“Stupid’s a Bad Word”

Well kid, sometimes things just are stupid.
img_4079This morning my sweet, darling, hilarious daughter (up there) chirped in to a conversation I believed was adults only. Conversation topic: how stupid it is that people are bent out of shape over a presidential candidate’s diagnosis with a lung disease. Said lung ailment I had when I was 21 and it put me out of work for an entire week; yet here goes this candidate taking 24 hours off. My God, she’s not fit for the job. (Please sense the sarcasm or just discontinue reading.)
So yes, sweet kids – stupid is a bad word but let me tell you what else is not pleasant –

  1. Hunger – Did you know that 1 in 6 people in America face hunger? That’s 20.6% of families in America… FAMILIES y’all. This month, the Junior League of San Antonio (plugged that in and you can head over to http://www.jlsa.org for more information) and the San Antonio Food Bank are teaming up to combat this epidemic by raising jars of peanut butter for families in our local community. You don’t need to be a member of any Junior League to take part in any of this though, nor do you have to be a voter, pick a party line, have an ID. You simply need to call up your local food bank and ask, “How can I volunteer/contribute?”
  2. (Lack of) Voting – You know what’s pathetic? People don’t vote when thousands upon millions of people have fought, battled, died for your right to stand in line for 5 minutes – 5 hours to vote and you have in some cases a total of thirteen days to vote. Did you know that in 2012 only 54.9% of people of voting age actually exercised their right to vote? We can’t anymore, not now, not this time.
  3. Illiteracy – According to a U.S. Department of Education and National Institute of Literacy study in April 2013, 14 percent of our population can’t read. A whopping 21 percent of adults have a 5th grade reading level and a whopping 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read. Let that sink in for a moment. 14% of people can’t read Dr. Seuss, Spot books, Hemingway, J.K. Rowling, Kim Kardashian West’s hit books.
  4. Wage Gap – I shouldn’t have to explain to myself or my daughter one day  ever that should she and her brother get the same job, he will be paid more than she is. I’m a recovering politico and I’ve been there, done that with the good ol’ boy system; it’s just stupid. But for numbers sake – In 2013, the median woman working full time earned 78 % less than what the median man working full-time did. #ThatAintRight (Read it Chris Rock style).
  5. Health Insurance Increases – Look, I’m not one to ever complain about the necessity of health care. I’m a card carrying member of we all need adequate health care. That also means that health insurance companies know darn well we need this fun thing called insurance too and they’re not afraid to bump up that price of insurance at all. It’s called business, it’s called knowing they have a commodity that we need, that means they can do whatever they want. It’s not me I’m complaining for though, it’s 21 year old Melanie that was kicked off her insurance when she got hit with the aforementioned pneumonia. It’s for the families that have to make the difficult decision whether to purchase groceries for their families or get health insurance and/or subsequent care.

So you may think that my list is a bit left of communism (which it’s not so learn your terms), but it’s reality. So yes kid, stupid is a bad word but sometimes there just isn’t any other way to describe what is going on.

KonMari

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For as long as I could remember, I’ve been a terribly messy person; messy hair, messy clothes, messy rooms. I made it my mission when approaching the amazing, rock star age of 32 that enough was enough. I needed to adult now. I do have little beings that watch me daily. So here I am, at a crossroads when I picked up The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo, or “KonMari” for those in the know.

 

It’s been a long journey for me to finish this book. I set out in May to read it and I trudged through it. Began with a bang then life happened (aka sick kids) and I kept forgetting this precious pocket sized lovable book at home or in random spots, more to that later on in this post.

 

So here’s the book in a nutshell: whatever doesn’t truly bring you joy, that unmistakable joy that sparks that wide-tooth smile, BE GONE!

 

She recommends getting rid of items in one go – all at once, don’t look back. However, there is a method to this, hence the KonMari Method.

 

For starters, don’t go room to room; instead, go category by category. Your personal clothing, children’s clothing, dog’s clothing, spouse’s clothing (this will be harder for them to be on board unless you have a spouse that is down with KonMari). Legitimately get every single article of clothing in one room. I chose to go with my clothes first.

 

Before all this go with a plan – visualize. You can’t go into battle without a plan, you are in battle with the clutter y’all. The clutter has taken over. How do you picture your space? If you are trying hard and can’t figure it out – head on over to Houzz or Pinterest. Those designers are begging for you to love on their clutter free space. Need more inspiration? Just watch some Fixer Upper and that Joanna knows how to show beautiful masterpieces of clutter free home. Now you need the why? Why are you wanting to go clutter free? Ask yourself this 3-5 times. Mine is because I’m tired of looking all over the place for items that I’ve lost. I’m that person that loses everything, just everything. Emails, gone. Mail/bills, yup that’s lost too.

