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Is Not Only for the Perks – I Promise

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Is Not Only for the Perks – I Promise

Being that Thanksgiving is so close, I am taking the opportunity to be thankful for what I consider to be a privilege in my life: my job.   Unfortunately, in the United States too many are suffering the absence or loss of a job , or the uncertainty of maintaining their current jobs in the near future. I was searching for current information on the state of national unemployment and I stumbled upon this data on the site for The National Conference of State Legislation: 

The unemployment rate dropped slightly in October, to 9.0%, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on November 4, 2011. Unemployment has hovered between 9.0 and 9.2 percent since April 2011. 

Approximately 13.9 million workers are unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed, those without a job for 27 weeks or more, dropped slightly to 5.9 million workers.

I have been working at my present job for 6 years now, and I have much to be thankful for in this respect:

  • The coolest supervisor ever
  • Some flexibility in my hours
  • Summers off
  • A decent benefit package
  • A beautiful and pleasant environment
  • Nice co-workers
  • And the best, I get to take classes towards my Bachelors degree for free, yes FREE

An added perk is all the great speakers and performers that come to campus every year; in addition to some very cool, fun, and family friendly events that I can bring my kids to.  Here are some of the speakers, performers, and events I have been so fortunate to witness:
President Clinton, Harvard Professor Tim McCarthy, Money Guru Jean Chatzky, Musician and Performer Freddy Cole (Nat’s brother), Annual Easter Egg Hunt as well as Annual Kids Field Day, Actress Mary McDonnell, Journalist Joan Lunden,  among many others.  Why,  just this week I ran into…

How cool is to pet a baby Kangaroo right at work? Courtesy of Southwick's Zoo

A blood drive right at work – how convenient! Free pizza for all donors included.

International sensation Svet, Mr. Hip-Hop Violinist casually performing for students and staff right at the student center


Svet Promo Video , Svet Bio

Thank you Dear Lord for my wonderful job!

What are you thankful for?


‘Tis the Season to be… Productive?

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Fall 2011:

 After reading some of Paul’s posts on  his blog, 101 things in 1001 days, I’ve come to realize it would be useful to slap some timelines on some of my goals.  Paul’s approach was to give himself 1001 days to conquer all of the items on his list, and he has a countdown to day zero in order to keep him on track.  I must say he’s accomplished some neat things, such as Bungee Jumping, Reading all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes Stories, Scubadiving, and Skinny Dipping in the Ocean.  This got me to thinking…. How could I make this timeline thing work in my favor?

I got it.  My timelines will be seasonal, meaning I will pick a handful of items on my list to tackle every season. So here you have it people, my bucket list items to tackle this fall:

#2 Taking Salsa Lessons – I have put the word out looking for suggestions on a good instructor. I will also look into local clubs that offer free lessons earlier in the night before their regular programming starts.

  • I would like to take lessons once a week
  • By the end of the season I would love to be confident enough to dance in public without loosing the rhythm 

#4 Raising Happy, Healthy, Confident, Cooperative, Responsible, and Faithful children – Of course this is one of my ongoing goals, and one in which I am involved every single day.  This season, I will concentrate my efforts towards this goal as follows:

  • By keeping up with our Special Dates
  • By working with each of my children to develop their own life lists
  • By providing more structure for them (see goal #23)

 # 5 Growing in Faith  – Another ongoing goal, my plan is to seek a deeper level of connection with God during my prayers.

  • I want to engage in a deep prayer and meditation session at least once per week

  #11 Completing my Bachelor’s Degree – Happy to report that my fall class has already begun, and it is very interesting; which is a great thing since this is a night class. 

  • By the end of December I should be 3 credits closer to getting that degree.
  • And enrolled for at lest 3 more credits for the Spring semester

 #14  Mastering a Few Signature Dishes  – So far I have mastered 1 dish: Chofán.  During the summer I cooked much more than my usual, and most of it was pretty good, but not as good as I would like it to be.  So I will be cooking some more, repeating dishes I cooked this summer until I have them down pat. 

  • The goal is to completely master 3 dishes during this fall.

 #20 Becoming an Accomplished Writer  –  This will be a long process that I plan to enjoy every step of the way, so no rush here. These steps are next:

  • Translating my first short story, Lo Mal Hecho (Bad Deeds), into English
  • Making improvements to my Blog

# 23 Leading an Organized Life  – You might recall me posting about how this is the goal I feel would make the biggest impact on the rest of my list, and my life.  Now, this is much more time and energy consuming than one might think, at least for me.  So far there’s been some progress in terms of decluttering certain areas of my apartment, and creating routines to help my kids, and myself, get through the day with a bit more ease.  Here’s what I want to do next:

  • Completely implement our household routines and tweak as necessary 
  • Create and start to follow a Budget

# 24 Exploring RI from A to Z – I made some progress on this one this Summer, and I plan to keep on discovering the nooks and crannies of my cozy state this season. 

  • I want to cross of 3 RI cities/towns from my Little Rhody list

 #34 Volunteering/Donating –  This one is a fairly recent addition to my list.  My efforts in this area will be concentrated on:

  • Making one blood donation
  • Finding a one time volunteering opportunity that I both care about and can fit into my schedule (easier typed than done)

 #35 Reading More  – Another fairly recent addition to the list.  I have committed to reading 10 books per year.

