Friday, January 29, 2010

Her Mustache Was Very Distracting

I've had a busy week. Like I'm sure most of you have. Lots of evening events, client training, and outside of the office meetings and workshops, which can be great for networking and learning, but pull me away from actual grants and tasks I need to accomplish at the office. Not to mention the cramming of nonprofit finance and strategic assessment info into my little brain. Numbers and charts of accounts and spreadsheet fields are floating around in my head like Tetris pieces. Clearly I'm looking forward to the weekend, except I have more training for my volunteer work tomorrow. I'm not complaining. I actually love everything I'm doing, but I think I need to schedule some pajama time for next weekend. You know those weekend days when you don't shower, stay in your pjs until at least 5pm when you finally decide to go grab dinner or see a movie or talk to other people in person?  I need a pajama day.

So today as I sat trying to stay focused during a 1/2 day seminar, I searched for ways to amuse myself while still paying a modicum of attention to the speakers. So I started watching people, and investigating their hair and clothing choices, and whether they were still awake or not (about half way through the morning one gentleman at our table was fast asleep, until his wife leaned over and pinched him suspiciously close to his nipple, he did not fall asleep again.)  And I came up with several conclusions about the sample of nonprofit professionals and founders at this particular meeting. Here they are in no particular order:

The hair bow and headband are still fashionable and acceptable choices when you are over 50, especially if either one is floral.

Bringing your knitting to a seminar is a professional and appropriate choice, particularly if it is neon colored yarn and you make a point to laugh loudly when no one else is laughing, thereby bringing all of the attention in the room to you and your knitting needles and your witchy laugh.

Mustaches on women are distracting, especially if you are standing very close to them. We had a 5 minute conversation and I honestly tried to not stare at her mustache. Honestly. This was not blonde peach fuzz. I could not ignore it. So I nodded politely and smiled, with my eye constantly locked on her twitching mustache. She (the lady not the mustache) actually asked me a question at one point and I had to ask her to repeat it, that is how distracted I was by the full and dark little caterpillar residing on her top lip.

Basement banquet rooms feel like damp, carpeted, dimly lit dungeons. It could have been midnight or noon, we would have had no idea.

That powerpoint needed some cheesy clip art, maybe some animation, well, never mind, there it is.

But easily the best thing that I noticed today as I scanned the room, was the enormous number of compassionate and engaged people who just want to make a difference in their communities. They have identified a problem and they have the diligence and determination, the willpower and guts to say, I'm going to try to fix that problem. "I want to feed hungry children." "I want to bring more art to more people." "I want to create safe places for women in crisis." "I want to empower my church community to get more involved locally." These are all the types of statements I heard today. We nonprofit folks may not be the wealthiest or the most fashion conscious, but we are some of the kindest, passionate, most creative, committed people around. I'm happy to be in their company.  Though I will probably avoid the hair bows.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Dad, Wyclef Jean and Sexy Fraud

I matriculated on a college campus last week. And it had been awhile. And technically I'm not really enrolled, so maybe that doesn't qualify as matriculating. Maybe that is faux-matriculating, but whatever.  I was pretending to be a student again and it was a blast. And surprisingly I didn't feel that old, well mostly.

My dad has taught a nonprofit business class at a local college for the last couple of years. He is a nonprofit finance and consulting guru. And including his former life as a partner in a CPA firm, I think he's seen everything good and bad that nonprofit and for profit businesses can possibly do.  I can't remember a time growing up when we didn't get to hear about Dad's latest client, names withheld of course, whose employees were embezzling from his company or was a multimillionaire who drove an old truck and whose furniture consisted of one smelly, stained old recliner, or the socialite and her lawyer husband who were divorcing and hiding money from each other, restaurants that had recently opened and why they were already going under. It seemed like my dad knew everything that was going on under the surface of businesses all over town. And now he knows the same about nonprofits all over town.  So combine his vast array of experiences and his funny, disciplined and kind personality, and you get a pretty stellar teacher.

I've always thought it would be damn entertaining to see my dad in action, and though I may be the daughter of a CPA, my finance and accounting background is limited, so developing my accounting and financial management skills will help my career, I'd like to be an executive director someday, and bonus, it might actually be fun too.  So I'm taking dad's class this semester.

My fellow students are all women, which isn't a surprise since nonprofits are dominated by women. But happily the class isn't completely populated by bouncy, naive, young coeds, though really what college class is complete without a couple of sunny adorable sorority girls? It's a great mix of graduate students, undergrads, a couple of kooky middle aged women (not counting me), and at least one lady who was such a low-talker that in our little class of ten, I could still only hear every other word in her story about the soap opera that is employment with the USPS. Highlights of the class included:  "fraud is really the sexiest part of the class", Dad mispronouncing Wyclef Jean and the Fugees as he explained why Wyclef's nonprofit foundation sounded more like a convenient illegal tax shelter than a real charity, and the discussion of how Catholic summer camp counselors are poorly paid. Evidently it is ridiculously low hourly wage, but the best job in the world, if you're a 19 year old Catholic virgin. And I got paired up for our team class assignments with a very quiet and sweet girl, who I tried not to bulldoze over with my hard charging personality, and certainly failed. 

