Category Archives: Good for Me

I SWAM WITH DOLPHINS TODAY!!!!

And that is ALL that needs to be said about TODAY. 

Except maybe “so long and thanks for all the fish!” 😉

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Nate; and I’m having fun.

B and I woke up early and ran in the rain; it soon stopped and we went poolside. The weather was clear and very hot and humid. The water is turquoise on the ocean side of the resort, big waves. At night you can watch jewel-lit glittering cruise ships pass on the black horizon.

B put up the beach umbrella and soon a rotund hotel employee in a hot pink shirt rolled down and started putting it back down. We asked him why, and, puffed up, he advised us that Tropical Storm Nate would move through around 8. B pointed out that it was only 10, and he spread his hands in the helpless “nothing I can do” gesture. He rolled off and was tongue lashed by an elderly woman whose umbrella was his next target; she received the same helpless gesture but she couldn’t let it go. After appealing to management, she was able to smugly reinstate her shade and soon they bloomed like mushrooms.

The only real signs that we had a storm last night were the facts that they brought our balcony furniture in and closed the pool early. This resulted in staggering numbers of people in the lobby swarming over the snack table and consuming free alcohol. (“They closed all the bars down the strip cuz they’re open-air – Senor Frog, Pancho Willie. People don’t have nowhere to go,” B’s sister’s boyfriend drawled in his Southern accent. “Wait, there’s really a place called Senor Frog?? And people GO THERE?” B asked incredulously.) 

The preponderance of free alcohol is gobsmacking. We have a series of bottles in our room, beer in the fridge, swim-up bars, all free free free. (“This,” B’s sister says, waving a hand at the slack-faced, sunburnt pool patrons clutching sweating plastic cups full of booze, “is what perpetrates this ‘tainted alcohol’ thing. All these people who come down here, lounge around in 90 degree blazing tropical sunshine, drink only alcohol, and then wonder why they feel like hell.”)

I’m not much of a beach vacation kind of gal, but I have to say, there is an interesting abandon with which the resort-goers attack this place. From our pale Midwestern position under the sun umbrella, with my straw hat and our library books (The Magician King for me, Garrison Keillor for him) surrounded as we are by shrieking, extremely drunk people glistening with sweat and suntan oil, revealing alarming amounts of sun-damaged, poorly-toned, leathery hide, I am having fun. 

balance

Although I feel like I’ve been doing a good job staying on top of things at work, and even managing to do some creative things on the side that keep me contented, there’s always something in my life that feels a little out of balance. Sometimes it’s just a little thing like realizing I haven’t had a proper haircut in over a year. (Cutting it myself and going to Great Clips for bang trims twice don’t count.) Sometimes I feel like my self-care gets a little sidetracked. I have a uniform for work of heels-dress pants-cardigans in the winter, and I get my haircolor delivered from an e-salon every few weeks, so I manage to keep my greys from showing, but honestly, other than that, I’m pretty low-maintenance. I don’t get manicures, and I never use lipstick. So I made an appointment at my salon and got a haircut.

Before / after:

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I’m not one of those people who think that women of a certain age should have short hair – I think all ages of women look fine with whatever hair length they feel pretty in. However, for me, the shorter length definitely feels like it’s shaved a few years off my middle-aged  skin (although the more flattering lighting & filter help a lot, too, lol). I love the length, it is so much easier and more flattering, and feels healthier. My stylist is also a master at selling me additional products. After my cut, she always whips me over to the makeup table and dusts me with fairy glitter powder and touches up my brows and puts lipstick on me so I can see what I look like when I take a modicum of care with my  appearance. She said the salon owner is one of those women who think lipstick should be worn EVERY DAY and so all the stylists make sure to have it on. I had a friend like this at my old job – she said her mother had drummed into her head that lipstick was a MUST and when she was in the delivery room after giving birth to her twins, her mom bustled in and extracted a lipstick from her handbag and surreptitiously touched her up. “Just a little color, dear, you look so pale.”

She sold me on the lipstick and I’ve made a vow that it won’t just dry out in my drawer, I’ll actually use it every day.

