To the Best Dad In The World – Happy Retirement!

To the Best Dad In The World – Happy Retirement!

A couple weeks ago my amazing dad retired after 40 years with the same company.  I think that kinda makes him a legend. I don’t know anyone who stays with a company that long anymore.  Then again I don’t many companies that work to KEEP people that long anymore…but that’s a different post.

My mom threw a little shindig at the house on his last day and I wanted to make a speech, but everything I thought of made me cry because my dad is just so amazing and has given and sacrificed so much for our family.  Instead, though, I decided to go with something a little more light-hearted and to save all the mushy stuff for the wedding (38 days)!   Here is the story of how I found out what my dad REALLY did for a living.

(This is the speech copied word for word so please excuse the double intro)

So I really thought hard about what I was going to say today and in true Mark Hampson form I made a spreadsheet, drew several diagrams and even put together a powerpoint presentation on potential topics I could cover about my Dad and his successful career.  Instead, though, I decided that I would tell you the story of how I came to find out what my father did for a living.

It was 1996, I was 7, and we had moved here from Cairo, Egypt, and for as long as I can remember my dad had slept with this walking stick next to his bed.
It was an odd piece of decor, but I was 7 so who was I to question it? I had not discovered HGTV yet.   I had asked about the walking stick several times and my dad told where he bought it and that it was some kind of souvenir he had picked up on a business trip or in one of the many places he lived as a kid.  I don’t remember the specifics, but what I do remember was that he continually told me, ” Do not to play with it!”
So one day 7 year old Jessica wondered into my parent room and decided I was going to play with the walking stick.  I sat at the end of my parents bed and started fiddling with this gold ring close to the top of the stick.  After a couple twists of the ring I soon realized that the stick came apart and with one small tug I unveiled a giant sharp sword had been hiding in this “walking stick”.
In a panic, cause remembered then I shouldn’t have been playing with it, I quickly slammed it back together screwed the gold ring tight and placed the sword back by my father’s side of the bed and ran into my bedroom.  I shut my door and sat on my bed in shock for I finally knew his secret.
My dad…Mark Hampson…was a ninja.
He had us all fooled.  He claimed to of been driving 45 mins every day to this place called “Baker Hughes Inteq” Or “Baker Hughes Oil Tools”.  He really was a bad liar as the company change names like 6 times.  He even went on a secret mission and was put on a project called Project Renaissance.  I knew this was just code for a mission vs. the in-house task force he claimed it to be to my mom.
He then started having to do worldwide missions to Venezuela, England and other parts of South America to give training classes.  This all made sense to me cause these countries didn’t have very many ninjas so they needed to bring in some external resources.
Fast forward a year or two to a Christmas party where I was standing with my mom and a lady, whose husband also worked at “Baker Hughes”, said to my Mom, “I heard about Mark,  I am just so glad he is ok…”  My mom baffled and a little confused by this statement said “what?”.  The lady continued,  ” I heard about Mark getting mugged in Venezuela a couple weeks ago.”
Turns out a guy on a mope-head had driven by my dad on the streets of Caracas and stolen a gold pen my mom had given him out of his front pocket, ripping his shirt in the process.  The worst part?  He tried to hide the shirt and the story from my mom so she wouldn’t worry.
And that was the day folks, that I found out my mom was an assassin and my dad was next on her list…
Dad- you will forever be my ninja.  Congratulations on an amazing 40 year career.  I can’t wait to see what you and your dojo get up to next.
I love you dad and I am so proud of you and everything you have accomplished in your career.  You have provided an amazing life for my sister, mom and me, but more importantly, you have been the greatest “life teacher” in the world.
Love you to the moon and back!
Take Care of Number 1

Take Care of Number 1

All the women in my family have this “problem” with putting others over ourselves in almost every situation, and while to an outsider this may seem like the result of great upbringing and essentially “the right thing” to do, it actually ends up hurting people we love most.

I’ll explain.

I have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder which is very much under control now, but I know, from doing the work, that stress is a major trigger for my anxiety.penny netflix

Maybe you can relate through this situation.  Have you ever let your house get so dirty and messy that when you finally decide to clean it you take one look at the mess and decide to lay in the pile of couch laundry and watch Netflix instead?

Now imagine that Netflix was not an option, your only option is to run from room to room lost in the mess and making no progress, maybe even making more mess and your cell phone is ringing but you can’t find it in all the clutter. That overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start is a constant when my anxiety is triggered and the wanting to just “lay in the laundry” is my way of hiding from the problem until it gets thrown in my face again.

When I am in an anxious state not only is it bad for me, because I feel horrible, but the people I am closest to also suffer.  My anxiety makes me want to be left alone and frequently I will push everyone away.  I am quiet and restless. I can’t concentrate.  I don’t sleep and feel continuously on the verge of crying.

