Sunday, September 23, 2018

This is 39: Month 11

Holy shit! I can't believe that there's just one month left in my epic year of This is 39! At times it's felt like the year has been slowly trudging along and at other times (like now), it's truly flown by! My tracker is all updated with progress through today. I've got a clear sense of the things I likely won't accomplish and the things that I will cross of that goal list by October 23rd. While I may be slightly disappointed that I won't be able to say that I accomplished all I set out to do, I am more than okay with it and am incredibly proud of all that I will have done in the 12 months.

Here's where things stand with all 39 goals in Month 11:

  • Attend a yoga class at least 1x/month- I got this out of the way early in the month and went to a restorative yoga class with my friend Heather. If not for my crazy travel schedule, I would have gone again this month. 
  • Be mindful of communication: try not to say anything about someone I wouldn't want them overhearing.
  • Blog at least 2x/month about my goals and progress- Welp. I only got around to doing this one time this month. And that's fine. I know I'll go out with a bang in Month 12!
  • Buy and use really good eye cream every day. 
  • Call my grandparents 1x/week- While I called my grandmother 7 times this month, I didn't actually speak to her for almost two weeks because of crazy work travel. My grandmother's memory isn't what it used to be. And over the course of the past 11 months, I've noticed a change that may not have been as obvious if I hadn't been talking with her so frequently. It's not surprising at 92 years of age, but it's still upsetting to notice that change in someone who always used to be so sharp.

    Next week finds me in Philadelphia for work and my first stop after landing at PHL will be to go and have dinner with my grandmother. I'm so looking forward to it.
  • Camp at/near the beach- NOPE. And I still don't see this one happening before I turn 40. I'm going to be leaving on October 11th (until October 27th). So unless this happens on some random weekend (highly doubtful), it ain't happening because my weekends are spoken for between now and when I leave. 
  • Create a solid emergency savings fund- Due to an unexpected check in the mail (thank you Citibank), I think I may actually have a bit of savings so that I can say that the beginning of an emergency savings fund will be in existence. 
  • Date night with Steve at least one night a week (when I'm not traveling)- Due to Steve's birthday, we got a couple of date nights squeezed in when I took him out for a delicious birthday dinner on two separate occasions. I wouldn't say we're the best at date nighting. With my half marathon training, I am basically a baby and in bed really early. Or I'm just tired from all the training. So that doesn't help. But, we could- and should- do better on this front. Regardless, here's a photo from date night the other night:
  • Denver trip with my twin to see the twins- Sadly. This is another one that is not gonna happen. Katie and I talked about making this happen this winter where we can combine skiing. 
  • Do a Segway tour- Much to Katie's dismay, this is gonna hafta happen while we're in Lisbon. I found a tour company with great reviews on Trip Advisor. So more on this next month! 
  • Try Ethiopian food- COMPLETE 
  • Eliminate credit card debt- COMPLETE
  • Exceed last year's Cycle for Survival fundraising ($18,476)- COMPLETE 
  • Finish the remaining stair walks from the Secret Stairs of Los Angeles book- COMPLETE
  • Get 4 facials and 4 massages- COMPLETE. And I added another massage to the mix this last month. After my 11 1/2 mile run I was in serious need of some repair. Chris (who has been working his magic for all of my previous massages) was just what my body needed. And before I left, I already booked another massage for the afternoon of my half marathon! 
  • Get my photography hanging up somewhere in public- I *think* some of my photos are hanging up in the Thatch, but I won't be able to confirm that until I'm back in October. And I have another idea for some of my photos to be hanging up in a movie theater in New Hampshire. Not exactly what I had in mind but...
  • Go on a solo road trip that includes at least 2 nights away- COMPLETE
  • Go to Weight Watchers meetings every week- I have been religious about this. I've gone from the airport straight to meetings since my travel schedule has been so bonkers. Which hasn't been great for weighing in. But it's meant I've been completely committed to this goal. I need this kind of accountability, so I'm glad I've stuck with it. 
  • Hike 1x/month- Katie, Steve and I hiked (part way to) Skull Rock on August 26th- the anniversary of the day our Dad died. We had hoped to do this sunset hike, but it didn't quite work out that way because of the way the sun fell behind the mountains. It was a nice evening though and I was grateful to get my hike out of the way early in the month. 
  • Journal at least 4x/week- Because I'm playing catch-up, I've been writing basically every single day this past month (with the exception of one day). I'm almost done with the journal I've been writing in since August of 2017. Which is, my 21st journal! 
  • Learn how to properly apply eye liner- COMPLETE. Guys- I can even apply eye liner while in the car! 
  • Milk a cow (in Ireland)- I'm really hoping my friends come through for me when I'm back home next month. I was surprised at how difficult this was to make happen when I was there in June. But I'm remaining hopeful!
  • No McDonald's for a year- Still McDonald's free! Last night I came home from the bar (I only had two drinks) and actually sauteed some kale for dinner. Who am I?! The old me definitely would have hit McDonald's on the way home and gotten some greasy grub. 
  • Nurture my marriage- Some days are better than others. I try every single day. But sometimes I am just not good at it. Sigh. 
  • Organize and back-up photos- I've spent a lot of time on this. But I think I'm going to have to spend more time organizing and backing up my photos before I can comfortably say this one is done. 
  • Plan a kick ass 40th birthday trip (to Lisbon and Ireland)- In progress! Katie and I sat down last night and figured out that there are almost 25 of us who will be traveling from all corners of the world (seriously, we have someone coming from Thailand!) to celebrate our 40th. We also finalized where we're staying in Lisbon (thank you Joe). And things are falling into place for Ireland and the big 40th party on Wednesday October 24th! The major thing that we really need to line up is the transportation the night of the party so our guests don't have to worry about how they're getting to/from the Thatch. Once we settle that, I'll feel much better.
  • Read 20 books- COMPLETE. I've actually read 25 books so far this year and know that I'll get a few more under my belt before October 23rd. This is by far the most number of books I've read in a year...ever. Here are the books I've finished since last month:
    • Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama. This moved along a little slower than I had hoped and focused on Barack Obama's life before he really got into politics. It was a fascinating read though and I learned so much about his unusual upbringing, the humble and simple way he lived his life and his unique and sprawling (extended) family that shapes so much of who he is. 
    • All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin. I finished this book in a day and a half. It was a really good story and a very quick read. I'd recommend this if you're looking for a quick book to read.
    • The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. I've read a lot of her books and this was unlike anything else I've read by the author. It starts out in France during WWI and then skips ahead to London nearly a century later. The story focuses around the fate of the art that was stolen during the war (a topic I hadn't read about before). I moved through the book quickly and really enjoyed it. Definitely recommend if you're a Jojo Moyes fan or someone who reads about WWI/II. 
  • Resistance training 3x/week- As I mentioned last month, I stopped doing leg resistance training. So I'm only doing this 2x/week. I'm more than okay with it. Especially because I've definitely seen a huge difference since April when I really started focusing on eating better and began half marathon training. I love feeling stronger. 
  • Run a Half Marathon- Yesterday was the last long run I'll do (12 1/4 miles) until Race Day on Sunday, October 7th. I can't believe it's only two weeks away! Now it's time to taper!

