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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. 

Accountability-my weight loss journey

So I decided “Enough is enough!” At my birthday in October and set out a tough plan to get in shape and finally loose the baby weight (after all my baby is now 5 years old). My plan was simple… watch what I eat. Log my foods. Get some exercise. I had a few friends who also wanted to do the same that were going to join me. We all decided November 2nd (a Monday) was the official start date. Well my walking buddy flaked… as did my yoga buddy… and my bike riding buddy… and my eat healthy buddy. Apparently they were not as committed as I was.

I stuck with my plan and found several problems that I had to work through the first was the amount of leftover Halloween candy I was eating every afternoon when I hit an energy drop about 2:30. OMG the first week of my new diet I gained 3 lbs. not a good start at all and all 4 of my friends flaked on me in the first week! I had no support and LOTS of candy (in the future I’m sticking to my traditional blow pops. Screw the chocolate. I can’t plow through 20 blow pops in 5 minutes.) anyway… week #1= epic failure.

Week #2 I had to get it together so I meal prepped and started drinking iced tea to keep a steady flow of caffeine all day and try to avoid the afternoon slump. It kinda worked. I got really bored with the food and was still hitting a slump and craving sweets in the afternoon.

Week #3 I actually solved a few issues.

1) Sorry to any of you who actually like the healthy green juice. It’s nasty. I also don’t like the collagen powder stuff. So I solved that issue by putting them together, mixing it with a small can of pineapple juice to try to mask the taste and texture and just chugging it and following it up with a glass of water to get the taste out of my mouth. Both are being discontinued as soon as I run out hopefully by the end of the week.

2) The afternoon slump: For this I solved by taking 1 scoop of a pre-workout instead of 2 scoops and mixing it in a shaker bottle with another pineapple juice. The sweetness from the juice fixes my sewer craving and the caffeine and b-vitamins help with the slump. Yeah, it’s 2 juices a day right now but I’m not diabetic. They are only 100 calories each and they are packed with vitamin c. Oh and I’m dropping the morning stinky green juice as soon as I run out and swapping it for a protein shake to hold me over until lunch. I would just toss the green juice and collagen but I don’t like to be wasteful.

3) Get off my butt! I am chained to my computer all day and it sucks! With all this covid stuff everything is on the computer, my charting, the million emails, meetings, trainings… I don’t go anywhere anymore. I use to at least have to walk to a conference room but those days are over. So I try to take 2 laps around my building in the morning and 2 in the afternoon every day. It is literally a 5 minute walk from my desk, around the building and back to my desk. but it helps my focus, posture and I get a little bit of fresh air outside as well. I do my rowing machine in the mornings when I can get to it (it’s currently not accessible until we put all the boxes for the Christmas decorations back away).

I still have not fit in yoga in the evenings but I’m trying to work that in somehow at least 2-3 times a week but I hope to get a regular 20-30 minute evening practice going every night before bed. I also want a morning cardio maybe step aerobics or Zumba (also about 30 min) to add to the rowing machine I’m currently doing and to add in some weights for a total of 1 hour before work.

So I’m not there yet, not even close. But I made some good progress and I lost 7.8 lbs in the first month! (10.8 if you add the 3 that I gained and had to loose to get back to the starting weight).

I planned on updating weekly with progress to keep myself accountable. But…life. I am working full time with 2 small kids at home and I am running my photography business on the side and working on my book. So, I’m busy. But busy is not an excuse. I just need to figure it out. Everyone needs a piece of me so doing something for myself is hard. But nothing worth doing is ever easy. I’m sticking in there.

Thankful

I know there are thousands of thankful posts out there right now but I feel it’s something we should think about more than just on Thanksgiving.

Most cultures and religions have some sort of practice of being thankful or grateful for all that we have. Most of my patients are elderly and they often say how thankful they are to have woken today. It helps to put things into perspective. If you are reading this, no matter what is going on in your life then you can be thankful for another day on this planet…even if conditions are not as pleasant.

