Monday, January 14, 2019

New Year! New Words! Recommit, Cleanse and Repair

Similar to years past I had a slow start to the year. This time I feel like I trudged through the first two weeks of the year and now here we are, already halfway through January and less than one month from my fabulous 49th birthday. It's the last birthday of my 40s and I plan to celebrate in a grand way.  2019 is going to be a MUCH better year than 2018. I know that sounds cliché but after the 2018 I had, it has to be.

I'm on this quest to reach 100 rides on my Peloton bike before my 49th birthday in February and I'm on ride 84. We still have these balloons so I'm just going to get another zero to give to myself on  the day that I complete my 100th ride. 

When the year started I knew that my one big word was going to be Recommit. It's a word that I heard in April and that I added to my words for the year in 2018. It's such an amazing word because it covers a multitude of things. It came from a quote that I read by life coach, Cara Alwill Leyba. She says to "Recommit as many times as you need to.." But my favorite part is, "Failure is an illusion and the idea that you can't start over will do nothing but keep you in a space of sadness." I love that. 

It's taken 14 days into the month but I finally have the rest of my words. I've thought about what I want out of myself this year, what I hope to accomplish, to find the right words. Hopefully this doesn't sound too much like a skin care regimen. My other two words are cleanse and repair. 

Recommit to my goals, healthy eating, exercise, and all the goals I set for myself monthly and weekly. I'll recommit when I reach them and when I don't.

Cleanse covers so many areas. I want to cleanse my life. I want to start eating clean and I want to clean out my house. I want to pack up all the things that I would find completely essential to take with me if the house were burning down and I only had time to grab a few things. Or all the things I would take with me if I was going to live in a little vintage trailer, like the ones I admire.

Repair. I need to to repair my mind, my soul, my courage, my body and my house. I need to repair myself both spiritually and I need to repair my physical surroundings. I'm tired of living with things in disrepair and only I can be the one to fix those things. 

So there you have it. Recommit, cleanse and repair. I can start 2019 now. What is your one word or your words for the year?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

End of Year Recap

Here I am on the eve of New Year's Eve reflecting on a really hard year that came with sadness, pain, but also gifts and blessings.

I read back on my blog posts from 2018 and I cried a little. I know time heals all wounds and as the year has gone by it has gotten easier to cope with the loss of my father.

The thing about losing my father was that it opened up the old wound of losing my mother almost 19 years ago. There's something so final about losing both your parents. It feels like the final step in growing up. Especially for me, who went from parents, to husband, back to having my father in my house and now standing completely alone with my two kids. 

This past year has had interesting discoveries and challenges too. There was the discovery of the, possibly 100 year old, well in my back yard in early May. There was the freak accident when I cut my ankle open the day before Mother's Day, the tree falling on my house, Miranda's surgery on her pilonidal cyst in the summer, and two, not one, times my car keys were destroyed. Then who can forget my heart misdiagnosis of WPW and sick sinus node that ended up being a weird heart, unlike any heart they had seen before. That was actually pretty cool.

There were the trips. One to California alone to see my sister and another to Paris with my best friend, and two trips to Wimberley and the Hill Country with my kids for Spring Break and Summer.

And the best gift I could have given myself this year, my Peloton bike that has changed my relationship with exercise and is reshaping my body, slowly but surely.

This year was a challenging year at work, but I overcame the tough months and I had a lot of good ones and some good bonuses. What I have is a career, not a job, and I am grateful for that. 

I am so thankful for family and friends. I know I am very fortunate to have as many close friends as I do. Not just regular friends. Friends who I love and trust. I know that is rare. I love my sisters and my niece and nephews so much. My two kids Miranda and Seth are godsends so far. They are such good kids over-all. I couldn't have wished for two better kids who do well in school and are respectful and kind. 

One of the best gifts I've been given these past couple of years is to become a great-aunt and to learn that it feels very similar to becoming a grandmother. Who would have known! We welcomed a healthy beautiful new great-niece into our family in October of this year. 

From my family to yours, I wish you a Happy New Year. May you get all that your heart desires in 2019. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

My Treacherous Heart and 100 Rides by 49

"The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it?" Life is crazy and so are our bodies. We can do all the right things and still end up with illnesses that affect our bones and muscles. We can not take care of ourselves, eat bacon all the time, and live to 93. We never know what our body is going to do. The best bet is to just eat right and exercise as much as possible as long as we can. 

