Bob Burns Named The Most Interesting 80-Year-Old Man in the World Today!

My Dad, Bob Burns, is 80 years old today! This is a big birthday and one that deserves a blog from his favorite,  youngest daughter.

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As a treat, I thought I would give my Dad a soapbox to discuss the increasing social, political turmoil that continues to escalate in our country.  Just kidding! (Dad,  Fox News responded to my request, when you turn 90 you are invited to anchor your own show. You’re welcome.)

It’s a great day and a weekend of festivities are planned to celebrate this most interesting man in the world. I give to you the many reasons you should wish Bob the happiest of days, years and a life that continues to be anything but ordinary.

Oldest of 6 (5 sisters)/ Husband (one and done for 54 years and counting!) / Dad (of 5) / Maker of Bad Curly Hair

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Salesman / Performer/ Political Junkie / Singer / Margarita Master / Creator / Leader

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Teacher / Stone Mason /  Model Train Owner / Not the Scottish Poet (but a poet in his own mind) / Art fanatic / Zucchini Bread Maker / Pop Pop (of 12)

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Business Man / Chef/ Gardner / Farmer / Bartender / Singer / #1 Fox News Fan / Camper /Fisherman / Catholic / Forrest Fire Starter / Telemarketers Worst Nightmare / Local Vendor Most Loyal Customer / Fast Food Snob / Driver (questionable)

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Supporter /Most Non-athletic-Sports Fan (if you are a blood relative)/ Air Force Academy Advocate / Kitchen Lighting Maniac / Dickens Village Designer / Everything Christmas

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This photo was taken, Christmas 2002. I was pregnant with Robbie, my oldest son. (Goldstar for passing along the namesake, but I digress).  This is my Dad’s favorite holiday and he makes it so incredibly special, he should charge admission!  This is just one of the many moments that makes this guy far from ordinary.

Watching and learning that anything is possible, pulling yourself up by your boot straps, celebrating the little to big achievements and having a network of family and close friends is the true gift of life. Happy birthday, Dad!

 

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Time to Hit the OFF Button

It all started during the snow storm in January. I came to the realization the townhouse was not the right home for the kids and me. It was too small for how we live, there was no place for them to play and not having a designated office was starting to wear thin. More eloquently put…

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I pride myself on not whining but taking action.

THE SALE: house listed March 15, five showings, offer received, offer accepted, settlement date scheduled for May 6. Done.

I started packing and felt giddy – this was going to be easy and SO great!!

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THE PURCHASE: targeted a great neighborhood, offer submitted, offer declined, checked out long-shot foreclosure, fell in love, offer submitted, offer accepted, settlement date scheduled April 27. Done. (Huge thanks to Kevin Brown for making that happen! )

Around mid-April, the wheels started to come loose.  The tightness in my throat would not subside and every cell in my body was tingling (and not in a good way). The packing intensified, work was piling up, taxes were due and I never felt more alone in my life.

Moving day = one tire blow out. It was a Friday, it was raining, I had back-to-back conference calls (Skype is fun with this all in the background), and things were not as orderly as they should have been.  Did you expect anything different from Pig Pen? My Dad was there as he has always been for me. This could have easily been the same scenario just 40+ years later. (Me crying, not Bob Burns shirtless.)

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The three amigo movers forget TVs, patio furniture, basketball hoop, track mud and leaves in the new house, took a marijuana break and lost the pegs that hold my coveted kitchen table together. Slight twitch developed.

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The next week is filled with running back and forth to clean out the townhouse. A HUGE thanks to my friends, Ed and Michele, who arrived with a trailer and pitched in to get the big pieces delivered!  Each trip back to the place, I swore someone was putting items back after I cleaned out closets and various spaces. Tightness in throat, chest, stomach and working its way into my limbs. Googled signs and probability of a heart attack.

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Settlement day for new house = second tire blowout. Getting a cashier’s check for a large amount of money might be thrilling for some, I just tried to not be physically sick. Anticlimactic leaving with my keys and drove up to my new home. Walking in alone to a big, empty house the reality washed over me. This was going to be a lot of work and I didn’t know where to begin.

