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Where to begin…

This is the post excerpt.

I use to be fabulous. 

Seriously, everyone has that one friend where amazing things just happen when they are around. I’m that person. My life is filled with “What are the chances of that?”.  I have been told I should write a book. I never knew that was not normal. To me it is just my life. It has always been like that. I don’t know any different. 

Then I got married (for the 2nd time) later in life and had a couple kids. One day I stepped out of the shower, looked at myself in the mirror and wondered what happened? That was not my body. Who was this exhausted woman looking back at me? What happened to the adventurous woman who lived life to the fullest? 


I only have 5 weeks left paying Manimony. My youngest is in pre-school and my oldest starting kindergarten tomorrow.  I dusted off my passport several months ago and took my first trip in years to meet up with a friend for New Years. My 2nd trip is coming up in a month. I feel like I can finally start to breathe again. It is time to find myself again.

This is my journey back to that woman. The struggle to be true to yourself while working full time and being a wife and a mother. My re-discovery. 

My weight loss journey-the hubby joins me

Things are returning to “normal” in our house. The kids are back in school and my coworker is trying to buy her 1st home and actually wants to work ALL of the overtime until she is settled and I am happy to let her! With this weeks overtime behind me and no more in the future I’m feeling human again.

With my husband on board with the weight loss it is making my life easier with less temptation. Our new fridge was delivered a week ago (the old one finally died.) so we are stocking back up on healthy food and cooking at home. It was rough going for the few weeks between “fridge isn’t working” and “new one is here” but we survived.

My hurdle now is exercise. With masking back at the gym it’s a no-go. I can’t do cardio in a mask. I already wheeze like crazy without the mask adding to my struggle. I was full on ready to get back to my walking around the park and back then the fires started and now the air quality is “chunky” with a mist of ash falling constantly. I’m pretty sure the smoke and ash are not good for my lungs. My current plan is to skip cardio and work on my core and stretching until masking at the gym goes away or the air is breathable outside again.

Halfway through august and I’m down 3 lbs so far. At least it’s going in the right direction.

My weight loss journey-July 2021

Holy setbacks Batman!

Thankfully I only gained 1 lb in July and that is a miracle. Between the 4th of July holiday weekend and the 60+ hour work weeks I am amazed that is all I gained. I’m the type of person who draws a line in the sand, regroups and starts over. That is what August was going to be for me…a fresh start. With the overtime behind me I’m getting back to my meal planning and back to the gym! I had a plan…and it was a good one then Thursday, July 29th I get told that the overtime is going to continue through August oh, and by the way you are working on Saturday too. I almost cried.

My work week has been 8-5 Monday, 8-7:30 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday then back to 8-5 Friday and Saturday. Yes, you read that right…6 days a week and three 11.5 hour days. Oh, and I have an hour commute each way. I’m struggling. I’m exhausted. I’m desperately trying to regroup and try to figure out how I can make this work. My decision…food is key. I just do not have time or energy to exercise so my diet needs to be near perfect.

I have had suggestions from fit people I know try to help me figure out how to fit exercise in my day. I’m up by 5:30 AM and leave the house about 6:30 AM and get home around 6 or 8:30 PM depending on the day. I get ready for bed at 9 and I’m asleep somewhere between 10-11pm. Giving me 5.5-7.5 hours sleep depending on the night. My early days I spend as much time as possible with the kids before they go to bed because I don’t see them at all on my late days. That is honestly the hardest part…not seeing the kids.

So I average about 6.5 hours of sleep a night and I’m at work, commuting or with my kids the other part. What do I give up? Work is set and I don’t want to work the OT as it is, but it isn’t optional. Sleep? I’m exhausted as it is. Time with my kids…yeah, I’ll give up sleep first. My kids are still little and they grow up so fast. I’m not making excuses. It’s just my reality. I have pondered this trying to work out a solution on those many hours commuting. I have goals so I was going to cut my gym time down to 30 min. But as if the OT wasn’t crushing enough Friday I get an email from the gym saying they are going back to mandatory masking for everyone while in the building vaccinated or not as of August 1st. That sealed the deal for me and I put my membership on hold.

So that’s where I am. My first month that I did not loose anything and actually gained a pound. I am determined NOT to gain anything in the month of August and my goal is to lose at least 4 lbs with diet alone. I’ll check in again at the beginning of September with an update.

