Thursday, December 10, 2009

Trying to teach the meaning of Christmas to a 5 year old

I know that Jesus said that we should come to Him as children, letting down our guard in trusting Him, but sometimes we don't realize how self centered children can be. When I was trying to make plans for a special outing with my 5 year-old to Target so we could shop for her little sister and father. Well, we did not end up going because she insisted that she was entitled to a gift. I was trying to explain to her that Christmas is not about getting things but about giving. Needless to say we never made it to Target because I did not want to encounter a 5 year old fit in the middle of the toy aisle.

How can you teach a 5 year old that being selfish is not the meaning of the season? I want her to see that giving something from you can bring joy to others. I am not talking about toys that she may like, but buying something that other people like. I try to instill this in my child but it is a challenge. I think this year with 10% unemployment and the downturn of the economy, many people are not consuming as much, and relying on hand made gifts, and not things bought entirely in a store. I think the Charlie Brown Christmas is the heart of the issue, "Oh no, my dog has gone commercial" and trying to find the real meaning of Christmas. I don't think my daughter fully understands what is going on the Charlie Brown Christmas, but it resignates more with adults.I hope one day she will understand.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Training for a Marathon equals Child Birth??

For the past 4 months, I have been indulging my Saturdays with group meetings for long runs with Team in Training. Not just because I want to raise funds for a cause, but because I want to accomplish a feat of completing a marathon. I have 26.2 of road ahead of me, and every little mile of practice (up to 30 miles a week) is part my training. Though the mechanics of running have improved over these past 4 months, I must admit I was not aware of other factors that would have entered in, such as my appetite increasing to the size of a nursing mother.

When I was pregnant with my two daughters, I had thought it was great to eat a little extra because I was "eating for two." Now with marathon training, I was thinking my little extra eating would eventually burn off because of all the miles I was running. Finishing my long miles with bagels, bananas and gatorade is pretty much a staple Then I go for a burger and fries because I felt like I could eat a house. Unfortunately, I have gained about 8 pounds, most of it just recently after my 20 miler. I think about half of that weight is the added water needed for me to survive the marathon. Other half could be the added muscle my body had gained during the training. Though my clothes don't feel tighter, they sure don't feel looser! And I thought training for a marathon would help me lose weight!

I do feel like this training is just like waiting for a child to be born. You prepare as much as you can then race day comes, 4 hours plus of it, then it is over once it has been accomplished. Then your body has to recover then go back to normal. In all honesty, it is one of those things I want to get over!

My fundraising page with Team in Training is like my weekly journal of my training. Please feel free to see it and thinking about making a contribution to this wonderful cause of fighting blood cancers. http://pages.teamintraining.org/nca/corps09/abreemanrh

Monday, September 21, 2009

Healthcare debate and health based charities, who wins?

Healthcare is such a hot kitchen table issue right now, that people demand changes and action, regardless what side of the political aisle you stand on. Some people want the government to expand the use of Medicare as the only alternate health insurance for people who don't have coverage, and other want the government out of the healthcare business, and only want to reform the way some insurance companies do business, like denying patients coverage for pre-existing conditions. Others, just want out of it all together, no health insurance, then tough cookies and don't want the government to penalize you for not having it. Either way, you look at, it all boils down to the costs of healthcare. It would not be such an issue if the the cost for some of the procedures you get at a hospital from having a child to getting a cyst removed from a breast wouldn't be so much. The stay at a hospital, the medicines, the around the clock care from the nurses and doctors, the electricity to keep the hospital open, the technology needed to detect diseases, all cost money and trickles its way to the bottom line of patients needing the care.

How much does it cost to sustain human life? According to Time Magazine, it is $129,000/year. This study was based out of Stanford's School of Business, using patients of dialysis. Costs like "quality of life" and the amount of time for treatment, value of organs, etc. were all taken into account. I don't know if you can put dollars and cents on human life, but at least you get the picture of incomes versus expenses when it comes to healthcare. If a person makes only $50,000/year and has to get dialysis, imagine the time and cost going into it for that individual! That person would be broke for sure!

