Finished is better than perfect.

I’m a little behind right now on blog posts. And pretty much life in general. I’ve sat down a few times this week to write an update on kicking off the 52 Hike Challenge and then I remember I also need to write about my new focus on being #strongnotskinny. And then I remember I haven’t written a proper update on my #31days31workouts challenge. And then I curl up in the fetal position to cry and have trouble getting into the fetal position and I realize I didn’t write a proper recap of my yoga endeavor. And then I wish I hadn’t already watched the Gilmore Girls reboot on Netflix because I would rather be in Stars Hollow than at my desk.

I don’t have a time machine to go back and write those posts when I was supposed to write them and I don’t have a secret stash of extra hours hidden in my closest. If I did, you can bet I would use them to catch up on sleep or watch all five seasons of The Wire for a third time and not for writing these posts.

But who cares if this isn’t perfect? I’m not striving for perfection, I’m striving to finish, and last time I checked, I’m doing that damn thing. So I’m going to flip this post on its head and do something I didn’t plan. It’s a brand new year and I’m one third of the way through this 40-week project and I’m going to do the blog equivalent of a sitcom clip show and recap where I’ve been and what’s next. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves how far we’ve come so we can see the progress we’ve made and say to ourselves “Wow. You’re kind of amazing!”

Without further ado, cue the wavy screen effects and let’s jump back in time, shall we?

The First Trimester

The first trimester of my 40-week gestation of an adult me began with…

Week 1 – October 11 – 17 – Start a blog. Because writing gives me perspective.

I’d been saying I was going to start a blog for a looooooong time. I still remember the sick feeling I had in my stomach when I posted the link to my blog on Facebook and invited friends to like it.

All I could think was “What am I doing? No one will read this! This is stupid. I’m stupid.” Then I slapped myself and said “You’re amazing and this is a good idea. Now get your shit together and let’s do this.” 

Week 2 – October 18 – 24 – Run a 10k.

 

 

This week gifted me one of my favorite pictures of myself ever.

 

 

 

 

 

Week 3 – October 25 – 31 – Learn to cook treasured family recipes. And share them with my family.

lemon meringue pie

 

 

This week I learned a lot of stuff about my mom through making pie. I also learned that pie is really hard and I’m cool just having a cheese plate for dessert. But mostly, there were some really beautiful life lessons.

 

 

Week 4 – November 1 – 7 – Put down the remote and read a book already!

 

This week turned into ‘Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem.‘ because it needed to. You can read my original post about my issues with being phone addicted here. If you’re wondering how I’m doing, I will tell you. I’m doing better. A little better. I am not on the phone as much as I used to be and I’m much more present for my husband and kiddo. But I did start browsing on it at night before bed. Oof. Just writing this down makes me want to recommit to the no bed phone use again. But progress!

 

 

Week 5 – November 8 – 14 – FREEBIE.

This week ended up being the previous week’s displaced ‘Put down the remote and read a book already!‘ I read MOST OF Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It’s a fantastic book and I still haven’t finished it. I completely blame the election, which I haven’t spoken of since this post. I really can’t even give it too much energy because I’m still shocked that we, and by we I mean Russia, elected a president that cares so little for actual information and facts and truth and so much for retaliatory tweets and bullying. I can’t even muster a joke about it.

Week 6 – November 15 – 21 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks.

This week turned out to be ‘Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny.‘ I needed to refocus my energy on this with the holidays coming. As an aside, I have been cooking a ton from my cookbooks since I started this blog, I  just haven’t taken the time to photograph anything.

Week 7 – November 22 – 28 – Camp in the winter.

 

This week brought a Thanksgiving camping trip and some early morning snuggle time in the tent. It also brought on an accidental 10 mile hike with a 3 year old, but man, the views were worth it!

 

 

 

 

Week 8 – November 29 – December 5 – Share our Christmas stocking tradition.

 

The most rewarding thing to check off my list so far. After this post, I had a really beautiful, overwhelming response to Charlie’s stocking. I mentioned having the beginnings of an idea to grow the tradition in this post and I will be sharing it with you in the near future!

 

 

 

Week 9 – December 6 – 12 – Try yoga. I’ve been told I have the flexibility of an 80 year old woman.

I started the 31 days 31 workouts challenge this month and I thought this would be a good time to try yoga. I made a commitment to go to one class each week for the entire month. The outcome? I feel slightly better about yoga than I did when I started the challenge. Actually, what’s a little more than slightly? A smidge? A hair? It’s still more than that, but it’s not a lot better. Yoga is really uncomfortable. You’re basically supposed to hold really awkward positions that start to hurt and you’re supposed to focus on your breathing instead of the fact that your foot is totally cramping and you might fall over and fart at the same time. Despite all this, I ALWAYS left class feeling peaceful and restored. There was just that middle part when I was stabby and hateful. Basically, I might do it again, but I just don’t know if I’m a yoga person.

In this post about yoga, I mentioned that tea is not my cup of tea. (Tee hee…tea hee!!) Some of you let me know that you VERY STRONGLY DISAGREE. Well, for all you teabaggers out there (tea hee), you will be happy to know that I may have converted. My sister-in-law, who either doesn’t read my blog or does and hates me, sent me this really pretty ceramic tea cup with an infuser. She also sent some loose White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos Tea from Teavana that smelled like angel kisses and baby snuggles. I decided to give it a try and it’s replaced my morning cold brew four out of the last seven days. I’m actually going to buy more tea today and try out different flavors. What is happening to me? Is it because I did yoga? Why am I enjoying tea? Am I going to start drinking scotch next?!

