Dare to (travel) dream

One of my best friends lives in Australia. We talk almost every day. I know it sounds crazy but with modern technology it’s possible. She has a friend that lives in the UK that I have never met but have gotten to know in group chats with the three of us. The three of us travelers and we are all struggling with the lockdowns of our countries. So we have started to make plans for the three of us to get together on two different trips based of when our countries free us to roam again.

One of the trips we are planning is for the two of them to come here to California. I will be their lovely tour guide and we will enjoy a few days here in the wine country before starting our road trip north. Talking about where we can go and what we do will largely be figured out by what our UK friend wants to do since I live here and my Aussie friend has been here several times.

The other trip we are talking about is a meetup in the UK. No big plans there yet but it will be a shorter trip of 5-7 days. The two of them will be working some of the days leaving their evenings free. My Aussie friend has a branch there with a team she supervises so she will plan it as a work trip. We will coordinate schedules and I’ll probably play tourist while they are working and meet up with them for lunches and evenings.

I’m looking forward to us all being together. It will be interesting to see how people react to 3 women who are obviously really close but who all have very distinctly different accents. I know when my Aussie friend and I are together we get a lot of people who ask how we know each other. It really confuses people. We are 3 strong, independent women who travel well. We have all traveled the world alone. We all love food and wine and a good laugh with friends.

So even in a pandemic you can close the borders, but you can’t stop people from dreaming about their next trip.

Oh, when I go to the UK for our meetup; I will be bringing as much wine as I can for those evenings together. It’s my job. Well, that and Levi’s in their sizes. 😁

My weight loss journey-the January push

I decided 2 months ago that January 4th $hit gets real and I put together all my rumblings and bad starts and struggles into a solid diet and exercise routine. I had a lot is struggles to overcome with stores being out of stock of items I wanted for my meal planning, gyms being closed, our garage being full of boxes for our Christmas decorations and the list goes on and on…

I knew there was going to be challenges. So I planned for it. I think I worked out most of the kinks now although, I’m sure I will face others as time goes on. Last night I did my meal prepping for breakfast and lunch. I put my workout gear out. I set my alarms. I made sure the garage was clutter free and ready to workout. I also made sure that the heater I plugged into the WiFi plug was on so it will actually turn on in the morning. (Seriously genius. I can even program it to come on automatically so it isn’t actually freezing at 5am when I’m in there trying to workout.)

I joined a DietBet to keep me on track and track my progress. Then yesterday my sister joined the extreme hip hop 90 day challenge. I like Phil’s step workouts and it was only $25 for 3 months so I joined too. I don’t plan on adding in the step workouts for a couple weeks but it’s ok. He only does workouts 4 days a week and I workout 5. I like to start them late so I always have new workouts.

So, you might wonder how today went? Well, it went great. I hit all my exercise goals. I need to find shoes that work well for rowing and I need a playlist with songs that have a good cadence for rowing as well. So that’s a kink, but not a bad one. My meal planning helped out when I was running late for work. I was hungry when I got home from work for sure but I still stayed in my calorie range. I still want to fit in yoga tonight after my kids go to bed. But overall, I think it’s a success.

Weight loss-Accountability Month 2

Well, one more month down and another 7.5 lbs are gone. 7.8+7.5=15.3 total so far. Not bad. I swear I still can’t tell. But I’m hoping that changes soon.

I saw this and could not think of anything more appropriate for this post.

So I did better on some things and failed at others but it’s a work in progress. My diet overall is getting better. I’m meal planning and logging my foods. I also increased my water intake. I still need to get 32 more ounces down to be at my goal. I can do 64 in a day pretty easy but I want to double that. Again, a work in progress.

My exercise is still hit and miss. My goal in 30 min cardio in the morning, a 10 min walk mid-morning and another mid-afternoon (I’m pretty much sitting chained to a computer all day at work so I’m trying to break it up) and 15 min of yoga in the evening to stretch. It seems pretty easy, but I’m still struggling to get all of them in and fail in at least one of those 4 each day. I told my co-worker Monday $hit gets real and I’m setting an alarm for our walks. Whomever has a scheduled patient at 10:00 that day goes for a walk as soon as they finish. When that person gets back the other person goes for a walk. I’m setting an alarm for 10:15 and 3:15 to remind us.