And where does all of this lost money go? Back to the taxpayers, the companies producing the healthcare products, and to the insurance companies for increased premiums, among a few. Another avenue of where some of these costs would be coming from would be health based charities. Alot of churches have them, community clinics and even pharmacies are starting to help out those in need of a little help with medic care. I am sure in the case of an individual going through dialysis, research for more efficient and effective methods would be covered under the umbrella of National Kidney Foundation. But with the ailing economy, alot of these necessary non-profits are getting the boot from some people as a place to give donations, and don't see the immediate value that such support of health-based charities could do to the economy down the road.

Maybe I am tooting my own horn here because I am working with Team In Training this year to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and I HAVE to raise money! I think people need to see that donations to an organization means that 1)they have control of where their money is going in supporting a health cause 2) it contributes to the research of that particular organization so the medicine and treatments would be more efficient and effective 3) once the organization is contributing to more efficient and effective ways in finding cures, then it would lower healtcare costs down the road for individuals with that disease, and could mean less of a burden on all people! Makes the healthcare more affordable and available to all with that disease.

I could be too simplistic in my theory of healthcare and health-care charities, but I challenge everyone to give up that 500 calorie daily iced coffee for a week, and give that money to a health cause instead. Better yet, give up on your annual Christmas gift this year and just tell people to donate to your favorite health-based charity instead. Or even participate in a community health walk or 5k run/walk and raise money for a charity that really needs the money. I think it would lower everyone's health costs down the road if we all do it together!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Resting - but I feel so restless!

Last weekend, in my training for a marathon, I had an injury in my foot due to running on an uneven course. I could not walk without being in pain, and my training took a backseat during this recovery. According to my Team in Training schedule, I was supposed to put in a 50 minute run on Sunday, a 60 minute on Tuesday and another 40 on Thursday. So far, this week, I was able to get in about a 20 minute swim on Sunday and a painful 30 minute run on Wednesday. I feel like I could more. I am conditioned to do other things like bike, but I have been occupying my time doing other things right now. After all, I did have a new Kindergartener start school this week, and adjust the family to a new schdule of events.

Though I am doing the right things in letting this injury heel, I just want things to get back to normal and put in my time like I wished I could this week. I realized, after Wednesday, how much I wanted this, and how much I wanted to continue with my goal in completeing a marathon. I have found myself eating more of the unnecessary things like cookies and sweets during my down time, which not good for anyone, even though I think I am a mighty athlete and can burn it right off (which has not been the case this week).

Anyway, at least I am relaxing a bit and enjoying my Kindergartener grow and my youngest adapt to not having her big sister around. So there could be some benefit to not running around right now.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Amy Breeman-Rhodes Fundraising Page

Amy Breeman-Rhodes Fundraising Page

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Virtual Assistants - something Moms and Dads can do

One of the things we all as parents want at the end of the day is more time. Most of us on an average day get up, drive in our cars, go to work our 8 to 5 and drive home, fix dinner get the kids ready for bed, and BAM it is 9 pm! I think if most of us had a choice, we want more flexiblity with our work/personal time. Once such career that can offer that is being a virtual assistant.

A typical work day would be get up in the morning, get your morning coffee, take the kids to school, come back home, drink more coffee, turn your computer, and you are at work. Making phone calls, writing memos, research marketing ideas, web surfing for addresses and phone numbers, do legal research, come up with some spreadsheets, write an article and even write a book. These are just a few things virtual assistants can do, all in their homes.

I am researching on doing this same type of activity on my own. I am scoping out websites like guru.com and elance.com, looking for projects that could be interesting to me. How about working 5 hours a week just doing some web site research for government forms and putting your findings on a spreadsheet? How about writing a blog for someone, or writing an article for a mazagine. And for something more challenging, how about testing products for a cosmetic company. All of these kind of jobs can be found on a virtual basis.

Of course, once you jump into doing project jobs, you first of all, keep up the hours and try to find work week in and week out. After all, you have to still earn money even after one project is over. Second, you are now a sole proprietor and do this work on your own. Being a sole proprietor means paying self-employment tax, keeping financial records like receipts and invoices. Third, you might think about forming a company and operate under that name when dealing with clients. That can be a project in itself in finding out about which business structure is best for you.