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Settlement day for townhouse = third tire blowout. How hard is it for banks to send over paperwork? What would happen if I told my boss, customers or partners that I could not send an email with existing paperwork for at least 72 hours?  When asked on the third day, still nothing, five more unproductive phone calls and after begging and pleading, received paperwork halfway through settlement. Check in hand, no more dealing with a finicky buyer, but operating on one last cylinder. Deep breaths.

Days to follow until May 19 = fourth tire blow out.  The boxes and furniture stayed piled up, the outside looking like something worse than jungle book, Verizon on strike so stand in’ takes seven hours to set up phone and Internet, week-long business trip and the rainiest spring in history. When I couldn’t locate the can opener upon my return late Sunday evening, I officially broke down.

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It was time to take control, again. Took Friday off and spent all day organizing, cleaning and achieved goal of being able to pull in the garage. With three monkeys cheering in the car, feeling accomplished and proud to share this moment, I pulled the car into the garage and we are greeted by a strange, loud hissing sound.

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Opened the car door to a crazy smell, I see the crushed can of OFF bug spray. Thankful it was not what I feared and the blog hit me. Chill the f^&* out and turn OFF the stress, impatience, fear, nervousness and focus on what matters.

I am far from finished but have vowed to enjoy the process and every step of the way. It’s called life and you get one shot at it. Plus, this is my new back yard which includes a pond and local farm. Thankful – this is home!

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When you’re finished changing, you’re finished. -Benjamin Franklin

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Forgo Fondue and Dip into Divorce to Make Your Valentine’s Day Super Special!

Who can provide a great lesson on love? Ask a divorced person.

The average day can be torturous so ‘Hallmark Holidays’, like Valentine’s Day, help us appreciate the simple things. But love ain’t so simple – and life just complicates it.

I recently read an article about a man who hired a hit man to ‘take out’ his wife. Wow, things must have been really bad. That guy is now in jail since she ‘dodged the bullet’, found out the plan, showed up at her own funeral and now that guy is reflecting in jail on how to hire a more competent hit man and love better the next time.

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Weekday mornings are hell and certainly not a scene for romance. The kitchen is the center of the cyclone for about two hours. This is true for every household with kids in school. DM me with your secret if it’s not a total cluster cuss.

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Running around, waking up kids, checking email, packing lunches, serving up breakfast, signing test, holding three conversations at once, quizzing on spelling words and math facts, all while trying not to stress about the logistics of practices, dentist appointments, grades and every other aspect of life.

The other morning, Pandora Rascal Flatts radio sets the soundtrack for my own version of a Lifetime movie. Trace Adkin’s song, You’re Going to Miss This, came over the speakers and reminded me slapping together thousands of PB&Js, yelling to brush teeth, repeating my rule, “no you can’t wear shorts in winter”, cleaning up messes, hearing about their friends, sports, 100 day of school activities, etc and watching their little faces grow up right in front of me is going to be the sweetest of memories.

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I started to cry faster than when I flip on Terms of Endearment or Steel Magnolias. I tried to hold it together but sometimes it’s overwhelming how much love you feel while wanting to strangle them all at the same time.

Isn’t that true for almost every relationship? Even my cats can push me to the brink sometimes. How hard is it to poop IN the litter box?

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There is a flood of research and content out there, but I came across one book that resonated with me. The research from Terri Orbuch, a psychologist, research professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and author of the book, “Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship”, shows most divorced people identify the same top five regrets—behaviors they believe contributed to their marriage’s demise and that they resolve to change next time.

“Divorced individuals who step back and say, ‘This is what I’ve done wrong and this is what I will change,’ have something powerful to teach others,” stated Orbuch. I think its transferable to every relationship.

