March 31, 2008

Technological misunderstandings

We live in a world filled with technology. Email, instant messaging, and text messaging are some of the main mode of communication for many people. At work, I communicate to almost everyone via email. There are many people who I have never met in person but know quite well through email from working so closely with them. I would email a person a question rather than picking up a phone. I can work occasionally work from home because I have availability to my email. It is amazing how email has infiltrated not only my work life, but also my personal life. I "talk" to many of my friends via email more often versus the phone. I communicate to family via email as well.

I remember a world without email and it is amazing to think that the kids growing up today have no idea what a world without email is like (wow, that sentence just made me sound really old). Email can be such a great thing. Communication with people from around the world is basically free, no worries about international phone bills. You can communicate with people at all hours of the day without worrying about waking them in the middle of the night. You can conduct business in any time zone and work with people around the world at any time of the day. The possibilities of technological communication are endless.

Unfortunately, the possibility of technological misunderstanding is also prevalent. Misunderstandings can very easily occur via email. I recently experienced a misunderstanding at work because of an email that I sent. Basically someone (someone very important) mistook my email to mean something else that I had not intended for it to mean. This was not a good thing. It all worked out but it definitely got me thinking.

In emails or any other type of technological communication, people can misunderstand the meaning of emails, they may take certain things to be sarcastic or condescending or filled with different intentions. In the professional world, you especially have to be careful with how emails are distributed and worded. Your tone of voice can't be heard in email. Email communication can't convey that type of nuances that verbal communication can. It can be very easy to misinterpret an email. I try to be very careful with the emails I send out, I am careful to make sure that emails are professional and sincere. The written word is even more important than you'll ever know. Even though email is electronic there is still a "paper" trail of information, so professionalism is ever so important.

It is so easy to quickly write an email and click on send. Sometimes you do have to be cautious, but there have still been many times when I have clicked the send button a little too soon. When I have forgotten to attach an attachment or accidentally copied a person on the email who was not intended to receive the correspondence. Ooop! You have to exercise some caution with the world of email, you never know when an email may end up in the wrong mailbox or may be viewed by eyes they were not intended for.

I was recently copied on an email from my former employer. The email was in regards to an employee's HR information, the email was intended to be confidential yet made it into my mailbox and I hadn't worked for them in 4 years! I responded back letting them know I had accidentally received the email and it was a nice opportunity to say hi, but definitely not information they wanted to share with me.

There are various tips on email etiquette on the Internet. Most pertaining to style of writing and what not. The most important tip of all is to proofread! Make sure that the email is in the tone you want to get across and communicates what you intend for it to communicate before you click on send. Once you click send, it is off in cyberspace and you can't do anything about it.

Photo from: http://flickr.com

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March 27, 2008

Gone Paperless

Save some trees and go paperless. Another way to be green!

Today, I went paperless with my credit card statements. My bank statement, car payment, and cell phone bills have already been on a paperless system for over a year. I have not had any problems with this, I check my balances online when I need to and I can access my statements anytime I want to. So, I thought it was time to go paperless with the rest of my personal finance world.

I was a little paranoid and cautious about making this move, but I have never had a reason where I needed my paper statements and if I ever had I was always able to access the paperless ones online.

Advantages to going paperless:
1. Good for the environment, you save trees!
2. You can access and print your statements anytime.
3. You can access past statements, most up to 12-24 months of history and some with up to 7 years worth of statement history (which is all you would need for tax purposes).
4. Less office and file cabinet clutter.
5. No more wasted time shredding old statements.
6. You receive your statements as soon as they are available rather than waiting for them in the mail.

The only thing I would print a statement out for is for proof of charitable donations. Those are tax related items and I think I would still want to keep paper copies of that with the rest of my tax related documents.

While going paperless can be great, I realize there may be some downfalls to consider. There is the possibility that I might neglect my accounts. I thought about myself about whether this would be an issue for me: I came to the conclusion that since I check my email daily and you get an email whenever a statement is available that this shouldn't be a problem for me. I am pretty anal about things so I think that I will be fine. Whereas someone who does not check their email regularly might have difficulty with a paperless system. I think it will work for me and help to keep me organized. Besides if it doesn’t work out I can always change back.

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March 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Baby!!

