Thursday, September 29, 2011

An Ode To My Friend, Java

It was later in life that we became entangled; but I remember you there in the background since the begining.

In my dad's percolator smelling up the house or wherever we went for that matter. I remember vividly visiting relatives or staying in a hotel and the percolator with my dad's coffee aroma wafing over me.

I didn't dare try.

Then I remember in college watching my comrades taking you in as they prepped for the infamous "all nighter" I never participated in.

I remember the first time in Europe seeing your stronger brother the espresso. Watching the Europeans drink and drink.

Still not my thing.

Even as Starbucks after Starbucks appeared on every corner of every city I lived in - I still did not partake.

Then I had my second child.

BE (Before Evan) I'd tried a vanilla with whip latte here and there. Of course, I partook in a cafe con leche every now and again but there was no relationship... no bond.

Until then.

The smell. The jolt of energy. The warmth in the winter or the refreshing icy quake in the summer. The pause.

All this and so much more make me wonder how I ever lived without you before.

I love how I've gotten to know you. The slight difference between a French Roast and a pure Espresso. How Hawaiian Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain compare to Green Chiapas or Dark Kenyan.

I love how I can mix you with flavors or take you in plain with just a bit of cream and sugar. I love how I can tell what time of year it is based on what I'm drinking... in case the calendar ever fails me.

Thank you Java, Coffee, Cafe... I hope you know what you truly mean to me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Make Your Move!

At what point do you ACTUALLY make a decision and change whatever it is that's bringing ya down?

Over the past 10 days, I've encountered many folks in my path who are fed up. Done. OVER IT.

While the graphic above way oversimplifies it - you do know that you are in the driver's seat of your..


path in life

your relationships

Every minute of every day of every week, I am focused on where I want to be. Not where I AM but where I want to BE

as a wife

as a mom

as a marketer

as a public servant

Asking myself often...

What will it take to get there?

Who will join me on the journey?

How will I know when I've made it?

Make no mistake, I appreciate where I am and where I've been but like I posted on a Facebook post the other night

"Well if I look at where I am and stop... while very thankful for where I'm at- I'd just as soon go home to be with God now. I need to the vision for where I want to be to keep me getting up each day."

The decision is made for me on all the big stuff. What about you? What are you doing to MAKE YOUR MOVE  towards what you desire for your life?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why 9/11 Made Me A Better Mom

Thanks to 9/11 I got to hang with this cuddle bunny for 8 mos vs 8 weeks. 

Simply put 9/11 made me a better mom.

As a motherless daughter since age 4, I'd longed for and dreaded motherhood all my life.

I wanted to be a mom but was not sure how good I'd be at it. In fact - I was horrified when I found out I was pregnant in early 2001. Being the ever organized planner - how in the WORLD was I having a baby before I'd planned? But at age 29 with a committed and delighted partner, my horror turned to excitement and we anxiously planned for and awaited Baby Barreto.

That spring with a new job at United Airlines in marketing, I was preparing for motherhood and how I'd work it into my life as a sports marketer. We'd planned for my husband to stay home the first year with Baby Barreto and I was going back to work after 6 weeks. At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do and we were marching toward that.

Baby Barreto was due Sept 4 but arrived as Emma Camille on August 25 via C-section after a brief umbilical cord scare. Six weeks was now 8 weeks. Secretly, I was excited for the extra time with my pumpkin. How was I gonna leave her?

Tuesday Sept 11, 2001 at 9:00 am was the scheduled two week appointment for Emma with Dr. McNamara. We were excited to get her there as no medical people had seen her since the nurse visit the first week.  We, I wanted the assurance that we were doing everything "right".

As we got ready to take Emma to the Dr's office - less than 5 minutes from our house - we turned on the Today Show and there it was... a smoking building. Lots of talking.

Then I saw it.

I saw "our" plane fly into the North Tower of the WTC. Like everyone else, my world changed in that moment.