We are very spoiled in our western culture with our reliable power, indoor plumbing, climate control and all the other modern comforts we have. We tend to forget about all that we have and just get angry and frustrated when the WIFi slows or goes out. The WIFi goes out in my house and my older son think it’s the end of the world. WIFi didn’t exist when I was a kid. My 5 year old just goes to play with his toys. But if he doesn’t have his toys out he will play with anything. Empty amazon boxes are the best!

We are so quick to focus on the negative and what we are lacking that we often overlook what we have. I remember traveling in Jamaica and I was at the top of Mt Zion in a small community that I looked at with my western eyes as incredibly impoverished. I was talking to one of the women in the village about what it was like to live there. She told me that she went to Florida to go to university and get away from Jamaica but when she got pregnant with her first child she moved back because she didn’t want her children brought up in a place of excess. She said as you look around I see homes with no glass in the windows but she sees fresh air. I see poor people with no work and she sees people able to spend time with their family and friends rather than spending time at work away from those they love. In Zion there is no crime because there is nothing to steal. There is no hunger because if you are hungry you just reach out your window and pick a piece of fruit. Then she turned and pointed out to the view of the bay below and asked me how I could not be grateful to spend every day in paradise looking out over a view like that. She was right.

That conversation with the woman in Jamaica sticks in my mind to this day. By now her children that she was waiting for to get out of school are grown and probably have children of their own. I think of her often. So if you have a roof over your head, food in your belly and people you call friends you have everything you need in life. The rest is just fluff. So the WIFi is not working. So what if you have to wear a mask to go to the store. Roof over your head-check. Food in your belly-check. People to share your life with-check. If you are missing any of those things go get them. There are resources to help you with all of that because we live a life of abundance…and yes, there is fruit on our trees as well.

Mask monitors

And all the drama they cause

I had to think up a better title than what I actually call those people…you know the type or maybe you are one yourself.

They are the ones who yell at you from across the gas station 2 rows and 3 pumps back to put on your mask when you are the only two at the gas station pumping gas and they are so far away from you that they need to yell several times until you finally hear what they are saying. Seriously people? If you are so far away you need to YELL to tell me to put on a mask I am also too far away from you for you to catch covid from me.

It’s the person who is walking on the other side of the street yelling to you to put on your mask when there is no one else around.

Then there is the reason why I am writing this post… it’s the person who walks 2 hallways over when you drop some stuff on the floor making a clattering noise when you are in your office alone only to then lecture you about wearing a mask because you could be a super spreader. Really? You are 12 feet away from me now and you are working 2 hallways over. I’m in my office ALONE drinking a protein shake before I start work. So how exactly does this impact you? If I didn’t drop stuff on the floor in our empty department you never would have known I was here and never come to see what happened and never known I was not wearing a mask because you work 2 hallways down and I’m in my office alone.

The mask police really bother me.

The mask shaming and bullying really bother me.

If you are so far away that you have to yell for someone to put on a mask then you are far enough away that it does not matter.

Masks are for when social distancing is not an option. If you are distanced then masking is not needed. If you are alone then masking is not needed. After all who are you going to spread covid to?

Now I’m not saying that I refuse to wear a mask entirely. There is absolutely a need for them in certain situations. I wear a mask when I’m entering establishments that require it. I wear masks at work. I even wear a mask at home while my sons therapist is there working with him. But I’m NOT wearing a mask while exercising. My poor asthmatic lungs are already struggling. I have a mask with me just incase I’m on a trail walking or hiking and someone is approaching me I’ll pop the mask on as they pass but once they are a distance away the mask comes right back off.

Some masking situations just don’t make sense. The biggest one is eating out. So you need to wear a mask while walking to and from your table but once you are seated you can remove your mask. This is what I call the “magical butt barrier”. You stand up mask needs to be on but sitting you are ok.

