Saturday, November 11, 2017

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

Well. As promised during my This Is 39 blog post last month and as outlined in my goal list, I'm reporting in to share how I'm doing on my list of goals/things I want to accomplish in my 39th. Let's hit it:

  • I have been mindful of communication and trying not to say anything about someone I wouldn't want them overhearing. BUT. This is hard. Harder than I'd like to admit. But by being aware of it on a daily basis, it's helping me make careful and nicer word choices. I'm not always succeeding, but I am always thinking about it. And I know by the end of my 39th year, this will be easier. 
  • Eye cream- check! I've only missed one day of application so far. Thank you to my good friend Brooke (a wonderful esthetician whose new Glory! mask is now available online) she recommended this: (also I can't wait to report on the eye cream my friend Wags brought back from her recent work trip to Korea!)
  • For the past few weeks, I've spoken with my grandmother each week. Getting in touch with her is challenging because my grandfather isn't doing so well and is in a separate area of the senior living community where they live. I'm sad that I haven't spoken to him, but I'm glad that I'm keeping in closer contact with my grandmother during this sad and challenging time. 
  • Date night with Steve has been fun. Sometimes it's just making and eating dinner together at home. And other times it's been going out promenading and getting a bite to eat. But more than anything, and especially during event season, it's just about being protective with the time we do have together.
  • I was intentional about not making weight-loss goals. While I'd love to lose weight over the course of this year, I didn't want to set a specific number or make this about the scale. So instead of focusing on that side of things, I've made other goals that, if followed, will only help me make this a healthier year and one in which I lose weight. So I've been going to Weight Watchers meetings (three so far). For a really long time while I've still been attending meetings, it's really just been to weigh-in. Sometimes I stay, but most times I go, weigh-in and leave. At almost every meeting, however, I'm inspired by people in the meeting and walk away with a nugget of info to help me in my own weight-loss efforts. This past week at a new-to-me meeting, the leader shared a story about a woman who stretched out her birthday for days and then a week later was thinking of not going to a friend's birthday party because she didn't trust herself to make healthy decisions. The leader reminder her "it's not your birthday." It's amazing what that one response has done for my thinking. And I hope in moments of celebration, I can remember and consider if I need to be celebrating or just nourishing my body. 
  • Getting back into journaling is good for me. There's just so much going on between work, love, the world we live in, and everything in between. And life always works better for me when I'm writing things down. I think I've maybe missed a day, but so far I'm journaling far more consistently than I have in a long time. 
  • I've been successful in no McDonald's. There have been times since 10/23 where I have had a case of the Fuck Its as far as food or following any sort of healthy routine is concerned. And remaining on track with not turning to McDonald's (one of my go to binge/drunk food choices) is something I'm very proud of. It's not like it's that hard. But still. 
  • Nurturing my marriage is important this time of year. Especially when I'm traveling so much for work. Steve and I have to work hard to remain connected. He thinks the phone is an option and not an obligation and when I'm gone, it's my only way of being in touch with him. And when I'm home, we need to readjust to being back in each other's orbit. We're working hard on communication, quality time and making plans together. And I'm learning what it means to nurture my marriage. 
  • Thanks to my friend Nick, I have a bit of an accountability partner with my organizing and backing up of photos. I have over 21,000 in one of my iPhoto libraries. I can't really focus on backing anything up until I go through what I've got and do a serious purge of these photos. This very well may be a goal that I don't accomplish until the end of my 39th year. While it's daunting, I'm determined! (P.S. I've already trashed over 2,000 photos. So...progress.)
  • Resistance training 3x/week has been hard, but so so good to stay on top of. I love resistance training. I always feel better when I'm doing it and certainly afterwards. I also *love* to be sore! And this app, Sweat, is well worth the investment. I work out much better when someone tells me what to do. It hasn't necessarily been easy with all my travel. But I've made it happen three times each week. Even if it means stealing weights and bringing them up to my hotel room! 
  • I haven't been to the doctor in over a year for my BRCA2 gene appointments. Which really isn't cool at all. But. I have nearly all my doctor's appointments lined up. I'm going in December 5th to see the gynecological oncologist, December 13th to see the breast oncologist and then I just got my authorization for my breast MRI, which I think will happen on Monday November 20th. It feels good to be back on top of this and I won't let this much time lapse between appointments again either. 
  • It hasn't been pretty but I have tracked every single day's worth of food since 10/23. There have been days when I've gone wildly over my daily points allowance (and my weekly anytime points too), but I can honestly say that this is the first time since I've ever been on Weight Watchers that I've actually tracked every little thing. I can only imagine the positive ways in which this will benefit me this year and hopefully translate to much more awareness, action and weight loss. 
  • Yesterday I took my camera out for a morning of exploring. My friend Kristin, whom I haven't seen for 21 years since our senior year of high school, came to Los Angeles for a quick in-and-out trip and I couldn't let her pop into town without getting to see why LA is so freaking rad. We did a quick few hour tour of some of the highlights: The Hollywood Sign, Hollywood Boulevard, The Sunset Strip, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Marilyn Monroe's cemetery, Muscle Beach, Venice Beach, The Venice Boardwalk and a dip (of the toes) in the Pacific Ocean. I love, love, love seeing my city through someone else's eyes and here are a few of the photos I took:




It's been a productive month and I've really enjoyed having these goals/things to do to guide my actions. What I love the most, though, is that even though I haven't been 100% perfect, it's not derailing my commitment to see all of this through for my entire 39th year.

I can't wait to tell you about the other things I'll be doing in the remaining 13 days of this first month in my next post.
Here's to 39!

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Monday, October 23, 2017

This Is 39!

Today I turn 39. I've done a lot of thinking of what I want this last year of my fourth decade to look like. I've always been very motivated by goal setting and decided to come up with 39 things I want to do/goals I'd like to accomplish in the next 365 days. I actually came up with more than 39 and had to put some of them to the side (I'll still try to write a living will and securely store my internet passwords and all the other things that didn't make the cut). But here are the things I'm going to hold myself accountable to in the year ahead:

  1. Attend a yoga class at least 1x/month
  2. Be mindful of communication: try not to say anything about someone I wouldn't want them overhearing
  3. Blog at least 2x/month about my goals and progress
  4. Buy and use really good eye cream every day
  5. Call my grandparents 1x/week
  6. Camp at/near the beach
  7. Create a solid emergency savings fund
  8. Date night with Steve at least one night a week
  9. Denver trip with my twin to see the twins (and you too, Cari, obviously)
  10. Do a Segway tour. (Who's in???)
  11. Eliminate credit card debt
  12. Exceed last year's Cycle of Survival fundraising $18,476
  13. Finish the remaining stair walks from the Secret Stairs of Los Angeles book
  14. Get four facials and four massages
  15. Get a piece of my photography hanging up somewhere in public
  16. Go on a solo road trip that includes at least two nights away
  17. Go to Weight Watchers meetings every week (I'm in the country)
  18. Hike 1x/month
  19. Journal at least 4x/week
  20. Learn how to properly apply eye liner
  21. Milk a cow in Ireland
  22. No McDonald's for a year (it's my go to binge/hangover cure meal)
  23. Nurture my marriage
  24. Organize and back-up my photos (anyone have any online storage suggestions?)
  25. Plan a kick ass 40th birthday trip to Ireland & Lisbon (anyone is welcome to join. Our official birthday party will be on Wednesday, October 24th.
  26. Read 20 books
  27. Resistance training 3x/week
  28. Run a half marathon!!!
  29. Sisters-only trip (Kara, Meghan and Katie you've been warned. And if we could also make it for a place I've never been, that'd help me hit another goal I had to eliminate. New Orleans??)
  30. Ski in California (with Katie)
  31. Stay on top of BRCA2 gene appointments (I've let that slide of the past year and it's really not cool or smart)
  32. Track each day's food in the Weight Watchers app
  33. Travel some place new (possibly Vancouver and Banff with Steve)
  34. Try Ethiopian food
  35. Try mediating for 21 days in a row 
  36. Try surfing (with Steve)
  37. Use my real camera at least 1x/month
  38. Volunteer 1x/month (must include something to help flip the House in 2018)
  39. Write an article/short story about Clancy and try and get it published
And of course, because I'm me, I have an Excel document to track my progress and keep me honest.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to make so many positive changes. And excited by all the possibilities to have this be a healthy, happy and fulfilling year.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A month ago today I woke up and realized something was seriously wrong with Clancy because for the first time in months and months and months, he didn't wake me up throughout the night to go to the bathroom. At first I basked in the glory of being able to sleep for six hours without being interrupted, but then I got a really uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realized how...off that was. So I got up out of bed and went into the living room, only to find Clancy had dragged himself halfway across the living room (evident by the track marks left by his hiking sneakers), was bleeding under his chin, and couldn't get up on his own.