Week 10 – December 13 – 19 – Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem.

Since I already worked on the phone issue with moderate success and I’ve shuffled around a bunch of weeks, I took a FREEBIE here. I decided to make this week about creating Christmas memories with my family. In theory, it was a lovely idea. The one thing I didn’t factor in was that my family includes a three year old that recently yelled at me for cooking bacon too loud. In the end, our Christmas memories included a lot of watching videos of people building Legos but even more great times with family, friends and ugly sweaters.

 

Week 11 – December 20 – 26 – Don’t complain about anything for an entire week.

I was too busy to complain and too busy to remember not to complain. I have no idea what happened.

Week 12 – December 27 – January 2 – Start the 52 Hike Challenge.

This week I totally rocked. I finished 31 straight days of working out for my #31days31workouts challenge on the last day of 2016 with my first hike of the 52 Hike Challenge. I followed that up the next day by kicking off 2017 with my second hike of 52. If you couldn’t tell, I like a challenge because it gives me a goal to work toward and makes me accountable. I never in a million years thought I’d be one of those annoying people who posts about their workouts on social media, but it works for me and so I do it.

I first did the 31 day challenge last year, December 2015, at a point when I really needed it. About 4 months earlier I had started to get physically active again after a period of health issues and difficult pregnancies that left me unable to exercise. I had weight to lose and I had a lot of work to do to get my fitness back. Around December, my commitment was starting to waver and my weight loss had plateaued and I was in danger of losing the ground that I had gained.

My dear friend invited me to the do the challenge with her and it terrified me. I knew in my gut that I needed to do it. I knew it would keep me on track. I agreed but I didn’t think I’d be able to finish it. The first week felt like I had been working out every day for a year and that it would never end. I got a really bad cold and still muscled my way through. It was all so public that I didn’t want to give up. I couldn’t fail. And I didn’t!

It changed me in a way that I can’t totally explain. It made me realize that I was capable of things I didn’t even know that I was capable of yet. It made me realize that I could not make excuses anymore. I may not always finish everything I start but I own when I choose to give up. That challenge helped give birth to 40 Reasons because it made me know that I could do anything I wanted to do as long as I made the choice to do it.

That challenge led to another one in the summer and then another one to close out 2016. It has grown to include more of my friends and acquaintances and a lot of people I wouldn’t know until they jumped in on the challenge. I have been so inspired watching everyone that participated.

There’s the friend from college that doesn’t work out on Sundays for religious reasons so she made up the missed workouts by doubling up on several days.

There’s the friend that despite holidays, very cold weather, and a trip to Mexico, showed up every day to do a challenging workout and even got her family involved.

There’s the friend who emailed me quietly to tell me that she wasn’t posting on social media but 10 of her friends were doing the challenge together and holding each other accountable.

And there are the people that started the challenge and didn’t finish or didn’t workout every day but still tried it and that is a badass thing to attempt in December. Literally the busiest month of the year. You guys all rock and I can’t wait to see what challenges you take on next.

Week 13 – January 3 – 9 – Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny.

I’ve kicked this off with a whole lot of food prep and an ongoing commitment to fitness. Stay tuned for the next post to learn what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and how much I already want to give up but won’t.

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Week 11 – Wait, what was I supposed to be doing?

As I unwind myself from a tangled ball of Christmas lights and gift wrap, I find myself thinking, wait, what was I supposed to be doing? And then I remember. This past week was about not complaining. Um yeah…this past week was about family, Christmas, eating everything, and making merry. I completely forgot about not complaining. The good news is that I was too busy to complain much and did not use the eye roll emoji once when texting, but I definitely did complain. Even though I dropped the ball on this item on my list, I feel great about the way the week went.

First things first. Charlie’s Stocking was a raging success. A lot of great things happened in Charlie’s name this year. And not just from our family, but from friends and strangers and people I haven’t seen or talked to in years. Because of Charlie, toys were donated to less fortunate kids, blood was given, wilderness was preserved, homeless were fed and kept warm, money went to education centers in Africa and to foundations that fight cancer and help support the families of pediatric cancer patients, and to a very special NICU, and the special people that work in that very special NICU were fed on Christmas Eve, kindness and compassion was spread all over the place, and time was taken to appreciate and love those around us.

The best, best, best part of Charlie’s stocking this year is that it wasn’t just about Charlie. We were introduced to other people who had lost loved ones and were able to give and do kind things in the name and memory of their loved ones. The one thing I remember so vividly after we lost Charlie is that I just wanted to hear his name said by other people because it felt like he wasn’t so far out of reach. I wanted to know people remembered him and that he mattered. Giving a small piece of that to other people who have also had their heart broken by loss made my heart feel full. It’s spawned an idea in me that keeps tickling a little corner of my brain and the more I scratch it, the bigger it gets. Once it turns into a full blown rash, I will share it with you. Just know I have big plans for Charlie’s stocking. Or hives. I’m not sure which yet.

