This is 40 – Part 2

This is the moment of truth. Well, it’s part 2 in what will probably be 4 moments of truth, but it’s time to take a look at this 40 week project. If you haven’t read part 1, you can find it here. It’s time for me to go back over my list and share what I actually accomplished, what I didn’t and why it even matters. I’ve copied my original list below. You’ll see a check mark next to the items that I completed. You’ll see some items crossed out and replaced by other items that I deemed more interesting or important. You’ll also find items that I just didn’t get to with either a justification for not doing it, an explanation that I actually didn’t and couldn’t be bothered to write about it or a plan for doing it in the near future. Find out how I fared below.

To Do BEFORE July 18, 2017

  1. Start a blog. Because writing gives me perspective. √
  2. Run a 10K √
  3. Learn to cook treasured family recipes. And share them with my family. √
  4. Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem.√ Note: I definitely spent some time on this one and I’ll be honest, I still need to work on this. Which is why it’s highlighted in red. 
  5. Put down the remote and read a book already! √ If I could give this half a check mark I would. I started and did not finish a few really great books. And I still watch too much TV. But I did listen to several great books on Audible. So I consider that a win.
  6. Camp in the winter. √
  7. Stop saying I’m sorry for no reason. I never actually wrote about this one but once it was on my list it became something I thought about a lot more. I was aware every time I apologized for something that needed no apology. This was also the case with #9 below. I consider this a half-win. I haven’t conquered my misplaced apologies or my propensity for interrupting, but I’m far more aware of it now.
  8. Stop interrupting. Sometimes I can’t stop myself.
  9. Share our Christmas stocking tradition with everyone. √
  10. Try yoga. I’ve been told I have the flexibility of an 80 year old woman. √ No thank you yoga. NO THANK YOU.
  11. Create Christmas memories with my family. √
  12. Don’t complain about anything for an entire week. Ha! I tried to do this twice and failed. And I don’t really care. It’s not like I’m a massive a-hole that complains constantly. Moving on!
  13. Start the 52 Hike Challenge. √ Well, I certainly did start this challenge, but I will most certainly not finish it. I was diagnosed with tendinitis in my foot and my doctor advised a break from running and hiking, my two favorite forms of exercise. It’s forced me to try new things in fitness and while I still work in a hike or run with some frequency, I try to do workouts that don’t cause burning pain in my foot because burning pain.
  14. Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny. √ You know this has been a huge focus of my personal goals probably because it’s such an ongoing battle for most women. I am happy to report that I am slowly working my way to total body acceptance and love. I’m not there yet but I’m owning it. I workout a lot and I workout hard. I’ve lost some more LB’s but I will probably never have that magazine image body. I mean, I know I won’t. It’s literally physically impossible for me to look like that. I have a massive abdominal scar, cellulite on my thighs and I’m like 6 inches taller than most women. But I’ve worked hard to look the way I do and I feel really good about that. And I will wear whatever the hell I want. 
  15. Do something I’ve been dreading. √ 
  16. Try Zumba. I’m not coordinated. This should be interesting. Try Orangetheory Fitness. √ See # 13 and #14. Orangetheory is MY JAM. I am stronger than I’ve ever been and every workout is a challenge. It feels like an accomplishment to leave that place drenched in sweat and panting. 
  17. Do something that makes my eyes roll. Sometimes being judge-y keeps me from doing awesome things. √
  18. Get a good night’s sleep. √ Still needs work, but what mom isn’t perpetually exhausted?
  19. Date my husband. √ I’m doing way better at this one! In large part due to our move to a new neighborhood. See #32.
  20. Be present and engaged with Little C. I’m going to need some rules for this one. √ You win some, you lose some. This is much like # 7 and # 8 where just having it on my list helps me be more aware because I have an intention. Some days I feel like super mom. Some days I feel like getting in my car and driving far away to a hotel and sleeping for 3 days because I can’t take another meltdown. I’m going to go ahead and assume that’s normal.
  21. Take Little C to the snow. √
  22. Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks. Try a meal kit delivery service because ain’t nobody got time for that. √
  23. Make plans more often with my girlfriends. Find a mentor. I haven’t really found a mentor yet, but I have found an accountability buddy/bully. More on that in part 4 of this series!
  24. Go TV & non-essential phone use free for 1 week. FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! Needs to be revisited.
  25. Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens. √ Meh. 
  26. Take a leap of faith. √ Quit my job! (And then be forced out my house and assume fetal position).
  27. Visit a national park I haven’t been to before. √
  28. Update my wardrobe with a few quality pieces instead of throwing clearance items in my cart while on a Target run. Try Stitch Fix. √
  29. Go for a walk on the beach by myself. I have no idea why this one was so hard for me to make time for. It’s not like I don’t make time for myself, but I don’t make a lot of intentional, reflective time for myself. Must revisit.
  30. Don’t spend any money on non-essentials for an entire month. Stick to my budget. √ Getting booted out of your house is enough to make anyone dial it back on the Target runs.
  31. Start a babysitting swap. Because babysitters cost a lot of dollars. √ This might be the crowning achievement of my 40 Reasons list. And it wouldn’t have happened had we not been forced to move. We have some good friends who live just a few blocks from our new place. They also have boys and kids get along like GANGBUSTERS! Or LEGOBUSTERS! We have worked out a regular kid swapping situation that has changed our life. We can now go on dates and not feel like it has to be the BEST DATE EVER because who the hell knows when we will do this again. It’s pretty amazing. I hope we don’t find a way to ruin it.
  32. Learn Snapchat. I don’t even know why this was on my list. I don’t need to waste more time on social media. I already figured out how to do that with Insta Stories. Moving on.
  33. Join a book club. I was close on this one. My cousin invited me to hers. I bought the book. I read two chapters. Then I slapped myself because I was moving in a few days and really did not have the time. I’d like to revisit at some point, but I’m realizing I can’t do everything. At this point, I naturally choose family, fitness, friends, food, fun, fodka, ya know things that start with an f for my free time and reading does not start with an f.
  34. Do a mud run. I have not done this yet, but I’m planning on doing the Spartan Race in January. I’m terrified.
  35. Try stand-up paddle boarding. √ I’m going to check this off because my dear husband reserved spots for us at an REI paddleboarding class in a few weeks! Woohoo!
  36. Run a 5K at a 9 minute mile pace. This one I threw in the towel on. See #13. I’m good with it though. My priorities have shifted.
  37. Start the Six Pack of Peaks ChallengeThis one is on pause also because of #13. Although I really, really still want to do it. My goal is to summit Mount Whitney some day and these peaks would be a great training run. 
  38. Teach Little C to swim. √ Our little munchkin is slowly learning to swim on his own in our community pool. And now he refuses to wear a floatie because they are for babies. Sigh. He starts lessons soon, right after he turns 4 because anyone under 4 has to wear not 1, but 2 swim diapers. And since he won’t even wear a floatie because HE IS A BIG KID, you can imagine how jamming him into 2 swim diapers would go. I don’t need a round house kick to the face, thank you very much.
  39. Take a kickass trip for my 40th birthday. √ I’ll be blogging about my birthday trip down to the karaoke, hot chicken and whiskey in an upcoming post. 
  40. Create a community. √ This is the one I’m most proud of. I have definitely found a community who wants to get after their goals, support each other and cheer each other on, and for that, I thank you all so much. 