Happy Birthday to Mr. Bear!!

Mr. Bear is 32 years old today! Yes, I married a younger man :)

Here are 32 reasons (in no particular order) why I love and married my best friend. Happy Birthday Mr. Bear. I love you!



1. Your kindness to others.
2. The way you look at me.
3. Your generosity.
4. Your laid back attitude.
5. You genuinely care about other people.
6. You are a good friend to my friends.
7. You love my family and all their quirky ways.
8. You put up with me and my silliness.
9. You push me to be a better person.
10. You believe in me and everything I do.
11. You accept me for who I am.
12. You love Chase Monster and accept his bigness.
13. Your unconventional ideas and attitudes toward life.
14. You kind and gorgeous eyes, sometimes they are green, sometimes they are blue.
15. Your talents.
16. Your eye for art and beauty.
17. Your spontaneity.
18. You are close to your family.
19. You are close to your friends.
20. You are close to your friends' families.
21. You are protective of your mother.
22. Your desire to defend, protect, and take care of me.
23. Your loyalty to your family and friends.
24. You can talk to anyone and make instant connections.
25. You are always willing to help a friend in need.
26. Your perfectionist and detail-oriented nature.
27. You are not a picky eater.
28. Your smile.
29. You encourage me to pursue my wishes, even if they are silly.
30. Your creativity.
31. Your execllent taste in expensive things (especially diamond engagement rings :).
32. We are so different in many ways and you don't mind one bit.

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March 24, 2008

I Raced for a cure! Picture Updates

Run, Bear, Run!!!

Here are a few pictures from the Race for the Cure 5K that I ran a few weeks ago. Here is proof that I really ran it!! Sorry that the pictures are so small, they are thumbnails from the professional photographers that took pictures at the race. I am too cheap to spend $15 on a photo! Look at me go, I am almost to the finish line!!



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March 21, 2008

Shop 'Til You Drop

Today is Good Friday, which means that Easter is in a few days and the end of the Lenten season. One of the things that I did in observance of Lent was give up shopping.

I stuck by this and did not do any excessive shopping beyond groceries and necessities of the household. It was actually easier than I thought it would be. I stayed aways from temptations by not going into the mall unless necessary. Anytime I went to Target (one of my shopping weaknesses), I would go in with a list and I stuck to my list. I will be honest, there were a a few times when I would pick something up that wasn't on my list and I would walk around the entire store with it in my basket, but before checking out I put the item back so I never did buy anything that was not on my list.

What helped me to put the item back was really thinking things through. Did I really NEED this item? After all, it was not on my list so I didn't think I needed it before. If I truly needed it, I could add it to my list for the next time around. Not once did something I put back go on the list for the next week. This was a good strategy for me to really consider what I needed vs. what I wanted. I've never been an impulsive buyer but I do love to shop and buy clothes and little things that I don't always need. It's amazing how those little things end up in your basket while walking around Target and those little things do add up after a while. By being able to think about whether or not I really needed the item helped me to stick to my no shopping goal.

I won't completely continue to give up shopping, however, I do plan to decrease my shopping habits. So the next time I want to go shopping or buy something unnecessary, I will think it through more carefully. I know that from time to time I will want to shop for new clothes or something else that I do not truly need, I am human and I am not perfect. Plus, sometimes I will deserve a new pair of shoes or a new lipstick that I don't really need. But by thinking more about my needs and wants will help me to be in better control of my spending habits.

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March 20, 2008

Spring is in the air

Today marks the first day of spring, the vernal equinox. Spring is my favorite season of the year. Although Southern California does not really experience too much change in seasons, being a Southern California girl I can tell the changes in the seasons. I am always freezing cold in the winters and so when spring comes a long, I welcome it. But then again, I am cold when it is anything under 65-70 degrees. I love warm climates and spring time brings along with it warmer weather. I love the thought of flowers blooming and sunny warm days. After the sad and depressing winter that we have experienced, I am look forward to the sunny, happier days of springtime.

Photo from: http://outdoors.webshots.com

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March 19, 2008

Another Sorrowful Day

I have never been to so many funerals in my life as I have been in the last 4 months. Mr. Bear's custom black suit that he bought for our wedding less than a year ago has been to more funerals than anything else.