This past week, despite not completing my prescribed task, was also a success because I’m kicking ass on my 31 days 31 workouts challenge. I only have 3 workouts to go to put this one in the books and I feel great about it. I also feel like I’m made of 80% butter, cream and goose fat, but January and a fridge makeover are just a few days away.Until then, I’ll just be floating on this leftover prime rib in a sea of cream-laden potatoes. I’m looking forward to taking my fitness to new levels in January and feeding myself all the vegetables that have been replaced by cookies and animal fat in December.

A quick note about the image accompanying this post. It’s a dog wearing funny glasses. It doesn’t go with anything but since it’s a dog wearing funny glasses it goes with everything.

What’s up next

Week 12 – December 27 – January 2 – Start the 52 Hike ChallengeOne hike each week for a year or a total of 52 hikes. Can’t wait to get this one going! Who is joining me?

Week 13 – January 3 – 9 – Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny. I’ve technically already been working on this but I have big plans for January in terms of fitness and I’m guessing I’m not alone in this.

Week 14 – January 10 – 16 – Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens. Ommmm.

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Here, let me shove some Christmas memories down your throat

christmas memories

I had a freebie week this week and I decided that I was going to focus on creating Christmas memories with my family. It’s been a rough couple of weeks here in the Davis household with our 3-year old Grinch. We’ve been dealing with tantrums and general naughtiness which can really suck the Christmas cheer out of a room. I figured if I planned some fun holiday activities for him to enjoy, it would coax my sweet little snuggle bear out of hiding.

[Cue the sound of the universe laughing at a mom who thinks she can control her kid’s emotions.]

Personally, it’s been easier this year to keep my sanity through the madness of Christmas planning, shopping, baking, wrapping, cleaning, mailing, cooking, and merrymaking because we’ve had Charlie’s stocking  at the front of our minds. Even with everything on my to do list [phone book sized list lands on desk with a thud] I’ve had a sense of peace and contentment because giving makes me feel that way. My little munchkin though is in sensory overload with presents, lights, and Christmas cookies and can’t keep his shit together.

I want to create Christmas memories for him and I want him to share the joy and excitement I have for the season, but you can’t really force something like that. Especially when someone is angry with you for giving them milk in a blue cup instead of a red one. He’s also obsessed with Legos and watching You Tube videos of people building Legos and it’s basically the only thing he wants to do right now. In the past week I’ve offered trips to look at beautiful holiday light displays, an afternoon of baking Christmas cookies and treats, a date with friends to watch a parade of boats decked out with Christmas lights on the San Diego Bay, and an assortment of Christmas movies to watch together as a family.

His response every time: I just want to play Legos. Or I just really NEED to watch Lego Police Station with the guy building it.

My response every time: Don’t you want to make yummy Christmas cookies with Mommy? You can eat as many cookies as you like! Don’t you want to watch Polar Express with Mommy and Daddy? You can have Christmas cookies!!! [growing more desperate and high-pitched] Don’t you want to go see the Christmas lights with your friends? You can have 6,000 cookies!!!! Take the cookies and love me!!!!

I am cringing writing that. I’ve been in full blown bribe and threat mode probably since we started potty training last month and I just dragged it right into the holiday season like Santa’s bag of toys. I believe it’s reached its apex. My kid is looking at me like cookies, shmookies, you’re just going to dangle one in front of my face again in an hour. I’m experiencing that part of parenting where I know I’m doing everything wrong and I have to hit the reset button.

I realized about halfway through the week as I tried to shove another Christmas memory down his throat that I was doing this waaaaaay more for me than I was for him. I was feeling like such a “good mom” planning activities and being patient and rolling with it when he rejected my idea for the 532nd time, but the reality is all he wants is for me to sit down and play Legos with him and watch those damn Brick Builder videos on You Tube. So ya know what? That’s what I’m going to do. 2016 will forever be known as the Christmas when I watched the construction of Lego Prison Island to the sound of some really bad Dubstep more than four dozen times. And just like that, a holiday memory is born.

What’s up next

Week 11 – December 20 – 26 – Don’t complain about anything for an entire week. I’m going to be focusing on kindness and compassion, having patience and being cheerful. I’m also going to barf out every complaint I can think of in the next 24 hours because, oh my goodness, this is not going to be easy.

Week 12 – December 27 – January 2 – Start the 52 Hike ChallengeI am going to sign up for this on New Year’s Eve – I hope some of you will join me!

Week 13 – January 3 – 9 – Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny. I’ve technically already been working on this but I have big plans for January in terms of fitness and I’m guessing I’m not alone in this.

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Week 9 – Cool People Do Yoga

Have you ever had something you wanted to do because in your head it just seemed like a cool thing to do? The idea of it just feels like something that should be a part of your life even though you have never done it and don’t know anything about it. And you can’t quite figure out why it seems cool but you just think it is. Like, I want to be a person who surfs. Or I want to be a person who drinks black coffee and likes it. Or I want to be a connoisseur of fine Scotch. For the record, I will never do any of those things. I unapologetically like my coffee over ice with sugar and cream and Scotch tastes like a smoky rock to me. Also my fear of sharks and sea monsters is greater than my desire to be a cool surfer chick with washboard abs.

But there are definitely some things on my 40 Reasons list that are cool inside my head. Yoga is one of those things. In my head, people who do yoga are like ballerinas: long, lithe, and limber. They are graceful and strong and wear adorable messy buns and have cute butts and drink tea. Sidebar: I have no use for tea. It’s hot water with seasoning. There are a million things I’d rather drink before I drink tea, Scotch included. But there’s a part of me that wants to drink tea wearing a messy bun sitting on my cute yoga butt.

