Friday, October 30, 2009

The Art of Non-Confirmity

What I love about online networking sites is how you find out about the most interesting stuff that you would never otherwise have learned of. Whether it's mundane but insightful information about friends and acquaintances that would otherwise have passed-by in the daily grind of life, a special event in your local area you might have missed, a charity or cause that you hadn't heard of but are compelled to support, or a website that someone else became a fan of and that provided you with entertaining or interesting information, it's one of the few ways that technology has actually helped to enrich my life. I love it!

Today, for instance, I learned about The Art of Non-Confirmity, a blog and website that follows the travels and thoughts of one man, Chris Guillebeau. I would summarize what it was about this one man and his ramblings that drew me to him but I think it's best that I take the words right out of his mouth, from his blog. However, suffice to say, this man is my alter-ego in a parallel universe. He lives the life that I would have if I had been braver 10 years ago and made different choices. Of course, it's not too late for me to make those choices at some point in the future but, clearly, for many reasons, now is not my time.

Until it is, I shall live vicariously through his blog posts, which I'm sure are going to become a weekly favorite.

Here are the stated goals of Chris' blog and vocation....

The Art of Non-Conformity (AONC) project chronicles my writing on how to change the world by achieving significant, personal goals while helping others at the same time. In the battle against conventional beliefs, I focus on three areas: Life, Work, and Travel.

Twice a week (every Monday and Thursday) I write on at least one of those topics, and once in a while I profile other revolutionaries who are also changing the world through unconventional ways. You can follow along by RSS, email updates, or just by checking in here at the site.

More specifically:
I write about personal development and life design, with the conviction that you don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.

I write about entrepreneurship and other kinds of unconventional work, with the belief that the work we do should be both fun and meaningful.

I write about international travel, travel hacking in general, and my journeys to more than 25 countries every year.

The key theme that links each of these topics is nonconformity. I define non-conformity as “a lack of orthodoxy in thoughts or beliefs” or “the refusal to accept established customs, attitudes, or ideas.”

If you’re looking for specific examples of what this means in practice, take a look through the archives or most popular posts. Check it out for a while; you might like it. Or you might not, and that’s OK too.

All of the writing on the AONC site is presented freely with no advertising. If you’d like to support the project, join the small army.

Every Country in the World

The site also tracks my own stated goal for world travel. In my journeys so far I have visited more than 100 countries, and over the next five four years, I plan to visit every country in the world. You can view my current progress here.

World Domination

I’m interested in the convergence between highly personal goals and service to others. I use the metaphor of world domination (ruling and changing the world at the same time) to highlight all the things we can achieve when we choose to live with gratitude and purpose.

You can learn more about that subject in the Brief Guide to World Domination that has now been read by more than 100,000 people in 60 countries. The sequel, 279 Days to Overnight Success, provides a case study for anyone interested in building an alternative career using new media.

The essence of my philosophy is this:

1. You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.
2. If you don’t decide for yourself what you want to get out of life, someone else will probably end up deciding for you.
3. There is usually more than one way to accomplish something.
4. You can do good things for yourself and help other people at the same time.

The Reason Why

At the University of Washington, I paid $32,000 over five quarters of graduate school to learn a lot of trivia about governance in Africa (my chosen subject) and this one important fact: it is always very important to carefully examine someone’s motives in communicating.

Whenever you read something, ask yourself, “What are the author’s motivations? Why did he or she choose to devote a great deal of time and effort to one particular thing in exclusion of others?”

On balance, I think this lesson is probably worth at least $32,000 in the long run, but if you can learn it for free and in less time, good for you.

As for me, I started writing for three reasons:

1) I felt I had something important to say.
2) I wanted to transition from helping a few people on an individual basis to helping more people through a broader platform.
3) I wanted to sleep at night.

In the nine months before I began this project, I kept waking up at night with more ideas. If I didn’t write them down, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I learned a while back that when you wake up feeling excited about an idea and can’t shake it, there’s usually a reason for it. It’s a good idea to pay attention to what you’re being told by the universe.

Since I started writing these things down, I’ve been advancing the vision of unconventional living, helping more people, and sleeping great at night.

I mean... oh-my-freakin'-God! Isn't that just AWESOME!? How incredibly inspiring!

Friday Motivation - Week 6: Getting it done

Evani 061007 003

The above pic is of me and my friend, Mala's, daughter, Evani, in June 2007. Evani was about 4 months old here. I had just got back from my honeymoon in Belize and so was sporting a lovely tan. Man, look how thin my arms and legs were here!!! Of course, Evani has done some growing of her own since then: she'll be 3 early next year!

Good news is, I'm still making solid progress back to being that girl in the pic above.

Here's this weeks stats:

LBS TO GOAL: 11.2lbs

If I continue to lose at least 1.4lbs each week, I'll be down to my goal weight exactly on time. Woohoo!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Learning Lessons

I am bold (and vain) enough to think that I'm a pretty smart cookie. So, why is it that I sometimes continue to make the same mistakes?

