Monday, April 23, 2018

This is 39 (Month 6, Check-In 2)

Holy. Shit.

So this happened a few hours ago:

One of the biggest goals I set for myself this year was to run a Half Marathon. And one of the biggest goals I'm afraid I won't accomplish is to run a Half Marathon. So this past month I've done two things to make this goal a reality:

  1. I purchased an Apple Watch in hopes that it will help me stick to my running schedule. My friend Patrick, who has inspired me with his own path to fitness, sung the praises of the Nike+ Run Club app and how it made him an "accidental runner". 
  2. I actually researched Half Marathons in the area and as you can see from the photo above, I actually registered! My schedule becomes crazy once we hit June and pretty much stays that way until just before Thanksgiving. Weekends are limited, but by some amazing scheduling miracle, the Long Beach Marathon (with a half marathon option) takes place after the last weekend I'm home before the big 4-0 Birthday Bash (and a family wedding I'm attending). 
Using the Nike+ Run Club app, I entered a bunch of details, including the race date, the distance, how much I can run now (not much) and it auto-magically spit out a 24-week training plan that will take me from this week through the Half Marathon. Which is great. Because I don't have to think and just have to do what someone else has figured out works best for me to do to be able to run a Half Marathon without dying.

Woah. I'm nervous. I'm excited. I'm kinda everything in between those two emotions. But more than anything, I know I can do this. If I follow the plan (which I WILL) and if I set the time aside (which I WILL) and if I take care of my body (which I WILL) and if I respect this process (which I WILL), then I've got this, right?

For my 30th birthday, I had every intention of losing weight and running the Dublin Marathon. And then I didn't. I didn't lose the weight. I didn't run the marathon. Photos of myself back then really bummed me out. I was disappointed that I didn't accomplish that goal. 

I still hope to run that marathon one day. But for my This is 39 goal list, I decided to be smarter about accomplishing a running goal. The Half Marathon seems doable. I'm carrying less weight around, for starters. I also feel more mentally ready to tackle this. And I'm giving myself plenty of time to properly train.

Guys. I'm doing this! 


Thursday, April 19, 2018

This is 39 (Month 6, Check-In 1)

One of the biggest goals I wanted to accomplish this year was to eliminate credit card debt. And I'm happy, relieved, excited and proud to share that as of April 16th, We Have No More Credit Card Debt.

The truth is, I've been bad (read: careless) with my money for a long time. When I first came out to California in the winter of 1999 as part of a student exchange program, I got my first credit card...and it was sort of downhill from there. I wasn't prepared for the responsibility of a credit card. Being on the other side of the country while my mom was going through treatment for breast cancer with all these opportunities around me and no extra money laying around (or having the kind of parents who would give you money for shit like that) meant that I just started charging things on a magical credit card. And it went that way for many, many, many years until I realized that I had to significantly change my spending habits and learn to be more responsible with my money.

Steve has been largely hands-off in this department, which meant I was able to keep spending money on things I truly didn't need (how much stationery and socks does a girl need? Actually don't answer that). Over the years, I'd asked for help (thank you Katie Grant and Samantha), but (similar to losing weight), I wasn't ever in the right head space to actually stick to anything. However, a few years back, after some failed attempts, we both took stock of our financial situation and agreed it was time.

What's helped? More than anything, a commitment to paying off our debt and seeing it through. Which has meant saying no to some things (like going to people's weddings- SORRY- or getting a new couch or dining room table or loading up on expensive clothing or buying the really nice and expensive Christmas/birthday presents we'd like for our friends and loved ones or being able to make sizeable donations to support my friends' charitable efforts) and saying yes to other things (like increasing our monthly payments, even if it means getting a little uncomfortable at the end of each month).

I do feel an incredible weight lifted off my shoulders. But I don't think it'll be fully realized until next month when I don't have to make another credit card payment and we can actually save that freaking money and put it towards our emergency savings plan- another goal of mine.

Stay tuned for my next blog post where I'll go into more detail on what else I've been up to in month six!


Saturday, March 24, 2018

This is 39 (Month 5, Check-In 2)

Um...this year is going by a lot quicker than I had anticipated! I can't believe I'm about to enter my sixth month of my 39th year. Woah. I'm still enjoying the structure of the goals and have better managed a couple of the more challenging monthly goals for me to complete (volunteering and going hiking). I still need to work on the yoga thing since that seems to wait until the last minute. Read on for what else I accomplished besides a trip to Miami and some sweet photos in month five.