Running and meditating have also fallen a bit by the wayside, and I feel their lack. I can easily get back on track with meditating, but running is taking a bit more effort. I think I finally just hit a wall with the treadmill at lunchtime – I am SO SICK of treadmill miles and so I have to start getting outside. The red-winged blackbirds are singing in the swaying reeds and that’s my signal. So today I woke up early and put on my running shoes; it was drizzling out and the temptation to just crawl back into bed with coffee, Emmett, and my laptop was strong. But I laced up and went out, just for a quick one, and came back exhilarated and wet to the skin. Just as I locked the door behind me and kicked off my wet shoes, the heavens opened up and it poured.

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It was a good start to the weekend, which holds not much more than a trip to the vet for the unsuspecting felines to get their happy pill prescriptions refilled. I’m sure I’ll need a nap after that. I hope you are all staying balanced and getting everything done that keeps you on track and happy and fulfilled.

what’s saving my life right now

A couple of the blogs I read (Modern Mrs. Darcy and Carrie Willard) do the “what’s saving my life right now” post right around this time of year – earlier this week we celebrated Imbolc for the pagans, St. Brigid’s day, Candlemas, and for the rest of us, the halfway point from the winter solstice to the Equinox. The darkness hasn’t bothered me so much this year, but it’s undeniably nice to know that every day we are turning back to the light, and on days like yesterday, when the sun is out and bright, I just want to sit in a sunbeam and soak up some vitamin D.

So what’s saving MY life right now?

  • Reading – I am bouncing back and forth between an “airport novel” – which is what I call the bestsellers that always seem to be on the racks at airport bookstores – fast paced, adventurous, usually with a spy or a team or agents of some kind. They’re an indulgence – this one is a James Rollins “Sigma Force” book called “The Seventh Plague” and somehow I am already halfway though it. Anyway, I’m bouncing between that and “The Happiness Equation” because one of my goals this year is to read more nonfiction and although self-help isn’t really what I had in mind, absorbing more suggestions on how to be even 5 or 10% happier is just fine.
  • Being off Facebook right now. Yup. I took my own advice and took a sabbatical from Facebook and Twitter – I stayed on Instagram because it is a much more beautiful and soothing brand of social media for me. My feed is full of beautiful pictures of Norway, of Japan, Europe, cats and birds, my alma mater, handmade things and my happy places and beautiful rooms. I need these things to stay alive and right now I don’t need to steep myself in the live feed of the unrelenting negativity of Donald Trump’s administration and the divisiveness that is causing in our country.
  • Podcasts. In particular I just love My Favorite Murder (stay sexy, don’t get murdered) and Thinking Sideways. I’m also immersed in the archives of You Must Remember This and just worked my way through her series on Charles Manson’s Hollywood.
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“My Favorite Murder” has some pretty funny merch, too – I think I need one of these mugs for our staff meetings.

 

  • Finding a brief moment of hilarity at work. One of our coworkers recently returned from a long illness and he was greeted by this actually very creepy Elmo balloon, which has arms and legs and is probably four feet tall. (Why do people buy Mylar balloons still? This balloon will be clogging up some whale’s intestines long after I am ashes and dust. This stuff doesn’t biodegrade.) Over the course of a few days, Elmo began to drift aimlessly down the aisles, bouyed by rogue air currents, and I would frequently turn around to find it staring in my office window. When the GC was out one day, we decided he could be her temporary replacement.

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  • The snug life with this little guy – with a hot water bottle under the blanket and a movie from the Lucky Day section of the library on TV – and below that, a throwback to my favorite little human’s early years, provided at random one day by my brother, who found this snap on his phone and shared it with me. ❤

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  • A gift that I gave myself, for my evening tea, a reminder of a childhood best friend.

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  • And lastly – the bonds of trust, respect, and affection that I share with other people in my community. This was demonstrated eloquently during the Multicultural Night that was hosted by Miss L’s elementary school. On a purely voluntary basis, families and organizations came together for a night to celebrate the beautiful diversity in our community. Children from all grades (including Miss L and several of her besties) volunteered to perform, to sing songs and show what they’ve learned on different musical instruments – maracas and recorders and Indian and African drums. Some children dressed in costumes representing their ethnic backgrounds and families brought all sorts of food to share. The halls, gym, library, cafeteria, and art room were packed – the turnout was amazing. Miss L and her friends ran all over the school making memories together, doing crafts like Chinese lanterns and Roman mosaics, having their wrists henna painted by the mothers and grandmothers of some of our Indian students, and watching Irish dancing from a local dance school. There wasn’t a single political comment made, but the entire evening, which is an annual tradition at the school, spoke volumes and made me so incredibly proud of our community and our public school. We are truly blessed.

