Monday, June 18, 2018

This is 39 (Month 8, Check-in 2): A Solo Road Trip

During my trip here in Ireland I was able to cross another goal off my list: Go on a solo road trip that includes at least two nights away. While I really would have liked to have driven to Idaho or New Mexico (two places I'd like to explore), I knew that this trip would provide me with an opportunity to accomplish this goal.

To help ensure I followed through with the trip, in the middle of April I booked a B&B in a town called Allihies (pronounced Ah-luh-hees) after I was inspired by some photos on Instagram. The town looked super charming and cute and I knew it'd help me explore somewhere new within Ireland. The past couple of years, I've gotten a little lazy and have mostly stayed at Gene's with exploring just around this part of the country with short same-day trips. This goal helped me step out of that comfort zone and I'm so glad that I did it because I got to see a beautiful part of Ireland.

I set this goal because I just don't spend a lot of time by myself. I'm someone who replenishes her energy by being around other people. And even though I work alone from my home office, I'm always communicating with people and I tend to be fairly social outside of work as well. I was intentional with this goal. Even when I'm in Ireland, I'm still surrounded by a lot of people. I got some offers in the pub for some company, but I was happy to have the time to myself to just be, and see, and do.

The ride from Gene's to Allihies was a doozy. My directions were sending me here, there and everything and I'm pretty sure I was on the least direct way to arrive to my destination. Luckily, the last hour and a half was just unbelievably beautiful. Here are some photos I took while driving the Healy Pass:

And here are some photos of Allihies:

the yellow building is where i stayed for two nights

It was a quiet first night. I stayed in and used the night to take a pause from drinking and did some writing, reading and blogging. I was lulled to sleep by the sound of the pub below. And fended off the thoughts of "I should just go back to Gene's tomorrow."

On Tuesday I was up nice and early (and sober!) and took a quick drive to Dursey Island, which is home to Ireland's only cable car. I've been wanting to do this for a few years but was too lazy last year and the year before to do the drive. I had no real plans beyond getting on the cable car, but as it turns out, I decided to walk the length of the island and back (nearly 7 1/2 miles in total). With no water and no food and no hat and I got a wicked sun burn.

The cable car only holds six people at a time. Local residents have priority. And it's a five minute ride. I got there early because I didn't know how busy it would be and ended up waiting about 30 minutes before I was able to get on. One farmer got on with 10 bags of fertilizer and no one else could go on with him. I had to laugh at that. Here are the photos I took of my day on Dursey Island (which has no shops, pubs, restaurants and very few homes):

this is the farmer who took the cable car alone with his 10 bags of fertilizer! i realized he had to walk to his farm to get his tractor so he could get the fertilizer back!

I had an incredible day walking by myself, talking with the few people I met along the way (including an adorable older couple, Fergus & Margaret) and seeing another beautiful part of Ireland.

Once back in Allihies, me and my sunburnt face got a bite to eat at the only restaurant in town (O'Neills) and then went back to the B&B where I crashed after a long day outside in the hot sun and on my feet. 

I was up early again on Wednesday for what I knew was going to be a long drive back to Gene's. I made a lunch date to meet up with my friend Jen (who I met on my very first trip to Ireland- she and my sister Kara worked together on the Jersey Shore during college summers) whom I hadn't seen for 10 years!

Before that though, and the reason I got up a little earlier than I wanted, was because I was taking the longer way to get there so I could go and see Eyeries (pronounced Eye-ra), which was promised to be another cute coastal village in West Cork.

I was totally unprepared for how absolutely charming Eyeries was. I stopped and took a handful of photos and was bowled over by how precious the place was. It will go down as the cutest and most colorful village I've ever been to in Ireland. Here are some photos I took:

From there I headed over to Cork, but not before passing through another adorable village. I actually drove through and a few minutes outside of town I was still kicking myself for not stopping to take photos. So I turned around and caught these photos of Ardgroom:

So cute, right? And really, so bright and colorful and cheery. I loved both of these villages so much and am glad I went the long way to see them.