This week I made a fatal error in judgment and did something that I thought I'd learned a lesson from in many different ways, from many different mistakes in the past. The outcome was almost exactly the same as it had been in similar situations in the past (making a bad situation worse) and yet I was STILL initially surprised. I remained in denial for several hours, where I blamed everything from the unknowable to the fact that I had let my heart get ahead of my brain. (As if I wasn't in control of that very process!)

After several hours had passed and I had time to reflect, I managed to piece together all of those similar situations that I should have cross-applied and it felt like I'd been hit over the head with a very heavy mallet. It was, at once, an "Aha!" as well as a "Duh!" moment. I felt even more chargrinned because I realized that it was a lesson I have had plenty of opportunity to learn.

I think I've learned many lessons in the last six years, particularly. I can't think of any other time in my life (other than when I first moved to the U.S. back in '96) when I have so drastically changed the way I think and react to certain situations in life. I'm not exactly sure exactly why this time of my life has been so influential, although I have some theories.

Part of it, I think, is that I have met some pretty amazing people who have made a huge impact on the way I look at the world and view my own actions; courageous, compassionate, thoughtful, people who demonstrate strength of character through personal growth and self-reflection. My husband is one of those people, by the way. It's so wonderful to be married to someone who shows you how to be a better person. But that's an aside...

Of course, almost all of these lessons I have learned came from making mistakes.

I'm not afraid of making mistakes, and never really have been, but I was, for a long time, afraid of owning them. Notice I didn't say 'owning-up' to them, although that was part of it too. Owning up to a mistake is the easy part (although, for a lot of people, that's a big step all on it's own.) You admit you did something, you apologize (if needed), and then you go on your merry little way in life.

However, owning mistakes (to me) means trying to understand why I made the mistake, taking ownership of those reasons and the outcomes, and making decisions about what (if anything) I would do differently if the same or similar situation happened again.

So now it's even more of a dumbass moment when I realize the lesson I learned got lost somewhere along the way; that I failed to retrieve it at the critical moment of decision and fell right back into an old pattern.

What's also different for me is the speed at which I will readily admit I messed up.

It's not like I didn't have any moments of self-reflection before or never apologized to people but it usually took a lot more time, space, and emotional detachment from the event before I could truly see my own actions clearly. I was blocked, I realize now, by the fact that I would want to defend myself, to sorta-kinda admit that I did something wrong but, at the same time, throw in ten reasons as to why I did what I did - usually excuses that blamed something or someone external.

Now I attempt to fall on my sword right away; get it out of the way as soon as possible by apologizing and accepting (and I mean that as more than a surface-level admission) that I made a mistake or did the wrong thing. Until recently, I didn't realize how much time and emotional energy that took up: trying to hide something, consciously, that was subconsciously, banging on a door to be let out. All your emotional energy is being spent on just trying to keep that door closed at all costs, rather than really dealing with what comes out when you open it. Let's face it, you usually end up dealing with it anyway, at some point down the road and then, sometimes, it's too late to repair whatever you damaged.

So, I messed up. I guess we all do it. They say may all your mistakes be new ones but sometimes you just don't live up to that for whatever reason. I suppose the biggest lesson of all that I can say that I have learned is to accept the lessons themselves. Ten years ago I would still be in the defensive, blaming, denial phase of my dumbass move. Now, I'm mortified I messed up, I've apologized to all who I affected, and I can already clearly see my own actions and the real reasons behind them. Let's hope I can pull this one out of the memory bank and not make a similar mistake again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Overcommitted and overscheduled?

Those of you who know me pretty well know that I make an effort to see my friends, in person, as regularly as possible. Lately, however, it has really struck me just how hard it is to get together with people.

I shared a string of several emails today with a friend who really did want to see me (ie: wasn't just blowing me off) but where her schedule and mine just failed to coordinate for multiple reasons. By the time we were done, we were booking ourselves 3-4 weeks out! The same thing happened just last week with some friends that usually get together as a group - we threw some dates out there for the month of November (remembering this is still only October) and could only come up with one day that worked for everyone. One day... out of 30!?

When I was at home in England, I just don't remember people's lives being this way. But then, maybe I was just a teenager with no responsibilities, who was friends with a bunch of other teenagers with no responsibilities. I don't know, but my recollection was that friends dropped-by on one another unannounced or called each other at 6 o'clock to decide to get together for a drink in an hour. What I remember is that people decided to go to the pub after work and just invited people on the spur of the moment - and people were available, and came!

Yet, since I've lived in the U.S., that kind of social life just doesn't seem to exist, or at least, rarely. People are scheduled to the hilt three, four weeks in advance (sometimes more) and if you don't make the effort and plan ahead it's easy to just lose touch as the weeks and months slip by.

Now, I'm not saying that my schedule is always open either - in fact it's a tad packed for the next week or so - but it just brings up the question: why is this? Why is it that people in the UK have much more spontaneous social lives and people in the U.S. (at least the way I've experienced it) end up running their calendars like a military operation?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Motivation - Week 5: At Last! Progress!


