Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Only Half Crazy

As I've continued running and training for my half marathon I've seen three bumper stickers: 26.2 = Crazy; 13.1 = I'm only half crazy; and 0.0 = Because I'm not crazy at all. I fall in the middle as I just completed my first half marathon!! Granted, I was trotting slow enough to take a couple of pictures of an Eastern Box Turtle crossing (that's literal, not metaphorical), but I never stopped. To be honest, I was just so happy that I finished injury-free.

The pic is after my half marathon. Saturday was the 5k and Sunday the half.

It's been a really good journey to this point  and I learned how I want to keep going. When I first started running, it was to lose weight. And as I ran, I liked it so I signed up for this half-marathon to see if I could do at 43 what I could not do at 23. Then I signed up for a 5k in between to keep my training on track.

As the months progressed, I ran not for losing weight but for health. I wanted to lose weight to make my runs easier. I also realize that I'm more into running a 10k than a half-marathon because running is not my only hobby. When you're running 10 or more miles, that's your WHOLE day. You dedicate a few hours to running and then when you get home it's bath time, nap, and lounge. 

So what did it take to get me into running? 
  1. Listening to the audiobook Runs Like a Girl- This is a brilliant book that shows this woman's journey from couch to marathon. It's funny, light, and inspiring. 
  2. Skirt Sports- These clothes were MADE for women runners of all shapes and sizes. They have the right compression, pockets galore, and the best running bras in existence.
  3. No-tie shoelaces- Okay, this sounds ridiculous but being able to slip your running shoes on and off and not worrying if they're tied too tight or too loose is a game-changer for me.
  4. Beats Wireless headphones- These earphones last HOURS. I didn't think I'd like them but not having to worry about your headphones in the way of your arms or extending long enough is a great benefit.
  5. Tiger Balm- This is Bengay on another level; it will knock the tension out of muscles and keep them loose.
  6. Yin Yoga- I do the Ultimate Yogi's 90 minute yin yoga practice, which is holding poses 3-5 minutes each. This has kept me injury-free from my running.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Year of Health

It's been a rough few years. Health-wise my body just fell apart. I can pinpoint the stress where it started but I had no idea that my health would just compile issue after issue to where it no longer worked properly.

I realized it fully when I went on a certain birth control. NIGHTMARE. Nearly 3 months of a solid heavy period, anemia, fibroids, and gaining 20 lbs spiraled me into despair. It took over a year to get that out of my system but the effects linger.

Then I took to yoga every day. Still no impact on the weight but it got me into a practice again. The most beneficial lesson was to stop seeing health as a means to an end (for example being a certain size or weight), but to see health as the end goal. Enter running.

Running is something that I've always felt self-conscious about. Do I run weird? Should I do this at my age? What if other people see me winded after a short period? But to be honest, the most important question always prevailed: Who cares? So I set goals: run once a week, sign up for a 5k, sign up for a... half marathon.

And I've done it! I completed my first 5k in over ten years back in October, I run nearly every week, I signed up for a half marathon this April, and I'm up to a 9-mile run. I'm doing at 43 what I could NEVER do at 23. I didn't have the discipline, the confidence, the faith then that I have now. This has led me on to healthier decisions and to just run for the mere enjoyment of running.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Self-Help This

I'll admit it, I'm addicted to "working on myself." I've always been like this but more so than ever. Anyone who has lost someone close to this can relate. When you are watching someone go through cancer or losing someone close you have two options: maintain the status quo and stick your head in the sand about the tragedy; or fall apart and just deal with the tragedy. I chose the latter.

Those in my family that maintained their status quo escaped to a lovely place called Denial Island where they sipped mocktails and told themselves that no, my mom was not dying of cancer and the world was rosy. When she did pass, they awoke to the reality of it all and I'm sure they have many regrets.

Those of us that stayed in the moment with Mom have few regrets about that time period but awoke to the harsh realities of self-awareness: knowing that your best was highly lacking and that all of the poor behavior you glossed over could no longer be hidden. Because at that time you have no energy to maintain- you just somehow get through. It's not graceful and it's not pretty and sometimes there are casualties left in the wake. This is a pic of my mom and me. Ugh, still dyeing the hair but you can also see my beautiful inspiration for going natural.