Today, Mr. Bear and I attended the 3rd funeral since my sister-in-law passed away in December. Mr. Bear's step-dad's uncle passed away in his sleep on Sunday, March 16, 2008. I did not know Joe very well, but from the stories I heard today he sounded like a great man with such great qualities about him. He was giving and philantrophic and cared about many people. He was hard working and had a lot of willpower. He had 7 children and many grandchildren and led a long life. There were obviously many people who loved and admired him as evident by the attendance at the funeral services.

The internment took place at the same cemetery where Tricia is at and so we went to see her in the mausoleum before we left. The feelings of loss and sadness are still pretty raw and it was hard to be there for even a minute. All the emotions of loss just came rushing back. It was already a day of sorrow and my own loss was deep in my thoughts and my heart. I think of Tricia every so often, we have her picture on our fridge and in our room, so every time I see her photo I think of her. As I ran the 5K in her memory on Saturday, I thought of her. And today as we sat through yet another funeral this year, I again thought of her. I know my loss is different from Mr. Bear's loss and my father-in-law's loss but it is none the less a loss that brings great emotions. I miss her vibrant red hair and her great smile and vivacious laugh. I can still hear her voice in my head. I am glad that I can still remember these things about her, even though it hurts to miss her.

I sincerely hope that the next occasion in which Mr. Bear has to wear his black suit is a more joyous occasion.

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March 18, 2008

I guess I won't be a Tri-Fit Diva

It seems like everyone is feeling the financial pinch during these difficult times. Everyone is talking about the economic downturn that the nation is taking. We are approaching, if not currently in a, recession and there are whispers of a depression. I recently wrote about paying off one of my credit cards and that was a huge accomplishment. I have one credit card left to pay off, $3000, a very manageable amount of debt to pay off. So if we keep things as is, we as a family are doing okay and we will manage through these difficult times. We will just need to prioritize things and be smart about our finances.

As economic hard times seem inevitable, I have had to reassess my priorities and be more realistic about things. As you know, I have been training for the Women's Tri-Fitness Competition. As I have been looking at our finances, I have decided that this is not the right time for me to compete in the tri-fitness competition in July. The main factor being the cost, it costs $175 to register for the competition, which takes place in Las Vegas, so that also means costs for a hotel room, gas, and food. Plus, to get some training on the obstacle course would cost another $75. The reason why I wrote about the tri-fitness competition in the first place was because I was excited about the challenge and sharing it on my blog would make myself accountable to make the commitment. I am deeply upset that I have to give up, I really felt like I was making progress and I was training so hard for it. I don’t know if I will ever be able to do something like this again. I was set and ready to do it, I had until the end of the month to register at the pre-registration rate of $175 and fully make the commitment and I had even made a hotel reservation (luckily it is refundable). The only reason I have been putting off registering was money. Being in debt pay-off mode, I actually sat down to budget the cost of participating to aid me in my final decision.

$175 – pre-registration before March 30, $200 after
$215 – 2 nights at a hotel (that is at a group discounted rate)
$200 – food for 2 days
$250 – gas
$100 – miscellaneous costs (parking, taxi)
$75 – additional training costs (I was planning to go back to bootcamp training)

That is $1,015 in costs and that does not even include any drinks or gambling money while in Vegas, which would have been inevitable for us. That is a lot of money that we really didn't have to spend that probably would have ended up on our credit card (defeating the purpose of our debt pay off goals) and would be better spent toward reducing our credit card debt. Plus, the fact that for the 2 weeks before we will be in Hawaii on a family trip that has been booked and planned since last year (luckily airfare and hotel has already been paid for and I have been saving money for other costs). So sady, I will not be a tri-fit diva. I am so bummed out about this; I was crying writing the email to my bootcamp trainer. But I know that this is the right decision and by next year my consumer debt will be gone so maybe I can gear up to compete next year.

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March 17, 2008

I Raced for a cure!

Saturday, I participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K. I ran on a team with several of my co-workers. I ran in memory of my sister-in-law, Tricia Borba Vasquez. It was a great event and for a wonderful cause. Thank you to all the wonderful people who supported me through this and helped to raise money for a worthwhile cause. It meant so much to me.


