It finally happened. I have been taking the light rail to work for the last few months and its been life changing. No traffic, no silly drivers, I get lots of reading done, and have been very productive with work. Then one day it just happened. My phone was on the seat under my leg a bit and when it was my stop, I got up and walked off. While the light rail doors closed, I paused to get my phone out and then realized I had left it...when I turned around to face the light rail it was off to the next stop.
I stayed calm, realizing there was not much I could do in that current moment. I walked down the street to the office and when arriving immediately went to my colleague in Operations (the guy who everyone goes to when they have something to fix or figure out.)
I walked right up to him, "I left my phone on the light rail and I don't know what to do." (BTW, before I even finished this statement, Anthony had the VTA light rail website pulled up and was already dialing their customer service number.)
And this began our 2 hour journey to find my phone...
What happened next I will never forget.
We are now on hold with customer service. I then go to another colleague and use her phone to call my phone in the hopes that someone will answer my phone. No answer. It rang and went to my voicemail but no answer. I continued to call it but no luck. Anthony got VTA customer service on the line. I explain to them all details of what happened and they assure me that they will contact the light rail driver to try to locate the device. I give them my contact info and they said they would call me back either way.
Another colleague steps in (a technical guy) and tells me to log into Find my iPhone. I do this and now we can see my phone making its way through San Jose on the light rail, riding along beating the Silicon Valley commute.
I continue to call my phone from my colleague's phone...and low and behold someone finally answers! The conversation went like this:
"Hello, I left my phone on the light rail. I am a good person, a mom of a 3 year old. Please meet up with me so I can pick up my phone. I will go where ever you are."
"Why hello, I do have your phone. Don't you worry, your phone is safe with me. I will be at the Homeless Clinic in about 20 minutes next to the Lexington Brothers hospital. I have a blue bike. You'll see my blue bike out front. Don't you worry."
"So you will be at the homeless clinic. I will meet you there. What's your name?"
"I will have a blue bike. My name is Michael Brennie. B-R-E-N-N-I-E. I'll be at the homeless clinic. I have your phone."
"Alright I will see you soon. Thank you so much."
And we were off! My colleague Anthony and I were on our way to the homeless clinic to meet up with Michael Brennie, B-R-E-N-N-I-E. On the way, I stopped at the bank and took out $40 to give him for being such a grand citizen.
As we drove to the homeless clinic, I was praying that this man was telling the truth about everything. We parked the car. As we walked toward the homeless clinic, I spotted something that reassured me, a blue bike right out front. We walked into the homeless clinic, passed folks who were definitely struggling with just living. We asked the reception where we might find Michael Brennie and she pointed us toward the waiting room.
We popped into the wait room where 4 characters sat, dazed, exhausted from sleepless strung out nights, and in need of something.
My colleague shouts "Is there a Michael Brennie here? Michael Brennie?"
We turn to our right and there sitting, slouched down with a green worn t-shirt, baggy pants, and white shoes that have seen better days, is Mr. Michael Brennie. He says "I'm Michael."
"Are you Michael Brennie?"
"Michael Brennie. B-R-E-N-N-I-E."
"Hi Michael, oh my goodness, you have my phone, thank you so much!"
"Well, actually, I don't have your phone."
"What?! What happened?"
"The VTA light rail security guard confiscated it from me."
"Oh, well that's okay. I really appreciate you helping me out. I got this for you." I hand him the $40.
Brennie says, "Oh wow, I really need this. Thank you so much." He looks over at the spaced out woman to his right. "See what happens when you do right and do good things."
My colleague then steps into the hallway and gives me a whisper. We huddle in the hall and he has me log into Find my iPhone so we can corroborate Mr. Brennie's story. I crossed my fingers and the app GPS'd to my phone...and what do you know - my phone was traveling again along the San Jose light rail line. God Bless Michael Brennie.
I walked back to thank Michael and he then asks, "Can I get a hug?"
"Of course you can!"
Brennie asks, "What's your name?"
"My name is Stephanie."
"Oh, I used to date a girl named Stephanie." (He breaks into song.) "Myyyy babyyy Stephanie, darrrrlin Stephy. Oh you smell like roses."
"Thanks again Michael, God Bless."
And that was it. I met Michael Brennie. We were now off again and this time chasing the light rail. My colleague stops at an intersection and we see a light rail stopped. He puts his car in park, hops out of the driver's seat before I notice, and shouts to me to drive his car. I quickly hop into the driver's seat and can't reach the pedals. Of course the light turns green and I have to quickly adjust the seat while driving and wearing heels.