Jamaica has been on my mind this week. First of all, my sister-in-law sent me an email about Christmas gifts and Christmas get-together plans. Secondly, just this morning we had to go and apply for Daisy's passport at the local post office. Finally, I spent most of the morning on the phone with the folks at Delta airlines trying to figure out what I paid $1k per ticket for. (More on that later.)

Jamaica was also the last real vacation that Hubby and I took pre-Daisy and the last time I was any sort of "normal" weight. As all my weight-loss goals are based upon making it back into a bikini by 12/27 when we head back to Negril, I thought this picture was appropriate.

So, let's get to it.

LBS TO GOAL: 12.4 lbs

Wooty woot woot! Yes, I lost MORE THAN a pound this week. I'm soooo happy and so relieved. Maybe this is the beginning of the shedding?

An additional stat: Body Fat% (according to my fancy scale) - 38%. Back when I got the scale (2 months ago @ 161lbs) it was more than 40%! I KNOW! Isn't it ridiculous? Almost 60lbs of fat on my body. BLECH indeed. Anyway, it demonstrates more progress and may indicate at why the scales have not been budging as much - it appears I've lost 4lbs of fat but only 3.6lbs overall, telling me I have indeed been turning fat into muscle.

Enough of the fat/weight/body-image crap.............

Back to what I mentioned in my first para on Jamaica. As you know, Delta Airlines cancelled our direct flight from Sacramento to Atlanta and instead made us take two flights, stopping in Salt Lake City. Then, as you probably also know if you pay attention on this blog or on FB, they moved-up our third flight (the one from Atlanta to Montego Bay) giving us only one hour between flights and little room for delays. I know, nice, right? We get to Jamaica about 90 minutes earlier, which is awesome assuming everything runs on time. If it does not... Ok, I'm not going there, I may have a panic attack.

I think I deserve some kind of discount at this point; if I changed the flights this many times I'm certain the price would have been upped on me. It should work the other way around. Since that's about as likely as Ann Coulter having a crush on President Obama, we'll move on...

As we are traveling with an infant, we need papet tickets and those were issued back in June when I booked them. When I talked to the folks at Expedia after the first flight change, they said new tickets would be issued and sent out to me. I didn't get anything in the mail however, but when I saw the third flight had changed, I assumed that was why and continued to wait. Well, it's more than a month since the original change and I still hadn't received a thing, so I called Expedia back.

NOW their story is that the tickets were never going to be re-issued (that, aparently, was misinformation one of their agents fed to me previously.) However, I did need to go to a Delta ticket office and get my tickets revalidated.

Um, excuse me? WHAT??????

So, I called Delta. The "good" news is that they say we can do it before check-in, we just need to arrive 30 minutes earlier than normal. The bad news is that our flight leaves @ 6:15am, (which, for an international flight, puts us at the airport at 4am either way,) yet the ticket office only opens at 4am.

It just keeps getting better, doesn't it?

I gotta tell ya, thank GOD I know the relaxing properties of that white sand and warm, Caribbean, otherwise I could seriously consider throwing the towel in on this one. The potential for this to be an utter nightmare is huge. I'm brave but not stupid.

But then I hear that reggae beat in my head, feel the warm sun on my skin, and taste the sweetness of a Pina Colada in my mouth... and I realize I may in fact be stupid enough to endure all of this, for that. Sigh...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nutrition and me

First of all, thanks to my friend, Elena for her words of encouragement and advice for my previous post. Elena - you crack me up. Yes, you are MADLY supportive, I'll definitely give you that.

The one piece of advice I am definitely going to take from Elena is to take it one step at a time and experiment.

My goal, if at all possible, is not to CUT OUT anything entirely (as in never-ever-ever eat it again) but to remove it from my regular diet.

I am very serious when I say that, while I admire Elena's resolve, I CANNOT and WILL NOT live a life where I examine every single ingredient on a restaurant menu or send instructions ahead of me to friends or family who invite me for dinner. Holidays and vacations are also non-restrictive zones. I'm not (what would be to me) spoiling those occasions by obsessing about every morsel that I eat.

Let me be clear: I'm not saying ANYTHING about Elena's reality here, just about what's not acceptable to me.