Coming out of the pandemic…slowly

I’ll say it… I love NOT wearing a mask. I love to see people smiling and greeting each other. I love hearing about families and friends reuniting. I love that things are slowly getting back to the old normal. Screw the new normal. New normal sucks. I want the old normal back.

Honestly the only good thing that came out of covid was curbside pickup everywhere. I love not having to get the kids out of the car to grab a few items in the store. I order online. I get an email when it’s ready I drive up. They throw my order in my car and I’m out. L-O-V-E it!

I look forward to the day that no one even mentions “social distancing”. I don’t like people all up in my face to begin with but I’m really tired of not being able to tell where the line is because it just looks like a bunch of random people standing around on their phones.

Along that same line…I’d like the whole “Karen” thing to just stop. Seriously, just stop. Also, I’m tired of people telling me to “be safe” all the time. I don’t recall ever telling anyone to “be safe” in my life. I have asked friends if they need a condom. I have told friends to call or text me if they don’t feel safe. I have told my kids to get down that’s not safe. But it’s not a parting greeting for strangers. Goodbye, see you later, have a great day, enjoy your weekend… those are awesome ways to part. But honestly, I’m annoyed by “no worries” as well. For example, let’s say a patient comes in 3 hours late for their appointment and it’s 4:59 and you get off work at 5:00. They explain that their appointment just wasn’t at a good time for them so they figured they would just come in now because that works better. Here I’m thinking “no way in hell I’m staying late for an inconsiderate jerk. You need to rebook. I’ll see you in 2 months” but then I hear my coworker tell them. “Oh, no worries. She’s still here and can see you before she goes home.”

No worries really? No worries should be for something that you are ACTUALLY distressed about. Like “OMG my purse was just stolen and my keys and phone were in it and I’m a total wreck! How am I going to get home? How do I call someone without my phone? What am I going to do?” Telling someone “no worries. Let me help you figure this out. Do you know anyone’s phone number that may have a spare key to your car?” No worries should be for someone who is ACTUALLY worried who is experiencing something outside their control. Not just anyone with an excuse for their own bad behavior.

We can do this people! We can get it together, be kind, get back to work and have some patience for those who have worked through the entire pandemic from the medical staff to the grocery clerks to the server at your local eatery. They are exhausted, understaffed, tired of being yelled at for things they have no control over and dealing with the public (many of them who lost their minds) for the last year and a half.

When pulling an all nighter is not what it use to be

I love my creative side. Sometimes my creative side and my type-A personality obsessive planner side get together a couple times a month when I have scheduled photography days out to create new content for my photography business. I never really thought of this as a thing until I did an internet quiz to find what type of photographer I should be. It was spot on. Just incase it was generic BS I read the other types. They were so not me at all. I hate admitting it, but the internet quiz was right.

I plan my days out. I scout for a place with a purpose in mind. I choose particular times of year or times of the day. I actually have a notebook with brainstorm ideas of locations/subjects with notes. I have folders with information, books I have read in research, and links saved in folders on my laptop. It’s what I do.

If things don’t work out as I planned to get the shots I want I’ll regroup and try again until I get it. I brave bad weather, long travel days, early mornings and late nights. I get insect bites, bee stings, sunburns, scratches, scrapes and sprains. To most people it seems insane. But when I get that perfect shot…I know it was all worth it.

I’m not a photoshop photographer. I believe in taking the shot not faking the shot. I’ll crop, change the tone and adjust the color to brighten or soften the shot. But it’s always the same shot. I think people do amazing things in photoshop, but it just isn’t for me. I think it’s because I learned on film and back then we didn’t have the option to take a crappy shot and fix it later. You had to take a good shot to begin with.

Either way, everyone needs an outlet. It may be sports, binging tv, gardening, woodworking, cooking or something entirely different. Especially now as we creep our way out of the pandemic. If you have not found your peace keep trying new things. You never know when something will stick.

When a “day off” not really an actual day of rest

At some point “days off” work didn’t actually become a restful day to recuperate from work and enjoy life but they became just more work. It starts slow. You do your laundry, get groceries or run a few errands but easily have time to hit happy hour, grab lunch with a friend and catch a movie or go to the park with your family. My life has not been like that in some time now. It makes me wonder what happened? I see photos on Facebook of people out doing all kinds of things but not me. I always seem to be busy. Now, I’m not saying that I never get out, because I do. Just not as often as most other people.