Since that was a monster list, I’m going to share how I feel about my list and what’s on my next list in part 3 of this series. And yes, there is a next list. Stay tuned!

Continue Reading

This is 40 – Part 1

It’s been more than a month since I turned 40 and I have been almost totally radio silent. The last 4 months or so have been a bit of a whirlwind (i.e. shit show) that completely threw me for a loop and totally threw me off my game. Because it’s been so long, I want to bring you up to speed in digestible pieces. I’ll rewind a bit to the point where things started to go a little off the rails for me.

At the end of March, I quit my job. It was a move a long time in the making and I was thrilled to finally step out on my own and be my own boss. I wrapped up my last day at the job I’d been at for more than 6 years and packed up for a long anticipated camping trip with family and friends. It was going to be the perfect break from reality. I knew the place we were going had no cell service and I was relishing the thought of being totally disconnected for 5 days.

We packed up early the next morning and hit the road. The drive north would take us about 6 hours, not including the minor incident we had with our camping gear flying off the back of our car on the Grapevine. About an hour out from our destination and only 3 hours behind schedule, I got a text from my next door neighbor.

“You’re moving?! I just saw the FOR SALE sign and I’m so bummed!”

My stomach dropped. We rent our house. We had plans to buy a home of our own before our little guy started school in a couple years but we weren’t ready now. My landlord had the house appraised recently but she assured us she had no intention of selling and was happy with our timeline of a couple more years. I was stunned. I frantically texted my neighbor back to ask her to take a picture of the sign. My text wouldn’t go through. We had no service for the next 5 days. 5 days of wondering what the hell was happening and what we would do. I had just quit my job. I had clients and money coming in but not a steady, direct deposit, every-two-weeks paycheck. My mind was racing.

I was, of course, narrating the text and every single thought that raced through my head to my husband, who was driving. He took a deep breath and said, in classic dude fashion, “Nothing we can do about it right now. Let’s just enjoy the trip and worry about it when we return.”

It was a logical, solid piece of advice. It’s also the exact opposite of my natural state of being. I think the fact that I knew deep down that whatever was going to happen, I had zero control over it somehow allowed me to push the thought away. We had a great trip and I only thought about it once or twice. I felt very zen about it. Very not me. Very roll with punches. And then we got home.

There were the guilty emails and texts from my landlord. The flurry of calls from the realtor wanting to set up showings. The panic about where we would go and how we would pay for it all. The anxiety over choosing the right neighborhood and school. The regret over quitting my stable job and planning a couple of big trips in a year when we had an expensive move happening.

My focus shifted from 40 Reasons and my list of personal goals to packing up an entire house and finding a new place to live. I pored over our finances to find ways to cut spending and bulk up our bank account. We kicked ourselves for not being more prepared for this and not ready to buy a house. We never EVER wanted to be in this situation again.

Building my new business took a back burner. My personal goals fell by the wayside. I spent the entirety of April and May packing and trying to find a place to live while juggling work, family and a bunch of other trips and social engagements that we’d planned.

But as things tend to do, everything fell into place. Not without a massive amount of anxiety and sleepless nights, but things worked themselves out. I shouldn’t say they worked themselves out entirely on their own. I did play a role in them working themselves out. I finally got a hold of myself and smacked the freak out away. Actual footage of me getting a grip below.

 

 

The thing that really stopped me from spinning my wheels and put me back in forward motion was not, in fact, being slapped repeatedly by strangers. It was some really great advice from a friend. I was bemoaning our lack of options in affordable housing to her. The rental market in San Diego is crazy right now. It looked like we would have to spend more AND downsize if we wanted to be in a decent school district. I kept thinking about what I would have to give up and what I was willing to live without. Yes, I know that these are first world problems, but they are things that have a very real impact on me and my family. The places we were looking at all felt like a step backwards for more money than we were currently spending. And that is a hard pill to swallow.

My friend told me to stop thinking about what I could do without. She told me to get really clear on what I wanted in a home and in a neighborhood, down to how I wanted to feel in my home. She advised me to take the limiting factors like money out of it. I would, of course, have to determine the amount we were willing to spend each month, but I shouldn’t omit anything I really wanted even if I believed we couldn’t find it in our price range.