Five years later and I feel like I'm still cleaning up some of my messy behavior- the key culprit is not maintaining my stress. For instance, if I don't have a proper 1-2 week vacation each year I'm on edge. Between the work, the commutes, being an officer and volunteer at my DAR Chapter, volunteering in so many other ways, plus all the neighborhood events, I barely have time to breathe. And I love the volunteer work because that's instant gratification: to see someone's life improved because of a simple gesture, even if for just a moment. But when you're stressed, you're never giving your best.

So as I read through yet another self-help book a friend lent me, I realized, "Holy crap, I'm way more f'd up than I thought!" Goody. According to this, my nearly 20 years moving around for my career has taught me to become evasive to relationships. And that's true- the first sign of neediness from a man and I run for the hills, or to my next station. I avoid dating locals who have never lived elsewhere because the idea of staying put in any one area used to cause me to break out in hives. The government is all too eager to take advantage of people like me who are willing to move and bring their experience into a new Division.

Recently I got a call from a good and respected friend about an opportunity coming up in another Division. Hmm, perfect timing as I've been in a place over three years, HOA fees are rising, and there's an eclipse- a universal sign, no? And that's sort of how my career has been- just fall into the right place at the right time, accepting the path of least resistance. Only one thing- I said no. I had just declared that my forever home will be in Maine. I LOVE it there and I've dreamt of living in New England ever since I saw the first episode of Who's the Boss? (don't judge).

By saying 'no' to a sure thing and 'yes' to walking off the cliff into the unknown, i.e searching for jobs in Maine, I chose my happiness over my career. That's the first time I've done that in a long time. Yes, I have the luxury of having a job in DC until I make my move, but it's still scary (terrifying really) and equally exciting to take that leap of faith. The opportunity I turned down was a big one and will never happen again.

So I guess this all loosely ties together in saying that I'm choosing a better life for myself. I'm choosing to deal with my commitment issues (on both men and really settling down into one area), and also to stop hiding behind my career and sleep-walking through life. I think my mom would be proud.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Living with a Man

I live with a man and his name is Colin Farrell. No, mine is the four-legged variety and, dare I say it, much more adorable. He even brandishes the full title of totes adorbs!

We're going on nine months of living together and it wasn't until the other day that I realized exactly how much of a boy dog my boy dog really is. So I thought I would put together a little list of things I've discovered on how it is to live with a new boy in the house.

1. We don't have the same schedules
Apparently Colin doesn't understand that I work all day. I wake up and he thinks it's play time. Yes, let me rush out of bed to walk you and feed you. I'm good with that but I'm still wiping the smeared mascara from my eyes when you're in full-on play mode. It's the same before bed. "No, Colin it's time for Bedfordshire. Mommy has to get up and do this all over again tomorrow." What about the mile walk we just took? Or the playtime with the neighborhood dogs? Or our playtime and cuddle time?

2. We NEVER agree on t.v. shows
I own it, I sometimes have bad taste in t.v. Okay, terrible taste. I knew this would become a problem when I cohabited with someone else but I did not think my dog would have such strong opinions. Without fail, if there is a Real Housewives show or Hallmark movie he jumps up onto the couch "pretending" that he wants to cuddle. But he sits on the remote and changes it to sports EVERY TIME. Then he proceeds to roll around to hide the remote underneath him while he directs my hand to scratch his belly. He will continue to do this until I hide the remote from him. It's a daily fight.

3. We don't agree on socializing
Technically, I'm an introvert. I can function in society but after a full day of meetings and people, I need a dark corner and fetal position to regain energy. Compared to Colin I'm an extreme extrovert. Colin has decided that I am the only biped that he needs to know. Well yes, I'm the staff. And to be honest humans aren't all they're cracked up to be. My version is occasional contact with the outside world whereas Colin is known as the Mrs. Kravitz of the neighborhood: he peeks out at the neighbors through the window and collects information about them. Perhaps this is why he wants nothing to do with them??