Mask nazis (mask police, mask monitors) all like to point out that they wear masks all the time in Asia and no one there complains. (I have never actually heard this argument from anyone who has actually BEEN to Asia.) Well, I have been to Asia. Yes they wear masks in the large cities because the pollution is so bad. The air actually feels dirty and makes my eyes and skin feel dry and itchy. It reminds me of when we have the huge fires here in CA and the air is toxic. They wear the masks outdoors, not indoors and not everyone has one on. Women wear them more than men and young people were them more than older people. It is not mandatory. There is no shaming or lecturing people who do not have them on. It’s a personal choice.

I have had several problems with different masks through this pandemic since I wear them all day while I’m seeing patients at work. We had some masks with stiff elastic that cut the skin on the backs of our ears leaving us to need to put bandaids on our ears to wear them. I had an allergic reaction to something (my guess is the dye) in another brand of mask and broke out in hives all over my face under the mask. They were painful and itchy and took a week to finally go away. We had other masks that had thick trim and the constant rubbing as we spoke made raw sores on my cheeks leading to more band aids to cover up the open wounds on my face.

If an establishment has a mask rule and you do not want to wear one don’t go to that establishment. It’s simple. There is no need to argue and make a scene.

If you are out and about and see someone without a mask on it is NOT your place to yell at them, demand they mask up or lecture them about wearing a mask. You are not their parent. You don’t own them. You probably don’t even know them. You don’t know their story. Maybe they have a medical problem and can’t wear a mask. Maybe the backs of their ears are cut open or their face is raw. Maybe they have asthma or allergies and are already wheezing trying to exercise. Hell, maybe it broke, got dirty or they dropped it somewhere and can’t find it. Maybe they gave it to someone else who needed it more than they did. But the bottom line is if YOU are uncomfortable with it that is YOUR problem and you can always distance yourself from them if you are uncomfortable.

Mask or not we can all use a little more kindness and love in the world. If you don’t have anything nice to say then just don’t say anything at all. Stop the lectures. Stop the shaming. Stop the bullying. Try to spread a little kindness and love. We can all use more of that.

Why can’t I get it together?

This is something I ponder from time to time. I intend to achieve all I wish but I often fall short, usually due to exhaustion or just a lack of time in general.

Every year around my birthday I set goals for myself… similar to New Years resolutions. Then on the 5’s and 0’s I set larger 5 year goals rather than smaller annual goals. Last year I turned 45 and vowed to start traveling more. Well COVID squashed that… for a while at least. So with October approaching again I am pondering my goals for my 46th year.

This year is going to be about taking better care of myself.

1. Get back in shape. Loose weight. Get cardio fit.

2. Find my center. Get back to a daily yoga/meditation practice.

3. Take better care of my skin. Sunscreen. Moisturizing masks. Exfoliation. Whatever I need to take better care of the skin I have neglected for the last 45 years. (Wear sunscreen has been a goal for probably the last 20 years. It’s still a struggle)

4. Make time for each of my kids and my husband as well as myself each month. Everyone gets 1 day they are my priority… including myself.

5. Promote myself better. Update my website, instagram, blog and Facebook pages more. Write more. Take more photos. Make my side projects a regular part of my week.

This year I’ll will be fierce. Hear me roar!

DIY beauty salon

Covid has been tough. The closures have me trying new things that I have not done since I was a teenager. Enter DIY beauty salon!

Now let me start by saying that I am NOT a fan of the DYI salon. I am willing to pay professionals because it is really not my thing. I tried and begged for a speakeasy style salon experience… I have cash… I can go to the back door… I’ll bring you coffee… but sadly I just could not talk my way into some services.

Enter the DIY salon. So I started with my own facials. It was not even close to the amazing salon experience. I lack a steamer and the patience for massage but I can clean, tone, mask and moisturize so I have been doing that. I started with sheet masks once a week. Then I moved to gel and mud masks. Some made a slight difference (usually the moisturizing ones). I figure when I’m wearing a mask all day at work I can pamper my face a little.

