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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Sunday, May 20, 2018

This is 39 (Month 7, Check-In 1): That Time I Tried Ethiopian Food

Well you guys. I crossed another goal off my list: Try Ethiopian Food.

Ethiopian food is something I've wanted to try for over a decade, but never brought myself to do it for a variety of reasons which may be interesting but aren't particularly important. But once I put it on my goal list, I knew I'd get it done this year, especially with a few people who offered to go with me (thank you Jeanette, Chuck & Mark).

In the end, my friend Mark was the lucky recipient to share this evening with me. After a series of rescheduling due to conflicts on both of our parts, Mark and I finally set the date for Tuesday, May 8th. We met in Little Ethiopia- an actual neighborhood in Los Angeles that's chock full of Ethiopian restaurants, coffee shops and stores. Mark had already done some research and had two restaurants for me to choose from: Messob and Lalibela. We chose Lalibela because it smelled better and the menu seemed more authentic, even though the ambiance of Messob was more traditional. Lalibela had the type of interior that made you feel like you could be at any restaurant in any city in any state/country. There wasn't anything ethnic about it...ya know, beside the cuisine served inside!

Mark, having declared that he wasn't eating meat anymore (a fact that I unconsciously overlooked even though he mentioned it at least twice) ordered the Veggie Utopia: A special combination of 14 veggie dishes: Shibera Asa, Gomen, Shero, Miser (2), Dinich, Cabbage, Ater, Suf- sunflower seeds, Tematim Fifit, Fosalia, Keke aletcha and salad. It seemed a bit excessive, but he wanted me to be able to taste some of his food as well (thank Gods).

I, on the other hand, looked over the menu completely at a loss of what to get, realizing that doing some research ahead of time may have been a smart move. I consulted the waitress, and Mark helped too. He tried to suggest I try one dish and share his, since it was a lot of food. I was indignant and insistent (this would come back and bit me in the ass Big Time) that I get something more substantial. After all, I was hungry and it was my first time eating Ethiopian food. So ultimately I chose a meat combo, because I love meat and I thought it'd be best to order something that allowed me to try a few different things. I went with Cornis: A combination of the three popular meat dishes: Kitfo, Tibs Fir-fir and Derek Tibs with Kinche soft cracked-wheat layered on top (two servings). Created by Lalibela's main chef, this restaurant favorite mixes the many rich flavors of our most well-loved dishes to satisfy your different cravings. 

Mark and I caught up and talked while we waited for our meals to be prepared. It was, as always, good to be in Mark's company. He's the type of person who makes you happy just by being around him. We laughed and laughed some more. And then the food came.

Oh boy.

As I saw Mark's plate lower down in front of him, I thought "Ooooooh! How pretty!" And then I looked on in horror as my plate came into view and thought "Oh no. I've made a very big mistake." See for yourself:


What the f*ck is on my plate, you're asking? Well...
  • On the outer edge is the Kitfo (finely chopped prime lean beef seasoned with herbed butter sauce and spices served with Ethiopian cottage cheese). 
  • The pile of light brown food that looks like poo/intestines is actually Tibs Fir-Fit (injera moistened with tender beef cubes simmered to perfection in berbere sauce, fresh tomatoes and garlic). 
  • And the pile of mush on top was actually the best part- the Derek Tibs (well-done beef chunks grilled in spiced butter with sauteed onions, green peppers and Ethiopian spices).
  • And then why not just throw sliced hard boiled egg on top? It really pulls the meal together, dontchya think? 😐
I tried everything on my plate. But unfortunately I just didn't like it. Part of me couldn't get over the looks of my food. I mean...honestly. Look at that steaming pile of...food? 

Mark was being The Sweetest. He was so excited to share this experience with me and was really generous in paying for my meal. I wanted so badly to like this. But me and Ethiopian food just don't have much of a future I'm afraid. Mark's food on the other hand was definitely more palatable than mine. I wouldn't say I had "major food envy", but there were certainly more things on his plate that I could - and did - eat. By the time we were done, it looked like I had barely touched my food, whereas Mark's plate was pretty near clean. See: 


I packed up my food and brought it home to Steve who enjoyed it far more than I did (phew). I was so glad to not have it go to waste! 


All in all, it was still a really fun night. Mostly because going anywhere with Mark is a fun adventure. He can make anything, including an unappetizing culinary experience, something that makes me smile and laugh.


I am in no rush to go back and have Ethiopian food. But I am grateful for the experience with Mark (and his excitement, generosity and patience). And, crazily enough, I actually would give it one more try. I'd just order waaaaaaaaaaay differently.

More than anything, I'm very glad I get to totally cross another goal off my This Is 39 list!

