As much as it was painful, watching Making a Murder was fully engaging. I found myself (like many others, I’ve read) yelling at the TV, cursing the smug prosecution team, and eventually, shedding tears.Read More
yours is the light by which my spirit’s born: yours is the darkness of my soul’s return –you are my sun,my moon,and all my stars
In celebration of our super blood moon…gather around a fire, anchor your soul to the earth and let your worries out with the waves.
Under a sky full of stars and a bright crescent moon they gathered on the beach after dusk, stoked the fire and shared their stories. Trials, heartache, lessons. Was it the lunar cycle or their age? No matter, it’s obvious these women are in the thick of it. Being in the thick of it doesn’t leave much time for introspection or grace or forgiveness. But they make time for THIS each month—to spark their intellect and seek self-truth, collectively.
The fire ring is always a special night. Around the circle they opened their hearts and overruled their heads, writing down their fears their mistakes their ugliness their anxieties—anything they ached to LET GO. And they did. They burned the very words that weigh them down, and force them to slog through each day wearing waterlogged boots in sticky black mud. Inhaling the smoke of sweet sage, they watched the papers burn and finally gave a deep exhale. Cue the shooting star…
As the moon set over the ocean they wove themselves into a web of cerulean wool–creating a giant truss to honor their connectedness, and leaving a token on their wrists (encircled 11 times, once for each member of the group). The sky was a deep ink by then, punctured delicately by millions of stars nearly crowding the constellations.
Eight silhouettes on a quiet beach, watching the whitecaps of waves pulse against the milky way and lap at the shore—an insistent invitation to the sea. They gratefully (and some quite bravely) obliged, peeling off their layers for salty nightswimming and starlit shimmying. Later, they dried themselves by the fire and passed around the last of the Prosecco, soaking up summer and the solace of their tribe.
I knew it was a sign when I lost the second draft of this post, after hours of research and soulful analysis on the impact of unemployment on families. Frustration gave way to vulnerability, as my husband pressed me to share what I had been writing about. You mean like talk about this, for real?
Rewind two years ago, when my position as a fundraiser for a high tech research institute was eliminated. I had pretty much forced myself out of the position anyway, so I picked myself up and acknowledged that a career in development was not my dream. I returned to my first love, advertising, through a freak opportunity from a friend. This came with a pay cut, loss of benefits and a fair amount risk. It also gave me flexibility, control and creativity. We survived this detour without much stress, and gave thanks that we had another income that could float this type of change.
Shortly thereafter, it became clear my husband’s company would be sold and though nothing was publicly acknowledged it seemed best for everyone to sit tight and wait for the bonus, vacation payout, and severance. Only “soon” turned into 13 months of stalled work and demoralization. By the time the official announcement came, their egos and confidence were destroyed. It was also the holidays, which is the worst time to begin a job search but the perfect time to regroup and revive. Bike! Breathe! Brew some beer, and get ready for the next great adventure. Who wouldn’t want that?
That was seven months ago. And now this charming R+D engineer has become Mr. Mom—hard-boiled-egg-making-champ, soccer carpooler and team manager, grocery getter and dinner salad aficionado. I love this, and embrace it. I’m forever a sunshine seeking optimist, reciting my mantra “have faith in the universe” when the going gets tough. “It’s not within my control—let it go…” And I really, really do. On paper, and in practice. But underneath it all, something has to give. Eternal optimism doesn’t change the fact that this is fucking stressful. It just is.
In the past six months my car died, the dryer crapped out, our water heater broke and a pipe burst. Truth. Who prepares for that? We chose to go to Hawaii over fixing the dryer, because we’d put it off for so long and honestly believed it would be our last chance for a family vacation before the hubs went back to work. Family first! Well, that was three months ago. We’ve got lots of time, and lots of wet laundry.
The stress of it? Aside from the obviously financial crush, we’ve watched our friends’ marriage destruct over the loss of a job. Research (and common sense) shows that unemployment brings on substance abuse, eating disorders, depression and anxiety. At its worst, that leads to divorce and even suicide. One study reveals that in families with married parents the risk of divorce more than doubles when a parent loses his or her job. A survey done by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, a research and policy center at Rutgers University, portrays “a shaken, traumatized people coping with serious financial and psychological effects from an economic downturn of epic proportion.” This study was done six years ago, but I’d argue that we are still feeling the ripples of this financial crisis, and that the emotional impact is the same.