Hike 1x/month: My friend Katie Grant & I went for a hike with her daughter Tessa. We checked out Kenneth Hahn Park which is right in the middle of LA. Although I've driven by plenty of times, I've never actually gone into the park. I loved the park itself and love the idea of nature being so easily accessible and available in a city which most people don't associate nature with...but the hike itself wasn't my favorite. It could have been the way we went as the last part was super steep and I kept feeling like I was one second away from falling. And I wasn't even the one with a baby strapped to my chest! Katie Grant didn't seem to sweat it at all, which was all the more impressive. Regardless, we had a wonderful time and enjoyed the sights and I was glad to explore some place new in my own city:

Attend a yoga class at least 1x/month: With two days before my month's end, I found myself at a restorative yoga class- the first one I'd ever been to. I checked out a new (to me) yoga studio and had a really crazy good experience. First of all, the center was really nice. The energy was calm and the place was clean. I got there about 10 minutes before the class started and was the only one there for another 5 minutes. 

And then we found out the instructor was running late. I was already in a calm state, so I just grabbed my book and waited for her to show up. Now, I've never taken a restorative yoga class before and I had no clue what to expect. What I did know going into it was that, at an hour and a half, it was going to be the longest yoga class I'd ever taken.

Well my friends, I'm here to tell you that I loved this class! I didn't stand up once. I didn't break a sweat. And yet afterwards I felt as if I had been hit like a truck because it was such an intense workout. I channeled my inner Busy Phillips and did a few Instagram Stories post class and I looked like I had just awoken from a hibernation. (Side note: if you're not following Busy Phillips on Instagram, please do it. It's highly entertaining and her stories make me laugh all the time.) The crazy thing is that we only did a handful of poses (like maybe less than 10), but we held each one for so long and It Was Awesome.

The instructor was super attentive (I forgave her for being late the second she showed up) and brought over more bolsters and blankets and was just so reassuring, warm and kind. If you've never done a restorative yoga class, go!

Nurture my marriage: During my Month 4, Check-in 2 blog post, I went into great detail about the decisions I needed to make and the conversations I needed to have- both with myself and with Steve. And I'm happy to share that we made some big decisions about our vacation time together and apart. Next week, when Spring Break Steve comes out to play, we are going to go on a California road trip that will bring us to Montecito/Santa Barbara, Cambria and San Francisco. We're playing the trip back home by ear; we'll either head straight back to Santa Monica or we'll figure out where to stay along the way.

Although I'll be spending some of that time working, the time when I am not working will be 100% Molly & Steve time. Which means limited time on the cell phone (for me- Steve hates cell phones and continues to think of them as "an option, not an obligation." #ouch #whyhesnotmyemergencycontact) and lots of time reconnecting and enjoying one another's company. Steve has also assured me that he's really excited to "emotionally eat my way through Spring Break." I told him I'd be happy to watch from the sidelines as I will not be emotionally eating my way through his Spring Break. I am looking forward to slowing down, enjoying each other's company, getting outside of Santa Monica, catching up on some reading and writing and just chilling out with Steve by my side.

In June, I will be returning to Ireland for my annual trip back home to fill my soul and in July, Steve will be going to the east coast to fill his soul (and I am going to try and join him for some portion of that). I need to be careful though, because sometimes what's said in the spring doesn't hold true in the summer and we end up getting into some trouble and having communication and connection issues. I'd like to think that because I'm being more intentional with the time we are spending together all the time, that it will help mitigate that. But...time will tell.

Read 20 books: In the last month I finished A Gentleman in Moscow and Everything Is Horrible And Wonderful

A Gentleman in Moscow was 480 pages. It was a really nice book- no crazy plot or twists and turns. Just a sweet book, with respectable characters and an interesting story line to keep you engaged all the way to the end. It's a bit of a time investment, but worth it. Add it to your list of books to read. 

Everything Is Horrible and Wonderful was a total departure from that. I finished the book in two days and was laughing and crying throughout the quick read. It's a story about Harris Wittles, a comedian, and writer and executive producer of Parks and Recreation, who died at 30 of a drug overdose. His sister wrote the book detailing Harris's addition and attempts to get sober and shared her experience the first year after his death. It was so sad to read because I cannot fathom what it's like to lose a sibling. I don't know how I'd go on. Having experienced the death of my father and Clancy (I'm not saying they're the same, but I am saying that they're both traumatic and heartbreaking), I know that you do go on. But holy hell, it's a pain I can't wrap my brain or heart around. And reading this book gave me a peek into how you move forward while your heart is shattered in a million pieces and you keep the memory of your sibling(s) alive. While it sounds heavy AF, I would totally recommend this book. Stephanie, the author and Harris's sister, is funny and witty and real and relatable.

Resistance training 3x/week: The day after I got back from Miami, I was doing my third resistance training for the week (barefoot inside my carpeted living room) when my foot felt funky while jump roping. I decided to keep going until I couldn't. Then I put on some sneakers and continued with my workout. Bad move. The next day I couldn't put my full weight on my left foot and I knew I'd have to take it easy. So I stopped doing resistance training and my run/walk and stair workouts for a solid week and a half. I started back up with an easy and slow run/walk workout. It wasn't until I took my sneakers off upon getting home that I felt my foot hurting. F me. Not wanting to push it any further, and really freaking out about the possibility of doing real damage to my foot, I opted to make a doctor's appointment instead.