    Below is a photo from me post-run. I am so proud of myself for how much I've stuck with this goal. It has not been easy- especially with all the travel that's complicated my ability to just get up in the morning and get out the door. I've had to do lots of late night runs after really long and tiring days on event and force myself to log miles on a treadmill in a random hotel exercise room. But this has been so rewarding and I'm so looking forward to the Half Marathon.

    I know I'm going to be nervous as hell beforehand, but I am ready. I have trained. I will do fine. And I have so many reasons to be grateful and proud. 
  • Sisters-only trip- NOPE. Sadly this just wasn't in the cards this year. But what did happen this past month is that the four of us were in the same place at the same time! Below is photographic evidence.

    The other thing that happened this past month (really just within the past few days), is we all settled on a location (Italian Riviera) and time frame (fall of 2019) for our sister's only vacation. I. Can't. Wait! 
  • Ski in California (w/ Katie)- NOPE. But as mentioned above, I'm hoping this will get done this winter (and possibly in Colorado). 
  • Stay on top of BRCA2 gene appointments- COMPLETE
  • Track each day's food in the Weight Watchers app- NOPE. Still not happening and I'm still okay with it! 
  • Travel some place new- COMPLETE. And that's before our trip to Lisbon which will be another new place! 
  • Try meditating for 21 days in a row- COMPLETE
  • Try surfing (w/ Steve)- THIS WILL HAPPEN! The window of time to do this is so freaking small. But I will make him take me one evening before I leave for NYC/Maryland/Lisbon/Ireland. 
  • Use my real camera at least 1x/month- I didn't do this in month 11. I was thinking today how I should just go and take photos at the park. But then I thought "No. This isn't what I had in mind. And I'm not going to go out and take photos just to say I did it." I know I'll be using my camera plenty next month so I'm fine with skipping a month. 
  • Volunteer 1x/month (must include something to help Flip the House)- Today found me and Katie at UCLA helping to sign-up student voters. It wasn't the most glamorous volunteering I've ever done, but I know how important it is. And although I was annoyed at times with the flippant way some of the students walked by without giving us a second of their time (do they truly lack understanding of how important the mid-term elections are? Probably. I know I had no clue when I was their age), I know that the handful of people who did register because we were there, makes a difference. Those who took our postcards and will look it up later is also important.

    I'm glad that I did something more than just write postcards- although that is important too. It was good to step out of my comfort zone and to engage with people. If you too are looking for more ways to get involved, you can check out Vote Save America. It's a wonderful resource that allows people to 1) see if they're registered 2) get registered 3) find events near them that they can get involved with. Here's a photo of me and Katie from our short but impactful volunteer shift:
  • Write an article/short story about Clancy and try and get it published- I've written one whole paragraph! Wow. Insert eye roll here. I guess the pressure will really be on in this last month to accomplish this goal. 
So that's Month 11.

