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You Can Learn A Lot From Losing – The Voice Edition

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Chase your dreams.

You can do anything you  set your mind to.

You can grow up to be anything you want to be.

Feel free to add your own to the list of clichés we have to encourage people to dream big and follow their dreams. Because we have a lot. We are an optimistic people, us Americans. In the face ironclad statistical proof that no, you probably won’t achieve your dreams, we keep throwing ourselves into the fray, convinced that this one time, this one chance, is going to be THE ONE.

And that is what makes us amazing.

Let’s break it down. If your big dream is to be President of the United States of America, I can save you a lot of time, money and heartache and tell you no, you aren’t going to do that. If everyone whose dream it was to be President got to be President, we would have a couple hundred thousands of Presidents a year, and that’s just not practical.

But what I’ve found this past weekend is that it’s not actually ACHIEVING your dreams that matters (well, it probably matters to those that actually get there, but for the rest of us schleps…) it’s what you learn on the journey, and what you do in the face of realizing that your dream might never happen.

I decided to make auditioning for The Voice part of my AMPFUSHAH for 2013. I chose New York City as my audition city because it’s only a 6 hour drive from Pittsburgh, and I wanted to be able to take my nephew Alex with me. He is 15 and has wanted to audition for as long as the show has been around. I asked my 17 year old son, Kyle, to come, too. So I signed up to take two teenage boys on a 6 hour car ride, to go stay in a hotel room the size of a postage stamp, in the biggest, most bad ass city in the US. On purpose.

New York City, here we come!

New York City, here we come!

The car ride was actually a blast. We listened to music, sang, and talked audition strategy the whole way there. And took pictures of funny things we saw along the way. Such as:

Hee Hee. Shart.

Hee Hee. Shart.

Kyle has never been to New York City, so I get to see in person, sitting right next to him, the look of awe and amazement that spread across his face as we rounded the bend from Newark and the NYC skyline spread across the horizon. That moment will never happen again, and I was there for it. That means something.

We get to the hotel and decide to do some poking around the city. It was in the low 20s, but if you thought that meant that Kyle and Alex would have coats on, you would be wrong. Apparently teenage boys think they are impervious to the cold, except once they are IN the cold, then they realize they are wrong, but they will never admit it. Oh no. They will act like they are just fine, thanks.

Not cold at all...teeth not chattering... totally cool....

Not cold at all…teeth not chattering… totally cool….

We hit 5th Avenue and did some shopping, then darted down to the West Village so mama could shop (It was also the first time I have ever seen the Stonewall Tavern in real life. I didn’t know I was going to walk past it, so when I saw it, it was like accidentally happening across Martin Luther King in person. I was profoundly moved), then we headed to Times Square.

Yes. Times Square. On a Saturday night. It was mayhem. The boys wanted to eat, and of course since we were in the middle of the culinary epicenter of the world, they wanted to go to Applebee’s.  Thanks to the two hour wait, I was able to talk them into going somewhere outside of Times Square, but not too far out, because I didn’t want them to get hypothermia.

We ended up at a Thai place on 7th, where we had a feast of tasty food, I had wine, and they had Coke with no free refills.  We also had a ton of fun.

I really don't know where Kyle gets this from.

I really don’t know where Kyle gets this from.

Of course they drove me nuts. They thought they should be able to run around NYC, alone, in the dark, on a Saturday night. Because they aren’t KIDS, god mom! You are so MEAN! I bet other parents let their kids loose on a strange city they don’t know, with no coats on, in 20 degree weather.

I am such a meanie.

I drag them back to the hotel, where they met some pretty girls that were also auditioning the next day. I did let them hang out in the lobby with said girls, so I am not a total bitch.

The next morning came way too fast. My alarm went off at 5:45. Time to get up and go dream chasing. Me, Alex, and about 5,000 other people.

My friend Jess also auditioned. She didn't make it either. Which is pretty much horse shit. She is an amazing singer.

My friend Jess also auditioned. She didn’t make it either. Which is pretty much horse shit. She is an amazing singer.

I would estimate there were 5,000 people there, and that’s just for our Sunday, 7:00 am wave. If I had to guess, 20,000 people auditioned in NYC that weekend. That’s once city, one weekend. I am not too good at math, but if you add all of the cities and all of the days together, I bet they get close to 4 billion people auditioning.

