Rat In A Hot Tin Dryer

Rat In A Hot Tin Dryer

By: Jodi Cross

I consider myself to be a modern day independent women.  I never really bought into role and gender stereotypes. People might describe me as outgoing, self-sufficient even a problem solver. So, when my husband started a project in Miami I knew it would be a transition but felt like I could handle anything that came my way. On a cold day in January, the second day Rich was gone my steely independence would be tested. While running a load of clothes, I heard a strange scratching noise coming from the dryer.  It sounded like a zipper banging on the inside, I went about my business and never thought much more about it. The next day a foul odor started permeating the air in the laundry room. That’s when I knew I had a problem.  The smell of death surrounded me and that death was in the form of a brown Rattus Norveqicus.


The rodent, I later found out, had journeyed down my roof vent and tumbled all the way to the bottom were the hose meets the dryer connection in my laundry room. My husband is an accomplished, plumber, electrician, AC technician and all around handyman. Thus, I never had the need to call anyone for help with such problems. Clearly, I needed help and knew I was out of my league.


I got a hold of my neighbor, who referred me to his exterminating company and I waited for them to come to my rescue. When the exterminating company arrived, they searched the place and declared it rodent free but wouldn’t touch the dryer. “Out of scope, we don’t do dryers” they declared, as they zoomed off! Imagine my horror. There was something in my laundry room and I needed to get it out!


After the exterminator left, I think I had a small breakdown and texted my husband to call me when he got a chance, saying it was nothing urgent. But it was getting more urgent by the minute. I ran across an old home owners list of service contractors and started calling.  About 10 calls later, I finally got a hold of a dryer cleaning company. I shared my plight, pleaded and he agreed to come out and take a look, but said it would cost me. At this point I would have paid a great deal to remove whatever was causing the smell. I quarantined the area but before I did a large hideous green fly emerged and started buzzing about. Disgusting!


My knight in shining armor arrived in a white van around 3 PM. Together we tipped the dryer over, me tipping it from the front while he could peer into vent. When he finally got behind it, he screamed, “There is it is, I see it, and it’s huge.” Now we were both screaming! What a scene, he left me holding the dryer tipped back toward me while he went to his work van to retrieve a gas mask. Where was my gas mask? Gagging he retrieved the vermin from the hose vent and carried it outside.


Traumatized, I began running about cleaning, lighting candles, spraying Lysol, mopping the floor.  I threw the mop out, I cleaned with Clorox again, and then threw another mop out. Our new dryer had become tainted forever in my mind. I didn’t know if I could ever go back in that room again.


My new best friend from Green Home’s and I had a few laughs after it was all over. Having a sense of humor about such things always helps my disposition.  Never in a million years did I think my first test would be a rat plague. When it comes to removing vermin, I concur…it’s a man’s world and they can have it! 

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Joan and Margaret, Allies and Friends

Joan and Margaret, Allies and Friends

By: Jodi Cross

My Mother and Margaret met as pen pals during World War II some 60 years ago. What was assigned as a school project to improve either cursive writing or ones geography and history skills ended up becoming a lifelong friendship. In the 1940’s the USA was at war, fighting what was called the Axis of Power also known as the German, Italian and Japanese aggression. A grammar school in Rochester, New York decided to have their children pick pen pals in the United Kingdom and start a writing campaign. The pen pal movement was happening all over the United States as a way to support our Allies and create a bound with their young children. Who knew from the age of eight, they would still be corresponding into their 80’s?


Mom told me she would write to Margaret every month and tell her about her hobbies, send pictures and discuss food rations and other details going on in America during war time. When a letter came back from England the postman would make a special announcement upon delivery. “Airmail for Joan”, mom would get so excited to see the thin, white envelope with the special international symbol on the outside of the fragile treasured correspondence. Margaret would tell of black-outs, air raids by German planes and shelling’s that would seem to last for days. She told mom of her and her sister’s move to the country were most children had been sent in order to be safe.


Although the war ended the letter’s and the friendship continued. In fact, Mom would consider Margaret one of her oldest friends. When I was a teenager we went to visit London to specifically meet Margaret. When the two of them first met face to face for the first time it was like old friend coming together and talking about childhood memories and secrets shared. Margaret grew up to be a school teacher and never married, over the years they would send pictures of children and weddings and share special occasions like birthday’s and holiday’s by phone. I remember how excited Mom would get when she would hear the crackle on the line and the little British voice chirping “Joanie”.