 

At first thought we wouldn’t have much to banish since we renovated our closet not too long ago and I had already gone through this process. Oh no, I was wrong. Six giant trash bags to Goodwill (because I’m a Junior Leaguer) later I was left with items that truly brought me joy. How does one go about finding joy? Determine what “sparks joy.” Hold every piece of clothing in your hands, do you get the love? Do you give the love? If the answer is no, BYE! Thank it though. Out loud, thank the piece of clothing for its service to you.

 

The Method – the order. Everything comes with order, life comes with order. She has a specific way to order everything. Like the order in the scene from Titanic (Women and children first, then the men, and so on); there’s order to your tidiness: clothes, books, papers, and then miscellany.

Discard before you even think about putting anything away. Out with the old, in with the stuff that stays.

 

In the effort to not go full KonMari crazy with you – I’ve decided to put it as two separate posts about this insanely useful method because she truly does deserve two separate posts.

iOS 10 From a Real Person

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In case you missed it, your iOS device is about to get way more interactive; as announced this past Monday at WWDC2016 (hashtag that y’all) Apple announced the brand new iOS 10. I’m a bit of an Apple junky. It started way back in 5th grade playing Oregon Trail while in the computer lab at school. I fell in love with the sleek look of the Macintosh that was uniform in our public school.

 

Twenty years later, I purchased my first Apple Device of my own – the iPhone 3. Since then I’ve never looked back. So if you’re not an Apple person, this blog post may not be for you. Or if you just think I’m funny, then keep reading.

 

Along with being possibly the friendliest REALTOR who’s obsessed with data that you’ll come across, I’m also the President and co-Owner of SwipeTrack Solutions, LLC (http://www.swipetrack.com). We began as a primarily iOS device company and have now become this amazing company that also houses real estate and tech, my two loves.

 

I’ve had the hilarious privilege to be a developer tester to preview the new iOS 10, Beta folks you’ll get it in July, everyone else – FALL 2016 be prepared for some great stuff!

 

Wakey Wakey

 

Your lockscreen is now completely  redesigned. No longer will you have the pesky slide to unlock. Nope, now you’ve graduated with just simply “Press Home to Open.” Boom. You can also now wake your iPhone fixing the situation of going past lockscreen notifications if you hit the TouchID home button too quickly. Say WHAT?!

 

Notification Bubbles

 

Notifications are no longer just blended in with the rest of the screen. Oh no, you now get these beautiful bubbles that stick around even if you answer your phone to take a call (as I just did). Say you have a text message as your notification, you can now easily respond to that text message before having to open up your lockscreen and going through that process of opening Messages. App notifications now can open up in your lockscreen as well. My favorite is that I have a smart home and I can open up my Smart Things hub or Ring app for my doorbell and immediately respond to whoever or whatever is going on.

 

Hey Siri

 

Hey girl, I see you can now open up other apps. What a great concept! You can now open third party apps with Siri. She’s so nice. What an amazing feature for when I need to open up Amazon Prime Now and order some much needed laundry detergent.

 

I really wish I had the time and space to go over EVERY single new feature iOS 10 has but these are some of the best ones she has to offer. I can’t wait for you to see the rest.

 

One final thing: be prepared to be amazed with Apple Maps!

When We Need Grace

* I originally had this post on grace and forgiveness stemmed from the aftermath of a (ridiculous) 6 month sentence of a rapist. Through my own experiences of sexual assault and my road to daily strength and trust in the Lord; but this will come at another time. For now I dedicate this to the victims in Orlando and the survivors.

I’ve had a recurring theme the last week – Grace. Every day I’ve had it either whispered through prayer, outwardly spoken with friends/colleagues, or just pop up on social media feeds in beautifully filtered images.

In 2016, I would love to say, “no words,” in a social media post with an image of a rainbow flag. But that just isn’t right and would be a lie. I do have words; there are a lot. There are words of anger, those of fear, then those of love. Yes, love. My words for comfort just aren’t mine, they’re those of the Lord’s. Even when the pain hurts and is unbearable where you can’t breathe – He is there and will comfort.

Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.

A few years ago I got into a heated discussion on social media with a woman who went to church with me and even was part of a mommy group I was a member of all over one thing – GLBTQ issues. She even went so far as to question my piety (fantastic!). So here we go again –

My best friend is a gay man. Yes, he knows he’s gay. Before you think I’m going around and parading my gay friend, I’m not. I have scores of gay friends, we all do and don’t deny it if you’re an angry person. But my gay friend is also my best friend and he teamed up with an intern (who *shockhorror* is trans) I worked with in 2008 to scheme and get my now husband and I to stop fighting and go on a date. Because of this scheme, I now have my amazing husband and two wonderful children. My best friend is also a Catholic. He is my brother in Christ. He is someone I read Scripture with. He is someone I joke around with. He is someone I pray with even though he’s half the country away. When people of our catholic (little c intended) church ask why I love my best friend so much it’s because he is who he is and he’s an amazing person. He is who He is, just as I am who I am. We are reminded daily that only Jesus is our judge.