So, here's where I'm going to begin, based upon Elena's advice, my own research, and previous experience:
  • Cutting back on processed foods is definitely something I'm going to start doing right away. I have done this in the past and I have noticed energy as well as weight-loss gains. The more and more I think about it, the more I realize that, with the exception of a few key items (like Heinz Baked Beans) I ate a lot more unprocessed food when I was living in England. Since I've moved to the US... not so much. Is it a coincidence that I now weigh a wopping 60lbs more than I did when I moved out here 15 years ago? I think not.
  • Bread is bye-bye. Again, I have done this before (back when I was 105lbs) and have lost weight cutting it out of my diet. Honestly, it's not that big of a deal for me. Do I like bread? Yes. Is it essential to my enjoyment of food? Um, no.
  • Cut back on inflammatory foods. Increase anti-inflammatory foods and ingredients. Fish, berries, vegetables, olive-oil, whole-grains, brown-rice, ginger, rosemary, garlic, onions, red wine, and green tea - IN. Salt, soda, bread, sugar, red meat, fried foods, smoked foods, and processed foods - OUT. (Honestly, aside from the sugar and processed foods, I don't really eat much of anything on this list already.) Dairy is also on the inflammatory list. I'm on the fence with this one - I love eggs, cheese and milk. These will be a last-resort removal, although I'll definitely be more conscious of how much I consume now. Let's face it, do enough research and you'll find that eggs and milk, especially, have many of their own health benefits. Everything in moderation. I truly believe that: I think that (with the exception of all the added-in crap for processed and packaged foods) your body needs a little bit of everything (some more than others) to work optimally. Cutting any major food group out just doesn't make sense to me, unless, of course, you can establish that you are allergic to it.
  • Consider adding supplements and/or different herbs and spices to my diet. Chamomile, Ginger, Willow-Bark, Boswellia, Bromelain, Vitamin D, Calcium, Paprika, Cumin, Tumeric, and Fish Oil all seem to come up over and over again on websites I found on anti-inflammatory diets and digestive health. (Although, the more I started researching, the more I found that just about every vitamin, herb or spice seems to have a magical digestive or anti-inflammatory property which makes me somewhat skeptical overall.)

I'm also looking seriously at studying the Mediterranean diet in more detail. I've heard from many sources that people living in Mediterranean countries consume high amounts of fat but incidences of heart disease and cancer are lower. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (so, not some goat farmer from a rural area of Greece) found that a traditional Mediterranean diet reduces inflammation and cardiovascular risk.

Finally, I'm not throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. I'm going to continue doing (or try to improve my consistency in doing) many of the other, more basic things that I have always found to work: drink more water, eat little and often, and don't eat after 6pm. I'm also planning on keeping a food diary.

Last night we went to the store and I bought Ginger Tea (not bad as it goes), raspberries, lots of salads, spinach, onions, fish, and veggies. A good first step. This morning I ate a healthy egg-white omelette with onions, spinach and a small slice of cheese.

My main focus initially is to find things I already like that fit into the "new diet" category and eat more of those rather than to add new things into my diet that I may not enjoy so much. I mean, how likely am I to stick to a new nutrition plan if I'm not enjoying the food I eat? Knowing me - not frickin' likely at all.

As one website said: Eating well doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out your favorite foods. It entails making adjustments to the amounts you eat from each food group.

THAT I can deal with. Wish me luck!


Side note for Elena: I tried a Gluten-Free diet for about 4 months last year (had to stop when I got pregnant on the advice of my doc) I experienced no significant health or weight loss benefits as a result. Conclusion: I am not gluten or wheat intolerant. While some foods that contain gluten and wheat will probably be on my no-no list for other reasons, I don't see any value in removing either entirely.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Connecting the dots

Yesterday I went to see my massage therapist. She has been on vacation for a few weeks and so I have not seen her in more than a month. During that time I have been stepping up my workout routine in an effort to get fit, get strong, and well, let's face it, lose that effin' baby weight. So, with all those things combined, I was a ball of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia all fighting for a channel to spreadh their pain message. Tanya, my massage therapist, as usual, found them all one by one. It was brutal.

Today I went to see my osteopath. I had not seen her in 2 weeks. Her nose scrunched up in disappointment when I told her my current pain level (3-4) and list of ailments. (Nothing you haven't already heard, so I'll spare you the details.)

I told her I had been stepping up my exercise routine and thought that may have been the cause of the increased issues. She asked me exactly what that meant (ie: what I had been doing and how often) and by the time I had finished listing everything I do, she was pretty gobsmacked. It was only then I realized myself how much all these things I've been incrementally adding actually added up to:

  • Power yoga 1-2 times per week
  • Cardio @ the gym 3 mornings a week
  • 30 minutes of strength training on the Total Gym 3 times a week
  • 30 minute walks 3-4 times a week

Of course, I had the passing thought: Why the hell am I not losing weight? I didn't have time to linger because my treatment started.

At some point during an assault on my IT band, the doctor asked me if I was pooping fine. Strange question to ask, right, given that I was there for hip, groin, and thigh pain? It was, however, a thought-provoking question because that... um... particular element has been somewhat back-and-forth from different extremes lately. (Sorry if this is TMI - you know where the "x" is on your web browser!)

When I reported my... problem (let's call it) she said that osteopathic medicine believes that there is a connection between IT band tightness and my GI tract. Blockages or areas of tightness in my lateral thigh, therefore, could be caused by my erratic pooping or, of course, visa versa. I asked her which was which in my case and she said it was a bit like the chicken and the egg; you don't know which way around it is.

Logically, my brain went to the conclusion that nutrition and diet could be affecting all of this. (Of course --- and before you get to the comments section Elena --- this is not the first time I've heard this but it was the first time that I've opened my mind to the possibility.)

Further research when I got home basically led to articles on the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is a part of it. In lamens terms, the PNS regulates the body's visceral organs via the innervation of three kinds of tissues, one of which is muscle tissue. Through this process the PNS is connected to your GI tract, your bowels, your pelvis, and, particularly your pelvic diaphram. (It's all a lot more complicated and involved that that but that's the reader's digest version.)

