Archive of ‘My Life’ category

Crossing Things Off My 2016 To-Do List

Today, I was going through some old papers and came across my to-do list from January 29, 2016. Normally, I would throw this away with the rest of the outdated paperwork, but I was curious to see if almost 2 years later, there was anything still left to be done.

Item #1 – Fix or replace the dryer. Our dryer was giving me problems for a long time. It would work for a while and then go on strike at a moment’s notice–usually, when there was a load of wet clothes ready to throw in. The repairman-who we were on a first name basis with–was always able to save it until the next time. This went on for quite some time and I admit that the dryer became a rare point of contention in an otherwise very happy marriage. I gave up on bringing it up and decided to wait out the dryer until it blew out its last breath of hot air.

That day came last weekend. Finally! It was kaput. And our brand new, beautiful and working dryer was delivered this past Thursday. Almost two years later, I’m happy to report that I can cross this off the list.

Item #2 – Buy new pictures for the hall bathroom. – Our hall bathroom has been designated for our kids since they were born. It also serves as our guest bathroom when the downstairs powder room is occupied. In that bathroom, we have two incredibly young prints suited for babies and toddlers – one of a rubber ducky and one of a baby in a diaper about to get into a bubble bath.

Did I mention, my kids are now 16 and almost 14 and have moved on? But apparently my bathroom decor hasn’t grown up with them. The rubber ducky has got to go – but alas it is still there–for now.

Item #3 – Make a dermatologist appointment. – I went to a dermatologist in my mid-30s on a regular basis when I was suffering from a bad case of adult acne. Although she was efficient and all traces of my acne are long gone, I found her bedside manner to be cold and distant. I felt like I was patient number 58 out of 1,000 instead of someone she could spend a little time with and address my concerns. I haven’t been back to her in years. But, as I get older I know should really get a skin exam and I will – just as soon as I find a new dermatologist.

Item #4 – Develop a presence on LinkedIn – Ah, this one I know I have done, but I can’t officially check it off the list because it is always a work in progress. I am proud of my All-Star LinkedIn rating. I frequently write posts and read and share articles about email marketing and non profit communications. I constantly connect with new people and seek out ways in which I can lend them some professional advice. Through this social media platform, I am presenting myself in the most professional and authentic manner possible so that people will seek out my expertise and new opportunities will come my way.

Item #5 – Create a book club calendar - I launched a book club many years ago with ladies in my neighborhood. We are still going strong in the way that we meet on a fairly regular basis – but I would say it is about 25% talking about the book and 75% socializing. I just wish we were a bit more organized. In a perfect world, I would ask everyone to suggest the books we are going to read and put it on a schedule months ahead of time. Some book clubs have theme nights based on the culture or topic of the book. That would be so fun! There are so many great ways for our book club to be even better, but everyone is busy and I totally get that. For now, it is a great little getaway once a month supported by my husband who nods his head in a dubious way when I tell him I’m “going to book club.”

So, I’m 2 for 5 in crossing things off my 2016 to-do list. Not bad, but not great. At least I have a head start on my list for 2018.

Help Me Pick My Office Halloween Costume!

It is a little more than 3 weeks before Halloween and I don’t have a costume yet. While I’m well past my trick-or-treating days, I am apparently not too old to dress up in costume for the office. I have a few ideas, but I haven’t quite decided which one I am going with yet. Maybe you can help me out.

Choice 1 – My alter ego – As summer changes to fall, my allergies kick in big time. I am constantly sniffling and I have tissues everywhere. I figured that I could go as Sneezy – from Snow White and the 7 dwarfs. I’m planning to skip my weekly allergy shot so my co-workers can experience the full effect of my authentic costume.

Choice 2 – My true self – I can go to work in full on writer mode with a t-shirt that reads “I Am Silently Correcting Your Grammar” along with my favorite flannel, leggings, fuzzy slippers and a baseball cap. I’ll even walk around with a thesaurus, a huge cup of coffee and a handful of pens for good measure. Maybe that will be the day I distribute my organization’s updated style guide.

Choice 3 – My retro self – I have a 70’s disco queen costume complete with go-go boots and peace signs, but I’m afraid very few people in my office would appreciate the effort since I mostly work with millennials.