So, being flexible with work and personal time is a big motivator for me to look into possible venture. Even if I have a full-time or part-time job, this would be an excellent way to earn some extra money, and possibly fund my children's education. If you happen to have a virtual assistant job, I welcome your experiences working as one, and if there are any pitfalls one needs to be aware.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Stories of Journeys – For Children and Adults

I had recently just read a delightful little book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho about a young man’s journey from Andalusia Spain to the Pyramids of Egypt. It was centered on the mission of this young man’s search for his Personal Legend, or his personal accomplishment,

“Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.”

How enlightening this can be for us adults, and parents, to see with the eyes of a child. Yet, we reason like a “grown up” when we see our life options as obstacles to our dreams. How many of us have given up on our dreams or accomplishments because of the cards that we are dealt in life. Didn’t finish your degree? Did not take that trip you have always wanted to do? Didn’t make that phone call to that loved one? This is all part of the journey of life, all on the road to accomplishment. Much like the Aesop’s Fable of the fox and grapes, after the effort of trying so hard to obtain those sweet, nurturing grapes, the fox gives up saying that they are sour. But do those dreams go away? We long for those sweet grapes, but because it is so hard to get them, we just give up thinking that they are just a bad idea.

I have read the Wizard of Oz to my daughter (not the red ruby slippers, but the silver shoes). Dorothy had the on-going desire of returning back to Kansas, and along the way made some friends with their own desires, and everyone encounters obstacles along the way, all seeking for the Wizard, who would make their dreams come true. But in the journey itself, they realized, at the end, that they had what they were seeking the whole time. The journey was the confirmation of their desires, and despite the odds and fears, they were able to find out for themselves that anything can be done.

So, we need to think like a child, and take our life’s journey as a child...” "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.,” As Jesus said in Luke, we need to look to God without our pride, fears and “grown up” reasoning and pursue what is pure and just. We all need to pursue our longings and treasures in life, and seeking, God willing, is all part of our journey.

“Follow the Yellow Brick Road!"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Managing insecurities of our children - that's how they grow

On this wonderful 4th of July day, our family had the excellent opportunity to go do what families typically do on 4th of July: We had a picnic and saw fireworks. Of course, this was all done with the permission of our children. They were looking forward to all of the events of the day and were excited to have the option to do those thing. Like always, sometimes this does not always go as planned, at least how we, as parents, think it would.

As our family was wrapping up our exursion to the playgroud and park for a lovely shaded picnic, my oldest was running with excitement to our car and fell and skinned her knee. How typical, I think, but my 5 year-old is crying, making it a huge crisis. "B-B-Blood!!" coming from my wanna be doctor. She was crying all the way to the car, wanting to be carried due to the stinging sensation of her knee. Then she goes on to say "My friends will make fun of me!" and later, "None of the boys will marry me!" She was not only crying because of the knee, but worried how a skinned knee would ruin her young reputation. I then showed her my scars from years of falling off bikes and running into things. Somehow it did not convince her that it was all part of being a human being - that we do get scars. When we got home, she got into bed and we all watched a little bit of Toy Story. I think me being with her in those few minutes calmed her down a bit. Maybe next time she gets a skinned knee, she won't cry as much and see that even her friends, especially those boys, gets them.

And, down to the fireworks we go later in the day. My youngest was so enthusiastic to see the fireworks, perhaps the first real display she has seen in her young 2 year old life. We got to the park in Vienna early enough, about an hour, before the display began. Both girls were so excited. The crowds were coming in, and the girls were nestling in with blankets as the evening got cooler. Then at 9:15 the firworks began. My oldest was sitting on her father's lap, saying "Wow," while my youngest was on my lap cluching onto me for dear life. She was not happy about the experience. She covered her eyes, then shuttered at the sound of the pops. She would not let go of me during the 30 minute show. I was trying to comfort her, but I was thinking she would get used to the sounds and see that the crowds were enjoying the views. But all of this did not convince my youngest at all. She clinged to my neck the whole time in fear. I am hoping that next time, when she is 3, that this would not be such a terrifying experience and see that this is just how fireworks sound and look.

