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And so we have entered into another new year -- 2011. This is the time when many of us tend to make new plans and resolutions, set new goals, and make decisions to do various things in our lives.

We make plans to lose weight, earn more money, get out of debt, end relationships or marriages, further our education, move, start businesses, and various other changes in our lives...for the better. Yes - usually these resolutions, goals, plans, affirmations, and decisions are meant to bring betterment into our lives. But, do we really have to wait until it's a new year to make these changes? I don’t think so! Why procrastinate with betterment? Don’t you want it now?

Friends, I’m here to tell you that these same decisions can be made any day, any time, or any year. When we wait until the New Year begins, we are usually fired up as it has the feeling of being a fresh start, due to the fact that it's a new year. But what I have seen happen many times is that those same fresh feelings gradually die a slow death as the months in the year go by.

What works with any new plan, goal, decision or resolution you may make, is that if it is written down, broken down into appropriate segments, diaried/calendared, follow-ups completed, executed and checked off step by step as the time progresses. That is what has worked for me and several people I know. We can always make a million verbal plans, but when it's written down, followed-up and actually implemented, it becomes real.

So, with each new decision, plan, goal, resolution, affirmation - whatever it may be that you made at the onset of the New Year, get yourself a notebook, write it down, date it, calendar each step, follow-up, check off each step accomplished, and move on to the step. Continue this process until you have completed your plan. Doing this ensures that you were actually very serious when you made them, and that you were not just saying them to make yourself or anyone else feel good.

Go ahead. Do it now! I'm really hoping you will. If you do, will you share your marvelous accomplishment(s) with me at the end of 2011?

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I'm mellowing with age.  Yes - I know that and I'm not by any means afraid to admit it.  And, that is not just with the way I look.  It's my thoughts, feelings, actions, decisions, desires, deeds ... almost every aspect that I can think of.  I woke up to this reality (that I'm mellowing with age) a couple years ago and here's why I say this:
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I'm finding as I get older that certain things that used to big a big deal, really don't matter anymore.  I now feel as if I wasted so much time, energy, feelings, thoughts, etc. into these certain things.  One of them is - what people thought about me.  Oh my goodness!  Was I the biggest I-have-to-please-everybody kind of girl.  I never ever wanted anyone to be mad at me therefore I hardly ever said the word "no" to anyone.  I always felt that I had to make everyone happy.  Being this way robbed me of many things (on which I couldn't elaborate in this blog)...but I got older and of course, wiser.

Another aspect is the way I dressed.  I dress so much better now and as a result, look younger than I did even up to eight years ago.  I look back at some of my pictures from back then and wondered why didn't someone say something to me?  Even the way I styled my hair.  I just can't figure that one out!  Now I'm the queen of accessories (according to my children) and may I mention - and of nice purses!  I'm even into wearing belts now.  A marked improvement!

Yet another aspect -- my whole outlook on life.  I'm much more confident with who I am, much more sociable and more optimistic than I was as a younger girl.  If I knew and felt then what I know and feel now, there's no telling how much further in life I would be today.

My moods are another aspect.  I'm much more jovial, I take things and people less seriously, I smile more, I choose my battles more, I have a higher level of tolerance and...I could go on and on.

And so I embrace getting older.  Yes - I love my fifties!  No wonder I went back to school in my fifties.  My whole outlook on everything is now so different.  My fifties are indeed my best decade ever!

The journey continues in my back-to-school saga. I’m having a wonderful time learning all these new subjects. I’m nearing the end of my Cost & Price Analysis and Statistics classes, with finals approaching in another couple of weeks or so. What a journey it has been!

Cost & Price Analysis: I had no idea about this topic even existed. It is a topic that needs to be learned and understood in order to do contract work with the government. It covers establishment and administration of equitable pricing arrangements for goods and/or services; analyzes the total price (cost plus profit) and the individual elements of cost (labor, materials, indirect costs, and profit); emphasizes techniques for determining proper prices and estimating; and discusses methods of pricing research and development, and the selection of hardware and services. What an eye-opener for someone like me who knew absolutely nothing about it!

Statistics: This course examines the principles of probability and of descriptive and inferential statistics. Topics include probability concepts, measures of central tendency, normal distributions, and sampling techniques. The application of these principles to simple hypothesis testing methods and to confidence intervals is also covered. The application of these topics in solving problems encountered in personal and professional settings is also discussed. Before taking this class, I often wondered “why does anyone even need to learn this subject?” I now know! One must know probabilities, mean, median, mode, midrange, variances and standard deviations to get by in this world we live in. Mind you, there’s no need I believe, to know all the intricacies of any of these, but to at least have some idea. I must admit that I’m now seeing many things in a different light due to learning Statistics. Confession time!

Upon going back to school and perusing my entire curriculum, I walked around asking almost everyone I knew, why do I need to learn crazy subjects such as Philosophy, Calculus, Sociology, Logic, Statistics…you know - - these weird subjects. The answer was almost always - to keep you rounded so your degree can make sense when you get out into the world. Yeah, right!! I’m rounded alright! What more rounding do I need? Those were my thoughts that very first semester. But as each one was completed and a new one began, they all started to make sense to me! Right now I’m in love with Philosophy and Logic! What cool subjects they are! If I learned these subjects as a very young girl - from age 18 through my 20s - I would have been way ahead of my game right now. Way ahead!!!

Because I now have a different outlook on almost everything due to what I have been learning, I’m now desiring to have a brand new start. A brand new start in almost every aspect of my life. Going back to school was a super-smart decision!