I am not an avid runner and have never considered myself to be a runner (although I do run a lot). But I have ran in several 5K's and I knew that I could do it, after all, a 5K's only 3.1 miles! I don't know how long it has taken me in the past to run a 5K (I'd never kept track, but I know I once completed a 5K just under 30 minutes), so to challenge myself I set a goal for myself to finish the 5K in under 35 minutes. I know that I am not a fast runner so that sound reasonable to me and as I was training I found that the first mile I could run in under 11 minutes but subsequent miles took me closer to 12 minutes to complete, so I figured 35 minutes was very doable for me.

I am very proud to report that I finished the 5K in 33:16 minutes!! Definitely under my goal time. So about an 11 minute mile, I am happy with that pace for myself. I would run/jog about 10 minute and walk for 1 minute and did that through the whole course and that proved to be a good strategy for me. It definitely felt good to finish in under my goal time and I felt that Tricia was there with me giving me the strength to finish. I thought of her throughout the run and that motivated me even more to run rather than walk.

One of the best things about race events, beside constributing to a great cause, are the free goodies! Here are a few of what I got.

I wish I had my camera with me to take more pitures but I didn't want to carry anything with me during my run, so all I have are a few from my cell phone. Some of co-workers took some pictures, so hopefully I can share those at a later time.

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March 14, 2008

Fountain of Youth?

For some reason, we as a society seem to constantly be in search of the fountain of youth. There are so many options out there, like botox, face lifts, and many other quick fixes to look younger. What ever happen to aging gracefully?

I am fortunate to be graced with great genes and so I look young for my age. I am also very good about keeping up a beauty routine. I wash my face every night and do my best to take care of my skin. However, I have been starting to see some of those fine lines around the eyes start to creep up. I guess I am no different from many women in the world, because I have recently been looking at different anti-aging products to help prevent those fine lines from inviting any more friends to the party that is my face. Because I do research for a living, I have difficulty purchasing many things without doing some research (Just ask Mr. Bear about my spreadsheets on digital cameras). But researching beauty and anti-aging products is different from researching digital cameras or TVs. There are a lot of anti-aging products out there and there are a lot of websites and consumer reviews. But what it all comes down to is that each person is different and each individual's skin has different needs. So how do you assess what is best for you? Research is important and can help, you can read reviews as to what works for different skin types. But a lot of it comes down to knowing your skin and trial and error.

I've currently been using Arbonne NutriMinC® RE9 product line. This is a product that is only available by direct sales and my friend had an Arbonne party and I bought the eye cream (retail $49) and night cream (retail $79) and actually became a consultant to utilize the consultant discount. The product worked pretty well and lasted quite a bit of time (over 3 months). I just ran out and was going to place another order in, but the price just seemed higher than what I really wanted to be spending. So I thought I should see if there was anything else out there that might be a better fit for my budget. After all, I wasn't absolutely set and in love with the Arbonne product as some other women are and there are still so many anti-aging products out there on the market. So I started to do a little research.

In my research, I've been hearing a lot of hype about Boots No. 7 Restore and Renew Beauty Serum. Apparently, this product is all the rave in Britain and it has just recently became available in the US sold at Target and CVS. When it first arrived to the US it was sold in limited quantities and quickly sold out. Women were scrambling to find it and buy it, it was being sold for more than it's retail price on ebay and amazon.com. So I wanted to find out what this hype was all about. What is it? From their website:
No7 Restore & Renew Beauty Serum

Reveal younger looking, beautifully refined skin with this powerful blend of caring and skin restoring ingredients. Light and non-greasy, it glides on instantly softening and smoothing your skin. Then, with regular use, it works to renew your complexion, restoring radiance and helping to reduce the appearance of pores, fine lines and wrinkles in just 4 weeks. With No7 Time Resisting Night Cream concentrated levels of our unique antioxidant complex and skin-firming pro-retinol complex to boost and maintain skin's elasticity. Known in the UK as No7 Protect & Perfect, Britain's #1 anti-ageing sensation proven by independent scientists to really work.