Pope Francis has been an amazing shepherd into the lives of our GLBTQ brothers and sisters. Who am I to judge? We need to do more to open our hearts, souls, homes to people who are different in all aspects of who we are. We must do this in order to grow as a society. We must do this to show that terrorism cannot win and survive in our loving society.

My heart and prayers are with our Muslim Brothers and Sisters as they celebrate Ramadan and know in their heart of hearts that this is not Islam. It’s not, don’t fool yourself if you think this is the face of Islam. This is something that has been bastardized by hate.

Go with Grace. Go with Love. Go with Hope.

And should you have any more questions why I’m an ally 

See ya later cute exercise skirt and random never used items (Chapter 2)

That emoji up there, that’s what I felt as I read the first subtitle of Chapter 2 which summed up as:

You are angry with your family because you can’t learn to get rid of those heels you’ll never squeeze your feet in.

 

Ok KonMari, I see you and where you’re coming at. Yes, I may have thrown a crazy Mommy Dearest tirade every now and then. Yes I’ve gone a little berserk because it seems like I have a never ending pile of mail that I’ll never get to or as I currently sit at my beautiful office in San Antonio, TX I have a file currently on the floor next to a bottle of water that hasn’t been touched in 3 months and a coffee cup that I can’t remember the last time I filled that sucker up. No big deal, right? Well, not if you’re trying to achieve Nirvana of some existential sort, even for 5 minutes. I.Am.A.Hoarder. There. I said it. You can even hashtag that statement. #IAmAHoarder of… of everything. Of makeup that I’ll never use, of clothes I bought because I was pressured into buying it at the magical age of 31. Of mail that I need to throw away from a year ago.

 

You get it, I need help or why else would I have picked up the book? Something else she points out to those of us desperate in need.

 

Before you decide to go gung-ho and go room by room she stops you, dead in your tracks. Absolutely not! There’s a method or it wouldn’t be HER KonMari Method. Don’t go room by room, go category by category. She backs it up even further. What’s your why? Really dig down deep, WHY do you want this uncluttered life? WHY do you want to have this?

 

So what’s your why? Mine is so I can get a step closer to being a more diligent member of society without wondering where my book is or my coffee cup went for the millionth time.

Tidying Up – Chapter 1 – The saga begins

“Does it spark joy?” Four little words packing so much punch that it has revolutionized a way to tidy up. I’m a bit of a self help/personal development junkie. Needless to say, I have a good forty books left untouched in my house that have been piling up because I saw them being highlighted on Instagram or Facebook by some of my favorite people.

 

I set a goal for 2016 that it will be a great year where I read 16 books. How am I doing on that goal? Not even close I hate to admit. I have had Mari Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up hanging out under a stack of parenting and leadership books when I said enough was enough while looking at a pile (mountain) of toys and mailers.

 

The first chapter of the book was way more personal than I ever envisioned an organizing book to be. It almost knocks you to your core when you flip through the pages and see, “The work involved can be broadly divided into two kinds: deciding whether or not to dispose of something and deciding where to put it.” The last few years I’ve been pruning my sphere of influence. I’ve been blessed to realize that we are truly the engineers of our daily schedules and lives; whom and what we choose to put in it is up to us. No one else. This goes for the same as clutter (items). Cluttered house, cluttered mind. You don’t NEED 50 pairs of shoes that are worn out and don’t make you feel like the fierce fashionista that you are just as you don’t NEED that person that wears you down and you dread having to be around.

 

Do you remember that moment you realized you restarted your life? I do. It was in September when my son busted his mouth after mommy was spending her time dealing with someone that she really didn’t want to deal with on the phone. Life hands you clues when you need to slow down. Life hands you clues when the clutter gets to much. God knows what you need, now do you? Kondo goes on to say that we have an urge to distract us to “clean our rooms when dealing with a test (mental or literal and I’m completely paraphrasing here). It occurs because they need to put ‘something else’ in order. Their brain is actually clamoring to study, but when it notices the cluttered space, the focus switches to ‘I need to clean up my room.’”

 

Don’t allow your messy room to equal a messy mind. Take hold of yourselves. She then throws in some real Zen-like stuff, “when your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state.” Woah. Woah.

 

Stay tuned for next week’s recap of Chapter 2. Until then – tomorrow is your Faith Friday moment. I’m not a Saint… but I can try to be like one.