Thank you, as always, for the support from afar. For being excited about and engaged with this crazy year and all my goals. I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many people who truly care.

Until next month!


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Sunday, September 2, 2018

This is 39- Month 10

I'm actually partway through month 11 (woo hoo!), but realized I never reflected on month 10. So here we go. In month 10 there were a handful of things that weren't difficult to accomplish as many of my goals have become like habit now. Like:

  • Be mindful of communication- try not to say anything about someone I wouldn't want them overhearing- The thing I've continued to say is that I'm not perfect with this, but it is something I'm mindful of each day. And that continues to be true. 
  • Buy and use really good eye cream every day- Oh yeah. I'm all over this one! It's certainly become habit and isn't something I even really need to think about as it's become part of my routine. I even went through the eye cream I bought at the beginning of This is 39 and just bought another one. (Also side note: really interested in trying this.) 
  • Call my grandmother 1x/week- This remains one of my favorite goals because I know for a fact that I wouldn't talk to my grandmother as much if it weren't on this list. While we don't have a ton to talk about every week, it's nice to hear her voice and, as said before, I love that she's come to expect my call now. 
  • Go to Weight Watchers meetings every week (I'm in the country)- Yep. And while I'm not tracking my food (like at all), I am eating well and getting weighed-in each week. Since I started This is 39, I'm down 13 pounds. But. Throughout this goal period, I've yo-yo'd a bit. So from my highest weight since 10/23/17, I've actually lost 37.6 lbs. Woah. I didn't realize that. 
  • No McDonald's for a year- Not missing it at all. Although it was touch and go for a second when my friend Eileen brought me a diet coke on event and it was from McDonald's. I'm so committed to this goal (even though it's really about the food) that I happily handed it over to Tara to enjoy 😁
  • Use my real camera 1x/month- My intention with this goal was to learn the technical aspects of using my camera more and while I haven't done that as well as I had hoped, I am glad that I'm taking the time to use my camera more and take decent photos. Combined with my goal to organize my photos better, this is helping me be more critical and selective with what photos I take, how I edit them and which ones I choose to save. Here are the ones I took in month 10:




  • Volunteer 1x/month (must include something to help flip the House)- More postcards to voters. This is an incredibly rewarding experience and makes me feel like I'm part of a solution to move the country in the direction I hope it goes after the midterm election. (Which I've said before). If you're looking for a simple and effective way to volunteer and also want it to be politically minded, check out the link above and get started. It is really so easy. 
In month 10, there were goals I accomplished (mostly), but still needed to work hard to get them done. Like:
  • Attend a yoga class at least 1x/month- I really love yoga. But getting to a yoga class is a different story. I don't always make it a priority so I find that I am scrambling at the end of the month to make it happen. During the past 10 months, I've taken classes at different studios and learned that I love restorative yoga and I really enjoyed class with one particular instructor. So when I contacted her and found out that she was teaching at another yoga studio on my side of town (the one where I took here class from originally closed down unexpectedly), I jumped on the chance to go to her class again. As luck would have it, there was a special on Groupon that I took advantage of, and I know for the rest of the year, I won't have to do any research on what studio I'll go to, just what day and time the class is. 
  • Blog at least 2x/month about my goals and progress- I only did this one time in month 10 but I'm hoping to end This is 39 blogging 24 times so that it'll all even out. The process of accountability is so huge for me. And I have been so grateful for the encouragement and support I've gotten from friends and family who have been following along and reading my blogs and watching my half-marathon/workout related Instagram stories. 
  • Date night with Steve at least one night a week (when I'm not traveling)- Steve and I went out for one of the most delicious meals I've had in a while at a small Italian restaurant in Venice, Barrique. If you're local in LA, I cannot highly recommend this enough. Month 10 also coincided with the start of my heavy work travel schedule. This means that Steve and I need to get creative with date night and nurturing our marriage- not always our (my) strong suit. So...good to have top of mind. 
  • Hike 1x/month- I did this (yet again) toward the end of the month, but used it as an opportunity to see my friend Chris who I hadn't seen in a long time. While I went back to Will Rogers (my go to easy nearby hiking spot), it was a perfect workout. 
  • Journal at least 4x/week- I realized in month 10 that I slacked a bit on this so I'm working overtime to get this goal accomplished. It may require me to journal daily for the rest of This is 39, but I'm okay with that. No shortage of things to journal about, that's fo' sho'!
  • Nurture my marriage- As I mentioned in date night above, I'm getting into the full swing of work (and personal) travel, which doesn't always go hand-in-hand with nurturing my marriage. But it's top of mind and I'm hopeful that (Steve and) I can get in front of this. 
  • Resistance training 3x/week- Now that my weekly mileage is starting to creep up there and my weekly long runs are in the double digits (woo hoo!), I've stopped doing leg-focused resistance training. I figure I have that more than covered. So...I'm only doing resistance training 2x/week now (arms one day, abs another day). And I'm okay with that. But I tend to wait until the end of the week and then have to cram this in. I'm hoping I can be a little more strategic with this in the final five weeks leading up to the half marathon and space it out a bit more. But because I have been consistent with this (thank you Sweat app!), I can totally see improvement in my ability to complete certain moves and it feels good to get stronger (and still get sore after each workout). 
  • Run a Half Marathon- So...setting the time aside to do my half marathon training is not an issue. The act of running isn't an issue either. It's just that this isn't entirely easy. It's been incredibly rewarding and I'm so proud of myself for sticking with my training and I actually can't wait for the half marathon. But running is hard (not a news flash, I get). And it's hard for me. I find that I'm constantly softening what I'm doing with statements like "Yeah but I run really slowly." Or "I'm not a fast runner, but at least I don't stop." I'm trying really hard to stop with that because the fact that I'm doing this and sticking with it and following a plan and increasing my distance each week are all things to be proud of and celebrate. And I feel like I'm putting myself down each time I cushion it with a "yeah but". In month 10 I broke 10 miles for my long run distance. While I still have things to work out with my training (namely what I need to eat leading up to a long run to have the energy to complete it without feeling like I'm barely moving), I'm happy to say that it's going well!
And there were a handful of goals that I completed. Like:
  • Stay on top of my BRCA2 gene appointments- I had my latest round of appointments at the end of July and all is a-okay. In fact, I don't have to do the ovarian cancer screening every six months. Because ovarian cancer is harder to detect and the testing available isn't as good as breast screening, my doctor and I talked about reducing the frequency to one time per year. I'm more than okay with this. I feel good monitoring it at least once throughout the year and know that in about five years, I'll need to make a more permanent decision that will (hopefully) eliminate my risk of getting (ovarian) cancer all together. 
  • Learn how to properly apply eye liner! I spent one Saturday evening practicing over and over and over again. I'd apply, remove, apply, remove and repeat (seriously about 15 times), until I finally got it right. I had a few different kinds of eye liner that I owned and tried out. But the two that I've used most frequently are L'Oreal Paris Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liquid Eyeliner (in carbon black) and Clinique Pretty Easy Liquid Eye-Lining Pen (also in black). I never want to go too crazy, but I am really enjoying the simple look and definitely think it helps enhance my eyes. I've continued to use eye liner when I apply make-up and don't find it to be so challenging anymore. Hooray. But this was from the night I kept practicing:
I didn't even know I owned this much eye liner!
 