It turns out I have an unusual heart. A few months ago I was diagnosed with WPW/Wolf-Parkinson-White (an accessory pathway of the electrical current in my heart) and possible sick sinus node. I went in to the hospital on November 16 for a cardiac catheterization to map my heart and to see where the problem was. The doctor at UT Physicians was sure that I was going to have to have an ablation.So did the second opinion doctor from Methodist/DeBakey.
It turns out that I have an ectopic atrial rhythm in the top left chamber that made it look like I had WPW and Sick Sinus Node. I have neither and the ectopic atrial rhythm is not life threatening. In fact the main electrical impulses of my heart start with that rhythm. The sinus node also works but not as strongly as the rhythm. The doctor has never seen anything like this before in his professional career. He said he got on a conference call with the doctor who did my second opinion and another specialist and they had never seen this before either.
So all's well that ends well for now. I took a two week break from my Peloton bike to make sure that the entry points in my groin had healed. I've been back on it for a week now and everything is working as it should so far, except for some slight soreness on the left side. My regular doctor said those entry points take a little while to heal. 
There's this meme that I love that I used to post when I was trying to walk/run. I want to make the same one for cycling. There are so many things to be grateful for and one of those is that I have a body that can move the way it does. Not everyone can say that.

Of course I'm not out of the woods yet. I still need to keep cycling and eating right and trying to lose this weight that haunts me. I've made a commitment to reach 100 rides by my 49th birthday in February. Yesterday I got to Ride #60 so I'm well on my way. Now I just need to change my diet to match my exercise. I have to. I need to. I will recommit for 2019. #100ridesby49

Sunday, November 25, 2018

My Paris Recap

This is really late in coming but I'm finally getting it written. I went to Paris October 11-16 with my best friend and traveling buddy Vicki. She and I took our first cross country trip when we were 16 years old to California, Las Vegas, the Hoover dam and the Grand Canyon. We took a break in traveling together for a few years when we were married and our kids were little, but here lately we've been to New York, Chicago and now Paris!

Arc de Triomphe

We were busy every single day. Starting with a walk, dinner and then a visit to the Eiffel Tower. We saw the light show at 9 p.m. and then headed to the hotel. We were up bright and early for our trip to Versailles.

Here are some tips for Versailles:

Get there super early, like 8:30 at the latest. They open at 9 a.m. but even at 8 a line is forming. Even if you buy a timed entry ticket, get there early.

Buy a ticket that will get you into everything. You'll just show that same ticket when you go into the gardens and to the Petit Trianon with now worries. You can purchase the ticket online.

Plan on spending the whole day there if you can. Rent a bike or a golf cart because it is huge. Like bigger than you probably imagine it to be. Marie Antoinette's home is a very far walk from the main palace.

If you rent a bike or golf cart be sure to budget the cost for keeping it for at least 3 hours. There's also a hop off and on tram that goes around the grounds.

When you go to Marie Antoinette's house, the Petit Trianon, you'll have to park and walk into the house first. Do not think you can take a shortcut around. You must enter through the house, through a metal detector and you have to show your ticket.

You still have to walk through the house to go see her hamlet town so you might as well see the house. The hamlet is a made up little town of some real houses and some facades. She built a little hamlet because she wanted to pretend to be a poor peasant. You can see why the poor people of France hated her, but she was just a spoiled kid.

Pack lunch, water and snacks if you are going to make it a day trip or plan on eating in the restaurant there in the palace.

If you take an Uber to Versailles when it comes time to leave, walk away from it before you order a car back. Always walk away from any major monuments and the price goes town substantially. We just walked down the main street that runs into the front entrance as far as the tourism office.

After Versailles we walked by Notre Dame but the line was too long so we just took pictures on the outside. Sunday we went to the Musee D'Orsay, Sainte Chapelle, the Pere Lachaise Cemetery and walked along the Champs Elysees until we go to the Arc de Triomphe.

Some people have told me that they'd rather see Sainte Chapelle instead of Notre Dame but since I've never been inside of Notre Dame I don't feel like I'm qualified to give that same advice. I can tell you that whether you go to Notre Dame or you don't, you MUST go Sainte Chapelle. It wasn't on our itinerary originally but when I was in Philadelphia connecting flights I went to the Rodin Museum there. The woman who worked there told me that I had to go to see Sainte Chapelle. Her art teacher had described it as a "jewel box turned inside out" and when I saw it it did live up to that description.

Stained glass of Sainte Chapelle
On our last day we did less but we did two big things We went to the Louvre in the morning and we went to Moulin Rouge in the evening.

When I went to Paris in 1987 my sister got pick-pocketed and ruined our chances of going to the Louvre because we spent the whole day looking for the police station to report her stolen birth certificate and driver's license. So for 31 years I have been looking forward to going back and seeing the Louvre. I wish I had planned better so I wouldn't have felt so disappointed.