My lunch with Jen was delightful and delicious and I loved meeting Harry:

Overall, it was a great three days/two nights away. I powered through the anxiety and discomfort of being alone. I resisted the urge to cut the trip short by a night. And I got to see some more beautiful places in this country I love so very much. 


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

This is 39 (Month 8, Check-in 1): All About Those Stairs

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I decided to just go for it with my stair walks. And by go for it, I mean finish all 17 remaining over a four day period. What can I say, I am my father's daughter: if it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing.


I was thinking how I didn't want to have any more weekends this year devoted to completing stair walks. I was thinking how I didn't want to have more physical activity required of me in addition to my half marathon training and my three times a week resistance training goal. I was thinking that I could bang them out over a four-day period.

And I was right.


But right. 

Friday, May 25th

Thanks to Heather, I got in two walks before work even started.

Walk #14- Magic Gas- 511 steps over 2.5 miles.
Walk #17- Fellowship Park- 148 steps over 1.5 miles 
Out of the two of these, my favorite was the second walk. Although we got lost, we saw some really cool places that were complete off the beaten path and made me want to explore longer. Walk #17 is definitely one I'd do again. I ended up getting in 20,382 steps and covering 9.50 miles. Side note: I also joined my friend Ivette for a Santa Monica stair walk after work. So that's why my step count was so high. #bonkers (I know.) 

Saturday, May 26th

This is when things started to get out of control. I decided to do three walks before meeting a friend and her parents for breakfast at 9:30 a.m. in Brentwood. So I got up super early and drove to the other side of town where I did these three stair walks in Silver Lake:

Walk 16- Allesandro Loop- 700 steps over 2 miles
Walk #19- Silver Lake Circles- 370 steps over 2.5 miles 
Walk #20- Sunset Junction Loop- 305 steps over 2 miles
Of the three of those, my favorite was walk #19. I didn't realize I'd be seeing the stairs painted like a piano so that was a fun surprise. And then the neighborhoods I walked in were really nice and some of them had super impressive gardens.

After breakfast I somehow talked Steve into going back to Silver Lake so we could do another walk together. We did this one: 

Walk #22- Coffee Table Loop. 268 steps over 2.5 miles.
I, of course, wanted to do another one. But Steve wasn't having any of it. So I ended up going on another walk- my 4th for the day- and really enjoyed it. Although, truth be told, my dogs were barkin'!

Silver Lake Terraces West- 190 steps over 2.5 miles
There were so many adorable and fun stairs and it made this final walk of the day so much more interesting and enjoyable. I ended up getting in 27,305 steps and covering 12.54 miles. 

Sunday, May 27th

I figured out at this point that I *only* had 10 more walks to go. The good news is the distance wasn't tooooo bad for all of them, so if I worked really hard I could probably make it work. So Sunday was the craziest day because I did six f'n walks. Here's what they looked like:

Walk #23- Astro Loop- 674 steps over 3 miles. 
Walk # 24- Silver Lake Terraces East- 762 steps over 2 miles
Walk #25- Swan's Way- 369 steps over 1.5 miles
Walk #26- Cove-Loma Vista Loop- 664 steps over 2.2 miles
Walk #28- Los Angeles River Loop- 115 steps over 3 miles
Walk #27- Silver Lake Court- 603 steps over 3.2 miles
My least favorite walk of the entire book happened on this day. It was Walk #28- the Los Angeles River Loop. In my mind, there's no reason it belonged in the book.

I had a lot of fun this day, although for sure my body was like "Molly. What in the hell are you doing?" The last walk was really hard. My legs were toast and there were a lot of up steps to climb. Somehow I persevered and miraculously got in all six walks! I ended up getting in 30,945 steps and covering 14.11 miles. 

Monday, May 28th

My body was tired when I woke up, but I got up in the 5am hour and made my way to the other side of town, again, for what I knew was going to be my final four walks of the book! Because I had been sharing all about my walks on Instagram, a friend reached out and said she wanted to join me. I snuck in one walk before meeting up with her and it was interesting:

Walk #38- Universal City- Happy Trail- 229 steps over 2.2 miles
Sandy and I met up at Griffith Park and I'm so glad I had company for this walk because it was the longest and hardest one of the day. It was also very pretty and a walk that I'd do again.