Then I saw an add for Hanicure face masks. They are on the pricy end for a DIY. But the before and after photos were pretty impressive so I tried it. I have to admit…I was very impressed with the results. But at $110 for 4 masks it is more than I want to spend on a weekly pampering.

Hanicure before / Hanicure after

I was pretty impressed but needed to find a cheaper solution. So I tried a Zombie mask. Reviews said it worked as well as Hanicure but the results don’t last as long and it has a funny smell. I figure at $30 for 8 masks I’ll give it a shot. Sadly, I don’t see a difference in the before and after photos.

Zombie mask before / Zombie mask after

I also tried my own mani-pedi and while I got better at my manicures my pedicures still look awful. I just can’t seem to get it even. I have cut myself with the clippers, gotten 2 ingrown toenails, cut myself with a nail file, and I still get hang nails. I am obviously bad at it.

Enter Covid Cuts… now I did NOT color and cut my own hair. That is something I can’t fix if I screw it up. But I cut my kids hair. My younger son looks fine. He has gotten 3 haircuts so far. My older son got 2 haircuts. Covid cut #1 he moved and the guard came off the clippers and I shaved a triangle shaped bald spot into his head. Oops. After that mistake my husband said there is no way in hell I’m cutting his hair! I had to wait for the bald spot to grow in that why my older son only got 2 haircuts to his brothers 3.

I honestly believe that we all have a place in society and deeming some jobs “essential” and others “non-essential” is stupid. I can see closing for a couple weeks but for 8 months… everyone needs a haircut at some point. They provide an essential service (unless you are going for that “Castaway” look). When I got that first ingrown toenail I was wishing the nail salons were open to fix it rather than having to do it myself. Nail salons are essential. It isn’t just having cute fingers and toes. Massages although relaxing can be therapeutic as well. Facials can help treat acne and sun damage as well as fight the signs of aging.

We all have a part to play. All of our jobs are essential when someone needs us. While I can do a lot of things, I’m just not able to do everything. I have a job that I’m good at. I can’t do my own mani pedi, cut hair or teach my kids. There are people out there who went to school to learn how to do those things. I’m 100% on board with letting them do it. hopefully everyone in California will be back to work soon.

My weight loss journey – 57 weeks to go

One week down… 1 pound lost.

Not what I was hoping for, but it’s a start. Given that the last week was one of the most stressful and frustrating I have ever had at work I’ll cut myself some slack. The air quality is still not great from the fires, gyms are closed so exercise is pretty much a no-go. So that’s a bummer. But hey, it’s one less pound to loose!

The upcoming couple weeks will be interesting. I’m only working 3 days each week. I’ll be going out of town for the first time since September 2019 when I went to the UK. I’m not leaving the country, or even the state but I am going somewhere I have always wanted to see so I’m excited! It’s only a couple days but with covid even a short overnight trip in your state can be exciting!

My weight loss journey – and so it begins…

With all travel plans, well actually all my plans canceled I have decided to use this time in Covid purgatory to do something useful… A project of sorts. I plan on loosing 100 lbs By October 1, 2021. You may wonder why I made this decision.

I started and stopped my weight loss journey after having the kids several times. Something ALWAYS gets in the way…because…you know…life. I was really rocking the weight loss at the end of 2019 early 2020 then Covid hit. The lock down hit me hard.  The gym closed.  Produce and well, food in general was hard to find with empty sore shelves. With everything closed I put back on half of the weight I lost. Enough is enough!  I don’t see the gym or pretty much anything opening up anytime soon so I need to figure out a new way to do this sans gym. Something I have never done before.

