The Most Important Post You Will Read On My Blog

It’s December 31, 2014–the last day of the year. Not that I’ve had much time to myself lately, let alone time to think, but I have been reminiscing about the past year and trying to distill what I’ve learned into a brilliant post for you to read and carry into the new year. To my surprise, the most important thing I learned in life, I learned this year.

In June 2015, I turn 40. And in my four decades of living on this earth, I learned this most important thing that I will share with you today. It is the most critical piece of advice I can impart on you:

You deserve all that your heart desires. It may take some time, even a long time, to obtain it, but if you keep fighting, it will come to you.

I’m not going to get into all the medical details, but my husband and I struggled with infertility for years. Not a surprise since we are both old! Doctors and specialists told us the likelihood of conceiving naturally was very slim. The only viable route for us was IVF, a very expensive and laborious process. Everyone chooses their own path to motherhood, but personally, IVF was not for me. I was also positively bemused by so many couples who had their first child through IVF, but then ended up having their second child naturally.

I was certain we could conceive naturally, but wasn’t sure exactly how to go about it. I did a ton of research, sought out experts, solicited the advice of healers (acupuncturists, therapists, gurus). Some things worked, and others didn’t. But I persistently moved forward, keeping what worked, and discarding what didn’t. It’s easy to say, this is my goal, it’s something I need to work on alone. While this is ultimately your dream, you need the universe to aid you in your desire. We all need assistance.

Do you think Michael Phelps won all his Olympic medals by working and practicing really hard by himself? Hell no! He had coaches and nutritionists and sports therapists and masseuses helping him be his best. We all need a team of experts. And I believe in surrounding myself with people who can help. Yes, it is ultimately on me, but there is a support system out there. Be resourceful and utilize it!

We conceived naturally three times, two times ended in miscarriage, which was the darkest period in my life. Those losses were very hard for me to reconcile. As a devout Catholic, I wanted to punch God in the face. Here Dean and I were, a holy, prayerful, church-involved couple and that’s how God treated us, by taking away our babies. What is the point of prayer if God doesn’t answer our prayers? We are not Christmas and Easter Catholics. We are the kind that know the whole congregation, that stick around after mass to greet the other parishioners.

I turned away from God for a while, but returned because my faith is everything. God is not a magician. He is not a vending machine who doles out what I want at the exact moment I push the button.

They say it is hard to understand life as it is happening to you, but one day, you’ll be able to look in the rear view mirror and it all makes sense. Steve Jobs alludes to this in a Stanford commencement address, that he took a seemingly useless typography class in college that eventually formed the basis for the beautiful Apple fonts.

During that dark period in my life, I lost faith in God because I felt he had robbed me of my babies, robbed me of motherhood. While that was extremely painful, I can see now that God was preparing me for a more appropriate path. Life has always unfolded in exactly the right way. I need to trust in that and God’s plan–for it is never wrong. I can genuinely see that now, despite the losses. Also, because of my faith, I have confidence that I will meet those children when I pass from this earth.

I knew in my heart that I was going to be a mother. It wasn’t an easy path, but through intuition, persistence, sheer belief, and the help of the universe, I was able to get there. The same advice applies to whatever you desire, whether you want to find your life partner, transition to a new career, start a company, or retire altogether.

I think the disconnect is that most people don’t stick to it. As soon as they come to a roadblock, they stop and there goes their “dream.” It’s like blogging. In the 10 years I’ve been blogging (2015 marks my 10 year anniversary), I’ve seen so many bloggers come and go which speaks to the lack of persistence. It’s so easy to talk a big game. It’s a lot harder to act and keep chugging along.

Side note/insight: I love rejection! The more rejections I get, the closer I am to my goal. 

Lastly, my favorite quote:

“To be nobody but yourself–in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else–means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. “ E.E. Cummings

Three Announcements

All I’m trying to do is stay afloat. That’s it. Parent my child, work, breathe, repeat. I’ve been so stressed out I barely eat. Seven months after giving birth, I’m practically back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 85 pounds. It wasn’t about working out or eating right. It’s all about surviving a natural catastrophe in the form of San Francisco’s stormageddon. I honestly just want to crawl into a dry cave and sleep for 8 hours straight. I’m not asking for much!

