About Me

Vacationing with my Blog Assistant
Vacationing with my Blog Assistant, Cynthia

Hi there!

I'll just jump right in and warn you about some of my eccentricities.

I'm obsessed with grammar, exploring different types of humor (c'mon, don't you love puns too?!) and I do laugh quite a bit (at sometimes inappropriate moments).

Now that you've been forewarned, read on...

Simply Zal's Mission

Are you overwhelmed with the busyness of life?  Wouldn’t you like to have a plan in place so you can slow down and savor each day?  Wouldn’t it be great to be the one who’s always ahead of the game?

Over time, life gets complicated.  Our kids grow up, our parents get older and we can barely keep up with each phase in their lives, much less ours.  Our dreams fall by the wayside.  Our priorities shift constantly.  We get lost in the details and can’t focus on what’s really important.

My mission is to bring back simplicity to your life.  Simple doesn’t mean scaling back on life – instead, it’s looking at life through a new lens.  You can see when and why something is not working and make the change quickly.  Then, move on.

Perhaps my projects and ideas for simplifying my life will inspire you to work on your life-long dreams.  Remember those yearnings you had as a child?  My hope is that you can even get back to doing the things you truly enjoy.  For me, that’s paper crafts and party planning.  For you, it could be finding the time for your next Netflix binge, checking out a new restaurant, or finishing that darn book before the movie comes out!

Check out my posts and send me a note about yourself and what your frustrations are.  Don’t worry, we’ve just linked arms and I’m going to walk you through putting your life in order.

Occasionally, my lovely daughter, Cynthia, will sprinkle her thoughts and artwork here and there.  She’s a hoot!

Simply Zal's Inspiration

A few of my friends are aware of my obsession.  It’s as dangerous as emotional eating but it has nothing to do with food.  It is my lifeboat in anxious times.  And you, my dear reader, have found yourself right in the middle of it.

I am addicted to my computer! My whole life is built around it. I love to hash out my problems and figure out my options or get lost designing wonderful, pretty things.

I’m often inspired by my family and friends and their cool abilities – I take note of what makes them successful and I document it.  Capturing things in my own words and pictures is how I internalize their process.  What can I learn from them?

A few years ago, I was struggling to put my life in order (aren’t we all?!) so I created a Pyramid of Priorities.  It was fun.  My biggest priority was the well-being and advancement of my two children.  I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since 2009.  However, my least important priority was my career.  I realize now that was an oversight because my professional development was never far from my mind.  When I quit my job to stay home, I knew I was going to need all my budgeting, planning and organizing skills to make this stint work in the long run.  Also, I was going to have to pick up new skills along the way.

I quickly filled the social and professional void of staying home by joining the Board of my daughter’s preschool co-operative.  As secretary, I was hesitant but my note-taking skills took off like a rocket!  I learned to write down all the key points these highly-competent women were discussing in our meetings and refreshed their memories a few days later with my finished minutes.   One new skill badge for me!

Once my daughter started elementary school, I joined the Board of their Parent Teacher Association (PTA).  Over time, I went from Membership to Treasurer to PTA Co-President.  I learned so much from organizing numerous fundraising and school events, staying within budget, ensuring the events ran efficiently and that they adhered to school and PTA policies at all times.

I made the PTA my career.  Yes, I am THAT mom!  I’m not ashamed to admit it!

When I first started on the PTA Board, I walked in as a Certified Public Accountant but I knew nothing about what PTA’s do during the year.  In my first official position as a PTA Board Member, I was asked to make a flyer for spirit wear sales.  I spent an entire day on it.  The rest of the PTA Board loved the final result.  They were awesomely talented women in their own right but no one had my particular skills for creating flyers (amateur as they were).  I continued to create flyers for our events throughout the year and realized I loved doing it!  I moved on to signs, gift tags, greeting cards, invitations, and even planning better birthday parties for my kids.

It’s like the PTA unleashed the creative beast in me…and that, combined with my computer planning obsession, caused the release of Zaleina Version 2.0!

And just when you thought that was the end of the story, I underwent even more ‘upgrades’ during the last few years.

I learned how to express my thoughts to an audience in a way that felt vulnerable to me but came through as genuine.  I also learned to stand up for myself and work towards a solution so I didn’t have to compromise my values or my self-respect.  I also learned how to say goodbye to emotional baggage and start fresh.