Walk #29- Griffith Park Loop- 463 steps over 3.8 miles
We got to see so much- beautiful Los Feliz houses and neighborhoods, Griffith Park, the Observatory and the Hollywood Sign. It was really nice. And while parts of it were challenging, it was great to have company! Thank you Sandy!

After we said our goodbyes, I drove to the other side of the park for my second to last walk of the day and of the entire book!

Walk #32- Fern Dell and Immaculate Heart- 193 steps over 2.1 miles
I loved the painted WHY on the sidewalk as I was starting my first walk. It was pretty accurate given all that I'd put my body through to finish the walks. This was not my favorite walk and I wouldn't do it again. There was one pretty stair case, but I couldn't take a good photo of it because I thought I was going to get eaten to death by a couple of dogs who lived in a house along that stair case. I was happy to be done with the walk, but there were parts of it that had me huffing and puffing. I don't need to say that my body was all "WTF?" But onward I went!

My final walk of the book brought me over near the Hollywood Sign. It was a perfectly fine walk, but I wouldn't do it again either. Just not all that interesting. If I had been more strategic about it, I would have ended on a really great walk. And I would have done it when Katie (who's joined me on a fair share of stair walks over the years) was in town. But alas, neither of those things happened.

Here's the final stair walk: 

Walk #35- Temple Hill- 108 steps over 2 miles 
It was a quick morning. With *only* four walks, I ended up getting in 26,559 steps and covering 12.22 miles. 

And this is how happy I was when I completed the book:

Completing this goal was bananas. I admit that. All told, over the four day long weekend I did:
  • 17 new walks (and my typical Santa Monica stair walk as well)
  • Logged 105,191 steps
  • Covered 48.37 miles
I have LOVED seeing the city of Los Angeles through this book. It remains my favorite way to explore the city and to show it off to friends who are visiting.

I look forward to continuing to do some of these walks, but I also look forward to, for now, putting my stair walks on the back burner so I can focus on my half marathon training and resistance workout goals.

Thank you for following along on this crazy adventure. I'm very happy to say that this goal is now complete- tracker updated! 


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

This is 39 (Month 7, Check-In 2)

I'm happy to say that month seven hasn't felt as overwhelming as some of the other months. It may be due to the heavy lifting in previous months that has allowed me to cross off a handful of my goals including:

  • Try Ethiopian food (if you missed that blog post, you can read all about it here)
  • Eliminate credit card debt
  • Exceed last year's Cycle for Survival fundraising ($18,476)
  • Travel some place new
  • Try mediating for 21 days in a row

But I also think it has to do with finally smartening up and not waiting until the last few days of the month to do some of the more time-intensive and challenging goals (yoga, volunteering and going hiking).

At any rate, here's a summary of some of what happened this past month:

Call my grandparents 1x/month: The highlight of this goal this month was when I talked to my grandmother the morning after the Royal Wedding. I asked her if she had gotten up to watch it and her response was on point: "Oh did I ever dear I loved every instant of it. They're a charming couple, I think. There was more to it than just watching two people get married." Apart from putting a big smile on my face, I think my grandmother summed up the wedding perfectly!

Date night with Steve at least one night a week (when I'm not traveling for work): We weren't very good at this last month and unfortunately that trend continued this month too. Although we did go to dinner and a movie (Life of the Party, which was far better than I thought it'd be!) Next month is going to be challenging too because I'll be in Ireland for 2 1/2 weeks and Summer Steve will be doing his East Coast trip (luckily there's a lot of overlap between our two trips). And honestly, this time of year we're both just hanging on as hard as we can to the finish line of the school year. We're officially in the white knuckle part of the year where we both do the best we can. So date night and nurturing my marriage take a lot of patience and intention. These goals are helping me remain mindful of that.