They say it takes 30 days to make a habit. I plan on adding or increasing my healthy habits each month ending on October 1, 2021 a smaller, healthier, calmer, sexier looking woman than I have ever been. Why October? My birthday is in October. October 2021 I will be turning 47. My baby brother is also getting married in October 2021. I don’t want to look like the tired, overweight woman I am now.

I’m working on my plan now and will track my progress on my blog weekly to keep myself accountable.

58 weeks to the wedding…

Adulting

At some point in my life I became an adult. I’m not sure when or how, but it happened. I’m married, with two kids and a mortgage. That isn’t what made me an adult though. This realization came to me as I pulled a shirt out of the washer.

You may wonder how a shirt made me feel like an adult. Well, I got paint on my shirt the first time I wore it. Blue paint on an orange shirt. Not good. The paint had dried by the time I saw it at the end of the evening. I scrubbed it by hand and only got part of it out. The next day I put stain stick on it and washed the shirt in every load of laundry I did. It was still there at the end of the day, although less than in the morning. I added more stain stick. A couple days later I washed it with my kids clothing (they are seriously dirty boys). As I pulled the shirt out the paint was finally gone!

I stared at the shirt sans paint and marveled in the fact that I have mastered laundry. Now it isn’t just the paint on the shirt… In February my sisters house caught on fire and I was given the task of trying to salvage what I could of their closets. Of the 3 of us working on this task I was the only one to be able to get the smoke smell out of the laundry. I even got the smell out of the singed towels that were on fire and used to sop up some of the water from the fire hoses. I showed my sister what I did and she followed my instructions and saved most of their wardrobe. I have mastered laundry. I’m now advising others on how to remove stains.

There’s a young woman that I work with. She is smart and reliable and has a small child just a little younger than my youngest despite the 25 year age difference between us. She often posts “how to” questions on Facebook and I always have an answer. Recently she told me that having me around is like having a live “life-hacker” right there.

Most recently we were plagued with wildfires in my area again. One was really close to us. I have several friends and family that lost their homes. Evacuations came up to the other side of the freeway from us so it was time to prepare for evacuation. It only took us 15 minutes to prep our family of 4 to leave our home with all the photos, documents and irreplaceable mementos. Now we can be out in 5 minutes. Thankfully the winds died down and they got the side of the fire near me under control so we didn’t need to evacuate. When I went back to work a couple days later my coworkers were amazed that I could gather things up that quickly. I thought 15 minutes was a long time.

All of these things as well as many others have shown me that at some point I became an adult. I don’t feel particularly old and wise… ok some days I feel old but I never feel wise. Yet here I am. Master of laundry. Imparting my wisdom of my years into those younger (and sometimes even older) than myself. I’m prepared for emergencies. I am an adult.

Being grateful for what we have

Today is my friend’s birthday. We were talking about Covid messing up our plans and celebrations. I have a friend who’s wedding was canceled three times and finally held a “protest of social distancing” for a small group of family and close friends in another friends’ backyard.

My 9th wedding anniversary was also canceled because of covid. Our hopes were to take a long weekend together and have a friend of mine watch the kids. We tossed around several ideas. I, of course, started out exotic and tried to stretch the planned 4 days into 5 with mentions of London, Paris or all inclusive tropical resorts in the Caribbean. my husband looked at me like I sprouted a second head every time. I don’t think any of my options were crazy I have done all of them on long weekends before. We were still deciding on a destination the world closed.

We stayed hopeful and hoped that it would open again before our anniversary and started talking about places closer to home but far enough that a long weekend would be needed… San Diego, Catalina Island, Ashland or Cabo San Lucas we’re top choices. As it became evident that we were still going to be quarantined we hoped to at least be able to go out to a nice dinner. Well that was squashed as well so we ended up with boring Netflix and take out like any other Friday night.

It’s easy to look at this and be sad or angry that our plans have been crushed. But we have decided to be happy that we have a home and are together.