Since all of these things are connected, it is possible that either:

(a) Many of my pain issues are causing pooping issues or

(b) My pooping issues are causing many of my pain issues, particularly in my pelvis and pubic bone area.

Of course, if it's (b), a different diet could help.

And then, of course, there's the issue of my not losing weight despite all the exercising and dieting I have been doing.

And then I connected the dots.

And then came the acceptance.

Maybe - just maybe - if I changed my diet, I could affect my pain outcomes and lose weight.

Bottom line, I've been avoiding this conversation with myself for quite some time. I've seen friends change the way they eat and report benefits above-and-beyond weight-loss but I thought I knew better. (Or, realistically, hoped I did.) I've lost weight in the past on my own knowledge and under my own steam and thought I could just go down that the same path again.

Yet, it's not working. I've been at it for more than 4 months now and haven't really lost a pound. Ok, I haven't always been as "good" as I could have been and have only recently stepped-up the exercise but there should have been some incremental improvement; I haven't seen it.

Although I have been too stubborn to admit it, my body is not responding as it once did. This could be attributable to my age, my hip surgery, the fact I carried a baby, and/or my c-section. Who the hell knows? When I list it like that, it's quite frankly unsurprising that my body may be a different beast these days.

I'm not saying I'm definitely convinced there's some hollistic answer to all of my problems and I'm absolutely not saying I'm going to become some crazy person who will only eat certain foods and who delivers a 20 minute list of dos and don'ts to the waitress at a restaurant. I'm just saying that I'm open to modifying my diet right now. The whole nerve thing made sense on a practical level (rather than the hocusy-pocusy level that this stuff is often presented on) and so I'm willing to try.

So, I started googling nutrition and pain. I've already found some interesting information I think I can put to work right away and I'll report on that in a future post. For now I'll end here and await the "I told you so!" (and helpful advice) from my friend, Elena. :o)

Friday, October 16, 2009

No shame but no gain


The above picture was taken for Halloween 2007. Dang I was thin. Sigh.

Ok, so let's get straight to it. It was not the successful week I was hoping for.

LBS TO GOAL: 13.6 lbs

Clearly 0.2lbs can be the difference between pre-pee and post-pee, so I'm not going to beat myself up about that. But the reality is that I have not LOST any weight. Again. I'm stuck. I just don't get it.

This week I even instigated an early morning gym session. I got up Monday, Wednesday, and today at 5:30am, dashed off to the gym as quietly as I could, did 30 minutes of cardio, and dashed back before Daisy woke up. My goal was to get there and back in an hour, and I made it each day. On those same days, I still did a 30 minute Total Gym workout. I also did a Power Yoga workout on Thursday.

The only thing left to do, that has worked like gangbusters in the past, is to cut out my evening meal. Eating at night has never really worked for me. When I was at my thinnest, I was skipping that end-of-day meal and eating a snack in the late afternoon instead. This way, the food still has time to burn off.

Mostly, I eat in the evening to be social. Time with hubby, time with family etc... Secondarily, I eat because it makes sure Hubby eats - he needs to eat; we need to change the balance of weight in our relationship. Since Daisy has been born, however, we rarely get to eat together, we usually get take-out, and I eat it so fast that I barely get to taste it. So, it's got to go. That's the change for next week.

As for my hip. Rotten week. My right butt cheek feels like it's been hit with a baseball bat, over and over. I know what this is - a combination of a tight piriformis and tight IT band - but I'm going to have to get ahead of it today and take a muscle relaxant - I can barely sit on it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wet and WILD!

Yesterday fall literally fell on top of Sacramento.

50mph+ winds and torrential rain pouring into blocked storm-drains was a recipe for a pretty crazy day. Last night's news was full of flooded streets (particularly the I-5, downtown, which was supposedly fixed for this exact issue to the tune of $40 million last year), downed power lines, and cars or homes crushed by falling trees.

Sometimes it is NOT an advantage to be the city of trees!

Photo by Andy Alfaro /

Of course, it happened to be the ONE day every two weeks that I had to head into the office for our management team meeting. Yup. One day out of 14 and we're experiencing a 40 year storm. That's my kind of luck.

Unfortunately the "good" day did not start and end there.

First, I couldn't find a SINGLE umbrella as I head out the door. Now, I know that we have at least 100 umbrellas lying around in our house somewhere because, when it's not raining, I run into them all the time. But, of course, when my hair is done, my make-up is on and I'm trying not to get soaked in a torrential downpour, not a single one of them can be found. (Also, as usual these days, I'm running late, so I don't have time to instigate a full-on search.)

Then, just as I was about to fly out the front door and into my car as fast as humanly possible, I realized that I had left my wallet in my mum's bag from the other day. Since it seemed entirely possible that some idiot in his pick-up truck would go slamming into me that day, I thought it only prudent that I have my driver's license and insurance info on me. So I jumped in the car and head-off to mum's, where I also hoped that I would be able to snag an umbrella. (My parents did, after all, just move out from England.)