Orbuch calls it “affective affirmation,” or simply, boosting the mood of those around you. This includes compliments, cuddling and kissing, hand-holding, saying “I love you,” and emotional support.  Sounds easy and should be the way we interact with everyone from a spouse, partner, kids, family, work associates and every other interaction. It’s more than a smile and good manners though, here are the five steps to follow:

  • Show love often
  • Make others feel good about the kind of person they are
  • Make others feel good about having their own ideas and ways of doing things
  • Appreciate how each person make’s life interesting or exciting
  • Do something to demonstrate that individuals are noticed and appreciated every single day.

Cheesy? Not to me. I want to give and receive this from family, friends and the love of my life.  I certainly know I need it and it will last longer than a box of chocolates. Cheers to love and seeing the Forest between the trees!

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Check Me Out! It’s My Birthday and I’m Awesome!

It’s my birthday!

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and this is what 44 looks like.

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Basically, my days revolve around looking fabulous, shopping all day with unlimited funds and sitting around naked and waiting for my billionaire, sugar daddy to get home.

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This dream was cut short after waking up at 5am – because I officially can not mix wine and birthday cake (or any dessert). As I laid in bed at the crack of dawn, this blog practically wrote itself.

The Pig Pen silence was not planned and I had several blogs drafted over the past few months, but nothing felt right to publish. Who really gives a shit?

Wow, look at me! I ran my fourth marathon and qualified for Boston. Who Cares?!

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Christmas was stressful with family and preparations. Join the club! Wait, my story was special, the cats almost murdered the elf on the shelf:

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I almost burned down the townhouse complex making monkey bread:

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My entire family wore matching pajamas because we are perfect!  No malfunction or drama here!

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The new year kicked off and surely I could write the one blog that stands out from the zillions of motivational articles on Facebook and everywhere you turn. How to be happier, healthier, richer…blah blah blah …all in 10 simple steps! I couldn’t come up with the winner but I did read a great post from Mark Manson asking a great question. An uncomfortable question. What pain do you want in your life?

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Hmmm. It hit me. I’m OK with struggles and that is MY personal approach to making my life story. Sure I like to share the bumps and bruises through this blog, because laughing at myself feels a lot better than spiraling into a dark hole of self defeat. It all comes down to how I want to achieve the super star status … in my own mind, of course!

My reality is a pig pen and continues to keep me grounded.  The balancing act leaves me with so many torn feelings, at times. For example, flying home from work meetings yesterday and so excited about my job, the company, the future, but guilty about being an absentee parent. You can’t win…or can you?

I arrive home to the best birthday gift ever. My daughter made a 3-D farm for me.

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I’m getting older and totally comfortable in my own skin. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and am so lucky to have a good life story to tell.  Stay tuned for the next bump in the road!

 

 

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NATIONAL PUBLICIST DAY

Today is the day to celebrate the incredible career of PR! Thanks to Kristi Hedges and Elizabeth Shea for opening my eyes to this profession. I am proud to say I have a J.O.B. I am passionate about.

Sure there are many low points, tons of grunt work and more rejections than I care to disclose (I still love you, dear editors/reporters)..

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…but the highs of obtaining recognition by various media outlets for individuals and companies has provided me a sense of accomplishment and gives me a creative outlet that energizes me on a daily basis.  #Grateful

History of PR:

October 30th is the day that the New York Times printed verbatim the very first press release written by Ivy Lee, the “father of modern PR”. The Pennsylvania Railroad was a client of Ivy Lee, and on October 28th, 1906, 50 people lost their lives due to a three-car train jumping a trestle in New Jersey and plunging into a thoroughfare creek. In response to this, Ivy Lee created the first press release that afternoon. He not only convinced the railroad to distribute a public statement, he also convinced them to provide a special train to get reporters to the scene of the accident.

The New York Times was so impressed with this innovative approach to corporate communications that it printed the first press release—verbatim—on Oct. 30, 1906 as a “Statement from the Road.” (information obtained from SearchEngineWatch.com)

Public relations is such a love/hate relationship (you love to hate it and hate to love it). This industry isn’t an instant gratification one…and on some days a non-gratification. This is a day for publicists to come from behind the scenes where they are constantly working (even behind their eyelids) and be appreciated publicly for all they do to improve brand communications with the public.