I was able to get in the next day and my doctor poked and pushed at my foot and determined it'd be best for me to do some physical therapy, put some topical anti-inflammatory ointment on the top of the foot and to "listen to my body", but staying off my feet completely wasn't necessary given her assessment.

That was a week and a half ago and my foot is feeling much better. I haven't gone for physical therapy and even though my doctor called me the day after my appointment to suggest that she line up an X-ray just in case my foot didn't feel any better this week, I don't think it's necessary.

As of this week, I'm back into it with resistance training and following along in my Sweat app on my iPhone in my home gym. But this time only and always with sneakers on my feet. 

Track each day's food in the Weight Watchers app: I started tracking my food again and following the Weight Watchers program (as opposed to showing up to meetings just to weigh-in and see the damage I was doing by mindlessly eating whatever I wanted) on Tuesday March 13th and have been going strong since. In my last blog post, I went into great detail about the ways in which I've struggled not just the past few months, but for as long as I can remember. My relationship with food has been unhealthy at best. And it really, really bums me out. But I feel like I'm making significant progress right now.

Apart from tracking food and following the program (which is huge, I realize), there are a couple of other things that are helping. The first is that I've started to read this book: The Food Therapist. If you, too, struggle with food in any way, I 100% recommend this book. (I realize I've recommended a lot of things in this blog post already, but this is really, really good.) I'm only 78 pages into the 214 page book, but I've pulled so many nuggets of information out that have been hugely helping in reframing how I'm thinking about food and my relationship with it. Here are just five of the many things that have really resonated with me and that I've been able to put into practice to help me as I consider the relationship I want to have with food and how I want the future version of myself to look and feel:
  • The goal isn't to punish yourself for missteps, but to understand how, when, and why you've ditched your long-term goals for your more immediate wants; this is the crucial first step to closing the gap between your intentions and actions. 
  • ...for many of us, there's a major disconnect between the way we think about ourselves right now and the way we view ourselves in the future. 
  • ...we've got to stop treating the future versions of us like strangers, because the research suggests that we more actively people think about their later selves, the less likely they are to say "screw it" to their long-term goals, whether they're financial or health-related. 
  • Having a healthy relationship with food doesn't mean always choosing the eating behavior that supports the long-lens goal over the immediate want (because, let's be real, that sounds like a total drag). Instead, it's about having the ability to pause and consider the options at hand and then a make a conscious choice. (Yes!)
  • prepared to make some compromises for the sake of your future self. Yes, eating should be enjoyable, but it's not possible to cater to your every right-now craving and still get the future outcome you desire. (Wow. This one really, really has helped me a lot.)
In Chapter 3 of the book, you're encouraged to write a letter to your future self too. (It also happened to coincide with the same suggested action from the weekly Weight Watchers meeting.) I took this assignment seriously and wrote a long letter to my future-self in my journal and it made me feel hopeful. So many people tell me that I inspire and motivate them. That I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. And not being able to accomplish my weight loss goals have made me feel like a failure. I'm working to reframe this narrative too. It doesn't serve me well and I'd like to take this additional tidbit from the book and put it into practice more: "...if you encourage yourself to view lapses as a result of your efforts, rather than character flaws—signs that you're weak and incompetent, for example—you'll be more likely to learn from your not-so-healthy eating behaviors and improve your approach."

This book has come at a time when I really needed it. And with some down time on the horizon next week while Steve and I are on off on our California road trip, I look forward to making more progress in the book and seeing what else I can take away from it to help in my ongoing quest to change this back and forth, up and down, all or nothing relationship that has not served me well for many, many years.

The other thing that's been helping is...Try meditating for 21 days: In typical Molly fashion, it seems like I'm in this all or nothing state. Tracking my food. Following Weight Watchers. Reading The Food Therapist and now meditating. It's a lot. and I worry that I'm setting myself up for...I don't know that failure is the word I'm looking for...but maybe imperfection. But I don't give a shit about that. I'm not looking to do this perfectly. I'm just looking for ways to change what I've always done to make my weight-loss more lasting. And right now I'm going with what's happening- focusing on progress and not perfection.

But I couldn't ignore the fact that Oprah's latest meditation challenge was beginning and it seemed perfect when I saw the ad on Facebook: Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience: Shedding the Weight: Mind, Body and Spirit. I mean come on. Is that not a message from the Universe or what?

I'm five days in and it's been really enlightening. The meditation starts out with some words from Oprah, then some words from Deepak (where he shares the centering thought and the mantra) and then you're left to do the meditation for about 15 minutes.