Mum had the umbrella (a nifty aqua-striped number that went sooo well with my pink car coat) but not the wallet. Ack! Oh, but she remembered me taking it from her at the store on Sunday! Back to my house to check my "evening" bag (which is anything other than a diaper bag these days). Score! Found wallet but now was VERY late.

Then I drove all the way to the office in torrential rain, braving the 50 freeway which was basically hydroplaning all the way - it was coming down so heavy and the ground was so saturated that the spray from the cars made it almost impossible to see more than 10 feet in front of you. It was like thick fog. Fun.

It was as I was toodling along uncharacteristically in the slow lane when I realized that my stomach started to grumble. CRAP! I forgot to eat breakfast! Fantastic. I was heading into a 3 hour meeting with nothing but caffeine and sugar in my stomach.

Despite the rain I pulled into the office with just a minute to spare. Whew! Ran through the front door and.... stopped. Everyone was sitting in the lobby lit in only emergency light. The power was out. Great! The big boss was sending everyone home because the storm was supposed to be in for the day and, if the power was already out, it seemed unlikely that it would return with any reliability.

A power outtage for our company = all servers out. All servers out = no service to our customers, no website, and no email. (Yes, we need off-site back-up servers... it's in the works.) Since everyone was in the office and the phones work on electricity only, I had to call my brother in law (who also works off-site) to get him to send a message to all our customers to alert them of the outtage. Only, my cell phone had no signal. I had to borrow a phone on a different network and call him.

Our management team decided to meet anyway and offsite. Since I skipped breakfast, I suggested a local cafe and off we went. Things had started to look up. Hot coffee, ham and eggs... ahhhh!

Three hours later we were still meeting. I called Brandy, our nanny, to see how Daisy was doing. Unfortunately, the answer was not good. She was fussy, irritable, would cry for no reason, and nothing could satiate her. She wanted to be picked up but then she would cry and arch her back to be put down. She would lean forward to sit but didn't want to stay there. She would lunge from sitting to her tummy and then get mad. No temperature, eating good, pooping good... the cause of her "issues" were a mystery. So, then I started to have mommy-worry, even though our meeting had yet another two hours still left in it.

I finally got out of my 9:30am meeting at 2pm and zoomed home through the still-crazy weather.

By the time I responded to emails it was 3:30pm and I had only 30 minutes of baby-sitting left. One of the emails was from Hubby who was communicating with our new tennants at our townhouse. As "luck" would have it, they had taken their first shower and it had busted a leak that resulted in water dripping through the ceiling. Fantastic!

It was at this point that I realized I had skipped lunch, so I went to put and English Muffin in the toaster to tide me over until dinner.

That's when the power went out. (So much for the English muffin)

Brandy left at 4pm and I started to pool my candle resources in the living room. No TV, no radio, no light, and a cranky 6 month old. Going for a walk or a drive was also out. To top it all off, Hubby was working late. (I was trying real hard not to let the panic set in.)

Fortunately, Hubby's late appointment cancelled and he came home to participate in the all-out attempt to figure out what the heck was wrong with Daisy. By 5:45pm, we were out of ideas, out of light, and HUNGRY, so we packed our screaming munchkin into a fleece hoodie, strapped her into the car seat and started to head out to my parents' house (which already had power restored a couple of hours prior.)

Just as we had our handle on the front door, the lights came on.

Since we had already put so much effort into getting Daisy in the car seat, we certainly were not going to let it be wasted. We went to Mum and Dad's anyway, where Daisy returned somewhat to life, riding her pink pony and smiling at her Grandad. Meanwhile, Mum made us a ham and cheese omelette (ok, not a varied diet for me yesterday) and we got to eat it hot, together, at the same time (quite an achievement in the world of parenting, we have discovered.)

And so our wet-and-wild day ended better than it began, thank goodness.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

40 years. Wow!

Congratulations Mum and Dad on 40 years of marriage!

Today is my parents' Ruby wedding anniversary. On this day, back in 1969, a blushing, 20 year old, Pauline Margaret Caskey, walked down the aisle to marry baby-faced Barry Martin Carter.


40 years ago, the Beatles had just released their Abbey Road album, the Brady Bunch and Sesame Street tv-shows were just debuting, colour TV began being broadcast on the BBC and ITV in the UK for the first time, the first man walked on the Moon, and the Vietnam War was still raging.

And now, all these years later, Mum and Dad are now U.S. Residents! Whodathunkit?

Christmas 07 132

My parents are the two most loving, giving, selfless people I know. They have worked incredibly hard all their lives to give me everything I could ever hope for. And they continue to give now, even though it's not asked-for, because that's what makes them happy. I can't wish for anything more wonderful than the sight of them smiling and giggling along with Daisy. I'm so glad they are again a regular part of my life and a daily part of Daisy's. She will be much better off for having Nanny and Grandad in her life, for sure.

I love you Mum and Dad. (Now let's head out to that Irish pub tonight and get HAMMERED!)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pain Drain

Tonight Hubby commented that I have a ton more energy at the end of the day when I haven't been in pain all day with my hip.