Despite the bump in the road I’ve been facing, my blog is chugging along like the Little Engine that Could. I’ve got three announcements to make. Ready?

1. Let’s start with the accolade. Dear Vixen is listed as one of FlipKey’s Top 20 San Francisco-based Bloggers. I am beyond thrilled to be nominated along with some of my very favorite local blogs. I feel like I won the lottery!

2. For several months now, my site has been mobile-friendly. That’s right. Bookmark my site on your mobile device. Dear Vixen is reader-tested, cell phone approved. Don’t forget you can get my posts sent directly to your email by subscribing (find the below graphic on my site header). It’s easy. No need to bookmark!

3. I’m slowly making improvements to my site. Baby steps. I added a page on some of my favorite books. Take a look and let me know if I’m missing something epic! Favorite books.

Holman Ranch to the Rescue

When I was a kid, I had family who lived in the Monterey area, which meant I spent time there building sandcastles, digging clams, and eating ice-cream on Cannery Row.

Remember the movie Splash? During a tough time in his life, Tom Hanks’s character longs to return to Cape Cod. That’s the same kind of draw that Monterey and Carmel have for me. Whenever I’m down, I want to pack my bags and head to that rugged coast.

I’ve had a mini-vacation planned for a while now. As part of a media tour, Holman Ranch hosted me and four other bloggers, including our guests, for a wonderfully-relaxing stay. The timing couldn’t have worked out any better because my life has been bitter chaos lately. Holman Ranch turned my salty tears into a rainbow of serenity.

Holman Ranch is located in the picturesque town of Carmel Valley, a two-and-a-half hour drive south from San Francisco.

Think of Carmel Valley as the new Sonoma. Wineries span the whole area, but there are numerous tasting rooms within walking distance of each other. You can literally hop from one tasting room to another, have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and not even have to drive.

Holman Ranch is a major business venture comprised of vineyards, olive groves, event space, accommodations, horse stables, and the newly acquired Wills Fargo restaurant. Both the ranch and the restaurant have been open since 1928! Charlie Chaplin frequented the property so often he had his own room. Other celebrity visits included Vincent Price, Clark Gable, and Marlon Brando. Check out this picture of Joan Crawford milking a cow.

Our stay in the hacienda couldn’t have been more relaxing. I swear I could have jumped into the historical pool (first one built in Carmel Valley). And this is the month of December! The weather was gorgeous.

To say that we were wined and dined is an understatement. The winemaker Nick gave us a tour of the vineyards and the wine cave, where we got to taste straight from the barrels. What an amazing experience, especially since these are award-winning wines. Make sure to check out the Holman Ranch tasting room in town.

The highlight for me was dinner at Wills Fargo restaurant, now owned by Holman Ranch. The food was decadent–exactly the way I like it–ending with a molten lava cake. OMG! Plus there was live music. We were boogeying and getting down with the locals. I had such a great time.

I am trying to figure out how to host my own event or family reunion at the property. Given the backdrop of vineyards and rolling hills, the estate is a stunning venue for weddings. While walking around the ranch, I kept envisioning what a beautiful wedding we could have had there. Maybe one day we will renew our vows when Franco is all grown up and running his own startup.

Quote of the Day

This quote came through my Twitter feed this morning and I just wanted to say Hells to the Yeah.

I can’t remember a time in my life being this stressful. If I were a celebrity, I’d check myself into a treatment center to deal with off-the-chart anxiety. A few weeks ago, we were rear-ended. Then I got sick. Last week, our 2-bedroom, 2-bath home which wasn’t even that big to begin with flooded. We are now essentially squeezed into a 1-bedroom place.

So with that backdrop in addition to being new sleep-deprived parents, Dean and I have been at each others’ throats. This is real, like Real Housewives kind of drama as we increasingly became frustrated with each other and the yelling escalated.

