Vegas Then…….and Vegas Now

Vegas Then

It was the first girls trip that we took about 10 years ago. Centered around the Iheart Radio concert, we all piled on an excuse to get away. There were six of us. It was timed pretty much right after the first Hangover movie was released. Our friend Amy was ahead of the pack in organizing. She had us listed on every VIP club in advance of landing. She was meeting with concierges to confirm or upgrade our experiences. It was great. She was all in.

The weekend started as expected with some pool time, a little gambling, and a catch up from a friend who had flown in from San Francisco. Then Saturday night hit. Pre game before the concert had everyone feeling like they owned the place.  Dressed up for a big night complete with high heels we continue

We left our cocktail hour to move into the concert venue. As we were shuffling in with the crowd, I look to my right. It’s Mike Tyson. Like Mike Tyson, from the Hangover movie. Complete with a face tattoo and an entourage. I just smiled and gave him a punch on his upper very muscular arm.  I said “Hey Mike Tyson, it’s great to see you. Enjoy the show.” He giggled and laughed. It was like we had entered our own version of the movie.

The concert was great. It was an mish mash line up of Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Salt n Peppa, and closed with Elton John who was just mind blowing amazing. Especially when you were in arms distance of his piano. Special memory that is hard to top. Concert disburses. Amy on the case gets us all into Pure. As we walk in through the VIP line, we notice a crowd surging a bit. We go into a side room with a bar that is about the size of half of a basketball court. Then PDiddy jumps on the side rail next to the DJ and starts pouring Cîroc and performing. At that point in the evening, we had failed stilleto bootcamp. Feet screaming in pain, it was just time to do a shot of vodka. Not for the buzz, but to quet the throbbing that was our feet after being out in Vegas all night with high heel boots and pumps.

In the end, it was a laugh riot and magical night. No one went missing. No one ended up with a baby that was not theirs and no one was left tied up in trunk. Success.

Vegas Now

As I go there for business, Vegas now is not about mixing with the celebrities or even late nights. When I go for work, I always find it strange that there are slot machines dispensing coins on my way to meetings during the day. I find it strange that you can see the “talent” working business men throughout the day and evening. I am typically home like Cinderella by midnight. I will gamble one night because you should if you are in Vegas.  Even farther from the experience of the Hangover movie, but at times still surreal.

Why destination Vegas? I guess it’s just a screaming good deal for a large company to bring their sales force to. All that aside, having to go their multiple times a year, it is a good business case for combat pay don’t you think?

They See Me Rowin’, they be hating.

Kayaking Tips and Tricks

We scored some really reasonably priced kayaks and they float! So here’s a some good information for novice kayakers like us. A few things that I learned and I’m passing it along to get your straight into that water.

A couple tips:

1. It’s easy to get started you don’t need to own a kayak to get on the water. Anywhere close to water typically has a paddle shop where you can do an intro lesson or guided tour. Visit https://www.canoekayak.com/start-paddling/clubs/ for a local spot.

2. So if you are wondering, why might kayaks be better than say a canoe?  Here is the list with credit provided to Thoughtco:

  • Kayaks are easier for beginners to paddle solo.
  • Kayaks are more maneuverable than canoes.
  • Kayaks can keep gear dryer than canoes.
  • Kayaks are faster — 2 blades are better than one!
  • Kayaks can handle rougher conditions than canoes.
  • Kayaks won’t take on water when waves come over the bow.
  • Kayaks keep the paddler protected from the elements.
  • Kayaks are lighter to carry and easier to load on a roof rack.
  • Kayaks can include rudders to compensate for wind and currents.
  • Kayaks allow the paddler to be closer to the water, which is a great feeling.

3. Recreational kayakers need a life jacket, paddle, immersion clothing, rack/trailer for transportation, and a kayak.

4. Try to overlook the unflattering gear.
In other sports, players wear sexy, tight uniforms that define their butts and muscles. No such luck here. Kayakers have huge drysuits, and they are always wearing these very strange looking “skirts.