I park his car and run over to where he is. Now he's on hold again with customer service and is talking to the VTA security guards. They inform us that my phone is now headed to Milpitas - really getting the most out of its trip.
We rush back to the car and get a VTA person on the phone. They know exactly where my phone is and we schedule a time to meet the VTA driver who has my phone in downtown San Jose.
We then head downtown to catch the 10:53 light rail driver on his route.
When the light rail comes to the downtown stop, I knock on the driver's window.
I immediately say, "You have my phone, I'm Stephanie."
The light rail driver, "Well, good morning to you," with a big friendly smile.
And that was it, my phone was returned to me and I got to encounter good ol' Michael Brennie.
Tune in next time for my wild shenanigans,
Are you spiritual? Spirituality can mean many different things and the definition focuses on one's soul, sacredness, and the separation from the body at death.
I am spiritual. I am only recently spiritual, over the past 3 years. Like most people, I turned to spirituality because of turmoil that was presented into my Life, turmoil caused by people. I am 31 years old and in my 31 years I have witnessed that the science of logic seems not to always solve the complex issues and emotions of humanity. So what will? Spirituality.
I am writing this because I have met turmoil again. Not the easy kind either. We all experience chaos in our lives, the type that brings confusion and sorrow to us. The type we will never understand and the type that make us feel hopeless. This begins to lead us off the path of compassion, forgiveness, and peace. How can we allow the uncontrollable actions of others to maneuver us off the path of enlightenment? We cannot, that is the answer. We must turn to meditation, prayer, mantras, scriptures, and all other sources of Spirituality - else we will get lost permanently.
I study all walks of Spirituality, everything from Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, and so on. I do this because I learn from all of them and the funny thing is they all have the same message and overall teaching - how staying on the path of compassion, forgiveness, and peace will bring you happiness and will in turn bring others happiness and will help to teach those people as well.
Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return.
Each separate being in the universe
returns to common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.
-Lao Tzu, from the book The Enlightened Heart
Most importantly, faith and spirituality also help to leave fates in the eyes of destiny, karma, and natural consequences, essentially allowing Nature to do its job, one that we cannot do.
I can honestly say I am grateful for the situations and people who cause turmoil in my life because although I find myself losing sight of the enlightened path, I am able to recognize that I am losing sight and continue my meditation and prayer practices. Turmoil is the true test of Faith and Spirituality. Difficult situations and people are the true test of our wisdom, love, compassion, and forgiveness. I am grateful that I have the ability and strength to meditate and pray for the people around me and for myself.
I am writing this because I have found turmoil again. Am I oversharing? Is it surprising to read? Ask yourself when is the last time you met turmoil and difficulty, confusion and sorrow. I am sure it wasn't that long ago and we must talk about it. Not gossip. We must talk about how to deal with it in order to never be led off the path.
What do you do to stay on the path to enlightenment?
Here are some of my other writings on enlightenment:
When Life Gives You Crap, Don't Just Make Lemonade, Make Eggnog and Sing Carols
Learn How to Forgive
A Buddhist Approach to Dealing with Difficult People
Work stress...a pretty common topic and maybe even overrated when it comes to serious discussion however as someone who works in the marketing world in the heart of Silicon Valley - horrible traffic like our East Coast counterparts and Los Angeles commuter friends, top competition when it comes to skills, certifications, and higher education, and one of the most expensive cities to live in - combine this with being a wife and a mother to a toddler, and well, you got yourself a beautiful recipe of success (and maybe disastrous stress if you don't know how to handle it all.)
I want to follow the paragraph above with some facts. I have never been happier when it comes to my career. I am doing what I love and working at a company that has been the most innovative and creative in my entire work experience. Every day I come home I am happy and fulfilled. Sure I have those weird days like everyone else but the majority of the time, I live a very content and happy Life.
I also work in a very high pressured and fast paced environment. To all my fellow marketing warriors out there, you know the thrill of working in such a creative, around the clock department and yes, the phrase "I thrive off pressure" came from us in marketing. I don't work a 9-5 schedule because I need to be available for conference calls and sometimes urgent items around the clock (also accommodating worldwide employee timezones.) And even so, I wouldn't change a thing about my job. So how do I cope with day to day work stress on top of having a 2 year old, an 11 year old, and being the Wonder Woman wife that I am (let's face it, I am.) I am not going to pretend that I'm perfect and always grounded, like so many fabricated social media profiles. But I do continue to embrace the list below, out of order, and at times giving more attention and weight to a particular item in the list one month and changing it the next. Full blown healthy chaos!