As soon as she told me that, I slapped myself one more time for good measure. It’s what I’d been practicing all along to work toward my goals. Getting clear on what I want is the first step to getting it. You have to know exactly what you want if you want to have a chance at actually having it. DUH!!! I made the list that same day. Within 2 days, I found 3 listings that matched the description. I’d spent the past month searching listings daily to no avail. Within a week we had signed a lease and paid the deposit on our new house. And yes, it has every single thing that was on my list including the price.

We packed up and moved out of the house that my baby took his first steps in. That we had huge family gatherings and parties in. It was the first place we’d live that I’d really loved and I wasn’t ready to leave it behind. I cried as I drove away for the last time. I had expected to leave that house to move into a home of our own. It felt like a failure. It wasn’t what I wanted to be doing but I had no choice.

I somehow managed to do the #31days31workouts challenge in June, which was the month that we moved. After that, it was a whirlwind of holidays, trips and celebrating my 40th birthday. Before I tell you about that, I should tell you that our new home has been an unexpected gift. It turns out that people live in the burbs for a reason. The closets are massive. The cul-de-sac is teeming with little kids on bikes. We have neighbors that are good friends, which means playmates AND date nights. There is a pool in our community, which means free entertainment. I wish I could’ve done a better job of sharing while it was happening, but I needed time to get some perspective on the situation. And I don’t like to barf a bunch of negativity all over everyone.

The longer I went between posting, the harder it was to sit down at my computer and continue to share my story. I turned 40 exactly 40 days ago today and it’s time to get back on the horse. The first step was explaining where I’ve been and why I’ve been radio silent. The next steps will be to let you know how I fared in my project overall, where I’m at now and what I have planned next. Because this thing ain’t over. It’s actually just getting started. Thanks for taking the time to read my update and for hanging with me. Stay tuned for parts 2, 3 and 4.

Continue Reading

#31days31workouts is back!

It’s that time of year again!

#31Days31Workouts is back!

I know. I KNOW!

It probably seems like we literally just did this challenge, but I promise you, it has been six whole months. Besides, this time around may actually be easier because the weather is beautiful, we’re not all juggling holiday parties, and swim suits are looking at us like heeeeeyyyy! Remember me?

If this is your second, third or fourth challenge, WELCOME BACK! We are so happy to have you on board!

If this is your very first challenge and you’re not totally sure why you’re signing up for this and don’t necessarily think you can do it, I promise you, you can and you will.

I still remember when Jill, my bestie and partner-in-sequins, asked me to do this challenge two Decembers ago. We were both terrified. We didn’t think we would be able to finish. We both felt weird about posting our workouts on social media. But guess what? We both finished and we both learned a lot about ourselves. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that finishing the challenge was pivotal for me in making some major life changes. The momentum and confidence that I gained from setting a goal, sticking it to it no matter what, remembering why I started in the first place, and then actually finishing it…it’s powerful stuff.

So now that you are thinking like a champion, let me give you the deets on the #31Days31Workouts challenge.

It kicks off on Wednesday, May 31st and ends on Friday, June 30th.

You must work out for at least 30 minutes every single day for 31 days. A workout means you break a sweat. Alternative option: you must complete 31 full workouts in 31 days. We have had past challengers who have schedule limitations bust out two workouts in a day to stay on track. You do you.

You must try at least two new things to challenge your fitness game.

You must workout outdoors at least 8 times, basically twice each week. Get outside people!

You must workout with a buddy at least 4 times, or once each week.

What’s your thing? 

This challenge has taught me so much about what I truly enjoy when it comes to working out. Hint: It’s not yoga. Maybe you already have a thing you love or maybe you’ll be out there this next month trying new things until you find it, but we want to know what your thing is.

Post a photo of each workout on Instagram to track your workouts. Tag me – @fortyreasons and Jill – @styledbyjill, so we can cheer you on. Also, if you’re not following @styledbyjill on Insta, DO IT! Totally inspiring and really, really good outfits. Use the hashtags #31days31workouts #whatsyourthing #strongnotskinny, if you please.

The most important rule of all is DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. Maybe you can’t find a buddy to work out with or you live in the desert and outdoor workouts are dangerous in the heat, whatever the case may be, do what works for you. The most important thing is to commit to the goal and to get there any way you can.

Oh and did we mention there will be prizes? This go-round, we are working with some cool brands to give out swag to some of our most inspiring challengers. Stay tuned for details, more info and hot tips on crushing this challenge in the next week.

Let’s do this!

Continue Reading

Week 20 – Try a meal kit delivery service because ain’t nobody got time for that.

This post was supposed to be about my cookbook collection. I have a fantastic cookbook collection and I can’t seem to stop acquiring more cookbooks. I love cookbooks with beautiful photography. I love cookbooks that preface a recipe with an essay that teaches you the history of the dish or an important technique. I love old cookbooks and the recipes that are a window into a kitchen and a cook from another lifetime. I love cookbooks that take me to faraway places and introduce to me to flavors I’ve never met.

I like to take a pile of them over to the couch, settle in, and get lost in a kitchen daydream. When a recipe catches my eye, I think about when I will cook it and who would enjoy it. I think about a party that I might have and what time of year it will be and what the table will look like.

Yes, this post was supposed to be about spending more time with my cookbooks. I cherish cookbook time. It’s not about practicality. It’s not about meal planning and grocery shopping and feeding a family. It’s about pleasure. It’s about the time in the kitchen spent creating something delicious and fully enjoying the process. It’s about the joy of feeding people something wonderful or unexpected or comforting. Yes, I love cookbook time and I just don’t get enough of it anymore.

Cooking has become another thing I have to do. I don’t have time to pore over cookbooks and glossy magazines, taking my time crafting menus for the week. I have a picky preschooler who constantly tells me that he will eat asparagus or fish or arugula “when he is a grown-up”. My time is limited. I have a budget. Cooking has become about efficiency and economy. Those aren’t necessarily bad things. Being able to make the most of the food we have is a skill to be sure. But I miss daydreaming about dinner parties and cooking exotic cuisine for appreciative eaters.