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Call, email, or shout out to all publicist on social media and let them know you appreciate them. Don’t have a publicist? Well today’s the perfect day to research and contact one that suits your brand and show your appreciation for what they could contribute to your brand. Use #NationalPublicistDay to post on social media.

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National Publicist Day and it’s meaning was submitted and founded by Jordanna Stephen, owner of APARTMENT|SEVEN, a PR firm in New York, and declared by the Registrar at National Day Calendar.

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Uncovering My Authentic Self: Step One Discard the Grandma Kickers

It’s the 10 year anniversary of the worst Pig Pen moment, to date. I didn’t know if I would ever reveal this to the blogosphere, but it feels imperative to emphasize the message of this public service announcement.

It was a lovely day for a wedding in the Outer Banks, October 2005. The reception was in full swing and the dance circle had formed. Time to kick up my solid gold dance moves. Literally.

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When I was mid flip, one of the elderly guest walked right into my stiletto heel. Horrific whirlwind of blood, police, ambulances – all to take care of the nicest 80-something year-old woman… who happened to be the Grandmother of the bride. Thankfully, she was OK.

End scene.

I did love those black, strappy high heels and kept them in my closet for the ‘what-if’ day I needed them to complete an outfit. The sight of them would trigger the thought of the DNA of an old woman on my shoe – clearly not good for the soul.

Life has changed significantly since then and in general, I am navigating this solo path pretty damn well. I have realized the things I do well and the areas where I am going to sleep a lot better if I bring in the pros. This now includes an accountant, financial advisor, personal trainer, handy man and now a personal stylist.

Meet Suzie Gaffney. The Chester County fashionista, media maven, super Mom, fellow blogger and no matter if out on the Square, at her kid’ sporting events, church or TJMaxx, she is always wearing the outfits that you think, “how the hell did she put that together?” Is it because she has naturally straight hair that she always looks polished? Nope.

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I have highlighted her achievements in a previous blog http://tinyurl.com/m97poxf and now it was time for me to schedule my own appointment. I was ready.

First thought – nervous. I vacuumed. I haven’t had someone look through my closet since freshman year of college when a senior asked to borrow something for her modeling gig. Totally flattered I remember thinking, holy shit – help yourself. She picked my favorite Espirit dress, pictured below.  New Year’s Eve in DC 1991. (Fashion note: cut out hanger straps.)

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When I asked for it back she denied ever borrowing it. WTF. I found almost the same dress last year at Nordstroms. Need a reason to wear this gem.

Second thought – uncertainty. Is this really going to make a difference? I got all Zipppy about fall fashion two years ago https://alisonguzzio.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/all-zippy-about-fall-fashion/  (Five second recap: eliminated the urge to splurge and pointless purchases, bought a few closet organizers and kept my zippers closed as not to reveal private parts – a Pig Pen moment that scarred a handful of people in a Malvern corporate center winter, 1994.)

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Third thought – have fun. Poured a Deep Eddy’s vodka and Fresca and we dove into this bitch.

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What I like best is Suzie’s honesty. I am over the passive aggressive, fake and just plain bullshit communication that only leads to more problems. Speak your mind. I hired her to uncover a closet of clothes and accessories that work for me. What she wants to ensure is you feel like a million bucks no matter if you are heading to Walmart or the Ritz Carlton. Express your authentic self through your wardrobe.

Excited with the outcome, here are a few tips I am happy to share:

  1. Closet renovation: Consider maximizing floor to ceiling space in the large closet, adding fun and brighter lighter, and a place for accessories. If local to KSQ, Dan Kelly – emerald enterprises – http://emeraldenterprises.net/index.html Please tell him Suzie referred you!  Ideas: use a towel rack for scarves, install shelving for a shoe closet and for handbags in other closets, fold workout clothes on space closet shelf or in a bin to be placed on shelf (use the vertical file method), consider pajamas to be placed in a storage bench at foot of bed.