There are obstacles to my yoga fantasy though. I have the flexibility of an 80 year old woman, although I’m certain there are plenty of octogenarians that are more limber than me. Another obstacle is that I don’t like doing things I’m not very good at. My downward dog is more like downward frog because I’m bent and making grunts that are not unlike a deep ribbit sound. I tend to stay in my comfort zone which is half the reason I started this blog in the first place. Before this week, I’d tried yoga exactly twice. I liked the mindfulness element of it and how clear-headed and mentally relaxed I felt after. I hated the awkwardness and discomfort of the poses. I decided to put yoga on my list because cute butt fantasy and I think anything that makes me clear-headed and relaxed needs to be in my life.

The majority of my fitness regimen is made up of hiking, running, and body weight HIIT workouts. They are sweaty, heart-pumping, wind-sucking forms of exercise so yoga feels foreign to me. It’s so much more controlled, and still and uncomfortable. And I’m okay with that. It means I have room to grow…right?

I took my first yoga class in about 5 years last week at my gym. I loved how I felt mentally but I didn’t get that post-workout I-just-got-my-butt-kicked feeling that I crave. But I think that adding some balance and flexibility to my regimen will probably make me perform better in other areas. I’m planning to go to yoga at least once each week this month to see if I improve. I’m also considering trying out a studio that offers different types of classes rather than a one-size-fits-all class at my gym.

In addition to yoga, there are other “cool in my head” things I want to try over the coming months. Stand Up Paddle Boarding, the 52 Hike Challenge and the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge, which I’m hoping will lead to climbing Mt. Whitney, a mud run or Spartan Race, and Zumba. Well, Zumba isn’t really cool in my head, it’s just that my gym offers it and I don’t want to do it at all, but I feel like I should try it because it makes me uncomfortable. And this is all about getting out of my comfort zone. Unless it’s drinking tea. No thank you.

What’s up next

Week 10 – December 13 – 19 – FREEBIE. I decided that this week is going to be about creating holiday memories with my family. It’s been a tough week here in the Davis household with our 3-year old Grinch. My plan is to hypnotize him into a state of holiday cheer with Christmas lights and cocoa.

Week 11 – December 20 – 26 – Don’t complain about anything for an entire week. I’m going to be focusing on kindness and compassion, having patience and being cheerful. See aforementioned Grinch.

Week 12 – December 27 – January 2 – Start the 52 Hike ChallengeHoly moly. I can’t believe the new year is just around the corner and I’ll be upping my commitment to health and fitness with a whole lot of hiking.

 

 

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Week 8 – Our Christmas Tradition – Charlie’s Stocking

I knew when I decided to take on this 40 week project that Charlie’s stocking would be on my list. I assigned it to week 8 because, well, it’s December and the stockings have been hung by the cookbook collection with care. We don’t have a fireplace.

Why it’s on my list

Before I explain Charlie’s stocking, I’ll tell you that I feel like some years I’ve really nailed this tradition and others I’ve sort of mailed it in. I put it on my list because I want it to be the focus of our holiday season, rather than the frenzied schedule of shopping, wrapping, and rushing around like a lunatic. All of those things are still going to happen, but now, especially as my little guy is really getting into Christmas, I want him to see that being kind and serving others is one of the best things we do during the holidays and all year long.

The story behind this tradition begins long before where I’m going to start it. That part of the story would take pages and pages to write and maybe someday I’ll be able to turn the valve and let those words flow out but that day is not today. So this story will start abruptly and it won’t be the whole story and I will be sad writing it and you will be sad reading it, but don’t worry, there are a lot of beautiful things coming.

We have a three-year old named Calvin. He has a big brother named Charlie. Charlie died a year and 10 days before Calvin was born. He was born too soon. He was due in November but born in July. He weighed just shy of two pounds. He fought heroically for his life. He gave us two months to know him and love him and drink in every drop of him. And then he left us.Charlie Bug

He left us behind with our hearts broken wide open. And the thing about having your heart broken that way is that you just hurt so much. And everything is so raw. And you crave compassion and kindness in a way you didn’t before because it’s all you can tolerate. It’s the only thing that starts to mend the breaks and begins to fill in the gaping hole you feel in your chest.

In the weeks after Charlie’s death, I really struggled with the should have been’s and the supposed to’s. Important days came and went: the baby shower that wasn’t, Charlie’s due date, his first Thanksgiving, and all I could think was that he should be with us and it just hurt so very much. We were trying really hard to find the joy in things but it was really, really hard. I knew that we had to find a way to make Christmas joyful.

Before he passed away, my mom had planned to make a stocking for him. I knew she had already bought the fabric so I called to tell her that I wanted to go forward with a stocking for Charlie. I needed him to be represented at Christmas. I needed to feel like he was with us.

I wondered if it would make people uncomfortable to see his stocking hanging in our home, a glaring reminder of our loss. Death is a tough thing to talk about it with people who are grieving.  But I wanted to talk about Charlie. It made me feel connected to him and I couldn’t bear to pretend like he never existed. And that was really the crux of it for me. I was struggling to make sense of how short and difficult his life was and how he never got to experience any of the things I had wished for him. I didn’t want him to fade away into a distant memory for us because he never really got a chance to be here and make his mark on the world.

