Dec 28, 2016

Support and Resistance.

For several years now I have had a burning curiosity about the stock market. No one has really had the time or the patience to sit down and explain and answer all my questions about it so I have gathered bits of information here and there. With the help of my father I purchased some shares of Merck and GE last year. As soon as they went above what I bought them for I sold them. Chicken out, much?

Ever since my divorce I have had a chunk of money that has needed some attention and for about 4 months now I have been making and canceling appointments with Rob at Schwab. Yes, I am thrilled beyond words that Rob and Schwab rhyme. It is the little things that delight me.

Finally, last Friday nothing interfered and I was able to keep my appointment with him. It was a rainy, gray day and my appointment was in Eugene at 10:00. Last time I met with Rob at Schwab we transferred money from some TIAA/CREF accounts into my Schwab account. But we just left it all sitting there because it would take more time than we had at that appointment to allocate it. As you all know ever since November 8th the markets have been doing nothing but going up in a weird unsupported sort of way. So the minute I sat down with Rob he started a discussion about this and about how it made him feel nervous about how fast 20,000 was approaching. It is fascinating to me to attempt to understand how much affects the price of a share of a company. I naively thought we would do some divvying up and spreading out and call it a day. But Rob (at Schwab) suggested just taking a small amount and placing it in an intelligent portfolio (the opposite of a dumb portfolio). He suggested waiting on allocating the rest of the money until February when reality may have started to settle in and the picture will be clearer. The stock market is riding on hope right now. I totally understand riding on hope I have been known to ride on hope myself. You know when you are sure change is coming, it is exciting, you are happy, and it is so welcome. Your life feels light and it is exactly like you are walking on sunshine (yes, I just quoted a song. Thanks for noticing.) I am in the process of crashing from hope so maybe the stock market will be heading down as well.

The more Rob from Schwab explained the stock market to me the more I realized the stock market is a lot like my life. I guess I had so many questions and was such a well behaved audience that he could not resist educating me more. I deeply appreciated it and cannot stop thinking about what I learned.

First he pulled up AT&T's portfolio on his computer and found a graph that gave me an overview of what their stock had been doing over the last year, He used his mouse to draw some lines on the graph in various places. Some of the the lines were marking the tops of mountains and some were marking dips. He explained to me that the tops of the mountains were called resistance and the dips were affectionately referred to as support. The stock would head down to a certain predetermined level, stop, and then turn around to get a running start back up to possibly find a new resistance point. When the stock gets to that low point that is a good time to purchase some. Sometimes the stock price would break through to make a new resistance level and sometimes it did not. Regardless the stock would predictably head back down to its support level before it tried again. If you know it is going to do this you do not have fear when you are investing.

I had just spent an entire semester studying Costco so I asked him to show me the support and resistance for Costco's stock so we switched to their graph and it was so interesting to be able to see what Costco stock had done in the past three years. I began to understand that up and down was healthy and you want to see that happening. I did not really understand that when I owned my Merck and my GE, which I sort of wish I still owned at this moment. Yes, you were right I was wrong.

If I could pull up a graph of the last three years of my life you would easily see my support level and the places where I took a running start to attempt to break through some resistance and make a change. Sometimes I broke through my resistance level and set a new high but other times I did not. I have definitely broken through to new levels as I have started school. But when it comes to relationships I seem to not be able to figure out what it takes to break through the resistance. You would be able to see the divorce crash of 2013. You would see the spikes when I got A's in school or met someone who appeared to think I was worth the time. You would undoubtedly see when I ate Reeses. When I saw a great view. When I did something wrong. Yeah, you would see it all. But the question is would you feel like it was worth it to buy shares in my life? And when would you sell?

I guess a healthy life has dips and mountains just like a healthy stock. Life steadily but slowly with lots of support and good reasons usually works its way up. Since January 2015 Costco's support is in the $140.00 dollar range and their resistance level has been around $169.00. Before that it's resistance level was around $110.00. So if you bought Costco stock years ago and was patient just imagine. It appears to be the same with life.  so the earlier you invest in me the better? Ugh, that means it is too late.