Choice 4The easy way out – Find a “This Is My Halloween Costume” t-shirt. Done.

Choice 5 – My brilliant costume  – The Invisible Woman – and stay home, but tell everyone I’m really at my desk working.

Clearly I need help. Which idea do you like best? Have a better idea? Please share!

What If…

A few short weeks ago, I let my teenager go with her friends to a 2 day outdoor concert event in Philadelphia called the Made in America Festival. Admittedly, I was nervous about her taking the train, navigating her way through the big city and attending an event with 50,000 other concert-goers. Still, as a parent, we are told to give our kids roots and wings and this seemed to be as good an opportunity as any to show her that we trust her and for her to show us that she could be trusted.

And it was. She demonstrated her street smarts and independence by figuring out the train schedules and getting herself to and from the event without getting lost. She showed common sense and kept her word when she stayed with her friends at all times whether they went to the bathroom, got snacks or watched the different bands on various stages throughout the large venue.

The only piece of parental advice I gave her that day was to stay alert. Stay alert to her surroundings among strangers. She knew what I meant. And then I watched her walk out the door and I refused to fall asleep until she walked back in later that night.

This morning, I woke up to news of the shooting at a similar venue in Las Vegas and I couldn’t help but think – what if? What if that happened in our city? It isn’t unreasonable to think so. What if she was caught in the middle of that kind of chaos? What if I never was able to go to bed that night?

All day long, I’ve thought about whether or not I would still send her to that concert today. And I know the answer is yes. Because I don’t want her to be afraid of going to a concert, a nightclub or a ball game or get on a plane or travel abroad. I want her to live her life to the fullest. I want her to enjoy the music of her youth and make tons of memories with her friends.

And above all, I don’t want them to win.

As I take a stand with others today against gun violence, I gave her a hug this morning, told her I love her – as I do every day – and this time snuck in an extra squeeze for the parents across the country whom I don’t even know whose children will never come home.

Traveling with Anxiety

This past summer, my family celebrated my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary by spending a beautiful week together in Costa Rica. I got to experience a country I had never been to before and an amazing culture while having a memorable time with our extended family.

I love to travel to new places and experience new things, but prior to the trip–and frankly prior to any vacation or business trip I go on–my anxiety tends to kick in. I can’t help it. I tend to pack my fears right next to my bathing suits.

My mind was full of questions. Would I be able to drink the water? Am I going to get sick from the food? What exactly does “all-inclusive” mean in Central America? Will they even have WiFi?

To deal with my anxiety and uncertainty, I took it upon myself to do some research ahead of time to calm my fears. Thanks to Google, I found a top 10 list of facts about Costa Rica.

Fact #1 – They have a female president. 
Me – NICE! I’m with her!

Fact#2 – Costa Rica is one of the happiest countries in the world. 
Me – Hakuna Matata. Don’t worry be happy. Or as they say in CR – Pura Vida. (I start to relax.)

Fact#3 – Gourmet coffee is the main export.
Me – Did someone say gourmet coffee? SOLD! When do we leave??

I should have stopped reading right then and there. Really, I should have stopped, but alas I kept on scrolling.

Fact #4 – Costa Rica is home to 20,000 different kinds of spiders.
Me: What?! NOPE! Not happening. Spiders?! 20,000 different kinds? Are you freaking kidding me? What was I thinking? (SEE ANXIETY GO INTO MAJOR OVERDRIVE)

After breathing into a paper bag for what seemed like hours, I put the rest of the article away and pretended I never saw Fact #4.

A few days later, I found another article ticking off the highlights of the amazing rain forest, the beauty of the lush countryside, the friendliness of the people and, of course, the gourmet coffee.

Two weeks later, I’m proud to say that I walked into my hotel room and–guess what–they had WiFi! And a beautiful view of the Pacific ocean. There was even a stocked minibar complete with 3 different kinds of rum in the event of any surprise spider sightings. And most importantly, my beautiful family around me excited to be there.

I began to relax again.


The Life of a (Former) People Pleaser

I had a roommate in college who never learned to drive. As her roommate, it quickly became my responsibility to take her to and from work, drive her to campus and wait around until she was done to bring her home. Sometimes, I would go home, eat dinner, run errands, hang out with friends and go back for her later. In return, she never offered to pay for gas, expected my help at the drop of a hat and rarely thanked me for it.