I visited Margaret again about 20 years ago with my cousin Colleen and one more time about 10 year back with my girlfriend Debi. Each time I would snap a picture, take her out to dinner and fill her in on the past decade of happenings in my Mother’s life in the states. She was always delighted to see me and hear all the news.


About a year ago, Mom sent a letter and it came back labeled return to sender. Margaret has no family left so we never had any other point of contact. Recently, we tried to call her flat but there never seems to be an answer. Mysteriously, last Christmas a package arrived with a little silver engraved pill box but no note. We knew it was from Margaret! We suspect she may have had a stroke and is unable to write but we are not certain. The gesture of the gift meant the world to my Mother. I know my Mom thinks about her all the time. She longs for one more air mail envelope to arrive in her box to let her know what has happened to her old friend from across the pond. 


Our countries started out as allies against evil and oppression but the result was a deep and rewarding multi-cultural friendship that lasted a lifetime, withstood the distance of an ocean and defied all odds. What a testament to the power of friendship and the human spirit. 


 Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and writer and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.

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Summer’s Here, Get Packing!

Summer’s Here, Get Packing!

By: Jodi Cross

 

Chances are you are heading on a vacation this summer, even if it is just for a short getaway. They say there is two kinds of luggage, lost and carry on!

Nothing is worse than arriving at your destination without your luggage.  Packing can be overwhelming for many people; there are travel restrictions and weather.  A little preparation and organization can result in a perfect trip with all the right outfits.  I have a knack for packing; I can go on a 10-day trip with simple carry on luggage.



Here’s how to get started with your trip preparations:


  1. Start with a list and consider the climate and activities; I literally write down each day of the week and place an item of clothing on the calendar. Once you create the list go back and ruthlessly review it and try to cut it in half.
  2. Bring more tops than bottoms and focus on light, wrinkle free fabric like silk or polyester. Silk blouses in multi-colors can get you from day to night and tanks can keep you cool during the day.
  3. Organize your outfits with a color theme for example, black/red/white, or brown/cream/orange this way you can mix and match and you can limit the amount of shoes you need too!
  4. Pack comfortable shoes in neutral colors. I look for shoes that can compact down flat like sandals, thongs and compliment that with one pair of dressy shoes. I use newspaper delivery bags for shoes, it keeps dirt off your clothes.
  5. Bring one nice outfit, I have the perfect silk skirt or black dress that folds up without wrinkling, I could pair it with a pashmina and be ready to meet the Queen if need be.
  6. Maximize all space; I fill my shoes with socks or undergarments. This is especially helpful if you have to bring sneakers, as they can really be bulky.
  7. Roll all your clothes or double layer them and fold this will minimize wrinkles.
  8. Never travel with a blow dryer, iron or other items that can be inexpensively purchased or that the hotel normally provides, even in remote place such as Peru they have blow dryers.
  9. Find a comfortable travel outfit that can be re-worn and tie your sweater or jacket around your waist. The jacket can double as a pillow on the plane. Stores like Stein Mart and Travel Companion have mix and match wrinkle free outfits. Tuck a pashmina in your carry on to use as a blanket.
  10. Always bring a mini-medicine kit, just in case! Think emergency medications, as travelling can be rough on your body both inside and out. Stores like Target have mini-travel items.
  11. Never move locations with dirty clothes. I travel with a small bottle of detergent. You can even use hotel soap. An accompanying plastic bag is great to keep dirty items together.

If you apply these tips you can fit everything in one bag and look fabulous too.  Packing lite will save you a lot of backaches and headaches along the way. Have a great vacation, wherever you might go! 

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Graduation is a Right Of Passage, No Matter What Your Age

Graduation is a Right Of Passage, No Matter What Your Age

By: Jodi Cross

 

This year I had the pleasure of attending three graduations. One for each of my sister’s triplets in three different North East cities. I could feel the optimism of the graduates as they reveled in their accomplishment, the hope of a brighter future radiating on their faces. I remember my special day and all the promises of a lifetime before me that it held.


