Cool Place, Hot Location

Hotels are not the only place to stay! 

Quiet Moment

A Quiet Moment in the Midst of Christmas Week

We arrived in Houston on December 22 for our stay at the Domain at City Center  for eight days. The mammoth complex sits in the middle of Town and Country Village, as they call it. The price is about the same as a hotel room. We would be near our two sons and six grand-children. A son checked the model apartment beforehand to assure the reality of the online advertisement. “You’ll be claustrophobic in 750 square feet (not true), and the traffic, awful (true),” he reported. We signed the contract without knowing other aspects. The property is owned by an individual, not the leasing company.

Last year we stayed in Houston a month in a VRBO rental with three bedrooms and two baths. We thought the grand-children might visit us and stay overnight a few times. Didn’t happen.

Our dog presents an issue wherever we travel. Fargo is the perfect guest unless left alone. He’s quite good in a hotel room as long as we are with him. He barks incessantly with fear of abandonment if no one is with him. Over the six years we have owned him, we tried unsuccessful remedies to quiet his fierce barking. When he travels with us, we tend to eat in our hotel or motel room. If it’s cold enough, he stays in the car while we rush through dinners. In Houston we could deposit his blanket, dishes, leash, and bad habit with either family. The barking, little thirteen-pound beast, loves the grand-kids and grand-dogs.  On this trip we ate with family much of the time.

Watching cars

I wanna watch cars, Dad!

The Condo

The condo contained everything we needed, even a little balcony above a garden. The owner left coffee, salt, pepper, bottled water, garbage bags, soap for the dishwasher…even kitchen shears for us.  The furniture and decorations probably came from Ikea. Everything was comfortable, even the bed, which is not always the case with furnished rental properties.

Other positives included a parking place (quite small) on the same floor as our rental and a dog park! I didn’t think Fargo would like the phony grass but he loved it. He and I walked around the condo grounds and hiked the neighborhood of office and condo buildings. I never let him off-lease except in the dog park. One day he and I made 10,000+ steps according to my FIT. Other amenities in the building: a meeting area with coffee, an outdoor pool, an exercise room, and outdoor grills.

Shops and Restaurant

the plaza

The Plaza-food, music, strollers, shops

Gourmet restaurants line the streets, along with retail shops and other businesses. One night I purchased carry-out from a high-end Mexican restaurant a few steps outside our building. Another night we had designer pizza and salad from a restaurant by the plaza across from us. At night musicians performed there. Recognizable brands abound. How about Sur la Table, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ulta, and Barnes and Noble? A grocery and a pharmacy are “walkable,” although maybe not when it’s over 100 degrees. Christmas Day the temperature hit 82 degrees.

Other Properties

This is our fourth “VBRO” or Vacation Rental by Owner.* VRBOs are great for a long or short stay. They are not quite like home but certainly more exciting than a boring and expensive hotel. Our short stay this year will lead to more travel. It’s so much fun to try someone else’s home or condo, especially in such a hot place in a cool location.

*VRBO or Vacation Rental By Owner is part of the Homeaway conglomerate owned by Expedia.

Finding a Friend or Maybe a Mentor

Possible Mentoring

Who is sitting next to you?

My writers group is wonderful! We meet monthly to encourage each other, share our writing and devour suggestions from the more experienced. The tips, techniques, tales of woe and joy in writing help keep us writing between meetings. We are not mentors, but coaches for each other. The relationships may develop into mentoring, which is a deep commitment to foster.

Where do you find support for what you do? Who supports your efforts? Even lonesome Charlie Brown has his Lucy to help him through life. We all need people to support our efforts. We often think mentors are only for the workplace. Not so!

A mentor is more than a friend, but someone who is ” a trusted counselor, guide, tutor or coach.” A mentor invests time and keeps you accountable.

Suggestions for Finding New Friends

MeetUps. If I search “meetups, Dallas,” I see over one million responses. I clicked on the “Urban Bohemian” group. I drilled down and noted the Bastille Day Celebration in Oak Cliff on my calendar for July 14. Most groups are free or only charge for special events.

Toastmasters. I’m a huge fan of Toastmasters. This group helps you perfect your public speaking. The group meets weekly in an unimaginable number of places: restaurants, apartment clubhouses, companies (like Ericsson and Oncor). If you click on this link, you can see the huge number of locations. Toastmasters builds your confidence in many ways and may lead to a mentoring relationship.

Professional and Civic Groups. If there is no professional association you want to join, say your alumni group, start one! Organize a group on LinkedIn or advertise a new group through MeetUps.