We can all hope, as parents, that every experience our child has, good or bad, and make them see that this is what happens in our lives and we will all have to chuck up the experience as a guide to our next dilemma. These experiences will give us more confidence to deal with next issue we face, and then the insecurity would soon diminish. At least, we hope little by little.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Making education more convenient - will it work for you in the real world?

Last week perhaps was one of the biggest steps made in the land of recognizing online degree graduates as people to be reckoned with in the working world. I happen to request google alerts from "Concord Law School," the "oldest" of the online law schools offered on the net at the young age of 10 years old. As an aside, yes, I am looking at this non-ABA, only California accredited law school as a possibility in the future for me to indulge in a legal education. It's online, and a quarter of the cost of a law school around the DC area, so yeah, I am looking at it. Anyway, the biggest 2 liners of the week for Concord Law School were these headlines: "Online Law School Grad Who Sued to Take Bar Gets His License," and "Concord Law School Team Competes in National Moot Court Finals."

First of the headlines, is a major break through, at least from the stand point that of the people in Massachusetts who could take the bar, it was only for ABA- accredited school graduates. However, Ross Mitchell of Newton, Mass, and graduate of the Los Angeles based Concord Law, had the courage in November of last year to stand in front of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts pro se and state his case that he should take the Massachusetts Bar, despite that he did not graduate from an ABA-accredited school. He won favor with the court, a 6 to 1 decision, and on June 22 of this year, he was admitted into the Massachusetts Bar. This was so earth shattering, that even the National Law Review picked up the story.

With regards to the second headline, two Concord students made it to the finals in the National Moot Court, which was held in Washington, DC. They beat out other universities, and were face-to-face to Stanford Law students at the American Constitution Society Annual Convention in Washington. 45 schools participated in this event, and to think that Concord was up against one of the toughest-curriculum law schools in the country is quite amazing!

Looking at these accomplishments with Concord students and graduates, is making me take a longer look about going to an online school. In today's world, everyone is so accustomed to the "brick and mortar" education. However, with the abundance of information and education online, it actually makes people rethink their lives and priorities and say "Hey, I can do this!" I know with the development of distance and online education, there is the need for the accreditation measures to make sure that these schools are legitimate and not something that is used as a marketing tool. Having a good education accessible to everyone who can afford it and can "get in" a school will help those who don't have the time, and yes, money, to attend a college of their choice and live on its campus. I mean, I definitely enjoyed my college experience, with the friendships that I developed over the years. I don't want the "brick and mortar" schools to go away. But logging on a computer anywhere in the world at 8:00 at night would be better than trying to get a baby sitter and beat traffic just to get that masters or law degree. Not many employers would think that kind of education is worth while. But it is a degree. However, I believe taking a distance course takes alot of self-discipline and desire to do it. After all, I am taking a paralegal course through distance education means. That is ALOT of self-discipline just to turn in assignments on time while looking for employment and raising my two girls.

I think the reputation of the online education, over time, will get better. As more Phoenix University and Concord Law graduates enter the workforce, more employers are going to have to look at those school names on resumes, and see that while these people were raising families and holding down jobs that they actually took the time to learn something. How convenient can an education be when all that an online graduate wanted to do was to get a better paying job so that his/her child can go to a "brick and mortar" school. That is the American dream, isn't it?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A feeling of relief - now that summer is here

One big sign that summer is here, at least when looking at my children's schedules, is all the year-end programs that parents have to attend to show the work that our children accomplished. A couple of weeks ago, my oldest had her dance recital, under the theme of "Beauty and the Beast." There is nothing cuter than seeing young girls dressed in tutus. The performance, of the recital as a whole, was entertaining since there was various other dramas going on stage, and not just the dancing. One point during one of the routines with another group other than my daughters, had a child pushing and shoving other children. Ironically, it was during a routine called etiqutte and poise. Other than that, my daughter's performance was wonderful! She has such an interest and love for dancing, that we will be continuing it for her in the fall.