Apart from one other meditation attempt at a company meeting a million years ago (give or take a few years), I haven't ever tried meditating. Skipping over Meditation 101 means I spend a lot of my time trying to chase off thoughts from entering into my brain when I'm trying to peacefully sit with nothingness and waiting for the ding that tells me my time is up. So while my actual meditation practice needs a lot of help, I know that there are benefits I'm getting just from the attempt. And once the meditation wraps up, I write about it in my journal- mostly the thoughts shared beforehand by Oprah and Deepak- and that's been equally as helpful as the meditating itself. Here are a some nuggets of info that I've received from the first five days:
  • When you think about food and your hunger level, consider the feeling of fulfillment vs. feeling full
  • What in my life makes me feel heavy? What makes me feel weighted down? It's not just food and I have to be willing to examine those things.
  • As my emotions flow freely, my life is lightened. This was the centering thought on day three and really made me think about how sometimes I don't honor my feelings. I try to be realistic and when I do that, I don't let myself feel my feelings. That prevents me from allowing feelings to move on and instead creates a bottle neck of my feelings which I then tend to feed those feelings via crappy food.
  • The inner feeling of lack is where cravings come from. 
  • I need to be willing to ask myself "What am I hungry for right now?" This will help me better understand why I'm making poor food decisions. Mostly people eat because they're bored or tired or angry or sad. I must be willing to explore and analyze more than I do now to better understand what I truly need (according to Deepak, my true self never lacks for anything). The idea that my true self doesn't lack for anything and that I already possess everything I need to feel fulfilled is something I need more time with...
  • Our bodies want to be healthy, but our habits and thoughts are what create imbalance. (Word.)
See- enlightening right? I mean some of it is like another message from Captain Obvious. But to me, weight loss stuff isn't hard from a logical standpoint. Like...I know what to do. I just don't always do it. What I'm learning from meditation and from The Food Therapist is that there's a disconnect between my intentions and the actions I'm willing to take. And I need to do some serious work to close that intention/action gap.

I'm grateful for the meditation and the book and, more than anything, my willingness to continue to explore and grow and learn and try to find the right ways to improve and understand my relationship with food. 

Volunteer 1x/month: I volunteered in three different capacities this month.

Guys. I went so far outside my comfort zone on my first one. I made calls on behalf of the Conor Lamb for Congress Campaign on March 12th. I knew when I made the goal to volunteer at least once a month, that I would have to do something that contributed to flipping the House in November. When I saw the opportunity to make calls for the Conor Lamb campaign appear in a Swing Left email, I knew I just had to do it.

The organization made it so easy to volunteer. I signed up on some website, they emailed me instructions and a script and then when it was time to make calls, I logged into a website and calls were auto-magically sent to my cell phone! As someone who has managed and made a ton of calls for large outbound call campaigns for work (both related to the 3-Day and way back in the day when my love of calling strangers began at the UNH Alumni), I was fascinated and impressed by the technology.

I was incredibly nervous about something answering the phone or asking me any in depth questions. Apart from Pod Save America and Swing Left emails, I hadn't actually ever heard of Conor Lamb more than like a week or so before I started making the calls. I didn't know much about him. And I certainly knew nothing about his opponent...including how to pronounce his freaking name! I was Not Qualified to make these calls. But I read the information I received, I went online to Conor Lamb's website, and I just did the best I could. And you know what? It was fine! I survived. I had fun. I recalled a lot of really fun memories making calls like this in my past (hi Lindsay!). I spoke with some interesting people. It felt really amazing to contribute to the change I want to see in this country. And when Conor Lamb won it felt really freaking cool to know that I played a very small part in his very big win! I'll definitely do something like this again.

I did another stint with Food Forward at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market on March 14th. In the post-volunteer Food Forward email, I learned that we collected 816 pounds of fresh, local produce and donated 100% to Groceryships, Mother's Kitchen, PATH Villas at Del Rey, SMC Students Feeding Students, Step Up on Second and St. Joseph Center. Below are two of the people I volunteered with grabbing some of the full boxes from the farmers that we weighed and then handed over to the organizations to use to feed people who need this food the most:

It was a beautiful day and I'm enjoying volunteering with Food Forward and plan on this being something I do once a month.

The last thing I did was write postcards to voters! I've been wanting to do this particular volunteer opportunity for a while now but I never got around to making it happen. No more! I learned through someone on Twitter (who replied to a tweet I wrote about making calls for Conor Lamb) where to go to get more information (that would be right here). You sign up on the website, they email you instructions, you write a sample postcard, take a photo for approval and once approved, they email you additional instructions and the addresses of your first five postcards. When you get those out the door, you can text Abby the Address Bot who will send more addresses for whatever campaigns we're currently writing postcards on behalf of. I've only done five so far, but again, it feels good to be part of the movement.

Plus, I purchased 100 postcards and hope that between now and November, all of them will be sent to potential voters to Flip the House! 

So...that was month five! It went by quickly and there was a lot going on. I feel mentally exhausted by a lot of it, so our little road trip is well-timed.