My husband and I managed our grief by doing things “because of Charlie” and we started calling them “BOC’s”. We wanted to do things because of him that we wouldn’t have done otherwise. We wanted to be kinder and more compassionate. We wanted to pursue our dreams and build a life that would make him proud. We wanted to parent in a way that would show him how much he taught us and how much we loved him. And really, 40 Reasons is just an extension of our BOC’s.

We decided that for every day in December, both of us would do one kind thing for someone else and then we would write it on a piece of paper and slip it in his stocking. We wanted to open his stocking on Christmas morning and read all the lovely things that had happened because of Charlie. We shared the idea with our friends and family and asked them to do one thing for Charlie and send it to us if they were so inclined. That year on Christmas morning, Mike and I sat in our living room reading scraps of paper and postcards and letters and Christmas cards from all over the country through our tears. We found a way to make Charlie feel present in our home; a home he never got to come home to.

What I want to get from it

We’ve carried on the tradition each year although we haven’t been as diligent about doing it daily. We still get cards from a few people here and there that remember our tradition and it means the absolute world to us. The best thing is that Christmas feels like Charlie is closer to us. We get to remember him with joy and recall all the good that he has done in this world even though he is gone. This year, I decided to bring back the daily notes. I want Calvin to see what a gift is is to do nice things for other people. We talk about Charlie a lot to him. He doesn’t quite understand where he is but he knows he’s a part of our family and that he has a brother. I want his brother to represent love and kindness for him, just like he does for us.

I’ll share with you on Christmas what we find in Charlie’s stocking. If you want to participate in Charlie’s stocking, you know we’d love to hear from you. If you have a loved one that you want to honor, message me and tell me about them and I will send you something for their stocking. Holiday hugs to you all!

What’s up next

Week 9 – December 6 – 12 – Try yoga. I’ve been told I have the flexibility of an 80 year old woman. Perfect timing with my 31 Days 31 Workouts challenge!

Week 10 – December 13 – 19 – FREEBIE! Is eat cookies and take naps for a week straight a viable option?

Week 11 – December 20 – 26 – Don’t complain about anything for an entire week. I already see some potential complaint triggers happening due to Christmas stress but I think this is a perfect time to take a deep breath and shut my face.

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Week 7 – Camping feels like home

I was raised by campers. Nearly all of our family vacations and weekends away centered around camping and the great outdoors. We camped often in the Sierra Nevada’s and the surrounding foothills. My favorite part of the drive up there was that point when the roadside turned from brown hills to tall pine trees and the dirt from brown to red and how the air smelled both dusty and clean at the same time. Even today when I smell that distinct mountain smell, it pulls me back to our old tan Suburban with my cheek resting on the rolled down window and one arm hanging out the side trying to catch the wind.

Some of my best childhood memories are of camping. Building little villages in the dirt with sticks and rocks and matchbox cars. Lurking around campsites with strange new kids until I, or my sister, would finally work up the courage to ask them to play. Floating in cold mountain lakes on inflatable rafts tied together, drinking Shasta Grape Soda from the can. These are the moments I would go back to if I could.

I loved camping. But I resented it too. My friends took family vacations to places like Hawaii, made annual trips to Disneyland, and best of all, they stayed in hotels. Their trips seemed exotic and fancy and ours seemed different, almost weird. It’s hard to explain the joys of camping to someone who has never experienced it. It’s easy to understand why Disneyland is fun and Hawaii is relaxing, but probably less so why sitting around in the dirt for a week would be either of those things. BUT IT IS.

As an adult, it’s a lot easier to explain. Camping is a true break from the routine. You are physically separated from all the distractions and conveniences that make a modern life both wonderful and awful. Even if you do have cell service, you don’t have unlimited phone battery so you can actually disconnect.  The nights are dark and smell of campfire and the sky is filled with more stars than you ever imagined existed. The mornings are crisp and begin with sunrise and you find the entire campground is up boiling water for coffee and cooking bacon before 7am.  The days are lazy and meant for exploring trails and reading books and snoozing in chairs and snacking. It is deep, soul-soothing relaxation.

My husband, who did not grow up camping, has fully embraced the camping vacation and all of the timeworn and tested gear that we’ve inherited from my parents. We camp often and each time we do I am grateful to my dad and mom for instilling in me a love of the outdoors and campfire cooking. Now we are raising our own little camper in the very same, very old canvas tent that we used as a family decades ago. In his three short years, he’s camped a dozen times in the mountains, national parks, deserts and beaches of the west. He loves sleeping in his little cot between our big cots. He loves hiking, but mostly riding on his dad’s shoulders. He loves helping build the campfire. He loves s’mores. He loves pretending a fallen log is an X-Wing fighter and that a big stick is his light saber. I can’t wait for the day when he starts to make his own campground buddies just like I did.

We decided to camp this year for Thanksgiving with some friends just because we had a few extra days and wanted to get away. We planned to camp along the Southern California coast north of Malibu where we knew it wouldn’t be too cold. We made a full Thanksgiving dinner using the campfire and a Coleman stove. It was perfect. I mean, it wasn’t totally perfect. Our little guy threw several tantrums. Our campsite was a little muddy. It was really cold one night. Our morning hiked turned into an accidental 10 mile trek that felt like it would never end. But it really was perfect. We got to spend four days with friends we love in a beautiful canyon looking out at the vast Pacific ocean eating delicious food and disconnecting from our routine. And that is why I love camping. It’s a lot of work and it’s pretty dirty, but it’s the best way to stop and just be for a few days. It just feels like home to me.

