Sunday, May 16, 2021

Either Focus on One Thing or Get Zero Done

The story of my life is that I have to focus on one thing at a time or I will get nothing done. As much as I wish I could juggle several things at once, I've come to accept that I can't. When I was younger, and when the children were little, I could do so much more than I can now. 

My First 5K Run

I did my first 5K Run in my life on May 9 on Mother's Day with my kids, their dad and his girlfriend, my friend Leisa. It was a great American family event and we all went to dinner afterwards. 

Can we take a moment to celebrate me doing a run for the first time EVER in my life? It was the Houston Rodeo Virtual Run. I am so proud of myself and I can't wait to do more and to build myself up to a 10K run. I'll never be a marathon runner, but I'll be happy if I can complete a 10K. Baby steps!

I had been running for the past couple of months with my Peloton app because I wanted to take advantage of the great weather while I could. I know it will be really hot in Houston soon enough and it will be harder to run in the humidity. So when my daughter told me about this virtual 5K run I thought it was great timing. 

After the run, my left ankle, that has given me some problems when clipping in and out of the bike, and when wearing certain high heels, started hurting me a lot. The irony was that it's never hurt me when I walk or run. I decided to give it a break for a few days after the run.

Coincidentally I found out that I was having a home inspection/appraisal the following Saturday, the 15th. Once I knew I had this looming deadline that's all I could think about and focus on. I made a schedule of what I needed to do each day to clean the house. I know... I know... it's not about how clean or dirty my house is. However, I was not going to have the appraiser think to herself, "Not only did she not remodel this house, she is dirty on top of that." 

So did I continue walking and running this past week? No. Two things that make me get off schedule from working out. An injury or illness and having to do something big, like cleaning the house to prepare for this appraisal. 

The good news is I did pace myself with the house project and I completed a few tasks each day. With the help of my daughter Miranda we got everything done in time for the appraisal. The trick with me mentally is to make a list and to set daily goals so I don't get overwhelmed and shut down. That's what I did and I was able to complete the over-all big task. 

Now with that behind me, and with my ankle feeling better, I can start running again. It's always a challenge, but I always do it. I always recommit. That's what I have to keep telling myself in order to continue. This time I'm going to do it sooner than later. 

Another thing that always helps me to focus on my goals, and to take them in baby steps, so that I can complete them, is making lists and using day planner. Some friends can't believe that I still use an old-school paper planner, a FranklinCovey one to be exact, but writing things down is an essential part of my life. When I write things down and I can see my plans down on paper it calms me. 

I have a dashboard page in my planner where I have four different short lists of things I want to get done. At the top of the page are my five main life goals. 

It's hard for me to do all of these at the exact same time and one always falls behind at some point, however this is what I work on balancing. I have come to accept that sometimes I need to take a whole week off from one, like running for example, to get my house in order for something important like an appraisal. And I won't beat myself up when I need to do that.

All of them are equally important to me and here recently I have really been feeling like this novel that I'm working on is going to be very significant in my life. I wish I could be put in a room alone for a weekend with just my Peloton, my weights, my yoga mat and my lap top. I would write, work out, eat, nap and then write some more. 

I've been looking at writing retreats where I can at least have the solitude and I'm really thinking about doing one. I know it's an expense, but it could be an investment that would be worth it it in the end.  I want to isolate myself for an entire weekend to write. I also love the idea of taking an Amtrak trip somewhere, with a sleeper cart, over a weekend to write.

Plans, plans and more plans. So much is hanging on this appraisal that was done yesterday. If I can refinance my house at a lower interest rate then I can do so many other things. For example, I'm so excited about going on vacation in June with the kids and hopefully doing a writing retreat in July. These are my summer goals!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Little Libraries and Cemeteries Are Keeping Me Busy