We were experiencing a heatwave and I hadn't made him sleep in the bedroom with me the night before. I wanted him to be comfortable. But I don't think he was that night- it was hot and he couldn't move. And I feel awful that I wasn't there to help him in the ways he likely needed. I crouched down in front of him, looked him in the eyes and said "What's going on bud?" And I just knew.

Everyone always says you know when you know. And I really didn't know until I knew. And in that moment I knew.

I knew that a life in which Clancy couldn't get up unassisted wasn't one I wanted for him. And it wasn't one I wanted for me. It wasn't realistic or kind. And so after conversations with Katie, Steve-o, my mom and our vet, we came to the conclusion that in two day's time, we'd be saying our goodbyes to Clancy. My heart quickly started breaking but I put all my time and energy and emotion into being with Clancy and making him feel nothing but love for every bit of time we had remaining.

So most of those three days was spent like this:


Last night as I went to bed, I marveled at how I went the whole day without crying. I couldn't believe it, but was also grateful that the intensity of my grief had shifted. And then I woke up this morning with a tightness in my throat and a heaviness in the pit of my stomach as I realized it had been just a month ago when I knew. And the tears came easily as I thought back to the difficulty of that day and making that decision.

I'm grateful that I've never once felt regret over making that decision. A very good friend shared her experience in having to say goodbye to her beloved dog with me. She talked about wanting to pass off the responsibility to someone who knew what she was doing. And I get that. It's an insane responsibility to be the one to determine when someone should no longer be alive. And if I were to dwell on that for too long, I do think I'd likely go a little bananas. More than anything, I did feel like I was giving Clancy the gift of not suffering for any longer than was necessary. If anything, I'd kinda wished we could have said our goodbyes on Monday instead of Tuesday. But we spent that extra day cuddling, loving, touching and being as present as possible (sometimes that was hard for me).

I miss Clancy. I will miss Clancy forever. I know that to be true. And while I know it won't always hurt like it does now when I think of him, I am honoring my feelings and this painful process. Because I deserve it. And most importantly, my love story with Clancy deserves it too.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Steve finally comes home in a couple of hours and I'm equal parts apprehensive and looking forward to his return.

I know we will grieve our sweet Clancy in new ways together.
I know Steve will grieve Clancy's absence in ways I've just barely begun to adjust to and that makes my heart hurt for him.
I know that it will be hard.
I know that we will cry.
I know that it will hurt.
And I know that all of that will be necessary...and normal.

Three weeks ago, Clancy and I dropped Steve off at the airport. And he had a feeling that Clancy wasn't going to be around. I thought he was crazy. Dr. George thought he was crazy. But as it turns out, Steve was right.

Because I'm me, I took a million photos (okay, maybe a little less than that) as Steve was curbside at LAX. And as it turns out, this was the very last photo taken of Clancy and Steve:


Steve will return and things will be very, very different:

  • There will be no dog cover on the back seat of the car.
  • There is no dog to love on when he walks in the door. (Clancy wasn't necessarily getting up to greet us when we walked in the door towards the end.)
  • There isn't a single leash, harness or collar visible inside the apartment.
  • There is no basket of toys by the front door. 
  • There is no diaper, pad, wrap or doggie bags. 
  • My office has been rearranged. 
  • There is no crate inside our bedroom.
  • There is no dog bowl stand inside the kitchen, no cottage cheese or white rice inside the fridge, freezer or cabinets. No trace of Clancy's food anywhere. (I made sure to toss the one piece of kibble that was stuck inside the measuring cup that I found about a week ago...which of course made me cry). 
  • There are no tarps protecting the floors in the living room from the various accidents that were happening on a regular basis. 
And most painful of all, in place of our sweet boy, there's a fucking box of ashes that make up the contents of what used to be Clancy's body.