I’m two-thirds of the way into this project and while I’ve cracked a cookbook here and there, I haven’t done it with intention. I’m constantly searching for ways to make dinnertime easier and quicker. And I’m a trained cook. I went to culinary school. I’ve cooked professionally. You would think dinner would be a breeze. It’s not. It’s become a burden, which is a huge bummer.

I decided to give the meal kit delivery service a try. Coming around to the idea felt a lot like cheating. Or giving up. Or something in between. But I really needed to unburden myself of the time spent planning, shopping, and cooking. I figured it would save me at least a couple of hours each week meal planning and shopping as I’d just have to run to the store for the essentials. I decided to try out a few different meal kit services using their new customer promo offers and see if it worked for us. For each service we tried, we chose the option to get three meals that feed two adults with each delivery. We are a family of three and our munchkin will only eat some of the food we eat so we are almost always supplementing his plate with fruit, cheese or nuts. I suspect (and hope) we will only be able to get away with this for a little bit longer as he eats more and eats more adventurously.

Each service we tried offered a selection of 6 – 8 recipes to choose from to add to the box for the week. You can choose your delivery date during the week, although some of the services do not deliver on weekends or Mondays. All of the kits came with large recipe cards with straight forward instructions and images outlining how to prepare the dish. All of the services allow you to schedule a delivery and then skip as many weeks as you’d like before your next delivery. All of the services also have assorted options for vegetarians, larger families, and some even have wine pairings. Check out the services we tried and my thoughts on them below.

Lasagna Baked Fusilli with Kale and Mozzarella

Hello Fresh

I ended up getting two shipments from Hello Fresh a few weeks apart mainly because I forgot to skip my shipment. With all of the services, you have to manually edit your calendar so you don’t automatically receive a box. The recipes that we received were:

Juicy Lucy Burger with Tomato-Onion Jam and Arugula Salad

Lasagna-Baked Fusilli with Kale and Mozzarella

Toasted Rice and Shrimp Bowl with Bell Peppers and Corn

Chicken Under a Zucchini Blanket with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Roasted Half-Chicken Dinner with Potato Wedges, Pearl Onions and Carrots

Panko Parm Poulet with Potatoes

The Hello Fresh recipes are the most approachable of the three meal kit services we tried. Meaning, if you are feeding someone who doesn’t like unfamiliar flavors, Hello Fresh will probably be in their comfort zone. This is not to say that the food wasn’t good because we enjoyed all of the meals that we received. It just isn’t super adventurous if that’s what you’re looking for.

My favorites were the Lasagna-Baked Fusili with Kale and Mozzarella (flavorful and satisfying and it made way more than 2 portions), the Toasted Rice and Shrimp Bowl (it reminded me that toasting rice is a super easy extra step that yields deep, delicious flavor), and the Chicken Under a Zucchini Blanket (it was a great way to make a boring chicken breast really tasty).

I like the way Hello Fresh packages their food the best of all three services. All of the ingredients for the dish EXCEPT the protein, come in a neat little box. The protein is kept in a bag between ice packs at the bottom of the box. All of the meal kit deliveries arrive with the protein in the bottom of the box in between ice. Don’t be like my husband and unpack the top part of the box and neglect to look under the ice and throw the chicken, shrimp and beef straight into the garbage on trash day. Don’t. Do. It.

I liked that all I had to do is decide which recipe card picture I liked best and then take the box out of the fridge along with it’s accompanying protein. (Or run to the store to replace the protein that went in the trash). The prep work is relatively easy but the times are all a lie. This isn’t just for Hello Fresh. Across the board, I found times to be longer than the ones listed with very few exceptions. I’m no slouch in the kitchen but don’t try to tell me that the average home cook can wash all the produce, peel and cut potatoes, trim green beans, grate zucchini and the squeeze the hell out of it until it’s dry, and pound out some chicken with a mallet in 10 minutes. I found the total time that the recipe listed to usually be about 50% longer. So a 30 minute recipe usually took 45 minutes. I have no issue with spending 45 minutes cooking. I think that recipe producers know that people are turned off by anything that seems like too much work so they just pretend it doesn’t take as long as it actually will.

With all that said, it’s so nice to cook with all the ingredients assembled in one spot and just follow directions without thinking too hard. I will probably order from Hello Fresh again when I need to feed pickier types because there’s nothing scary in these boxes.

Chicken Meatballs & Fregola Sarda

Blue Apron

We also received two separate shipments of Blue Apron because I neglected to log on and skip a week. It turned out to be great though because my mom was visiting and it was super easy to just look through the cards and either one of us could cook the meal. We cooked the following recipes:

Spanish-Style Potato & Chickpea Stew with Swiss Chard & Aioli

Spaghetti Bolognese with Butter Salad & Creamy Italian Dressing

Green Garlic Pesto Pasta with Butter Lettuce Salad & Creamy Lemon Dressing

Chicken Meatballs & Fregola Sarda with Kale & Sicilian Tomato Sauce

Spice-Rubbed Pork with Sweet Red Onions & Black Beans

Za’atar-Spiced Chicken with Pink Lemon Pan Sauce & Pearl Couscous

Blue Apron had my favorite dish of them all in the Chicken Meatballs & Fregola Sarda. It was seriously so delicious – I will definitely be making it again. The great thing with the recipe cards is that if you fall in love with something, you can recreate it again on your own. I also loved the Potato & Chickpea Stew which made way more than two portions so we made a breakfast hash out of it a few days later. The Za’atar Spiced Chicken was also tasty with really great texture and flavor. The pastas were fine, but nothing super special. The recipes from Blue Apron are more in line with what I like to cook and a little more adventurous than Hello Fresh. I’ll definitely be ordering from Blue Apron again. One thing I didn’t love was the way the food is packaged. All of the food comes in the box but it isn’t sorted by meal save for a small baggie of “knick-knacks” for each recipe. I like not having to gather up the ingredients for the meal so this was a minor inconvenience.

