Buffalo: I Bid You Adieu

I was born during the Blizzard of ’77. I quickly found out what it meant to be “from Buffalo”.

I have lived in Buffalo for 33 of my 36 years. The other years I lived in DC- which I loved- but can remember sitting in Cole’s with my college friends at Christmas being told that if I came home from DC that didn’t mean I was a failure. Little did I know it would the best decision I could have made for my life at that moment.

I truly believe Buffalo is hipper, more fun, stronger, more alive and growing more than it ever has in my entire life and yes, I am still choosing to leave.

I’m sure I will one day find myself in some bar in downtown Tampa, Florida as part of the Buffalo Backers watching a Sabres game, eating crappy wings and talking about which areas of the city we love the most. I will always love this region for the gifts it has given me and my family, and the people that make it up.

Many people said to me upon hearing about my departure, “It’s such a loss for our city and our region. You and Joe are assets to our community.” I understand that statement. Based on what we have accomplished and where we worked and volunteered our efforts, I get that- but I see so much more.

There are so many people in WNY doing bigger/better/cooler/more impactful/life changing work than Joe and I have done. Yes, we have worked hard. Yes, we volunteered our time. Yet I also know MANY young people doing just the same. So while there may be a “loss” with our departure, I challenge others to rise to the occasion and help fill the slight void left by our departure. I know you can do it.

I ask one big favor. When the Business First ranking of Most Powerful People in WNY comes out this year I’m relying on someone else counting the women and telling me all about it. What will the ratio of women to men be this year? 

So here’s to Canalside, Duff’s Wings, my beloved Wegmans, Mighty Taco, Elmwood Avenue, my fellow fundraising professionals, sunsets on the waterfront, Lloyd Taco Truck and the amazing summers. But most of all I will miss the people. The good ones and the ones who have taught me lessons. I’ll miss walking into Starbucks on Elmwood and seeing smiling friends. Thank you to everyone that helped me grow as a professional and a person. Thank you to friends, family and everyone in between. I will miss the people most because frankly, the people make this an awesome place- the new waterfront is just a bonus.

I’m heading to the sun. Planning on building my own business and settling my family. You can follow all of my escapades on this blog.

Until my next visit Buffalo. I’ll miss you and your beautiful people, but I sure won’t miss your snow.

Houses vs. Homes

3 nights. I am sleeping in this house for 3 more nights until the movers start packing and loading for 3 days of chaos while I supervise and live in a hotel for over a week.

Switching into parental mode in my attempt to keep the dialogue open and honest about moving, yet accepting of emotions, I asked Logan at breakfast “What are the things you will miss most about this house?”

Of course his replies are like a 6 year old who will one day be an engineer “That corner of the basement where I had my toys.” “The fan that is in my room that I got for my 6th birthday.” “The corner in the family room where I always got to put my toys.”

Physical places. Structural things.

Mine?

Logan learned to walk in this house- across the family and kitchen floors- in our “gated community”.

The time our Christmas tree fell over right onto my brother in the middle of our Christmas party. We all pitched in, salvaged ornaments, vacuumed, bungee corded the tree back up all while laughing our asses off.

Our awesome deck where we sat on many a summer nights.

Our dining room that held many holidays and dinners were laughs, secrets and conversations were held.

The lines on the wall where we have marked Logan’s growth over the years. Sorry new owners, you can paint over them.

My office. My heavenly tropical office that is foreshadowing for my new life.

The squeak of the boards on the stairs that we never fixed so we could tell if Logan was sneaking down them or not.

My fireplace that kept us warm during many a snowstorm.

The most treasured parts are memories. I can take those with me. Just like when I lived in all those other homes and apartments where my life took place. The memories come with me, the structures just made them happen.

I can let go of physical structures because the BEST part is the memories that took place IN them. We made a house into a home- and we will do that again in Wesley Chapel , FL.

 

The “American Dream”

Owning a home. That means you have ‘made’ it in America, right? You have achieved the American dream.

As I clean out a home that we have “owned” for 6 years now it gets you thinking. We are renting in Florida. (A cut throat, no holds barred, stake your claim FAST process) A beautiful, freshly built home that is giving me a killer kitchen, really nice community, excellent schools and the ever dreamy TWO SINKS in the master bathroom! Wait, I will have a master bathroom. No more blue blobs of kids toothpaste all over my counter. Word to big bird.

But here’s the thing. I don’t think owning a home is a dream. Actually, I hated owning a home. Now, don’t get me wrong I don’t think I could handle an apartment complex where I have to put up with hearing my upstairs neighbor walk in high heels at 11:00 pm. But frankly, we never felt like we were ahead owning our home. There’s always something to fix. There’s always something going wrong. And we were always paying for it. On top of the lovely taxes on top of the 30 year mortgage on top of the bathroom I never got to make the way I wanted it because we fixed the fence/furnace/roof. Fence’s aren’t sexy, people, granite in the bathroom is.