 

Thanksgiving Camping at Point Mugu State Park

Note: if you’re viewing on mobile, still trying to work out the kinks on the images appearing upside down. If you tap one, it will open a slideshow where they look normal!

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Week 6 and 7 mashup

I really don’t like it when people talk about how busy they are and how much they have on their plate. It can sound self-important. Yet, I’ve caught myself doing it a lot lately. I find myself saying things like “things have just been crazy lately” or apologizing and saying “my day is jam-packed today” or “this week is not doable, I just have too much going on”. They are all true statements that come from a place of being overwhelmed and juggling a lot but they still sound a little pompous. The reason I’m confessing this to you is because I haven’t posted as much as I would’ve liked this week and I feel crappy about it. And my only explanation is that I’ve spread myself so thin I feel like I’m disappearing. And it feels crappy because when I’m doing too many things, I’m usually not giving them the attention that they deserve. I’d like to re-work my life where I can give 5 things my full attention instead of 50 things a passing glance. This week, with Thanksgiving nearly upon us, I’m going to do a mashup post from week 6 and the upcoming week 7. Then I’m going to send up a thank you prayer that Thanksgiving is almost here and that we can all stop and take breath.

Week 6

This past week was a raging success in terms of completing what I set out to do. Yay me! The focus was to stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny. I worked out 5 of 7 days and I ate a lot better. I was nowhere near perfect when it came to eating, but I felt really, really good. I’m going to stick with this plan for the rest of the month – workouts on Saturday & Sunday and then Tuesday – Thursday. It’s what makes sense for my schedule and I just feel better. In December, I’m upping my game to create a firewall between me and eggnog. I’ll be participating in a 31 Days, 31 Workouts challenge and I would love for you guys to join me. You can read up on what it entails here. It’s a great way to end the year and the momentum you get going into 2017 will be AWESOME.

Week 7

The upcoming week’s to do item is one I am so excited about. I’ll get to check Camp in the winter off my list! We’re celebrating Thanksgiving with friends camping on the California coast and I CANNOT WAIT to unplug. We will be preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on a campfire and Coleman stove, hiking, roasting marshmallows, and if we’re lucky, we won’t have cell service.

What’s up next

Week 8 – November 29 – December 5 – Share our Christmas stocking tradition.

Week 9 – December 6 – 12 – Try yoga. I’ve been told I have the flexibility of an 80 year old woman.

Week 10 – December 13 – 19 – FREEBIE

 

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31 Days 31 Workouts – December Challenge

At this time last year, one of my best friends wrangled me into a challenge that she was considering led by one of the coaches at her gym. She’s an Orange Theory junkie that thrives on pushing her limits. She equal parts motivates and annoys me with her fitness. She is literally the voice I hear in my head when my alarm goes off for an early morning workout. “You’ll never regret working out. You will regret staying in bed”.

I feel like Titus Andromedon whenever I hear her voice, but she is right, damn it! I’ve never once said “I wish I wouldn’t have gone for a run. I feel terrible.” Not once. I always feel better after a workout, which is why when she tried to drag me into her challenge last year, I actually considered it. The challenge was straightforward. There are 31 days in December and you have to workout every single day. You post a picture on Instagram to hold yourself accountable and use the hashtag #31days31workouts.

The one led by her coach was more Orange Theory focused, but I decided I could do my own version. At that stage of my fitness life cycle, I had been regularly working out for about 4 months and was getting stronger, but I wasn’t pushing myself much. I knew it would be really good for me. I knew the holidays could totally derail my progress. So I told her I was in, even though I honestly didn’t think I could do it.

As it turns out, I totally could do it! Don’t get me wrong, it was not easy. There were a few days I reeeeaaallly didn’t want to workout. There were days I was holiday party hungover, seriously sore, or sick as a dog. I had a million excuses to throw in the towel, but I didn’t. And it felt good. So good, I did it again in July and now here I am a year later actually looking forward to round three. I enjoyed holiday indulgence in a way I couldn’t before because I was working my ass off. And then working it right back on eating all the cookies, but balance, amirite? It also powered me into the new year with serious momentum and that is an awesome way to start a new year. Even when that year ends up punching you in the face repeatedly. #pleasebegentle2017

So here we are. It’s almost December and I am ready for another 31 days of sweat and candy canes. If you want to join the challenge, here are my personal guidelines:

  1. Work out every day in December for at least 30 minutes. I gave myself a minimum amount of time because I will cheat that down to a 10 minute stretch session if I let myself.
  2. Post a post-workout pic to Instagram* with the hashtag #31days31workouts #decemberchallenge. This one made me uncomfortable at first because I thought it would be super annoying for my friends. It turns out most people are not annoyed at all but incredibly encouraging. Screw the rest of them.
  3. Tag me @fortyreasons and any of your friends that are participating so we can cheer each other on.
  4. Have a plan. Have a good idea of how and when you will workout. There will be workout boredom and you will want variety. My first go-round was made up of hiking, running, and workout videos I could do at home. I got really bored. This time around I’ll be doing a combination of hiking, running, gym workouts, classes, and home workouts.
  5. Try something new! This is a good time to try something you’ve never done before. I am one of those people that gets anxiety going to a new class because I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m sure I am going to be super awkward. The challenge definitely bolstered my confidence and made me less concerned with how I looked and more focused on how I felt. It will also be a welcome change from your routine.
  6. Find balance in your workouts. You definitely want to alternate between high intensity ass kickers and recovery workouts like yoga stretching or a gentle hike to keep your body going for 31 straight days.
  7. Do what works for you. These are the guidelines I use to hold myself accountable. Yours may be different and that’s cool too.