I write this because I’m so tired of all the personal blogs that never talk about the negative. That’s not reality! It ain’t all weekend getaways and wine country and fancy things. Life has ups and downs, and right now we are really down.

I love this quote because even though women are more independent these days, there are still so many women who are dependent on their husbands. I did a rough mental survey of my friends. If all of our husbands left us today, I’d say about 25% of my friends would be on the street. My statistics are skewed because I tend to have ambitious, career-oriented friends who went to grad school. But even then, about 25% of my friends would be penniless without their husbands. Isn’t that outrageous?

I love my husband, but I don’t financially need him. That’s coming from a place of female empowerment. I came into our marriage with my own skills, with my own savings and financial security, and if he wanted to bolt, I could go it alone…no problemo.

The past few days I’ve been asking friends, “Do you fight with your husband? Like really fight?” No one seems to talk about it so sometimes I think Dean and I are the only couple in the world who fights.

I’m here to blog about reality. For realz. It’s not all roses!

Worst Day of My Life

Yesterday has to rank as one of the worst days of my life.

First, I want to preface that my experience yesterday does not compare to a death in the family, divorce, a sick child, miscarriage or terminal illness. Those are tragedies. Those are painful experiences that span long time frames.

While what happened yesterday was challenging and emotional, it was not a tragedy. It’s something that we will overcome.

Tuesday night, I welcomed the pitter-patter of the rain and I reflected on the peace and quiet of our home. My husband was traveling for work, so I was alone in bed. My mom was asleep on the couch; she was helping out since Dean was away for the week. Baby Franco was being so good, sleeping through the night alone in the nursery.

At 4:30am, Franco woke up. When I opened the door to the nursery, he propped his head up and flashed a big grin. I took one step up to enter his room and dipped into a pool of water. The nursery and the adjacent bathroom were covered in half an inch of water.

“Oh God! My baby!” I screamed as I waded my way over to Franco’s smiling face. His crib was a protected island in a room that had flooded. I scooped him up and kept muttering, “Oh my baby. My poor baby.” Thankfully he was ok, but I was in shock.

My mom who is paranoid by nature made me even more emotional. She scolded, “This is why I told you Franco needs to sleep in your room. I knew having him on the other side of the house was a bad idea. Can you imagine if we found him this morning underwater?!”

“Mom! You are not helping.” I cried as I held Franco in my arms. I asked my mom to hold Franco while I made phone calls.

Luckily Dean is in Boston this week. I knew I could reach him with the time difference. He was very calm, probably because he couldn’t see the extent of the damage!

Next up, I made a handful of calls to plumbers. I got through to someone who came over at 6am. If you’re in San Francisco, call Fast Response. They are the best! The plumber said it wasn’t a plumbing issue. He placed a call on my behalf to a water damage recovery company. In addition, I made more calls to other repair companies. Because the rain was so bad Tuesday night, plumbers and the water recovery companies were booked solid.

Someone finally did come to suck the water out. A dehumidifier is running 24/7. The rooms are a wreck and unlivable. The hardwood floors are unsalvageable. Apparently the walls need to be opened up and dried. We are at high risk of a mold problem.

Earlier in the morning, I also sent a frantic text to my real estate agent. “Help! Two rooms in our home are flooded. Isn’t the remodel work guaranteed?” I was alluding to our property being a brand new remodel when we purchased it.

He called me later on in the day, “I don’t know if this will make you feel better but three other clients had flooding in their home.”

We are going to work with the seller and the contractor who did the work to assess the damage and see what can be done. That’s where we’re at. Our home is a disaster, but everyone is safe which is all that matters.

I am so very thankful to live near family. My dad drove over immediately. My parents spent all morning trying to mop up as much water as possible, dealing with the different contractors, then laundering about 100 towels! They deserve a medal for handling everything, allowing me to come into the office to work, and urging Dean to stay in Boston to finish out his work week. He would have otherwise high-tailed it home.

I was a mess yesterday, but trying to take deep breaths. I’m grateful as it seems like all the parties involved (real estate, insurance, contractors) are trying to help.