Don’t get me wrong I have loved this home for the memories it holds, parties thrown, babies learning to walk, warmth that it gives us but in reality that will happen regardless of whether or not we own or rent.

Our thought process has been fueled by one of our favorites, James Altucher. He feels the same way we do and is a tad bit more articulate in his post but he writes:

It’s such a great business, in fact, that banks have spent 200 years drilling it into us with billions in advertising that the “American Dream” is to own the white picket fence, the paved driveway, maybe borrow more to make an extension to the house. Put in a swimming pool. Tear down some walls. Nobody can ever kick you out. You’re not flushing your rent down the toilet. You’re owning! You’re keeping up with the Joneses (the most successful, yet mysterious, family in American mythology, that we all have to keep up with. What happens behind closed doors when the beatings occur, when little Bobby Jones cries himself to sleep, the Joneses will never tell us) At least, in 30 years you will own. But at least you’ve fixed in a mortgage rate so inflation won’t kill you. And having your own home means you now have “roots”.

Even Logan said the other day “Well, this is just our rented house. Someday we will get our ‘real’ house.” So I quickly talked about how home is are where we are and that we fill it with things, but being together is home. How about the people that “own” their homes but can’t afford the furniture to put in it? Or the billions of Americans that are still paying for college but that’s “good” debt or so we are told. Debt that is suffocating people I know. Hell, I’m still paying for Canisius College.

This moving process has taught us that we don’t need so much stuff and that streamlining our belongings is critical to sanity. I have thrown out/recycled/sold/given away more things in the past 6 months than I ever have in my life and it feels so freeing- and also eye opening to the fact that we had a LOT of stuff.

Yes at the end of 30 years I won’t have a giant asset to sell and get a big check, but I plan on having a bank account where I saved the money I would have spent on that roof/fence/furnace. And eventually I will have a view of the ocean or Gulf of Mexico,  but we are taking life one step at a time. In a year’s time, I’ll let you know if I feel differently.

In the meantime, I’m off to scratch one more task off my  to-do list. One more week until the movers take over my house.

Chasing dreams and sunshine.

My Sphere of Inspiration

I am inspired by people everyday. Some days we can see more clearly all of the people who have touched our lives helping us get to where we are today. Today I had a moment in a room where I could see many of them all at once and I was blown away. Some I see in person, some I don’t. Some I see on social media, some I don’t. But all of them have left a mark.

One woman was my “first day of work at Cassidy & Associates” buddy. That was 13 years ago.

One women made two pans of brownies for my 16th birthday because that made me 8 corner brownies, which are my favorite part, rather than the standard 4.

One woman calls me usually at 8:05 am as she’s driving to work to just “chat”.

One woman made me go to the farmers market the first morning after Joe left for Florida because she knew I shouldn’t be at home alone.

One woman gave me my first fundraising job and now lives half way around the world but still sends me cards.

One woman was the most amazing boss I have ever had and I still try to emulate her. She still calls me every year on the day of her big event. Sometimes we run through her speech. Sometimes she doesn’t even talk to me. But she calls.

One woman taught me the beauty of tequila in cosmos and that the walls in Left Bank keep great secrets.

One woman has worked with me at two jobs now and Logan now calls her an Aunt.

One woman allowed me to help her get ready on her wedding day- and no one else. Treasured time.

One woman screams with me at concerts like a teenager and never tells a soul.

Several women I have never met but “know” through Twitter and I feel like I know them. And they inspire me.

One woman has taught me more about my health through Skype and emails from 3,000 miles away and her tenacity to get through what life throws at her is unparalleled.

One woman was a bestie in college and is inspiring my next possible career move. She’s helping me believe in what’s possible for me and my family.

One woman tapped me for a volunteer leadership role before anyone else believed I was ready. She saw what I didn’t.

One woman wears Chanel while I wear Target – and I tell her so.

Some have battled cancer. Some have battled depression. Some are single Moms. Some aren’t Moms at all. Some have 4 kids, some have 1. Some are 50, some are 25. Some have curly hair, some have straight. ;-)

Many more have wiped my tears, made me laugh, hold my secrets, give me career/marriage/life/diet/parenting/cooking/management/business/clothing advice.

Others have been my mentor or my “mentee”. Some  have worked with me or “for” me.

Many of these amazing women I have met through my career- either paid jobs or volunteering. Most of which are in WNY. Yet, the list goes on and on. I could never list them all.

I consider all of them family.  I will always believe in the power of women, especially all of the women that have touched my life. I am grateful to my sphere of inspiration but I believe we are all just getting started.

When you think about it, you never truly know who you are influencing each and every day and how cool is that?

What impact can we all make if we are more present in our day to day lives?