Besides all of the recitals, and year-end programs, it is a relief to parents to see it at an end. Even with my own projects, I just finished my final for the Parlegal I course. That is a relief in itself.

But as far as embarking on other things once the Sept-June projects are done, summer has its own set projects. There are the vacations, the swim lessons, soccer lessons and going to the pool more often. Actually, with all of these activities on the schedule (on top of my training for a marathon) these are more relaxing. I know the kids deserved that break from the norm. Once fall comes again, there will be a new exciting feeling, especially with my oldest starting kindergarten! The smell of new books and pencils will spark a new interest in learning. We will have to wait till August for that!

Monday, June 1, 2009

How come healthy foods are not more widely available?

I remember a few years ago that I wrote to Pillsbury and asked why they don't have whole wheat or whole grain varieties of their biscuits, rolls, pizza crust and even cookies. Whole grain is supposed to be the healthy option, right? And would it not be in their best interest of Pillsbury to better the lives of their customers colons by adding the needed fiber in their diets? Of course, who cannot resist those Grand cinnamon rolls or a flaky criossant. But if I want an unbleached version, shouldn't it be widely available?

This was just one of the issues I have with the mass-run companies that don't modify their products for the health of the consumer. McDonald's does not have whole wheat bread, neither does BK. Better yet, they don't even serve sirlon burgers, or fat free mayonaisse or how about those sweet potato BAKED fries! I know grease is what makes these places big on the list of appetizing places to eat, but for the sake of people's health, the baked version of the fries should be the norn, not the deep-calories fat invested ones. And a whole wheat bun should be topping the sirlion Big Mac, not a white-bleached infested bun!

Perhaps if these changes are made, the places would be afraid that they are going to lose customers. Somehow I doubt it because we are a fast-food nation. I view it is proliferating the customer base because it will add years to their lives.

Monday, April 27, 2009

What $10 can buy your child

T-shirt - $7
Water bottle - $2
Pen - $1
Lots of coupons from local vendors - Over $20 value
An experience that has your child feel like she is on top of the world - priceless.

This past weekend, our family participated at a 5K and a 1-mile fun run that a local high school was sponsoring. The event was a fundraiser for the high school's booster, perhaps some much needed funds for those participating in sports. The 5K was for the adults and kids 10 and up in age, and the fun run was for any age. I signed up for the 5K and signed up my oldest, who is 5, for the fun run.

She was all excited about it. She was telling all of her friends at school about it, and telling me "Mommy, I am going to beat you in a race!" About a week before the race she was saying, "I really need to practice my running!" So, she would run around the backyard, around the neighborhood, any chance she could get. Granted, it never amounted to a mile, but it was an adequate amount of energy she needed to burn.

Then came race day. She was saying as she and I were approaching the starting line of the race. "Mommy, everyone here is going to try their best to win!" I said that everyone was a winner. But she said "I am going to win, Mommy!" The gun was fired at the starting line, and we are all off. The older children, and a couple of parents, were well ahead of my daughter and me. She was coming along a curve in the route and she was saying "Mommy, I am tired. I want to walk." I said that it was okay. We can walk a little bit. As the second to last parent and child were getting out of site, she began to charge ahead. "Mommy, I am going to beat them!" I said that that was not so much important as finishing the race. She slowed down again and said "My side hurts!" I said that it was okay, we could walk.

We were going around the next bend in the route, and we saw everyone running past the half mile mark, and getting further out of sight. She said "Let's run, Mommy" So we ran as far as we could, again, and then we saw Daddy and little sister. My youngest was crying for me, according to my husband the whole time the race started. Then my oldest said with a cry "I want Daddy!" I said that if you go with Daddy then you won't get a ribbon at the end of the race. At this point, it was halfway in the race. she was complaining about every part of her little 5-year-old body. I could sympathize with her, because I remember having those feelings when I started running. But, at the same time, as a parent, I encouraged her to finish the race.

