tips for how to help a person who is grieving after losing a loved one | The Champagne Supernova blog
    Some people are lucky to never have to deal with grief.

    The kind that’s crippling.

    The kind of grief that makes you sleep during the day and awakens you at night.

    The kind that makes you forget to eat or paralyzes you from functioning.

    The kind of grief where, because of the loss, you’ve accepted the world will never again feel the same.

    Some of us have never felt that type of grief. We may have lost grandparents or distant loved ones, but those people were older, their time came, it was painful to lose them, but also exemplified the circle of life, and so it was.

    Sometimes we feel so stressed by the pressures of everyday life that we forget how good we truly have it. Racing to get to kids’ birthday parties. Unloading the hundreds of dollars of groceries from the car and getting them inside the house. Career deadlines. Getting locked outside the house. Rainy days when you wanted to go to the beach.

    Then we see someone who experiences such horrible grief or sadness that we are reminded our “stressors” are small stuff.

    And we don’t know how to treat that grieving person.

    Because we don’t know how we would handle being in their shoes.

    We want to reach out to the grieving person, but we might not know them “that” well, or addressing their sadness feels awkward, so instead, we do nothing.

    It’s not because we don’t care or because we aren’t thinking about them, it’s just because it’s difficult to know the right thing to do without feeling we are overreaching or doing something that “isn’t our place.”

    In 2015, my high school classmate, Heather Gast, experienced true sadness. The kind that you see on the televison and wonder how you could ever go on if it happened to you.

    I watched the events unfold as Heather bravely kept everyone informed via Facebook, and I closed the door to my office at work, read the updates on my computer screen, and sobbed.

    Like seeing tragedy occur in other peoples’ lives, I wanted to reach out to Heather and give her a hug. Tell her I was praying for her. Tell her I’m so sorry and there were no words but that she and her family would be on my mind.

    So many of us feel this way. We want to be there for the grieving person, but don’t know how.

    Heather has been kind enough to share her story and her insight about the people who showed their support and helped to make the loss more bearable.

    Here is the story, in Heather’s words.

    In March of 2010, I married the love of my life. Just over three years later, we began the crazy journey into parenthood when we welcomed our beautiful twins, Nathan and Sophia. The first years were dotted with career changes, moves and chasing babies. Life was crazy, but we managed to settle into life as a family just fine.

    Then, in March of 2015, I discovered what I initially thought was the flu was actually a surprise pregnancy. I soon found out that our then 14-month-old twins would have a little brother. I was shocked, but elated! My husband and I were definitely open to baby number three, but it happened a lot sooner than we anticipated. The next several months were filled with routine OB appointments, tiredness from chasing my toddlers around, deciding on nursery decor, and looking forward to my third November baby, due just before the holidays. I missed the newborn snuggles stage, and was really happy to have another baby to add to the armful!

    Tips for how to help a person who is grieving after losing a loved one | The Champagne Supernova blog

    Henry’s pregnancy announcement that was shared with friends, family, and on social media.

    We took maternity photos. Sweet friends threw me a baby shower. After a traumatic birth experience with my twins, I looked forward to an uncomplicated singleton delivery. There were no pregnancy complications, and our sweet boy passed every scan with flying colors. I managed to dodge the bullets of swelling and pregnancy induced hypertension this round. I was relieved. This time there would be no NICU. I made it to 40 weeks.

    Tips for how to help a person who is grieving after losing a loved one | The Champagne Supernova blog

    Maternity session during pregnancy with Henry. Photo Credit: Ann Axon Photography.

    At 40 weeks and 3 days, my husband and I decided it was time to meet our son. We hadn’t finished the nursery yet, but it didn’t matter. We were going to meet him.

    The day was November 9th.

    That is the day our family was changed forever.

    At 5:52 p.m., Henry James was born. It was a beautiful birth. My doctor and the OR staff were nothing short of amazing. My husband got to watch our baby’s birth. I’ll never forget the soft little cry I heard and feeling the warm tears of relief rolling down my cheeks.

    Henry was here.

    We heard him cry.

    He’s okay.

    But we soon learned that things were far from okay.

    Within minutes of his birth, the NICU staff assembled around Henry. He began to turn purple and struggled to breathe, and his oxygen saturation levels remained low. Henry was immediately taken to the NICU so the doctors could figure out what was wrong. I sent my husband after them, while I stayed behind as my OB was still sewing me up.

    I was wheeled to recovery.

    Alone.

    Again.

    With empty arms.

    How was this even happening?

    My husband and I remained hopeful. My OB and the attending nurses assured me that some babies just need a little help transitioning from inside the womb. Henry probably needed some supplemental oxygen. I waited in the recovery room for what seemed like an eternity. The recovery nurse kept calling the NICU for updates and information on Henry’s condition. It was shortly after that we received the news that Henry needed to be airlifted to a children’s hospital, more than 80 miles away.

    Thankfully, the nurses wheeled me into the NICU before the flight crew wheeled Henry away. He was beautiful, and had a thick head of hair like is big brother Nathan. I reached out to touch him, and he grabbed my finger. I was a goner. I was in love. The attending neonatologist suspected a cardiac issue, but Henry needed further testing that our birth hospital was not able to provide.

    Tips for how to help a person who is grieving after losing a loved one | The Champagne Supernova blog

    Henry, after he was placed on life support.

    That night, we learned Henry had a defect with his pulmonary veins, and would need surgery right away. My hours-old son was 80 miles away, and there was nothing I could do for him.

    I never felt so powerless.

    The next few days were a blur. By the next morning, Henry had deteriorated so much that he developed hypoxemia and was placed on a machine considered to be the last ditch “Hail Mary” of baby life support. Henry was very sick. He was diagnosed with what we later learned was an exceptionally rare and serious congenital heart defect: Obstructed Total Anomalous Pulmonary Veinous Return (“TAPVR”).

    The obstructed kind.