As I said before, I am not going to pretend that I always do the above in any perfect way. Whenever I have those challenging days and find myself getting wound up, I pause, breathe, and refocus on the above. And although I have a career that stretches my skills to the max, I am able to continue with passion in my soul, with a tamed stress, and happier than ever.
Thanks for tuning in,
Based on the title of this article, you may be wondering if I'm a millionaire or what my net worth is today...
I am not close to being a millionaire and I won't disclose my net worth here but just know that keeping track of your net worth plays a significant role in becoming a millionaire. Why is it so significant?
Put simply, it's pure mathematics. If you want to buy a car in the next 6 months and you need $2,000 for a down payment, then you will need to save around $334 each month for the next 6 months. It is that simple and it really only takes discipline, financial discipline.
So, if by the time you retire you wish to be a millionaire...you will need to do the math. You will need to keep track of your net worth. You can calculate it here: http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/networth/networth.html
Once you calculate your net worth, it should then be equal to the number based on this equation: (Your Age) x (Pre-Tax Annual Income)/10
(which I got from the life changing finance book called Millionaire Next Door - if you don't have an Audible account, your first audio book from them is free.)
What if your net worth does not match up with the above equation? If you want to be a millionaire when you retire, one main goal in your life is to ensure these numbers match up. Your actual net worth should match up to the number from this equation: (Your Age) x (Pre-Tax Annual Income)/10
If it does, it means you're on track to becoming a millionaire because it's simply math (just like the saving for a car example above.)
You don't have to be born rich to become a millionaire. You don't even have to earn a large annual income.
We live in a world where we have learned that having stuff, accumulating material items, and showing these items off, equates to being wealthy. This cannot be more untrue. Accumulating savings and spending less on material crap will actually build your path to becoming wealthy.
I am 31 years old (and feel that I am quite behind to the financial planning club.) So what am I doing to set myself on the path to becoming wealthy and why am I so confident?
It's always simpler to take the easy way out. To expect wealth and retirement to be given to us or to just say "I only make 50,000 a year." Honestly, it doesn't matter how much you make, you can invest $50 monthly into your IRA and, once invested, that money will grow far past your annual income. (The sad truth is...if you can go out and party with friends or eat out for dinner...you can use that money instead to invest.)
It is simple math. It is about saving and investing and it is NOT about spending stupidly.
Unfortunately, my parents were not taught to manage and save for their financial future so I wasn't taught to build my wealth. I was taught to work hard to make a huge income and then to spend it but that is not correct.
You always invest in yourself the moment your paycheck hits your account. You don't go buy groceries first. You don't go eat first. You pay yourself first by AUTOMATICALLY depositing something into your IRA or your child's college fund. Strange right?
I've had my IRA opened for almost 2 years and I already see the growing benefits it will have on my future and my child's future. I'm determined to be a millionaire when I retire and it's not based on luck, it's all based on math.
Until next time,
It finally happened...I fell from the top of the stairs in my house. It's actually a hilarious story, especially since I didn't get badly hurt, my right pointer finger just swelled up and is bruised (reference photo above.)
So what actually happened?
It was 7:33 am and I was on a conference call with my boss and my boss's boss. Thank God for the mute button otherwise it would've been even more disastrous. I was holding my iPhone in my left hand, muted and on speaker phone. Had my computer bag over my right shoulder, was wearing 3 inch heels and wasn't holding onto the railing. I went racing down as usual, forgetting about the 3 inchers, and BAM!
I didn't slip down. I fell to my side and rolled over and over. Definitely tried to catch myself and failed horribly...apparently.
The loud thud of my epic 7:33am roll woke my husband. He ran down the stairs and immediately helped me out of concern. I was a bit in shock and almost on the verge of tears. My right pointer finger was the only place on my body that instantly hurt, pretty bad might I add.
Of course my phone which made a landing on my kitchen floor, unharmed, was still running the conference call, myself muted. After sitting for a few minutes, I just started laughing my ass off. While commuting to work, I couldn't stop laughing by myself, full on tears laughing. The laughter got so bad, I had to stop at the local Safeway to pick up emergency eyeliner.
This is how I started my 2018! Killing it and rollin in style. Below are some other awesome ways I have started the New Year:
1. Still eating anything that gets in my way
2. Sleeping in whenever possible
3. Staying up way too late on week days
On a more serious note, here are some real ways I have started off my year:
1. Meditating more
2. Playing electric guitar again after stopping for 3 years
3. Continuing to give most of my free time to my children and husband
4. Working out, when I feel like it
5. Every day, taking time to focus on the present moment by breathing
I should probably try to not do too much, especially when stairs are nearby.