Dec 27, 2016

Make Good Choices.

I am not sure why it started or even when it started but for quite awhile now I have found myself regularly advising people to "Make good choices." It just comes out of my mouth naturally as a part of any goodbye routine. I say it to kids getting off of the bus. I say it to my co-workers. I say it to friends. I may have even said it to a squirrel who was thinking about crossing in front of my car one day.

I have noticed that my daughter Madeline says it to me when we are closing phone conversations and I have wondered to myself, "Did I get it from her?" A little while ago I was re-watching the movie Pitch Perfect and the character Becca said to another character, "Make good choices." I wondered to myself, "Is this where I got it from?" Have I been quoting a movie and did not know it?

Do I really know what it means as I flippantly say it to almost everyone? And even worse do I practice what I preach? Do I make good choices? A choice is "an alternative, option, or a preference," all words that suggest the power of choosing. I like the idea of choosing being a power. What if my super power was to make good choices? What kind of life would that be? At this very moment when I have so many choices swirling all around me I am really liking the idea of being "Choose The Right Girl." Definitely emerald green leggings, skirt and cape for my superhero costume...did I come up with that outfit too fast? Would it be too much to ask to be able to fly and make good choices? Then I could get to my good choices faster :) Are there any drawbacks to having the power to know that the choice you are making is the right one?

I have a talent for making bad choices. I know I would not be who I am without those bad choices. Every time I wrestle through one I come out on the other side a better person. They have undoubtedly taught me more than good choices and smooth sailing ever could have but I still long for the ability to make just one good choice. Just to know what it feels like.

Just for fun I made the choice to google, "how do you make good choices" and without even having to click on any link the most amazing list appeared from the Frank Sonnenberg online blog. Seven steps to making a good choice:

#1.  Manage the big stuff
#2.  Values Matter
#3.  Learn from the past
#4.  Know what you know and what you don't know.
#5.  Keep the right perspective.
#6.  Don't Procrastinate
#7   Once you make a choice do not look back and make it work.

I should have known there would be a list out there. Seeing the steps all written out is strangely comforting. "Good choices keep you heading in the direction you want to be going. Bad choices are counter-productive and quickly can make you feel despair, stress and confusion." The minute I read this definition I realized I have been making bad choices. I keep having hope that these choices will head me in the direction I want to go but it is time to admit they are never going to move anywhere and I need to abandon them.

Maybe I want my super power to be not looking back. "Not Looking Back girl." Oh man now I have to make a choice.

Dec 21, 2016

Hiking the Dungeness Spit.

I knew when I woke up this morning and opened the blinds in my little cottage that I am staying in that I needed to do something ambitious with my day. The water and the mountains were definitely calling my name. I am embarrassed to say that I brought my textbooks for next semester with me on my little "get away." Not only that, I had plans to organize the songs I am teaching to my Primary kids for the entire next year (yeah, a whole year). I do know how to vacation don't I? :)  But don't be too hard on me because I grabbed my bag of clementines, bunch of bananas, wallet, scarf, hat and gloves and headed out. left the textbooks in my cottage.

In a folder in the cottage I am staying in there is a list of outdoor things to do on the Olympic Peninsula. I have stared longingly at the description of the Dungeness Spit the last two times I stayed here and it was finally time to act. 

I do love records, so the minute I found out the Dungeness Spit was the longest, natural, sand spit in the United States I knew I had to check it out. But there are some logistics involved in hiking this sand spit. The tide has to be low or on its way to low. I knew when I went to bed last night that high tide would be at 9 in the morning and low tide would not be until 4 in the afternoon. And even at that low tide was not really going to be that fabulous of a low tide. I also had the small problem that I am the sort of girl that gets up early and goes. I am not the sort of girl who waits around....not even for tides. I told myself I would head towards Dungeness Spit but I could just drive by and head out to the Cape Flattery hike again or follow highway 101 until it ended in LaPush. You know, do something until the tide was low enough for me to check out the Dungeness Spit. As I got closer to Sequim (don't you dare pronounce the e in Sequim. It is pronounced Squim) I could not resist and I set the Google map app on my phone up to take me to Dungeness Spit. But the app conspired against me and directed me to another sand spit so I figured it was a sign. This impostor sand pit was not a complete waste of time because there was the most amazingly huge barge stacked with containers heading out to sea down the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I watched it for awhile. But then I decided to head to LaPush on Highway 101. I got just outside of Port Angeles and turned around. I am not really sure why but I did.