    The “critical” version of this defect because, not only was the “plumbing” around Henry’s heart all wrong, his veins were also abnormally thin. Tragic fact: TAPVR is most often discovered after birth, because the pulmonary veins are not visible on routine anatomy scans. Or even on the level 2 scans that I had. Henry was due to have his open heart surgery on Friday, November 13th. Henry’s cardiologists determined that he had healed and was stable enough for surgery.

    But this was not to be.

    Over the course of that Thursday evening, Henry suffered a catastrophic complication that necessitated his removal from the life support machine. He wasn’t going to make it. We had to let him go. My husband consented to the withdrawal of life support. At 3:02 a.m. on November 13, 2015, Henry drew his last breath on Earth and took his first in Heaven. Our world has never been the same since.

    There we were, my husband and I, left in profound grief and shock. Instead of cuddling our newborn son at home, introducing him to family and friends, we were sitting in a funeral home making arrangements.

    Purchasing a tiny casket.

    Choosing a burial plot.

    How were we ever going to get through this?

    The days, weeks, and months that followed Henry’s tragic death have been the most difficult our family has faced. However, this time also really taught me about caring for those who are grieving. When tragedy strikes a friend or loved one, most of us are left wondering what to do and how to help.

    I can attest to the fact that those who are grieving are just trying to survive, and they don’t have the energy to advocate for themselves and reach out for the help and support that they so desperately need. I wanted to share some simple do’s and don’ts, and I hope that they will help you find ways to reach out and help your friends and loved ones who may be grieving.

    Tips, do's and don't for how to help a person who is grieving | The Champagne Supernova blog

    Do show up with food. I know this one might sound a little silly, but keeping a hurting family fed removes a HUGE burden. My friend, Keri, organized a month-long meal planner for us, and we had meals delivered several nights a week. We were grateful for the food, but even more so for the familiar friendly faces, hugs, and company. If you don’t cook, consider sending a gift card to a favorite restaurant or mail a care package with all of the essential (read: disposable) cups, plates, and utensils.

    Don’t disappear because you don’t know what to do or say. I repeat, don’t disappear because you don’t know what to do or say! Trust me when I tell you that, to a person who is grieving the loss of a loved one, silence is deafening. I was amazed at the people who I barely knew who came out of the woodwork with texts, calls, cards, and who showed up to support our family at Henry’s funeral. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it hurt to have people who I thought were close friends and even family members not reach out. The friends who I had been there for who never even so much as sent a text message. I felt so sad and even a little angry. I may have moved forward and forgiven those people, but their lack of support is difficult to forget.

    If you did disappear, it is NEVER too late to reappear. This is important. I had many friends who eventually reached out, and were honest about not knowing what to do or say. They worried about hurting me by saying the wrong thing, and were trying to give me space. Just know that it is totally okay to not know what to say! You don’t even have to say anything. Just be there.

    Don’t say, “let me know if you need anything.” Just don’t say it. This puts the responsibility on the grieving person or family to coordinate their help. Please don’t do this. If you really want to help, ask when you can bring a meal, or when you can help clean, or whatever it is that you know would help the grieving friend the most. We will gladly accept.

    Do say their loved one’s name. Talk about them. Even nearly a year later, friends often mention Henry by name. It is such a gift when the people in my life talk about my Henry or ask about him, and often say they are willing to listen anytime I want to talk about him. Some people have said that they worry about reminding me about my loss, but no one needs to worry about reminding me. I’ll never forget that Henry was here, and that now he’s gone. Acknowledge often. It’s a wonderful thing.

    It’s common knowledge that death is a part of living. It is a certainty that every last one of us will be touched by grief during our lifetime. Our society often doesn’t do well with caring for those who are thick in the weeds of their grief journey, but it really doesn’t have to be this way. As long as we have compassion, we can find ways to come alongside those who are hurting and love them.

    Feed them.

    Talk to them.

    Listen to them.

    Hug them.

    Be there.

    Having walked the difficult path of grieving my son for nearly a year, it has given me the gift of perspective. Being Henry’s mom has made me a more compassionate human, and seeing the impact his life has made in the lives of so many has truly been a gift.

    Tips for how to help a person who is grieving after losing a loved one | The Champagne Supernova blog

    The Gasts’ 2016 holiday card, which honors Henry. Photo credit: Ann Axon Photography.

    The most heartfelt thanks goes out to Heather for having the courage to share her family’s story. Henry is gone but never forgotten.

    Cheers!

      Pet Peeve: Don’t Use Me, Bro!


      feeling-used-by-other-people

      At this stage of the game, all of us are old and wise enough to know when we’re being used.

      Smart enough to see through the shenanigans.

      The event triggering this post happened last Wednesday.

      I’m at my desk sorting through Motions and medical records when the following email popped up on my Outlook. Easily distracted, I clicked the little bubble on the bottom right corner of my screen.

      Below are the contents of the email with my commentary in parenthesis.

      Hi Jennifer,

      I came across your name on LinkedIn and wanted to say hello. (Stalker!) I found you because I like to meet like-minded folks (oh, so you’re a psychopath too?) in the Tampa area and, in all honesty (as opposed to dishonesty?), form new relationships or connections (that’s not very honest, you want me to help you in some way). We are both in lines of work where we may be able to help each other, or act as a local resource for one another (alrighty, dude, what do you want from me?). Let me know if you’re up for meeting for a quick coffee one day (there’s no such thing as a “quick coffee”.) At the very worst, I’ll cover your coffee (gee, thanks… because my time isn’t worth more than $3) and won’t take up too much time- but hopefully, we’ll get to chat and get familiarized with each other and the work that we do for clients.

      Hope you are well!

      Aaron (That’s a lie, but his real name rhymes with Derrick.)

      The signature line below was a lot more revealing.

      Just as I suspected, Aaron is a financial planner. He wants me to invest with him.

      “You wanna invest? I got some nice, shiny quarters for ya!”

      Aaron, just be completely up front about your motives from the beginning.

      Delete.

      I hate emails like these.

      I used to receive about five a week when I first started practicing law. Financial planners who wanted me to invest with them right out of the gate, without major expenses and with lots of money to invest. (Or so they thought.)