  • Read 20 books- (I think I actually did this in month 9, but whatever). Since I last wrote about books, I've completed two more:
  1. Next Year in Havana (by Chanel Cleeton)- This is one of my favorite books that I've read during This is 39. As soon as I finished it, I posted about it on Facebook because I love a good book recommendation and know many of my friends do too. The book went back and forth between Cuba in the late 1950's/early 1960's and Miami in 2017. I was invested in the story and the characters and learned a lot about Cuba. Highly, highly recommend (obviously). 
  2. The Story of Arthur Truluv (by Elizabeth Berg)- This was a quick and easy book. I definitely recommend reading it, especially if you read and enjoyed A Man Called Ove. 
And finally, there were a couple of goals that I got started on. Like:
  • Plan a kick ass 40th birthday trip (to Lisbon & Ireland)- Katie and I had a few things to work out with tickets and travel dates and locations and all that stuff, but we've booked all our birthday trip travel and are getting really excited! After going to a wedding in Maryland, we'll both make our way (separately, unfortunately) to Lisbon where we'll be for five days in mid-October before going to Ireland for a week and a half. We'll have a few days to ourselves in Ireland before our friends start arriving from all over the U.S. (and even some from Europe). And while we haven't specifically planned things yet, I know our time in Ireland with our friends will include things like: drinking (a lot of) Guinness, seaweed baths, hikes, good food, good music, late nights, early mornings, drinking, fresh air and no work! 
  • Write an article/short story about Clancy and try to get it published- I'm only a paragraph in (so far), but I am just happy that I've started. And I know why I've put it off; it's so freaking emotional. To go back to the last seven months we had with Clancy is going to bring up all sorts of emotions. I've put that period into a compartment of my brain that I only tap into at certain times because it's so sad and I still miss him so much. Just writing the small amount that I did made me cry. So I get why I've waited so long to work on this one. But at the same time, I'm glad to get moving on it too. 
Woah. That's a lot! I know 39 goals is kind of bananas to work towards. But it continues to be so meaningful to work towards crossing (as many of) these goals off my list as possible. I've loved the way it helps structure my month and has created a focus in a way that I wouldn't have without this project.

As always, thanks to all of you who take the time to read and comment and reach out with words of support and encouragement. It helps more than you'll know. So thank you!

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

This is 39- Goals Update

I needed to wrap my head around where I'm at with each goal and so I broke them down into four categories:

Goals that aren't going to happen
Goal that will mostly/partially happen
Goals that I've already accomplished
Goals that will be completed by the time This is 39 is over

It was great to see everything laid out so I have a better handle on what I need to focus on. I'm so proud of all the things I've done and know I will do. And also very happy that my All or Nothing personality type hasn't taken over to fully abandon this effort knowing that I will likely not score a perfect 100% on this massive project. This has been such a good exercise in reminding me that it's not about perfection, but about progress.