I’m really excited about the projects I’m working on right now. I’ve decided to make Little Libraries in Laundromats an actual non-profit organization. I want to make early education its mission.
I want to speak to parents at under-served HISD elementary schools about the School Choice program to encourage them to identify if their children are gifted in some way. I feel like there are so many gifted children in HISD who fall through the cracks because nobody takes an interest in them or because their parents don’t know how to navigate the system. Those of us that take advantage of the magnet program are parents who know about it and it can even be challenging for us. Imagine how challenging it can be for a parent with very little education or who only speaks Spanish?
I’m passionate about this cause because I attended an under-served elementary school and I was introduced to the magnet programs when I was in middle school when I attended Hamilton Middle School. After that I was in the IB program at Waltrip High School. My kids are also graduates of the Vanguard program and attended DeBakey High School, one of the top magnet schools in the city and the state.
I’m going to expand my library locations soon and I’m going to move into the Eastex/Jensen area. This is the area where I grew up and I want to collaborate with an artist in that neighborhood. There are other projects I want to work on in the community.
I’m also excited with the momentum that we’ve gained with the Historic McDaniel Street Cemetery and I’m so proud to sit on the board of the Westcott Cemetery Association as secretary. (I’ve blogged about it as the Westcott Cemetery) The Westcott Cemetery Association has made so much progress with this initiative. We had a very successful event at the cemetery on Saturday, April 10 and we announced that the Fondren Foundation has awarded us a $45,000 challenge grant. If you would like to donate to this cause there are ways to donate on our website.
I have plenty to keep me busy this next year and a half until Seth graduates. I feel like I’m building a foundation now for where I want to go in the future and this brings me satisfaction.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

On the Cusp of Something Amazing

I’ve had an epiphany of sorts. I know I'm always writing about my weight, my health, working out, etc... I've also written about how I'm at this important point in my life. I’m only a few years from being an empty nester.
Once Seth is 18 and in college, the fall of 2022 I will be in a very different place in my life. I feel like once he’s an adult I can open myself up to more opportunities. • So back to the epiphany. It was this. You know how we all say, “Oh if I could only go back to this certain age knowing what I know now?” For me it would be the age of 23, right after I graduated from college and starting my career. I may not be 23 years old, with that youthful look and good health, but I am about to be in a very similar situation when the kids are both adults. Except this time I have 51 years of life experience under my belt. • Along with the experience, I’m also going in with a much more realistic expectation than I would have had at 23. At 23 I thought I had all the time in the world. I know now that time is fleeting. • I’m excited to see what comes next because I feel like I am on the cusp of something amazing.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Universe is Shouting at Me

After my last birthday post the Universe showed me once again that it has a great sense of humor and that I am never in control. Or in the words of John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

I spent a year working from home, wearing a mask, hand washing and sanitizing all the time. I did leave the house. I went to the neighborhood stores, got a pedicure twice in one year, and I went out to eat occasionally, always with a mask. I saw a few friends and not always with a mask. In the end I didn’t get Covid19 from any public place. I got it in the most common way that people get it, from someone I know.

Me, at the tail-end of my illness.

Not to be dramatic, but you all know that I am. I realized something today. This is my 5th lease on life. I really better do something freaking amazing now!

First there was the lump in my breast that was benign – July, 2015. I’m ashamed to say that after that scare I promised that I would start running and eating healthy. I wasn’t true to my promise. So the Universe had to give me another nudge.

In November, 2018 I had a heart misdiagnosis. The doctors thought I had WPW and they weren’t sure what the second thing was that they were seeing. One doctor thought that it was possibly a sick sinus node. Thank goodness it ended up being an ectopic atrial rhythm that’s not hurting anything. I don’t have WPW either. This ectopic thing mimics WPW.

February, 2020. While taking vancomycin, an antibiotic, for a bone infection, intravenously, I developed a severe allergic reaction that put me in the hospital for five days. Thank goodness I didn’t die of anaphylaxis.

That same month, February, 2020, because of the bone infection, I had to have the tip of my toe bone amputated and I felt very fortunate that it was just the tip. I didn’t lose the whole toe! Which would have been terrible for my high heels and open toe sandals.

Now I can add, “Survived Covid19” to the list, March, 2021. Although it’s still early, and I don’t know what damage it may have caused, I am still extremely grateful that I didn’t end up in the hospital on a ventilator.  I was extremely exhausted for three weeks, nauseous a lot of the time and just feeling all-over sick, but I kept saying that if that was it, I was grateful.