This may sounds obvious (DUH!) but it's not until you have a good day that you realize just how emotionally and physically draining daily pain can be.

So what did I do differently today? Well, I woke up with quite a bit of lower back and hip stiffness and, knowing I had a long day ahead of me that included a photo-shoot in William Land Park as well as an afternoon at the Pumpkin Patch (more on Lazy Crazy Daisy later) with some kiddos, I got ahead of my pain and took two pain-killers - the 1-2 punch of Ibuprofen and Codeine from the English wonder-pills, Nurofen Plus.

Normally, I don't like to rely on pain pills, especially since my pain is chronic and daily. First, it's just not good for you. Second, I'm shit-scared of being dependent. Third, how the hell do I know if I'm progressing with my other efforts if I'm constantly masking the pain? BUT, today's experience reminds me that, every now and again it's good to take a mental and physical health break from the daily beat-down of soreness and stiffness.

Incidentally, I think I need a new mattress. I just can't seem to get comfortable at night any more. Every part of my body - from my neck down to my feet - seems to twinge or ache while I'm in bed these days. It's been a week or two since I had a full night's rest; I continually wake up sometime between 1am and 3am feeling uncomfortable. I wonder how much difference a new mattress will make on my hip pain and stiffness? I'm going to have to save-up to find out!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Noble Nobel?

As pretty much everyone with access to any form of media now knows, President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today.

I have to say that, despite being a huge fan of our President and everything he represents, I was just as shocked as everyone else around the globe. Do I think of him as a transformative figure in many spheres? Absofrickinlutely yes. Do I think his concrete achievements to-date belong up there with those of the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela? Umm... you know, I actually don't. I certainly feel he has the potential to make those kinds of impacts in places yet to be determined but right now it's somewhat like awarding a masters degree to my 6-month old daughter, Daisy. Yeah, I think she's gonna be a smart kid, why don't I just give her the roll of paper in anticipation of those achievements? (And plus... oh the pressure!)

I also have to say that part of me also groaned as soon as I heard because, although this is indeed a huge honor, I knew it would provide all kinds of dubious fodder for the right-wing media to chew on for several weeks. I'm certain that I'm not so politically savvy as to be the only person to have thought of this - I'm sure the White House didn't know whether to laugh or cry when they heard.

I haven't listened to Fox News or the like today but I'm willing to bet my last dollar that there's all sorts of back-handed slights about the President's rock-star-like adulation amongst the international community much the same way there was when he was greeted by hundreds of thousands of people in Europe before he was elected. (As if being liked is reason for scorn, for heavens sake.) Somehow I just see this all being played into the underlying storyline that the President's critics continue to weave about how he is all talk and no action - a big bag of hot hype that delivers no results.

(A quick glance at the Fox News internet site already headlines "Some Analysts Warn Obama's Nobel Peace Prize Complicates War Efforts", by the way. Shocker. Like I didn't see that one coming.)

Of course, he does have a lot to live up to. The sense of hope and promise he riled up in the American people last November was a beautiful thing. His promises of bi-partisan cooperation, no more politics as usual, better health care, a way out of the economic mess, peaceful diplomatic relations, withdrawls from military conflicts... they weren't small and they all added rungs to the huge ladder he must climb to come anywhere near living up to expectations. And now comes the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet something else he needs to live-up to.

Which just makes me a tad sad for President Obama. Not that I don't think that he has the chops to deliver - I wouldn't have voted for him if I didn't think he did (although I'm sure he won't win on every front.) The reason I'm sad is because this honor that he has received is being questioned and will, in the short term at least, lack the respect that was afforded to previous winners. How much nicer it would have been if, ten years from now, the Nobel committee had sat down and, instead of awarding him for his promise, awarded him for his concrete achievements. Then the title would be justly given and rightly respected.

Not everyone around the world views Obama's acheievement through the same spectacles. This article by the Christian Science Monitor online provides a pretty good overview of the mixed reaction across the globe. Even so, most of it hints at the award being given for promise rather than achievements. Which makes one wonder who would have won in previous years if that was, indeed, the criteria?

Image courtesy of and Jim Young/Reuters

Friday Motivation - Week 3

Thanksgiving07 066

This week's photo is from Thanksgiving of 2007, so less than 2 years ago. It's one of my favorite pictures of myself. For some reason I'm just loving my hair, my skin, my size, and the fact that I look so relaxed. Of course, this is pre hip-surgery (which I'm regretting more and more every day) and pre-baby, so there was a lot less to be stressed about.

Unfortunately, no really great news to report this week.

LBS TO GOAL: 13.4 lbs

The weeks are going down but the pounds aren't. I started at a place of needing to lose one pound per week and now I need to lose one and a quarter pounds per week.

So, time to own up. What's going on?