Here are the goals I don't think are going to happen at all:

  1. Camp at or near the beach
  2. Denver trip with my twin to see the twins
  3. Sisters-only trip 
  4. Ski in California with Katie
Here are the goals that I think I'll mostly/partially accomplish:
  1. Buy and use really good eye cream every day (I think I will have missed just a few days)
  2. Create a solid emergency savings fund (this one could go either way- I don't think I'll be as far along as I had hoped, but...hopefully by the time I'm done with my year of This is 39, I'll have at least some emergency savings accumulated)
  3. Date night with Steve at least one night a week (when I'm not traveling)
  4. Resistance training 3x/week (When my long runs really increased in distance, I made the decision to stop doing leg workouts. So I won't hit this goal, mostly because I changed it partway through)
  5. Track each day's food in the Weight Watchers App (I abandoned this one pretty early on and I'm okay with it because I'm sticking to healthy food habits and consistently losing weight)
  6. Journal at least 4x/week (I may not have hit this goal each week, but I think by the end of the year I'll have come really really really close to journaling 208 times)
Here are the goals that I've already accomplished:
  1. Try Ethiopian food
  2. Eliminate credit card debt
  3. Exceed last year's Cycle for Survival fundraising ($18,746)
  4. Finish the remaining stair walks from the Secret Stairs of Los Angeles book
  5. Get 4 facials and 4 massages
  6. Go on a solo road trip that includes at least two nights away
  7. Learn how to properly apply eye liner (have to keep at this one)
  8. Read 20 books
  9. Stay on top of BRCA2 gene appointments
  10. Travel some place new
  11. Try meditating for 21 days in a row
Here are the goals that I know I'll accomplish by the time my year of This is 39 is up:
  1. Attend a yoga class at least 1x/month (I think I'll still do this 12 times over the course of the year, but I did miss the month I was in Ireland)
  2. Blog at least 2x/month about my goals and progress
  3. Be mindful of communication: try not to say anything about someone I wouldn't want them overhearing 
  4. Call my grandparents 1x/week 
  5. Do a Segway tour (this may need to happen in Lisbon)
  6. Get my photography hanging up somewhere in public
  7. Go to Weight Watchers meetings every week (I'm in the country)
  8. Hike 1x/month
  9. Milk a cow (in Ireland)
  10. No McDonald's for a year
  11. Nurture my marriage (although some days I'm better about it than others)
  12. Organize and back-up my photos (I've done a very, very good job so far. But this is taking a long time and seems like a never-ending project)
  13. Plan a kick ass 40th birthday trip (to Ireland & Lisbon) (already in progress!)
  14. Run a Half Marathon
  15. Try surfing with Steve
  16. Use my real camera 1x/month
  17. Volunteer 1x/month (must include something to help flip the House)
  18. Write an article/short story about Clancy and try to get it published (need to get this one started)
I have just about 2 1/2 months left to go. I know it's going to be a challenge to find the time in my busy, travel-filled schedule to get things completed...but I also know that I'll absolutely work my hardest to try in the time I have left. And who knows, maybe some of the items from the goals I don't think will happen, will somehow get done. Either way, the process of trying is nearly just as rewarding as completing a goal. (And that's one of the best takeaways I've learned so far!)

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Monday, July 23, 2018

This is 39 (Month 9, Update 2)

There were a couple of updates that I wanted to share for my second month nine update, so I'll hop right to it:

Hike 1x/month
Katie, Tara and I found ourselves cramming in an early evening hike at Will Rogers- my go to hiking place to fulfill my monthly goal- just a day before the end of my month. It was a glorious night- perfect weather for a back yard hike. We saw horses and a cute elderly couple having a picnic (which involved rosé) at the top, we had a great view of the ocean and downtown and we were all one in just under an hour.

I'll admit that I had different ideas when I set this goal. I had hoped to do more exploring of all the various hikes available to me in the Santa Monica Mountains. I had just come off the exhilarating (albeit is crushingly sad and challenging- emotionally and physically) experience of hiking Mt. Lafayette in northern New Hampshire when I set this goal last fall. So in some ways it seems like I'm taking the easy way out.

But I've got to give myself credit for still going out there and getting it done. And here's hoping that in the final three months, maybe I can step it up a notch and do new hikes so it feels a little more in line with what I had intended.



Run a half marathon
Of all the goals I've been working on, this is the one I'm most excited about and proud of. I have been training for 14 straight weeks. I've run nearly 150 miles in that time. I have missed only one run (my final week in Ireland). And I can now run eight miles without stopping.

My pace is slow (average of 11:30/11:45/12:00 minute miles), but I'm sticking with it. I figure for my first half marathon, I'll just concentrate on getting through it (without stopping). And if I decide to run another half marathon (which already seems likely at this point), then I'll focus on improving my time.

