Monday, January 15, 2018

This is 39 (Month 3, Check-In 1)

I can't believe I'm already in month three of my year-long quest to accomplish 39 goals. As usual, my tracker is super helpful in the accountability department, as is this blog. The first part of this month has been really interesting. While I've made significant progress on my goals and have added lots to the accomplishments column, I've also gone backwards on some things. Partly due to being super f'n sick and partly due to be super f'n negligent in treating my body with respect and eating well. I'm an all-or-nothing kinda gal, and the past few weeks have highlighted that in lots of ways. I'm workin' on it. I really am.

Because I was so sick (ugh- I landed in urgent care on Christmas Day with, what turned out to be, a sinus infection), I didn't stick to my three days a week of resistance training (which I'm okay with), but I did get some serious reading in and made major headway on the insane-o task of organizing and backing up all my photos. But I also stopped tracking my food and that's basically gone off the rails. I haven't beat myself up over all of this. I'm just moving on from the point I'm at now.

All that aside, let's jump in:

Finish the remaining stairs walks from the Secret Stairs of Los Angeles book: I had grand plans over the holidays to get a lot of these walks in. I was looking forward to being able to drive all over the city when so many people are out of town and it's actually possible to get almost anywhere in 20 minutes. But my body had other plans for me. I did get in one walk, yesterday, with Steve-o. We did walk #2, which found us in Eagle Rock on a gorgeous 80° day. Highlights included super cute houses, like the one below, a Tai Chi mural that Steve-o loved and (not pictured) running into a 92-year old WWII veteran, Larry, whom we met because his dog's leash was stuck to the wheel of his wheelchair and Steve stopped to help him.

Get 4 facials and 4 massages: Thanks to the insane generosity of one of my best friends, Penny, days before Christmas found me relaxing and indulging in some major self-care at Burke-Williams. I spent a few glorious hours in a hot tub, a steam room, a sauna, getting a massage and then a facial. It. Was. Amazing. And thanks to Christmas, I have enough gift certificates to more than fulfill my goal of getting three more facials and three more massages during my 39th year. Spending the day taking care of me in a relaxing and luxurious environment was completely restorative and I'm looking forward to doing more of this in the year ahead.

Organize and back-up my photos: Because I was bed and couch ridden for most of the time between Christmas and the New Year, I deleted thousands and thousands and thousands of photos and videos. I also went through my work computer (I try really hard to keep personal things off there, but it's been a good place to back-up some photos) and TWO different external hard drives. I also purchased Lightroom and have been using that to help me easily go through photos as well.

When I first started this project, I had nearly 22,000 photos/videos on my laptop. I kept getting messages that I was running out of room on my computer. Today my laptop has 1,771 photos and 79 videos on it. I'm no longer getting stressful messages that my computer is running out of space and I feel so much better knowing the photos I have are ones that I really and truly want. The task is nowhere near complete, but I'm getting there and looking forward to a few months from now when it's all organized and I can start a better process of organizing and backing-up my photos on a regular basis- not just once every 39 years!

Read 20 books: In just the past few weeks I've read:

  • Murder at the Monks Table- a quick and easy read that was just the thing I needed to get me back into reading. Thanks to my friend's mother for passing the book along over Christmas cookie decorating!
  • Promise Me, Dad: A Year of of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose- This wasn't as quick and easy at the first book I read, but it was a really beautiful book about a father's love for his son(s) and a peek into the Obama Administration from Joe Biden's perspective. I really enjoyed the book- and the rabbit hole I went down on YouTube afterwards. 
  • A Dog's Purpose- Given the Clancy-size hole that still exists in my heart, I wasn't so sure this was the smartest book for me to read. But I really loved it and it didn't break me apart like other books about dogs and loss that are out there. It was really nice to think about Clancy's purpose and the happier times we had with him. I mean, of course I cried. How could you not? But it was a good cry. So, if you're a dog person, I highly recommend this book. 
  • Dying: A Memoir- I read this list of music and book recommendations from President Obama and this book stood out to me. (I tend to gravitate towards books like this because I learned early on that we don't talk about death enough and it has the potential to be a really beautiful experience if you deal with it openly and honestly.) It was a pretty quick read (especially since I went all Type-A on the book and decided I wanted to finish it in five days, so determined the number of pages I'd need to read each day in order to do that). I enjoyed the book, partly because it didn't go into excruciating detail about the author's illness and death. It was a beautiful, simple and real account of her life against the backdrop of knowing that she was dying. 
While being so sick really sucked, I'm grateful that it helped me kickstart this particular goal and has gotten me back into reading. I have a handful of books that I'm currently reading now and am very much hoping that as I ease back into a more balanced life this month, that I set aside time each day to read, even if it's just a little bit. The fact that I take books out from the library and am on a deadline helps too!