You might wonder what changes I’m making this month. Well, I joined a diet bet to try to keep me on track. I do this periodically to challenge myself. I’m working hard on trying to get my exercise to become routine and I’m going to work on refining my diet more to make it healthier.

Overall, I always hope to just wake up one morning and be at my goal weight. I’m a very long way away from that. I always hope for more of a loss but I’m loosing at a nice 1-2 lbs a week pace so I can’t really be upset about that. I also lost 15 lbs through the holidays, in a pandemic. So that’s pretty awesome.

Merry Christmas!

Wow. Christmas is here already. It seems like it snuck up on me. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t rushing around like a crazy person. I’m organized and pretty much have all my shopping done before Thanksgiving. Yeah, I’m one of those people.

This Christmas is different from all my other Christmases. We did not have my husband’s family over on Christmas Eve. We will not be cooking a big Christmas dinner tonight. I am really not a fan of Covid Christmas. I miss my big holidays. I miss drinking wine and playing cards. I miss seeing everyone. I miss the laughter. I love my husband and kids, but I miss having a house full of people.

I use to do the traditional holidays going to my parents home for every holiday when I was married to my ex-husband. When we separated my family continued to invite him because he “was part of the family”. I made it clear that inviting him was the same as excluding me because I did not want to be with him and that included holidays. My family thought I was being unreasonable. I thought the divorce was pretty clear that I wanted nothing to do with him. But my family chose to keep inviting him so I started a new tradition of having all holidays with my friends. If you don’t have a place to go you are welcome at my home.

As my friends paired off, got married and had kids (as I did) the gatherings grew. Holidays at my house became a place to go to avoid your family. They became a place to go to stop the fight of who’s family you were going to spend the holiday with. My house took in the strays with no family around. We take friends of friends. Everyone is welcome because no one should spend it alone.

Thankfully, my husband agrees with my open invite policy. At one point I was the person alone with no where to go. I never want anyone I know to feel like that. Because of this, we usually have at least 20 people at a small gathering and have had well over 100 people over for a large gathering (4th of July is our biggest holiday and usually have between 100-150 people over.) 4th of July is bigger than our wedding was. So holidays with just the 4 of us just don’t seem right to me.

Just like the rest of the holidays from Easter on we will adjust. This year the kids will be excited. My older son is getting a new trampoline and my younger son is getting his first bike (with training wheels). So we will have a lot of going up and down the street teaching him to ride to burn off those Christmas cookies and fudge.

Wherever you are, whatever you celebrate, have a great one! Try to make the best of it despite all the changes. Find some laughter. Eat the cookies. Call your family. Text your friends. Have pie for breakfast. Binge on feel good movies all day. Declare today PJ day and don’t even get dressed. It’s almost the new year. We made it this far we can go a little farther as we wish 2020 goodbye and welcome in 2021 with hope that the worst is behind us.

What the hell was I thinking?

Yeah, I ask myself that a lot. I would love to be one of those people who can just chill and be happy exactly as they are and never aspire for more. It could be anything… more knowledge, more experiences or just overall a better life. Ok, I’m sure pretty much everyone on the planet wishes they had more of something. But how many people actually hustle to make it happen? The answer is different in different cultures but here I see people hustle until they get a good job then they just stop and get stuck.

I want more. I have traveled to more places than 99% of the people I know but I still want to see more.

I actually took a step I have dreamed about and I’m making my dream of actually making money as a photographer a reality. Now, I’m not quitting my day job any time soon but a couple hundred dollars a month is pretty good for a side gig that I have only been at for a year. (I have over 30 years experience as a photographer, but selling my photos is new). It’s work and it was hard to get going but getting surprise checks that something sold is exciting.