Spicy Beef and Leeks with Udon Noodles

Marley Spoon

Our Marley Spoon delivery had three recipes that were all home runs in my book and they included:

Croque Monsieur Panzanella with Tangy Greens

Spicy Beef and Leeks with Udon Noodles

Harissa Chicken Sandwiches with Carrot Chips

The packaging was similar to Hello Fresh where everything you need is in one bag, which I liked. The recipes all had fantastic flavor and were truly satisfying. I picked up a few little tricks and techniques from the recipes too that I will use again. The gruyere croutons in the panzanella will be a regular addition to my salads and the carrot chips were so addictive and tasty, I will definitely be making them again. I already have my next Marley Spoon delivery scheduled.

I’m planning to try a few other services like Sun Basket and Purple Carrot and I will report back. In the meantime, if you want to try out any of the above, shoot me a message and I will send you one of my invitations for a free box. If you have a meal kit service you love, please share it with me!

I’m not replacing my cherished cookbook time, but it’s been a breath of fresh air to not have to think too much about dinner and to not feel like I’m making the same things over and over again. It actually gives me a little more time to daydream about special Sunday dinners and elegant desserts. It may even free me up to do more of the cooking that I love and that’s a win in my book.

 

Continue Reading

The 3rd Trimester List

 

It’s the Fiiiinaaaaallll Countdown! I’m already into the final trimester of this 40-week project to gestate an adult woman. As a reminder, I am not pregnant, I just like really confusing analogies.

Confession time. I’ve fallen a scooch behind on my to do list and now I have to cram. Classic Emily. I’m going to be doubling up some weeks in order to get through my list on time and I’m okay with that because as far as I’m concerned, this project has been a raging success.

If you look at my original to do list here, you will see all of the items I still need to complete in bold.

The list below is my plan for the duration of the project and you’ll see makeup assignments listed in italics. Things I could use outside help with are highlighted in an irritating shade of lime green so you know just how much I need your help.

Stick with me guys, I got this!

Week 27 – April 11 – 17 – Stop interrupting. Sometimes I can’t stop myself.

Week 28 – April 18 – 24 – Stop saying I’m sorry for no reason.

Makeup work: 

Week 20 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks.  Try a meal kit delivery service because ain’t nobody got time for that.

Week 27 – Stop interrupting. Sometimes I can’t stop myself.

Week 29 – April 25 – May 1 – Go for a walk on the beach by myself.

Week 30 – May 2 – 8 – Don’t spend any money on non-essentials for an entire month. Stick to my budget.

Makeup Work: Week 22 – Go TV & non-essential phone use free for 1 week.

Week 31 – May 9 – 15 – FREEBIE

Makeup Work: Week 23 – Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens.

Week 32 – May 16 – 22 – Start a babysitting swap. Because babysitters cost a lot of dollars. Anyone? Anyone want to do this?

Week 33 – May 23 – 29 – Learn Snapchat.

Makeup Work: Week 11 – Don’t complain about anything for an entire week.

Week 34 – May 30 – June 5 – Join a book club. Who wants me? Any takers in San Diego County?

Week 35 – June 6 – 12 – Do a mud run. Planning to do the Marine Corps Mud Run at Camp Pendleton. WHO IS COMING WITH ME?!

Makeup Work: Week 21 – Make plans more often with my girlfriends. Find a mentor. Anyone know any female bloggers, writers, or entrepreneurs that they want to connect 

Week 36 – June 13 – 19 – Try stand-up paddle boarding.

Makeup Work: Week 5 – Put down the remote and read a book already!

Week 37 – June 20 – 26 – Run a 5K at a 9 minute mile pace.

Week 38 – June 27 – July 3 – Start the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge.

Week 39 – July 4 – 10 – Teach Little C to swim.

Week 40 – July 11 – 17 – Create a community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Week 25 – Visit a National Park I haven’t been to before

The first National Parks my husband and I visited together were Zion and Bryce Canyon back in 2012. We’d camped together several times but we’d recently inherited a bunch of my parents old camping gear and were ready for a longer camping trip. I think it was the combination of the sheer beauty of the parks, the next-level comfort that we had with all of our new gear, and the fact that we were disconnected from our daily routine for five blissful, dusty days that made us fall in love with the National Park Service.

There really is no better place to be wowed by nature and the outdoors all day long than in one our nation’s parks. Since that Utah trip five years ago, we’ve camped at or visited Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Glacier, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Death Valley, and Rocky Mountain National Parks. We have list of parks we want to visit (hint: it’s all of them) and as soon as we wrap up a park trip, we begin talking about where we want to go next. Some time last summer we decided that we needed to visit Pinnacles National Park, which has been a National Monument since 1908 but only became a National Park in 2013. #thanksobama

We didn’t know a lot about Pinnacles other than that it was located east of Monterey in San Benito County, that there were some caves to hike in, and that we wouldn’t have cell service. Sign me up! We planned a trip for the end of March knowing it gets really hot there in the summer and really chilly there in the winter. We extended the camping invite to some of our Bay Area friends and I set an alarm on my phone to book the campsites 6 months out. If you’re not a planner and you’re not familiar with the National Park reservations system, sites typically only open up to book 6 months prior. With really popular parks like Yosemite, the spots are snatched up the same day they open so you have to be prepared. A lot of parks have first-come, first served campgrounds but that kind of flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants gives me anxiety. I like to have everything buttoned up when I’m traveling with my entire kitchen and bedroom in my car.

We had a great group of families camping with us and we took up four campsites in a prime location in the campground. We had hammocks strung in the shady spots. We watched condors soar overhead in the evening. Our cooler nearly got carried off my a family of dog-sized raccoons. It was dreamy. The campground was green and wooded, hilly and peaceful.

