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.

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.

Photography in the pandemic (long)

As many of you know I am a photographer. As a photographer I capture moments in time. Once I click the shutter that moment is gone. We will never get that moment back. I mention this because I recently got in an argument with another photographer on a photography forum online. The issue: she was hired to shoot a wedding last year and paid in full. The wedding is in a month and the pandemic isn’t over yet. She is on the fence about canceling or shooting it and wanted advice. I gave my advice.

The wedding was booked and paid for a year ago and is in a month. She knew it was coming up so if she was going to cancel the time to do it was 5+ months ago when the pandemic didn’t end and the lockdowns continued. At this point the couple is thankful that they still have a photographer because venues and catering are probably a nightmare for them. If the wedding gets canceled that is one thing, but they were hired to do a job and accepted payment in full for the job. They should do the job. It isn’t like things were in the beginning. We have social distancing, masking and if you get sick we now have treatments. On top of that more and more people are getting vaccinated every day. This isn’t the same situation we had in the beginning when we didn’t have any of that.

Well, apparently some people got mad about that and feel everyone should stay home and everything should be canceled until the virus is gone from our planet. Ok, look moron. It’s a virus. It will never be completely gone from the planet. Also, everything in life has risks. It’s our job to learn those risks as we grow up and learn to do things as safe as possible knowing the risks and should we end up sick or injured we know where to go for help if we need it. Staying locked in your home in fear is not living…it’s existing. There is a reason why we have prisons for criminals and put little kids in time out. Taking away freedom to live your life as you wish is punishment.

Back to photography… I’m not a fan of shooting portraits. It’s boring. I like landscapes, nature and travel. But I am good at it even if I don’t like it. In this pandemic I have found myself shooting more portraits than I ever have before. Why is this when there are so many portrait photographers out there? Well, it’s because they are terrified and believe everyone should stay in isolation. I don’t feel that way. I feel that life is still happening and once those moments are gone we will never get them back. Photographers are here to capture those moments.

I have a friend who has had 7 miscarriages and finally carried her pregnancy to term with #8 in this pandemic. She wanted to do a maternity photo shoot to capture the joy of this time especially since she does not know if they will ever be able to have another one. The problem… she can’t find a photographer in the lockdown so she contacted me. I agreed to do her photos for her. I don’t know how people can turn down someone who has been through so much sadness and wants to capture the joy of this moment. It isn’t like she can go back and do them later. We did them in a low risk way outdoors I stayed socially distanced from them except when I gave her a gift for the baby. I later took family photos after the birth for their daughters 1st Christmas.

My brother is getting married in September. I did his engagement photos and I’m terrified that their wedding photographer will cancel at the last minute and I’ll end up shooting his wedding rather than enjoying the celebration with my family. Why would I do that? Well, because I’m not going to bail on my brother when he needs me.

I’m just so tired of people using covid as an excuse. So you have sat on your butt for a year and don’t want to go back to work? Is it because you are terrified of covid? Nope. You are still living your life visiting with friends and family and going to the store and whatever else is open at the moment. Just be honest. Don’t say it isn’t safe for you to go back to work. Just say you don’t want to go back to work. It’s ok. You can NOT want to go. I don’t want to go every day but I have a family to support so I put on my shoes and go. Would I like to stay home and enjoy the 50 hours a week of free time with my family? Hell yes! I get it. I don’t want to go to work either. But I’m sure as hell not going to use covid as an excuse and say I can’t go to work because it isn’t safe while I go on about living my life outside my home. Just be honest about it. Just say you got lazy and don’t want to go back to work. Saying it isn’t safe for YOU to go to work while you expect everyone else to go to work is just saying that you are more important than everyone else out there. You are more important than all the essential workers who have kept everything running back when it really was not safe. If you accept a job and got paid for the job then you should do that job. If you want to back out you should refund your fee AND pay the difference for the last minute replacement for the job you were suppose to do if they incur additional costs due to you backing out at the last minute.

The businesses and people that are going to survive this pandemic are going to be the ones who didn’t use it as an excuse to be lazy. They are going to be the ones that paid off debt, saved up to purchase their first home, wrote that book, used the time to get fit, eat healthier, forge a better relationship with their spouse and children. There are 1000 ways to come out of the pandemic better than you went into it.

There are several truths about the past year no matter what your beliefs are on the way the pandemic is being handled where you are from.

Life is moving on.

Relationships are starting and ending.

People are getting married and divorced.

Children are being born and growing up.

People still die.

How do you feel about gatherings? Should we never celebrate again? If you are married how would you feel to have that option taken away from you? How about your children? Do you reflect back on that crying photo with Santa and smile? What if that was taken away from you? Remember the first day of kindergarten? What if that was taken away? High school or college graduation (yours or or child’s)? How about funerals? Should those go away and we no longer get to mourn? Should we visit the sick and dying or let them die alone? How about birthdays? Do we celebrate only the 1st birthday, 13th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 50th, 75th, 100th? Only some? None at all? How about if you beat cancer and didn’t think you would see another birthday but here it is! Do you celebrate?