I will save the nitty gritty of the audition for now. After this post I am going to do a tips post for anyone that is thinking about auditioning for The Voice (tip number one: don’t bring two teenage boys with you).

6 hours after we got there, it was our turn. Me, Alex, and 8 other hopefuls filed into a room with a producer. When it was my turn, I belted my heart out. I just laid it out there, and when I was done, I was happy with how I sounded. It was either what they were looking for or it wasn’t. I wasn’t even nervous. I felt the world was in balance and whatever happened next, I would be just fine.

Alex went after me, and I was so proud I almost exploded. He sounded the best I have ever heard him. He looked confident and mature. Not bad for a 15 year old who has never done anything even close to this before in his life.

We didn’t make it through. No one in our group did. And Alex and I both had to pee so bad, we almost didn’t care. We both literally ran to a bathroom. Then we met back up with Kyle and they both looked at me and I realized that this is what the whole trip had been about. I stupidly thought it was about me chasing my dream, but I was wrong. This was about me teaching them how to deal with crushing disappointment. About picking yourself up and brushing yourself off. About not letting failure define you. Man, I suck at this shit. Here goes.

ME – “Okay. So, we both did our best. Alex, I could die I was so proud of you in there. We did what a lot of people don’t ever do. And we aren’t alone in not making it through. We can’t take it personally, we can only say we did what we came here to do; try.”

ALEX – “I think we learned a lot. It will help us the next time. We are doing this again, right Aunt Bethany?”

Wait. What just happened here? Did Alex just teach ME something? This dream chasing isn’t over. Not by a long shot. Optimism in the face of crushing disappointment; it’s the American way. And I was all on board.

ME – “You bet your sweet ass we are.”

We got back in the car and headed home. It was a much quieter ride back. And I only took one picture.

So peaceful. So innocent. So... quiet!

So peaceful. So innocent. So… quiet!

The act of chasing your dreams is never just about you. It was Kyle’s first trip to NYC, and he loved it. He was smitten by The Big Apple’s charms. He already knows he wants to be a chef, and now I think he knows where. This wasn’t the end of my dream, not by a long shot, but it might be the beginning of his.

Yours in reflection,

Bethany

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I Ain’t Scared of no Sauce Pan

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I am not much of a cooker. I never cook. I think we’ve talked about this. And basically every time I cook I write a blog post about it so here goes.

I COOKED DINNER! AND IT WAS GOOD. WOOOOOO.

Some back story. I went vegetarian last November. I actually TRIED to go vegan but cheese.

I just can’t quit you.

I have gone vegetarian before, the last time was when I was pregnant with Jones. And it pissed Casey off to no end because, in his words, he doesn’t have any ‘go to’ vegetarian dinners. After three months of culinary mutiny, I caved and went back to eating meat. And it just didn’t appeal to me at all.

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AMPFUSHAH – Auditioning for the Voice – Friday HAPPY HOUR

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thevoice

As you may or may not know, I like to do this little thing called sing. I went to school for musical theater, spent many years as the lead singer for a band, and now drink too much and attempt Total Eclipse of the Heart on karaoke with alarming regularity.

Me and my old band, Area 51, at a Halloween show at The Mousetrap. I am the one dressed as Cat Woman.

Me and my old band, Area 51, at a Halloween show at The Mousetrap. I am the one dressed as Cat Woman.

I never wanted fame. I never wanted fortune. I never wanted groupies. I just wanted to do what I love – perform. Not even singing. Performing. Great singers are a dime a dozen, as so many reality TV shows have shown us. What is missing from most of them is that certain spark. That shiny, sparkly something that makes you interested. And you can’t fake that, and it can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t.

And I’m not sure if I do or not, but by gosh golly am I going to march my ass to New York City and find out.

Sunday, February 17th at 7:00 am, my ass will be at the Javits Convention Center, ready to give it all I got.

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Yes, I’m Doing a Juice Cleanse. Now Can We Stop Talking About it?

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Just kidding! Let’s totally talk about it!

images

I’ve been doing a juice cleanse for the past 4 full days, and they way people are carrying on you would think that I’ve decided to switch to a dead bug diet. People’s reactions range from everything to ‘Why in the world would you do THAT?’ to ‘I would rather eat poop’ to ‘Can I borrow $20?’