It is different sharing your space. You have to reset your routine and there are always growing pains- like the fact that half of my socks have been chewed up and right now the right sock I'm wearing has holes in the bottom. Yes, there are adjustments but once you get through those growing pains you can't imagine your life without him.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Meet Colin Farrell!

Okay, MOST of the time he is Colin, he's really only called Colin Farrell when he misbehaves. I've already had to say, "Colin Farrell, get your nose out of that girl's crotch!" a message now both the two-legged and four-legged versions have had to hear.

I love my new dog but I will admit this has not been an easy journey. Now doing a 360 review of my experience I'm going to write this so that others may have an easier time when they're ready to adopt a pet.

Everyone should know what dog will fit their activities best. There are advantages to puppies and there are advantages to older dogs. Different breeds have different needs as far as needing mental challenges, jobs, and exercise.

I knew from Michelley that I love the intelligence, sweetness, and quirkiness of the Sheltie so I felt secure there. My only caveat was that I didn't want to get a sable that looked like her. I should have also been more specific that I want to train this dog for herding and therapy work. It takes different mindsets and being specific can help match the right dog for you. Colin will be great at these but it was a leap of faith.

Rescue Dogs
This is the first place I went. People with full-breed dogs get shamed all the time from owners with lovable mutts. The first thing they ask is if you would adopt a pound puppy. I love all animals but I don't feel like I need to justify liking a certain breed.

I did try to adopt rescue Shelties. The process is ridiculous and defeating. "Are you home 100% of the time?" they ask. "No, I telework once or twice a week and go into the office three days." "Mmm, no, you can't have this dog. "Are there dogs in your neighborhood?" they ask on another. "Yes! It's a very dog-friendly area." "Mmm, no, this dog doesn't like dogs. Sigh.

AKC Breeder of Merit
I thought this was a HUGE deal. I know I like Shelties so okay, I'm going to look at AKC Breeders of Merit. Sounds like this means something right? No, it means the breeder paid for that certificate. According to an interview on the Today show, AKC has only 9 inspectors of kennels and no idea how many AKC registered breeders there are. So how are the standards ensured?

I only know this now because I really delved into what it meant. I was surprised at allowable practices. For instance, my dog came from one of these. But she never told me that his bark was softened, a controversial procedure where they puncture the vocal chords, he had worms and was severely underweight, and didn't have some of his shots. Had I known ANY of this I wouldn't have adopted a dog from her. I don't want to encourage her business.

Visit the Kennel
Yes, if they discourage you write them off right away. I looked at another place and it was a six-hour drive so I google earthed it. Terrible conditions, no open space for the dogs to run around, and backed up next to train tracks. Um, no.

What I should have done is visited the kennel in PA where Colin came from. Because when she brought him down he was terrified of me and all people. By then I had committed to this dog. Yes, that's on me and it took several hours for him to come up to me. Let's just say the first few days were not necessarily happy ones. Once I got past the fact that I was not adopting a well-adjusted dog but instead rescuing and rehabilitating a dog full of fear of the world, well I was committed. Now every day is a little happier because one day he wags his tail, another day he allows a neighbor to approach him, and yet another he plays with abandon.

So although this experience was not what I first anticipated, it certainly is rewarding. I view Colin as my little rescue dog which he certainly is. Regardless of where he came from his life is now one where someone truly loves him for who he is and will work to give him the best life possible. I trust that God has a reason for bringing us together and I look forward to a lifetime of adventures with my little Swiss bear.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Dating Through the Ages

Going grey has really changed my self-perception and my awareness of the world. When you make the decision to go grey you really are making a stand for yourself. You undergo a lot of criticism and some of that criticism turns into accolades, some to quiet acceptance, and some remains criticism.

You also learn that your dating pool doesn't really change. It only changes when you change the way you see yourself. So if you see yourself as successful and together, then that's what you attract.

Now it's the dating mix, the mix of age ranges. I'll always get the same: men my age, men entering the winter of their life, and little puppies.