This time I found the Dungeness Spit without using my Google maps app. I just deduced where it would be and voila. Something I never do. I was very excited to check this place out. You have to pay $3.00 to hike out to the sand spit and all I had was a $50 and there was no one there to give change so I scrounged in my change drawer in my car and found $3.00. The trail was empty, well maintained, and surrounded by woods. I did my best to not think about meeting Bigfoot, or the wolves and vampires from Twilight and headed bravely down the trail, alone. At the edge of the woods the trail goes down a hill to get you down to the sand spit. Are you wondering if sand spits? yeah, Why do they call it a spit? Does sand spit? This sand spit is 5.2 miles long so the sand spit more than it should have. I had to know so I looked it up and a spit is a land form, It is a "deposition bar or beach land form found off coasts or lake shores. It develops in places where re-entrance occurs, such as at a cove's headlands, by the process of long shore drift by long shore currents. ... These currents are caused by the same waves that cause the drift." Whew, did you get that?

As I came down the trail I had no idea what I would see when I first got a glimpse of the Stait of Juan de Fuca. There was a little platform and when you walked to the edge of it you could see this strip of sand going, going, going out into the water. It really was amazing. 

When I got to the bottom of the hill there was a ranger there and she was giving instructions. Waves were relentlessly crashing on the left side of the spit and the right side was was like being in the middle of a split personality. The wind was fiercely blowing. The waves were big. The spit was littered with driftwood. Not just small pieces of wood. Enormous trees just tossed year after year on this sand spit all 5 miles of it. Walking on the side without waves was the obvious choice to me but the ranger crushed my dreams when she said the calm side was for the birds (lucky birds) and people had to walk on the wave side. I asked a few more times to be sure I had heard her. She did not even flinch when she advised me to be careful of the waves and to remember that sometimes the driftwood can appear stable but it could have water under it and may not be stable. What? I was not turning back now so I smiled at her and headed off. The wind whipped my scarf out to the side of me. The waves raced right up to the edge of the driftwood and every 50 feet or so there was a metal post with a sign posted reminding me that I could not cross the line onto the bird side. I confess, I stepped behind the sign a few times. I would be walking on the logs, avoiding the waves, climbing over the logs and I would look up and realize that I was on the wrong side of the signs. I am a rule follower. I would furtively look around to see if anyone saw me but not many people think that hiking the Dungeness Spit on the 20th of December is a great idea so I was alone in the knowledge of my crime. I finally stopped and looked back and was overwhelmed at the view. The Olympic Mountains were looming with snow on them. The water was this amazing green color but where the waves were breaking it was brown and muddy. The contrast between the colors was very cool. The wind was taking the spray from the ocean and the foam from the waves and flinging it everywhere. It was exhilarating. The spit seemed to stretch on forever. But I decided I was going to the end to the lighthouse I could see way out in the distance. I had to. It was slow going. Around, over, walking along logs. All of a sudden I found myself facing a  row of signs telling me I could not go any further..... you know, the birds. Not going to lie. I would have kept going but I was okay with turning back. When I got back to the trail going into the woods I stopped and read the sign about the trail and saw that from October until March you cannot hike all the way to the lighthouse.

I will be back. I have to hike to the end. But maybe I will think about another month when it does not get dark around low tide. But don't get your hopes up.

Dec 18, 2016


Captains Log
Star date December 18, 2016
10:52 AM

My first semester of being back at college is over.
My girls are gone for five days to be with their dad in Utah.
Holiday Season
I have nothing to do?