I’ve visualized our gorgeous future, and also one without this house and our belongings. I’ve “let it go” but also put on about 20 pounds (!). When I told my husband what I was writing about and he asked me if I was worried, I said yes. Yes, I’m worried, but hopeful. And even though he feels it’s his cross to bear, we really are in this together.
I got the most amazing piece of advice from a friend's mother. Judy is a mom to four beautiful, strong daughters, she's a grandmother, a community leader and she has a great sense of humor and a deep husky voice. I asked her how she turned out such lovely women and kept her family so close. Her answer?
"I said yes, as often as possible."
That has stayed with me, and it was especially meaningful at a time when I found myself telling the boys "NO" for no real reason. Like, "no I won't play that game with you" or "no, I don't want you doing xyz." And honestly, why not? Why was I so quick to say no? To begin, now is a time when moments of my undivided attention are critical. I understand this is fleeting, and that their indifference to me will surely break my heart one day. Number two, kids need the freedom to test and create and explore their own ideas. If it's not truly dangerous or totally indulgent (I'm not talking about buying them stuff or letting them eat ice cream for breakfast) then I needed to start saying yes. As much as possible. Yes. This word can be SO powerful for my kids, yet I hoard it at home and let it fly with careless abandon most of the day. I fricking give it away for free at work. At their school. Everywhere it seems, but where it matters most. So I decided to switch gears... and now I pause and say yes to my kids whenever possible, and I think of Judy every time.
Since receiving that advice, I've read two books that speak to the power of our choices: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.
At first run, Tidying Up reads like an SNL sketch—taking decluttering to such an extreme I wondered if Ms. Kondo has been clinically diagnosed with an order disorder. She's disciplined, to say the least. Despite the fact that I won't be unpacking my purse nightly, and taking each sacred item from its bowels, and placing them into velvet lined boxes of perfect measure, her method really does makes sense.
You would think that a lifestyle approach to organization is about saying no to what you can live without. Big hint here, it's not. My aha moment, was that you don't start by having it all and reduce. You begin with nothing, and re-acquire (say YES) with intention. No to everything, then you keep only the items that truly move you. WHOA.
"Konmari," as this method of reduction is now referred to, is actually about the art of saying YES.
I get how this is common sense for some people. I'd always approached it from the opposite point of view... "well, what can i get rid of?". I felt a heaviness lift when everything was automatically categorized as a "toss" (or give) and I had to work to find a meaningful reason to say yes to something, to label it a "keep".
Essentialism offers a similar philosophy, but for time and people instead of things. From McKeown, "It’s about challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time’." Once you have established what your priorities are—like having family dinners, or getting paid to do the things you're best at—then you can more easily make decisions TO DO, or NOT DO, the activities that serve your core values.
What is most important to me? What am I really good at? How do I want to spend my time?
We are constantly fielding requests from others, and it's our responsibility to engage in our response to these demands. While on autopilot, our instinct is often to say YES. Because we don't know how to say no, or we don't want to disappoint others, or perhaps because we simply can't provide (a good enough) reason NOT TO. It's just easier to say yes. At first. In the end, we're stressed, we're spread thin, we're not happy.
The key to happiness? Say NO to something that doesn't have great meaning or impact for you. And say YES to something that speaks to your core values and serves your higher purpose. Have you already mastered this? What's YOUR magic word?
Earlier this year I went to the funeral of a 71-year old man who was tragically killed in a car crash. He was an iconic figure in the creative community, ebullient and spirited with a cult-like following of both socialites and artists, chefs and gardeners. Though I was just one of his many admirers, I felt the heartbreak of his passing deeply. After the service, in the thick of their lush and wondrous garden, his children shared stories of his passionate approach to life. He was unabashedly charming, witty, bright, always late, creative, generous, adventurous. He loved good food and beauty and music and travel and family. His passion for living practically burst from him, you could FEEL it. It was infectious and lovely. Essentially, he was all in.
Yes! All in. I took on that mantra and it's been with me ever since. So why bring it up now? I read an op/ed piece from the NYT yesterday titled "Our 'Mommy' Problem" that used "all in", as the aggregate term for the turgid phrases smattered throughout every other Op/Ed piece related to a woman's quest for happiness and fulfillment (Lean In/Have it All/Do it All/Be it All). Aaaack! No! That's not what I'm talking about. This is distinctly not THAT conversation.