5.  Kayak safety tips are super important.  Here’s the quick list with more details on this link from paddling.com  .   Things know:

  • Don’t drink alcohol and paddle. Water is unforgiving and you need to have all your senses in tact.
  • Always wear a life jacket.
  • Plan for the elements. Bring gear that is water resistant and be prepared to layer up or layer down.
  • choose an appropriate locations for your paddle skill level.
  •  Practice getting in and out of the kayak in the water so you are comfortable doing so.

Enjoy the ride!

Writing a Book: What are You Waiting on Time or Courage?

Food for thought for want to be authors

I remember each year in the early years of my marriage, my husband and I would write a bucket list of things we wanted to accomplish. This was usually at my prodding. The years got busier and we would revisit this exercise on the 5 year mark and then it became stretched out to the 10 year mark. The truth is between both of us working full time and supporting our children’s activities, much of what we wanted to do took a back burner.

One of those things for me was to write a book. Looking back to when the idea first popped in my head, it was  probably 19 years ago that I verbalized this goal. Initially, when my daughter was born I had a few ideas for children’s books. I even thought that my daughter and I might co-author a children’s book when my daughter Haley was little. They say the days are long but the years are short. That was so very true. As she packed her bags to go to college, I realized that time may be running out. This started to come back to the forefront of mind again.

So if you are in the same place of wanting to put pen to paper, but don’t know how or when to get started, here’s a few tips that will certainly be helpful.

1. Choose a topic that you are passionate about. I mean really passionate about. One that makes you want to live more days thinking or doing the focus topic. Writing can be a grind so you need motivation.  If you are connected to the topic it will be easier to be motivated.

2. Decide on a writing schedule.  I was

CHapter One Type at a Typewriter
Getting Started is the First Step. What are you waiting for?

fortunate enough to see Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank Fame speak at an event.  Her ” can do attitude” and business advice lit a fire under me.  That night I came home and wrote two chapters of a book that I had dancing in my head for some time.  Then life got busy again and those two chapters sat as lonely as an ice cream truck on subzero day in Fargo, ND.

I finally recommitted.  Knowing myself, and my habit of packing a lot into my days and weekends. I took the opportunity while recovering from a minor surgery to binge write.  That’s right.  Bang it out.  It was effective for me.  This may not work for everyone.  It may be helpful instead to pace yourself and write a little each day. It all depends on who you are wired.

3. Don’t edit as you go.  Part of the writing process is to quickly get all the ideas on paper.  Perfect grammar and well constructed sentences can wait.  For this first book, I didn’t edit at all.  I’ll be honest when I read it later, I was pretty shocked at how sloppy I was on the first pass.  At the end of the day, it didn’t matter. There was plenty of time to come back and add commas or a pithy sentence here and there.  The most important thing was to put perfection to the side and just get the words on paper.

4. Ask for advice.  There are many people who have written books and know a lot about the topic.  I received a great recommendation for the site www.createspace.com that walks novices through the whole self-publishing process.  I learned a ton about marketing, distribution, and categorizing your book.   If I had known, it was truly this easy, I would have done this a long time ago.   Additionally, I am eagerly anticipating putting together a second book after learning the ropes.

5. Inspire others.  This experience has given me the opportunity to tell my story.  Along the way, I’ve heard the stories of other aspiring authors.  In full own recruitment mode, I’ve encouraged them to follow their desires.  Put those words out in the universe.   You will write that book by (insert a date).  I am especially excited to encourage other female authors to take this next step.

6. Have Fun with it.  I wrote and published a  book. Mission accomplished. As the author of the “Misadventures of the Hip and Fabulous,”, I look at the book as an entry point.  My hope is to start a #hipandfab movement whereby women of all ages can share and learn from a vibrant community of women.  These woman by tagging their Instagram posts with #hipandfab can be part of a positive and supportive force in the world.  All of this while having just some great kickass fun.