Happy weekend, all. xoxo

dieting.

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lunchtime run + meditation time at the botanical gardens; treasure the weather while it lasts.

So I’m back counting calories and steps with my trusty My Fitness Pal. I launched quite a diet & exercise offensive earlier this summer, in order to be able to wear a bikini on our vacation in North Carolina, but with several weeks of tracking, I really only lost about 3 lbs. I was relieved to give it up after vacation and go back to eating and drinking whatever I damn well felt like. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the 3 lbs coming back on, as well as a little extra.

I’ve always had a good metabolism and weight was never much of a worry for me until about the last year and a half. When I started running a lot in 2010, my body changed, became much leaner. Then, after several years, everything evened out  my body got used to all of that running and exercising, and adjusted accordingly. I’ve gone from, at my lowest, most unhealthy point, about 20 lbs under my ideal weight to about 10 lbs over that ideal weight since I turned 40.

Well, I thought to myself, training for my half ought to help this situation. Turns out it hasn’t.

Portion control, meal preparation and planning, and careful assessment of my nutritional mix plus daily exercise – that’s what works for me. I use Map My Run and My Fitness Pal to track my calories and plan my meals. I like seeing my daily food diary laid out so I can ensure that I am getting what I need – protein, whole grains, fruits & veggies, and enough water. Map My Run syncs with My Fitness Pal so when I log workouts, I see the calories come off my day, and I can make adjustments.

The problem with all of this is that food equals happiness and comfort and satisfaction for me. I don’t eat a lot of junk food. I don’t eat fast food more than once every couple of months, I don’t drink soda, I don’t eat bags of potato chips or cookies. But I do love cheese, and if I want to smash up an avocado and eat it on toast or with crackers, or mixed in pasta with red pepper flakes and pesto and olive oil, I want to be able to do that. I love red wine and pizza and bread, and after I run at lunchtime, I like wandering down to the cafeteria and having the chef whip me up a veggie and cheese quesadilla with a big handful of thick kettle chips. I like ice cream and pie a couple times a week. I feel like my mental issue is that I’m not a terrible eater – by and large I like healthy things, but I like them ALL THE TIME. In order to succeed in losing weight, I have to change my mindset from seeing food as self-love to seeing it as fuel, which is extremely dissatisfying.
But things must be done and so for the foreseeable future I will be packing lunch for myself (I don’t love processed food, but a Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine at lunch helps keep me on track – typically I only choose the vegetarian options, and actually a couple of them – these and these – are pretty good) and planning my meals on my little phone apps and trying to move more and drink more water and not turn into a shrieking harpy because I can’t have my Dove chocolate or large pour of cab sav.

introvert hangover

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emmett’s immediate reaction to seeing a travel bag packed and waiting to go out to Finn the Subaru – passive resistance.

There are only about three weeks left of summer and I’m relieved. I’ve enjoyed it – been places, done things, spent time with nice people – but it’s also been exhausting. I feel like I am always packing a bag or unpacking a bag. Jax tells me “you’re always tired” which annoys me and makes me protest, “that’s not true!” even as I know that it most definitely IS true – I just thought I did a better job hiding it. Getting into fresh cool sheets knowing I can get 9 or 10 hours of sleep is one of my favorite things. But this summer tiredness is different. It feels like I’m struggling just to keep up with myself.
I feel like I’m never home. I know I’ve had plenty of nights in pajamas on my couch with Emmett and Netflix. But they’re difficult to remember, and it also seems like I’ve had a lot of nights in some other place. It seemed to start with Japan, then a beach house bed or a hotel room in Frankenmuth hearing children hopped-up on Bavarian style buttered noodles and live accordion in the halls. Or Jax’s house with Izzy the Dog snoring under the covers at my feet.
The summer road construction has been even more hellish than usual, with major thoroughfares closed down to give construction workers time to do repairs before the Michigan Permafrost sets in again. I’ve spent hours in traffic with books on CD (our paralegal gave me a bag of borrowed audio books; it’s fun to listen to things that aren’t really my normal taste. David Baldacci and Jonathon Kellerman. Now I can be a Washington DC spy and an LA detective during my commutes) and Audible, the flat glare of the sun in my eyes, dreaming of my cool quiet dim house.
My hair hasn’t been properly cut except for a spontaneous trim at Great Clips three months ago and it feels dry and crunchy with sun and the straightener.
Although I’m excited about my promotion, I’m in one of my biorhythmic down cycles at work and struggling to maintain energy and motivation.
I’ve burned my vacation days and my bank account is wheezing from a new car, various trips here and there, and Miss L’s activities and school clothes and birthday (upcoming).
When I wake up in the morning, I can barely be bothered to put my contacts in and try to look decent.

