Thursday, August 10, 2023

Celebrate All the Things! Happy Half Birthday to Me

This Thursday marks 28 years since my sister Hilda passed on from this earth. Last week while my daughter and I were cleaning my upstairs room we found an old card she gave me. I was 24 when she wrote these words to me. She was 41 and was diagnosed with leukemia four months later.

What a great reminder from her that I need to keep working on my fitness and eating right. What got me was the "Love you always and forever" part. It reminded me of the quote, "Love transcends time and space." Thank you Hilda for the reminder!

I'm going to wear her earrings on August 10 to celebrate her spirit. In her 30s and 40s she always wore big loud earrings, bright colors and cool shoes. I told myself years ago that I would celebrate every year that I live past 42, the age she was when she passed away and I can't lose sight of that promise. I recently told a friend that we have to #celebrateallthethings, because she wasn't acknowledging her victories, and I need to practice that too. 

Me wearing Hilda's earring in 2016. 

This week is also my half birthday. Tomorrow on Friday the 11th I'm halfway to 54 and it's the time of year when I review my goals and how I'm doing. It's also a good excuse to celebrate!

If I choose to concentrate on the positive I can say that I've gotten a lot of things done lately. I cleaned out half of my garage and I finally cleaned out the extra bedroom upstairs with the help of my children and my son's good friend. I'm getting my son's doctor's appointments done before he has to go back to school in New York in September. 

I finally got my mammogram and extra ultrasound done and I had all my yearly physicals. All is looking good across the board, from my breasts, to my cholesterol, A1c level, and heart. I've even dropped 16 pounds in a year, which is always a win. 

I've made a morning meditation a daily habit, but I will have to revise my overly ambitious goal of either 400 or 500 Peloton rides by 54. I'm thinking that what sounds more realistic and cool is 354 rides and strength workouts by 54. #354to54 is being sensible. 

I've also done a good job of editing my novel right before each Central Nebraska Writing Group meeting, so I can read for the group at our bi-monthly meetings. Goal is to have a portion done for each meeting, so I can have the whole book edited in approximately 9 more months or less. It's a marathon, not a sprint and I want to do it right this time. 

On another note, at my day job of selling advertising and doing my part to defend the free press... I'm so happy that I can bring my whole self to work and that I can follow things I'm passionate about. We have an awesome DEI training called Hearst Conscious Inclusion and when we complete the training we become "Change Agents." I'm now working with a group called "Change Agents in Action." I'm leading a group of Hearst employees from other divisions and our focus will be on external projects for Women's Rights. I can't wait to see the work we all do and I'm so grateful for the opportunity! I was also asked to do something else, but more to come later. 

In my little libraries world. I am so happy to report that an organization is donating two bookshelves for my little libraries and a local art organization wants to paint them for me. I'm so excited to see what they do! 

In my historic cemetery world. I'm looking for a corporate sponsor who will do matching donations for Giving Tuesday for the Historic McDaniel Street Cemetery. If you know of anyone who is passionate about historical cemeteries send them my way!

Life is definitely not boring and I have a lot to keep me busy. I'm grateful to be making it to 53 and a half and let's see what I can accomplish in the next six months. #354to54

Sunday, July 16, 2023

The Fools Who Dream

"A bit of madness is key

To give us new colors to seeWho knows where it will lead us?And that's why they need us"
So bring on the rebelsThe ripples from pebblesThe painters, and poets, and plays"
Song: Audition (The Fools Who Dream) from La La Land
La La Land poster owned by Lionsgate

I love this version of the movie poster because it's the scene when Emma Stone goes into her audition for her big break and Ryan Gosling is sitting outside in the waiting room. This is the scene that did it for me and the reason I keep listening to the song "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)."
A couple of weeks ago my son encouraged me to watch the 2017 movie La La Land. I'd never watched it because I just never got around to it, and honestly I didn't think I would enjoy it. I was curious to find out why it had it touched him so much. I suspected that it was because he's a creative song writer, a lyricist, an artist. 
Imagine my surprise when the movie really spoke to me, a 53 year old woman. I especially love the audition scene and the emotions the song evokes. It's a message of hope for the dreamers and inspires them not to give up because the world needs them. I know others have felt the same and it was a topic of discussion on Vulture as the pivotal final number of the movie. 
I love stories about people who don't give up on their dreams, especially writers. A few days ago I came across an essay by the writer Andre Dubus III in the New Yorker about the first time he went on a spending spree in New York with his family, including his blind aunt, the guest of honor. He planned this trip to celebrate her birthday. I Googled what book he had finished before the summer of 2001 and I found that he had published House of Sand and Fog in 1999 and Oprah had chosen it for her book club in 2000. By 2001 it had probably already been optioned for a movie because the movie debuted in 2003. That explained it.
The New Yorker article is a story of hope. It's the kind of story that gives writers hope that they will have a New York Times bestseller one day. It reminded me of La La Land and the "Audition" song again. 
The way the article is written I didn't read it as a successful author boasting about his success and money. It's much more than that, because it tells the story of a little boy who grew up poor and didn't have a lot of money as an adult, before becoming a successful published author in his early 40s. It's a heartwarming story about freedom from poverty. 
As an aspiring writer this essay gave me hope too, because I am a "fool who dreams, crazy as that may seem." At the age of 53 I still believe in so many things and that is what keeps me writing and dreaming. 

Friday, June 30, 2023

Changing the Narrative for Working Moms

I am so in awe of this new generation of working mothers who demand to be seen and taken seriously. I admire how candid they are about raising children while working. One influencer on LinkedIn posted that she will over-share what her life is like as a working parent. "TMI is my default until the default becomes the norm." I love that. I love that she refuses to shrink to make others comfortable.