I don’t know why anyone is shocked by this. I have been slowly morphing into a homemade granola making, organic-only shopping, non meat eating hippy. Ever since I decided to embrace natural child birth and buy an electric car, my path has been clear. And soon or later, ya, it was going to end in a juice cleanse.

And here we are.

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How to Make a Loyal Customer for Life. For Realsies.

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Me and my car, Usain Volt, in happier days.

Me and my car, Usain Volt, in happier days.

Providing excellent customer service is not easy. Companies are big and fractured, service reps are often overworked and dealing with angry customers all day, consumers can be exceedingly hard to please (especially in the age of social media), so ya, having it all come together can be tough.

But when you can get it together, when it all gels, you have created not just a loyal customer, but one who will take to her blog to sing the praises of two particular companies – Chevrolet Volt and Rohrich Chevrolet in Pittsburgh.

Let me break it down.

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AMPFUSHAH. I’m Making it a Thing

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Reflecting on 2012, I have so much to be grateful for.

My children, who I love more than anything and who make me so happy and proud to be their mom. Usually. Sometimes I want to pretend they’re not mine.

boysxmas

Jones and Kyle, playing Jones’ favorite new game, I kick you in you face.

Casey. I found someone who loves me for exactly who I am, yet has managed to make me a better person. By not trying to change me, he’s changed me. And almost always for good.

ROB_5172

My health. As some people very dear to me struggle with their own health challenges, I am overwhelming lucky to be in the shape I am today. Especially when you look at the years of abuse I have heaped upon myself.

My job. In today’s tumultuous economy, I am beyond grateful to have my job, doing something I absolutely love, with a pretty amazing group of people.

Some amazing coworkers, who also happen to fall into the friend category.

Some amazing coworkers, who also happen to fall into the friend category.

My family. Yes, most of them are insane, but they are MY crazy family and I love them.

Casey’s family. Yes, most of them are insane, but see above.

My friends. I am so happy to have some of the strongest, beautiful, kindest women in the world as my friends. Every day I am reminded of their compassion, their humor, their support and their faith in my crazy ass. I love them, and they know who they are (yes, even you!).

This is just a sampling of my wonderful friends. If I had to put pictures of all of them, this post would be very, very, very long.

This is just a sampling of my wonderful friends. If I had to put pictures of all of them, this post would be very, very, very long.

And 2012 had some lifetime memory moments.

My first half marathon.

My first Tough Mudder.

This could also be filed under my great friends and Casey's great family grateful lists.

This could also be filed under my great friends and Casey’s great family grateful lists.

My second half marathon.

This could also be filed under friends, because I wouldn't have completed it without my friend, Megan. Also my amazing family, as my mom, Casey and Jones all cheered me on.

This could also be filed under friends, because I wouldn’t have completed it without my friend, Megan. Also my amazing family, as my mom, Casey and Jones all cheered me on.

My first duathlon.

Cross reference this with friends and job, as Liz is a dear friend who I happen to work with.

Cross reference this with friends and job, as Liz is a dear friend who I happen to work with.

My first Warrior Dash.

I ain't scurred of dirt.

I ain’t scurred of dirt.

Our family trip to Aruba.

I got an iPhone.

You can take lots of cool pictures of yourself with a front facing camera! You're welcome, Facebook friends!

You can take lots of cool pictures of yourself with a front facing camera! You’re welcome, Facebook friends!

So ya, 2012 was pretty bad ass. How, may you ask, is 2013 going to top this? I will tell you. I have a plan. A Master Plan for Ultimate Success, Health and Happiness in 2013, or AMPFUSHAH for short. And what’s in your AMPFUSHAH, Bethany? You know, I really like you guys. You ask good questions.

I can’t tell you. That’s right; it’s a secret. I am not yet ready to unveil my AMPFUSHAH. I can share with you some essential elements:

If I achieve full on AMPFUSHAHication, the end of 2013 will be completely different than the end of this year. COMPLETLEY. (For those of you thinking gender reassignment surgery, you’re wrong. Clever, but wrong)

I am not wasting a single day of 2013. Not a one. I have something to do every day to achieve AMPFUSHAH nirvana. Because that’s what it takes to achieve a goal – a daily dedication to the cause. And my cause is worth it.

It includes my whole family, not just me. This isn’t just MY AMPFUSHAH (well, parts of it are), it’s where we all want to be when we’re looking to ring in 2014.