Does it work? Well the reviews I have seen have all been really positive. So I went to Target to check it out. Target sells a No. 7 Anti-Ageing Essentials Skincare Pack which include the Restore & Renew Beauty Serum (retail $21.99), Time Resisting Night Cream (retail $19.99), and Time Resisting Day Cream (retail $19.99) all for $39.99 (a savings of over $20). All that was half the cost of the $80 night cream I was using, so I figured why not give it a try. If it works, I will use it again and save money in the long run by using a less expensive product, if it doesn't then I didn't waste a ton of money. Since it takes time and consistent use of a product to really see and changes, I will try it and report back after 4 weeks of use.



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March 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Lil' Bro!

Today my lil' brother turns the big 3-0!!! Happy Birthday Mike!

I absolutely love my one and only lil' brother! I miss that I don't get to see him very much since he lives in Seattle, WA. I haven't seen him since my wedding last May and even then I was a little busy and preoccupied, so I didn't really get to hang out with him.

I only have one sibling and growing up it was basically just him and me; we didn't have a lot of cousins around. I think having a sibling is the best thing in the world and I adore having my brother. We have had our ups and downs, as all siblings do, but when it comes right down to it, there is no one else in this world that will understand what it means to have our parents and grow up the way we did. He is the only one who can relate to me on those terms.

There is no one else in this world who I would rather have as my lil' blubber, than my Mike-o-dude!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIKE! I love you!

Love,
Ate Sher

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March 11, 2008

Baby steps

Today, I completely paid off one of my credit cards!! Wohooo! What a great feeling. I had put some of the wedding expenses on my credit cards. Oh the horror! Luckily, they were on 0% interest balance transfers. I hate having consumer debt and prior to the wedding I did not have any. I hated the fact that I put some of the wedding expenses on my credit card. I still have some debt left to pay but with one credit card paid off, the debt I have left seems much more manageable.

In my quest to educate myself about personal finances, I found several really informative blogs on money. (See my Money Blog list off to the left hand side.) Several money blogs and websites often tout and talk about Dave Ramsey and his book The Total Money makeover. I have not read the book but I have heard about his baby steps to get out and stay out of debt. Dave Ramsey has seven baby steps:

  1. Start an Emergency Fund of $1000.
  2. Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball.
  3. Create a fully funded emergency fund equal to 3-6 months of expenses in savings.
  4. Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement.
  5. Save money to fund a portion of college for children.
  6. Pay off the home mortgage.
  7. Build wealth and give! Invest in mutual funds and real estate.

Like I said, I have never read the book but I did learned about Dave Ramsey and his steps from several online sources and for the most part the steps seem to speak for themselves without too much further explanation. Debt snowballing, in baby step 2, was something that did need further explanation and so I did a little research. Basically with debt snowballing, you concentrate on paying off the smallest debt first. You pay what you can on it, over the minimum payment and pay only the minimum on the other debts. Once the smallest debt is gone, add what you were paying on that former debt to the next outstanding debt payment...and so on...and so on. Thus, creating a snowball effect. This method helps your efforts to be focused and less diluted over various debts and Dave Ramsey reasons that by paying the smaller debts first you get quicker feedback/successes.


I did think this was a very interesting concept to paying down debts and since I had step 1 down, I worked on step 2 using the Debt Snowball method. Well, I did start off following this method, but in all honesty it wasn't because of the this method that I just paid off my credit card. I recently received a sum of money and used that money to pay off my credit card. I paid the largest balance first and I still have a small balance left and will now focus my efforts toward that. Then, I will put my money efforts into focusing on baby steps 3 and 4.


Getting closer to my financial goals does feel good. It is all about baby steps!


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March 10, 2008

What's in a name?

There are many option afforded to women in today's world and we have come a long way! Women have many choices that they did not have sometime ago. Women can choose to work, women can choose to vote, women can choose to have a child, women can choose not to take the surname of their husband. The decision of whether or not to change your name after marriage can be a difficult one. There is no right or wrong, just deciding what is best for you. I don't know if as many women struggle through this decision as I did and I am fortunate that I have this decision to make and that it is not one that is dictated to me. However, the process of making the decision was a difficult one.

I contemplated this decision during our entire engagement (over a year!). On the one hand, the traditional part of me wanted to take my husband's surname. I liked the idea of taking his name and making us appear more united and more like a family. I realize that a common surname does not make us a family nor does it make us more married by any means. What a family is goes beyond a surname and family can be defined in so many different ways. So was that enough of a reason to change my name?