Hope your New Year is starting off great! Beware of stairs, slow down, and remember to breathe.
My Christmas season has been superb and it really makes up for our Thanksgiving experience (here's the Thanksgiving blog if you haven't read it.)
We have been quite busy with some great festivities. We started off with the Los Gatos Holiday Train in Vasona Park. There are 2 ways to view the Vasona Park holiday lights, self-drive or hop on the train. We beat about an hour of traffic by using the train. Fun times! Check out what a great time we had, except for Raven in the first photo :)
My husband and I went to The Nutcracker for the first time at the Center for Performing Arts in San Jose. It was so pleasant and as an artist, I truly appreciated every component: the music, costume design, back drops, and dancing. We were in the third row and boy, can you see things you'd normally not. You can see every breath the dancers take, when they're out of breath, and each of them using every ounce of energy and acting to keep a smile on their face the ENTIRE time. EPIC!
Today, I visited my mother. She is recovering from reconstruction surgery due to her battle with breast cancer over the last 8 years. She is doing great and I helped her put her tree up and decorate. On my way to her house, I saw the largest homeless shanty town ever. There were about 100 people and around 30 tents. It was shocking and I thought about it for a long time afterward. I've been thinking about these camp outs for a while. I've had a strong urge to make a short documentary about one of these homeless communes. I just haven't fully strategized my safety net for walking into one and asking to film (of course bearing valuable items to give, just need a security crew...)
Last topic: the chronic pain in my upper back. It's unbearable at times and causing me to be quasi-depressed. It has made me kick my ass into gear and do yoga every day. Below are two amazing yoga videos I have been focusing on and it's been working great! I am considering chiropractic care, physical therapy, or acupuncture, but don't really have time for it all.
Happy holidays and thanks for tuning in to my Digital Diary.
With Christmas around the corner, people are scrambling to find the best gift for their mother, father, daughter, son, husband, or wife. Every year Christmas begins earlier and every year it gets more and more out of hand.
This year, my mother gave the best Christmas gift I've seen yet, the gift of shelter, family, and love. She opened her doors to a family member in need. Sure, many people might say, "I would do that too. I would do anything for family." It's much easier said than done. She has actually walked the walk.
It's also just a coincidence that her generosity has landed right before Christmas because, quite frankly, she is always generous, no matter what she is dealing with. My mother is a breast cancer survivor, she has survived a divorce from 25 long years of marriage, she survived my ungrateful and unpleasant teenage years, all while working in corporate America. She is a survivor and although Life hasn't handed her an easy ride, her heart never ceases to grow over the years.
As cliche as it sounds, physical presents don't mean shit. Yes, I buy gifts for my kids and husband and yes the thought behind gifts can be meaningful but it's the actions and behaviors when Life is pounding down on you, the way you react and interact with people in need that displays your true Self.
My mother opened her doors to family with zero hesitation. This person never had a room to them self, never a closet to place clothes, no home cooked meals, no family time in the living room. She has given all this and more as a gift, straight from her heart, all out of love and kindness. Could I do that? Maybe. It's hard for people to admit that they might hesitate and it's so much easier to say, "I would do that too."
You never really know until someone in need comes knocking at your door.
This year, the greatest gift I've seen given is by my mother. She continues to blow me away even as she grows older. She continues to teach me even though I am already 30 years old.
I hope she realizes the value of her gift but honestly, she isn't thinking about it that way. She is just giving the love she knows best.
The holidays are here and with that comes the joy of magical festivities, the sweet sound of Christmas carols, beautiful lit streets with the wet reflections of bright lights, and...oh yes, I almost forgot...spending time with family.
I'm going to be frank here, because that's what I do best. It isn't always blossoms and butterflies during the holidays especially when you have multitudes of diverse personalities in a cramped room, sipping on egg nog, and attempting to make small talk. Come on folks, they don't make those ridiculous family holiday movies every year for nothing.
Where am I going with this?
My 2017 holiday season didn't started out the way I hoped however I have had some time to think about it and the older I get the more I realize what my very wise Aunt has been trying to teach me since I was young:
(Yoda Aunt Becky, wise she is.)
The most important thing that crossed my mind while experiencing this less than ideal beginning of the holiday season: so many people in the world have way worse situations than me. Although it may not always be blossoms and butterflies, I definitely live a Life full of them. I personally know people who've lost loved ones a week before Thanksgiving so now they're forced to experience their 2017 holiday season never seeing the people they love and care for again.
So in the grand scheme of things, who cares that something didn't work out the way I hoped. I am breathing, living, happy, painting, dancing, and damn excited for a magical Christmas morning.