To be honest, I have been somewhat waiting expectantly for my anxiety to rear its ugly head with everything that is going on this year.  Planning a wedding, getting married(yes, those are two different things), buying a house… this is stressful for anyone!

To combat the potential anxiety I’ve been planning everything WAY in advance, I mean like WAY in advance.  I pretty much had the wedding vendors and venue all done by June, 6 months ahead of schedule.  Yet last week, what felt like out of nowhere, the anxiety hit.

I started to hermit.  I was coming home after work and instead of making dinner or talkinganxiety
to JZ about his day, I just slept.  I didn’t want to do anything.  The most I could muster was to move myself to the couch to watch some Olympics but even then it was hard to keep my head up.

Sunday I stayed up late talking to JZ about it and he asked me how I was feeling and then randomly he asked me to do to do something for him.

He asked me to take care of myself.

He hit the nail on the head.  I’ve been so concerned about things like wedding invitations and when the slab for our new house is going to be poured that I forgot to take care of number 1, myself.

So this week and weekend is all about getting me back on track.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still working on wedding stuff but I am also making time for myself so that I can be the best me for JZ.

Love to all,


What if it’s never not floopy?

What if it’s never not floopy?

I just started watching Friends from Season 1 again…I’ve done this a million times.  I can quote the show, all 10 seasons and I refer to these characters as if they are part of my inner circle of friends. It’s weird, I know, but they provide me comfort and a giggle when life is just a little crazy…or in other words…floopy.

I was watching one of the first episodes this morning and Rachel was having a breakdown about her new “un-settled” life in the city after running into some of her childhood girlfriends who seem to have it all together.  One is getting married, one is having a baby and the other has just been promoted to partner at her father’s law firm, though she is all of 22.

Rachael, who is trying to start a new life for herself after leaving Barry the orthodontist at the alter, has got her first job at the infamous Central Perk as a waitress serving coffee and attempts to defend herself by convincing her old friends that this life is better than the Country Club life should would of had with Barry.

She returns from the conversation to the apartment with the purple walls and asks Monica and Phoebe the same question that every 20-something will ask at some point in their life…”When are we going to have it all figured out?”

Here is the scene below:


Man, this hits home on so many levels for me.  Not just when I was in my early 20’s but even today, at 32.

I definitely know I too have screamed about the FICA guys taking all my money and that I also went through a period where I felt like everyone was passing me by in life because they were getting married or having babies. I have obviously since got over that, but the feeling of being “unsettled” or “waiting for something to happen” still comes over me sometimes.

For instance, I am in the process of planning mine and JZ’s wedding, we are building a house, my dog is getting old, my career is in a weird place and everything feels like I’m spinning plates in the air waiting for things to happen so that eventually I am going to feel settled.

After 3 decades on this earth, you would think that I’d have learned by now that nothing will ever be “un-floopy”.  That even after all the wedding vows are said, the move is complete, and my career gets back on track, something else will give.  Something else will break, be out of balance, or not going as smoothly as I would hope.

The best advice that someone gave me during this time of life was “if you feel like you are waiting for something to happen in life try changing your perspective and being grateful for the “right now”.”

So instead of counting down the days till our wedding, it’s thanking my lucky stars that I have such an amazing future husband to come home to every day and that he wants to be with me as much as I want to be with him.  It’s thanking God for allowing my dog to be still trucking at the ripe-old age of 17 and that I will soon have a brand new home for her to explore.  And lastly, it’s a big reminder that I don’t have to do any of this alone because I am blessed with the best support system a girl could have in both my family and friends.

So here are to Magic Beans and to life being forever “Un-floopy”.

I hope you are enjoying the ride.