      If I tallied up all of the emails I’ve received like this, there would be hundreds. No joke.

      I’m sure any type of professional routinely receives emails of this nature.

      My husband has his own structural engineering firm (plug… how’s that for being transparent?), and I know he’s constantly getting approached to join strangers for “beers,” “coffee,” and “lunch.”

      It’s only through my experience that I immediately smell the rat and move on. But in my younger days, I would have taken Aaron up on this offer because I enjoy meeting “like-minded people,” only to have been disappointed. It’s similar to the first time you received an email from “The Desk of Mr. [name]” who, in weird Engish, requests a charity donation for a family member who suffered a brain hemorrhage while visiting some remote African country. It’s the same basic plot- there’s an emergency and won’t you please wire them some money? Don’t worry, they will repay you tenfold as gratitude for your kindness and generosity. The first time I got an email like this, I wanted to contact the United Nations so they could send assistance to whatever African country the guy was emailing about so they could please get this poor soul some help.

      Now I get these emails and delete them.

      I’ve seen it most frequently in the financial planning arena but, don’t get me wrong, have a few close friends who work in this field who I love and admire. Then, there are the ones who are constantly hitting people up in a super sneaky way and it’s annoying.

      For instance, one of my college sorority sisters got her feelings hurt a couple years back when she agreed to have lunch with an acquaintance whom she hadn’t seen in a decade. Out of the blue, the girl reached out to my friend, faked an interest in her marriage and birth of twins, invited her to lunch for the sake of “catching up”, and then BAM… asked her to invest with her company with her serving as the financial planner.

      My friend left lunch feeling used. Rightfully so. She never invested with the other girl. And she was maddddddd.

      Let me be clear. I am aware of and respect that everyone has to use their connections and personal relationships to promote themselves and to grow their businesses. That’s exactly what you’re supposed to do.

      Ain’t no problem with the hustle.

      I do it too.

      The problem is when people aren’t immediately candid about their true motives. The problem is when people try to get what they want using “sneak attack” antics. It’s bad business. 

      All Aaron had to say to me in the email was “I’d love to discuss financial planning with you- are you already working with someone? Can we have coffee to go over it and, if you’re not interested, that’s fine?”

      Then, I would have respected Aaron. I would have told him we don’t need anyone but that I would keep his name in mind if the opportunity presented itself or for referrals for someone else who might be interested.

      But nooooooooooooooooo. Aaron sent me an evasive email and tried to trick me into joining him for coffee so he could subsequently launch his sneak attack.

      What a turnoff.

      Drops mic.

      Cheers to honesty and transparency!

        Life: The Five Screw-Ups that Made a Huge Difference


        how-mistakes-make-your-life-better

        Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

        Who here is tired of seeing ole Ralph’s quotes? Half the time I wonder if he really said some of these things, or if someone just writes something uplifting and then slaps his name on it. (No, I don’t want to research it unless it has a billable code.)

        But someone has a point here.

        I’ve screwed up a couple times in my life.

        Ok, a good number of times.

        But the best times I’ve learned were through my own screw-ups or by witnessing someone else go down in a Blaze of Glory.

        Practice makes perfect?!

        I’ve never learned anything by adhering to adults’ warnings during my youth.

        And certainly, not from my parents who, in my mind, were merely trying to keep me from having a good time.

        I don’t have any degrees or licenses in psychology or sociology or anything like that.

        I’m not a mental health counselor. But a bit mental.

        Just a gal with a couple of decades of mistakes under her belt with time to ponder what worked and what didn’t.

        Here’s my list of the five most valuable lessons. Things I’ve started doing or stopped doing that have made a huge difference.

        1. Contact your parents every day. When you’re in your teens and early twenties, the prospect of your parents dying, if you’re lucky to have both still alive, seems so far away. You imagine they’ll pass peacefully in their sleep in their nineties like Noah and Allie did in The Notebook. 

        Now that I’m in my mid-thirties, I have plenty of friends and acquaintances who have lost one or both of their parents. Some during childhood, some following long battles with terminal illnesses and, for others, unexpectedly and without warning.

        I made a vow that I wouldn’t take another day with both of my parents for granted because I know there’s no guarantee and I’ve witnessed the painful heartache of seeing someone lose someone they loved. My parents are two of the most important people in my life. Accordingly, I make a point to have some type of contact with them every single day, whether it’s a phone call, email, or text message. I don’t want to have regrets.

        There will come a time when I wish I could contact them, but I can’t.

        2. Stop Caring What Other People Think. This one can be tricky. If you didn’t care what other people think, you’d be a sociopath with no friends.  You have to care, to a degree. Just an eensy weensy teeny tiny one.

        Not caring about what other people think requires a balancing being kind and courteous to others while being your true self. It also requires you to decide whose opinions you’ll actually take into consideration when making choices. For me, this number is small and is limited to my immediate family, my husband, a few close friends whose friendships have spanned multiple decades, and my boss (dang, that pesky mortgage!)

        I used to be a slave to other people’s opinions. I used to cringe at the idea of not making someone happy or the prospect that someone could be upset with me. It was exhausting and a waste of time.

        I’ve learned you can try and try and try and try, but there are times someone will never like you and there’s nothing you can do about it. Absent extreme circumstances, most of the time, their reasons for not liking you are meritless. You have a similar voice as their second-grade teacher, who once slapped them on the knuckles with a ruler. You asked their ex-boyfriend to the Sadie Hawkins dance your sophomore year of high school. You once picked them last during a game of dodgeball. You play your music too loud in your car. You’re a dentist and they once had a bad experience getting a tooth pulled. Twenty years ago. By someone else.  Your breath smells like celery, and they’re allergic. You have a great body with tons of friends and the face of an angel, while they are feeling down-and-out about themselves (e.g., the way I feel about Margot Robbie.)

        See how dumb?

        I’ve wasted so much time worrying about the opinions of people who don’t matter. I can never get that time back. And when I decided it was time to stop worrying, the quality of my life (and friendships that really mattered) grew exponentially.