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  1. My authentic self: I am a sleek, strong, poised and happy person. Suzie is here to help personify that through my outfits and what does not deliver that message are: ruffles, cap sleeves, banded short sleeves, neckline pleats and scoop necks. These are the problem pieces along with the black stilettos. Words of wisdom: discard! You just don’t need that kind of negativity in your life!!
  1. Shopping list: Black ankle boots and the fall must have accessory, longer pendent style necklace.
  1. Style inspiration: Frayed ankle cut denim with heels. I sported this last Friday and love it!

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Call Suzie or a wardrobe consultant in your area and make your closet a true extension of your life: http://suziegaffney.com/

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The 15-year Tri-Umph that Took a Village

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Yup. That happened.

If you are new to the Pen, read the background on this 15-year, triathlon nemesis that finally ended in a personal victory.  https://alisonguzzio.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/sweet-lincolns-mullet-a-second-triathlon-disaster/

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This past weekend was the Dewey Beach sprint triathlon; an easy feat for many, but a big achievement for this knucklehead who just couldn’t quite get it right for the three previous attempts. I woke up to perfect weather conditions but was still nervous as hell. I was a complete Spaz.

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_Qh2Bx6TIM

The day started with me knocking over my coveted Starbucks latte, rechecking my stuff about 100 times and headed up the beach, almost to the half mile starting point, only to discover I left my goggles in the transition area.  Sigh. One might think it was headed down the same rat hole, but not this time!

It goes without saying I could not have done this alone. I have an incredible support system that helped with training and the completion of this 20-mile course. Family, close friends, acquaintances and some complete strangers are to thank for the long-awaited success.

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The equipment suppliers: I don’t take this as serious as most might recommend, but borrowed equipment works (or can break) just the same as purchased.  If the red carpet highlights who you are wearing and jewels borrowed I can do the same! An amazing arancio-orange bike from Jen, wetsuit and bike pump from Heather, helmet from Jill and goggles confiscated from the kids.

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Training: I have bothered and interrupted many people at the Kennett Area YMCA pool and need to thank Jill, Tjede, Kevin, Jen, and everyone else who offered tips and tricks.  I heard you but still backstroked the entire 1/2 mile. The biggest difference this year was more than the fact I didn’t drink any beers the night before and dabbled in products from the Isagenix system; it was the training at Advanced Fitness with Steve and chiropractic adjustments with John from Back to Health that gave me a physical advantage. Bring on the TRX bands, kettle bells and rope squats for the upcoming Philly marathon!

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The on-site support system: The original inspiration for running this specific race is my friend, Pat, and seeing him at the start of the race gave me that extra encouragement and positive outlook that he carries with him every day. The world only gets smaller and I met a new friend, Jen, while setting up our stations. As we talked we realized we grew up a few miles apart, she also had a farm and we went to the same grade school.  I was so happy for the distraction!

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We trekked the ½ mile up the beach strategizing and my stomach dropped as I realized my goggles were back in the transition area.  Thanks to Kevin who sprinted back to retrieve them just in time (you are so welcome for the unexpected workout!) Lastly, thanks to the lifeguard that gave me a buoy to hold onto and the final words of encouragement half-way through. In the words of Yukon Cornelius, I felt like yelling LAAAANNNNDD HOOOOO!!!

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The music industry: The timing of two top hits, Omi’s Cheerleader and Jess Glynne’s Hold My Hand, were more than serendipitous.

The laughing ‘with me’ crew: From the first, really poor attempt, back in 2000 I have had my parents, Lysa, Megan, Dave, Greg, Sue, Brenda, Jill, Sandra, Diana, my kids and many others who have heard the story through the years encouraging me to try and overcome the infamous debacle.

Facebook friends: As silly as I find Facebook at times, the ‘congrats’ and ‘likes’ from so many people from all stages of my life is so appreciated and makes this so special.

At the end of the day, this was more than just a race. We all know that what’s on the horizon is a mystery but I know I can handle the challenge of each new day and celebrate every small victory; thanks to every person that makes that possible.

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