A Mother’s Love: Meet Sarah Betz Bucciero


My dear friend Melissa reached out to ask me to feature someone on the Hip and Fabulous site. For those of you who have been following the instagram channel @hipandfab, the content is often light with fun tips and tricks and a little mischievous at times. We feature emerging artists, poets, and pick out photos of women who are enjoying each other’s company. The underlying theme is for women to support other women while having fun at the same time.

An angel on earth: meet Sara Betz Bucciero

This nomination is someone incredibly special who is a different kind of hip and fabulous.  Her qualities are sometimes taken for granted as most mothers have them.  However, when these qualities persist in an unrelenting way during the most challenging circumstances that life offers, witnesses are left awestruck and overcome. These qualities are strength, and the never-ending love and commitment to one’s child.

The woman is Sarah Betz Bucciero, the child is her son Carter. Sarah is a newly published author. Her book is entitled “St Judes Momma, A Love Story.”. I am certain when Sarah first gave birth to her son Carter, she did not anticipate what life had in store for them. I am guessing she never knew at that time, she would one day write a book about their journey. You see, Carter was born with an inoperable brain tumor. From the footage of he and his family, they didn’t retreat when they received the most heart wrenching news imaginable. They didn’t turn their back on all the incredible beauty that life has to offer. They celebrated with smiles and pixie dust. They lived each day to the fullest when Carter was here. Carter’s journey in the physical world may be is over, but in many ways his Mom’s journey is just beginning.

When I learned of Sarah’s strength and love, I visualized one of my favorite animals, an elephant. If you have ever seen a mother

Elephant and a baby elephant
Elephants are a sign of strength, loyalty and often seen as a good luck charm.

elephant and her child, the bond between the two is readily apparent. In fact, parenting aside,  African culture revere the African Elephant as a symbol of strength and power. It is also praised for its size, longevity, stamina, mental faculties, cooperative spirit, and loyalty. This association was incredibly appropriate as you come to learn more about Sarah and her son Carter.

Buy The Book

Sarah continues on in Carter’s memory and his honor. Carter’s life has made a difference and Sarah’s dedication and loyalty to the cause will also make a difference. Through the sales of her book, Sarah is raising money on behalf of other St. Judes kids who are still fighting, still smiling, and still in the arms of their loving family. There will be a $5.00 donation for every book sold up to 100,000 which is Sarah’s goal. You can visit Amazon and purchase the book here .

I wrote another piece about the death of my father and my own struggle following. I have learned so much about grief and the physical and emotional pain that ensues. Here is the best description I have come across regarding grief.   The waves that tighten your chest, fill your eyes with tears, and constrict your heart with sadness, is essentially that grief is love that has no where else to go. From my perspective, Sarah has found the most beautiful place for her love to go and that is in the service of others in Carter’s name.  I celebrate you Sarah and the mission you have taken up. An elephant never forgets and neither will we.

Guiding My Daughter, Fueling Her Passion

I grew up in a family of four girls.  As the oldest, I was told whatever I did was the minimum bar for my sisters.  That meant excelling in school, sports, and being a good role model.  As I grew up and starting to get ready for college, my father guided me towards business.  He told me then, you have the personality for it and my sense is you will always be able to support yourself.  I followed his advice.  I did well.

Fast forward, my daughter is getting ready to go to college.  She shares with me that she is interested in majoring in journalism.  I feel a little panicked.  Spend in print has collapsed. While there is the notion that content 

mom and daughter at a concert
Following Your Passion

is king, will she be able to support herself without relying on a dual income to get by?  I acquiesce to her desire but share she should also dual major in business.  That could be her safety net.   In her freshman year,  she thrives in school with high honors and taking in all that college has to offer.   My daughter enjoys the Big 10 sports at Michigan State, rushes a sorority, makes nice friends on her dorm floor, and scores an internship writing for the Odyssey Online  .    My daughter Haley, has done an amazing job this summer writing thoughtful pieces that appeal largely to college aged kids.  Her talent shows through and her eyes dance when she speaks about it.  Here’s a  link to one of her latest posts.