        3. Have a To-Do List. In the past when I felt really overwhelmed, instead of being able to tackle projects, I felt mentally and emotionally paralyzed. I didn’t know where to start.

        Now, I create a “to-do” list of things that I need to accomplish throughout the day. The list isn’t made in order of importance; just whatever needs to be done. I usually keep the list in my purse or in my planner, and add to it throughout the day.

        When performing tasks, I start with the easiest items on the list. The ones that require the least amount of brainpower and stress.

        Paying the electric bill. Emailing someone a confirmation about something. Responding to a text message.

        Then, by the time I attempt the “hard” stuff, I feel like I’ve already accomplished a lot.

        Psychologically, having a list is so important to the Type A crazy person in me. It’s like the adult-version of a baby blanket and, for me, is critical to staying sane and on task.

        Sun Basket

        4. Water Your Own Garden. It’s easy to look across the proverbial fence to see what other people have and feel like your own garden isn’t good enough.

        But it is.

        It’s simple to think someone else has a happier marriage and more well-behaved children and tons of money with plenty of time for champagne wishes and caviar dreams.  Well, they don’t. We all have our struggles and our weaknesses.

        Sure, I’d love to live in a bigger house with a more spacious kitchen and larger backyard in a “better” neighborhood (Tampa peeps: South of Gandy in the heezy), but I also know that would mean a larger mortgage, less money for “family” stuff, and more overall headache.

        It’s normal, albeit unhealthy, to look at what other people have and compare it to what you have and then feel like you’re not good enough. Been there, done that. It’s no fun. But I promise, your real friends don’t care about the size of your house, what kind of car you drive, the brand of clothes you wear, or whether you rub elbows with people who are deemed socially important. Your real friends like you for you.

        So go ahead and rent the matchbox apartment, drive the boxy Scion (y’all know what I’m talking about), and rock the Xhilaration leggings with reckless abandon. The people who matter won’t notice and won’t care.

        5. Know When to Be Quiet. This has been one of my biggest struggles. The biggest. In my younger days, I would say whatever came to my mind, no matter the topic, and if someone got their feelings hurt or it got me into trouble, I would justify myself (and dismiss their feelings) as “just speakin’ my mind.”

        I’ve learned in some situations, it’s better to shut the heck up. Everyone knows what those situations are. And if you want to go ahead and speak your mind, be prepared for potential consequences of hurt relationships. Is it worth it? Nope.

        I guess in life, experience is the best (and sometimes only) way to grow.

        These include screwing up.

        I needed the screw-ups. They were actually gifts.

        Cheers!

        (By the way, what lessons and screw-ups would you put on your own list?)

          Support Education: Box Tops


          boxtops7

          This is a sponsored post (but I believe in the mission and participate in the program!)

          It began in California in 1996.

          General Mills wanted to create a program to help support education and benefit America’s schools- so, Box Tops for Education was born. Two years after it started, over 30,000 schools were clipping Box Tops and earning cash to buy the items they needed: playground equipment, books, computers, and more.

          Over the next four years, the Box Tops for Education program doubled to include popular brands like Pillsbury, Old El Paso, and Green Giant. By 2004, over 82,000 schools across the nation participated in Box Tops, earning more than $100 million toward education.

          TODAY, America’s schools have earned over $719 million, and you can find Box Tops on hundreds of products throughout the grocery store.

          Typically, each Box Top clip is worth 10 cents for your school. However, by purchasing three specially-marked General Mills Box Tops items at Sam’s Club, you can earn your school an additional 100 eBox Tops.

          How, you ask?

          Simple.

          Purchase three General Mills Box Top products and enter your receipt on samsclub.com/boxtops to earn 100 eBoxTops.

          You can also purchase 6 General Mills Box Tops products and earn 200 eBoxTops, 9 products to earn 300 eBoxTops, and 12 products to earn 400 eBoxTops.

          What. A. Deal.

          Redeeming your box tops through Sam’s Club is super easy and you can do it here. You must purchase the products between 8/16/16 and 11/16/16. Email your receipt to samsclub@btfereceipts.com. Once validated, come back to Samsclub.com/boxtops to enter eBoxTops code and assign to your school.

          I’ve been a member of Sam’s Club for roughly a decade. The samples reeled me in, but the bargains kept me. I’m so glad I can get a good deal on items for my family while helping to give back to the community.

          Cheers to that!

          boxtops8

          boxtops6

          boxtops2

          Look for box tops like THESE.

          boxtops9

            Paybacks: It’s Not Worth It


            Karma_paybacks

            They say paybacks are hell. But who are they hell for?

            Last week I was in a car accident while I was driving with my 4-year-old daughter.

            Her school has chapel services that begin at 8:15. I don’t ordinarily get to take my daughter to school because of work commitments, and so being able to attend chapel with her is extra special.

            Many of the parents attend with their children, and I’m hypersensitive about being an “absentee mom” who is always at the office.

            I don’t want to fast-forward twenty years and hear my kids are sitting on a shrink’s couch humming Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle.”

            So.

            As I was at a stop light waiting to turn left once it changed from red to green, I felt another car slam into my bumper and heard a corresponding crash. I looked at my daughter, who was safely in her car seat, and made sure she was ok.

            I looked into the rearview mirror and saw a series of cars behind me, also waiting to turn left at the light. I assumed it was a multi-car collision, with the person in the very back at fault.

            Once the light changed, I stopped at the first available street and got out of the vehicle, preparing myself for the potential damage.

            The right part of my bumper was dragging on the ground.

            Great! One more car accident.

            I’m like a magnet for other people hitting me.

            And let’s be honest, I’ve had my share of mishaps as well.

            Epic Classical Academy

            This is why I drive an old Volvo SUV. Because I can’t have nice things.

            Oh, and because it’s paid off.

            Another driver pulled up behind me, a middle-aged white man in an Acura sedan. The front of his car didn’t have nearly the amount of damage as the rear of mine. I glanced in his car, and it appeared he was alone.