All in is about having a lust for life. The insistent chorus of Iggy Pop and David Bowie's ecstatic heroin induced anthem sums it up. I got a lust for life. BEING in the moment, fully. It's about vulnerability, and risk. It's about celebrating the small stuff and embracing the shit that life deals you head on. FEEL the pain of a friend's betrayal. PLAY with your kids, instead of instructing them how to play. LOVE your partner for all of his kinks and quirks. Love YOURSELF for all of your kinks and quirks. Say yes to family time and dirty floors and mismatched stemware. I'm not promoting hedonism or stupidity, I'm talking about really, profoundly experiencing your life.
Being all in touches on mindfulness, too. Eckhart Tolle speaks of it in "How to 'Be' While Doing" and Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh expressed it perfectly in an essay on "washing the dishes, to wash the dishes". I have progressed in my experiences of Being, but I realized that I can be so caught up in these moments that I've forgetten to look at the big picture as well. Does my work make me happy? Does it sustain my family or serve our greater goals? Have we even thought about our greater goals? What are we gaining from living in this particular house, with all of these lovely things, if we're working too hard to enjoy it? Let's ask these questions. Let's dive deep! I got a lust for life and I'm ALL IN.
Let's cut to the chase. Since turning 40 (or maybe even let's say 41) I've had a great number of "aha moments." Yeah, I'm pretty much Oprah level by now. Or at least Gayle. I even considered naming this post "What I Know For Sure." I don't know why self discovery comes more quickly at this stage in the game, but it's kind of cool.
Here are a few nuggets:
1. A great paycheck and rock star benefits do not feed your soul. Doing what you love and are good at, with people you like, feeds your soul. Flexibility helps too. Until pushed, I was accepting the status quo of a career I fell into. Don't wait for the ax to fall, honor your true gifts and passion and the rest will follow. I've read this a million times over, but it's really true. Woo woo!
2. Tequila, club soda and lime will not give you a hangover. But wine, too many IPA's, limoncello, or cocktails with sugar will definitely mess you up. QUICKLY.
3. Anyone can run a marathon. You just have to train for it. And long distance running is a sham. Okay, not really a sham but more like something-that-takes-a-lot-of-time-and-energy-and-doesn't-provide-the-amazing-physical-results-you-might-expect. I ran a marathon before my 40th birthday and sustained a regular schedule of half marathon distance runs for the following year and a half to "keep my momentum." I gained endurance and proved my perseverance, but I lost a total of 8 pounds in those two years and I was in a position to lose A LOT more. I still run, but not to an extreme. CrossFit and a paleo "inspired" menu have made a huge impact on my wellness (and weight).
4. Treat yo self. If you are not healthy and happy, your hubs, partner, colleagues, kids, won't be happy either. If you need to spend $200 on your haircuts and color, do it. Because trust me, I tried to do my hair myself and it was horrible. If you love CrossFit (or Pilates or Yoga) and it keeps you lean and off meds, then it's money well spent. If being happy means you demand an infinite supply of fresh ground coffee and dark chocolate, then so be it.
5. You be you. Other people don't think about you as much as you think they think about you. In other words, by focusing on what other people think, you're not focused on being you. So just be you. It's easier.
A Clean Slate: New Year Resolutions
I think the New Year can be a real mixed bag. On the one hand, as you near the end of the year you are celebrating and pushing every excess you might dare, knowing that January 1 offers you a clean slate. You feel invincible, and that anything you've done to yourself and others can be erased with a swish of a calendar page. On the other hand, you're coming down from extraordinary high times...time off work, time with loved ones, time alone, party time! Creating a balance, and a way to ease into the New Year is a challenge. I used to spend lots of time setting my "Goals" for each new January. Then I realized that I NEVER GO BACK AND REVIEW THEM. And they sit quietly, patiently waiting for me, in the lovely red journal I bought for myself more than five years ago. What's different this year? I'm limiting myself to this post, and 10 minutes to jot down a few manageables. We don't have time to belabor this, do we? I want to make shit happen.
Make Your Magic
I've broken it down to a few categories that provide plenty of room for multiple resolutions. Three's a crowd? Just pick one or two. Rules? Keep it simple and direct. Active not passive.
