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,
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,
So why am I writing this and who is it for?
I am writing this because, as a human, I experience emotions like frustration, anger, devastation, despair, and to put it simply, I get pissed off just like everyone else in the world. Does this make me a bad person or weak? Everyone from Christians to Buddhists, daughters to grandmothers, and even "chillers" experience some degree of these feelings at some point in their life.
This blog is to whoever will listen, to those of you dealing with the same thing, and to those of you who are the cause of such frustration. It's ultimately for anyone to read.
This blog post is a true factual story. One that must be told. You might say that telling such truths about people are stooping to their level: I couldn't disagree more. There are just some actions that are so disturbing, it's not possible to stoop to such levels.
Stories and events must be told. If they never were, history would not have been written and we wouldn't be able to connect with others on such events and grow strong communities to combat them. I am a firm believer in Buddhist concepts such as compassion and forgiveness. I am here to tell you that you can practice compassion and forgiveness and still tell the truth about a situation to bring enlightenment to those dealing with it.
Here is my story:
I met my husband in 2010. I met his family including his 3 year-old son and they welcomed me with open arms. My husband's mother and stepfather were happy to involve me in all family parties and holidays and I was truly grateful.
I also met my stepson's mother, the baby mama. As usual and in most situations, there was and is lots of baggage. I tried to steer clear and respect boundaries.
Something that stuck out to me in my husband's family was the relationship between his 3 year-old and my husband's mother and stepfather (the 3 year-old's grandparents.) Their relationship was solid, strong, and loving; a presence I never had with my grandparents. It amazed me how involved and close my in-laws were with their grandson and it brightened my heart.
Until the Winter of 2011: My husband's baby-mama had an affair with his stepdad (with grandpa.) This is still happening today, July 7 2017. (Think about it for a moment and let it sink in. You might need to draw a diagram or a family tree.)
Have I stooped to that level by writing this? I think not.
The affects this disturbing behavior is having on now my 10 year old step-son are astronomical. Not to mention all the in between conniving and manipulative behavior these disturbing parties have had the audacity to demonstrate.
It's only getting worse and the affair has been a 6 year catastrophic event/relationship. If anyone can think of a reason this type of behavior would ever be morally okay, I would love to know. What I do know: all the people affected by this disgusting situation were not even close to deserving it.
Affairs are very common. Affairs that happen within a family unit are troubling, almost sinister.
All of you who are dealing with similar challenges are familiar with the list of horrible events that unfold:
This is not an exaggeration. Yes, there are always two sides to a story but...mommy and grandpa together. I don't think I would care to hear that side and I know the reasons would never suffice.
Maybe they are deeply in love, Romeo and Juliet style?
Nope. There are facts and details that prove this wrong and sadly it all affects the one person that shouldn't have to deal with such adult dramas: the child.
So Now What?
Nothing, absolutely nothing.
When people hear this they ask:
Have you tried explaining to the disturbing parties the affects on the kid?
Maybe explain how it's wrong?
Tell the court!
And on, and on.
None of it has worked and it's utterly pointless in the end. All of you dealing with similar situations know what I mean. When joint custody is involved, it's simply not your business or jurisdiction when the child is with the other "parent."
So the "now" is to continue to live with this hardship. Continue to maintain a true strong family unit, continue to learn from such behaviors and teach our children how hurtful and wrong they are, continue to build a foundation of trust and love, to combat this disturbance with love, to acknowledge it as a test against faith, compassion, love, and forgiveness, and above all to continue to bring to light that such events are plain and simply wrong and build stronger communities of people who are forced to deal with such evil.
This is a true story. I am living it and have been for 6 years and by the looks of things many more to come. If you are dealing with similar disturbing and intolerable human behavior, you are not alone. There are ways to find peace, there are ways to forgive, but it's okay to feel the frustration. Now that is a normal feeling and behavior.
Reach out to discuss and bring these events to light: email@example.com
Written by Sterp
Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/en/eye-shading-head-girl-eyebrows-716008/
Like all relationships, my Mother-In-Law and I cannot say that ours has always been perfect. I have learned over the years that all relationships take commitment and compromise in order to be called successful. I have also learned that any type of relationship can become successful if it means something dear to you.
The Mother-in-Law Daughter-in-Law relationship has always been a point of discussion and sometimes can be quite a challenge. I am fortunate enough to have a mother-in-law who adores me as I do her. Have we butted heads over things? Of course but I have realized at the end of it all it is all because of one thing: we are both extremely passionate about our families and our love is so strong that sometimes in can get overwhelming.
My mother-in-law is one of the few people who has really helped me in learning to understand others’ perspectives and to have compassion even if I would rather be stubborn. A “perfect” relationship with her would have never taught me some of the core values I stand by today. This might sound cliche, but our relationship is stronger than ever after 7 years of mostly positive and a few challenging situations. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
To those of you who have mother-in-laws and are having a challenging time, here are some ways to transform your situation into a more positive one:
1. Always Remember, It’s All Out of Love
I cannot stress this enough. The few hurdles my mother-in-law and I had, I needed to step back and remind myself how much she loves our family and me. Again, I am fortunate enough to know she truly does love me and I do her so this reassurance can be extremely helpful in sensitive situations. Once you remind yourself of this, then her perspective begins to make sense and you can move to Tip 2: Be Compassionate.
2. Put Yourself in Her Shoes (Be Compassionate)
Sometimes it is totally okay to stand your ground on an issue however there are more than plenty of times when compassion and compromise can go a long way. Most conflicts are not going to be the end of the world and God Forbid you make a compromise! Stepping back, removing your ego, and being compassionate, will allow you to feel and do things you never thought possible. Put yourself in her shoes and think about how she feels in the situation. For example, in my case, my mother-in-law has a total of 3 children. My husband is the only one at the moment who has given her grandchildren so we are the only ones who have created a solid family structure for now. This is what she absolutely lives for and I am learning this about grandparents. It is okay to compromise for grandparents because they give their entire being to their grandchildren.
3. Have a Face-to-Face Discussion
Rather than hashing it out over text or the phone, meet and discuss your challenges in person. This is the best thing you can do and do it alone with just the two of you. There’s not much more to elaborate on with this one. Just step it up and be brave.
4. An Act of Kindness
Put your ego aside and take her to dinner or buy her flowers. Might sound petty but it isn’t. This will make her feel better and it will even make you feel good. Why would you want some long drawn out battle when this is your family? I know conflicts can get ugly and contain lots of tiny details but this isn't the point. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. An act of kindness can really mend a relationship and can become the beginning of a successful one.
Relationships are very complex and the history of one can be sensitive. I don’t know everyone’s situation. I do know some people have truly bad relationships with in-laws that come from a place of hate but I promise you these 4 tips can even help with those. I am grateful that the 7 years with my mother-in-law has be 90% great and 10% challenge. Think about all your relationships with people who you truly love…have you ever had a conflict with them? I am laughing out loud just asking that question. I have had conflicts with every person in my life that I love and it’s because at the end of the day we have a deep affection for each other and sometimes we just get too passionate. Be thankful for the imperfections because they will teach you values that would otherwise not exist.
Written by Sterp
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!