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Being the parent of adult children, particularly if they were raised by you as a single parent, seems quite never-ending.  Like some of my many acquaintances, I raised my three adult children as a single parent.  As you can well imagine, it was not an easy task.  It is the general consensus that if our stories were to be written and published, they would certainly be on the best-sellers list.

My last child turned 21 a week ago and unlike my older two, still shows signs of being dependent to a certain extent.  I made it clear that I won't be tolerated and as a result, we have disagreements from time to time.

My friend whom I will call "Jess" for purposes of this blog, has had such a horrible time single-handedly raising her three sons.  Mind you, there have been good times and like myself, with the assistance of family, was able to bring them into adulthood without any of them ever having to be jailed or involved in drug-related activities, or anything such the like.  However, for Jess, it certainly has not been easy.  Her youngest, Nikk, was hit by a car as a very young boy while they resided in Miami, Florida.  He survived the accident but lived with several - mostly mental disabilities as a result of same.  His right leg was badly affected and he therefore walked with a slight limp.  Nikk had to go through special education and amazingly he graduated from high school a couple years ago.  Nikk was unable to drive and got around via public transportation, family and friends.  Jess often commented on how lucky she felt that his life was not taken as a result of the accident back then.

This past Friday afternoon, I received the most devastating phone call ever -- that Nikk was again hit my a motor-vehicle.  "Which Nikk?" I screamed.  "Not Nikk who had already been through this?"  Nikk is 20 years old.  He had been getting around on his own for many years and had already been through the trauma of being hit by a motor-vehicle.  Jess was bawling her head off.  "I can't go through this again, Valerie, I just can't do this!"  I wondered why Nikk - again?  Not that is should happen to someone else because Lord knows I wouldn't wish that on anyone.  But no - not Nikk - again.

His face was all bruised up and now his "good" leg was broken in three different places.  He was hospitalized and surgery was performed on his leg immediately.  The quick decision was then made that he will no longer be taking public transportation or walking across the street.  So, even though Nikk is an adult, parenting comes back into play once more.

We strongly believe parenting never ends.  No matter how old our children are, we still feel committed to parenting them, especially in time of great need.  Even if/when they marry and have their own families, we (or at least I do) still feel that parenting never stops.  It really can't.  We love them so much.  And especially if they are doing really well in their lives, we feel even more eager to be there for them in their time of need.

Parenting just never ends.

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If I knew then what I know now! How many times have you said that in your life? Seriously! How many times? C'mon - tell the truth!! I have said it many, many times as I look back at all or most of the mistakes I made in life. And those mistakes are numerous! You have a few too, don't you? Nothing wrong with "fessing" up. We all have some. Yes - all of us. No matter your profession, title, position, religious or political views, situation, etc., etc. - we all have made them.

I have looked back at even some of the choices I made where many things were concerned. These choices included friends, significant others (oh yes - not afraid to fess up to that one), jobs, paycheck, foods, my health, education..should I stop here? When I look back at some of the poor choices - YUCK! I feel like banging my head on a wall somewhere! What was I thinking then? In my country of birth (Jamaica) there's a saying for this that goes "Yu mussey drop and lick yu head?" (I must have fallen and hit my head somewhere!)

Those poor choices have resulted into many of the situations I've had to endure as I went about the daily business of life. I even continued doing some of them - - not even realizing it! However in all of these goings-on, I have tried to take the lesson to be learned from each of them and knew for sure what I wanted and what I absolutely didn't want again in my life. Mind you, I'm not at all saying I won't ever again make poor choices. But guess what? I'm more cautious, experienced, observant/perceptive, mature...all of the things I was not when these poor choices were being made, and consequently have been able to make far better choices today. Sometimes I smile in the midst of making various decisions, and say to myself "This is not what you would have done back then, Valerie! You would have done or said this or that instead." Makes me beam at my apparent growth!

Then there are things that I had said I would NEVER do back then - things that I am currently doing today. Had I done some of these very things, I would have been "sailing pretty smooth" today. My education is a perfect example. Should and could have been more realistic and focused with that very important and essential task. Young, foolish, know-it-all, naive, I got this. My mantra back then. Couldn't tell me anything because I KNEW WHAT I WAS DOING!!

I surely have come a long way baby!

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I celebrate getting older. I surely do! I'm wiser, happier, more healthy, all that good stuff. I find I have so many exciting things to do. It's as if a 24-hour day is too short for me. It's between work, school, extra-curricular activities, the grandchildren, my elderly mom, having one-on-one with my three grown ups and my niece at their place...so much to do, man! If only I could take a pill and it does for my body what sleep does, you know I would be on that constantly!! Yes I would!! When my weekend comes to end, it's as if I'm mad at the world. I wasn't done having fun yet! How dare it come to an end!

I have friends and relatives I would love to spend more time with - enjoy a meal, the movies, dancing, or just plain old girl talk with. For my friends at work, I have just a measly one hour to work with. Imagine that!! Then my friend who worked tirelessly to put my wedding in such beautiful order - I can't even get to see the girl! Then there's my friend who no longer works at my office (but I'm still in touch with her). My high school friends who are spread out all over the USA. My daughter, niece and a friend my daughter worked with at another lawfirm who's now my friend too - - all these wonderful folks. Now isn't that crazy?  But, like they say - you've gotta make the time to do what you truly want to do. So, I'm in need of suggestions! You may be able to think of some that I can't so feel free to throw them my way.
I'm waiting!!!!
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