I knew I was busy but I didn’t really understand until a few days ago. I took a day off of work so my husband could go to the dentist. He would not be done in time to get the kids off the bus so I took the day off of work. Now, my thought was I have a lot of things I need to get caught up for my photography business on so I’ll just get up like I’m going to work and pop open my laptop in the living room and get some work done. 13 hours later I finally got caught up…kinda. I still have more to do. There is always more to do.

Now I’m behind on my blog posts. How did this happen? Well…I have been busy. We are behind at work so there has been a lot of overtime. We had several people quit to take care of their kids when the schools did not reopen in the fall. No one has applied for those open jobs in almost a year now. Because we have been working short staffed we now have 4 people out injured (I will be joining them briefly when I have my carpal tunnel surgery after the kids are back in school). All of these vacancies have now brought us to the point that we have been opening for Saturday appointments for the last 3 months to try to catch up and now this month we are opening in the evenings too. So in an effort to be a team player I have been working from 7:30AM-7:30PM 4 days a week and 7:30-5 on Fridays. My coworker has been working 6 days a week taking the Saturdays since she works from 8:30-5 on weekdays. Add in my kids, photography business, household chores and getting up at 4:30 AM to get to the gym (that just opened on June 15th) before work and I am one busy, exhausted woman.

So I started looking at those relaxed, refreshed people out enjoying life all the time and wondered what they have in common. What are they doing (or not doing) that allows them to just chill out? With 1 exception the thing they all have in common is lack of a job. They have someone else providing the money they live on. About half have a minimal gig they do from selling something from a MLM of some sort or teaching an occasional class on something. By minimal I’m talking 1-2 days a week for about 2 hours actually working. Something to give them something to do. All have teenage or older kids. Only one had a full time job but her kids are grown and out of the house and no grandkids yet.

This made me realize that I’m not being fair to myself. I’m not comparing apples to apples. These women are not gone from the home almost 70 hours a week commuting or at work. Most days I’m commuting or at work for 15 of the 24 hours in a day. 9 hours to sleep, shower and go to the gym. No wonder I look exhausted. The 6 hours of sleep I get a night keeps me functional but not relaxed and refreshed. Makeup? What’s that? I’m lucky to just have clean laundry for everyone and groceries in the house (that I have delivered because I do not have time to shop). I’m not one of these women. I will not be one of them until my kids are grown and I’m retired. So until that point, I am ok and doing pretty good managing it all like so many others out there. The apples can stay apples. I’m ok being an orange. Maybe someday soon I can pull it all together for a day at the beach…

Traveling Again!

That’s right. The time has come and Working Mom, Travel Dreams is traveling again! I’m traveling with my husband to Mexico for our 10th wedding anniversary. Our plan was to enjoy a week in the UK but with the travel restrictions that was not possible. So we regrouped, switched gears and now we are off to Cabo San Lucas. We are leaving the kids at home for our first kid free vacation together in 9 years. our last vacation together was our 1st wedding anniversary where I was big and pregnant and we had to book our travel to make sure we made it back before my “unable to travel internationally” date 2 days later. Yeah, there’s nothing like cutting it close. Traveling while that pregnant was not easy.

I have been to Cabo oodles of times since it’s a quick getaway from California. You can usually find long weekend package deals for $500 or less pretty easy so it’s the alternative to Vegas for many of us Californians who are not into gambling but still want to enjoy some fun in the sun. With all the restrictions in California I find people are flocking to Mexico just to get away from it all and enjoy a little bit of freedom again. I have 1 coworker and a friend who are in Cabo right now and know several people that have gone in the last month.

The airports are pretty empty still. They only had one shuttle running at SFO and the long term parking was maybe 1/4 full. It’s really different than my last trip where SFO was packed in Sept 2019. The flights were sure full despite the empty parking. Snacks and beverages were distributed a little different with everyone getting a small snack bag. I actually preferred it that way for this short flight but a bagged lunch meal for dinner could be annoying on a longer international flight.

At the resort nearly everyone we met was vaccinated. The ones who were not vaccinated had covid around the holidays and it’s still too soon for them to get vaccinated. Pretty much everyone hated the masking and wore them as little as possible. There was a lot of annoyance on things like the rule that you have to wear a mask while walking around the resort…except in the pool area. So I don’t have to wear a mask in the pool area but if I go to the snack bar, bathroom or non-swim up bar I need a mask. Swim up bar no mask. Someone brings my drink to me at the table, no mask. I take 5 steps to the bar to get a drink, I need a mask. (FYI all the bars are outdoors).