I was talking with my friend Cheryl about the walk/run method and I know it's just not for me. As many of you know, I'm very much an all-or-nothing type of person. And I feel like if I were to start walking, I may not stop. Also. When I ran a million years ago in middle and high school (thanks Hal for getting me into running all those years ago), I never stopped. It just wasn't how I ran. And so I kinda wanna keep going with that.

The next few months will be higher and higher mileage (my training plans gets me up to 12 miles I think) and also I'm traveling more and more for work. I'm being strategic with my travel- flying later so I can get in my long runs before I am away for the week. And I know I can (and will) say no to hanging out in the evenings so I can get my training in while I'm traveling. #priorities

I'm actually really looking forward to the half marathon and am hoping it will be a fun experience and the rewards for all the hard work I've put into my training!

Use my real camera 1x/month
I took my camera out for our little memorial for Clancy on the one year anniversary of when he died (July 11th). Steve, Katie and I went down to the ocean and scattered some of his ashes. It was a calm and beautiful night and I took my camera with us to try and capture the mood and energy of the evening.

I didn't take photos (with my real camera) of us actually spreading Clancy's ashes in the ocean (or them coming back on to me- oops). But I did get some from our walk down to the beach:


At the beach:

And I caught Steve in a quiet moment after Katie and I left a piece of Clancy behind in the Pacific Ocean:

Also. Because I'm still organizing my photos and stuff (it's like the never-ending project), I've been learning more about Lightroom (thank you Cyrena) and can finally use it for things like cataloging my photos and touching them up.

Volunteer 1x/month (must include something to help flip the House):
Another month, another stint of writing postcards to remind voters to vote in special elections. This time I helped with Danny O'Connor's special election in Ohio. Currently the results are too close to call (although last I checked, it was tipped ever so slightly in the Republican's favor). It's always a rewarding experience to volunteer for Postcards for Voters and I highly recommend you sign yourself up too!


In addition to this, I also signed up for two other volunteer opportunities to help with the mid-term elections:
  1. When We All Vote- taken directly from their website..."Volunteers across the country will give people an opportunity to register to vote through a partnership with Rock the Vote, and ensure people don't fall through the cracks in the voter registration process."
  2. The Last Weekend: Volunteer in the Midterms- taken directly from their website too..."Study after study shows that the most effective way to get people to vote is by having conversations with them in the four days before Election Day." Even though I'll be working Saturday, November 3rd and Sunday, November 4th, and traveling on Monday, November 5th, I've already signed up to volunteer the evening of the 5th and I'll see what I can do on November 6th (Election Day). 
If you're so inclined, sign up too! It feels really good to be part of the solution instead of just complaining about current events. Take it from me- someone who has been on the sidelines for like 97% of her life up until a few years ago.

So that's Month 9 for ya!

I'm already looking forward to Month 10 and will need to take a look at what I've done and what's left to accomplish.

Thanks for playing along!

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

This is 39 (Month 9, Check-in 1)

It's been a couple of months since I've done a run down of my progress, so let's get to it.

Attend a yoga class at least 1x/month
I had every intention of going to yoga while I was in Ireland last month, but it didn't happen. I waited too long into my vacation and then by the time I looked into it, the times weren't convenient. But don't you worry, I more than made up for it this month when Katie and I went to goat yoga here in Los Angeles! I was inspired to look into goat yoga when my friend Gayla and her daughter posted about it on Facebook. They live in Dallas, so I wasn't sure if it'd be an option in LA. I was so happy when I discovered that the only place in LA was just a few miles away from home.

Goat yoga is as ridiculous as it sounds. I have no clue who came up with the idea, but it is equal parts silly and hilarious. In our class, there were two goats who just roamed around the studio and would walk between your legs while you were in Warrior pose and would also jump on your back if you were in Child's pose or Cat/Cow pose. There was one woman who walked around with the goats, coaxing them with little treats and another who would clean up after them. Because listen. When the goat's gotta go to the bathroom, they just go wherever. When this happens in class, you're supposed to yell out "Blessings!" so the handlers know they need to clean up a mess. At the end of the class one of the goats relieved himself right behind me and my mat, but luckily not on my mat. So phew.

Katie and I had a really good time. It's not like the best class to take if you want a real yoga workout. But you can certainly get in enough of a workout for it to be worthwhile. And I mean come on, you can say you worked out with a goat on your back!




Be mindful of communication: try not to say anything about someone I wouldn't want them overhearingI'm doing okay okay job on this goal but could probably benefit from putting some additional intention towards this one. Overall, I'm being mindful of what I say, but I wouldn't say I'm 100% consistent with it. So...something to consider in the final three months of This is 39.

Blog at least 2x/month about my goals and progress
I waited too long this month cause I'm gonna hafta cram. But yes. This isn't a goal I struggle with accomplishing each month.

Buy and use really good eye cream every day
Check! The eye cream I purchased when I first started this ditty is almost gone. So I'm gonna hafta replace that. But this has become a habit that I don't have to think about too much, which is nice.

Call my grandparents 1x/week
Yep. Calling my grandmother is one of my favorite parts of the week. And as I've mentioned before, I love that she counts on and looks forward to it. It's been one of my favorite goals this year because there's a closeness between me and my grandmother that didn't exist before just because we both know what's going on in each other's life.

