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.

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.

Punk Rock!

20200110-DSC_0172Over the three day weekend I had a date day with my husband. Dates change a bit after you are married with kids. We went to see an “adult movie” (aka a movie that is not animated). The force was strong with us so we went to see Star Wars…at the 11 AM showing. Followed by a late lunch/early dinner and a few errands on the way home.

While we were on our way to the office supply store to pick up some address labels Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols came on the radio. We crank it up and sing along as we pull into the parking lot and score an awesome spot right in front. As we get out of the car a few people are staring at us as we walk in to get our address labels. I look at the two of us and could not feel less punk rock.

Once upon a time I had multi-color hair and enough piercings to set off the airport metal detector (yes, I actually set it off once flying home from Southern CA). I dated guys with real Mohawks in various colors, long hair, piercings and tattoos that were in bands. To those who knew me back then it’s no surprise that I married a musician. But he is a clean cut singer-songwriter with no piercings or tattoos. I’m the one with the tattoos and while I took out most of my piercings I kept a few.

Looking at the two of us I could not feel less punk rock rebellion as I’m wearing my denim jeans with no stains or holes, my deep red t-shirt top with button detailing and my comfy tennis shoes with my hair pulled back in a pony tail. I look at my hubby who is dressed similarly. We just got out of my plug in hybrid car. We live in a house in a nice neighborhood. What happened to our rebellious pasts back when we were, well I was cool?

We talked a lot on the way home with our address labels. We decided we are going to be crazy and rebel! We are NOT going to follow the GPS and will take the road less traveled (only to see it was a dead end and we had to go back over to where the GPS wanted us to go anyway). Maybe we should get his and hers Dr. Martins (I loved mine and wore them ever day when I backpacked through Europe). Maybe we should make it to a punk show this year. Maybe he should find some other special needs Dads that play instruments and they should a punk band…

In the end we went home. I made my labels and cursed at the printer that kept saying it wasn’t online while I could see it was clearly connected to the wifi. Then dropped off some more artwork at the gallery and found out another piece of mine sold. He stayed home and put on a movie for the kids.

So I may not be punk rock anymore. I may not be young. But I was cool once. I lived my life to the fullest and did lots of crazy and amazing things! While I am no longer the person I use to be, the person I am now isn’t so bad. I’m married to a great guy. I have two kids. I have a job that pays well. I have a creative outlet. My photography business is growing. I finished writing my first book…

Then again… Maybe I am still punk rock. After all, I’m not just existing and following typical societal rules. Sure I have the house, car, dog and 2 kids and a sensible wardrobe… but I married a significantly younger man. I’m a cougar. So what? I’m setting goals and achieving them. I’m going after my dreams. I’m breaking the rules and rediscovering myself in my 40’s. Im not just existing, I’m living! I’m creating art. I wrote a book. Who cares if I do it all in jeans and a t-shirt while wearing comfortable shoes and driving an ecologically conscious car? Damn it, I’m punk rock! (As long as I can be in bed by 10 PM)

Rock on people. Rock on.

(the photo was taken over the weekend at sunrise. I have been fascinated with the mist lately and braving the freezing temperatures to get some great photos as it rolls in at sunrise)