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

This is 39 (Month 6, Check-In 3)

Month six has flown by, but it's also been filled with lots of progress and lots of insights. I'm gonna do a quick rundown of the list of goals:

Attend a yoga class at least 1x/month: Yep. Done! I did another restorative yoga class. This time I tried Naam Yoga in Santa Monica. Unfortunately they don't offer a free class or a free week like many other places here, but I bought a two-week pass for $35 so I can get in month six and month seven, and maybe even hit another class or two because why not. I really like restorative yoga and I don't even feel badly about going and not breaking a sweat because I do so many other things for exercise and it's good to have something chill. So yeah, I think restorative yoga is gonna be my jam. 

Be mindful of communication: try not to say anything I wouldn't want anyone overhearing: Okay. Am I still being mindful of communication? Yes. Absolutely. But I'm not really doing a great job of holding back on the things I don't want people overhearing. So I need to put more attention to this goal.

Blog at least 2x/month about my goals and progress: Check! I actually got in three blog posts this month. Go me!

Buy and use really good eye cream every day: Oh yeah. This has really become routine at this point. I missed a day in the past month, but for the most part, I'm nailing this goal.

Call my grandparents 1x/month: I talk to my grandmother once a week and I really like it. Our conversations don't last that long, but I love that she expects my call. In fact, when I called her on Saturday, she said how much she looked forward to my weekly call and it made me smile. My grandfather has been gone for four months now and I've certainly noticed a difference in my grandmother. Her memory is fading a bit (to be expected for 92 years of age) and she's definitely not as active and social. So I worry about that a bit. But I do enjoy our conversations and look forward to the few minutes when we do chat and I fill her in on what I've been up to since our last talk. And she never misses an opportunity to tell me how much she loves Steve "He's such a nice young man." Which never fails to make me laugh.

Date night with Steve at least one night a week: I have to say that this one has slipped a bit. I've been getting lazy on this front and we've been relying on dinners at home or a quick meal out as date nights. So I want to put a little more attention to this next month and plan some nice, unique and fun things for us to do together. We did have some nice time together when we went up to San Francisco, but I want our time at home to be a little more...intentional and couple'y. So I'll work on that.

Finish the remaining stair walks in the stair walk book: I realized that I really needed to get a freaking move on it if I planned on accomplishing this goal. Because while there are a lot of days between now and October 23rd, I am going to start running out of weekends that I'm home starting in June. Between Ireland (two times) and a family wedding in October and then six event weekends, I'll be gone quite a bit. So I decided to kick it into high gear and in the past two weekends alone, I've crossed five stair walks off my list. I absofreakinglutely LOVE this way of getting around and seeing my city. I've said it before, but there's just no way I'd ever see these parts of Los Angeles if not for the stair walks and I love, love, love them. And when there are people visiting (hi Leah!), it's a great way to explore and get out of Santa Monica.

Walk 5- Mt. Washington. 466 steps over 3.2 miles.
Walk 6- Hermon and Highland Park. 386 steps over 3 miles.
Walk 7- Highland Park-Southwest Museum. 568 steps over 3.2 miles
Walk 9- El Sereno Circles. 350 steps over 1.8 miles. 
Walk 10- Happy Valley and Montecito Heights. 626 steps over 3.7 miles.
I did the first two walks by myself and then Katie and Leah joined me for walks 7 & 9. And then Leah and I did walk 10 on Sunday. It Was Epic. Super hard in one spot where we scaled the side of a mountain, but then we got that crazy unexpected view of Los Angeles (by gaining permission to trespass on private property). 

19 more walks to go!

Get 4 facials and 4 massages: This month I treated myself to two massages and it was amazing. It no longer feels like a painful experience and I actually fell asleep during my last massage (something I've always heard of, but never believed could really happen)! While my friend Leah was in town, we had a luxurious day of self-care. We hiked (see next category). We went to Burke-Williams and used the spa amenities, bouncing back and forth between the shower, the hot tub, the misting shower, the steam room, the hot tub, the misting shower, the sauna, the hot tub, the solarium, and once again, a bitchin' shower. It was just magical! We capped off that day with massages and honestly, the only thing that could have made it better was restorative yoga. But we opted for soosh instead!

Hike 1x/month: Leah's birthday started off at Will Rogers for a quick hike to Inspiration Point. I'd like to do some more strenuous hikes, but I like that this hike is so close by and easy. Plus there are horses and while I don't want to ride them, I do like to look at them!






Nuture my marriage: I've done a really good job for the past five months in giving some serious thought to this and doing small things here and there. And I've continued that in month six, but I've also found myself slipping back into some habits that don't lend itself well to nurturing my marriage- like being...unsupportive and sassy (not in a fun way) and kinda egging Steve on a bit. So while I'd like to think I do something every day to nurture my marriage (and I know I in fact do) I need to do more work on this in month seven. In a nutshell, progress is being made for sure, but I'm nowhere near perfection (and that's okay).

Read 20 books: I've made some good progress this month finishing for more books:
14 down, 6 to go! I've got this one!

I have three books I've got in rotation right now and one of them is a library book, so I'll probably focus on this one next. I'm definitely enjoying reading more and love that I have a non-digital way to engage my brain and my heart.