Those of you who know me know where I’m going with this. That’s FIVE times that I have had a very close call with either death or a serious illness. I’m taken back to that original scare, the breast lump that was smooth and round. I was told that because of its appearance in the ultrasound it was benign. They’ve never found another lump since then.

Right after that happened I promised that I would start running (this was pre-Peloton bike) and that I was going to change my ways. Although I’ve made a lot of progress since then I’m not where I should be. If I’m being honest with myself I’m at least sixty pound over-weight and I need to seriously work on that. I'm going to change up my routine and I'm going to start running while the weather is nice on the days I'm not on the bike. 

In addition to getting healthier, I also keep starting and stopping on my writing journey. Yes, I write here, yes I’ve been published recently in a magazine, but I always allow myself to be side-tracked. I get distracted from the bigger goal, which is to write regularly, to sharpen my skills, and to publish a book. I used to say a novel, but now I’m thinking a non-fiction book will be my first book.

I have a new lease on life. I have another chance. The Universe is getting tired of sending me these nudges and pushes and now it's shouting at me. I need to listen now.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Happy 51st Birthday Eve to Me

Here I am on the eve of my 51st birthday waiting for the clock to tick to 12 midnight. Well, technically I won't be 51 until 7:09 a.m. tomorrow. This photo is of me a week ago, so basically already at 51 years old.

I wanted to give a true and honest view of myself at this age, so I'm not wearing any make-up in this picture. The lighting is probably just right because you can't see the heavy bags under my eyes that you can usually see.  It's just the honest truth. I'm getting older and there is nothing I can do about that except take care of myself. 

I recently did a Vision Board for the next 14 years. Why 14 years you may ask?  Because that's when I plan to retire from working. I'm actually really excited about the prospect. Can you imagine a life of doing whatever the hell I want 24/7? Bliss! However, I don't want to be one of those people who retires and then immediately dies. 

So my vision board points out that first and foremost I need to eat right and exercise. Although, who are we kidding, that's not necessarily a guarantee that I'll live until 90. However, it will increase my chances. EVERYTHING starts and ends with my health. 

If I can stay healthy then I can pursue other opportunities and maybe even move to another city for work, when the kids are both independent. If I stay healthy and strong then I don't have to worry when I retire and I can pursue all the things on my bucket list, ala Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicolson. That is the most exciting prospect of all!

I'm going to be like Grandma Moses pursuing my artistic passions late in life. Maybe I'll join Sisters on the Fly, a group of women traveling around in their vintage trailers. The possibilities are endless. 

When you are staring at a soon-to-be 17 year old boy in your house and your daughter is a sophomore away at college, you realize how insignificant 14 years can be. It's nothing and it will fly by. 

That's why it all comes back to my health. I completed my 200th Peloton ride as promised by Halloween 2020 and when I got back from my nephew's wedding I had another minor toenail surgery. (YES, on that same toe.)  I got back on the bike in earnest in January and I haven't looked back since. On February 4, I completed my 200th strength workout! I'm not the best, and I don't have the most rides, but I am happy and proud of my achievements. Like our Peloton coaches tell us consistently, we are doing way more than the person on the couch! 

Recently I decided to level up. I've never been a morning person, but recently, in January, I also started waking up earlier to work out in the morning. This has been a HUGE game changer in a couple of different ways. For one, I'm waking up earlier and starting the day earlier and on a positive note. Second, I'm not only working out on Tuesdays and Thursday during the week as usual, I've added Mondays and Wednesdays into my week, with floor exercises, like Core, Pilates and Barre. It's been my goal to add in more core workouts  

The other way that it's been a game changer is that it's shifted the whole energy of my day and has given me back so much time and I need to appreciate that more. By this I mean that, when I work out in the morning, in the evenings I feel like I have so much time to do so many other things. This is what I need to appreciate more and I need to do something with that time, like writing or learning a new language. 

I only have a very short period of years left in this life. I want to make the best of those years and I want to have the time of my life. I can just see myself traveling around the country with the "sisters" in my little vintage trailer and visiting museums in every major city. My job from now until 2035 is to make sure I'm healthy, to stay alive, and to be ready for this last leg.