Because I knew that we would be a family no matter what surname I chose, I also wanted to keep my maiden name. I love my maiden name and I had that name for over 30 years! I worked very hard under my maiden name to gain my professional degree and publish papers. In addition, being an Asian woman marrying a White man I liked how my maiden name kept me tied to my culture. But my maiden name did not define me professionally or culturally, I am who I am no matter what my last name is. So was that enough of a reason to keep my name?

Luckily, Mr. Bear was supportive of what ever decision I made and didn't have a preference one way or another. He even thought that I should keep my maiden name for professional purposes. So basically, he was no help! It was all up to me to make this decision (As I guess it should be).

What really made the difference in my decision making process was my father-in-law. I don't think he knows that he was instrumental in my decision and he had no idea that I was struggling through this decision in the first place. A few days before the wedding, we were sitting on the porch and he said (unknowing of my uncertainty) that it was going to be nice to have a Mrs. Bear in the family again, we hadn't had a Mrs. Bear since his mother (Mr. Bear's grandmother) passed away several years ago. My father-in-law is not married and he has two sisters who have long since taken the surnames of their husbands. His comment was really meaningful to me and something I had not even thought about. Even though I knew that if I had told him I was not going to change my name that he would have been fine and supportive, it was at that moment that I decided to take my husband's surname.

I did, however, keep my maiden name as part of my full legal name, and I do use it professionally, but legally I have taken my husband's name. It does make for a long name, but I am really happy with the decision I made. I like that I have retain my maiden name so that it is always a part of me and I like that I have taken my husband's name so that there is now a Mrs. Bear in the world again. It was definitely the best decision for me and for my family. In fact, I also changed Chase Monster's last name at the vet too! Chase also keeps my maiden name as part of his full name. :)

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March 6, 2008

Give it Up Update

Lent is more than half way over. I posted when the Lenten season began what I was giving up. Here is a little progress on how I am doing so far:

Give up shopping: I have actually not spent any extra money that I did not budget! I did go shopping on my birthday, as I suspected that I would and did allow myself that one indiscretion. However, I used gift cards for all my shopping treasures, so I did not spend any extra money! I have actually been doing well with not shopping. For the most part, I just don't put myself in the situation to spend excessively, I don't go to the mall (except on my birthday) and I only buy what I need (i.e., food, toiletries, necessary household products) and what I have budgeted for. I go into Target with a list of what I need and I have been good to not stray from the list, which is really difficult at Target! So far so good! If I can keep this up even after Lent that would be so great for my wallet!

Give up candy and cookies: Yikes! I have been really bad with regards to this sacrifice. I did well the first two and half weeks but then I went to the Mission Inn brunch buffet and just could not resist! I have no willpower when it comes to food, that is why I am the eating machine. I have basically failed, there have just been too many temptations: birthday parties and dinners out. :(

Make an effort to go green: I did post previously about what I was doing to be green. I am using a green fabric softener recipe (I will update more about that later) and I use "green" bags when I go to Target (in actuality their reusable bags are red) and Trader Joe's. I've been using vinegar for more of my cleaning needs, although I haven't totally switched over yet since I still have some cleaning products I have to finish up.

Well, I guess 2 our of 3 is not too bad. There are about 2 weeks left until Easter and so I will do my best to keep it up with my successes and to redeem myself with my one failure. I do have a another kid's birthday party to go to next weekend, let's see if I have the will to stay away from the sugary food that is inevitable at children's birthday parties!

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March 5, 2008

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Yesterday, I went to a very interesting talk on The Science of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D. She is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Her presentation drew from her book, The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, and her research on happiness and positive psychology. Positive psychology is a new, up and coming area within the field of psychology that looks at happiness and well-being (remember psychology is more than just counseling; psychology is first and foremost a science). It was definitely an interesting talk. She provided information on her research findings and glimpses into the book. Her website gives some information on the book and how to discover happiness.

People have different set points (or baselines) for happiness and that contributes to half of your happiness and another 10% can be attributed to positive life circumstances, however, there is still 40% of our happiness "capacity" that we have control over and are able to change. She argues that people can become happier and sustain higher levels of happiness by employing different strategies that are based on research. Although she has several strategies, it is not a one size fits all type of thing. Different strategies fit better with different people.