“Only The Good Die Young” – Billy Joel

“Only The Good Die Young” – Billy Joel

I was content last night as I sat around a table of girls, listening as they retold stories of you. But then a wave of extreme sadness washedmeandcindy
over me as I recollected on our relationship. I did not have a story of my own to contribute. I did not have a Lake Tahoe story, a late night at the black jack table story, or an all night beer pong tournament to recollect on.
In fact, it’s been really hard for some people to grasp who you were in my life. I don’t know what you call your mom’s best friend/mother of your sister’s best friend in relation to our relationship. I am actually most certain there is no word for it. I just referred to you as one of my other moms, but in truth, you were family.
With our blood relatives being so far away it was comforting to know my sister and I had someone like you we could call when we were babysitting late at night and there was a noise upstairs we insisted was a burglar, yet only turned out to be the family golden retriever digging in the empty bathtub.
Though we were not a dynamic duo at the ping pong table, we did share two loves. Music, a love you shared with so many others, including your 3 wonderful children. You actually took me to my very first concert when I was 10 years old. We saw Billy Joel’s River of Dreams tour at The Summit. I remember preparing for said concert by memorizing all the words to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” of which I practiced on my karaoke machine for weeks in my bedroom. I couldn’t go unprepared, much less have Matt show me up when he could sing all the words with Billy. The show blew my mind and though we spent the whole car ride home griping about how he didn’t play “Uptown Girl” but that the indoor helicopter that came down from the ceiling for “Goodnight Saigon” totally made up for it, you will always have the title of the person who took me to my first concert.
Our other love we shared was photography. We were the photographers of the family. When I say family I am of course referring to our “holiday family” of which we shared over 23 Thanksgivings and Christmases together. Annually, we all sat around the table, with your whole family and mine, all praying that Brian didn’t spill before we had a chance to eat. We, the Hampson’s, taught you about Christmas crackers and wearing funny paper hats while you dine. You, Cindy, gave us the gift of stuffing. Oh my lord your stuffing was the best. Also, I’ll be honest, I am kind of glad you are taking that Jell-O salad, Cool-whip recipe concoction with you, cause I think you were the only one that ate it, despite your insistence each year that we all loved it.
boardgamesWhile I will remember these things, my favorite memories will be what happened after the meals were over. You see, it was always custom that the Hampson/Barrett family play board games after our Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. The game I think we enjoyed the most would have to be Balder Dash. We didn’t even play it right, come to think of it. We actually made up our own rules, which sounds oddly fishy now that I think about, Mickey, but it always had us buckled over in laughter. And on top of that, it achieved the impossible of keeping Brian’s attention for over 45mins. A true Christmas miracle all around.

But back to the photography. It’s said that “the camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see life without a camera”. In those snapshot moments, those seconds of wide-mouth, head thrown back laughter, in those long embraces, and trots across the dance floor, you already knew how to see life without the camera. Instead, you chose to capture those fleeting, impossible to reproduce moments so that we could learn how to see the important stuff through your lens.
You wanted us to see the beauty of nature through Lake Tahoe’s breath taking views, the die-hard passion of the fans during a 49er game, the way the ocean kissed the sky in Half Moon Bay, the crazy deep love your family has for one another even as they duke it out on the basketball court, or the joy of side-aching laughter as we all raced down the infamous Labor Day slip’n slide.

I guess my point is, Cindy already knew what it was all about. She knew these moments were important and chose to capture them so when we are all downtrodden and fully distracted with the less important stuff in life, we have her photographs to regain focus on what is truly important.

Beauty. Passion. Love. Family. Laughter.

Cause, as she already knew, this is truly what it’s all about.

Cindy- I am going to miss you so much.  I promise you I will take care of my mom and your family, and continue to photograph those moments we both love so much.  I am so glad you are no longer in pain and can finally join your brother in sweet peace.

I love you,


All photos above were taken by Cindy Barrett or myself, please do not steal them without giving credit.

She’s Baaaaaaaaack!!!!

She’s Baaaaaaaaack!!!!

She’s back! She’s back! After a year hiatus, one of my favorite bloggers has returned to the blogosphere after taking some time to deal with the horrible reality that is depression.

Guys, this post is amazing.  But before I get to that….

If you have never read any of Allie Brosh’s posts on Hyperbole and Half, you might take this new post as kinda, for lack of a better description, weird and depressing. So if you are new to the wonder that is Hyperbole and Half, go read this post about her dog and/or this one about her first trip to Texas. If you still haven’t chuckled or found any of it minutely funny then don’t read her new post, it will be a waste of your time. In fact, you should probably stop reading my blog too, cause my sarcasm is much more subtle than hers and I have probably already offend you.gak

But, if you are one of the many who are still with me, do me a favor. If you are suffering from depression or know someone that is suffering from depression, read it. You will be delighted that someone has finally been able to put into words/hysterical cartoons all the feelings and situations you could not explain. Why you wore that hoodie with spaghetti stains around for 3 months without a care, or somehow your ass stopped functioning as a seating device and your posture was permanent imitation Nickelodeon Gak.

Please believe me when I say this is not my attempt at making light of a serious mental condition.  I would be the LAST to do so.  Depression is real and painful, but REALLY hard to explain to those who do not have it or have never experienced it first hand.

I would like to congratulate Mrs. Brosh on this amazing post as I am sure it will help many people out there begin to understand, or at least become a little more empathetic to someone going through the fight with depression.  You are a brave and courageous soul for putting it out there.

Welcome back to the interwebs Hyperbole and Half -we are thrilled to have you back!!

Image from Hyperbole and a Helf

Already Done Universe…Already Done…

Already Done Universe…Already Done…

How about, Jessica, next time you go to work, the mall, or a labyrinth, you glide, slide, and twirl a bit? Wink, smile, and wave? Dip, bend, and high-five? Strut, saunter, and beam?

Just a bit?

Teeny, tiny?
The Universe