I’m not exactly sure why I agreed to do this or how I wound up in that position to begin with, but I never complained. I just kept on doing it. Why? Because I wanted her to be my friend. And because I was afraid if I didn’t drive her where she needed to go, no one else would and that would be all my fault.

I was the quintessential people pleaser.

After we graduated, my roommate and I drifted apart. It turned out we weren’t as good of friends as I once thought (surprise, surprise) and frankly I was tired of being her doormat. It was my first step in a long journey toward being comfortable with putting myself first.

I read recently that people pleasers tend to say yes to everything and everyone because they either fear rejection or failure or both. Check off both boxes for me. I’ve learned that being a people pleaser, can bring on stress (check) and depression (check) in a person’s life because we are constantly putting other people’s needs before our own (check, check).

These days, I would describe myself as a recovering people pleaser. There are times when I find myself going back to my old ways, doing everything for everybody until I’m exhausted, get mad at myself and quit cold turkey.

As I get a little older and a lot wiser, I’m learning to put my own goals and dreams first because let’s face it – I’m not getting any younger. That doesn’t mean that I’m not willing to do favors for people or be supportive or show up in a time of need. I’m still that kind of person. I’m just making a little more room in my life for me.

Here is what that looks like right now:

  • I’ve started writing again.
  • I get in my 10,000 steps a day (more or less)
  • I spend more time with my family and friends.
  • I volunteer for what I want when I want.
  • I make the kids do the dishes 4 times a week and soon they will be doing their own laundry.
  • I ask for help instead of trying to be a Superwoman all of the time.
  • I’ve learned to say no.
  • I’ve set goals for myself that I plan on reaching.
  • I’ve allowed myself to dream a little more about what I want to accomplish.
  • I’ve given myself permission to dedicate more time to make those goals and dreams a reality.

And the ultimate success of being a recovering people pleaser is that I wake up every day feeling happy about it all, fulfilled and not the least bit guilty.

Am I Serious?

There are days that I think to myself that there is a book inside of me waiting to come out. I wonder if I’ll wake up one day and these random blog posts will appear to me as a complete work worthy of publishing. I actually have an idea for a book that has nothing to do with this blog, but I can’t do it alone. I’m also not sure if I have the time to write every day when I already have a full time job, a husband and two kids. I’m also not sure I have the discipline it takes to sit down and write every day, although I do try.

I’m just not sure.

There are other days when I don’t think about my so-called book. I think about my great-great granddaughter who might want to know what life was like at the beginning of the 21st century. I’ve always thought that all of us are a part of history – whether we are making history or witnessing and reacting to it. I wonder if she will come across my journals one day when I’m long gone and be excited to read them.

I only hope she can understand my handwriting.

I take my writing seriously, but I don’t necessarily think of myself as a serious writer. To me, a serious writer makes the time to write every day. I don’t have that kind of time. And when I do, I admit that I get easily distracted watching the 3rd season of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix when I should be writing.

I have a stack of books about writing that I’ve read over and over again for inspiration. I devour the advice in the latest issue of Writer’s Digest. I even have a favorite kind of pen – a Pentel RSVP fine point pen. Trust me, it’s a great pen. Does all of this make me a serious writer?

My purse needs to be big enough to throw in my light green Moleskine notebooks so they are with me when I’m on the go. You never know where or when or what is going to inspire my next big idea or next riveting blog post and I need to be ready to jot it down. Does that make me a serious writer?

I’m honestly not sure if I’d call myself a serious writer. But I know in my heart that I love to write and that is what I’m meant to do, no matter who reads it. There are stories to be told, memories to be shared and lessons to be learned and to be serious that is what matters most to me.

Life Got In The Way

True confession: There are times when I sit at my Weight Watchers meeting and often check my email while only half listening to the leader. I know. I know. It’s rude. I should give her my full attention. It’s not her fault; she is actually very good at her job. I can check my email any time and attending meetings is supposedly a big part of succeeding on this program.

I know. Okay. I know. I’m sorry. I’m a multi-tasker with a severe lack of patience. I can’t help myself.