Steve and I have been grieving separately for 2 1/2 weeks. And now it's time for us to grieve together. We need to figure out how to go from a family of three to a family of two. How to adjust to the enormous emptiness left behind by Clancy's absence. How to fill the void and patch ourselves together again.

My hope is we can learn from Clancy's  example and provide each other with unconditional love and unwavering companionship as we need it most. 

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Two weeks ago today, I knew.

I woke up to find my sweet boy had dragged himself across the carpet, because he could no longer get himself up on his own, possibly attempting to get into the kitchen for the cool floor. Or maybe he was thirsty. Or maybe he just wanted to move from the spot he had been sleeping in over night. Who knows. What I do know is it was evident because his red hiking boots left tracks in the carpet and it broke my heart when I came out into the living room 14 days ago.

When I crouched down on the floor in front of him and put my face right in front of his and said "Oh buddy. What's going on?" he had blood under his chin- a faint stain already accumulating on the carpet. Maybe from his chin also being dragged across the carpet? Maybe from something else. I just know that there was a blood spot from where he had been resting his chin. And that I was sad. And that he was sad.

He was different.
He was tired.
He looked over it.

I wanted to blame it on the heat. The stupid f'n heat wave that made him more lethargic than normal. The one that made me not force him to sleep in the bedroom with me the night before. The one that caused Cyrena to get up about 15 minutes before me to place the fan directly in front of him.

But it wasn't the heat.

I can't believe it's been two weeks. Because in some ways it feels like forever ago. In three minutes it'll be two weeks and one day since I made the hardest easiest (or was it the easiest hardest) decision of my life. The decision that it was time to let Clancy go. Not being able to get up on his own was a game changer.

It's 11:57 p.m. and I almost made it through the entire day without crying. But then I got home to an empty, dark home and felt Clancy's absence.

Everywhere.

And now with tears streaming down my face and a heaviness on my heart, I know that this is not the day where I will not cry.

Because I wanted Clancy to have greeted me when I got home- even if he didn't get off the couch. Because I wanted to have the responsibility of taking him out- even if he had already gone to the bathroom in his diaper.
Because I wanted the comfort of having his company inside our home.
Because I wanted to look over as I fell asleep and say "night night" as he went to sleep just beside me.

But these things are no longer to be.
Because Clancy is no longer with me.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

2016 Photography Challenge: Monthly Themes. November = Family

November is a month that reminds us about the importance of family, and I was so grateful to be able to spend it with all sorts of family- my work family, two of my three sisters, quality time with Clancy. Not to mention Thanksgiving with so much of my chosen family friends and some of my actual family. But two moments in particular stood out that I've captured below.

The first is a photo I took just after my sister Kara finished the 2016 Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day. After losing two childhood best friends (both 44 and with five children between the two of them), Kara and her friend Trish decided to participate in the Komen 3-Day. Due to months of dedicated training (and an amazing fundraising performance which landed Kara in the top 25 fundraisers out of 2,600 walkers and with $12,000), Kara and Trish easily completed the event. Their training more than payed off, and it was so fun to have them on the last 3-Day of the season.

Here's a photo of Kara and I shortly after they crossed the finish line. For the record, I'm proudly wearing a hat that was gifted to one of their friends who passed away, Linda.



The second photo was taken the day after Thanksgiving. Steve and I spent the holiday apart for a few reasons, but mostly because he's playing the main role in helping out with his father (whose declining health and broken elbow requires a lot of hands-on care these days). We took a quiet moment to watch the sunset and catch up. 


I know just how much is resting on those shoulders right now and I love that I caught Steve deep in thought as the sun was setting.