            He got out of his vehicle looking worried.

            The following exchange is crystal clear in my mind.

            What happened? I asked. Did you hit me, or did you get pushed into me by another driver?

            It’s all my fault, I wasn’t paying attention, didn’t stop on time, and just rolled into your vehicle. Nobody hit me. 

            Ugh.

            I called 911, reported the accident, and asked for an officer to come to the scene and write a police report.

            As I checked on my daughter, who was still in the back seat, she became hysterical.

            Please don’t wait for the police man, we’ll be late for chapel (!!!)

            Her eyes were sad and desperate.

            She was right.

            It was 7:40 and if we waited for an officer to arrive, conduct an investigation, and prepare a report, we’d be late.

            She doesn’t do well when she’s late and out of her routine.

            Eat Clean $30.00 Off

            Please don’t wait for a police officer to arrive, he said.

            I’m a driver for UPS and if they find out about this, it will put my contract at risk because I’ll have an accident on my record. I’ve been insured with State Farm for 23 years and will pay for all your damage. It was my fault. Take a picture of my driver’s license and insurance card, and let’s exchange phone numbers in case we need it.

            Like my daughter, the man was desperate for me to not make a police report.

            He was just shy of begging.

            I looked at him and judged him.

            Seemed like a nice enough guy. Appeared “normal” (read: not a derelict or a drug addict).  Was being honest about his mistake and since nobody was hurt and the property damage was minimal, getting everything paid for shouldn’t be an issue.

            I gave him my number, he called me, and I saw his number appear on my phone’s caller ID. He took a picture of my driver’s license.

            I photographed his driver’s license and insurance card and was on my way.

            I called 911 and canceled my request for a police officer.

            We got to my daughter’s school in time for chapel.

            Score!

            When I arrived at work, I called State Farm and reported the loss using the information contained on the man’s insurance card. The agent said someone would be in touch with me after they contacted their insured and verified he was at fault for the crash.

            No problem.

            Later that evening after we put the kids to sleep, I returned a call from State Farm.

            The insurance agent advised liability was being contested because the man who hit me was claiming the crash occurred because another vehicle struck him from behind and fled the scene.

            Well, that’s a complete lie, but what does this mean for me? I asked.

            We’re going to go to his house and check out his bumper. If there’s damage that jives with his story, then we’ll treat this as a hit-and-run and will not be paying for your property damage  or any injuries, if you have any.

            Vengeance and paybacks aren't worth the trouble | The Champagne Supernova

            My initial reaction to being told the guy who hit my car was blaming it on someone else and his insurance company may not pay for my damage.

            I couldn’t believe it.

            I did this guy a favor and he turned around and tried to screw me.

            And I didn’t throw out my “I’m a lawyer” card at the time of the crash (because I’m not a dweeb) but what an idiot!

            No good deed goes unpunished. 

            Of course, I advised the insurance adjuster that the guy was lying.

            If he was hit from behind, why didn’t he call 911? Why did he specifically deny getting hit from behind? What if he had pre-existing damage to his bumper that he’s trying to pin on our accident?

            The adjuster couldn’t have cared less. When liability is contested and there are no witnesses (except my four-year-old daughter), they have to side with their insured.

            Blah, blah, blah.

            They would investigate and get back with me in 2-3 days.

            I then realized I had this guy’s phone number from when he called me after the accident.

            So I called him.

            And, again, he was dumb enough to answer.

            Then my irrational alter-ego, “Jenny from the Block” took over, and he got an earful.

            Said if he continued these shenanigans, I would report him for fraud to the department of insurance. Make a complaint to the State Attorney’s Office. Call UPS, report the accident, and advise if they kept him on board as a driver, they’d face potential issues for negligent retention if he was involved in another accident. And worse, if State Farm didn’t pay for my damage because of his lies, he would be seeing me in small claims court.  I would blast my picture of his driver’s license and insurance card all over my the blogosphere.

            He. Didn’t. Know. Who. He. Was. Messing. With.

            Pretty_Woman

            I then called the police, called my own car insurance company, and lost sleep over it.

            Those are 12 hours I’ll never get back.

            Long story short, State Farm conducted an investigation and accepted liability for the crash. My car’s in the process of being fixed on their dime.

            I was subsequently on the phone with my mother venting about this hassle and how I couldn’t believe this guy was dirtbag enough to throw me under the bus after I did him a favor.

            Some nerve.

            Then, my mom said something wise, mature, and true.

            You could report him to his employer and do all these things to “get back and him,” but is it really worth all the trouble? He has all your contact information and knows where you live, what if he does something crazy? Sometimes, it’s just not worth it. 

            She’s right.

            (Yes, mom, I am publicly admitting you’re right. I need to write a blog post about all the things in my life my parents were right about that I didn’t believe at the time due to my lack of experience and maturity.)

            I’m still immature and part of me feels defeated for letting him off the hook so easily without any ramifications (that I’m aware of.)

            There’s a fine line between being a doormat and setting boundaries, and I felt (feel) like a wimp.

            But the reality is I’ll never see him again and his insurance company is paying for my damage, so going out of my way to make this dude’s life a nightmare will only waste my own time.

            Karma will catch up with him.

            There are times in life where seeking vengeance on someone is truly worth it. To me, this was not that time.

            And I hate that my mother was right. Just a little.

            Cheers to moving on.

              Miss Understood: How Assumptions can Ruin Relationships


              How making assumptions can ruin great relationships | The Champagne Supernova

              As an attorney, my career is devoted to collecting information, assessing the information, and reporting the information to my clients.

              I try to predict how a jury will react to the information and whether they will find a plaintiff, his or her medical providers, and witnesses to be credible. (After all, just because I perceive the “star witness” to be a lying schmuck doesn’t mean a jury will see him that way.)

              The devil’s in the details, and I try to turn over every rock so I don’t miss something important. The minutiae that accompany “lawyering” can be daunting, and I wrote an entire blog post about it here.