I'm looking forward to seeing all that happens in month six!


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

This is 39 (Month 5, Check-In 1)

One of my This is 39 goals is "to travel some place new" and I'm happy to share that at the end of February and into the beginning of March, I found myself in Miami- a destination I hadn't been to before!

Miami isn't realllly my scene (beach life and warm weather isn't really my thing- yes, I know where I live seems to contradict that). But I was there for a work conference and since I'd also get to cross off another goal, I decided to embrace it whole heartedly.

I had the opportunity to go to Miami a couple of days before the conference and rent a cute little bungalow in the Coconut Grove section of Miami with Jill (Schmoopy) and Erin. Thanks to Jill for doing the legwork on the accommodations and to Erin for having the good sense to rent a car, even though we thought we'd be able to bike/walk/use public transportation/Lyft around Miami. We ended up in a cute place and with a hilarious car that will keep us laughing for years at the absurdity of the size of the back seat.

Immediately upon landing and stepping outside, I was met with the dreaded muggy and humid weather that plagues the East Coast and caused me to flee for a climate that doesn't experience those crazy things. I really admire those of you who can adapt to a warm, moist (sorry if you're one of those people who hates that word!) climate; I just don't happen to be one of them. I kept my complaining to a minimum (at least I think I did) but also didn't spend anywhere near as much time outside as I had hoped either.

While the main reason I was in Miami was for work (and it'd take up nearly 1/2 of my time there), I was determined to get in some sight seeing and ultimately landed on: Little Havana, Wynwood Walls & an art deco walking tour of South Beach.

First up was Little Havana. Jill & Erin scooped me up from the airport and off we went to walk around Little Havana and get a bite to eat. Here are some photos from our first excursion: 

I should have bought one for Steve-o! 

Little Havana was filled with a few different tourist traps and some pretty amazing touristy "gifts". I couldn't help but snap a photo of this tacky hat! 

The highlight of Little Havana was Domino Park where we got to see people of all ages playing the game
We also stopped for a bite to eat at a local restaurant, where I got some Cuban food (it was alright) before heading back to the bungalow. I was glad we got in a bit of sight seeing because as soon as we got back "home", I had to catch up on a few hours of work.

On our second day in Coconut Grove, the highlight was going to a super funky hipster neighborhood called Wynwood Walls. You can read all about them here. But first- we stopped by The Salty Donut to fuel up for our walk to and around the walls. And that was quite an experience.

Although we got there at the end of the day, we managed to snag the last gluten free donut and we had some mini donuts that were poked with syringes so you could infuse your donut yourself. Pretty fantastic if you ask me.

There was plenty to look at while walking to the Wynwood Walls with graffiti All Over The Place. Here are a couple of my favorite photos I took on that walk:

I couldn't have timed this better if I had tried!

After a little bit, we ended up at the Wynwood Walls where we walked around and marveled at people's incredible talents. The space itself was very cool- a wide open area where you walked from one building to the next with every inch of indoor and outdoor space utilized for featuring another unique artist. It was a bit of a sensory overload, but here are some of my favorites:

After the Wynwood Walls, we went to a restaurant nearby where I enjoyed a FLIGHT OF EMPANADAS (which were delicious) and then we topped off the night by hitting Vicky's House where I got an oreo milkshake with a hot fudge and captain crunch rim while playing Mario Bros. on an old school Nintendo #heaven. It was as amazing as it sounds! The milkshake was a bit much and I threw most of it away before I even left the store. But holy hell, what I did consume of it was delicious. See:

On day three we had to say goodbye to our cute little bungalow and Coconut Grove so we could head to the hotel where the conference was being held.

Cute little bungalow!

As seen in Coconut Grove
The rest of day three and all of day four were spent inside the Hilton in downtown Miami where I didn't go outside until early Friday morning when my company hosted a pre-conference run throughout parts of Miami. Here are a couple of cool photos I took on that run:

Me and Schmoopy- all sweaty and smiley!

Sunrise in Miami 
The sunshine. A yacht. And a cruise ship. Very Miami. 
Friday night had me catching up with a dear friend I haven't seen in a reallllly long time. It was great but by 8:00 p.m., I was toast! We said our goodbyes and I went up to my hotel room where I got all my things pulled together.

On my final day in Miami I was truly blessed with a perfect day. Zero humidity (PTL!), sunshine, a light breeze and beautiful blue skies. It was a perfect day for an art deco walking tour of South Beach!