Older Men
Let's start with the older men (age before beauty!). The older men I attract are searching for their lost youth. It annoys me to no end. They're typically trying to display how much energy they have and how in shape they are. All the while I'm thinking, "Really? You're still insecure and shallow after all these years?" I also find that they're searching for someone to make them the center of the universe. Their problems are always bigger, their successes must in turn be bigger, etc. I watch my friends in these relationships and realize they don't have a partner they have a man baby. Now it's different when they're fathers but still that need to be the center of the universe has tended to remain.

I have to categorize these men into two groups: the 20-somethings and the 30-somethings. For some reason I attract a lot of 20-somethings. Makes me feel like a pedophile, it's weird. The good thing is they're not at all threatened by your success which is refreshing. For the most part I figured it was some kid living at home that wanted a place to crash. That or they want an experienced woman in the sack. I don't think that's out of the question. However recently a Millennial actually convinced me to give him my number. Well, that's what research is for! It starts out well enough and then he jumps right into what he likes about older women. He also texts on a Friday afternoon for weekend plans. It's too much of a hassle in DC to go out during the week so I always have weekend plans and politely declined. "You're even booked tonight?!" Mr. Presumptuous asked incredulously. "Yes." See there's no finesse, no wooing, and it doesn't mentally spark my interest. And if you can't mentally spark an interest with me, it's a no-go.

The 30-somethings are a mixed bag. I spent the weekend at a wedding with 30-year-olds. Lovely people who had some interesting life stories. There was always that one or two in the group that got blackout drunk. One in particular made an inappropriate comment. I knew he was just what I call "wasty pants" but some other girls heard it. They couldn't let it go. Instead there was this big drama created under the guise of protecting me. No this was all about drama, something I have no room for in my life. The whole thing got blown way out of proportion and reeked of mean girl mentality towards this guy. But then I noticed that little things often get blown out bigger than they need be. When I dated men in their early 30s there were arguments about stupid things that I'd scratch my head over. It just all became too silly and too dramatic.

Age-Appropriate (for me)
By 40 Life has kicked you down a few times. If you've lost a close loved one there is just so much you let go of- little things just don't have the impact they once did. Men my age understand that a woman my age wants some advance planning for a date and definitely in the beginning. The ones that really peak my interest are the ones that give good woo. I like some good woo: someone who picks me up, holds the door open for me, has a conversation with me, and ends the date respectfully with a kiss. There's something to be said to not revealing everything about yourself and letting tension build.

I've found through this research that I'm not missing out from these younger or older guys. Now I understand that these are just my experiences thus far and there are always exceptions to the rule. But I've found that I'm happiest with someone nearer my own age. It helps clarify what I DO want in a partner and I think that's half the battle.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Product Watch: Best Shampoo

I have hair the consistency of a horse's tail, and an unruly one at that. My hair has ALWAYS been coarse, thick, and curly. Before you wax poetic, it's not that lovely kind of curly where you have billowing tresses perfectly framing your face. No, it's more like crazy cat hoarder who always looks disheveled and might be a little touched in the head.


I have learned that product is not so much my friend as it is my necessity. My hair has tried every shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in serum on the market and yet I just came by the greatest shampoo and conditioner yet: Sake Bomb by Drybar. I LOVE this shampoo! I have tried everything from Living Proof to Biolage and everything has left my hair rather lackluster. I'm always surprised that raved-over products on Sephora look terrible on me.

And so as I washed my hair with Sake bomb, I went selfie-crazy. Well, it was for this blog post but it was awesome to have a great hair day! And though this is all in fluorescent lighting it will at least show how soft my hair is after these products. So after a lifetime and closet full of products, I can finally start to pare down. All I need is the following:

Sake bomb shampoo
Sake bomb conditioner
Purple shampoo for brightening occasionally
Perfect 10 leave-in for heat protection against blow dryer/curling iron
Coconut oil for occasional deep conditioning
Aveda control paste for humid days
Kerastase Elixir Ultime for post-style seal of any stray hairs