Camp at/near the beach
This one hasn't happened yet and based on my crazy travel coming up for work (and weddings and 40th birthday parties), I'm concerned that it may not happen. But...I'm also not prepared to call it yet.

Create a solid emergency savings fundI'm not making as much progress on this as I'd like, but at the same time we still don't have any credit card debt, so that's rad. And I think in the next few months, we will have a tiny cushion that I can continue to build upon in the next decade.

Date night with Steve at least one night a week (when I'm not traveling for work)
I will admit I've been a bit lazy with this one and we need to spice up our date nights. Part of the problem is that work has been bonkers lately and I'm so into my half marathon training and still keeping up with my resistance training so by the end of the night I Am Toast. Plus Steve is in Summer Steve mode, so it's not a good mashup. I'm hoping I'll find the motivation to be more adventurous with our date nights, but for now, they've been mostly about making dinner together, going to the movies and enjoying other routine things where we just get to be in each other's company.

Denver trip with my twin to see the twins
This one hasn't happened yet and there's a chance it may not happen. But there's also a chance that it may happen next month if a bachelorette party lands me there. We'll see. If we don't go in August, I don't know that I'll be able to squeeze it into the month of September, but I'll certainly try- especially if Katie is up for it.

Do a Segway tour
This has not happened, but it will absolutely happen and I can't wait. If I do go to Denver, this would be a good thing to consider. But it may be something fun to do in one of the cities I have to travel to for work as well. Detroit is an intriguing thought, but I don't know that I'd have the time for it. If I have to do this along Venice Beach, I will!

Get 4 facials and 4 massages
Yep! Last month I got a heavenly facial at Burke-Williams (thanks to some gift cards I received for Christmas/Valentine's Day) and I've now exceeded this self-care goal. And I think I'll continue to over-achieve on this goal too- especially since I have more gift cards to use. I do love this goal and appreciate that I no longer cringe at massages and that the facials help solidify the skincare routine I've got going at home.

Get my photography hanging up somewhere in public
I actually brought a couple of my photos of Percy home with me when I was in in Ireland in June. I had two photos blown up of Percy and the intention was that they would go up in the Thatch. I should have made that happen when I was there in June, but if I have to, I'll do it when I'm there in October. I have a couple of other photo ideas as well that I may set in motion. While I had hoped this would be a little more organic- like part of a photography exhibit or something like that- I think it's a goal I can still make happen.

Go to Weight Watchers meetings every week (I'm in the country)
I missed my first meeting three weeks ago. It's because I was eating like crap and didn't want to face the music. But. I stopped that nonsense and went two weeks ago to settle up, if you will, and it's been back on track ever since. It's good for me to have that level of accountability. This goal absolutely keeps me honest. And I do enjoy Weight Watchers (for the most part) and I love going and weighing-in and starting a new week of better eating.

Hike 1x/month
More on this in the next update

Journal at least 4x/week
I've slipped a little bit on this one. Because I typically write at night and I'm wicked tired by the time I fall into bed, some weeks I haven't been writing all four days. But I'm okay with that. I think this is one of those goals that will net out by the end of the year. I think I'll hit the number (208), but it won't have been from doing it 4x/week. I also think I'll need a new journal by the end of This is 39. Which for someone like me who really likes stationery and journals, this excites me more than it should 😛.

Learn how to properly apply eye liner
I practiced some while I was in Ireland (thanks Robin!), but I need to work on this one more. I know I'll accomplish this goal within the next three months. But so far I can't say that I've mastered eyeliner application.

Milk a cow (in Ireland)
I went to great lengths to try and cross this off my list while I was in Ireland in June, but it turns out that milking cows is almost entirely done by machines now. At one point a few days before I left Ireland, I stood in the middle of the Thatch (it was a locals night, so it wasn't filled with tourists or people there for music and dancing) and asked the bar filled with farmers who knew someone who had some cows I could milk. And ya know what, no one did. It's such a bummer. I'm hoping we can make something happen when I'm there in October for the 40th birthday party. But who knew it would be so hard to find a cow to milk in Ireland? (Not me!)

Nurture my marriage
It's been a rough summer for Steve. He's wanted to make some major professional changes that we just can't make happen yet. So it's been really challenging figuring out the best way to support him throughout all of this. I keep coming back to trying to listen and be supportive instead of being judgmental and reminding him what he can't do. And then I'm still trying to do the little things- like his laundry so he can really enjoy being on break, saying yes more than no (to things he wants to do when I don't feel like it, including restaurants to go out to or things to eat for dinner), leaving little notes here and there and generally trying to make life more pleasant for him (which makes life more pleasant for me too).

But August is when my work travel starts up and it's also when Summer Steve turns into School Steve and that has historically been challenging for us. So I'm keen to get ahead of this so we can be smarter about the ways we can support each other and nurture our marriage so we don't end up in a bad place.