With my kids when they were babies, 18 years ago.

I know I am incredibly lucky to have worked for a company that was very flexible and made it easy for me have and raise two children, while working full time. But that doesn't mean I felt okay discussing the challenges of being a working mom, especially when I became a single working mother. 

In fact, I even stepped back two years after the divorce to stay home and work contract, until I could work through my son's ADHD diagnosis. Coincidentally my elderly father had to come live with me during that same time. 

Recently I listened to an older woman speak about her career experience and it was very inspiring for all of us to hear her stories and experiences.

However, when it came time for the questions from the audience someone asked about being an older woman who stepped back when her children were young and if it was possible to get back onto the same career path. 

I could relate to this question, because although I have done very well in my career and I think I'm well respected as an experienced employee, I don't see myself leading projects and initiatives again, partly because I took that time away when my kids were younger. 

The speaker's response surprised me. She said that women didn't need to step back because they should ask more from their spouses. I didn't have a spouse when my children were young so where did I fit in? What about single women who decide to have children on their own? What about widows? Where does that leave us? Where does that leave older women who want to return to the workforce?

My corporation has done such an excellent job, especially in the last few years, to train us on diversity and inclusion. I was certified as a "change agent" after completing all the training. Now I will be helping to lead an external working group and I'm thrilled to see that one of the three areas we are going to address is women's rights. I'm also on the team for the internal working group. I'm looking forward to those discussions and plans and I hope that this gives me an opportunity to address the needs of single working mothers.

Even though I'm not the mother of young children any more I want to help young mothers get to the comfort level of that LinkedIn influencer. I want to help change the narrative at work so women feel safe juggling both their career and their children. I want to pave the way to change attitudes so women can step away if needed, but then I want for it to be okay for them to step back in and continue on their career path, despite their age. It's going to take time, but I believe we've already made a lot of progress in recent years and we can make more.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

So What Ever Happened To That Peloton?

It's been a while since I mentioned my Peloton. That Peloton that I was so in love with in 2018... Yes, I still have it, but I don't know what happened to that loving feeling. 

The last time I mentioned it was in July of last year when I said that I knew that my blood counts were significantly lower when I was riding the Peloton and I said I was going to get back on it.  I didn't... 

Here is where I was on February 3, 2019, the day I reached my 100th bike ride.

Here is where I am today!

I've owned my bike since approximately August, 2018, that's almost five years! In that time I've worked out 803 times (I don't really count meditations as workouts but Peloton does so...) I've only ridden my bike 139 more times, but I've done 223 more strength workout and I've completed 63 runs. 

For the last couple of years I've been running with the Peloton app more and cycling less. I've also really gotten into the strength workouts, most recently trying the standing core strength workouts. I love those!

I know I shouldn't beat myself up about this. I know that 803 workouts is still something. 803 divided by 5 years is 160.6 workouts per year. That's 13.38 workouts per month or approximately 3.34 times per week. Or as some of the coaches point out, it's still working out more than people who don't work out. 

I can't explain why I haven't been on the bike and why I've been running more than cycling. I've written about how I self-sabotage and here. It didn't help when I logged on the other day and I received a warning about the bike seat recall. I'm yet to address that issue, but I know it has to be done. Luckily I've never had any issues with my seat thus far. 

Either way, I do have to call about the seat and I do need to get back on the bike. I still love everything about Peloton, especially the strength workouts and the walks and runs. My challenge is to get myself back on the bike, and loving the rides again.

I want to set a #400by54 goal for myself for both Strength and Cycling. I know I can do it for Strength, but can I reach the same goal for Cycling? I want to! 

New goal for the second part of the year and my soon to be half birthday in August!

Monday, June 19, 2023

I'm a Little Morbid, Just a Little, but I'm Also Realistic

Some people would find this morbid or maybe even negative. I find it damn realistic, especially at my age. 

A few years ago I started a list of people who I knew, who died before 50. Topping the list was my  sister, who died at 42. As I started getting older the list grew and I found myself adding co-workers and former classmates around my age to the list. These are classmates from Waltrip High School, the University of Houston and colleagues from the Houston Chronicle.

Facebook memories served up a memory recently about a trip I took with the kids to Marfa, Big Bend and Terlingua in June, 2021. I had a comment from a friend about how she loved staying in the Chisos Basin. She made this comment in June and she died that November. One morning she woke up, had a headache and passed out. She was only 52, one year older than me at the time.

I often see comments on old Facebook posts from friends who have passed and it always makes me smile to remember them fondly and then I feel a little melancholy too. I've started to think of these past messages as little whispers, reminders from them. "Hey live your best life! Life can be short."

I'm 53, eleven years older than my sister was when she passed away. The past eleven years have flown by and I think of all the things I wanted to do, but didn't, because I let life get in the way. 

I came across this blog about feeling like I was on the cusp of something amazing in April of 2021. It blows me away that it's been two years since I wrote that. 

I joined the Central Nebraska Writing Group the fall of 2020 and in April 2021, when I wrote that blog post, I started the first draft of my current novel. I was pretty much finished with the first draft by April of 2022. That's over a year ago! 

So the question is, "Am I done editing and revising it?" The answer is NO. Like I said in a current Facebook post about this, time marches on and when we put off doing things, we look up and the time has passed. So just do the thing. Time is going to pass anyway.

This is why it is so important that I take the time to write 30 minutes a day!  Life is short.