A friend and former co-worker joined me on the adventure and I'm so glad she did. I learned some very interesting things about Miami in the process. Like what? I'm glad you asked. Like this:

  • Miami was founded by a woman and is the only major U.S. city to be founded by a woman (Julia Tuttle). She convinced the co-founder, Henry Flagler, to extend his railroad from central Florida to Miami, to build a luxury hotel and develop a new town.
  • It's nickname for many years was "God's Waiting Room" because the average age was 68
  • Yiddish was the primary language in the 1920s
  • The Versace Mansion is the third most photographed house in America (behind Graceland and The White House)
  • Miami is home to the largest cruise ship port in the WORLD (I drove by and got anxiety just looking at the size of some of the cruise ships- no gracias!)
The tour was perfectly fine and they peppered in some interesting facts throughout which kept us engaged. But even if the tour guide did no talking, it would have been fine. Because there was a lot of pretty things to look at. Here are a few of my favorite photos I took during the tour: 

After the art deco tour, I hopped in a Lyft, booked it back to the hotel, grabbed my stuff and headed out for the airport. I had a miserable day of travel as it turns out with FOUR HOURS on the plane before we finally took off. I couldn't complain too much, though, because I got upgraded to First Class and it made all the difference. But still. I kept thinking "I could practically be in Ireland by now."

Overall, Miami was perfectly fine. I truly enjoyed going some place new and exploring some of the main highlights of the area. (Bad on me though, I never actually stepped foot on the beach. Oops!) I really enjoyed hanging out with my friends before the conference and seeing more of my friends and colleagues at the conference. And I'm glad I got to cross off two of my goals (travel some place new and use my real camera 1x/month).

Thanks Miami! While I don't feel the need to go back again anytime soon, there are certainly much worse places to go and there are more things for me to explore if I do find myself there again.


Friday, March 9, 2018

This is 39 (Month 4, Check-In 2)

I purposefully skipped one of my goals last month (updating this blog for a second time) because the end of the month was just Too Bananas. Between finalizing everything for Cycle for Survival and then getting ready for a six-day fun/work trip to Miami, I thought I could squeeze in one more update, but then I just had too much on my plate. And instead of stressing myself out, I figured who the F cares if I do one update in month four, and three updates in month five? (The answer to that question is "no one."). So here we are.

Here are a few updates from the end of month four:

Attend a yoga class: Okay guys. I went to a hot yoga class. I thought it'd be "interesting" to try it out. So I got a free week at Hot 8 Yoga and had reallllly hoped that I would like it. Unfortunately the yoga studio smelled gross, which put me off right from the start. I thought for sure there'd be a diffuser or something (anything!) to make sure it didn't smell of sweat, but, not so much. I also didn't love the instructor or the flow of the class. I made it through without dying (bonus!), but I knew I wouldn't go back. Would I try hot yoga again? For sure. Just not at that studio.

Nurture my marriage: I don't mean to be all new flashy, but MARRIAGE IS F'N HARD (said Captain Obvious). Like really hard. Steve and I have had our fair share of ups and downs over the years and the last year has been particularly challenging. Steve doesn't do well with me traveling and we tend to go through a cycle where the first half of the year is great and the second half of the year (which coincides with my work travel and when Summer Steve turns into School Steve) isn't. And there have been some other challenges that I won't go into, but they've been hard and pushed both of us into some not so fun places of discomfort. When I added the goal to nurture my marriage in the fall, I didn't know exactly what that would entail. I just knew that I had to put more care and attention and love into my relationship with my husband.

A lot of our challenges have had to do with the energy each of us were bringing home and adding to our relationship. We've both been paying more attention to that, and I've been responding positively to the ways in which I've seen Steve work on this. It's made a big difference for both of us.

I'm no expert on nurturing a marriage, but here are a few things that I've done that has made both of us smile and brought a warmth to our relationship that I'm really digging:

Heart-shaped lemon ricotta pancakes for breakfast on Valentine's Day! I got up early so I could make Steve's favorite pancakes. (And then documented the whole thing, which almost ruined Steve's mood. Note to self!)

Soaking up knowledge from those around you is also super helpful. I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people whose marriages inspires me and teaches me about ways in which I can do this differently (and sometimes, how to be better, too). One great example of this is the podcast I listened to of Dax Shephard interviewing his wife, Kristen Bell. Dax just started a new podcast called the Armchair Expert and Kristen was his first interview. Their bickering, their honesty, their clear love and admiration for one another- all of it shines through in this. And there is such a realness to how they show up for each other, what challenges them in their relationship and I found myself nodding along and in some instances, 100% getting it. It's a long interview, but I totally recommend listening to it- here you go!

I found these really great blank cards from Paper Source and have left two little notes for Steve to find:

Get a Ligthbox! We've had one for a while and just got around to using it for more fun/loving purposes. Steve even added his own message that I got when I came back from my trip to Miami last week and it made me laugh and smile. 

It's such a small thing, but can make a big difference and add a little bit of fun to your home and love to your relationship.

I learn every day about being a better wife and a better partner for Steve. I'm not always the best at it, but I am always trying. And so is he. And as far as marriage goes- it IS hard work. But if you're with the right person, it's always worth it. Even the bad times. But especially for the good ones (duh).