Fortunately, some of the nice high school girls, who were volunteering, began running with us. This gave my daughter a lot of encouragement. She started running again, and she was not complaining. When we approached the last lap on the track, the volunteers dropped off, and it was just my daughter and I. The announcer at the event came out to us as we were coming around the last curve in the course, and asked for my daughter's name. The announcer then called out her name to the crowd and said "Let's give her a big hand!!" My daughter was running the fastest that she could. I was even trying to keep up with her. The crowd was screaming and clapping, which added fuel to my daughter's fire. We crossed the finish line at 16:39. We were the last one's to finish.

Even though we were the last one's to finish the race, I think she learned some valuable lessons. She learned that no matter how hard things get, we need to finish what we started. At the end, there will be applause and the self-satisfaction that it was a job well done. Though we did not finish first, being last is not that bad either. Plus look at all the cool stuff you get when you run this race. A t-shirt, waterbottle, pen, a ribbon, and one of the best experiences you will ever have in your little life.

She later told her daddy, "Daddy! They were cheering for me!" Wow, what you can buy your child with $10 these days.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Looking forward on this dreary day.

Today was a big day, at least for my daughter. We went to an orientation at what will be her Kindergarten. Her father and I were not really sure of what to expect at the school, considering that we live in a highly diverse area of town. After meeting the principal and some of the Kindergarten teachers, we were very impressed with the school, and its up and coming reputation in Fairfax County. It was rated a Blue Ribbon School in Virginia last year, which eased our thoughts on the level of education she was going to receive. During our time talking with the principal and teachers, both of our daughters took advantage of the care that was provided. MB went into an actual Kindergarten classroom and E went into a Head Start room. Booth of them really enjoyed their time there, which makes both hubby and I very happy about our decision to stay in the area, at least for now.

Another big item, at least for me today, was that I finally got results from my first test and writing assignment from my distance learning paralegal course. I got a 90 on the writing assignment and an 82 on the test. Not my best, but considering I have not taken an academic class in over 11 years, might be okay. I have a B, which is not terrible. But with this being a distance learning class taking at my leisure makes me feel like I should have done better. If anything, I am more driven to study and get a definitive A on both my next assignment and test.

On top of this paralegal class, I am considering taking another class, but not right now. I am thinking about taking a couple of classes in international trade, both in International Traffic in Arms Regulations and Export Administrative Regulations. Since I have my customs broker license, and I have been out of the loop on the export side of trade for a while, I was thinking this help me get some insight into that side of trade. Trade is one of those areas that is constantly changing, and every bit of training in that area will help.

I think all of this looking forward, at least for the next few months, is making me feel very optimistic about what will be coming.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Looking at all of my options - what can I do?

As I am looking at job listings on the internet, I am constantly bombarded with "What am I going to do with my life?" Trust me, it is something I think and pray about everyday. I often wonder where things may lead, and opportunities that may arise. In addition, could I afford to take big leaps and bounds, like moving or even taking on another degree.

My biggest priority right now are my two young daughters. I have one about to go to into kindergarten in the Fall and my youngest is embracing her preschool very well. I enjoy the free time I spend with them. Being a mom will be a role that will remain constant as I look for different work. I have to think about them with every decision that I make.

Since I am still looking for employment, starting a full-time gig of self-employment does run through my mind constantly. I have already joined a freelance site and seeing if my skill set matches with people's needs. I had already worked on a freelance project, and I think something like that would best fit in my life right now. However, I would need to be able to do it constantly, and finding that kind of work all the time would almost be the same as me scouting out the want-ads.

I am also, though perhaps with some hesitation, looking at online law schools. I know that they are only approved for the California Bar, but at least it is a JD. I think I am one of a few folks who would like to go to law school, but not to be a lawyer. I think doing online study would be more convenient and more cost effective. Going to one of those schools would cost between $35,000 to $40,000 for the 4 years rather than paying that for one year at private school around here. Granted, I am in the Mecca of law schools around here. But who is to say that I can't swing by Georgetown to study in the law library, right?