We followed the rules, no matter how crazy. It was still a lot less restrictive than California and it was FANTASTIC to see people’s faces and socialize. We got our covid tests to return home and they were negative. Even though we were fully vaccinated AND had negative covid tests our kids therapy sessions were canceled for 2 weeks when we returned because we left the country. If we stayed in the country it would have been fine. California paranoia at its best here. CDC says vaccinated people can live normal lives. But here in California we are still on house arrest and shamed for attempting normal.

Busy lives and full calendars

I remember the days when I had oodles of stuff going on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still busy it’s just a different kind of busy now. Now my calendar lacks the social engagements and is full of zoom meetings and project deadlines. Ah how I miss the days of social gatherings. Hopefully that will change soon.

Recently I was talking to it co workers and it turns out that several of us have been shopping online buying outfits for future outings when we open back up. It’s hard living in the most restricted state in the United States. The state is divided between “open up and ditch the masks” and “everyone stay home and wear 3 masks, face shields, gloves and socially distance even when vaccinated”. It’s pretty crazy. I fall into the category of open up and ditch the mask mandate. Let people make their own decisions based on their comfort level.

I believe we should have the freedom to make our own decisions as adults. For example… Sunday I picked up my wine club shipments at two wineries. We have friends who are also members at the same wineries so we planned a day to pick up our wine together. All 5 of us are fully vaccinated and past our 2 week window. Tastings are outdoors. The CDC says fully vaccinated can be free. We felt 100% comfortable with this forbidden outing. Sharing our picnic, drinking wine, laughing and acting human socializing as adults. The shaming we got from the two group photos of us that were posted on Facebook was appalling. Why is this happening? Why are we expected to be hermits?

95% effective means you have a 5% chance of getting covid. Also, there were zero serious cases among the vaccinated. Yet California is still the most restricted state. That is all going to end in June 15th when our state opens back up. Personally, I can’t wait to see smiling faces and interact with humans again.

Self help and exercise

On my morning walks I have started listening to self improvement books. I feel that way I can work on my body and my mind at the same time. Pretty efficient huh. Yeah, I thought so too. My current book (The Creative’s Curse by Todd Brison) inspired this post.

If you have been reading my blog for a while now you know I think of myself as just a mom. I’m a regular person. I’m not rich or famous or glamorous. I work hard and try to make the most out of my life. I didn’t have any special privileges growing up. In fact I grew up in a poor neighborhood and went to the “bad” schools. I have had to work hard for everything I have.

I’m also old…well when it comes to blogging, social media, websites and technology I’m a dinosaur. I have no clue what I’m doing and find myself googling terminology because I don’t know what people are talking about. Because of this, through listening to the books and doing webinars I have learned that I’m accidentally doing things right. My website is “branded” not because I had a clue what that was before I took the class but because I thought it looked better. I post a new photo on my Instagram every day. Not because I’m trying to raise my engagement and grow my audience but because I take a lot of photos and it drives me crazy when half my social media feed is all from the same person so I post one photo a day. I try to post one blog post a week. Also not for engagement but because it forces me to write something once a week. When I’m busy with large photography projects or home life I don’t work on my book. The blog keeps me writing.

You may wonder what any of that has to do with anything, well frankly I have no idea what I’m doing. All this stuff is where youngsters excel. I have found myself talking social media with these whipper-snappers as they try to explain to me how social media works like I’m 105. I had one youngster try to explain it to me using her Instagram as she carefully crafted a post for her 800 loyal fans. Saying how she has so many followers he should teach a class for people like me. After she made her post she wanted me to make one so she could help me. So I pull out my phone and start to craft a post for my 7,000+ fans. She looked at how many followers I had and asked me who’s account that was. I said mine.

In the book I’m listening to he is talking about his social media following (it’s lower than mine). In my last book by a different author he talks about his success and what strategies got him there. He also has less than I do. So the question on my mind is how can people who have not achieved the level I’m at teach me to do better? I’m already doing better than they are. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m apparently doing it right. I just post stuff I like at a frequency that doesn’t overwhelm or annoy me.