Alright guys, who is doing this with me?!

*If you’re not an Instagram, you can use Facebook or another social platform, but don’t expect me to pretend like I understand Snapchat.

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Week 6 – Plans, then reality, then new plans

This past week really knocked me on my ass in terms of focus and progress. If you read my post about election grief, you know I was thrown for a massive loop, along with millions of other Americans. A lot of the stuff I’ve been doing really well just fell apart. Let me catalog my missteps.

Plans: Finish the invaluable book Daring Greatly and write a post about it.

Reality: Read a few chapters one night and then cast it aside to immerse myself in bitter social media discussion and analysis of the election and speculation about the future of our nation. ON MY PHONE. While ignoring everything else.

New Plan: Read a little bit every day and write a follow up post by November 22nd. It is a fantastic and eye-opening book that I think I am avoiding because sometimes it’s hard to hold a mirror up to myself. It also feels hard to figure out how to fix the things I see that I don’t like. But it’s a much better use of my time than reading another Facebook post where one side is criticizing the other for being whiney sore losers and one side is criticizing the other for being racist. ‘MERICA!

Plans: Keep the phone out of my bedroom and leave it in the kitchen unless I’m using it.

Reality: Use my state of shock and crippling fear of uncertainty as an excuse to consume even more information about the source of my shock and fear. Now more than ever, I need to stick to the rules.

New Plan: Renew my commitment to my phone use rules and recognize that they are the best thing for my mental health.

Plans: Renew my commitment to exercise and healthy eating. Side note: my weight is creeping up…I haven’t weighed myself but I can feel it. It’s something I have a sixth sense about. And the sixth sense is actually the button on my jeans that is digging into me. Also my desire to be in sweatpants has shot through the roof.

Reality: Put on sweatpants. Make homemade mac n’cheese. Eat two bowls. Cry quietly. Eat ice cream.

New Plan: Arrange for husband to handle daycare drop off two days each week so I can get in an early morning workout. The combination of getting it done early and having someone rearrange their schedule for me are powerful motivators. Create a meal plan for the week that does not include mac n’cheese and ice cream seasoned with tears.

Here’s the deal, if I didn’t have 40 Reasons and you guys reading this, I would probably do my best to ignore my missteps and just ride a turkey leg, a pound of fudge, and a bottle of peppermint schnapps all the way through the holiday season. I’d wake up in 2017 ten pounds heavier and hungover and wishing I had done something a month ago. So the way I see it, I’m ahead of the game because I still have 6 weeks left until 2017. Go me!

So how do I want to start the new year? Fat and sad? Exhausted and broke from overspending on Christmas? HELL NO! I want to ride into 2017 on a wave of momentum built from doing things instead of making excuses. I want to create one of those cartoon runaway snowballs that knocks down a fence and a swing set and crashes right into someone’s living room. I want to be the Kool-Aid man crashing through a brick wall! WHAT’S UP 2017!!!!

However I arrive in the new year, (please don’t be on a turkey leg, please don’t be on a turkey leg) one off week will certainly not determine how I handle the other 39. This week wasn’t a total wash. I made a conscious decision to post positive things on 40 Reasons social media pages and it gave me, and hopefully some of you, warm fuzzies. I plan to continue that through the rest of the month. So as week 5 comes to a close and I get ready for week 6, I’m going to close with this quote from the man in black.

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash

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The 5 Stages of Election Grief

There have only been a few days in my almost 4 decades where my life changed dramatically in the space of 24 hours. And none of them have been in a “I won the lottery!” way. And yesterday was one of those days. You may be thinking “It was an election. Get a grip. Did your life really change so dramatically?” Let me explain. But first get a glass of wine or some hot cocoa or some weed, because apparently that’s legal now…this is going to get messy.

Yesterday, I woke up filled with the kind of glee reserved for Christmas morning and tropical vacations. I bopped around the house getting my three year old ready for daycare. His tantrums didn’t even put a dent in my mood because I KNEW what was going to happen today. I dropped my snotty, screaming little lovebug off at daycare and headed to the lake nearby for a quick run before heading home to work. I listened to a #nastywoman playlist that I made myself. #beyonce

As I ran, I thought about how, as a girl watching election coverage in 1984, I was confused by Geraldine Ferraro because I couldn’t understand what she was doing there. I was 7 years old and just starting to wonder why no women were president. I wondered if women weren’t president because they weren’t smart enough. I wondered if they weren’t natural leaders. I wondered if they didn’t have the temperament. I concluded, as a 7-year-old child, that women weren’t suited for the role. I concluded that women weren’t as strong as men. It never occurred to me that something was wrong with the system. It never occurred to me that I lived in a world that treated its boys as more valuable than its girls. I don’t remember if I ever asked my parents. I just know that in my young mind I understood that it just wasn’t a job for someone like me. It wasn’t a job for a girl.