There are a couple of diagnostic quizzes on her website that you can take to discover how happy you are and strategies to use to become happier. According to her diagnostic quiz, my happiness set-point is average and the strategies that are the best fit for me are the following:

Your results indicate that you are more likely to succeed in becoming happier if you practiced:

Expressing gratitude: Counting your blessings for what you have (either to a close other or privately, through contemplation or a journal) or conveying your gratitude and appreciation to one or more individuals whom you've never properly thanked.

and

Committing to your goals: Picking one, two, or three significant goals that are meaningful to you and devoting time and effort to pursuing them.

In general, I do believe that I am a happy person, life is good and I am fortunate to have what I have. But if I have the potential and capacity to be happier, then these are strategies that are worth trying. It seems that becoming happier takes effort and it comes down to whether or not we are willing to make the effort to become happier. I think I find some comfort in knowing that it is in our power to be happy!


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March 4, 2008

Home Sweet Home

A while back a friend asked me to post some pictures of my home. Our property consists of a front house and a back apartment over a detached garage. Mr. Bear grew up in this house and several years ago bought the property from his mom. The house was built in 1913 and the back apartment was added on in the 1950's, it is located in a historic district in our area. It is a beautiful craftsman California bungalow with a gorgeous front porch. It is the best house on the block!

Currently, Mr. Bear, Chase Monster, and I are living in the back apartment. We are in the process of remodeling the front house and this has been a work in progress for a long while now and the remodel has been placed on hold for a number of reasons, mainly financial. Fortunately, Mr. Bear began with his renovation and remodeling of the property before we were married and started off with the back apartment. The back apartment is for the most part finished and a perfect place to live in while the front house has missing walls and torn out flooring. So for this post we will take a tour of the back apartment, which is home sweet home for now. I have yet to add too much decor, but this is supposed to be temporary until the front house is completed, although we have been here for a year now. Definitely beats living in a construction zone that is the front house! Being that Mr. Bear is a licensed contractor, he designed and did the entire remodel of the apartment. As you will see Mr. Bear is very talented and has a great eye for design.

Let's start out with our small but beautiful kitchen. Mr. Bear designed the entire kitchen from the counter placement to the stainless steel sink and granite counters. There actually used to be a wall separating the kitchen and the living room, it was torn out and it is now opened up with a small counter with stools. If there was still a wall, I wouldn't have been able to take this photo.

There are also under cabinet lighting. Gotta love my KA mixer :)



I just recently purchased a pot rack to help with my storage issue in my small kitchen. I love this pot rack, it looks nice and frees up room in cabinets for other items, plus it allows me to show off my pretty stainless steel pots and pans!


Let's now move onto the living room area. We have a huge leather sectional couch, you can fit a ton of people on the couch. Mr. Bear, Chase Monster, and I can sit on the couch and never even come near each other. It is an awesome couch that we got for free! I love the color on the walls, selected by Mr. Bear, it is a golden color and contrasts nicely with the crown moulding which is painted in Mr. Bear's favorite white, Swiss Coffee. Yes, Mr. Bear has a favorite white and it is the white he recommends most often to his clients. You will be amazed how many shades of white there are!

As you can see the couch even makes Chase Monster look small in this photo and we all know that Chase Monster is anything but small!


So this is a taste of our home for now. I will take more photos later to give you a tour of the rest of our home. Stay tuned for the bedroom and bathroom.

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March 3, 2008

Golfing for a cause

My sister-in-law was an active board member of the Nicholas Woods Friedreichs Ataxia Foundation. It was a foundation that she cared a lot about and she was very active in planning a fundraising golf tournament every year. It was her favorite fundraising event and Mr. Bear would participate through here coaxing. Sadly she is no longer here to plan the event, so this year her cousin and best friend are putting it all together in her memory. If you are a golfer or know someone who is a golfer, please consider participating. Click here for the brochure. All the proceeds go toward a good cause. Mr. Bear will be there drinking beers and golfing, as Tricia would have loved for it to be! It will be a fun event with fun people for a great cause and for a great memory. If I could golf, I would be there on the greens! Alas, that is simply not a talent of mine, so I will have to leave Mr. Bear to the golfing.