The other step I took is writing a book. I wrote a travel book but while it was with the editor covid hit, the world closed and now I pretty much need to redo most of the book. So, while I’m waiting for the world to open again to see where the dust settles on travel, I’m working on a couple other writing projects. I have a series of books that I have had in my mind for a while now that I’m writing the first book now. I am also talking to a friend about writing a book together and tossing ideas back and forth on that.

I have health and fitness goals. I have self care goals. I have goals for adding in meditation and yoga back into my life again.

I have dreams and an ever growing list of places I want to go. I want to find another dance group to be a part of again. I’m looking forward to being able to have a book club again. I look forward to someday taking my kids to Disneyland.

I have an insane amount of things I want to do. I have goals. I have a vision of my future self enjoying a glass of wine with my husband watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean from our balcony with a light coastal breeze bringing in the smell of the saltwater with it. I see a gallery of my own with half of it my photography and half of it artwork from those on the Autism spectrum and disabled artists. I see that gallery as a place for those on the spectrum to have a place to work as well as display their art. I see myself traveling with my family as I continue to write and take photos from all over the world enjoying the differences in other cultures and cuisines as I learn the languages and make new friends. I hope to someday be an inspiration to others in leading a positive life where all my hard work has paid off to the point that I am invited to speak to groups about things I am passionate about. I hope to teach photography workshops someday instead of the one on one sessions I do now. Someday I hope I inspire someone to do something amazing that changes the world for the better.

But until that day when it all falls into place… I’ll continue to slowly work on my goals and dreams until one day they have all come true.

Screw burning the candle at both ends! Just make a giant bonfire and toss the whole candle in.

There is a saying that you should do something today that your future self will thank you for. I try to do just that. I put in a little extra into every day to make life better for my future self. But sometimes it starts to feel like too much.

This is how I feel. I know, I did it to myself. On a scale of 1-10 my to do list is at a 472. I just do not understand how so many people actually just do nothing. Like how do you do that? I try to meditate and my mind has a punk band playing in a crowded club with a few mosh pits going.

I never have been able to clear my mind. The closest I can get is to picture an empty beach. I can hear the sound of the waves and smell the salty breeze. But that is as clear as I can make my mind. Yep. After 32 years of yoga and meditation I am still unable to completely clear my mind.

Clearing my mind may be like clearing my calendar and to do list. I am the last one to go to bed and first one to get up every day. Even as I write this post I’m making a mental note of all I need to accomplish tomorrow and prioritizing all the items. I did it to myself. I know why I put every item on my “to do” list and my distant future self will thank me for all the work I put in now one day when all the pieces fall in place. But for now, I am barely hanging in there working nearly every waking moment on something.

This chaos was not all my fault. All of these irons were in the fire pre-covid and I can’t stop now or I loose my momentum. Unfortunately, with the kids out of school my husband isn’t able to get anything done while I’m at work because he is busy with the joke that is distance learning. So now we tag team it all when I’m not at work giving me less time.

Oh and that one day a month I was taking off work to get my stuff done while the kids are in school…yeah, the kids are not in school so that isn’t happening. Oh and I’m often the only adult human contact my husband has so he is a little needier than usual as well.

So what do I give up to have some peace? Sleep? Time with my kids or husband? Writing my blog? My photography business? Writing my book? Donating plasma? Seeing my friends? I can’t just not go to work. I never thought of myself as essential, but apparently I am. Who knew? I need roughly 4 more hours in the day to fit everything in. Because of that I feel like my candle had just been tossed in a bin fire.

I hope my future self appreciates all the work I’m doing now to make a better future for my family. I know I appreciate how hard my past self worked to get me where I am today. I’m just tired and overwhelmed and feel like I’m all work and no play with everything canceled or closed. Maybe someday I can be at peace and enjoy traveling again or even taking my kids to playgrounds or having a date night with a nice dinner with my husband INSIDE a restaurant and not have to wear a mask. I look forward to needing to get dressed up again. I miss charity events and festivals and concerts. But with literally no plans I just keep working and try to be as productive as possible.

This is all for you future self. I hope you enjoy it.

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!