Do we celebrate life or let let it just go because someone might get sick? What about food poisoning? Someone might get sick. Maybe we should not eat anymore.

Happiness and Pandemic Fatigue

Those who know me know I am really struggling with what is being called “Pandemic fatigue.” As an essential worker in healthcare I had pandemic fatigue before the first shutdown order in March. I had pandemic fatigue by the end of February. People had lost their damn minds. Honestly, all logic was completely obliterated from existence. I saw people walking around in full hazmat suits (and still do)… Minus the oxygen tanks. I have seen people doing completely moronic things like covering every bit of exposed skin with hand sanitizer. Not just their hands, but arms, legs, neck, face and some even started to cover their shoulders and bellies and places accessible without exposing their parts that would be covered by a swimsuit. I even have seen people wiping down their purses with it and even a paper back novel pages and all. Cleaning the PAGES of a book with wet hand sanitizer, the dry paper pages with wet hand sanitizer. This was all prior to the first shutdown and it has just gotten worse. All Logic, common sense and thought processes seem to have gone away in the blink of an eye.

We are now entering our 11th month of lockdowns here in California and I am so beyond over it it is exhausting. I have no idea why I have not snapped yet. At least once a day, every day someone asks me if something is clean right after I cleaned it right in front of them. For example I’ll be cleaning a chair, arms, seat and back right in front of a patient and they are standing there watching me do it. I then tell them they can sit down and they ask me “Are you sure this is clean? because I don’t want to get sick now.” (Look Moron. You just watched me clean it right in front of you and the room reeks of alcohol and my hands are so dry from all the cleaning that you can see my fingerprints.) I don’t say any of what I am thinking as I am totally rolling my eyes at them. I just simply respond, “Yes, it’s clean.” and sigh…again.

At least once a week I get someone in who is so fearful of covid that they refuse to touch anything or let anyone touch them. Ok people. I work in healthcare. If whatever your issue is could be taken care without actually examining you, then this would be a video visit instead of an in person one. If I can’t get the patients to be reasonable and let me do my job in a couple minutes then I pass them back their registration slip with our reception desk phone number written on the bottom and tell them to go back to the receptionist and get a refund then call us back to reschedule when they are comfortable leaving the house and being around people. I have no idea how these people think they are going to get an exam and treatment without touching anything or anyone.

I don’t just struggle with dealing with the public on a daily basis but I struggle even more with the loss of everything I look forward to. I am a goal person. I set a goal and I work toward it a little bit at a time. I also need something fun to look forward to on the horizon to keep me going when the times get hard. This pandemic has canceled ALL of my plans. Every single thing I was looking forward to from my son’s preschool graduation and first day of kindergarten to my husband’s 40th birthday trip to Hawaii. It has stolen my trip to the northern lights. It has canceled many girls days with friends for mani-pedis and a long lunch full of laughing until my face hurts. It has stolen moments I will never get a chance to celebrate again. With my oldest child as a severely disabled child I missed many of these moments with him and was looking forward to being able to share them with my younger child. But those are now gone forever.

The 40th birthday trip in Hawaii that we talked about doing 5 years ago…Yeah gone. I know we can go again later sometime but it isn’t the same. Having traveled shortly after 9-11, major hurricanes and other disasters I know that travel after a major event really sucks. Yes, you are excited to get out and as a traveler you are thrilled and excited to move beyond the depressing life at home. Well, touristy places are hit REALLY hard when disaster strikes and while I know the people who work in tourism are thanking you for being there supporting them because they were hit so hard by the (insert disaster here) As a tourist I do not want to hear the doom and gloom every time I go anywhere and do anything. It can be as simple as going out to eat…The taxi driver taking you to your destination tells you his tales of woe, followed by the tales from the hostess as you wait for your table, the bartender when you try to escape by going to the bar, the wait staff as they take your order, the staff that bring you your food…literally every step along the way for every single thing you do for the entire trip no matter how mundane you hear the tales of woe. Then if you do a tour or trip of some kind you hear the sob story just before they mention the tip jar. I don’t want to be rude and I’m glad I can help stimulate the economy but if I wanted to listen to this crap I could just turn on the news at home…for free. I am on holiday to get away from all of that. I also do not need to be reminded about the tip jar. I tip and I tip well. But the sob story followed by the mentioning of the tips makes me really not want to leave one because it could have been a great tour but you just ended it on a crappy, depressing note and while you are still living your daily life full of all of its issues, I am here to try to escape mine. So, while I am looking forward to traveling post-covid, I am also dreading it.