As I ran, I teared up thinking about how my small boy would grow up in a world where his first two presidents were not people who looked just like him. A man of color and a woman. I knew there would be plenty more white men after them and I loved that he would get to see all sorts of people as leaders. I felt like the world was changing and that the American dream that we talk about was actually becoming a reality. I was proud.

Fast forward twenty-four hours.

This morning I woke up heavy with the weight of grief and loss. I don’t use those words lightly. I’ve experienced acutely painful loss and grief and I felt them in me this morning, familiar companions that I hoped I would never see again. I felt shocked. I felt numb. And I cried unexpectedly. I felt shocked because like so many others I did not see this coming. I felt numb because despair is paralyzing. And I cried because I was hurt that so many of my fellow countrymen and women chose a leader that stood on a platform devoid of compassion and loaded with divisiveness, anger, blatant misogyny, and racism. This was not my president. I wondered if this was even my country.

As I dropped off my unusually cheerful child (thanks universe!) at daycare this morning, I walked in just as another parent was getting ready to walk out. The teacher at reception called out to him to “have a great day!” and he looked up, caught off guard. His face reflected the same shock and hurt that I felt and he just said “I’ll try but I don’t know if I can” as he looked back and forth between the two of us. My eyes welled with tears and I nodded because I couldn’t speak. He is black. His wife is white. They have two children under age 4. I would be willing to bet that he is wondering if this is his country anymore either.

After I navigated my way through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, I went over and over in my head how and why and why and why and whyyyyy did this happen? Here is what I came away with. This is not the time for blame. The country has grown so divided to the point that we have fractured. And not just the little hairline cracks that heal without a cast. We are femur-snapped-in-half-sticking-out-of-your-thigh-we-might-have-to-amputate broken. And we aren’t just broken in two. This is not a clean break. We also broke a hip, 3 fingers, and shattered one of our arms. We need some serious healing and it ain’t gonna happen overnight. We have two very distinct groups on the right that want different things. We have a very similar situation happening on the left. It’s not to say we all want totally different things. In fact, I believe that you could take any two of those groups in any combination and find a Venn diagram of overlapping interest and common goals. But we have done absolutely nothing in the past several years to try to identify where we want the same things. We have made ourselves more divided through rhetoric, through left or right-skewing media, and through our inability to see past our own ideas and truths.

The bottom line is that this country is made up of all different kinds of people and that the majority of them are good people. I do not believe that all of the people who chose a leader that is the human version of a toxic dumpster fire are racist or sexist. I know actual good people who voted for a walking circus peanut and they did it because they feel that they aren’t being heard and they want change. And they aren’t being heard because we are all shouting at each other and no one is listening. I believe that a lot of us want the same things. I also believe that in order to move forward we all have to be willing to compromise because being 100% absolute in our stance has gotten us where we are. Which is that we are about to have our leg amputated and we have a slithering orange Muppet as our president-elect. No disrespect to the Muppets. You know I love you guys.

I don’t know where to go from here and I’m legitimately fearful of the damage that a Twitter bully in a baggy suit with an animal pelt on his head will do in the White House. But I do know this. I am going to try to understand the people around me. And I’m going to try to respect their opinions. I want to be able to have a civil, productive dialogue with people I don’t agree with. We’ve come to a point where all we do is trade insults and share memes mocking each other’s beliefs and delete “friends” and even family from Facebook because we don’t like what they have to say. Nobody ever changed someone’s mind by sharing memes like this.

trump-vs-corn-who-wore-it-better-meme

If we want to have a voice in this country, if we want to have our message heard, we need to listen and we need to stop shouting. I am not suggesting we downplay our opinions and give up on our beliefs. I’m suggesting that we have to go about this with compassion and understanding and kindness and love. We are all humans here. Even that walking bag of dirty diapers with several accusations of sexual assault and an upcoming trial date for fraud. But seriously. When I said my life changed dramatically in 24 hours, I meant it. Not just because this talking Cheeto with a tuft of corn silk could make actual policy changes that impact me and the people I love. But because I realize that I have not been listening. I have friends that supported Bernie that were very hurt when Hillary secured the nomination. I shrugged it off because I thought, well that’s what the people want. Clearly it wasn’t enough of the people. I know a lot of conservatives who are horrified by Trump and felt like they faced an impossible decision between Trump and Clinton. I shrugged it off because, to me, Clinton was, is, and forever will be, a far superior choice to that butternut squash in a power tie. #imwithher #nastywoman

But the point is I shrugged off the opinions of people I care about and respect because I was just happy to get what I wanted. We’re not going to get anywhere stepping on each other’s heads, even if we want to do it just to see what the hell is going on with that hair and if it’s actually attached to his head with velcro. I’m changed because I am going to work on advancing my ideas, my truths, and my causes with compassion. I have to acknowledge that there are opinions that matter outside of my tribe. Because shit just got real, real quick. This is how I cope with grief and loss. I turn to action and find purpose. Mine is going to be to build bridges in my community and in my circles, to find common ground together, and to do it with love, kindness, and compassion. This one hurts and there are some tough days ahead, but we can’t afford to lose our shit and waste energy pointing fingers. We have to do the work to make real change at the ground level or we run the risk of continuing to isolate each other and creating an even bigger orange monster. I hope you’ll join me.

Note: I am aware of the hypocrisy of peppering this post about compassion and understanding with childish digs about that talking candied yam with a reality show, but it’s a process people.

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