Tonight I've finally finished the first paper, a short two pager about my experiences with nonprofits. Do you know how hard that paper was to write? Two pages is nothing, but writing a paper for my dad to grade, oh my God, so difficult. I must earn an A. I can't disappoint him. It has to be the best paper ever. Yeah, I'm 34. Yeah, I'm not even enrolled in the class. And yet, must make my dad proud. Just silly. So I'm looking forward to the next class. We won't dive into that sexy fraud stuff for a few weeks, but I'm anxiously awaiting it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Evil Charity Baked Goods and Habits

I was talking to myself in the car Monday, loudly and with much frustration.  I lectured myself while driving into work. But I think I took it pretty well.  I was sipping my morning coffee and braving the suburban rush hour side streets, my brain racing with my work appointments, deadlines and goals to meet for the week and just hit a point where I needed to kick my own ass. I'm fighting this weight loss/health battle. I've been fighting the weight loss battle for years and winning occasionally, but more often just raising the white flag of surrender. But Monday, as I had some quiet time in the car, with NPR droning away in the background, I had a little epiphany. I'm tired. I'm tired of fighting and failing myself. I'm tired of doing this whole thing only half way. I'm tired of not expecting more from myself and I'm tired of being fat.

So that was Monday. And I made some serious steps this week. I've already worked out a couple of times with Tara this week. We walked at the mall which was a little stuffy and dull and we delved into the frightening world of aerobic dance videos, which feature a shocking amount of camel toe and headbands.  I lost two pounds. Joe and I worked up a health contract, to hold ourselves accountable and set some goals together. And that iron-clad beast is posted right up on the refrigerator, berating and taunting us when we get too close to it. So since Monday I'm feeling better. I'm weighing myself everyday. I'm logging whatever I eat into the Lose It application on my iPhone (it is awesome) and I'm just generally more focused since Monday's lecture. That doesn't mean there aren't some slip ups. Joe ordered Girl Scout cookies from a coworker, and when did they get delivered? This week of course.

So yeah, I've had some cookies.  And yeah, we've eaten out a couple of times. But I feel on track, and like next week can only get better. More work outs, better food choices and a better attitude. Otherwise I'm going to get a stern lecture, possibly even grounded.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

"How Many Laps Did You Do, Edna?"

I've felt blah since the day after New Year's. The New Year's Eve party was great. Sangria was consumed, games were played, but I think Dick Clark instigated the 2010 blah. Seeing Dick Clark kissing his wife is not the most upbeat way to ring in the New Year. His odd plastic surgery, obvious spray tan and slightly stroke afflicted face just don't say Happy New Year anymore. And  J-Lo's spangly body suit didn't help.

But I don't blame Dick and I'm not depressed or sad. Just eh. I think it's inevitable in January. The Holidays take over in November and December, all the rush and excitement, parties and family events, presents and baking, vacation time and relaxing. God, it's great. But in part the holidays are wonderful because they are short lived. They are special and happen just once a year. And I like that. Kind of like an orchid that blooms and dies in a couple of weeks. It is that much more beautiful, because of the brevity of its existence. Though spending time with one's family (not mine, of course) at the holidays probably should be compared to a trout that is starting reek a bit after three days, instead of the beauty of an orchid, but I digress.

Anyway, the orchid is now dead and I have to put away all the Christmas stuff. And there are like 20 feet of snow on the ground.  And the windchill factor, which according to my grandfather was just a scam by the weatherman community, is 1895 below zero. And I'm blah. I'm tired of being inside. I'm tired of slogging my way home through stupid slow drivers whose tires are so bald that they can't even get through an intersection and make me miss three cycles of the light. Seriously, this happened this morning on the way to work.  I finally passed him once I wasn't trapped by the traffic in the lane next to me. And he flicked me off.

But some lights at the end of the blah tunnel, I start my volunteer work with Literacy KC this weekend, just an orientation meeting, but I'm looking forward to it.  Joe and I, mostly I, have become addicted via Netflix Instant Watch, to the BBC show Skins. It's a raunchy British high school drama that is surprisingly well written, generally well acted and just plain fun. Almost done with Season 2. Joe keeps saying we should ration it and watch one episode every couple of days. I don't do that. I can't do that. I want to watch four episodes a night. But that's just my personality. Delayed gratification? Silly talk.

And on the Get-Kassie-Skinnier-Plan, I start working out with my partner in crime, Tara, on Monday.  We don't want to spend money on a gym. We don't want to work out alone all week, so our solution is to follow our elders advice, and walk at the mall until the weather improves. If it's good enough for Edna it's good enough for me. Now, now, don't mock. This is a dorky yet cheap solution to our workout problem, think of the people watching, the warm indoor climate, the window shopping, the excellent conversation. Did you know there is actually a mall walker's handbook? Wow.  Nylon jogging suit and fanny pack here I come. Plus on the days we don't walk together we both have treadmills or ellipticals at home that could use some attention. Generally my healthy life style changes (doesn't that sound focused and determined) have been going pretty well so far. I didn't gain any weight at the holidays, shockingly, and I've lost about five pounds since Christmas. So I've got that going for me. But I can do more. So I'm going to. Shaking off the blahs, almost there.