I am sitting in my cozy bed in my church clothes waiting for the appropriate time to leave for church and I realized I could blog. Actually, I should blog just in case posterity ever wonders what I could possibly been thinking when I made the choices I am bound to make. The sun is reflecting off of the water drops on the trees outside so the day looks sparkly. And I am sitting here doing some reflecting of my own. Nothing sparkly, just some good old fashioned pondering and meditating.

I am reflecting on this first semester of online classes that I just completed. I got A's in both my classes. One teacher had no problem handing A's to me like candy. He seemed to just be grateful that I did the work. Which made me sad for his life. My other teacher was very hard on me and I learned an enormous amount from her because of this. She refined my writing. I grumbled about her all semester. I shed tears. I agonized. When she actually gave me A's I wondered if she had just given up fighting with me. She insisted that I figure out how to say things in a concise manner. Yeah, we all know that there is nothing concise about me. She never really "got" me. She seemed to be relentlessly hunting for those of us on the planet who use smiley faces after every sentence. She considered it her job to give us a reality check. She never reviewed my work without adding in her comments "less words," not:

"Could you please use less words?"
"It would make me eternally happy if you would use less words."
"Jennifer, using less words could make your life better."

 Just a cold, heartless "less words."

 I refrained from telling her I talked early and profusely and did not know a single thing about the word "less." The A's I got from her are treasures to me and they came more and more often as I figured out how to play her game. Yeah, talkative but smart am I.

I learned so many things this semester about myself and about learning. I learned that I love to use adverbs. I learned that semi colons and colons are tough customers. I learned I have high expectations. (that is a whole other blog.)

I am also reflecting on being alone. My two girls left for Utah on Friday and will be gone for 6 days and it is the weirdest feeling in the world. I realized that very soon this will be my life. Can I handle alone? It was so weird to go from having 7 kids and a spouse. To walking into the ward Christmas party all alone. Realizing you have no one to sit by. Realizing everyone else at least has a spouse or someone they came with. Realizing you need to be a big girl. And worst of all realizing that there may have been someone in your past that felt exactly the same way and you did not not know it and did not reach out to them.

I am reflecting on what I want to do with my life. Both of my classes required me to write a personal mission statement, a resume, a cover letter, a request for a letter of recommendation, goals, lists of how I could advance in my career. It was a lot of reflecting and a lot of reality. Reality and I never really understood each other.

Here is my personal mission statement I finally ended up submitting in both my classes. If I post it then you can all call me out on my moments off of the path. And my posterity can decide if it truly was my mission statement. Be sure to notice I squeezed a smiley face into my Personal Mission Statement. My B320 teacher had given up at this point and did not mention it.

Alice came to a crossroads in the woods and she asks the Cheshire cat which way she ought to go from there and he tells her that it depends on where she wants to go. She tells him that she does not care much where she goes. The cat informs her that it does not matter much which way she goes then. I am determined to care where I go so that when those crossroads appear I have a clear idea of which road I want to take.
A simple modest house of my own close to water, views, and hiking, with land to garden on, bookshelves, and a hammock is something I want to accomplish. I long for a job with a school district so that I have summers off to travel and visit friends and family.
·         Doing hard things with diligence and integrity
·         Being genuine and focused
·         Being the same on the outside as I am on the inside.
·         Having courage to do hard things
·         Being grateful

Are all characteristics I am struggling to grow as I pray, study, and make sticker chartsJ

My relationships are a priority to me and this priority drives my actions. My belief in an eternal life after this life with my Heavenly Father drives my behavior. 

I noticed my personal mission statement was a little bit different from my classmates statements but I did not fret about it I mean it is personal, right?

To top it all off this is the time of year that we all naturally reflect. We are almost to the end of another 365 day cycle in our lives and about to begin another one. What can we do different? I am trying to embrace the reflecting and hope it just improves my situation and determination to figure out my Plan B.