              You would think I’d adopt this “information collecting” to my personal life.

              Nope.

              Conclusions.

              Assumptions.

              Inferences.

              I’ve done it all.

              Take my husband, for instance. Last week, I got mad at him because of something I assumed without first bothering to collect all the information.

              I came home from work on a Friday and was waiting for the babysitter to arrive so we could have a “date night” at an event that was on our calendar for months. Per our plan, which we specifically discussed, the sitter would arrive at 6, and we would be out the door by 7.

              When I got home at 5:30, my 4-year-old had her towel and bathing suit in hand, and was adamant that she wanted to meet her friend, Katie, at the local swimming pool.

              Do you mind if I take Arden to the pool to meet Katie?  My husband asked.

              I could feel my temperature begin to rise and my eyes were probably bloodshot.

              I was trying not to lose my cool in front of the kids. I was trying not to disappoint Arden, who clearly had her heart set on meeting Katie at the pool. I didn’t want to break it to her that she’d have to stay home with a babysitter instead.

              So now I was the “bad guy,” especially because my husband was seemingly asking for my permission, and I’d have to be the one to say no.

              After all, it would be impossible for him to drive her all the way to the pool and be home on time for us to get to the event by 7, as we planned.

              As we specifically discussed.

              More than once! 

              My mind was racing.

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              Why would he offer to take her to the pool when he knew we had to leave our house by 7?

              Why would he call Katie’s dad to make plans?

              This whole thing was his stupid idea. It definitely was! 

              Why, why, why?

              I was livid.

              When we were alone in the kitchen, I gave my husband an awful look.

              It was an accident, he explained. Katie’s dad called me when I was in the car with Arden. He didn’t know the speakerphone was on and invited us to meet them at the pool. Arden heard it and got excited and has been begging to go ever since. I haven’t been able to diffuse it.

              I wanted to crawl under the counter and hide.

              I felt bad.

              I got unnecessarily worked up because I created a story in my mind without having all the facts.

              I owed him an apology.

              Let me tell you. This anecdote was tame. I’ve made worse assumptions in other facets of my life.

              Then, I started thinking.

              How many good relationships have we ruined, or opportunities have we missed because we didn’t have all the information?

              How many times have we been annoyed with one of our friends or colleagues because we created a tale in our minds about something that never even happened, but convinced ourselves it was true?

              How many times have you confronted someone about something (or were passively displeased with them) because you didn’t have all the facts? Or you had some “facts,” but those facts were wrong and incomplete?

              How many times have we judged someone without knowing them, all because of something unsavory another person said that we assumed was true?

              How many times have we heard of friends or, worse, family members go years without speaking because of misunderstandings and false assumptions?

              Eat Clean $30.00 Off

              How many times have we gotten a “weird vibe” from someone and assumed they didn’t like us when, likely, they were just shy or introverted and it’s not personal?

              It’s so easy to think we know what’s happening inside someone else’s head.

              I’ve learned lot of headaches and relationships can be saved by collecting all the facts.

              In his popular book, The Four Agreements, Miguel Ruiz points out:

              “If others tell us something, we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something, we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear something that we don’t understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”

              Ruiz goes onto state that of the four agreements, this one is the most life transforming.

              I can see that.

              I’ve painted pictures in my head because I didn’t want to ask questions and appear confrontational, and because I thought there was only one plausable explanation for why something happened, which only caused stress and hurt feelings.

              I’ve believed my own assumptions too dang many times.

              What a waste of energy.

              From this point forward, I’m going to adopt my work persona as being a “social sleuth” into my personal life. I’m not going to allow my incorrect perceptions to victimize me.

              Today is the last day.

              Cheers!

                Election Season: I Don’t Care About Your Politics


                Election_Trump_Hillary

                Ahhh… politics and election season.

                It’s a time you’re reminded that your “friends” think you’re an idiot because you can’t see how wrong your political ideologies are and how much of a lying, phony, nincompoop the person you’re voting for is.

                A time that people use the internet as a means of polarizing one another and promoting their own political agendas.

                It’s a time people share “news” stories in an effort to demonstrate their “side” is correct, and this is why you should agree with them and “see the light,” dagnabit.

                Sigh.

                Raise your hand if your opinion about something important has ever been swayed by a social media status update or an adversarial conversation with someone who vehemently disagrees with you.

                (My hand is down.)

                What people ignore is that divisive comments carry an implication that someone isn’t “smart enough” to know what the issues are, understand the issues, and make an informed decision.

                I’ve been down the rabbit hole in the past. I’ve participated in dead-end conversations like these.

                It doesn’t feel good.

                When I was in law school (what seems like many moons ago), I was standing in a group having a conversation with a classmate who was a bleeding-heart (political party, which I won’t name, because that could make people miss the point). She clearly had different political philosophies than the rest of the people in the group and, in an ill-fated attempt to suggest that her views were right, and everyone else’s were wrong, she declared:

                My parents are highly educated, and they are huge financial supporters of (politician) and (politician’s) charity organization.

                Oh.

                So you’re assuming nobody else’s parents are “highly educated?” What if some of our parents couldn’t afford a formal education, but remain informed? Do their views not count?

                She’s a nice girl, and I haven’t seen her in nearly a decade but, when I think of her, I’ll always remember that ridiculous comment.

                I think most people are “smart enough.”

                Smart enough to know someone’s support for Donald Trump doesn’t make them a bigot, their support for Hillary Clinton doesn’t make them a freeloader, their support for Bernie Sanders doesn’t make them a communist, and their support for Ted Cruz doesn’t make them an ignorant Bible-thumper.

                It’s more complicated than that.

                Smart enough to know another person’s pro-choice stance doesn’t make them a murderer and their support for life doesn’t mean they think women shouldn’t be able to choose.

                It’s far more complex than that.

                Smart enough to know a person’s opinion that “Black Lives Matter” doesn’t mean they think police shootings are justified, or that disagreeing with Caitlyn Jenner’s lifestyle doesn’t mean they hate her.