My sister is currently homeless. She isn’t staying in an encampment somewhere, she is staying at my parents house. Her husband is staying at his moms house. Their son goes between the two homes. They have been homeless since their house caught on fire in February. They are all fine but had to move out while repairs were made to the house. The plan was to stay with the parents as inconvenient as it was to save money to take a couple long weekend trips a month through the 6-12 months repairs were going to take. So they would then turn it into a positive thing by having mini adventures as a family rotating between everyone picking what they want to do. Well, like us her travel plans have also been crushed. But, since the construction company is not getting any new jobs her house is almost done a couple months ahead of schedule.

So many people are struggling. I feel fortunate that we are in a good place. Sure, I’m annoyed that I wasn’t relaxing on a tropical beach at an all inclusive resort celebrating our anniversary. But I’m still hopeful that we can make it to Hawaii in December for a week to celebrate my husbands 40th birthday, although chances of that happening are looking pretty slim as well.

I don’t want to exist. I want to LIVE!

Between COVID and social unrest I admit I was having a really hard time there and things were starting to get dark. I am a social person (much more than I realized). The kids were out of school and home with my husband all day who was having a hard time keeping them entertained with no activities and not even a playground to take them to run out the extra energy.  The trampoline broke. We ordered a new one but it is delayed because of COVID and still has not arrived when we were hoping to have it well before Memorial Day. We ordered an inflatable water slide, yeah that is MIA as well leaving the kids with apparently nothing to do but fight with each-other. With no social outlets my life had been reduced to going to work in healthcare with multiple COVID updates a day and going home to an exhausted husband and two fighting kids only to clean the house, do laundry and try to figure out a solution. I had to change something.

After talking to a few friends it was decided that this is BS. There is a small group of us that have been quarantined at home for 2 months.  The only person still going to a work was me no one else left the house except to get food and walk the dogs.  None of us were doing well and all of us were getting really depressed. We started getting together once a week in our garage bar after the kids went to bed. It has been an amazing change. I don’t care how much you Skype, Zoom, text or talk on the phone nothing is the same as face to face interaction. Almost 6 weeks later we are all doing much better. Everyone has started eating better and exercising again.

After a month of getting together we all decided it is time to take the kids to see the grandparents.  My parents were even more depressed than we were and even more isolated.  Taking the kids over there on Saturday mornings is now the highlight of their week. After the first visit my Mom told me that the isolation is horrible. At her age and with her health problems she is high risk.  But she would rather the world open up and get to go out and see her friends and live her life and take the chance that she may die rather than me “safe” at home that has become her prison. That really made me think.  What good is being alive if you are not out there living your life to the fullest and just existing?

That thought changed something in me. I started to look at my life and my goals again.  With refunds from everything that was canceled because of COVID and our tax return and stimulus check we paid off our credit cards.  We now just have our monthly bills, my car payment and our mortgage.  It is weird not being in debt and we still have money leftover. Our plan was to go to Hawaii in December. Once we started looking into it Hawaii’s COVID restrictions would leave us quarantined in our hotel room for the entire trip.  We decided against it.  New plan, A trip to the UK in May for our 10 year anniversary.  My husband really wants to go to London and has never been. So the plan is London and somewhere else.  We are still figuring out the “somewhere else” part.

Then another cancellation happened and my educational conference in Las Vegas in November was canceled and turned virtual.  Since I returned from the UK in September I have been looking at my next item on my bucket list…the Northern Lights. I had the trip pretty much figured out.  So when Vegas got canceled I decided “screw it” and went ahead and booked my solo Northern lights trip for February and ordered myself some snow pants on Amazon and a few pairs of fleece leggings to get started on my packing list for my Northern Lights adventure for this girl who likes to live in sundresses, leggings and tunic tops with flip flops. I do however have an awesome winter coat thanks to my recent trip to Scotland where I was terrified of freezing my butt off. I may have overdone it because my coat was much warmer than I needed there but it should be perfect for my Northern adventure in February.