"Oh, so I'm going to be more healthy." "I'm packing healthy snacks to bring to work everyday."
1. Micro-Resolution: Pick something tiny! I strongly believe it's the little things that make a difference. My husband made a mid-year resolution to make the bed everyday. He's done it, kept to it, and receives uber satisfaction from the practice. Gretchen Rubin gives this little change A LOT of attention in The Happiness Project, which is essentially a year of resolutions. I consider her an expert on the subject.
2. Health Resolution: Who hasn't picked something health-related as a new year resolve? Go for it! If you have a list of desired changes, try setting and achieving them quarterly instead of tackling them all right out of the gate. Set the goal, establish the habit for three months, then hit up another. Bam!
3. Personal/Professional/Parental Resolution: Sure, you can establish one for each of your personas. OR just focus on ONE area that needs extra attention: "I'm saying 'yes' to my kids as often as possible." or "I'm only going to swear at work if it's an actual emergency." or "I'm going to increase my sociability and engage with the other soccer moms instead of playing Words With Friends on my iPhone."
4. Maintenance Resolution: Say Yes to Success! What's one thing you have accomplished or felt great success from in 2013? Will you vow to keep it going? Maintaining is almost MORE critical than creating the habit. Plus, it's nice to have a leg up on one of your resolutions. Consider it an easy win.
New Year's Magic: An article published yesterday in The Atlantic, sparked my curiosity about the parallels of religion and New Year's traditions (excess, celebration, coming clean).
We returned yesterday from a sweet weekend getaway to the mountain town of Julian, CA. Lucky to have acres to roam and a Quonset hut to nest, these family escapes are more rare now as we are scheduled to the stars with sports and other commitments. The property is not ours per se, but belongs to my family, and we have been adventuring there for nearly 10 years now.
I'll be honest. We're not exactly roughing it. I packed our SUV to the gills with the following... paint, glue, yarn, scissors, markers, paper, leather Motorola radios ("walkie talkies") pink ski vest + Uggs books + magazines my camera big straw hat scooters + helmuts cooler, dry goods, sparkling water, spices Bose sound dock a bottle of pinot plastic eggs + chocolate + goofy glasses
As I closed the back of the truck, I thought it might be possible that I've simply outgrown camping.
I let go of email and running, and turned instead to hiking, cooking, reading, gathering, making. We crafted swords and slingshots, I collected feathers and daffodils. We ate True Food Kitchen's quinoa Johnny Cakes and I baked Spanish chicken with onion, potatoes and spicy sausage. We dyed eggs with beets, red onions and turmeric, and huddled together on a loveseat in front of the tiniest TV screen for a Friday night movie. I was up at daybreak each morning, and heard the call of the turkeys as I hid eggs on Easter Sunday. Later that day we packed up the truck and gave a heavy sigh, with the promise to return soon.
Quinoa Johnny Cakes
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups whole wheat pasty flour
1/4 cup sugar (evaporated cane or white)
2 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp olive oil
pat of butter
ripe banana, apples, or blueberries
Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
1. Make quinoa. (HOT TIP: If like me, you normally add some savory "better than bouillon" flavor to your quinoa, skip it if you plan to use leftovers for these Johnny Cakes).
2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk well to combine. In another large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, orange zest, and oil and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend until just combined. Fold in the cooked quinoa taking care not to overmix. Let the batter rest for at least 1 hour.
3. Lightly brush the cooking surface of a nonstick pan or griddle with butter. Ladle about 1/3 cup of the batter onto the hot pan. Drop banana slices, thin apple slices, or 8 to 10 blueberries on top of each pancake. When bubbles form in the batter, flip and cook on the other side until
lightly browned. Continue with the remaining batter and choice of fruit.
Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt and maple syrup on the side.
"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."-Gloria Steinem
This quote, featured on the home page of the International Women's Day website, says so much to me about feminism. When I was younger, and studying for my Women's Studies major, I may not have articulated this very well. But with age comes wisdom (!) and the ability to use other people's words to validate your own. I have so much more to say lately on the topic of "women's issues" and worklifebalance and feminism and havingitall but for now, I'll let Gloria's quote settle. I thank all of the amazing women today, and throughout history, who have fought for my rights and choices, who have inspired women like Steinem and Stanton and Friedan, and who continue to fulfill and inspire me daily. You know who you are. xoxo
We cut the cord. I thought it would be much more painful than this. We didn’t so much KILL our TV as WOUND it. Though if you tell friends in certain circles that you are giving up cable, you might as well have said that you’ve lost a limb. “But what about sports?” moaned our guy friends, and “What about the news?” cried others. On the flip side, some of my closest pals met this announcement with detailed questions and nods of approval. Essentially, we want to Watch Less, Do More.