Resistance training 3x/week: I had to be okay with not accomplishing this goal when I got sick. I thought about powering through, but on certain days, I knew that just was not an option as I truly could not get up off the couch. So I missed two weeks of resistance training. Instead of letting this get in the way of doing it for the other 49 weeks of the year (assuming I don't get that sick again), I'm just moving forward and getting back into it. This past week I did my three days of resistance training. And while it was humbling to be so out of shape, it felt really good to move my body that way.

Stay on top of BRCA2 gene appointments:
Last month I had my breast MRI and everything was fine. Phew and hooray. And on January 10th I went to USC for my 1/2 day of appointments. It's a really intense experience because you get blood drawn, see the breast oncologist and the gynecological oncologist, get more invasive testing and by the time you're done, you have been poked, prodded and touched A LOT. But one of the major benefits of The Lynne Cohen Clinic through USC is that I have all my tests in one day, I see all my doctors in one day and, most importantly, I walk out with all the results from my tests. I'm happy to report that all is fine- all tests came back clean and clear.

Having said that, the appointment was pretty intense. Because of my age, there's a lot more focus on when/if I'm having children (short answer- I don't know). With the breast cancer gene, my risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer goes up significantly. So if a person doesn't plan on having children, the recommendation is to go the surgical (vs. surveillance) route, earlier rather than later, to pretty much eliminate your risk of getting cancer. For all these years, I've been living under the (as it turns out false) assumption that because of my family history, I didn't have to entertain the idea of getting a hysterectomy. No one in my family has had ovarian cancer and only my mom has had breast cancer. So I was really kinda planning on just continuing with surveillance for the foreseeable future. Turns out I was wrong. My gynecological oncologist suggested that I start thinking of freezing eggs if I wasn't sure where I stood on the having children side of things and eliminating the stress of not knowing and consider a cutoff age of when I'll have a hysterectomy. Ooof. Ovarian cancer is very hard to detect and when a woman does get it, it's usually advanced and has spread. In an effort to prevent all of that from happening, she recommends considering surgery. By the age of 50, you're sort of playing with fire. But apparently 45 is a good age to aim for. I don't know why I thought for all these years that I wouldn't have to take such permanent action, but I did. And now my head is swirling and my mind is reeling. I don't know what I'll do. But I know my timeline for making decisions has shifted considerably. 

Track each day's food in the Weight Watchers App: Nope. I stopped doing this on 12/22 and have been eating like garbage. I keep thinking "tomorrow's the day". And so far that hasn't happened. But the difference with today about tomorrow is I'm actively putting my food plan together for the week, going shopping and doing some major food prep. So I'm looking forward to resuming food tracking and getting this under control, like, soon.

Use my real camera at least 1x/month: On New Year's Eve I found myself watching the last sunset of the year. The ocean is completely hidden from sight and you need to set aside what you see right in front of you to know and believe that something so beautiful and filled with possibilities is right in front of you. And I thought this photo is very representative of the year as a whole. 2017 was a beautifully complicated year with so many ups and downs and filled with some really big losses for me. But it was also beautiful and filled with so much love and laughter and fun and hope and action and kindness. And that's what stands out most- the beauty of it all. 


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