  1. Nabisco Iced Animal Crackers, that's what's going on! Blame Hubby for sneaking them into the shopping cart last weekend while I was trying to prevent Daisy from using it as a teething ring. Ok, since this blog post is about accountability, that's not really fair. I didn't have to eat them.
  2. I'm just not getting enough cardio exercise. The Total Gym is an awesome circuit workout but I need to get my heart-rate up for 30 minutes or more at least three days a week. I hate to say it but I need to get up early and head back to the gym. I have absolutely no excuse as to why I cannot. Daisy hasn't been rising until 7am or later recently and so I could quite conceivably get up at 5am, head-out to the gym, do a 30 minute cardio workout, and be back by 7am.

On the plus side, I have worked out every single day this week. Three pretty strenuous 30 minute Total Gym workouts and two power yoga workouts. I've, generally speaking, been drinking more water (which is also a big issue I have - I just don't drink) and I haven't been skipping meals (which I have a tendency to do when I'm desperate to lose the poundage.)

I do have to say that I am noticing a change in the shape of my body. My abs are definitely getting tighter and flatter, although the big glob of skin and fat left over from carrying an 8lbs baby on a 5foot 1inch frame, is still there wobbling around. Essentially, I think, this is my remaining my key barrier to fitting in to smaller pants. (Which makes me wonder if it's going to be curable by exercise and diet alone.) In addition, I'm now fitting into many of my pre-pregnancy tops, if a little more snugly than I did before. I also felt-up my own ass yesterday and it feels pretty firm (and given that I'm my own harshest critic, that's saying something.) So, I am noticing progress in other areas, if not on the scale.

Therefore, specific goals for next week are:

  1. Get up early and head to the gym for some cardio 3 days a week.
  2. Keep up the good work on the regular exercise.
  3. Continue to drink more water and stay hydrated.
  4. Stop snacking on the animal crackers or any other goodies that my Skubby (Skinny+Hubby) smuggles in.
  5. Continue to make even better choices with food.

Ok, I'm liking the specific goals for next week. Let's see if they show up on the scale!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Friday Motivation - Week 2 (On Monday)

Since I was on a business trip last week, I missed the opportunity to post my Friday Motivation picture and stats. However, since I'm not one to puss-out and use all that fattening conference food as an excuse, I weighed myself on Saturday morning and am posting Saturday's Friday Motivation on Monday. (Ahem)

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This week's picture is from our honeymoon in Belize in June of 2007. Here I'm sitting on top of El Castillo, a Mayan pyramid at the ruins in Xunantunich. I chose this one because I'm not the smallest I've ever been here but I'm toned and comfortable with myself which, quite frankly, are two factors more important to me than any number on the scale.

That aside, I do need something to measure my goals by, so here we go with the dreaded stats. Not much to celebrate over except to say that I didn't put on weight last week, despite not working out, drinking like a fish, and eating conference food.

LBS TO GOAL: 13.6 lbs

I guess I just need to do better this week.

As for my trip... man it was exhausting. 3 days of being in sales mode from 7am to 11pm - breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails (and boy, were there cocktails!) That said, it was the longest stint of time that I've spent just being "me" since Daisy was born. It was at once freeing and alien. I was so busy most of the time that, although I missed her, I was doing fine. That was until I saw a mommy and her baby bouncing around in the hotel pool on the last day, which brought tears to my eyes and sent me checking-out and speeding home.

During my conference, however, I had somewhat of a revelation.

When I couldn't get on one of the 3 working cardio machines at the hotel "fitness center" on Thursday morning, I decided instead to don a pair of jeans, some sneakers and two layers of sweater (because it was about 30 degrees!) and take a long walk to-and-from Starbucks. It was about one third of the way there, as I was striding in full-force down the strip, that I realized that my hip didn't hurt. Not one iota. Not my hip, not my thigh, not my knees. (My pinkie toe is another issue we won't address here.) For the first time, it actually occurred to me that I felt... well... normal! This was elating but surprising because I had been traipsing around all Wednesday in ridiculously high-heeled boots and had spent a good portion of my day on my feet in said high-heeled boots.

Was it the altitude? The crisp morning air? Of course, it definitely got me to wondering, especially when I woke up on Saturday morning after my first afternoon/night home, feeling as though I'd been hit by a truck.

The variables from my conference days in Tahoe as opposed to my regular days at home were:
  1. More time on my feet/standing
  2. Wearing high-heels
  3. Less time on the computer
  4. Drinking more alcohol
  5. Different bed

So I concluded that I need to stand all day in high-heels with a cocktail in my hand? Sounds nice but but, of course, I'm joking.

What I can tell you is that this week I am going to:

  1. Research a new matttress - especially after a horrible Saturday night where every part of me hurt, leading me to have a ridiculously tight illiopsoas that resulted in me needing a muscle-relaxant and a 600mg of ibuprofen before bed last night.
  2. Sit straighter in my chair (can already attest that I am doing that as I write this post)
  3. Get up more often from my desk and walk around/stretch (need to finish this post and then I will)
  4. Buy new sneakers
  5. Stop wearing flip-flops, even my orthopedic ones, when I go out (the cooler weather will help there)

I'd like to add drink apple-martinis in place of water there but I doubt that would do my weight or my liver any good.

So, we'll see if that makes any difference.

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