I've got a lot on my mind right now in terms of nurturing my marriage because I have to really weigh and consider this against my annual solo trip to Ireland that I take every June. If I put nurturing my marriage first, I wouldn't go. But that also seems like a really big personal sacrifice that I'm not willing to give up. Eeek. My hope is that Steve and I can plan a trip together for the two of us so that I can still do this trip which fills up my soul and sustains me all year long. (Full disclosure, I'm going to Ireland in October for my 40th. But that's going to be, like, a big thing with a group of people. So it won't be the Molly-centric trip where she gets to do whatever she wants whenever she wants without having to worry about anyone but herself.)

All that side- I'm smiling more, I'm spending more time with Steve, I'm listening more and I'm feeling supported, loved and taken care of by my husband. And I'd like to think that this goal is helping to accomplishing that. Screw that. I know this goal is helping to accomplish that.

Track each day's food in the Weight Watchers app: Yeah...I'm still not doing it. I'm following Weight Watchers for the most part (my trip to Miami threw me off and I haven't quite gotten back on track yet). But even when I'm making good food decisions, I haven't been tracking the food.

Here's the thing. I have to work on my relationship with food. I have to do more work on improving my all or nothing tendencies when it comes to food. And maybe Weight Watchers isn't the way to go. But I have to find something that's a better match. I was very conscious about not putting weight-specific goals on my This is 39 list because I'm So Sick Of All of That. I'm 4+ months into this year and I feel like I'm getting further away from the food/weight/body goals that I've set for myself.

While I'm not promising that I'm going to start tracking and following the program 100%, I am going to spend some time this upcoming month on making some positive changes to my relationship with food. Scouts honor (does it matter that I'm not a Scout?).

Use my real camera 1x/month: I took a glorious day off from work on February 16th and was gifted with a gorgeous sunny and clear day in Santa Monica. I took my camera and went off exploring and lunching. Santa Monica was sparkling and shining:

I'm in love with that second photo of the sailboat. I love the shimmery water and the simplicity of the photo. And the other two photos perfectly showcase how lucky I am to live some place so freaking beautiful.

Volunteer 1x/month: I loved my experience volunteering with Food Forward. This organization "fights hunger and prevents food waste by rescuing fresh surplus produce, connecting this abundance with people in need, and inspiring others to do the same."

I met up with a small group of volunteers at the (Wednesday) Santa Monica's Farmer's Market so we could collect fresh fruits and vegetables (which would normally go to waste) so we could then donate them to hunger relief agencies in the area. The process was quite simple- we split up and went up to each farmer asking if they wanted any boxes for donations. If they said yes, we put the boxes together, wrote their name on the box, handed it over and made note of how many boxes they took. Once all farmer's had been approached and all boxes had been handed out, we took a break until 15 minutes after the market closed.

I used my break time to pick up a few things and was pleasantly surprised when I was given things for free or severely discounted (I was wearing a Food Forward apron). I tried to pay, but I got a variation of this comment "No no. Thank you for what you're doing." I really wasn't expecting that, but it was very much appreciated.

When the time came, we started walking back around and picking up the boxes from the farmers. And I gotta tell ya, I walked away feeling even more appreciative of and impressed with each farmer. I love that they were willing to donate their produce to people who truly needed it.

The boxes filled with produce was brought back to the middle of the market where we organized, weighed and then dispatched the goods to the organizations who were receiving everything. It was great. And two hours later, I was on my way back home to work.

A few days later I got this great email: Thank you for joining us at the Santa Monica Wednesday Farmer's Market on February 21. We really appreciate your time and support for Food Forward. Thanks to your help, we were able to collect 1,295 pounds of fresh, local produce and donate 100% to Groceryships, Mother's Kitchen, PATH Villas at Del Rey, SMC Students Feeding Students, Step Up on Second and St. Joseph Center.

I loved the experience and I'm already signed up for another shift!

How yummy do those veggies look? All from the farmer's market!

So that's how the second half of month four went! I can't believe I'm already 1/4 of the way through This is 39!


Friday, February 16, 2018

This is 39 (Month 4, Check-In 1)

Well month four has blown by quickly! I just updated my tracker and I'm sort of overwhelmed by how far into this year I already am. It's almost a quarter of the way over. Which seems bananas.

There are a few big things I've accomplished this month that I want to call attention to:

Exceed last year's Cycle for Survival fundraising ($18,476)- CHECK! I started fundraising on January 31st and set my goal to $25k in 25 days. I took on this challenge because my friend George was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma in December and this is a rare cancer that Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center allocates funding to. And when you raise $25,000 for this event, you can choose where you want your funds allocated. While I always had it in the back of my mind that I'd do this (and direct funding towards the type of rare cancer my father passed away from- esophageal), I realized that this would make a bigger difference for George now. And so my 2018 fundraising challenge was born!

