3 Words – the Anti-Resolutions

In general, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t make them because I know that I don’t follow through on them. Why set myself up for disappointment and failure? I think this demonstrates a certain level of self-awareness, but also a certain level of immaturity. I am perfectly capable of setting goals and meeting deadlines in my work, but something about the nebulous deadlines and lack of accountability in personal goals makes them exceedingly more difficult to accomplish. I’d probably prefer a resolution that has a specific end and measurable result, but I don’t have the slightest idea what that would be.

Many of the grant professionals I chat with on Twitter talk about 3 Words and how they are a guide for their year rather than resolutions. I decided to check it out. The idea is that you pick three words that are overarching themes to guide your year. The three words should resonate with you and reflect your goals in a big picture way. I like this concept because the three words feel like reminders to keep in mind rather than resolutions that must be accomplished.

After writing down a few potential goals, I found some themes and categorized them into my 3 words. My 3 Words are Habits, Healthy, and Present.

Habits is relatively simple. First, I’m an adult so I should have a better bedtime ritual that includes regular teeth brushing and face washing. I should also be making my coffee the night before to save time in the morning – why else would we have a programmable coffee maker? Another habit is better time management, which includes limiting unnecessary distractions at work. Even though my time management is significantly better than it was in college and grad school, there is always room for improvement. A crossover item between Habits and Healthy is “me-time.” I think everyone knows by now that I’m an introvert and not ashamed of it. But this also means that I require time to myself to recharge my batteries. Finding that time and being unafraid to say leave me alone would be a good habit, and I believe it would contribute to my overall well-being.

Healthy is more than just lose 10 pounds this year or whatever other arbitrary weight loss goal people set for their resolutions. Healthy for me is figuring out any underlying issues related to my health (without getting too personal this is something I’m working on this month). Related is trying to find ways to make healthy food choices. Healthy is being honest with myself about my needs and wants. And finding my passions. I think I’m mildly passionate about a lot of issues and causes, but which one really matters to me and how can I develop that into something? Maintaining healthy relationships is also important to me. In the past, I was really good at maintaining toxic relationships, I think I’ve gotten over that, but it also means I need to learn more about keeping the good ones going. I’ve always liked the quote “Begin each day as if it were on purpose,” and I think I could incorporate that more into my daily life plus I think it fits with Present.

Present is about trying to live more in the present. I’m really good at living in the future – I did get a degree with “planning” in the title after all. But sometimes it is better to go with the flow and stop thinking about the future, which is generally out of my control. An exercise a meeting facilitator did once has stuck with me, which is to write down what’s keeping you from being present today. By getting stuff, like future plans, out of my head and on paper means I don’t have to keep thinking about it during the day, and I can focus on what’s happening in the present moment. The last part of Present is trying digital detoxes. All too often I have my head stuck to a screen which keeps me from being in the moment, so taking time out from some of that could be a healthy habit (see what I did there?). I think this one could be hard for me, since I’m a bit of a tech addict, but it is worth a shot.

There’s my three words. I have absolutely no idea if I’ll stick to any of what I just wrote, but I’ve put it out there for all to see, which is a step in the right direction.

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Viva Las Vegas!

TL;DR – Recap of fabulous, family vacation in Vegas

The family trip to Las Vegas was over 3 months ago, and it was not so subtly suggested that I write a post about it – so better late than never. You may also notice that I updated my blog format to make it more photo friendly partially because I have tons of Vegas photos (my scrapbook is already complete). For those that don’t know, my mom’s side of the family celebrated my uncle’s 40th birthday in Vegas near the end of June. This was his first trip to Vegas. Vegas is always a good idea, but a milestone birthday seemed especially appropriate.

Since my mom and I were coming from Phoenix and the rest of family was supposed to arrive early Sunday morning, we drove up on Saturday. PHX to Vegas is not a particularly exciting drive, but it was nice to have a car available during the trip (even though it spent most of the trip in some mysterious underground parking area). Supposedly we are in the midst of a transportation study regarding an interstate (I-11) corridor to connect Vegas and Phoenix. That would be mighty convenient and make the drive more pleasant. Anyway, we did not stay on the Strip that night, since it is quite expensive to get a room on a Saturday night. I tried to connect with an old friend, but he was unavailable, so we found a Fresh & Easy for a simple dinner and chilled in our room.

Note I said the family was “supposed” to arrive early on Sunday, but alas they did not. Their flight was delayed out of Detroit, so they arrived mid-afternoon. My mom and I entertained ourselves during their delay by finding the Las Vegas outlets (of course!). Finally we all met at the MGM Signature Towers where we were staying. My aunt found our suite on VRBO, and even though the pictures on VRBO were deceiving, it was still a nice suite. The two suites shared an entrance, but were otherwise separate. It was plenty of space for the 5 of us and we had a balcony that looked over one of the pools.