Ski in California with Katie: I blew this goal. As in, there's no way I'm going to accomplish it. I waited to long to look into this and by the time I did, the only place to go skiing was 5+ hours away and would have cost like $350 just for two one-day ski passes, and that doesn't include gas and lodging and food and I don't want to hit this goal that badly to blow more than $1k on it. So I'm going to think of another goal and replace this one. Moving on. 

Track each day's food in the Weight Watcher's app: I'm still hit or miss with this. But the good news is I'm still 100% hitting all my food goals. The nuggets of super helpful wisdom I took away from The Food Therapist are still so present in my day-to-day actions with food (#winning). I haven't had any major meltdowns with food (hooray) and I've lost every week for the past six weeks (f yeah!). I don't feel like I'm completely depriving myself (phew), but I also feel like I'm guiding my decisions based on my long-term goals and not my right now cravings (a major shift for me). I'm also working out a ton (which I love) and enjoying feeling lighter and fitting into my clothing better (boo yeah). So I'm not gonna beat myself up for not doing this one thing perfectly when everything else is seemingly falling into place (good for you Molly!). Plus. I haven't abandoned it all together. I just tracked my food today 😁.

Try meditating for 21 days: I talked about this during my Month 5, Check-In 2 update, but I successfully completed by Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience: Shedding the Weight: Mind, Body and Spirit. And I really, really liked it. There was so much I took away from the experience and I wrote those mantras, centering thoughts and key takeaways down after each meditation so I can go back and read them when I need it. Overall, the meditation was a positive experience and I hope to find time to integrate meditation into my daily life. I loved the intentional energy put into breathing and sitting quietly and being still. It felt hard and yet completely healing. I need more of all of this in my life and I don't see how it could do anything other than help. So here's hoping I actually make the time to prioritize meditation on an ongoing basis.

Use my real camera 1x/month: Our spring break getaway to Montecito (boring), Cambria (beautiful) and San Francisco (fun and delicious), was the perfect opportunity to break out my real camera! Here are some of my favorite photos taken on that trip with Spring Break Steve:

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA
A gorgeous scenic overlook along route 46 from Cambria to Paso Robles. How very Irish looking!
One of the highlights of the trip was driving by the headquarters for Andy Boy- makers of Steve's favorite vegetable: broccoli rabe!


A beautiful day in San Francisco and a gorgeous and clear view of the Golden Gate Bridge
Volunteer 1x/month (must include something to help flip the house): Another month another volunteer shift with Food Forward and I did 12 more postcards for Postcards to Voters. This time for a special election in upstate New York!

Write an article/short story about Clancy and try to get it published: I met with my friend Elisabeth (thank you!) who helped me put some thought into what it is I'm trying to accomplish with this piece about Clancy. She helped me think through some things like: what's my angle, what makes this story different from the others written about dogs dying, what audience is this for, etc. She also helped me think about practical things like spending some time just sitting and writing and not judging myself and just seeing what comes out on the page. I haven't done anything since our initial meeting, but it was good to pause and consider this goal since pretty much nothing has happened since I put this on the list.

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As you can tell, month six was another really busy month. I'm glad that I made so much progress on my goals, including eliminating credit card debt and making major decisions about which marathon to run and committing to a program and a race!

But I learned a few things this month too. Mostly that while I'd love to hit all these goals I've set out for myself, I'm okay with it if I don't. My intention behind this whole thing was to make this final year in my 30s really count and to feel really good about myself as I head into my 40s. And if nothing else was accomplished, I'd be more than okay with what I have done. That kind of progress makes me feel happy in a way that's hard to describe. I've spent so long beating myself up for the things I haven't done and it's led to some really destructive behavior and negative self-image shit that I don't want to carry forward in my life.

I was talking with a friend about this shift (Hi Terri!) and how this experience in setting these goals and working towards accomplish them has taught me that the journey is just as, if not more, important as the crossing off of all these goals. Being mindful of all of these goals is helping me be a better person, a better boss, a better employee, a better wife, a better friend, a better sibling, and most importantly, a better, kinder friend to myself. And at the end of the day, that's way more important than saying that I crossed everything off my goal list, especially if it didn't feel fulfilling to accomplish all of that.

As I head into the second half of this year, I'm going to see where I can go deeper and where I have room to put more intention to some of the goals. And I'm also just going to enjoy the journey and continue to be excited by the overall benefits and transformation in this quest to get to 40 gracefully and honestly as a better version of myself.

Thank you for coming along for the ride!

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Monday, April 23, 2018

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

Holy. Shit.

So this happened a few hours ago:

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

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

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

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

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

Guys. I'm doing this! 

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I should have bought one for Steve-o! 

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

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

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

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


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

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


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





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


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

Cute little bungalow!

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

Me and Schmoopy- all sweaty and smiley!

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

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

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

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














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

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

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

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