Organize and back-up photos
Thanks to Cyrena (again) I've made more progress with this. But it's honestly one of those never ending projects. I am hoping that I've fully organized and backed-up all of my past photos by the time my birthday rolls around so that moving forward it won't be such a bitch of a project. Right now it's so painful because there are thousands and thousands and thousands of photos to go through and categorize and organize. I know I'll get there, but oof, this one is insanely time consuming.

Plan a kick ass 40th birthday trip
Katie and I are slowly putting plans in place for our 40th in Ireland. People have already bought tickets (eeeek- so exciting) and we've got a Facebook group going for people to talk through plans and stuff. (If you haven't been invited to it and you're thinking of going, let me know and I'll happily add you to the private FB group). One thing I really want to nail down soon is the transportation plan for the night of the party. The Thatch is three miles outside of town and we need to make sure people get to and from the pub responsibly. I'm also looking forward to putting together suggestions of things for people to do during the days that they're there. It's crazy that it's just about three freaking months away. Woah! It's going to be so much fun though and I seriously can't wait!

Read 20 books
This is another goal I crossed off the list. Since my last major update, I've read:

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, And Leadership by James Comey. I wanted to read this so I could make my own decisions about this man and the pivotal role he played in the 2016 election. The book was a little slow at times, super interesting at other times, and overall a good read. I had no clue he was part of the investigation that led to Martha Stewart in jail, for example. Would I recommend it? I guess so. I got the book from the library and it was a good library book, but not something I need to own.

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. We chose this book for our work book club and since it was nearly 500 pages, I brought it with me to Ireland. Well, as it turns out, I finished this book four days into my two-week long vacation. It was very good and I absolutely would recommend it. Coming off of the Comey book, it was a really nice change and a book to get lost in. I haven't read a lot of Sophie Kinsella's books, but this made me look into others she wrote.

Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump. I have tried to read a few politically leaning books and have struggled to get started or get through them (Hillary's book, Dan Rather's book, Ben Rhode's book), but I devoured this book. I absolutely LOVED it and found it fascinating, educational, inspirational and helpful in understanding how the election of 2016 turned out the way that it did. Dan is very sincere and honest and sarcastic and he played a front row seat for most of the Obama election(s) and presidency. So he has a great perspective. I'd absolutely recommend reading this book.

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella. I didn't love this one as much as I loved My Not So Perfect Life, but I read the book quickly and enjoyed the storyline enough to keep looking into more books by this author. I would recommend this, but I'd say read it after My Not So Perfect Life.

I'm so happy that I've been reading so much. Steve hates phones in the bedroom and as I work on nurturing my marriage and stuff, I'm doing way less on my phone (pretty much only sneaking it out when he's gone to bed) and way more reading actual books. Me likey.

Resistance training 3x/weekI think I've only missed one workout in the past couple of months. I've done a really really good job of staying on top of this goal and I'm super excited to have not only seen a difference in my body, but I can feel a difference in how strong I feel and in moves that I can complete much easier than when I first started. It feels good to be stronger and to make progress.

Run a Half Marathon
More on this in the next update

Sisters-only trip
I'm doubtful this will happen but...maybe?

Ski in California (w/ Katie)
Also doubtful this one will happen since I blew it in the winter and don't see us going water skiing!

Stay on top of BRCA2 gene appointments
For sure. I actually have another set of appointments on Wednesday. It feels good to be on top of this and to not have to feel anxiety over letting things slide for a year. Here's hoping Wednesday's appointment is uneventful.

Track each day's food in the Weight Watchers app
Nope. Still just not doing this. But I am eating well and eating according to the Weight Watchers program. I'm simply now tracking. As I (think) I've said before, if I were eating like crap, I'd take more of an issue with this. Since I'm making smart and healthy decisions consistently, I'm not gonna be hard on myself.

Try surfing (w/ Steve)
Not yet!

Use my real camera at least 1x/month
More on this in the next update

Volunteer 1x/month (must include something to help flip the House)More on this in the next update

Write an article/short story about Clancy and try to get it published
No progress made on this goal. Must get started!

(Already) Completed Goals
Try Ethiopian food
Eliminate credit card debt
Exceed last year's Cycle for Survival fundraising ($18.476)
Finish the remaining stair walks from the Secret Stairs of Los Angeles book
Go on a solo road trip that includes at least two nights away
Travel some place new
Try meditating for 21 days in a row

It's nice to see more of my goals get crossed off. And with three months to go before my birthday, it's good to see what I need to make happen. I'm not stressed about any of these goals. I'm feeling confident about nearly all of them. And for the goals that won't happen, that's okay. I refuse to put energy into worrying about what's not gonna get done when there is so much that I've accomplished and made progress on this year. Which is a really nice attitude adjustment from someone who usually isn't capable of such rational thinking!

I'm excited to see what I get done in the next three months and how close I get to crossing nearly all of these things off my This is 39 goal list!

As always, thank you for coming along for the ride, for supporting me and encouraging me, and for being excited for this crazy journey.

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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. 

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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.


WHAT WAS I THINKING? 

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.

Crazy. 

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! 

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