It’s a work in progress but I’m happy to have the opportunity to continue my growth.

Perhaps you will be a part of the release of the latest Zaleina Version!

Simply Zal Tells All

I see the world through a filter of my past experiences.  With age comes wisdom but there are certain things about me that are grounded in my childhood.

When I was in preschool in Guyana, a tall, freestanding blackboard fell and covered me.  My desk blocked it so the board didn't make impact with my precious skull.  Through the shock, as I heard teachers scrambling to get me out, I thought, "Boy, I'm glad it didn't hit me!". Ever the optimist!

In Guyana, we lived in the city but sometimes visited my parents’ families in the sugar- and rice- growing regions.  I remember my grandparents only vaguely – their way of life was so different than the one that was crafted by my parents.  Mom and Dad soon forged a new path for our family and we migrated to the island of Jamaica when I was six and my brother was three.

It was just the four of us in this entirely foreign land but what an adventure it was!  We went through many learning curves, mishaps, and also many beautiful experiences over the years.  We met some of the friendliest, most down-to-earth people imaginable and toured the lush countryside thoroughly over the next six years.  We relished each new culinary opportunity and historic place we encountered.  I treasure my time in Jamaica - it strengthened my connection with my family and instilled a love for travel.  We made lasting memories and still crave a serious beef patty from Mother’s like nothing else!

Before we moved to the Bahamas, I pored over the tourist pamphlet that my dad gave us.  I couldn’t believe we would be relaxing on the pristine beaches, playing tennis and shopping for fine jewelry in the International Bazaar.  It was such a different lifestyle than rural Jamaica.  And also a really good daydream!  While local Bahamian life was not what I had in mind as an 11-year old, it was just as exciting.  My teenage years were unforgettable (slumber parties, discovery of make-up, family pot-luck barbecues at the beach and so on).  Although we missed our rustic Jamaica, we felt settled here.  My time here gave me stability and a sense of security.

I left the Bahamas to attend Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA on a student visa.  I can’t fully explain what it was like to tour the neighborhood of neatly manicured lawns, pretty homes, and an interesting mix of steel/industrial and farmland communities.  I was a long way from the small, quiet, tropical island of Grand Bahama.  I still remember the first time I saw snow.  I never got tired of answering the eternal question, “Why would you leave THE BAHAMAS to come here??”.  I loved my little college and quickly adapted to life in the U.S.  I learned self-sufficiency and that you must always tip your taxi drivers and waitresses!

However, nothing could prepare me for my introduction to New York City.  My dear uncle met me at the Port Authority and dragged my huge suitcase (the size of a large coffee table) through the subway at rush hour to their home in Queens. I grew to love the hustle and bustle of this part of the world, where you could use public transportation to get anywhere – all you needed was one token.

The next few years were incredibly fast-paced.  I started working as an accountant in Manhattan and met my future husband.  My parents eventually moved to NY and my brother to PA.  I got married, learned to drive, started wearing contact lenses and became a Certified Public Accountant.

My husband and I moved from Queens to the suburbs of Long Island, bought our first home.

Later, we were blessed with a girl.  When my daughter was three, I left my workplace on good terms and started a new phase in my life – being a stay-at-home mom.

Shortly after, our son was born and we became a family of four.

In some ways, the decision to become a stay-at-home mom was reminiscent of my parents moving to another country.  They moved to provide more opportunities for us.  (By the way, that was the answer I gave to the question of why I left the Bahamas to live in the Northeast.)  I wanted my children to go to the park in the middle of the day, take advantage of extracurricular classes anytime and have a constant support system to ensure their development was on track.  I didn’t want to miss these wonderful years with them but the driving force was what I could do for them.

Now they’re older and running my life. I get the frequent “Mom! You can’t eat that! You’re on a diet!” tirades from my son and my 11-year old daughter (attorney-in-the-making) is quick to refute my explanations for things.

I hope you visit my blog often and feel a little of the excitement I feel whenever I try something I've always wanted to!  I've learned that there is no limit - only your own judgement of yourself.  So go out there and make your own path!

An Exhilarating Childhood by the Beach
My brother and I in Jamaica