A friend of mine looked a long time for a new job that would fit his career change. He proudly tells how he started talking with a guy who sat next to him at a Lions Club meeting. They kept talking…and talking. Now my friend has a new title, “Part Owner,” in that business that has a hot new product. I suspect their relationship is one of mentoring each other.

Churches and other Religious Organizations. Most churches will welcome new members with open arms. And most like potlucks and making friends, as well as the more formal aspects. If your church is not very social, try a different one! Look for one which espouses your beliefs and personality. Personality is an important factor in both friendships and mentors. Many churches have groups for people in job transitions.

Politics. Attend a City Council meeting. Shake hands with the people in the room. A Chamber of Commerce meeting offers opportunities for entrepreneurs and corporate types. Other city and suburban activities offer a plethora of activities and volunteer opportunities.

Hobbies. What do you do in your spare time? Hard to tell whom you’ll meet in a class for woodworking or cooking. You may be surprised when you meet the chef in the class who can assist you with that cookbook or woodworking book you want to write.

Social Media. Connect with people with similar interests. People like to help each other. The relationships on social media may not become mentors, but people you discover online can certainly answer questions to help you move forward.

Add a New Friend Regularly

Think about adding new friends. Find avenues to “adopt” new friends into your network. You never know when you may meet someone who can make a significant difference in your life, as a friend or mentor.
Ruth Glover wrote MORE than a Paycheck: Inspiration & Tools for Career Change, which is now, by popular demand, available in e-book formats.  The book is available on Barnes and Noble, Amazon and I-Books.




Significant Friends Help Us Dance in the Rain

Lunch with friends

Ginger, Ruth, Nola, Ruth-special friends!

I met Cindy 15 years ago.  She worked in relocation when I managed a project for Texas Instruments, which involved relocating people from Thailand for training.  I needed temporary housing for a wild, but brilliant, young group of engineers, arriving in the U.S.  Her company provided housing.

Cindy and I continued to cross paths.  Soon after her second son was born, she developed breast cancer.  I am a survivor and assured her people can live long after diagnosis and treatment.  She and I built a long term friendship.  We walked in the Komen-Race-for-the-Cure for years.  When she left real estate, I helped her with career decisions.  When I wrote a book a few years ago, Cindy became a “cheerleader” for me and a chapter in MORE than a Paycheck: Inspiration and Tools for Success

She never regretted leaving her corporate job, quickly pivoting into new leadership roles in non-profits.  But cancer attacked again about four years ago.  She went through chemo and radiation the second time.  The doctors eradicated the beast within her.

Her positive attitude and friendly smile became a role model for all her friends and relatives.  She spoke nationwide to groups about cancer and her “dance in the rain,” becoming more entrenched in the Susan G. Komen organization.  When we had lunch in December 2010, she beamed with the knowledge she beat the beast again.  However, in January 2011 she found another lump.  The PET scan showed the cancer metastasized, startling her with realization that life would be shorter but convincing her she could live by finding the right  maintenance treatment.

Cindy felt she extended her life to help researchers find a cure for cancer.  Her willingness to try a variety of drugs, some which made her very weak, others which caused blisters on her feet, advanced the “the cause.”

Her bravery astounded all who knew her.  Doctors tried at least five different experimental treatments. A month ago, she was told, no more treatment would help.

Her breathing became labored with the cancer growing in her lungs.  And what did she do?  She had a party!  She invited all her friends to a giant party to demonstrate her faith and resilience in the face of the challenge.  People stood in line an hour at her home to hug her and wish her well on her journey “home.”

Doctors thought she would die in a few days, but she outwitted the doctors one more time.  I think she wanted to be there the day Tony started 10th grade.  She made it.  Her husband, two sons, her family from Florida, her sister who stayed with her, all knew she was not afraid to die.

Some of you may not be believers but if there are angels, she’s already made it to that level.  She didn’t have to wait to be promoted.

I’m sharing her story to encourage you to be a role model for people in your life.  You never know when the smile you give someone may be the high point of the day.  You never know when the new person in the neighborhood may impact your life significantly.

Who are your role models?  And who will be honored he or she knows you, when you have your last challenge?  Today is the first day of the rest of you life, as they say.  Be a role model.  Make a new friend.  Call it networking, if you want, but your life will be enriched when you reach out to others, forming relationships, not just finding help for your journey.

Cindy Colangelo spoke to the JOB Group at CusterRoadMethodistChurch last fall.  The presentation was “How to Dance in the Rain.”  I am honored to have “danced in the rain” with her.