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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

2016 Photography Challenge: Monthly Themes. October = Autumn Colors

October was another really busy month with work travel. I was gone 19/31 days. It was rough. But also really nice because I got to have a lot of fun with my work friends and family, reconnect with a lot of my friends in the places I traveled to (Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York City) and have some short, but quality time with family.

For the two weekends that I was home, Steve and I went off in search of autumn colors. Because I've been wicked jealous of all the fall foliage photos I've seen from New England (and New Hampshire in particular), I was really hoping to get some photos of trees with beautifully changing leaves. We went off in search of them in Westwood and Beverly Hills and had little luck. Then this past weekend, we ventured farther east and went to La CaƱada Flintridge to check out Descanso Gardens where I heard there may actually be some fall-like foliage.

While I liked getting out and exploring and seeing new things (and having an excuse to eat at Din Tai Fung), I was disappointed that we didn't find the kind of fall foliage I had in mind. I did manage to find some autumn colors in some of the flowers that I saw while wandering around the peaceful and beautiful grounds of Descanso Gardens:


While not the kind of autumn colors I was going for, I love this photo of Steve surrounded by the fallen leaves.
A product of Beverly Hills leaf peeping


Check out Cyrena and Sarah's photos coming soon!

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

2016 Photography Challenge: Monthly Themes. September = Expressions

While I was only home for 14/30 days in the month of September, Steve and I managed to escape for a quick weekend to Portland, Oregon before I had to continue onto Seattle for the Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day.

We'd been talking about going to Portland for a while and I'm glad we squeezed it in. We ate some delicious food (my favorite was the cookies and cream ice cream from Ruby Jewel). I found some killer stairs. And Steve got lost over and over again for hours and hours at Powell's Books.

While he was looking around and concentrating hard on finding some new books, I walked around trying to find some fun cards and socks. If you've ever been to Powell's, then you know the place is like a maze. There are two different places to enter and exit the store, there are multiple levels, and so many nooks and crannies all throughout the massive bookstore. One point while I was walking around, I peered over to see the floor below, and was surprised to see Steve there studiously looking at book titles. I love his look of total concentration and how furrowed his brow is in this photo I snapped without him knowing:


Check out Cyrena and Sarah's photos below:






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Thursday, September 1, 2016

2016 Photography Challenge: Monthly Themes. August = Summer Golden Hours

I've been traveling a lot for work- Michigan, Dallas and Minnesota- so I knew Steve and I would need to be intentional with our time together in the month of August. Because even when I was home, we had lots of plans (rehearsal dinner, wedding, Adele with friends- me, not Steve). And most importantly, Summer Steve turned back into School Steve in August.

A few nights ago, we went on a family walk in Palisades Park (what I like to call our backyard) and I brought my camera and set up my tripod and got some cute photos of Steve and Clancy and the sun as it was setting. But I ultimately liked this photo of Steve looking out at the ocean with the Santa Monica Pier in the background.



The lighting really was perfect and I love the peacefulness that was captured as Steve looked out to the ocean. This photo reminds me of how much I have to be grateful for including this man and this place we get to call home!

Check out Cyrena and Sarah's photos coming soon!

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

2016 Photography Challenge: Monthly Themes. July = Summer Fun

July was all about Summer Fun for Summer Steve and post-Ireland, I got to get in on some of the fun too. I also traveled a bit for work- one quick trip to Dallas and I spent six days in Valencia doing some event prep- but Summer Steve and I managed to find some fun together.

The photo I chose for my July Summer Fun theme is from our July 4th get together at my father-in-law's house in Pacific Palisades. We've been going there nearly every year for the 4th of July (since I came into the picture) because the view is incredible. While the traffic getting home from there is no fun, the fireworks display over the Pacific Ocean makes it well worth it.

I brought my tripod and fooled around with the various camera settings for nighttime photography and got such an epic photo that I'm so excited about:


While it's not crystal-clear, I'm so happy with how it came out and that you can see so many different fireworks going off in the background and the plane landing at LAX (that's the streak). I was hoping to take more photos of the fireworks, but- rookie mistake- I didn't have my back-up battery charged. Buzzkill!

Check out Cyrena (coming soon) and Sarah's photos:




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