 

It wasn’t until we hiked deep into the park to explore the caves did I really understand why Pinnacles is National Park status-worthy. It’s an ancient lava bed that formed towering red rocks, canyons, and talus caves that create awe-inducing views. We hiked through meadows of wildflowers, criss-crossing over streams until we reached Balconies Cave. Balconies was no joke.

It’s pitch black and headlamps are a must. There’s a lot of scrambling over rocks in the dark and some tight squeezes involved. At one point, I was on the verge of turning around out of sheer panic but then I heard my sweet 3-year old whimpering as he climbed into the darkness towards his dad whispering “I’m being very brave, I’m being very brave” over and over again. I realized I better get my sh*t together for my preschooler’s sake. It was well worth it. When we emerged into the daylight on the other side of the cave, we were gifted some gorgeous canyon views on the meandering downhill trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hiked Bear Gulch Cave a few days later which is probably the most popular hike in the park and a lot easier to navigate. Headlamps are still handy but it’s not as dark and spooky. When you climb out of the cave, you end up at a reservoir surrounded by red rock. It’s a perfect spot to picnic and squeal at water snakes swimming around.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a small general store in the campground and a swimming pool that opened for the season the weekend we were there. The rangers are super-friendly and even after four nights of tent sleeping, we were not quite ready to leave.

On the way home, we talked about the Grand Canyon and Great Basin and Yellowstone and Crater Lake and daydreamed about where we’d go next. We imagined ourselves back in the hammock, swaying lazily, watching the sunlight filter through the leaves overhead. We pictured our cell phones with zero bars and their only functions to take pictures or play music. We thought about the kids running around squealing and climbing trees and toasting marshmallows. We thought about the laughing and the smiling and then smiled some more. And we knew it was possible to be homesick for somewhere you don’t live and may never go again.

 

Continue Reading

Week 24 – Take a Leap of Faith and Celebrate!

This week was a FREEBIE on my to do list, meaning I could pick anything I wanted to do this week. But it really never was a freebie. It was always a placeholder for something I’ve been intending to do for quite some time now. Something I have found excuse after excuse not to do.

It’s not the right time.

I have it pretty good.

It’s not going to be better anywhere else.

What if I don’t have the drive or the discipline for it?

Can we really afford to do this?

Back around the time I launched this blog, I made a decision that my excuses were just excuses and that I had to find reasons to go after what I wanted. 40 Reasons was born as a way to push me to be accountable to my goals and start doing instead of just thinking about doing.

A few weeks ago, I did one of those big things.

I quit my job.

My safe, secure, snuggly job. I said thank you, it’s been great, but I would like to be uncomfortable and afraid for a bit. No, I didn’t really say that, but that’s how it felt. I have a good gig. I work from home. I like what I do. It’s pretty flexible. But I knew there was something missing. And I knew I wanted more. And it took me a while but I realized I wasn’t going to find it working for someone else.

So, here I am. Standing on the edge of a cliff. Today was my last day at my comfy, cozy job and I’m stepping off the edge into the unknown world of full-time freelance. And it is THRILLING!

My entire day consisted of trying to check the last few items off my to do list while realizing every 5 minutes that this was really it. That I’m really going to be my own boss. That I really did it. I considered taping plastic all over my home office and having a one-woman champagne-spraying locker room style celebration, but that seemed excessive.

Then I considered taking the champagne bottle into the shower because less cleanup, but that seemed like a waste of champagne.

So now I’m just drinking the champagne and taking a moment to high-five myself. We’re heading out tomorrow for a camping trip and some time to disconnect and just enjoy time with family and friends. After that, I’ll be back in my home office hustling for myself. In case you’re interested in what I’ll be doing, aside from way too many Orangetheory Fitness workouts, you can check out my work here.

Now excuse me while I polish off this bubbly.

Makeup Work Update

If you’re a real stickler for details, you may have noticed that my last to do list item that I posted about was Week 19 and yet here we are at Week 24. In my push to get my new business off the ground, I may have fallen behind in my assignments. Here’s a status check.

Week 20 – February 21 – 27 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks.  Try a meal kit delivery service because ain’t nobody got time for that.

Update: So far, I’ve tested Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, and Marley Spoon is on its way next week. Stay tuned for my not-so-scientific report.

Week 21 – February 28 – March 6 – Make plans more often with my girlfriends. Find a mentor.

Update: This is at the top of my list. As a newly minted #bossbabe, I could use all the help I can get.

Week 22 – March 7 – 13 – Go TV & non-essential phone use free for 1 week.

Update: Oof. This one is the bane of my existence and a thorn in my side. I am going to do it. I just don’t know when.

Week 23 – March 14 – 20 – Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens.

Update: I’ve been practicing visualization in lieu of meditation. Post coming soon.

Week 25 – March 28 – April 3 – Visit a national park I haven’t been to before.

Update: We leave for Pinnacles National Park tomorrow! I’ll be off the grid and rebooting in the nick of time.

Continue Reading

Week 19 – Be more present and engaged with my kiddo

We all beat ourselves up from time to time. Whether it’s about how much we ate or what we didn’t get done or how much money we spent, there are a million little ways to make yourself feel like a pile of steaming garbage. But I think most of us can move on from those little hiccups and realize that they aren’t failures, but just a normal part of being human.

All that goes out the window when it comes to being a mom.

The inadequacy we feel, the guilt, the shame, the what-in-the-actual-f@#k-am-I-doing, literally knows no bounds. Being a mom sometimes feels like swimming in an ocean with no bottom and trying not to get sucked into the current. And there’s not just one current, there are a million currents pulling you in different directions. And sometimes it’s hard to know which one will suck you under and which one will carry you back to a place where your feet touch the ground. And sometimes you do know and you choose the one that sucks you under because you are just so damn tired.  Fine! Just have 4 bananas for dinner. I GIVE UP!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of mom I want to be and how I want to parent lately…now that I’m three and a half years in and clearly should have thought about this sooner. But really I’ve been thinking about it because my little person requires very, very different things of me than he did a year ago or even six months ago. And I’m beginning to understand that just when I have it figured out, he has moved on to the next mystery phase. It’s like solving a freaking puzzle that rearranges itself entirely 5 minutes after you solve it. And throws the pieces at you. And then eats one just to spite you.