Anyway, I have been thinking about all of these options and wondering what to do with my life - at least while I am still looking!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Re-inventing myself in this troubled time

Like most of those who are out of a job, I am re-inventing myself. Somehow, unlike when I was out of work 2 years ago, I am actually implementing my strategy, working on creating some self-gain and trying to make some great accomplishments by learning and working hard for goals.

Well, for starters, the first thing I did was enroll in a distance learning course to earn a paralegal certificate. Though the thoughts of law school was dancing in my head, this was more attainable and more affordable. For only a couple of thousands of dollars, I can learn paralegal skills, gain some legal insight and learn how to legally write. This is some I can easily transfer and add with the skills I already have in working in import and export field. Being a customs broker, I already have knowledge of customs law. So taking the customs broker's exam was like in a way taking the Customs Law Bar. Some attorney's think that taking that was harder than taking a state bar exam, and I consider myself as having an asset in that regard. Of course once I get the certificate, applying it to a position would be advantagous. I can approach contracts, trade agreements, and negotiations with ease as well as having any research skills to look up anything to back up a compliance issue.

Another feat I am working on is running a race. I have my mind set on running a half-marathon in the Fall. I have been working out at the gym at least 3 days a week and gaining the strength and endurance to be up to the 13.1 mile challenge. I also have the support of friends and family, which makes a world of difference. So between now and November 13, I will be peppering my weekends with 10ks and 10 mile runs. I do want to do the Marine Corps Marathon, but it may not be this year. I want my body to be ready, and my doctors to give me the okay to pursue it. And on top of everything else, I WILL run the NYC marathon before I turn 40! That will be in 2011!

One of the best perks of being home is spending more time with my girls. They like to have mommy here, and they are happy for it. I can actually stay home with them when they get sick and not have to worry if that will cause any problems with an employer. I can take them to the park or to the DC aquarium, or where ever else they desire to go. I have the time to do it, and I don't regret that.

So, being focused on the important things is what I am doing now. Once I get a job, we will see how it will still hold out.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The changing face of business for generations to come

Like everyone else in America, I am looking at our current expenses under a microscope. Do I really need to keep buying organic milk? How about getting a new bookshelf to replace the old one? Did I turn out all the lights before leaving? Do we have enough for a down payment for a new car? Can I put away money into my children's savings accounts this month? All of these are dilemmas that our family faces on a daily/monthly basis. It is a sign of the times that I make these little decisions each day, and in the bigger picture, how it effects our bottom line. We do have dreams and hopes for a better future, but above all, our family is making these decisions together - as a team.
This past Sunday, I was watching a segment on "Sunday Morning," interview with the CEO of Japan Airlines Haruka Nishimatsu. He is a CEO, in this downturn economy, who is taking out his own perks and pay and making his salary even less than the pilots that fly his planes. So unlike our American culture of having CEO or President of the company as the major breadwinner, with tons of perks of bonuses and commissions. In business school, I remember learning about people like Nishimatsu and how they managed people and how they increased work ethic through teamwork. I know that "teamwork" seems to be the topic of many American boardrooms today - but is it not a part of the American culture by far. When CEO's of banks come to Washington with tin cups wanting money for their businesses and turn around and spend millions of dollars on personal office upgrades there is no teamwork on that at all.
As a Christian looking at all of this, and as an American looking at our culture, there is not alot of balance, or even teamwork. The Christian side of me is thinking how appauling it is that American CEOs of banks are spending taxpayer money on bonuses while that money could be used to generate more jobs at the bank, and the American side of me thinks that the CEO's probably had a contract that had to be fulfilled with regards to bonuses per year - reason why they are working there. But, ethically, should we all work better as a team. I am not saying that all of these companies should operate as communist nations where everyone gets paid the same - but that the big guy needs to look out for the little guy more often. We need more compassion, more sympathy, more willing to sacrifice ourselves for others - more teamwork. I think that it is something not everyone is quite getting. Jesus did say it quite clearly "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
10 to 20 years from now, businesses will be different. I don't know if they are going to be working with the same motivational tools as we are today, but there will be change. Maybe there will be more Nishimatsu's as CEOs for companies and teamwork will not be just talk, but something that is actually implemented.