But this week, while I was checking my email (and my Facebook page), I heard something that made me sit up and pay attention. Somewhere in between the monotonous litany of point finds and sharing recipes I know I’ll never try – someone was talking about how taking care of ourselves is so important and yet so incredibly hard. So many little things get in the way of making healthy choices. Instead of making time to exercise, track food, drink water, and prepare meals, we are all taking care of everyone else and their needs.

And then she said something brilliant. If taking care of ourselves isn’t meaningful enough to us, then it will never become a priority. And she is right. There are so many little things that have gotten in my way of succeeding on any weight loss plan – laundry, dishes, homework, errands to name a few.

And then there are the big things that got in my way – overcoming depression, planning my son’s bar mitzvah, getting used to a new job, adjusting to a different schedule and a much longer commute and dammit who has time to lose weight, let alone sit at a meeting without checking my inbox?!

But my Weight Watchers leader had an excellent point. A point so good that it gave an entirely new meaning to their typical Weight Watchers SmartPoints. And I left the meeting making a big decision – it is high time for me to get back to my own self-care and make myself the priority. And for me, this means a few important things:

  • Being more present in the lives of those who I love (a.k.a stop constantly checking email and FB)
  • Finding time to exercise
  • Plan out and cook meals and track my food intake
  • Write more often (hence this blog post – my first one in over a year)
  • Read, read, read

How am I going to succeed this time? What will be different? For the first time in a long time, I’m putting myself at the top of my to-do list.

Stay tuned…

Keeping it Casual

As I desperately sift through the racks at Bloomingdales, I am a woman on a mission. I am in search of the perfect piece of clothing. I don’t care if what I find is a shirt, a pair of pants or a dress. It doesn’t matter what color or even pattern necessarily. Sometimes, I snag a cool pair of earrings or some cute sandals. I know what I’m looking for and it needs to have only two innate qualities – it has to be casual, but professional.

I’m looking for something trendy yet authoritative, cool and collected, fashionable (affordable) and fabulous. In order for this mission to be successful, I’ve had to abandon my regular trips to Loft because the merchandise doesn’t fit the bill. I already have a closet full of black and gray slacks with matching tops and blazers that could dress an army of businesswomen.

But now, I work in an office where the dress code is casual. Not business casual, but casual casual. This is a challenge for someone who has a closet full of apparel from Ann Taylor and Banana Republic. My closet needs a makeover.

Jeans are practically the uniform at the office. Any kind of jean is acceptable – except for the mom kind. Dark, faded, even ripped jeans are acceptable, but that is where I draw the line. I refuse to wear ripped jeans to work because I personally don’t think it is professional and frankly it seems silly to try and pull off at my age.

I want clothes that don’t look maternal, but also doesn’t look like I’m trying too hard. The pink jeans last week were a mistake – a big one. What looked cute first thing in the morning was ridiculous to me by noon. I missed the mark that day.

And no matter how great something looks in the dressing room – it doesn’t look nearly as good on me when I get home. Since I have no time to go back and return it, I wear it anyway and secretly hope someone will pay me a compliment so I know I fit in. I thought I was past all of this, but apparently I’m not because there I am waiting for acceptance – like a middle school student wanting to be included by the popular girls.

So, I’ve abandoned my go-to stores and recently stepped my toes into boutiques where I don’t typically shop. Even the department stores I dreaded as a kid are now a gold mine for all types of clothes for women of a certain age.

Yes, I’m well aware of my first world problem, but I still dream of mornings when I don’t change my clothes at least 3 times in search of the perfect outfit. That will be a mission accomplished.


An Avid Reader’s Soap Opera

My books are fighting over me again. It’s my own fault. I’ve been neglecting all of them. I’m so busy these days with a new job, running the kids around, trying to keep enough underwear and towels clean and answering that age old question night after night – what’s for dinner?

Still, I need to pick a new book soon and my choices are getting anxious. Actually, they are pissed at me. And I don’t blame them. They have their reasons and they are good ones. My books have always been jealous of the flashy Samsung tablet I keep in my purse with the oh-so-convenient Kindle app. I’ve cheated on my pile of books so many times by purchasing countless novels on a whim.The immediate satisfaction is intoxicating. And you know what? I even read them too!

I’m so ashamed. It’s addicting and so wrong.