The ocean of mom guilt that I’ve been swimming in for some time now is the feeling that I need to be more present and engaged with my kid. I feel like I spend so much time trying to distract him so I can get work done and chores checked off my list and do something for my damn self and I can’t do any of it without getting smacked in the face with a big salty wave that says “YOU SHOULD BE MORE PRESENT!”

Every time I sit down to play with my kid, within a few minutes, my eyes are darting around the house noticing all the messes and my brain starts running through the list of all the things I should be doing. And I’ll be honest, sometimes I just don’t want to play Legos. No that’s a lie, almost all the time I don’t want to play Legos. I would rather do any other kind of play with my kid than Legos. It was fun at first but GO AWAY LEGOS!

It’s a horrible cycle of feeling inadequate then trying to be a better mom, whatever the hell that means, and then trying to juggle it all and feeling inadequate again. It’s like I take out a measuring stick and use it to compare myself to other moms and then beat myself with it. I only have 1 child! I should be able to manage this better. I work from home. I should be able to get more done around the house! I should be this, I should be that, I should, I should, I should!!! I’m at that place where I feel like I’m doing 300 things at once and I’m doing all of them poorly. That is an incredibly defeating feeling. It’s like I need to step off the hamster wheel I’m on and break the entire wheel to unburden myself of all these things I feel like I have to do.

And there ARE things I can unburden myself from doing. Recently, I asked my dear husband to take over laundry. I just needed to get rid of some of the household chores from my list. And he was willing to do it and didn’t complain. I asked him over the phone on his way home from work. I probably hadn’t showered and it was 5:00 and dinner wasn’t going to be ready and I was still working. I cried uncontrollably after I hung up because I felt so guilty. And I was totally shocked by my own reaction. Why did I feel so guilty that I couldn’t do everything? Why do I think it’s my job to do EVERYTHING? I’ll spare you the long-winded sidebar about the messages women receive and the expectations that society puts on us. The short answer is that it’s because I’m a woman and a mom. I must do everything and be everything to everyone and if not then I’m a failure. Phew. Saying it out loud is the first step because that’s when you realize that you are letting something define you that is completely and utterly ridiculous and impossible. And it’s a big fat lie.

So this exercise of trying to be more engaged with my kiddo unearthed some really complicated feelings and opened my eyes to a few hard truths. It’s time to let go of unrealistic expectations of myself and ask for help more. It’s time to decide what’s really important to me and do those things first. There are a lot of things that just don’t matter that take up my time. It’s time to stop multi-tasking and just focus on one FREAKING thing at a time. It’s time to find ways to play with my kid that doesn’t involve Legos and there is nothing wrong with that! It’s time for my son to see a mom and dad that have an equitable share in the family responsibilities.* He needs to see what real life looks like and that there is time for play and there is time for work. It’s time to do what works for me instead of what I think I should be doing.

It’s time to lower my expectations of myself to something a little more realistic. Trying to do all of the things does not make me a super mom. Trying to do the important things just might. But I’m not trying to be super mom anymore. I’m just trying to be a good human.

To all the moms out there, trying to do it all, some days doing it with grace and others doing it with the composure of a junkyard dog that hasn’t been fed in a week, give yourself a break and a hug. There’s only one of you. You’re awesome. Call me. Let’s go get wine. Or ice cream. Or coffee. Or take naps somewhere.

Notes:

*For the record, my husband is not allergic to having an equitable share of responsibilities, I just have a hard time delegating and letting go.

I’m so so so far behind on posting because see above. I’ve got a little catch up to do on the following list, which you can see has been edited ever so slightly.

Week 20 – February 21 – 27 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks.  Try a meal kit delivery service because ain’t nobody got time for that.

Week 21 – February 28 – March 6 – Make plans more often with my girlfriends. Find a mentor. (Working on it! If you are a boss babe and you want a mentee, you know where to find me.)

Week 22 – March 7 – 13 – Go TV & non-essential phone use free for 1 week. (Yikes. I might have to overlap this with week 25)

Week 23 – March 14 – 20 – Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens. (I’m a day late but I’m starting it ASAP!)

Week 24 – March 21 – 27 – FREEBIE (TBD)

Week 25 – March 28 – April 3 – Visit a national park I haven’t been to before. (We’re off to Pinnacles National Park this week!)

Week 26 – April 4 – 10 – Update my wardrobe with a few quality pieces instead of throwing clearance items in my cart while on a Target run. (I’ve been trying out Stitch Fix – report coming soon!)

 

Continue Reading

Week 18 – How to date your husband…no seriously how? Can someone tell me?

I’ve been married for almost 14 years, since I was a young idiot who had zero clue what marriage actually meant. Our first decade of marriage was largely child-free. I won’t say it was easier B.K. (before kiddo) because I don’t think that’s quite true. Sure, we had all the time in the world to enjoy each other’s company and our date nights were unencumbered by the fiscal and scheduling challenges of securing a babysitter. But we also had all the time in the world to think about ourselves and what we were or were not getting from each other. I’ll admit, I generated a lot more of this than my husband. Okay, I generated most of it. But having only each other to worry about puts a lot more focus on the highs and lows of a normal relationship. When you have the life sucked out of you by a preschooler, you aren’t consumed as much by what’s working and what isn’t because as long as everyone is fed, clothed and their butt is wiped, everything is working, am I right?

It’s a lesson I wish I could teach my B.K. self. I want to yell at her and say “Just enjoy what you have! Soon you won’t even remember the last time you had a real conversation!”