What I can do is share with you goals as they are achieved. Not my every day goals, because let’s face it, that would be boring. But the bigger ones. Medium and above. Maybe some of the pieces will start to paint a picture of the whole, and maybe I’ll have a prize if someone can figure out AMPFUSHAH before November (at which point it should be either glaringly obvious, or I will have given up and pretended that my AMPFUSHAH was nothing more than the desire to have a really different hair cut).

So bring it, 2013. BRING IT WITH ALL YOU GOT, cause I have a list, AMPFUSHAH, determination, and a history of getting what I want. This is going to be fun.

Yours in Getting it Done,

Bethany

MOAR ZERMBIES! – In Which I Finally Discover The Walking Dead

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Have you ever heard a story that for some strange reason stuck in your head? Some random factoid that fell upon your ears and stayed lodged in your brain forever? Like this story about country singer Faith Hill:

Faith Hill remade Take Another Piece of My Heart by Janis Joplin (which is actually, to me, an executable offense, but that’s a different post). She was asked in an interview if she had ever heard the song prior to recording it. She had not, she said, and that was by design because she did want Janis Joplin’s version to influence her ‘take’ on the song.

Just the act of typing out that paragraph and linking to that video made me want to puncture my ears. I don’t hate Faith Hill. Cry is a great song. But you don’t remake a Janis song. Just… no. Don’t. Anyway…

My point is, I never knew why I kept that fact in my brain, but now I’m glad I did, because I have a Faith Hill story. As you know, I made a series of Energy Zombie videos for work. I didn’t do this alone. I had my zombie expert friend Trish by my side. Seriously, she knows EVERYTHING about zombies. It’s off-putting.

I had never seen a zombie movie. Ever. Not Evil Dead, not Dawn of the Dead, not Shaun of the Dead, not Zombieland, NOTHING. And I certainly had never watched The Walking Dead. For one very good reason.

I am a giant wussball.

That’s right. Me. I can’t watch anything remotely scary/gory/mildly suspenseful without getting piss my pants, don’t sleep for a week scared. When Casey and I were dating he wanted to watch Paranormal Activity with me, and I said OK because I wanted him to think that I was a woman who laughed in the face of possible demon possession.

I slept on my couch for two months because the door to my attic was right outside my bedroom.

So when I went to make our Energy Zombie videos, I was a true and literal zombie virgin. I just went with my gut and let Trish be my guide. She taught me about shambling, infection, brains.. all the strange and creepy things zombie lovers know by heart. And between the two of us, I think we did a pretty darn good job.

We wanted to time our Energy Zombie campaign to coincide with the premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead, which I had heard of but never watched because of the whole pee my pants thing. Zero desire. Negative want. Would rather eat toenails. Not happening.

Until last night. Most of my best/worst idea stories start out with wine, and this is no different. One of my absolute besties, Molly, is staying with us this week. We were sitting around trying to figure out what we wanted to watch since The Voice isn’t on 24/7, an oversight I am hoping NBC corrects in the near future.

Casey mentioned he would like to start watching either A.) The Walking Dead or B.) Pretty Little Liars. I was all like, let me ask Twitter, and Twitter was all The Walking Dead, and I was all, I’ve had three glasses of wine so let’s cue up season one, episode one, The Walking Dead.

And then in like the first minute Deputy Grimes blew the brains out of a little girl zombie, so I upgraded to vodka.

YOU GUYS, I freaking LOVE THIS SHOW. Sweet Jesus eating lunch at a Cracker Barrel – it’s frigging AMAZING.

Was I scared? Hell yes, I was scared. Did I piss my pants? No. Did I slightly overdo it on the vodka, rendering the last 15 minutes of episode three a little fuzzy? Yes. Yes I did. Am I going to keep watching it? You bet your sweet non-walker ass I am. Casey might never be able to travel overnight ever again, and you might want to buy stock in Smirnoff, but yes, I will keep watching.

I am glad I didn’t watch it before I made MY zombie videos though. I think my zombies are kinder, gentler, funnier, and quite frankly, way nicer than the Walking Dead zombies. I will leave you with episode two of our Energy Zombies – Rise and Shine. Enjoy, and check back next week to see what those zany Shambles do next!

Yours in buying a night light,

Bethany