Walk This Way

As I watch my friends post on Facebook about 5Ks, 10Ks, half and full marathons, my first reaction is how proud I am of all of them and their dedication to training for these races. It is not easy. My second thought is–better them than me.

If there is anything that I am 100% sure of it is that I am not a runner. Nor am I up for any flashy events that I see advertised like the Tough Mudder or anything that ends in the words “boot camp.” It isn’t like I haven’t tried to be someone I’m not. A few years ago, I trained for my first (and last) 5K. I hired a fabulous personal trainer to keep me on track and motivate me every step of the way (so to speak). And I did it. A few months later, I crossed the finish line with her by my side. I’m proud to say that while I didn’t have the fastest time, I wasn’t the last one either.

While I remember feeling exhilarated that I completed the race and I consider that 5K to be a great personal accomplishment, I can honestly say that I don’t feel the need to do it ever again. I have no interest in improving my PR (personal record) nor do I want to graduate to longer races. Running is not a passion of mine.

Walking on the other hand is much more my speed. I love to walk. I walk 5K races. I walk at my local park. I park my car further away and walk through the parking lot to the store. I walk around my neighborhood and at the gym. I love to walk.

Last month, I logged over 300,000 steps as I raised awareness and money for childhood cancer research. I have different walking buddies and I feel just as good – if not better – about myself after a nice workout. I find it much easier to fit in a walk as opposed to a run. I can walk in my work clothes on my lunch hour. I don’t need to map out a route for my walk – I simply walk out the door. I walk at a good pace so as to break a sweat but not worry about injuring myself.

Walking has a lot of benefits to both my physical and mental health. It clears my head, boosts my memory and it is a great excuse to catch up with friends. Talk about multi-tasking.

So, I will cheer on my friends who go the distance, improve their PR and smile the entire time. I hope they will cheer me on as well.

Life Is Better With A Dog

After being away for a week on vacation, my family couldn’t wait to get home, sleep in our own beds and see our dog, Chloe. But, there was one problem. She was with her foster family a half an hour away and we couldn’t get her until the next morning.

We walked into a too quiet house a little sad knowing that our entire family was not together – and wouldn’t be until we brought Chloe home.

Before last summer, there were so many reasons why I absolutely never wanted to get a dog. My husband and kids were totally on board with it, but I was the last holdout. I held out for a long time.
I had a lot of concerns.

  • I never grew up with a dog.
  • I didn’t know what to do with a dog.
  • I’m allergic to dogs.
  • I didn’t want to be the mom who rescued the dog, but had to give it back because of my allergies.
  • I didn’t want to be the person who left parties early to go home and let the dog out.

I thought they were all valid reasons, but I knew my husband longed for man’s best friend. My kids practically campaigned monthly for us to get a dog. Every time we visited a home with a furry friend they begged for me to change my mind.

So, I finally caved. Maybe it was because I couldn’t take denying the rest of my family their wish. Maybe I wanted something else to take care of now that my kids were getting older. Maybe I wanted to see what I was missing out on.

It seemed like the moment I said yes to rescuing a dog, Chloe arrived. My husband wasted no time finding her. To solve the allergy problem, we needed a dog that didn’t shed at all. Chloe is a schnoodle – part schnauzer, part poodle–which was perfect for our family. I had my doubts, but the minute we brought Chloe home – there was no way she was ever going back.

When we first got her, I had two hard and fast rules – she can’t lay on my favorite couch or in my bed. Guess where she is sitting as I type this post? Right next to me, of course, on my bed. And the couch—it’s her spot. She loves to lay in the sun and watch the other dogs go by.

So much for my rules.

She won me over on the first day she came home. After pacing the house and getting used to her new surroundings, I was the one she let pet her first. She followed me around all day long and won my heart.

And now a year later, I am a total dog person. Chloe is a part of the family. I have an “I Love My Schnoodle” magnet on my car. She has an Eagles jersey for football season and a Halloween costume. I buy more treats for her than anyone else in the house. My favorite part of the day is when she greets me at the door just happy that I’m home.

I have to face it – I’m a dog person.

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!

Kitchen Woes

When we met with our financial planner recently, we went over our situation and discussed important matters such as vacations we still want to take, paying for college and retirement among other things. We sat there for about 20 minutes listening to the different options when I finally blurted out, “But what about the kitchen?!”

I was completely serious though. For 15 years, I’ve longed for a kitchen with a place for everything and I’ve lived in a kitchen where nothing is where it should be. Hopefully, this is the year that we finally re-do our kitchen.We have redecorated almost every other room in the house and this is the last one on the list (besides the laundry room – which is a whole different story).

I have dreamed about it for so long. I have photos of other people’s newly renovated kitchens in my phone. My one active Pinterest page is dedicated to gorgeous kitchen designs complete with a coffee nook, an island, granite countertops and countless storage possibilities.

Over the summer, my frustration with the kitchen reached its highest level when I simply wanted to enjoy my favorite seasonal dish – corn on the cob. It took me 10 minutes to husk the corn, another 15 minutes to grill and 45 minutes to find four pairs of plastic corn holders for every member of my family.

The search was on. I found the navy blue pair first followed by the red in the back of the drawer where they live. I went one drawer down to look for the other pairs which proved futile. But, I wasn’t giving up so easily.  I found the 3rd pair – the white ones – in the junk drawer on the other side of the kitchen where my binder clips and push pins are stored. Did someone mistake them for office supplies? To this day, I’m still looking for the fourth pair of plastic holders – the yellow ones. Or maybe I’ll just buy new ones to go with my new kitchen.

Stay tuned…

 

I Don’t Know What to Say

It’s day 3 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge and I’m in the middle of two blog posts that aren’t quite ready for prime time. One is about how bad I am at teaching my daughter to drive and the other is about my kitchen renovation which hasn’t even started yet.

And, it isn’t because I have writer’s block – although I’m no stranger to it. I’m just not into either of these topics today. Today, they seem so mundane.

I think that it is just because I really don’t know what to say. These slice of life topics that have high priority in my own life seem so unimportant when people in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico are fighting for basic needs – food, water, electricity, medicine, communications. Today, our hot water heater broke and so did our dryer and my family is annoyed and inconvenienced. But, we will still have food on the table tonight and a warm bed to sleep in,

And I don’t know what to write when a madman kills 59 people and wounds 500 more in a random and senseless act of violence. And I can’t understand why our leaders pass laws restricting a woman’s right to chose, the right to marry whomever we love and the right to free speech and yet are so carefree about gun control and saving lives.

So, do you really want to hear about my kitchen today? I didn’t think so. Maybe tomorrow…

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…

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