I put “date my husband” on my list because as I began to create a list of things that I wanted more of in my life, I realized that QT with my husband was severely lacking. Our quality time together happens after the kiddo has gone to bed and it usually includes exciting things like: getting stuff ready for tomorrow, putting the kiddo back to bed twice, and finally sinking into the couch to watch an hour of TV before going to bed. We usually sneak in a couple of hand squeezes without words while we watch TV just to let the other one know “I love you but I’m too tired to speak”.

I’d love to live in a world where my bank account says “Girl! Get a babysitter! You two could use some time together!

But my bank account is more like…hmm…that’s gonna be a no.

If babysitters and money grew on trees, there would be no issue. We’d be out on a date night every other week. But alas, they do not and we are at home on the couch trying to stay awake for more than one episode of Homeland.

I decided that with the limitations of schedule and money that I could get creative with date nights in. I came up with a genius date night for Valentine’s Day that I knew would be a home run. Once our sweet little angel went to bed, I had a blind bourbon tasting complete with a semi-homemade (thanks Trader Joe’s!) pairing menu to surprise my husband. I imagined that we would sit around a candlelit table sipping on bourbon and catching up on a week’s worth of conversation.

What actually happened is that my son was sent home from daycare early with a fever and a double ear infection and we sipped bourbon and snacked on our dinner while taking turns cuddling him and trying to put him back to bed. We enjoyed our last round of bourbon as he drifted off to sleep which we took as a cue to both nod off on the couch mid-conversation. Total home run.

Here’s what I learned from this date night face plant.

  1. Take advantage of the quiet moments when they present themselves. There are plenty of nights when our little one is snoozing and we choose TV over conversation.
  2. Planning can be tricky when you have unpredictable circumstances named Calvin. Have some ideas on deck for date night in to take advantage of those windows of time.
  3. Even if things don’t go as planned, the effort still matters to the person on the receiving end.
  4. Get a babysitter. Even if it’s not as often as I’d like, it’s important. This reminds me…start a babysitting swap is on my list…

If any of you have great ideas for how to do date night in or how to make date night out more attainable, please send help!

 

Continue Reading

Week 17 – Get a good night’s sleep

So my original task for this week was to stick to my budget, which I’m conveniently ignoring. I’ve been sick and I’m struggling to shake a hacking cough that is keeping me up at night and quite frankly, I’m exhausted. The thing is, I’m exhausted at least 3 or 4 days each week, sick or healthy. I don’t often get really restful sleep. I wake up in the middle of the night for various reasons (I’m looking at you 3 year old) and then I can’t fall back asleep. I lay awake recalling every item on my to do list and fretting over a perceived problem that feels like the weight of the world. This goes on for at least a half hour and sometimes much longer. Eventually, I pull out my phone and start browsing Facebook to distract myself from my own head. I usually fall back asleep with an hour or so left before my alarm is set to go off and then I wake up with a pounding headache wondering how I am going to get through the day without a nap.

Some weeks are better than others. Some times of year are more stressful than others. But right now it seems like I’m on an endless stretch of shitty sleep. If you’re perpetually tired, you know how much it impacts everything, especially your mood and productivity. I’ve gotten pretty good at pushing through and using things like exercise and caffeine to get me going, but enough is enough.

I’m going to get a good night’s sleep, DAMN IT! I’ve been reading up on good sleep habits and “sleep hygiene” and thinking about what causes my disrupted sleep. From what I’ve read, there are some things I should be doing to attain truly restful sleep. I’ve learned about setting a sleep schedule and sticking to it, light and noise interference, how temperature, pillow position, alcohol, exercise, caffeine, and medication impact sleep, and sleep journaling. There’s a lot of information out there and I need to distill it down to what is going to work for me. Here’s what I’ll be doing in the next week to ensure I get a good night’s sleep.

  1. Sleep schedule – I am generally in bed by 10 and up between 5 and 6, depending on the day. I don’t think my schedule is the problem, but I’m going to give myself at least a 7.5 hour window to get the rest I need.
  2. Phone use – I bought an alarm clock and a nightlight for my bathroom a few months back when I was really working on breaking my phone addiction. My phone still lives by my bed. I’m going to leave it in the kitchen to charge and use my alarm clock and nightlight. I think this will help limit my brain activating browsing time before bed and IF I wake up and can’t fall back asleep.
  3. Take care of my body – this sounds pretty broad but it’s actually a few rules that I’ll be abiding by to help my sleep habits. No caffeine after my morning coffee or tea. I do this mostly anyway but I occasionally have caffeine later in the day. I’m going to continue with regular exercise. I’m swearing off any medication that keeps me awake or makes me groggy the next day. Luckily, I can do this because I don’t have any medication that I rely on. The one I think might really help me is minding my alcohol intake before bed. Did you know that when your body metabolizes alcohol, it actually wakes you up? The rule is that you can metabolize about 1 drink per hour, so if you’ve had 3 drinks, you need to stop drinking 3 hours before bedtime so you won’t be awakened by your body. This shouldn’t be difficult, I just think I’ll be more aware when considering topping off my glass of wine…again.
  4. Tracking my sleep – I’ll be wearing my FitBit Charge 2 to track how much sleep I’m actually getting. I’ve been wearing it the past few nights and it seems pretty spot on. I’ve been between 6 and 7.5 hours. I’d looooove to get to a full 8. It also has this awesome function for relaxation breathing. It guides you through 2 – 5 minutes of breathing exercises and it is great right before bedtime.
  5. Dealing with my anxiety – I don’t have full blown crippling anxiety like some, but I do struggle with anxiousness in the middle of the night and an inability to relax easily. I’m working with JoyWell Counseling on tackling these issues because, to be honest, I think it’s probably the root of my sleep problems and ALL OF MY PROBLEMS in general.

I’ll be doing this for the next week or so to see if I can get consistently good sleep. I’ll report back on my findings. In the meantime, let’s all just drink in this adorable snoozing koala and let me know if you have any tricks for getting good rest!

Continue Reading