Once everyone was settled, we went in search of food (I was starving and I don’t think I was the only one). One of our first sights exiting the elevator was a guy with a horse’s head on (like this), which was just so typically Vegas that we couldn’t have timed it better. Once we finally got into the actual MGM Grand, we stopped at their relatively new pub – Pub 1842, but it was packed due to the USA World Cup game, so we kept looking. Some members of our party had a very specific idea about their dining experience, so we ended up back at Pub 1842. The hostess must have seen the desperate look of hunger in my eyes, because we got in much quicker than their estimation. The place was hopping due to the World Cup, which made for a fun experience – until team USA gave up their lead. Personally, I thought the food was excellent (this will be a recurring theme of the trip) – I had the pulled pork sandwich and a fruity mixed drink.

Entrance

After satisfying our hunger, we ventured onto the Strip. New York, New York was the next closest casino when we came out of the MGM Grand, so we snapped a few pictures of the Statue of Liberty and crossed the pedestrian bridge. One of the trip’s goals was to see as much of the Strip as possible, and we made a lot of headway the first night. We had drinks in the Monte Carlo, snapped a bunch of pictures at the Cosmopolitan (one of the newest casinos that is quite extravagant), and got some decent pictures of the Vegas lights at night. The travel, relatively warm evening, and walking tired everyone out, so we hit the Strip’s CVS for booze, snacks, etc. and headed back to our suite.

Beam of Light

Monday morning we bought our monorail passes and headed for the center of the Strip – aiming for Hash House A Go-Go in The Quad (which used to be the Imperial Palace). This breakfast joint was recommended by one of my mom’s co-workers, and it was clearly popular based on the full lobby. Sometimes I walk with a distinct sense of purpose, which was apparently the case this particular morning, because when I walked up to the hostess station they took me in for seating rather than taking my name. I quickly signaled for everyone to follow me since they had fallen back with the crowd to wait like everyone else. When they tried to seat me at a table for 4, I said I actually have 5 in my party. The hostess replied, “oh they told me 2, but we have this table over here,” – clearly not realizing I had just snaked someone else’s reservation. Needless to say, the family was impressed with my ability to snap my fingers and get what I want – even though they have been dealing with this trait of mine for 29 years. This moment was one of the highlights of trip, which might reflect poorly on the trip, but it was a moment when we beat the house and received some VIP treatment. And the food was superb – some of the best bacon ever made (probably because the pigs are fed slop made from Las Vegas buffet leftovers – see Dirty Jobs) and gigantic proportions.

With full stomachs, we explored the former Imperial Palace. I was in search of the “Dealer-tainers” (black jack dealers who impersonate famous musicians/celebrities). The Quad does still have them, but they must only come out at night (probably vampires). I played some video poker, which isn’t my favorite, but when in Rome… Being in the center of the Strip we were relatively close to Paris, Caesar’s Palace, Bellagio, and the new Cromwell, so we snapped more pictures and walked through the various shops and sights. In the Forum Shops at Caesar’s we stopped at the Fat Tuesday for some frozen adult beverages, which motivated us to continue walking to the Venetian. More pictures and some tired feet led us back to the monorail and MGM. The Tempe original, Cornish Pasty Company, recently expanded to Vegas, and it was David’s choice for his birthday dinner. We picked up Jane Jetta and ventured into “real” Vegas, although it isn’t that far from the Strip. The Vegas version was more “divey” than Tempe/Mesa, but the food was the same – excellent as usual! Also on the agenda for David’s birthday was a $12 Omaha tournament at the Plaza in Downtown Vegas. Can’t beat $12 for a poker tournament. It was a little odd, because it was completely electronic – no cards or chips. My uncle and I were the only ones brave enough to try the tournament. I was out at the first break before they merged the tables. My uncle actually won the tournament, which was pretty awesome. Overall, I was not impressed with Downtown Vegas – the excessive crowd made it difficult to navigate or even enjoy. I really didn’t understand why everyone recommended old Vegas – it was mostly annoying. People have since told me that there is better stuff off the main drag – good to know for next time.