Only 10 days into my fundraising, I surpassed last year's fundraising total. And as of today, I have raised more than $26k. With another $1k promised (and not in my account yet), I know that I'll be able to get to my updated goal of $28k and hopefully beyond. I'd really love to get to $30k, but we'll just see where this all shakes out. Another cool thing is that last year I had 220 donors. And as of today, my donations have been made possible by 219 donors. So I think it's safe to assume that I'll also exceed the number of donors that I had in 2017 as well.

I am unbelievably proud of this accomplishment. And I am overwhelmingly grateful for all the support I've received from my amazing network of family, friends and co-workers. And I'm very fortunate that Paula has been encouraging her personal network to support my fundraiser as well. I knew that I would work as hard as I possibly could to make my goal, but I didn't think I'd be in the place I'm in- that I'd meet my fundraising goal with eight days to go! It's a wonderful feeling, but after doing all my fundraising in a short period of time, it's weird and unsettling to have this much time to do my fundraising.

I am so happy to be able to do something that offers Paula & George hope and can sort of take their mind off of all the sad and scary elements of George's diagnosis and treatment. At the same time, I have been on the receiving end of some of the nicest notes from those who are supporting my ride. Here's one that totally made me cry: Hey Molly...I can't even begin to say how proud I am of you for the work that you do to help others. You are a true altruist. You know, when we grow up with people, you don't ever think of how you may impact each other later on in life. We spend most of our time going to classes, joking around in between, eating lunch and going to recess. Life goes by so fast. I mean seriously, I'm 40 this year and I feel like it was yesterday that I was walking the halls at Lancaster Elementary, picking on you and Katie, calling you Little Moo. I don't think I've actually seen you in person for more than 20 years (crazy, right?), yet I feel like you are a dear friend and that if I ever needed to talk or place to crash, you'd be one of the first people I call. You've brought me comfort in times where I had lost almost all hope. You've made me cry with your kind words of love and encouragement. You are a kind soul Molly. Please don't ever change. You impact lives in ways you may never know. Thank you.

I mean how overwhelmingly nice is that comment? Shoot...I just feel like doing this, while it's ridiculously hard work, is something that brings so much love into my life. And I'm so grateful.

The ride is next Saturday and I know it'll be fine. Although I am slightly scared that I haven't been on a spin bike since last year's event. Oops.

Finish the remaining stair walks from the Secret Stairs of Los Angeles book-
 I knocked two more stair walks this past month (so far). Steve and I did one boring walk and then the next day my friend Cathy & I did an unbelievably cool walk.

The walk Steve and I did had some pretty elements, but there were some long, boring stretches. And we were both wanting it to be over sooner than it was. Here's what it looked like:

One of my new favorite photos of Steve-o which was taken at lunch post-stairs
The very next day, Cathy and I went on another stair walk and I loved it! It was shorter than the day before and my favorite part was that we ended up getting dropped into the middle of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy parkland, specifically Elyria Canyon Park. It's one of the things I love the most about Los Angeles- even in the middle of the city, you can find yourself submerged in nature and surrounded by quiet and unbelievable beauty that makes this New Hampshire girl very happy! See for yourself:

Get four facials and four massages- You guys. I got my first real massage tonight. Like all deep tissue and stuff. And I actually didn't hate it! I can count on two hands (and maybe even one) how many times I've gotten a massage. Historically it just hasn't been my thing. But as I get older, I'm realizing how important this aspect of self-care is. While I make great efforts to get up frequently during the day, I'm not always successful at it. And although I'd say I lead a fairly active lifestyle, I can still go long periods of time through any given day of doing nothing. All that to say, I can feel my body aching differently than ever before. And I can see how massages (and yoga) can play a big role in making sure my body isn't so stiff and achey.

I've been gifted several massage gift certificates, so I have no excuse to go. Tonight while I was getting squished and pressed and having all the knots and kinks worked out, I kept thinking that the phrase "hurts so good" really applies to massages. My hope is that it won't be as painful in the future, especially if I keep up a regular schedule. But for now, I'm sore from my massage and can't wait to go back soon!

Tomorrow morning I'm using another gift certificate to Burke-Williams and getting a facial. Which I'm pretty excited about. Also because I get to use their amenities, which for me will include the steam room, the sauna and the hot tub.

Hike 1x/month- Four days into the month, I got my hike in. My friends Maril, Carrot (Maril's adorable Frenchie), Elise and I went on a hike in Fryman Canyon on a gorgeous LA day. It was a wonderful way to catch up with friends and be active and outdoor. I was struggling more on the hike than I had hoped. But not having been fully recovered from my stupid cold, meant that breathing was a little difficult (and I think some of that had to do with how much crap I ate in December and most of January too). At any rate, we had a lovely time!

Alright- that's it for now! I will update on the second half of the list before 2/23!


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