Finish the remaining stair walks from the Secret Stairs of Los Angeles book: I've been doing a great job of continuing to cross more of these walks off my list. So far this year I've completed 12 and have 27 left (if I counted correctly to begin with). With the Memorial Day weekend coming up, I'm hoping to get in about 5 - 6 walks in the next few days. But in the last month, I only did three of them. I'm officially done with Highland Park and am starting to move into the Echo Park/Silver Lake/Los Feliz part of town!

As always, I've stumbled upon some very cool and fun neighborhoods that I'd never normally see. My favorite walk that I did this past month was Walk #12 which found me in a historic Victorian house district throughout Echo Park. I never even knew that existed, but the houses were gorgeous and seemed so out of place (see in the second photo below)!

Walk 8- Highland Park - Highlands. 422 steps over 3.2 miles. 

Walk 12- Echo Park Lake Victorians. 428 steps over 3 miles. 

Walk 13- Laveta Terrace. 236 steps over 2 miles. 
Get 4 facials and 4 massages: I had a glorious facial today with my friend Jena and now only have to do one more facial before I've completed this goal. I have a feeling I'm going to be so good at this particular self-care goal that I'll exceed this one. Which is fine by me!

The nice thing is that I'm absolutely seeing the benefits of putting attention to my body in this way. I move better. My skin looks and feels better. And it is helping provide a nice overall balance to my health, especially with all the increase in activity. I don't know what took me so long to do this kind of self-care, but I'm so glad that I'm doing it now!

Post-facial selfie. Thank you Jena!

Read 20 books: I've finished a couple more books in the last month and only have four more to go before I've accomplished this goal.

The two books I read this month are: Happiness: A Memoir: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After. I liked this book but didn't love it. And I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives. I totally recommend this book (thank you Leah!) about how an unlikely school assignment led to the most amazing relationship that has endured the test of time and distance. The beginning was a little rough as it started when the author was in middle/high school and didn't have big things to worry about. But overall it's such a sweet and special story.

Run a Half Marathon: You guys! Half marathon training is going really well. I'm up to 3 1/2 miles without stopping. I'm running 3 - 4 times a week. I'm totally staying on track with the training. And I'm feeling really great. I'm really proud of myself for sticking with this and for seeing the progress and results I've already seen in the 4 1/2 weeks since I started.

I've been holding myself accountable by going on Instagram after each workout and sharing a few stories about that day's run. Thank you to those of you who are watching and commenting. It's more helpful than you know. I'm really looking forward to continuing to progress through the training plan and gaining more confidence that I will cross that finish line!

Track each day's food in the Weight Watchers App: Nope. Still not happening. What's most important to me is that I'm following the program. And I am. Ya know, I went bonkers (as I do from time to time) in the first part of the year and by mid-March I was all "Enough Molly." And I actually listened. In the past nine weeks I've lost 21.4 lbs. I feel really good and that's what I need to use as my barometer. Not if I'm adding things to the WW app or not. So while I'm not knocking this goal out of the park, I'm also not eating everything in sight. So it's still a win to me!

Use my real camera at least 1x/month: Last week I found myself at the farmer's market because I was desperate for some lilacs. Unfortunately they weren't that good. But I did manage to snap some photos of some beautiful and colorful produce.

Volunteer 1x/month (must include something to help flip the House): Thanks to a couple of good friends, I was provided with an amazing opportunity to volunteer with Girls on the Run Los Angeles earlier this month. Together with my wombmate and three other friends who all work a variety of event-related jobs, we were assigned to be in charge of parking. Now anyone who's in events knows that directing traffic and parking on event can be a pain in the ass. And sometimes it does not bring out the best in people. With Sawnia at the helm, this rock start group (Karen, Katie, Cari & I) managed to live us to our self-imposed name "A+ Parking Team." It was a very fun experience and although it was an early day (out the door by 5:55 a.m.), it was great to be part of something so meaningful and to have fun while doing it!

This next month is going to be super exciting because I'll be making progress on my goals while I'm in Ireland on my annual trip back home! I. Can't. Wait!

Thank you. As always. For coming along for the ride. For reading my blog posts. For investing in these crazy goals. And for being part of my amazing support network!


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