Graduations are a right of passage no matter what your age. There is something about your name being called, the walk across the stage in that cap and gown and the flipping of the tassel that signify completion. It means you are a finisher, you stuck with it, finished the job you started and all those late nights and missed family gatherings on weekends finally paid off.


This year’s graduates always have challenges; there the economy, paying off the school loans and actually securing a job. Although the speeches are very motivating, dream jobs are few and far between. When I graduated I was able to get a job in my field of study immediately. I started out in the hotel business as an entry level sales person making $17,500 a year. That was a long time ago but, I certainly didn’t think it was a lot of money or my dream job at the time. My focus at the time was getting a job in the field I studied in and getting some experience. That strategy served me well as I was able to move up steadily and make more money because I had a background that lent itself to giving me an advantage over the next person who didn’t have that experience. The other thing I had was a passion for travel which I was able to use in the hotel business.


So for all you graduates out there, here are my two cents on what Paved my way to success; 

P -Have passion in life and learn to love the journey not the destination. It is so easy to exist instead of live, think about what you are enthusiastic about and pursue that passion in your work and play.

 A-Strive to be the most authentic version of yourself that you can be.  Listen to that little voice inside of you that tells you when things are not feeling quite right, trust your GUT.

 V-Value your family and friendships. For without that support systems were would any of us be today?

 E- Education. Never stop learning even if it is through reading, traveling or schooling. They say the education of a person is never complete until they die. Here is to the class of 2014!


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Confessions of a Shopaholic


Confessions of a Shopaholic

By: Jodi Cross


During the month of April I started a shopping fast. My self-imposed abstinence meant no shoes, handbags, clothes or accessories would be purchased for one month.  The goal was to see if I could stop shopping and to see what it would feel like if I did. During that time I learned a great deal. There were several benefits; I had much more free time to read or organize things around the house and I saved money. I also became aware of the things that triggered my buying habits.


Fasting from shopping allowed me to see the real picture. Commercials about TJ Maxx and Macy’s one day sale made me anxious. Flyers from Stein Mart with coupons or the Nordstrom’s insider deals would compel me to stop by and see what I might be missing. The ladies from Fox’s would call on my phone and leave a message telling me they missed me and inviting me to see what the new summer shipment of designer clothes looked like. My inbox overflowed with deals from Blue Fly and Gilt Group. I felt like everyone was after me. There was no doubt I had done my part to stimulate the economy.


What was I doing to myself and why was I so addicted to shopping? My closet overflowed with possessions, things are up high and down low, shoes are doubled up in compartments and purses are in bins. On occasion, clothes resurface that I forgot I even had and they still have the tags on them. Shopping was a hobby for me, something that I would partake in nearly every weekend in one way or another. Clearly, something drastic needed to be done.


The deeper questions is how much stuff does a person need? Why do we continue to fill up our lives with things? My vice is shopping, many women use food or cosmetic surgery to feel good. Just like any addiction, it is difficult to break the pattern but once you step back you can see that there is more to life than filling yourself up with possessions or another piece of chocolate cake.  Trying to redirect your addiction to something more positive can help distract you long enough to change your pattern. In the end you have to ask yourself, what is the payoff? What am I really getting out of this? Until you unravel that mystery the addiction will be hard to give up. Right now, I am coming up to the end of one month and thinking I could possibly make two. Baby steps as they say…here’s to breaking a bad habit. 


Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com


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Celebrate Random Act’s of Kindness Day Today!

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Ghandi 

By: Jodi Cross

 

The month of February is notorious for Valentine’s Day and celebrating love. What better way to spread the love than by committing random acts of kindness. My husband knows I love celebrating every holiday. Even on Ground Hogs Day, I have been known to blurt out “Happy Ground Hogs Day, where’s my card,” as I hand him one. As I was preparing for this column, I stumbled upon the unofficial holiday called Random Acts of Kindness Day, known as RAK Day, and celebrated on February 17th.


No one knows for sure where RAK Day began but the roots can be traced back to New Zealand in 2005. The RAK Foundation promotes the mission to do something extra special for another person without expecting any payment in return. It makes sense that this little known holiday would be celebrated in February when our hearts are more open to love. The concept starts by practicing altruism. By taking the focus off ourselves, we start to think of other’s needs more readily.