I tell people that I love the feel of a book in my hands. Turning actual pages is such a meaningful gesture for an avid reader like myself. Swiping just doesn’t give me the same thrill.

But, my books think I’m a fraud and perhaps they are right. I can hear them now as they start their accusations.

The 19th Wife says, “I see her downloading in secret. She thinks I don’t notice, but I do. I sit here and wait patiently collecting dust – even though we both know that I sit at the very top of her Goodreads list.”

“She has no choice. She must pick me next!” declares The Catcher in the Rye emphatically. “Otherwise, how else will Jenna ever finish her 10th grade English paper? It’s not like she can fake it. We all know she never read me in high school.”

All of a sudden, Big Magic, by the well-renowned author Elizabeth Gilbert interrupts. “But she needs me. Her writer’s mojo is at stake AND by the way she took me to Maryland this past weekend. We had a lovely time getting to know each other better.”

“What about me?” cries Roses who was carelessly tossed on the floor in the corner of my room a few weeks ago. To her, I reply. “I tried. I really did. I had such high hopes for us. Tumbleweeds was one of my favorite books! You have to understand. It’s not you. It’s me. I’m just not that into you.”

“Am I not good enough for you?” asks I’ll Give You the Sun – my book club pick that I haven’t even finished yet, but anticipate our relationship will be ending very soon. She is so great and I can’t put her down, but it is going way too fast for me.

“Call me!” yells The Kitchen House from a small coffee table in my living room.

And finally, as I stand by my bed in my guilty state of distress, the drawer of my nightstand nudges at me and quietly slides open. A certain book peeks out and speaks to me. “We both know they aren’t getting any until you are finished with me.” whispers Fifty Shades of Grey.The drawer closes and – damn it(!) – I know she is right.

Stay tuned. The saga continues…as the neglected magazines on the dining room table are beginning to get restless and are planning to protest.


Carpe Donut

Seize the donut!

I can’t remember when this birthday tradition of treating myself to one of my favorite foods began, but it has stuck and I’m glad.

This morning, I woke up with a bit of a dilemma. My husband and I have pledged to each other good health and a commitment to taking better care of ourselves. This means we are going to eat right, achieve our weight loss goals this year, and support each other on this journey. To help us along, we are joining Weight Watchers together and our first meeting is tonight.

So, I woke up this morning torn between a new promise and an old tradition. Even one Boston Kreme donut is way more points than I want to consume on any given day. I asked myself, is it worth it?

In my 45 years on this planet, there are some life lessons I have learned and cherished which helped me make the wiser and more responsible choice. After careful thought and good judgement, I decided – Yes, it is totally worth it.

Here are some of these lessons which helped me resolve this problem.

Live in the moment – All year long, I deny myself this treat  when I walk into Dunkin Donuts for a cup of coffee. On an almost daily basis, I crave the donuts from afar and they call to me – pick me, pick me! I tell myself that it is a birthday present only and not a regular purchase. It is a splurge – if you will – and what better day to splurge than on my birthday. Live in the moment. Carpe diem! Or donut in this case.

Practice generosity – You get a donut! You get a donut! You get a donut! I feel like the Oprah Winfrey of my house because not only is this my birthday tradition, but I take the entire family down with me. My birthday is known in my house as Boston Kreme donut day. Celebrating with my family and being generous enough to share my treat with them brings me great joy….which brings me to my next lesson.

Do what makes you happy – A donut AND a blog post – what a great birthday! I love to write and although I have been neglecting this blog lately for many reasons I won’t go into right now, it is never far from my mind. And as luck would have it, this donut dilemma is turning into a great post- if I do say so myself.

Perfection is overrated – This is a lesson I’m still working on. I am far from perfect, although I try hard to be all the time. I blame myself a lot for things that are often out of my control. I do the best I can and I’m finally starting to realize that my best is good enough. My house is not perfect. My kids don’t have to do things exactly the way I want it. Even my diet is not perfect which is how I like it. I need to have room for imperfection on special occasions. This is one of them.

Be grateful –  I am fortunate enough to go through this world with a loving family, caring and wonderful friends, and a great career. I have dreams and goals that I’m still working towards which keeps me young. I am incredibly grateful for this amazing life – one that includes Boston Kreme donuts.


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