It’s been fun to engage people on the topic. “Losing sports” is not an issue. We’d like to be participants, instead of just spectators. Our kids are on a constant run from practices to games, soccer to baseball and more, I run and do yoga, we hike, and maybe the Mister and I will take up tennis. Not to mention, top athletes continue to disappoint, far from the role models our culture suggests they portray. Instead, we have he has been taking the boys to games at the local high school, where they can watch real athletes play the sports they love. As for news? I never really watched it. I listen to NPR, and read a variety of news online.
LIVE YOUR LIFE.
The point is to re prioritize our time. With cable I could easily mindmeld into Top Chef, Law and Order, Fashion Police, No Reservations, and a heap of other guilty pleasures. You could flip from soccer to football to vintage basketball, but couldn’t avoid the screaming pundits! Later, when I reflect on how I spent my (life)time, I don’t want this to be the chart of accounts. Everything is more intentional now. If I want my Downtown Abbey, I can pay for it on iTunes or wait for it on Netflix. We make a date to watch The Following together. For now, we forgo the indie faves like Girls and Game of Thrones, while movies are a welcome weekend treat. For everything else? Well, we have Hulu+, Netflix streaming, a DVD player and Apple TV. I told you! We just cut cable. I may make my own granola, but I didn't go TOTAL hippie on this one.
Hopeful Side Effects of Mindful Consumption
- Better Health. Early to bed, early to rise. My goal is to get up early to meditate, blog, or workout.
- Less mindless munch time. Studies show, this goes hand in hand with watching TV. Boo.
- More quality time. To spend with my kids, with the Mister, or alone.
- More money. For saving. For debt. For braces. For vacations.
And, yes, until I’ve completely weaned myself from pop culture’s delicious pill, I’ll probably be inviting myself over for the major red carpet moments. Keep some bubbles on ice!
One thing I love about Saturdays is Menu Planning. It's a household chore, sure. But I get to sit down and pour over cookbooks, cruise my favorite cooking sites, sip a strong cuppa java, and plan out the next week of meals. Running an efficient household while raising two boys, staying (happily) married and working full-time is no small task. This single strategic step makes everything flow just a little bit easier...here's how:
Get organized. One side of our fridge is still magnet friendly, so that's our information hub. Create a spot like this in your kitchen's high traffic zone. Make it PUBLIC so your family (ahem, in my case, the Mister) can add to the shopping list, as well as read up on the week's menu. This avoids the whole "well I already had fish tacos for lunch" issue.
Basics: Paper, Pencil, magnet or tape Advanced: MENU worksheet with grocery list, pencil, magnetic list pad, clipboard, highlighters, Spot-On! Magnetic Hook
2. PREP WORK
A. Maintain a Shopping List. Track your household needs on an as-you-go basis. Out of oats? Write it down. Low on canola oil? Jot that note as SOON as you realize it. It's a total pain in the boot to take pantry inventory or waste time conjuring up the "oh-yeah-I-used-up-the-last-of-the-fill-in-the-blank" from the past week.
B. Keep a Family Calendar. In this stage of planning I review the coming week...Are we home every night? Anyone out-of-town? Does the Mister have plans? Do I have a work event? Who has what sports and how late? I want to make sure I don't plan to roast a chicken on a night when I'm working late, or have soccer pick up. I need this plan to WORK for me. Not be a source of frustration. If there is a night I have to work late, I map out something the Mister can easily execute, like Corn Dogs + applesauce + steamed broccoli. (My healthy fast version of Corn Dogs = hot dogs wrapped in corn tortillas).
Before you get too excited, consider the following:
1. How much time will I need/have? By reviewing your calendar in advance you should be able to set realistic expectations. Clue #1? Save the intermediate level recipes or the "baste-every-hour" roasts for a weekend day. Duh! 2. What new ingredients will this require? Are you willing to source out the ingredients required in that new Indian dish? If so, awesome! Make it an adventure. If not, don't commit to it, and therefore set yourself up for failure or disappointment. 3. Are there any special requests from the family? Make sure to give your kids/hubs a voice, if they would like to contribute.