                There’s more to it.

                Most people are smart enough to question what the media tells them; therefore, they do their own independent research before making (and voicing) an opinion.

                Smart enough to know that while they might be a Christian, their religious beliefs could have been different if they were born to some other family in India, Indonesia, Israel, or Iran.

                And here’s the thing.

                I don’t care about your politics. 

                Unless I explicitly ask, I don’t care what you think about gun control, immigration, same-sex marriage, Planned Parenthood, global warming, affirmative action, ISIS, euthanasia, estate taxes, legalizing marijuana, Obamacare, waterboarding, or the death penalty.

                I just don’t care.


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                I also don’t care who you’re voting for, why you’re voting for that person, and why you think supporters of another candidate are imbeciles.

                Here’s what I care about:

                Whether you’re a good person. Whether we have a good time when we’re together. Whether you’re loyal and sincere. Whether you confidently live by your own rules instead of hustling for the approval of others. Whether you work hard. Whether you are kind and humble.

                Whether you are respectful of others’ opinions and ideologies, even when they aren’t the same opinions and ideologies as your own.

                I care about whether you have a sense of humor and aren’t preoccupied with keeping up appearances. Whether you’re proud to be an American and grateful for the opportunities you’ve been given, even when there is room for improvement.

                I care about whether you’re not afraid to admit you’re not completely passionate about your job, or that you need a glass of wine because your kids have you “on edge.” Whether you’re willing to acknowledge things aren’t perfect all the time. I care about whether you’re dependable and are supportive during the bad times as much as you are during the good times.

                Those are the things I care about.

                I don’t care about your politics.

                Cheers!

                 

                  Baby Bellies: Don’t Ask if She’s Pregnant


                  How do you know when it's okay to ask a woman if she's pregnant |The Champagne Supernova

                  Rule of thumb. Or bump.

                  Two years ago, I did something evil.

                  It wasn’t planned and, for all my lawyer colleagues, there was no malice aforethought.

                  It happened one week after I delivered my second daughter.

                  Overcome with a cornucopia of dreadful emotions, my husband convinced me to get out of the house and treat myself to a good old fashioned mani-pedi.

                  Perfect!

                  So I got into my mom-mobile and skedaddled to the nearest “spa,” one of those stereotypical Asian nail salons wedged between a dry cleaning place and Mediterranean cafe in a strip mall.

                  I’d been there a couple times before, but stopped going because, despite there being multiple female technicians, I always got stuck with the older man who never stopped talking.

                  Don’t get me wrong.

                  I love chatting.

                  But when I’m trying to “relax,” I certainly don’t want to make small talk about the weather, my summer plans, or if I’ve been to any good restaurants lately.

                  I just don’t.


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                  It’s substantially more annoying when the talkative person doesn’t speak comprehensible English and I’m left racking my brain trying to figure out what he or she is saying.

                  So.

                  For the sake of saving time because this salon was the closest one to my house, I went there and crossed my fingers I wouldn’t get stuck with Jabbery Joe.

                  I got Jabbery Joe.

                  (Of course I did!)

                  While he was giving me my manicure, he asked if I had kids.

                  “Yes. I have two daughters, ages 1 and 3.”

                  As I didn’t want to open up the floodgates to any additional questions, I omitted that I had a newborn baby back at the house, and felt my white lie was justified.

                  funny_pregnancy

                  Then, he moved me into the pedicure chair. As he glanced up at me while painting my toenails (this was after he went all crazy with the “cheese grater”), he took one look at my post-baby gut, which was in all its glory, and loudly said:

                  “Ohhhhhh, you pregnant! How far ‘long?”

                  I took one look at Jabbery Joe and glared.

                  With eyes redder than the “Thrill of Brazil” polish he was using, I sinisterly replied: “I’m not pregnant.”

                  Befuddled, he looked at me with the fear of God, seemed like he was going to vomit, and the only “save” he could muster up was:

                  “Second baby bigga. Second baby bigga.”

                  I guess this meant the woman is bigger after delivering her second child which, in his mind, happened last year.

                  As if that was supposed to make me feel better.

                  Jabbery Joe didn’t say another peep until he thanked me as I was leaving.

                  Good, I thought to myself, serves him right for asking such a dumb question. 

                  When I returned home and told my husband the story, he said I was being mean and should have explained that I had week-old infant at home and, to avoid further questions, been honest about wanting to decompress and not talk anymore.

                  He’s right.

                  He’s definitely right.

                  Jabbery Joe was just being kind and showing an interest. Good customer service. And there I was, being grouchy and wallowing in my hormonal sorrows.

                  Fast forward to last weekend.

                  Over two years later.

                  I went back to this salon and, as luck would have it, got stuck with Jabbery Joe.

                  The first thing he asked me was how the girls were doing and then reminded me it had been years since I was there, “when my girls were 1 and 3.”

                  He remembered. 

                  He probably went home that night and got berated by his wife after he confessed to asking a non-pregnant woman how far along she was. And she likely schooled him that, unless someone is in active labor or there isn’t a shred of a question that she’s pregnant, you never ask a woman if she’s “with child.”

                  Ever.

                  When it's ok to ask a woman if she's pregnant | The Champagne Supernova

                  Me, four months into my first pregnancy. This is how I look now when I eat a couple tacos.

                  I debated whether to create any lists on pregnancy political correctness since I am the least P.C. person on the planet, but while our society is so stuck on “not-doing-this” and “stop-saying-that” to avoid offending someone, what’s one more?

                  So here, my friends, is when it’s ok to ask a woman who is a complete stranger to you if she’s pregnant:

                  When you see a human being physically emerging from her vagina. 

                  This is why.

                  A woman who appears to be pregnant could just be wearing a flowy dress. She could simply be overweight. She could have a tumor in her stomach. She could have just gone crazy at a Chinese super buffet. (M.S.G. is good!) She could have a thyroid condition. Or how about this… she could have recently had a baby, and asking her if she’s pregnant is digging the proverbial nail deeper.