With everything going on, I have had to rethink the way I do everything, sometimes several times. I can no longer go to the gym to workout before work because it is closed. I can’t go outside for a walk because it is freezing or barely above it in the mornings and totally dark outside. With our current stay at home order we are not even allowed to go for a walk in certain areas. Beaches and parks are again closed. Zoos are closed. Everything is closed. This is leading to a lot of trial and error… in everything. It is very frustrating. You may decide to take the kids to the zoo on the weekend on Wednesday as you look ahead to the weekend then Friday the Governor announces they they all have to close effective midnight Friday night. You already got reservations and tickets for the next day. You already told the kids and they are excited to see the giraffes. But, it has now been determined that going to an outdoor zoo at 25% capacity is too dangerous so now your plans are canceled…Again. Everything needs reservations but you can’t plan anything in advance because the rules change so frequently. It is infinitely frustrating, especially if you are trying to entertain young kids that don’t understand why they can’t go to school or the playgrounds or anywhere when you use to go places all the time.

I try not to let it get me down. It is difficult. I have good days where I try hard and things go well and other days where no matter what I do everything seems to go wrong and everything seems so difficult. One thing is certain… I do not do well when everything is closed. Honestly, I don’t understand why everything is closed…again. It isn’t like our positivity or death rates are so far off places that are open that it shows that this is the answer. In fact we are smack dab in the middle surrounded by states that are open. Are the closures saving lives in this pandemic? Actually the statistics show that the overall human fatality rate overall is pretty much about the same as it has been the last 10 years. So that tells me if these people didn’t die from covid they probably would have died from something else anyway. So why are we closed? Why are people starving and loosing their homes and businesses? Why is it ok to let our children fail and not get educated? Why is it ok for our children to miss out on normal rites of passage like prom and graduation? Since when did living so isolated become something we do to our loved ones? Almost every grandma I have talked to would rather see her loved ones and spend time with them even if it means a shorter life than live longer in isolation from everyone they care about.

My Mom has told her grandkids repeatedly that this is not normal. Don’t let anyone tell you this is normal. This is no way to live a life. Saying they are doing it to protect us (the grandparents) is a lie. You tell anyone who gives you crap about it when they talk about things opening and going back to normal as killing grandma that your grandma volunteers to be the one to die if it means that her kids and grandkids can live a normal life attending events, going to school, having holiday together and celebrating birthdays together. You tell them that your grandma would rather die than live in isolation.

Words from my mom. (This grim sentiment is also why I make a point to take the kids to see my parents every weekend and call to talk to my parents at least once mid-week. It’s hard when I work full time and have a million other things to do but I make the time.)

I have heard similar sentiment from many of my elderly patients as well… I know I am burnt out and exhausted from this, but our elderly that was are supposedly protecting are straight up pissed off. I have a co worker that is nearing retirement and she has gone to Vegas every year for her birthday with her husband for as long as she can remember. Her kids will not let her go. She was so sad about it. Here she is going to work every day just 2 years shy of retirement but her kids will not let her go to Vegas. I told her they are not the boss of you. She doesn’t live under their roof and she should just go. After all my parents are in their 70’s and they just went to Vegas a few months ago for their anniversary.

The point is to LIVE your life not to just exist. There is a reason why we punish people by locking them into jail. You take away their freedoms and isolate them from their loved ones as punishment. So why are we doing this to our loved ones? Why are we punishing them? Why are we punishing ourselves?

I need to see the logic in things. I can suck it up and do difficult things if I can see the logic in it later. I can watch what I eat and exercise if I feel better, my clothes fit better and I loose weight. I can skip grabbing coffee in the mornings, going out to lunch on workdays, having cable TV and shop the sales because I know those savings can then be saved up to allow us the money to travel somewhere. I can do something difficult for months or years at a time if I can see the logic and the progress and see the good it is doing. I do not see the good here. I do not see the advantage. I see elderly receiving end of life care unable to see their families over fear of the virus. I don’t know about you, but if it was me I would rather spend 6 quality months with my friends and family at the end of my life laughing and spending time with those that I care about than spend a year isolated from them to keep me safe.

When I open social media I don’t want to see businesses closing, people starving and struggling to make it. I don’t want to see people loosing their jobs just before Christmas. I don’t want to see people suffering. I want to see photos on Facebook of people I know traveling. I want to see the kids in Christmas pageants singing horribly and picking their noses on stage (that would be my son). I want to see families gathered together in celebrations of holidays, birthdays and graduations. I want to see weddings. I want to see Joy. I want to see humans laughing, loving and enjoying their lives.

I want things to go back to “normal”. I want to see friends laughing. I want to see families celebrating together. 2020 was hard for so many people. For many it was the worst year of their lives. In 2021 I want our lives back. I want peace, love and joy for everyone.

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.

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.

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.