At the time, I was worried about losing my job and feeling guilty for thinking that as people in my company had lost their lives. It was only this year, at the 10th anniversary reflection time did I see what that event actually did for me.

It gave me something I would have never had with my first child had it not happened.

I got precious bonding time. Mommy time.

8 weeks was converted to 8 months in an instant.

For the mommy who was worried how she would "mommy" - it was the greatest gift. I even hesitated having the second child for fear that I'd not bond with him/her as much as I did with the first.

I did lose my job and it was stressful but when I look back my biggest memory from that time was all the time I got to spend with Emma. We even used our travel benefits to fly her around the country to introduce her to family and friends.

Today, I am confident that mommy skills are good. And to think, they all began in the ashes of the tragedy of 9/11/01.

Monday, September 5, 2011

3 C's This Non-Runner Ran Into Training For A 5K

My new lucky number!
You'd have to be the most non-observant person in my tribe to NOT know that I trained for and ran my first 5K this past Friday, Sept 2, 2011.  It all started after my rock-star daughter, Emma ran her first 5K  in June as a culmination of her Girls On The Run program. We casually talked about me running a specific race with her on Labor Day weekend. Casual talk began to include folks outside our family and before you know it - I was purchasing the Couch-To-5K app and starting to train just after July 4.

Always athletic and always competitive, I started the journey and had so many ups and downs:

Yeouch! My @$$ and every thing else just ACHES (Day One)
Yay! I ran for 6 minutes straight. (Week 4)
OMG - I'm never gonna be able to run for 20 minutes straight! (Week 6)
Yay! I ran for 7 songs (or approximately 28 min)  straight! (Week 8)

The day arrived and it was 98 degrees with a heat index that felt like 110, in Chicago. In September. NICE. By race time it had cooled to 89 degrees with 99% humidity. Better.

I did it! Finished the race in 40:31 and Whitney Houston serenaded me "I'm Every Woman" as I crossed the finish line. Can't get any better than that. Oh, but it did.  In my haze in the moments after the race, this non-runner (I know, even days later and planning to run another 5K - it still feels like someone else's sport - I'll let you know if that changes) reflected on three Cs I encountered on this journey.


Running has this underground network of supportive people who encourage you and want to see you run. At every turn during the training I was blessed with "wise runner counsel" from people all over the planet. No lie. I love that people you just meet (JASON SALAS) who you casually mention you're running to give you sage, actionable advice that changes your path - the very next run. It was also awesome to see friends and connections all over the United States - like my high school friend who now lives in Virginia chime in with supportive nuggets when he noticed I completed a Couch-to-5K training.  Thanks Brent. The values that runners have unite them and enable them to help others trying to run. I love that.


Throughout my life, at any given time - I can be "caught" building community around a cause or candidate. This 5K training had to be one of the biggest community building events of my life. All the people who participated and encouraged me really made all the difference. From my Twitter friend in the UK who gave me some invaluable support in the end, to my friend in Belgium who promised to be with me in spirit as I ran,  to all my friends across North America who tweeted/called/emailed their love - I know there is no way I'd have completed this race without this tremendous community. And thanks to Twitter and Facebook - we were all in sync as this unfolded.


This one was the best. It was so very cool to see people sitting all along the route, clapping, smiling and cheering us on. People leaned over their porches kicking back with a beer and friends - waiting to clap and cheer as we ran by. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I've played sports all my life - track/field and tennis in high school and college, soccer as an adult until I became a mom and I never experience anything like this.  I was so touched, so moved, so MOTIVATED not to quit by all the cheering along the way. No lie. Every time I got a tired or wanted to stop running and walk - I'd look up and see a familiar face cheering me on  - literally saying "Denise, good going. You can make it. You can do it." The finish delivered the best moment when my daughter, son and a good friend saw me and ran over to push me over the finish line. I barely heard the crowd cheering and clapping but I saw it.


Now if we could just package these three and bring them to work with us every day.