Happy Holidays and when the holidays get you down, drink some egg nog and sing your heart out to Christmas carols and just remember, there are some people sleeping outdoors with nothing left. (But you can be that person to make them smile.)
Peace and Joy,
Dear Digital Diary,
I have always been the type of person to think about the things I'm grateful for but with Thanksgiving approaching, I find myself thinking about it even more.
In a world where attention is shorter than ever and everyone thinks they are King of the freeway so they would rather ride's someone ass to get to their throne, it's easy to lose sight of what matters most: living Life in the present.
Here are random things I'm grateful for in no particular order:
1. Freedom: I get to choose my destiny and that's a beautiful thing
2. Family: They drive me nuts sometimes but they are by far my favorite people
3. My husband: Treats me like a Queen, that is all
4. My career: Not a job, a career, one that I love and I am passionate about
5. My talents: Talents are learned but some people are simply born with the gene, I can paint like no one's business and it's a therapy for me and for that I am grateful
6. Comforts: The car I drive, the clothes I have, the cozy home with a California King, and too many shoes...(remember to always give back)
7. The Digital Age: I am a fan, I see the benefits, so many people forget how is was just 15 years ago...GAME RECOGNIZE GAME!
8. Q-tips: Because what else would satisfy such an itch
I would love to hear what you are grateful for?
Don't forget to follow me on Facebook, INSTA, YouTube, and Twitter if you want to kill some time!
Be back soon,
While I was stuck in Bay Area traffic, I had an idea for my blog. Most of my content ideas for my YouTube channel and my blog happen in traffic. I guess if I ever get writer's block I know exactly what to do.
My blog is quite deprived of my attention. I work full-time as a corporate marketing manager for an IT security company, have a 2 year old and an 11 year old, I'm married, and have 2 pets. Not to mention a hobby for creating art and slap OCD on top of it all, and well, you get a person moving a million miles an hour.
I got to thinking, in order to consistently write content, why does it always have to be some epic life changing story? My "I don't give a F*ck" attitude chimed in and made me realize it doesn't need to be. So here I am and here it is: my first Digital Diary entry. I plan to create these entries frequently, and although most of them will be random rants and useless information, maybe just one person in the world will gain insight, value, or simply a good laugh.
Recently my husband and I took the leap and started saving for a house. For those of you who live in the Bay Area (we live in San Jose, CA), you understand how laughable it sounds to save for a home here. Our loose plan: use an FHA loan to own here but no matter what happens, we plan to move out of state within the next 7 years. Bye-bye Cali, your over congestion, rude and ridiculous drivers, and over-priced housing has been fun but...
Holidays are Here
Amongst saving for a home, the holidays are here! The best part: family and food. We aren't buying gifts this year except for the kids. It's funny though, I have seen first hand how many "things" are wasted due to excessive buying during the holidays by people overall. Remember folks, cater to the trend of everyone getting offended by everything and don't dare express a "Merry Christmas." (Or just be you and stop caring what others think)
It's here and I love how everyone and their mother have an opinion. The one piece of advice I have taken from everyone and their mother is "to cherish every moment because it goes too fast." I actually took this literally and will just sit and engage in playtime with my daughter, putting everything else aside. I think that is the secret to it all, to raising a good human being, is to just spend time with them.
I know what you are all thinking, "he whose name must not be spoken." I have nothing to say here about politics, however, I recently heard a YouTuber say "overall, it's a great time for humans to be living." I cannot agree with this more. There will always exist a monster in your life in some way, you can be negative about it and let it rule over you or you can be positive and transcend it.
7 Year Anniversary
I have been with my husband for 7 years and, no joke, we are extremely happy, have a healthy relationship, and see nothing but success in our future. Was it always like this? Absolutely not. What's the secret? Not sure, but what I do know is that we continue to grow together even with our faults and always believe in one another. You can have different opinions on Life and you should. Learn to talk about money, how to raise kids, and about religion and politics.
Ask yourself, if you were locked in a 5x5 room with this person for 1 week, would you last?
Well, that's all I got for today (and if you haven't started Stranger Things on Netflix, get on that now!)
Thanks for reading,
Welcome my lovely Beings! You can call me Sterp. When I come home from my corporate job I am welcomed by my YouTubing 11 year old gamer, my dancing 2 year old, a ginger husband who specializes in making me laugh every day, a cockatiel named Frida, and my husky Rocko, the Thief of All Food. I practice Buddhism to help keep my sanity while sitting in traffic and dealing with toddler meltdowns. Life presents us with many challenges so I try not to take it too seriously. Don't forget to follow me on all the social networks below!