There are PLENTY of recipe resources out there, but I recommend selecting a few "go-to's" each week (fave cookbooks, mags or websites), and one or two newbies so that you don't get stuck in the inspiration stage. Remember, you still have to implement. Your goal at this point is to have an idea of the kind of
Ask friends for their favorites, look at family recipes, mull over magazines. I love looking through cookbooks. Now that I plan my menus, it's much easier to justify the expense of glossy new food porn. Gorge. I always throw a few tried-and-trues into the line up, as I'm not trying to run a test kitchen. That said, I like to pick (at least) one new recipe each week, depending on the busy factor.
My Current Go-To's: Supernatural Everyday (101 Cookbooks Blog) Dinner: A Love Story (Blog) Bon Appetit has a great website. So does Food & Wine and America's Test Kitchen (Heads up: some content is only for paid subscribers). I'm also liking Vegetarian Times, Whole Living...oh! and Cooking Light has made such nice design leaps since I was a newlywed subscriber, that I recommend picking up a hard copy every now and then. Finally, check out Mark Bittman's site, and fittingly, the New York Times Dining & Wine section.
Yay! It's time to map it all out. I made myself a Menu Plan Worksheet that divides the paper into two major sections...Left side, MENU items, Right side, GROCERY LIST. Do it however works best for you. Or download mine here: Weekly Menu.
A. Before you start filling it in, there are some key considerations: Is it well Balanced? Omnivores at heart, we are focused on creating more meatless meals. Got Fish? Let's hear it for lean protein and omega 3s! Special Events? Am I on the hook to bring a dessert to Bunco? School Snacks? Are we low on granola bars?
B. MAKE YOUR PLAN I usually write in the main dish and the side(s) so I don't have to think about it. Write down any special ingredients you'll need onto the grocery list section.
C. Transfer any current "to buy" items from your ongoing fridge list to the grocery list (menu planner sheet).
D. Go shopping and make great food!
CONGRATULATIONS! You've just made the coming week SO MUCH easier. And true confessions...this stuff changes, you know? So if you get invited over to your neighbor's house for brats, you go with it. And ax the plan for that night, or sub it for another night. It's way easier to have too much scheduled than nothing at all.
AS MUCH AS IT PAINS ME to expose my personal/physical goals, I know that making such public statements enhances their probability of success. I came close to calling this "A Quarterly Commitment to Mark Miles + Drop Pounds" but just couldn't do it. Yuck. Yawn. Bleh.
What I want to know is...how do you prioritize exercise? We're all BUSY. Working Moms? MotherRunners? What INSPIRES you? What MOVES you? Also...What are your biggest challenges in fitness? in food?
Since training for a marathon (which I did to the letter, solo) I've kind of lost my discipline. Mainly because I can "cheat". While the 26.2 had me scared serious, now I could run a 15k without much training. I'm getting lazy. But in 2013 I'm stepping it up (without the 26.2 sacrifices--friends, family, toenails). This year I'm committed to a program of four half marathons with a healthy sampling of 5, 10 and 15ks. I signed up for the La Jolla Half Marathon, April 28, #2 in the Triple Crown Series (Carlsbad Half Marathon, La Jolla Half Marathon, America's Finest City(AFC)). I've already completed Carlsbad, in August it's AFC, and in November it's Silver Strand.
I'm inspired by other athletes, and I like to be a role model for my kids. I'm at my best when I get up early to run, and I feel like a total badass when I swing a kettlebell and do
box rock jumps in my backyard. I use Runkeeper to track my workouts, and honestly I love seeing the numbers add up. On the flip side, I'm using LoseIt! to track food. Yes, I like data. Numbers. Stats. And while I'm strong and athletic-ish, I can only imagine the impact when I focus on BOTH goals at the same time. Yes! Let's DO this!
One of the things that makes us all human is the need for approval, reassurance, respect, perhaps even a little adoration. The craving for this can ebb and flow, dependent upon our own ego-boosting magic and our susceptibility to the critics (both real and imaginary).