                  Do you really want to set yourself up for an awkward moment?

                  And that post-baby gut… It’s normal.

                  According to WebMd, it takes between 6 and 8 weeks after delivery for a woman’s uterus to return to its prepregnancy size.

                  So if you have the gut… congratulations, you’re normal. If you don’t have the gut, Bless Your Heart.

                  Me and The Mister when I was 9 months pregnant with my second daughter. I never got offended when people asked me if I was pregnant but really, don't ask. For the love!

                  Me and The Mister when I was 9 months pregnant with my second daughter. I never got offended when people asked me if I was pregnant but really, for the love, just don’t ask.

                  Cheers to minding your own bees-wax!

                    Parenting in the Trenches: They’ll be Older Tomorrow


                    My girls at ages 1 and 3. This was taken a year ago, but seems like it was two weeks ago. Photo by Synthia Therese Photography.

                    My girls at ages 1 and 3. This was taken a year ago, but seems like it was two weeks ago. Photo by Synthia Therese Photography.

                    I remember strangers approaching me when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, placing their hands on my stomach, asking whether I was having a boy or a girl, when I was due, and whether I had chosen a name.

                    I received all sorts of parenting advice, most of it unsolicited.

                    Which strollers and car seats were the best.

                    Breast or bottle.

                    Pacifiers or loveys.

                    “There’s nothing wrong with letting your child ‘cry it out.'”

                    There was one piece of advice I remember most.

                    When you’re having a hard time, remember your child will be older tomorrow, so try to cherish it. 

                    Man. Those people who said that (there were many) weren’t kidding.

                    Looking back, I remember the reality of having a newborn baby set in, and so did those proverbial trenches.

                    When you’re in the middle of those awful trenches, you aren’t thinking “this too shall pass.”

                    You’re thinking you’re tired.

                    That your boobs hurt.

                    That you’re sick of not knowing what day it is and that you haven’t washed your matted hair in so long that it’s sticky from all the dry shampoo.

                    That your house is a pigsty, but cleaning it feels like being on a hamster wheel.

                    That you want to go out in public, but only if you have a personal guarantee from God Himself that you won’t see anyone you know because you look like crap and you might burst into tears if someone asks how you’re doing.

                    That you’ll exchange harsh words with the grocery store cashier if she ID’s you in response to the fifteen bottles of wine on the conveyor belt and smirks as she stares at your photo and says, “Is this really you?”

                    Yes. The picture was taken right after my honeymoon when I was freshly highlighted, sun tanned, and relaxed, thankyouverymuch. 

                    That you’ve been wearing the same outfit for seventy-two hours straight, and it’s stained with formula and tears.

                    That you love your baby, you really do, but you wish, for once, she would just stop crying so you could get through one episode of the trashy reality show you’ve been wanting to watch.

                    You’re thinking you’d love for your stomach to not look like a deflated balloon and that you’re sick of wearing the oversized mesh underwear they give you at the hospital.

                    Let me tell you something.

                    When I was home on maternity leave with both girls, the hours seemed like decades. The monotony of folding laundry, unloading the dishwasher, and vacuuming the floor felt like Groundhog Day. The only reason I looked forward to the weekend was because it meant my husband would be home from work all day, and there’d be an extra set of hands to help around the house.

                    I remember people telling me to “sleep when the baby sleeps.”

                    Yeah, right.

                    It’s like napping on eggshells.

                    Now, my girls are two and four and I’ve moved out of those trenches and onto a new, unique set of obstacles. And you know what? There are so many times I was in such a stressed out fog while I was in those trenches that I didn’t stop and appreciate being in the thick of it all.

                    Because, unless something crazy and unintentional happens, there will be no more newborns  in my house. And you know what didn’t really matter? That I was tired. Or that my boobs hurt. That I didn’t know what day it was and hadn’t washed my hair in a long time. Or that my house was a pigsty or I might run into somebody I knew if I went out in public. That a cashier thought I looked ugly or, heaven forbid, I was wearing the same outfit several days in a row. Or that someone knew I was having a hard time transitioning to motherhood. That I was tired of hearing my child cry and wanted to indulge in trashy television.

                    The kids have gotten older pretty quickly, and they’ll be even older tomorrow. 

                    And since I can’t stop time, all I can do is change my perspective, because I know I’ll look back on the trenches and obstacles when my girls are adults and wish I could do it over again. A hundred times.

                    So.

                    I’ll try my best not to rush through dinner and bath time after I’ve arrived home from a crazy day at work because they’ll be older tomorrow.

                    I won’t care if getting completely into the water at the local swimming pool means I’ll have to wash and blow-dry my hair the next day because they’ll be older tomorrow.

                    I’ll disregard that building sand castles and making mermaids at the beach will result in painstakingly vacuuming the car because they’ll be older tomorrow.

                    I’ll try not to stress that fifteen extra minutes splashing around in the tub means a slightly later bedtime because they’ll be older tomorrow.

                    That reading one more book or watching ten more minutes of Peppa Pig isn’t the end of the world because they’ll be older tomorrow.

                    That unnecessarily spending twenty more minutes at the office finishing something that can be done later because there’s no real deadline isn’t worth missing precious time with the girls at home because they’ll be older tomorrow.

                    That declining an after-hours obligation I don’t really want to attend with people I can catch up with another time so I can hang out with my family is still ok because they’ll be older tomorrow.

                    I’ll embrace my little ladies screaming songs and laughing in the car at the top of their lungs instead of being annoyed because they’ll be older tomorrow.

                    I’ll play sharks, Marco Polo, and underwater handstand Olympics with them in the swimming pool because they’ll be older tomorrow (and, soon enough, likely won’t want to hang out with me anyway.)

                    I’ll let them hold my hand and bashfully cling to me when meeting a new friend or going to an unfamiliar place because they’ll be older tomorrow.

                    I’ll try to be patient and hold my breath and count to ten when they accidentally knock over the bowl of Fruit Loops because they’ll be older tomorrow.

                    Cheers!

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