The family at the Venetian

Viva Vegas

Tuesday morning David and I continued the poker theme by playing in the Excalibur tournament. The tournament was friendly and fun. I made it to the final table, but didn’t win any money. We noticed a tram on that side of the Strip, so we picked up the family and rode the tram to Mandalay Bay and Luxor. We worked up an appetite with all the walking, so we stopped at Greenberg’s Deli in New York, New York. Again, I thought it was quite delicious; I had a smoked ham and colby jack sandwich that had green chilies – yum! Rounds of the World Series of Poker were also taking place during our trip, so we took Jane Jetta to Rio to view the spectacle that is the WSOP. The number of people participating is somewhat staggering and we even spotted some famous faces (Doyle Brunson!). After Rio, we drove to the Riviera in search of $1 Blackjack. They only do 3 tables of $1 Blackjack, so I had to wait awhile for spot to open up. One finally did so I snapped it up. I should have quit when I was up $10, but I wanted to keep playing. I didn’t win, but I didn’t lose that much either. I earned a nickname of “Miss Malibu Rum” since they kept the Malibu and Pineapples coming. It was fun and a suitable substitute for the Sahara, which had $1 Blackjack before it was torn down. Everyone else was playing video poker and roulette, but eventually we got hungry again. The Riviera had a restaurant called Wicked Vicky that was decent – I had breakfast food with my cider and it was satisfying. Since it was our last night in Vegas, I booked it to the MGM Casino for another poker tournament. It was the worst tournament ever! I wasn’t the first one out, but it wasn’t fun because it was a “turbo” tournament that raises blinds quickly and uses antes. I didn’t get any good cards and the players were excessively aggressive. That’s not my style and now I know to avoid that type of tournament in the future.

Luxor

World Series of Poker

The last item on the agenda was the Neon Museum, which we saved for Wednesday morning. This was something I really wanted to do and one of my favorite parts of the trip. The Neon Museum is a collection of old casino signs. It turns out that most of the Strip’s signs are owned by one company, which leases the signs to the casinos. When the casinos close or update their signs, the company stores them or adds them to the Neon Museum collection. The museum runs tours that discuss the signs and their relationship to Las Vegas history. The museum also restores some of the signs, which are lit up during the night tour. I enjoyed the tour, especially since it is an excellent spot for photo ops! The tour also discussed the Mob Museum, which will be on the agenda for the next Vegas trip.

Neon Museum

Repeating H Wall

After the Neon Museum, we found an excellent local coffee shop, called Coffee Pub, for brunch before heading out of town. A big advantage of having Jane Jetta was the ability to find some of these out of way, atypical Vegas spots. Overall it was an excellent trip and I think everyone had a good time!

Reflections & Musings

Oh look I still have a blog…it is beyond time for an update and I have a few things to say. FYI I’m making no guarantees about the cohesiveness of this post.

Something Funny

Connected & laughed during the conference

The YNPN National Leaders Conference was this weekend in Phoenix (photos included). As you may or may not know I have served on the YNPN Phoenix board since last July, and we had the pleasure of hosting the conference this year. I had quite a few Ah-Has during the conference, and I felt the need to write about them. Conferences/training like this always give me ideas to ponder and I’m constantly writing notes off to the side to explore later. Part of this post serves as that exploration. The Ah-Has related to work/career, personality, YNPN, and specifically the YNPN Phoenix board.

Thoughtful

Deep in thought during elevator pitch session

Personality
-In general, I’m a just the facts person – this isn’t news to me, but it was reinforced during the create an elevator pitch session. Crafting elevator pitches requires knowing your audience and whether they want the story or the facts. I want the facts and apparently that puts me slightly in the minority – also not a big surprise, but something that popped in my head during the session.
-I value YNPN enough to devote my entire weekend to it – more on that later.
-I also thought it was interesting that the people in communication roles, especially social media, with various YNPN chapters have similar personalities. Personally, I think the role attracts the quieter behind the scenes people, who might express themselves better in writing and with some premeditation. It is part of what I like about my current role in YNPN Phoenix.

Amanda Tweets

Spent a lot of time tweeting & monitoring social media

Work/Career
-One of my simmering frustrations at Catholic Charities boiled over at some point in Day 1 of the conference. The frustration revolves around how much hierarchy permeates the organization (big surprise right? An organization with Catholic values has hierarchy). It is especially frustrating when you are at the bottom of the hierarchy and just want to be heard or contribute something meaningful. Don’t take this the wrong way – most of the time I like my job – what job doesn’t have frustrations, but the conference gave me time to ponder and realize the frustration.
-Related to the first point, I know it will be important in the future to find an organization that values leadership from anywhere. Our keynote speaker, Paul Schmitz – CEO of Public Allies, advocates for this idea and I concluded it is one of my values. In the meantime, I’ll be channeling my energy to lead through YNPN Phoenix.
-Part of the challenges I’ve discussed also come from being in a large organization. In smaller orgs, it is a lot easier to be heard, make changes, and sometimes you get to do something outside your normal role. Catholic Charities can be very rigid about roles and the chain of command.
-During the conference reflection time, I definitely visualized myself in a leadership role and people looking to me as an authority. I better start becoming an authority, lol.