I feel guilty for even SEEMING to complain about having great adventures, and going places, creating memories, spending time with amazing people who treat my daughter and I like longlost family. I honestly do feel so humbled and gratified that I have stumbled across such a number of kindred spirits, and I wish I didn’t feel like a fizzling battery sometimes. I read an article, however, that sort of justified my feelings and made me feel a little consoled about my weirdness – it appears I am suffering from an “Introvert Hangover”.

So go figure!

I am finally home for a bit now and looking forward to self care and closing ranks – getting organized, recharging, and taking care of my neglected home and yard (I have heirloom tomatoes!!) Now I can think about is how lovely it will be to open the windows to birdsong (once SE Michigan’s crippling heat wave dissipates) and then go back to bed for a few hours. I’m not sure why I think that’s going to happen in the fall, but everything good happens in the fall, so I am holding that image in my head, of sweater weather and fall colors and naps and good things to eat and the knowledge that the weather is deepening and darkening and pushing me towards a season of hibernation.Which, apparently, I need!

Be well dear readers and friends. xo

goals

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old shoes / new shoes; changing of the guard.

I keep promising myself that at any moment, I will begin training in earnest for my fourth half-marathon, and yet things keep coming up. I was chagrined to realize that my last one was in 2013! I missed two years in a row due to injuries and scheduling. Faithful readers will remember that my favorite event is the Sleeping Bear Half which takes place in Empire, MI in October. This race is amazing for so many reasons, but my favorite part is how the unpredictability of the weather meshes with the beauty of the course to make it feel like a real ‘up north’ experience. It’s hilly, the weather is a factor, but something wild in you rises to the challenge and it’s such a great setting, with the autumn leaves, the dunes, and the rolling golden fields and forests along M-22. The first year, we ran in sleet and snow, and my jacket and eyelashes were coated with ice when I crossed the finish line. The second year, I PR’d in mild temperatures and a constant warm downpour. What will this year bring? I don’t know but I officially signed up today, giving myself 8 weeks to train.

Things have changed in my life since I trained for my last half. Back then, we were a two-parent family, so my long runs were easy enough to schedule on weekend mornings. Now, my ex & I share custody of our Miss L, and although we work with each other in an amicable and informal sharing arrangement, week by week, I actually don’t always have a weekend morning to run. This cycle, I will have to fit in my long runs even when it’s not ideal, even when I don’t feel like it, even during times of the day that I don’t like to run. I’ve adapted to lunchtime workouts that I can do during my workdays, using the treadmill in Widget Central’s small gym, or running outside around north Ann Arbor. But it will certainly call for early morning runs and evening runs after work – like this week, when I had to do my 6 on a very hot night. Fueling was an issue. I chugged water all day, and had a big lunch, but I’m usually ravenous when I get home from work, no matter what, so I had to content myself with a peanut butter bagel while I waited for the day to wane and the scorching heat to fade a bit. I set out too late, and it was pitch black by the time I finished.

My old Ghost 7’s were pretty much past their prime, so I bought a new pair of Ghost 9’s and will commence to start putting miles on them immediately. I know that October will be here before I know it. I hope that when I’m lined up at the start in the pre-dawn light, waiting anxiously, I will think about all the miles and all the sacrifices I had to make to get there, and feel ready for the challenge!