  • Will read 5 books in order to complete this year’s quota. 

How about you, care to share your upcoming plans?

Summertime Bucketing

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Taken by Ada and Carlos Alves

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, this year Summer officially started on June 21st and will officially end on September 23rd.  Going by that account, 6 weeks have already passed and there are 7 weeks left of Summer.  On the other hand, if we are talking about school vacation, which for my kids started on the week of June 20th and will end on August 30th, there are 4 weeks left of “Summer” before they go back to class and I go back to working full-time.

 This is relevant to me because I had loosely made up my mind to work on a few specific goals from my bucket list during this Summer.  I have worked on some of those goals, but I now realize that if I want to make more progress I need to make it official by writing it down and committing to doing so here, so that all of you can hold me accountable. Following are the specific list items I am working on this Summer, and the actions I have taken so far:

 #11 – Completing my Bachelor’s Degree: I committed to taking a Summer class towards my degree.  Happily I accomplished this by enrolling on Studies in Narrative; a course which I really enjoyed and has also help me advance on goal # 20 Becoming an Accomplished Writer.  Passed it with a B+.

#14 – Mastering a Few Signature Dishes : So far I have mastered 1 dish: Chofán.  The plan is to work on a few more before fall.  I will keep you posted.

# 23 – Leading an Organized Life (Ongoing): I have made little progress on this one. Since many areas of my life would benefit from being better structured, it would probably be a good idea if I further define this item and section it down in order to make it more doable.  Things I have done so far include using a personal agenda, work on and implement a morning family routine, started working on an evening family routine.

# 24 – Exploring RI from A to Z : Since my budget has been tight; I figured local traveling would be a great way to enjoy the Summer while crossing off a few RI spots from my list.  Here are the places I have visited so far: McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI; The Swan Ride at Roger Williams Park, Providence, RI; Coggeshall Farm Museum in Bristol, RI, and Easton Beach, in Newport, RI.

Other RI spots I would enjoy seeing before the change of season include: The gondola ride at Waterfire in Providence; Another Newport spot, perhaps the Cliffwalk or the Mansions; Downtown Bristol Waterfront; Roger William Park’s Greenhouse in Providence; as well as Prudence Island in Portsmouth.

How is your Summer going / What plans would you like to accomplish before it ends?

On Review

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My thoughts on:  

The Complete Persepolis
By Marjane Satrapi

Red Buckets : 
Disclaimer: I am NOT a literary expert; therefore,
reviews posted here are entirely based on my
personal opinion and taste as a reader.

Goal # 35 Read More – This is the first graphic novel I have ever read.  As you can see, my rating for Persepolis is 5 red buckets, which means I really, really liked it.

This is an autobiographical graphic novel (some call it a comic because of the illustrations).  At first glance, my perception of the book was that it couldn’t be very deep since it looked pretty much as a comic strip; glad to report that assessment was far from accurate. 

This is the story of Marjane and her experiences as a girl, teenager, and eventually a young adult living in Iran during the war with Iraq.  It is interesting to see the diverse forces that converge in forming Marjane as a human being; there is the totalitarian regime forcing her to wear the veil, which her forward thinking parents protest against; her parents who instill in her a sense of what is fair and a thirst to fight for her rights but at the same time are trying to protect her from the explosive environment in their city; Marjane’s sense of spirituality and yearning for a relationship with God; her formal education at a French private school; the need to belong, to find her herd among her peers; and Marjane’s strong family ties. 

It is very interesting to learn about the atmosphere of this war from the viewpoint of a person who grew up in the midst of the conflict, and Satrapi does a beautiful job of helping the reader relate.  Persepolis is a quick read because the black and white pictures greatly enhance the meaning of the text, and it is delivered in a way that makes it appealing to the reader, also, the book has a chronological story line.

I won’t spoil the story for you, but will just say that Marjane eventually comes to terms with all the forces that are impacting her life;  she finds her way through  them.  And yes, I totally recommend this book.


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Progress Report:

 On # 11 Completing my Bachelor’s Degree
Happy to report that I have completed my Summer course on Studies in Narrative with a final grade of B+, which puts my overall GPA at a 3.33.  I am very excited about the fact that completing this course contributed towards 3 of the items on my list: #11, #20, and #35.

On The List 

Ready, Set, Go

 I have recently added 3 new items to my list #33, #34, & #35, and I am up to a good start on each of those goals.  In addition, some of the other objectives on my list have been further defined, which has helped me in advancing on those areas as well, for example: #4, #14,  #20, and #24.


Facing Challenges:

On #5 Growing in Faith
From the 5 steps I had commited to in order to move towards this goal, I have found one of them especially challenging: Praying everyday.  Although I do it most days,am  finding myself still unable to reach a deeper level of connection with God.  My friend Michael recommended a book, which probably will be the next book that makes it to my Read 2011 list.   On the other 4 basic steps towards this goal, I am doing mostly good, but not 100%.