HEY, YOU LOOK GREAT TODAY Today I ate lunch at my desk, plowed through some documents and took off for a run mid-work day to ease off leftover leg cramps from Sunday's half marathon. I only half baked this idea, since I was too lazy to get up at 6 and do it before work, which means I didn't really pack a full change of clothes (read: underwear) and there is NO way to shower. And I still had an important meeting to attend. Gross. I know. Anywhoooo...after a quick change and a perfume spritz I made a pit stop at the coffee cart to fuel up pre-summit. And guess how I was greeted? "Hey pretty lady! What would you like?" Okay, I do see these guys a few days a week. Do they always greet me like this? No. Actually, never. But today it came at the right time. Right place. I felt GOOD. It made me happy. It gave me a little boost. And who couldn't use a boost?
On the flip side, I've seen some slouching shoulders and heavy heads lately...kids and grown ups alike. It can be a few missed goals on the soccer field, a condescending colleague, a warped work culture. I've seen some (sick) people thrive on tapping this vulnerability in others. Hell, we sometimes perpetuate it ourselves. Seeing this happen so close to home really touches a nerve, and I'm committed to being more conscious of it. Try these on...
CONFIDENCE BOOSTERS (ie. Be the change you want to see in the world.)
• Each day give out one to two (genuine) compliments. Make one be to a complete stranger (those really carry a heavy weight!).
• At the dinner table, instead of highs and lows take turns saying one thing you really admire about the person next to you.
• "Surprise text" a friend or loved one when you think of something special/cool/amazing that REMINDS you of them. Confidence by association!
• Let your kids wear clothes that make them feel good. Even if the combination horrifies you, and you are truly embarrassed by this expression of poor taste, they need to learn for themselves what is accepted or unaccepted by peers, then decide if they want to conform. I said, IF they want to conform.
• Being acknowledged for your appearance may feel FANtastic when you've just celebrated a post-40 birthday. But do young girls (or boys) need this kind of weary praise? Let's give kudos for kindness, or applause for acumen instead.
The other day I was in a building I rarely visit and in the ladies room there was a framed sign that read: "You look particularly great today." And damned if it didn't make me stand a little taller, and think to myself, 'Yes, yes you do.'
I'm not going to lie and tell you I watched the President's second inauguration this morning. Or that I took time to educate my boys on the historical impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (though the day is not over, and I still have an opportunity during tonight's "Table Topics"). Let me tell you that I spent a portion of this day being totally self indulgent. Yes, today was a FREE DAY as we call it in our house, and Free Days are golden. Now Saturday and Sunday are Free Days, of course, but these bonus weekday holidays are more like platinum. Usually we don't have sports scheduled at this time. No doctor or dentist appointments, no mandatory family gatherings, and in theory, we've already done our chores. In theory. Last night the boys slept over at my parents, giving me a head start on this freebie by going to a movie with my girlfriend (Silver Linings Playbook). This morning, the Mister took off for work, and left me in bed, dozey and crampy. I laid around a bit, made coffee, got a bowl of dried cereal and hopped back into bed with both to promptly watch three episodes of The Mindy Project on my iPad. SIDE NOTE: Do you not LOVE Mindy Kaling? This show is like Sex and the City meets Mary Tyler Moore meets The Office with a hint of Grey's Anatomy. Just enough clever, quirky, smart, sexy, charming. FUNNY.
Got out of bed after 9AM (SHOCK! AWE!) and got my running duds on just in time for the boys to come home. Off to basketball (them) and a run (me). Later we went the thrift store, grocery shopping and treated ourselves to frozen yogurt and coffee (me, not them). I ignored a bunch of could do, should do, need to do chores, and sat down to write this up. Me blogging, them iTouching.
Indulgent yes, irresponsible, not really. The joy of being lazy is so rich, and so worth it.
I'm always a bit delayed on my New Year's Goals...I give myself until January 26th, my birthday, to set the wheels in motion. Also, from Thanksgiving until about now I've been in a bit of a funk. Today I really felt the energy of the new year and wanted to grab it and run (which I did, 11 miles baby!). Between now and my birthday I'm going to lay out a few simple resolutions (in no particular order), and I'm phrasing them in the most productive, positive way possible.
"At the end of this year I'd like to feel like I followed through on the commitments I've made to both people and projects."
First in order? To thank and honor the super cool Liebster Award I was given by Go Mama O!