Opportunities to carry out random acts of kindness are all around us. Start by observing neighbors, friends or total strangers as you go about your day.  Consider one small act that might brighten their day. Compliment a stranger, volunteer to babysit or mentor someone.  Random acts of kindness are something both the giver and the receiver will feel good about.


Remember the movie Pay It Forward staring Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment?  The premise of the movie was based on a homework assignment to change the world for the better. Osment devises a plan to set up a network of good deeds. Each person has to do a favor for someone and in turn that person is expected to do a favor for three other people. I loved that movie and the concept of performing random act of kindness for strangers.


If you believe in the philosophy of “what comes around goes around,” practicing altruism brings about positive energy and sets an example for others that the world is full of kindness and generosity.  Here is my challenge to you; make it your mission to surprise and delight someone this month with a random act of kindness; I would love to hear what creative gestures you come up with. Try to impact as many people as possible. You may be just one person but your gestures can impact many.  


Send me an email to jcross@crossnm.com and tell me your story.  


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Have a Bold New Year Face Your Deepest Fear

 

Have a Bold New Year, Face Your Deepest Fear

By: Jodi Cross

As we head into the New Year full of promise and opportunity, I came across a compelling quote from the late and esteemed Nelson Mandela that really started me thinking. The premise of the quote deals with facing our deepest fear, that we are powerful beyond measure.  The quote really inspired me and resonated for many I have shared it with; I hope it will cause you to take action as well.

 Our Deepest Fear

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Nelson Mandela


Many people feel the need to shrink so as not to stand out. I challenge you to share your true self and un-leash your potential this year. Make 2014 a year full of wonder and light, may you all be the brilliant, gorgeous and talented people you were meant to be. Let’s all try to face our deepest fear in a bold way this year to create new possibilities and unlimited potential. Live large and shine bright, Happy New Year!

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T’was The Night Before Christmas

T’was The Night Before Christmas

By: Jodi Cross

T‘was the night before Christmas last year and I was at my Niece Tammy’s house. Her two young son’s Jacob and Joshua were a buzz with delight in anticipation of Santa Clause. Jacob is 5 and Joshua 3, they were told that when my husband and I got there they could open one present. Needless to say, they were delighted to see us and they ran to the pile and pulled out a gift.


Suddenly, Jacob remembered that he had to feed the rain deer. We prepared some snacks including carrots that he found in the back of the refrigerator and put them in the back yard. Jacob and I talked about what he was expecting and if he was good this year and he proudly protested, “I’ve been really good”! I could just feel his excitement and imagination running wild. What a delight it was for me at that moment as I flashed back to the many childhood Christmas’s I had. Bikes mysteriously assembled under the tree on Christmas morning, stockings hung with care stuffed the to brim with goodies. Jacob’s energy was intoxicating. It reminded me that Christmas is all about maintaining that childhood feeling of wonder and pure joy. You remember don’t you? The kind you had before life got complicated and you grew up.


I must confess…I still get a stocking on Christmas morning when I am at my parents’ house. It isn’t one of those new fancy stockings it is an old red felt stocking with an angel and my name on it. All my siblings make fun of me but I think they are just jealous. Each year my mother protests and tries to send the stocking packing in my luggage to Florida but I manage to tuck it back into the Christmas box for another year. As I wake up on Christmas morning I recapture that childhood feeling of anticipation and know it will be waiting for me right by the fire place.

Happy Holiday’s and my all of you embrace your inner child this holiday season!

 

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Savvy Shopping for Holiday’s and Celebrations

 Savvy Shopping for Holiday’s and Celebrations

By: Jodi Cross

The average family spends over $800 on holiday purchases each year. Last year that added up to $579 billion in spending according to the National Retail Federation. We work hard all year but should we be spending such a big chunk of our earnings on holiday shopping? The majority of American’s use savings or earnings to pay for holiday shopping but nearly one-quarter of us use credit cards or go into debt.


With a little planning and organization you can take control of your spending, avoid going into debt and remove some of the stress from the holiday season. Start with a list include; family, friends, co-workers and hostess gifts.  Create a budget to keep expenses under control. Many families draw names, purchase only gifts for the children or set an agreed upon spending limit for each person.  In my family, we actually share specific gift ideas which helps to avoid returns and re-gifting.  


Here are some tips for “savvy” shopping this holiday season.