I’m not delusional. My ego is not inflated. I understand I’m just a mom. I work a full time job. Play with my kids. Do laundry. I have a photography business. It in no way replaces the income from my day job that supports us. I have this blog that I write to get things out there and force me to stay writing. (I started this blog after reading Single Wide Female) I honestly did not think anyone would ever read it. When I got my first follower I called my friend because surely it was a fluke. I’m still shocked when I get new a new follower every few days. I appreciate you guys. You keep me going.

So here I am. Just a mom. Walking at the crack of cock a doodle dark to try to loose weight because she does not have any other time to exercise. Listening to audiobooks because it’s the only way things get done is multitasking. While keeping up with the kids, my job and my side hustle photography business…and a few writing and charity projects tossed in the mix for fun. And I wonder why I’m so tired…

Traveling again!

A couple months ago everything was closed in California. With our 10th wedding anniversary approaching this weekend we didn’t want to spend it eating a frozen pizza like last year. In California you can’t make plans farther out than a few days. Our Governor changes the rules constantly keeping us as the most restricted state in the country. So to avoid spending another anniversary with a frozen pizza with our plans get canceled the day before we opted to not only leave the state, but leave the country. You know what’s open? Mexico.

We dusted off our passports and booked an all inclusive resort in Cabo San Lucas for 5 days. Yes, we understand there is a pandemic. But we are both fully vaccinated. There are also masking mandates in the enclosed areas of the resort and things are spread out more to allow for social distancing. Our resort has free covid tests prior to your departure and if you fail it you stay at the resort for free with room service to quarantine for 2 weeks. Not a bad deal.

At some point life needs to go back to normal. Living in the most restricted state for the last year has really taken its toll on all of us. There is a reason people and businesses are fleeing California to other states that are more open. I’m not saying to go lick sick people or purposely cough in others faces. But we all need to make decisions for ourselves. Everything comes with risk. It is up to us to decide what risks we are willing to take and what safety measures we want to use.

In our case, we need a break. I’m all work and no play and my husband has been locked inside in distance learning hell for a year. We are totally burnt out by the pandemic. We looked at moving to another state but it just didn’t make sense for us financially so we are sticking it out for a little while longer. Who knows…maybe if we stay locked down for another year it will be enough to take the financial hit for freedom.

Until then the countdown to Mexico is on!

My weight loss journey – March/April

I missed a monthly post in there but I have not stopped. March showed my biggest loss to date with 8.2 lbs! you may ask what changed nearly 6 months in…

Well February was cold and wet and my exercise dropped leaving me to a measly 4.6 lb loss. Not cool man. But my goal weight loss for 6 months is 35.5 lbs. I can live with that. I still have a LONG way to go to my goal.

Now I like my stats and data. I like to weigh myself daily so if I eat pizza and beer and get all bloated I immediately see the scale rise as punishment for that indiscretion. I also like to see the satisfying drop from a day of doing everything right. Now sometimes it doesn’t work like that and there are fluctuations, but in general bad behavior shows up pretty quickly and I can correct it before things get too out of control. Along with my data I like to set small, obtainable goals. When you have over 100 lbs to loose (or anything more than the covid 20) this is very important…or at least it is to me. The little slow downward slope of the weight line just is not enough. DietBet was cool, while I still loose I often fall short of my goal and frankly I’d rather spend the cash in something else. So I started my search. I found an app that is kinda my new best friend. It has all the data I want to see as well as breaking my weight loss up into smaller goals and options on how I want it broken up. I opted for even numbers at 5 lb increments. (I went back and forth between 5-10 lbs and finally settled on 5 so every month I make at least 1 goal with most months hitting a new goal twice. This has helped me out of my February slump into my record March loss.

It is still a work in progress. I still struggle with the sleep/exercise balance. I still get busy and forget to log my foods at times. While I have lost over 30 lbs I have so much to loose that you really can’t tell. In my mind I know diet and exercise with a slow 1-2 lb loss a week is the way to go to truest keep it off but in this modern time of instant gratification I just want to pop on a bikini and look fantastic already.

I have 6 weeks until I go to Cabo San Lucas and 6 months until my brother’s wedding. I’m hoping to stay strong through the spring and summer and stay closer to the 2 lbs a week loss. I’m trying to focus on healthy activities. I’m trying to reward myself with things like new clothing (we are just not going to talk about the awesome swimsuit I got online for my trip that I can’t get up past my knees). I’m adjusting things as I go along. I’m finding out what works for me and what does not. It isn’t easy, but then again things worth doing rarely are.

I love my data!