Facts of the Liebster Award
The Liebster Award’s origins are pretty much a mystery. Bloggers nominate other bloggers that have 200 or less followers. It’s basically a “Hey, that’s a sweet little blog you’ve got there. Here’s an award!” You can’t just accept the award. You have to play by the (ever-changing) rules and pay it forward. Then you can put the award on your blog for all to see.
- You gain 30 minutes of free time. What do you choose to do? I am a total magazine whore. Instead of trying to clean something, fold laundry or something so productive I would sit down and pour over WIRED, Sunset, Women's Health, Vogue, Elle Decor, Vegetarian Times, you name it.
- What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Much of my family heritage is English, and we break out the Christmas crackers at our Christmas Eve feast. My aunt and cousins make them, and each one has silly little trinkets and candy. This year we were all treated to fake gnarly teeth, paper crowns, jingle bell necklaces and a custom "would you rather" question to answer out loud at the table.
- Name one person who inspires you. This is so difficult. Okay, Virginia Woolf. Honestly, I think she was such a rock star. Totally independent, bright, curious, brilliant.
- What’s your favorite type of cheese? Oh god really? I have to PICK? Shoot. Drunken Goat from Spain. I also love Blue Camembert. And the real deal Parmegiano Reggiano.
- What do you like most about social media or writing a blog? I love that you can make meaningful connections with other people across the country, across the globe, that you have never met before.
My Five Questions for You 1. If you could pick a theme song for yourself, what would it be? Imagine the opening credits in the movie of YOU, or when you walk out into the ring for the biggest fight of your life... 2. What one quote/saying inspires you consistently? 3. You've been given $10,000 to donate to any one (non-profit) cause. Where do you invest? 4. If you could own one piece of art from any major museum what would it be? 5. What do you consider to be your most brilliant asset?
My Liebster Nominees – Check these ladies out!
http://breakthelookingglass.wordpress.com/ http://relishthejourney.net/ http://notdifferentbutinteresting.wordpress.com/ http://leoniecumiskey.com/ http://clarecooks.wordpress.com/
Thanks again Mama O!
I saw Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots tonight at La Jolla Playhouse after rave reviews from my friends, and of course, because the music is by The Flaming Lips. Despite my interest in seeing a high tech performance featuring some of my fave alt music, I had recently absolved myself of going to the theatre. I had gotten to the point where I was purely going to plays and performances because I thought I should. I thought it was SO me. Arts lovin' culture maven musicphile. What? Boring.
As a kid I went to the Guthrie in Minneapolis, in my 20s I experienced American Player's Theatre in the romantic prairie setting of Spring Green, Wisconsin. I even framed my whole 30th birthday around a trip to NYC to see The Producers. In San Diego I've had my share of The Old Globe and the Playhouse. I've been to the Opera! Whatever. I was OVER IT. It was time for me to Be Sarah, the Sarah who falls asleep mid-act-one and wants to duck out during intermission.
Until now. Yoshimi was lovely and amazing. Fresh and futuristic. Heartbreaking yet joyful. The artistic direction took my breath away, and I didn't even nod off once. I can't say I'm back in the game for good. But I will tell you that it was worth it. And that it really was ME, from the inside out.
All week I've been in a funk. Blame it on the full moon, lunar eclipse, post-holiday blues, WHATever. It's a funk, and I don't mean in a good 70's James Brown sort of way. When asked by the hubs what my problem was, I listed the following: I'm working just to get a paycheck, I haven't exercised all week, I'm not doing anything creative, and I'm tired. His reply? "That's called Parenthood."
The whole reason I re-started my blog was to be explore and appreciate life's daily drill, and to remind myself that really, THIS is enough. But is it? I got teary at Thanksgiving when the Mister gave thanks for our two boys. Yeah, humble brag, I think they are awesome, and smart, and athletic and (mostly polite) if not a little quirky. I actually LOVE being a parent. I feel totally devoted to being a parent to these two little charmers, and together we have made this our top priority. But with some sacrifices too. We both work 9-5s (with flexibility) and we carefully juggle all of the school and sport responsibilities like so many other families out there. But are all you parents fulfilled by this? If you work outside the home, do you LOVE your job as much as you LOVE being a parent? If not, then what? How do you MAKE the time for the other parts of your life that need to be nourished? It's hella hard, and I'm taking it one day at a time.