YNPN
-Our nationwide network is full of superstars. I was legitimately impressed with the sessions by various YNPN leaders and the expertise they brought to this conference.
-The conference also confirmed that the YNPN-Twin Cities chapter is full of superstars. They are hosting next year’s conference and I know they’ll do a wonderful job. Check out their blog: http://www.ynpntwincities.org/

I don't look thoroughly impressed

I don’t look thoroughly impressed

YNPN Phoenix Board
-With the exception of a few notable superstars (you know who you are), our board is lame. I’m sorry if the truth hurts, but it was embarrassing to be outnumbered by other chapters and frustrating that people don’t value their role on the board enough to make time for the conference. Yes a few people had legitimate excuses for not being there, but it was still frustrating. Okay, I’ve said my piece.
At the same time, I do believe there is hope and we have the potential to implement some of the great ideas from the conference. It is time for the board to rethink and recommit to the organization.

In other news, I am trying to be more active and lose weight. Even though, I absolutely detest talking about this type of thing saying it loud (or writing in this case) makes me be more accountable to myself. I’ve never been good at sticking to this type of commitment, but it is beyond time to try. We’ll see…

I think that’s enough for today. Bye for now!

Photo credit: http://www.bonniejeannephotography.com/

Day 30 The last day!

I’ve reached the end of the challenge.  Hooray!  Overall I enjoyed the challenge.  I might try to compose all outfits into one big picture, but not today.  If I did the challenge again I would probably pick at least one more shirt and eliminate one jacket.  I’m ready to explore my closet again.  Going forward with the blog I may post new outfits, but not daily outfits.  My ambition has not been to become a fashion blogger, but I do enjoy clothes and I wouldn’t mind keeping a record of new outfits and combinations.  I don’t feel a need to post every single day though.

The presentation today went well.  I felt like people were engaged and listening.  My fellow presenters were very easy to work with and a wealth of knowledge.  I didn’t sneeze or have any major coughing fits so I was happy with that.  I am still sick, but I’m coping.

Now we’re prepping for guests, and I better get back to it.

Bye for now!

Day 29 Red, White, & Blue

I put this top combination together when I first picked my 30 pieces and I haven’t worn it yet.  I imagined it with jeans originally.  I thought I might wear it tomorrow as my last outfit, but I have presentation tomorrow so I’m not going to wear jeans.  And since it isn’t Friday I wasn’t going to wear jeans today.  Then I had an epiphany and I remembered the red cords.  I think it works.  Not entirely sure what I’m going to wear for the presentation tomorrow though.

I felt somewhat better this morning, but now the sickness has incorporated my nose into the fun.  The worst part though is the coughing fits.  I’m hoping to avoid those during the presentation tomorrow.  Good thing it is a team presentation and I don’t have a huge part.

I had a be careful what you wish for moment at work today.  All of the sudden all kinds of people want my help.  I’ve been waiting for them to come to me, and it is all happening at once.  Isn’t that how it always goes?  We couldn’t stagger the needs of the nonprofits throughout my year?  Apparently not.  It is okay with me, but I have to switch gears and get my time management back on track.  I kind of have to re-orient my thinking, which can be difficult with a head cold…I shall persevere!  🙂  Time to rest!

Bye for now!

Day 28 Black & Khaki

Well the big news for today was my mom got the house!  There were nine offers on the house and we won!  We’ll be closing on the house April 1st.  I get to move again….oh boy!  No I’m excited about it, and the house is really cute & fun.

Today I went back to the Sears look with black and khaki.  I added a scarf though to give it a little something extra.  The scarf is another Kmart piece actually.  I went to AJ for meetings today, but didn’t stick around.  I haven’t been feeling too well the last couple days, so I took it easy today.  A nasty bug has been spreading around my office and it has now hit me.  Boo!!  I never used to get sick.  Since starting in AJ I’ve been sick twice.  I’m not sure if it is the office environment and recycled air or something different in my immune system or what.  It is kinda pissing me off.  I dislike being sick.  Especially at extremely inconvenient times.  We have a bunch of family coming to town, and I don’t want to be sick for that.  I’m trying to take it easy, and I got some Nasonex today to help with the sinus drainage.  It is definitely a viral thing, so there isn’t a lot that can be done.

Anyway that’s my rant for the day.  I should go to bed.

Bye for now!

Day 27 Hobnob

Apparently it is only Tuesday.  I don’t know what day it felt like but definitely not Tuesday.  I had to go hobnob with some other nonprofit types so I had to dress up a little, especially since it was in Scottsdale.  Normally I’m not a big fan of networking, but it wasn’t so bad tonight.  Maybe it was the business cards? Maybe it was being reminded that I come across as pretty confident? I didn’t feel out of place.  Or extremely young as I sometimes do.  It was just a nice evening.  Proving to myself I can network! Yay! That’s about it.

Bye for now!