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Tag Your It!

Well, I guess I'm it. I've been tagged :)

The rules are as follows:

1. Link to the person’s blog who tagged you.
http://brynalexandra.blogspot.com/

2. Post these rules on your blog.
Done!

3. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself.

a. One of my daddy's nicknames for me was "Eating Machine." Not because I was fat, but because I liked to eat and I still do!

b. I do silly dances to try and make my cat smile. It hasn't happened yet, but one day he will smile like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, I am sure of it. Mr. Bear thinks I am little silly too.

c. I used to be an actress and performer. In high school, I was heavily involved in theater and Chamber Singers (our high school competition choir). I was the president of my Thespian Troupe for 2 years, president of Chamber Singers, and dance captain of Chamber Singers (in the same year I was president). I performed in every single play and musical we put on during high school except for one. For that one play, I was the director. My favorite play was the Diary of Anne Frank, I was the assistant director but at the last minute took over the role of Mrs. Van Daam (I learned all my lines in two weeks!). Definitely not type casting but the best performance of my life. It was an intense and emotional play that I will never forget.

d. Mr. Bear and I dated for 7 years and met at a Cinco de Mayo party, which is why we were married on Cinco de Mayo! Funny thing is that neither of us were supposed to be at the party, it was all some last minute coaxing from a couple of friends. I am glad I went!

e. I have a Ph.D. in psychology. Yes, I am a psychologist. No, I do not do therapy. There are so many types of psychologists and I am not the kind that you think about when you think of a psychologist. I don't have a couch in my office (although I wish I did so I can take naps from time to time) and I don't listen to anyones problems except my own.

f. I was in a yoga video, which is schedule to come out sometime this summer. In September, I participated in the filming of a yoga video. I love yoga and my yoga instructor filmed a video and asked several of her students to be cast members in the video.

g. In 3rd grade, the day that our first report card of the year was handed out I was not feeling well and vomited on my report card envelope. It turned out that I had the chicken pox. Well, we had to bring back our report card envelopes signed for our parent each quarter and they would used the same envelope. Even though I had vomited on my envelope, I still had the same envelope all year with a vomit stain on it! Yuck!

4. Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.

I don't have 7 people to tag, but I’ll tag
Brandy
Jenn
Leslie
Robyn

5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting on comment on their blog.

My Birthday Review

Oh bother, it is now March, so my birthday is definitely over. Not to be sad, because I had the best birthday. It was a very low key year, but that was exactly what I wanted. It seems that celebrating your birthday is filled with lots of food and lot of eating. The eating machine strikes again!

Friday evening, Mr. Bear surprised me and took me out to Newport Beach for dinner. We went to one of our favorite places, The Crab Cooker. It is not a fancy place by any means but the seafood is good and it is nice to get out of the local area from time to time. Plus, Mr. Bear and I had a deal that we would not spend a lot of money for each other's birthday. (Mr. Bear has a birthday coming up the end of the month.) If you have never been to The Crab Cooker it is a great casual place to check out if you are in the mood for some basic yummy seafood. Definitely far from fancy with their plastic spoon and forks and paper plates. They have been around for a long time and keep to the basics, their food is good so why mess with it.

Saturday was spent celebrating the 5th birthday of one of my favorite little girls. She is even more special because we share our birthday!! Only a very special person can be born on February 28th!! :) Good times with good friends and good food. And my mommy will be happy to know that I had pancit for my birthday! Pancit is a Filipino dish with noodles and it is a Filipino tradition to eat noodles for your birthday because the noodles symbolize long life. I had some yummy pancit and so I should have a long life!

Sunday night, my in-laws celebrated my birthday by taking me out to dinner at the Sycamore Inn in Rancho Cucamonga. This is one of the best fine dining restaurants in our area. It is a historic restaurant on Route 66 with excellent food. I, of course, had to have the fillet mignon and some good wine. The Sycamore Inn has one of the finest selections of wine in our valley. They had a bottle of wine for $2,800!! Needless to say we didn't have a glass of that wine, but we did have good wine.

What a great birthday weekend, it lasted for 4 days. Good food from the casual to the fine dining experience and great company all around. I am so fortunate to have such great people in my life. I couldn't ask for anything more!

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