  • Shop all year. When you see something you like, buy in multiples. Chances are if you like it your friends will too. In some      cases, buying in multiples can result in an additional bulk discount.  One of the benefits of buying all year is      that you avoid huge credit card bills in January.  My credit cards barely register a blip in      December or January.
  • Set-up a gift closet. The key to buying all year is organization. I keep a gift closet in the guest bedroom, but any cupboard or shelve      space will do.  Twice a year, take      everything out, log all the items including quantities on a clipboard then      reassemble all the items back into the closet. By having a system, you can      easily find items and you won’t forget what you purchased. In addition, keep your annual shopping list of family and friends along with the items      you gave them for up to three years.  Nothing is more embarrassing than giving      someone the same gift two years in a row.
  • Restock in January. It may be little late this year to establish a gift closet but you can shop in January and get some awesome deals. Don’t buy junk just because it is on sale. Be discerning and only buy      something you would appreciate. Items like wrapping paper, bows, holiday decorations and cards are half price in January.
  • Shop the sales. Everyone loves Black Friday. Personally you won’t catch me out at 4 AM waiting for the doors to open at a big box store. For those who like the adrenaline rush, you can absolutely get some      good values. Some of the best discounts are on electronics, video games,  toys and clothing. Go armed with cost comparison research and a “hit list”  in order to avoid impulse buying. 
  • Surf on-line. Cyber Monday rivals Black Friday, plus you beat the lines and get to sleep in. The deals are just as good and retailers often offer free shipping. Keep an eye out for discount codes that yield an      additional percentage off at check out. If you are into experiences or travel, sign-up for Groupon, Living Social and Travel Zoo. Last year, I bought my husband a racing school gift certificate for half the retail      price.
  • Create a theme. This summer we vacationed in Praque and Budapest. The Czech Republic is known for beautiful crystal. I bought      multiple items in both countries that will make perfect European themed holiday gifts for      family and friends. One year my theme was Nostalgic Christmas. I bundled copies of the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” along with      boxes of popcorn and candy and gave those as holiday presents.
  • Craft personal gifts. Handmade presents can save you money if      you have the time. Thrift stores are a great source for supplies such as;      jars, baskets and antique jewelry. Baked items in nicely packaged tins      along with a recipe card make for sweet treats.  Create your items based on what supplies      you have on hand, your skill level and the time you can dedicate to the project.
  • Celebrate the children. The holidays are meant for kids. When buying children’s gifts make sure to get something age appropriate. Ask      for specific ideas to avoid buying the same toys they already have and attach a gift receipt for easy returns.

Keep in mind, the holidays are all about family and friends and enjoying the spirit of the season not about how much you spend on the gifts. Happy Holidays, wishing you good tidings and cheer!

Resources: National Retail Federation, Discover Financial Services, BIGinsight.com






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What Happened To Our Quiet Time?

What Happened to Our Quiet Time?

By: Jodi Cross

Computers, Smart Phones, PDA’s and tablets were all designed to make our life easier, and more entertaining, but frankly, sometimes a break from all the noise and instant access is quite refreshing. Henry David Thoreau once said, “He who enjoys true leisure has time to improve his soul’s estate.” Lately, my soul has been dragging a bit and sometimes I feel like I have been reduced to a “human doing”, instead of a human being.


Recently, I went on a trip and decided not to bring my “electronic gear”. When I got on the plane I felt liberated, like I didn’t actually have to do work. After arriving at my destination, my phone reception was so bad that it was in and out of service. Instead of being upset I was surprisingly ambivalent. One day, I actually went to a meeting and accidentally left my phone behind at the hotel. At first a feeling of being out of control came over me, what would I miss, what emergency would happen that I would not be aware of? The day ended up being quite relaxing and the world seemed to continue on without my input 24/7.


That evening I went for a walk, without a music device in my ear. On my walk birds were chirping , a hedgehog was rustling in the bush and flowers were growing wild by the road. All the sounds of nature had become muffled by the blaring, beeping and pinging in my head and suddenly they came alive again.


Think about the last time you had quiet time, where you were just still, sat and pondered. The devices that were designed to make us more connected and efficient have become intrusions, robbing us of small peaceful joys like sitting on the porch swing, listening to the leaves rustle, or  taking a walk in nature.  


Today life has us connected instantaneously, but ask yourself, is all this connectivity robbing your soul?

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