It’s when I start to read her writing that my own advice, not the advice my father gave me,  comes to the forefront.  As a manager for a technology company, I consistently coach people to tap into what gives them energy.  Find jobs that contain a lot of those elements that get you excited.  It makes work, not work.  In fact, if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life.   This week I mentioned to my daughter a few things:

1. You are amazing and talented.

2. Always follow your passion and rewards will follow.

3. Skip the dual major if it’s writing is the path you want to pursue.

4. You are the minimum bar for your brother.

I guess an apple doesn’t fall that from the tree.

The Future is Female if We Make it So

I started abstract painting about a year ago.   Painting on the weekends became a great source of joy and relaxation. It has become a pretty important focus for my life and personal satisfaction.  I don’t think I will ever stop creating.  As my paintings evolved ,  I started to receive positive feedback.

Future is Female
Future is Female Art Exhibit @skartspace

I thought it would be interesting to try my hand at being a professional.  My goal here was to pressure test whether my work was good enough and also continue learning about art.

A new gallery Skartspace , in Brooklyn, NY was putting together a show to celebrate and recognize emerging female artists,  I looked at the posting on Instagram several times before pulling the trigger on the last day and the last hour that submissions were due.   I was thrilled when three of the seven pieces,  I submitted were accepted.

It turns out that SKartspace is behind a tremendously important cause. There is a massive need to promote Women in the Arts.  Here’s a few not so fun facts about the representation of women in the Art Industry today sourced from the National Museum of Women in the Arts:

  1. 51% of working visual artists are women.
  2. 29% of solo exhibits are women out of 590 exhibits in 70 institutions over 6 years.
  3. Only 2 women made the list of the Top 100 Most Expensive Artists.
  4. 3-5% of all art works hanging in museums were produced by women artists.

I am proud of the SKArtspace in Brooklyn for putting this show on.  If you want to see change in the world, be the change in the world.  These three powerful ladies are making a difference.  I look forward to participating as an exhibiting artist, learning from other artists, and certainly will commit to helping to build awareness of the under representation of Women in the Arts.

“It is the mainspring of life, courage. And courage has many faces.” – Italian writer and reporter, Oriana Fallaci.

If you feel that we can do something about this and want to be a little more courageous,  please share this post with the #5womenartists . This hashtag is part of an awareness initiative sponsored by the National Museum of Women in the Arts to shine a light on this issue.  Alone we are one voice, together we are a large booming megaphone.

#5womenarts #hipandfab

 

 

Plugged in but tuned out.


The computing power you have in your smart device is greater than the  collective computing power that put a man in on the moon in 1969. For all the benefits, we have in this new world, there are is also a downside to too much screen time. There is always something to do on your device, and you can do it alone. You can see how other people are living in Facebook, witness our President rant and rage on Twitter, or take in funny cat videos on You Tube. Our society as a whole can get lazy on establishing real human to human connections. Essentially instead individuals are plugged in but tuned out. Boston Consulting Group shared an interesting study in 2015 about the intensity and addictive nature of mobile computing. Of 1,003 people surveyed, here are the things people would give up for a year rather than give their phone up for a week.

Limited Screen Time for Adults and Mobile Phone Addiction
• 54% would give up exercise.
• 63% would give up chocolate.
• 70% would give up alcohol.
• 23% would rather lose their wallet or purse than give up their cell phone.
• 38% would give up sex.

Truth is engaging on devices and social media is highly addictive. There are many studies that call out that engaging on social channels through your device releases dopamine. Dopamine is created in the brain and is critical to thinking, moving, sleeping, attention, motivation, seeking and reward. Dopamine increases your interest in seeking out information and keeps you motivated to learn and survive.

With the internet, social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you now have almost instant gratification. Want to talk to someone right away? Send a text and they respond in a few seconds. Get a conversation going start a group chat. Want to look up some information? Just type your request into Google or Bing and hit enter. Have you noticed that conversations now are regularly fact checked? Interrupted and paused to search the internet to confirm what was just said. As people travel to their work or run errands, it’s easy to dismiss others around you by looking at your phone in an elevator, sitting on a park bench or texting walking down the street.  It’s an escape hatch from everyday pleasantries.

So these habits can also creep into our personal social circles. To make the most of time together and driving better engagement with your friends, here’s a few tips to keep tech time in moderation:

  1. Recognize and appreciate tech free moments. A good barometer of a great time is when all phones are put away and people are engaging eyeball to eyeball in conversation.  Reinforce with your friends how great and satisfying times like this when you are connecting with each other not the phones.
  2. Be a good example to encourage others to put their phones away.  Make a statement.  “I’m glad to have the opportunity to see you guys today.  I want to treasure this time and put away my phone.”
  3. If there are situations where checking in on phones is necessary, do it at a scheduled time.   Letting your group know, you will need to check in for news from home for just a few minutes.  This approach is a good way to let people know you do value them and the conversation, but are on the lookout for important information from home (kid pickup or other important news).

 

Meditation for the Not Yet Rich and Famous

Meditation is now a billion dollar industry.   From CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to millennials fresh out of school, many people are speaking about the life changing and mind altering benefits of mindfulness through meditation.

So how to get started when you have an action packed every day life?  To squeeze even one more thing into the day of a devoted parent, spouse,  sister, full time employee  manager, friend, and want to be painter seems unrealistic.   Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Here’s how to give it a go:

  1. Start small.  It may be hard to get your head around sitting or laying still for any amount of time.  Start with one breath.  Breathe deeply in once and out. Notice the difference over time with that one small action.
  2. Explore Mediation Apps to see what you connect with.  After trying a few, one of the best  in terms of variety is Simple Habit. Their tagline pulls you immediately in  “This is a daily vacation for your mind.”  Who doesn’t want that?  Explore different practitioners.  It may be a soothing voice, you may be lured in by the choice of background music , or you may relate well to the accompanying guidance. It’s a personal choice.  An app is great as it tracks progress but you can also peruse YouTube for some of the more popular one of meditations.
  3. Contrary to what you would expect, sleep is not always the best meditation. Upon awakening, many people still carry a lot of stress through the night. Minds are working overtime and the unconscious is active sorting through the today and tomorrow’s worries.  One way to test for a level of ultimate relaxation post sleep is to do an active meditation.  If you come away more relaxed following this exercise, you likely carried some stress through the evening. Here’s the exercise.
    1. Take 3 deep breaths.
    2. Take a deep breath while curling your toes under. Release your breath and release your toes.
    3. Take a deep breath while flexing your calves, Release your calves and your breath.
    4. Take a deep breath while flexing your thigh muscles. Release your calves and your breath simultaneously.
    5. Repeat flexing your hands and arms and releasing your breath.
    6. Take a few additional deep breaths and remain still for a few minutes.
  4. Practice makes perfect. Build this into your day when it can be an everyday routine. Either in the morning or right before bed for the greatest chance of repeatability to build a routine.
  5. Measure your impact.  Mediation has been associated with a ton of health benefits.  Take your blood pressure as a benchmark and watch how meditation may have a positive impact over a few weeks with a reduction in your readings. From studies completed by ProjectMediation.org,  The actual statistics from those who meditate show mediation reduced the likelihood of being hospitalized for coronary disease by 87 percent, and the possibility of getting cancer by 55 percent. Pretty incredible positive impact on health and wellness from this simple practice.
  6. Meditation is being introduced in schools and businesses with positive effects.  Meditation practice has been shown to help children be more mindful and kind. This helps deter bullying.   Also from the Meditation Project, business owners have reported that among employees, who meditate, absenteeism is lower, production is higher, and the quality of their work is better thus proving the statistics on people who meditate are right. In one example, a Detroit based chemical plant posted the following results three years after implementing meditation:
  • Absenteeism fell by 85%
  • Productivity rose 120%
  • Injuries dropped 70%
  • Profits increased 520%

A few minutes a day for a clearer head, health benefits, and an opportunity to be better focused in areas where you need or want to invest the time.