Here is my Louvre advice. Get ready to walk a lot, almost as much as Versailles. Print out a floor plan BEFORE you go and plot the things you want to see. For example, you will pass Michaelangelo's Slave statue on your way to see the Mona Lisa. Stop and visit it then. So have a route you are going to take or you will find yourself walking in circles and disgusted.

And yes the Mona Lisa is tiny and they do not have an organized way for you to look at her. I would recommend to them that they rope it off and make everyone pass it in a single line, like they do the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico. It's a chaotic big crowd in front of the tiny photo and you may have a couple taking 20 selfies in front of you like I did. I finally told them to stop and move on.

Moulin Rouge is amazing. It's a cross between Cirque du Soleil and a burlesque show. Somehow I never realized that the dancers are topless the entire time. It's definitely something you have to see at least once in your life.

Over-all Paris is magical. I would like to go back but I would spread things out more and I wouldn't pack so many things into one day. We had to do that because we were only really there for four days. If I go again I will do less, and see some things I haven't seen, like other churches. The point is I will go again. It's definitely a place I want to take the kids. Until we meet again Paris!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

I Feel Pretty and My ADD Self-Confidence

I just came back from a 4 day trip to Paris on Tuesday. Yes, I know, that in itself is a whole other blog on its own. I'll be writing one about my favorite travel tips next. This blog is about the two movies that I watched on my flight home- "I Feel Pretty" and "Book Club." These are two totally different movies but they both deal with one similar theme, a woman's self esteem, whether she's single and in her 30s or a 65+ empty-nester. Even a federal judge, played by Candice Bergen in "Book Club," can feel insecure and unattractive sometimes. (Small "I Feel Pretty" spoilers.)

Me at my biggest in 2006 on the left and recently this year on the right. 

The truth is we are all our worst critic. I think that’s what “I Feel Pretty” was about. Amy Schumer’s character is her worst critic and when she hits her head she gets this total self-confidence. The interesting thing is that we never see what she sees in the mirror. We all assume she sees a super fit woman from the things that she says, but unlike other movies that play with this theme, they don’t show her point of view. Which really emphasizes the fact that we all have our own idea of what the ideal woman looks like in our head.

What I loved about the movie was the message that if we just love ourselves and have self-confidence we can achieve so much more. Unfortunately, the character does become a bit obnoxious and full of herself, so I think there was a message there too. Despite it getting a little corny and Amy Schumer exaggerating things a bit, for the sake of comedy, I loved the over-all message of believing in yourself and that realization that she had that self-confidence all along. We all do!

When I recently posted this old photo on Facebook my sister said she didn't even remember me that size on the left. I do remember being this size and I remember thinking that I needed to lose weight. However, I don’t think I realized how I looked in that dress. I look at this picture now and I think I look self-confident and like I don't seem to care that you can see the outline of my stomach or that it does nothing to camouflage the size of my boobs. I know I did have some feelings of insecurity sometimes, like anybody else, but I don’t think it was that bad. For god’s sake look at that dress I’m wearing! 

I remember a friend telling me one day when I was talking about my weight, around this same time period, that she didn’t think that my weight bothered me because I didn’t act like it did. I probably just hid it very well or forgot that it bothered me. Sometimes I'm ADD like that! Seriously though, I know that part of the reason I made a drastic change in my life to lose weight was for appearances. I did have times that I looked in the mirror and wished I looked different but part of me hated conforming to society's idea of what we should look like.  However the most important reason I did it was for my health. That's not to say I don't still struggle with my weight daily. A lap band is not the end all cure all. All it does is keep me from weighing 300 pounds and having diabetic complications.

As I've written here lately, I've recently been working out a lot more and I've been doing the Peloton bike. I know I've lost weight, the scale tells me and my clothes tell me I have. But when I look at pictures that were taken of me recently by other people, and standing next to thin fit people, I think I look sooo fat. When I was recently traveling I was sitting up high on a bar stool at the airport and I looked over at my reflection in the window and thought I looked huge. 

The funny part is that when I see these images of myself I think, "That's not how I see myself in my head!"  I remember thinking that same thing ten years ago when I initially started losing weight and I saw a picture of myself and it actually discouraged me. I remember thinking, "If I still look that big after losing thirty pounds, what did I look like before?" I thought the same thing this time. As funny as it sounds it's like I struggle between feeling self-confident and good about myself and then seeing pictures of myself and getting knocked down a notch. 

Then on the flight back from Paris I saw "I Look Pretty." I know, I know! It shouldn't take a movie to tell me what I already know. All I'm saying is that I'm not letting my own insecurity discourage me this time. I need to remember that self-confidence of the woman in the photo above, yeah the one of the left. She don't give no Fs what she looks like in that close-fitting dress. 

I write so candidly about all this- about my body issues, my insecurities, my thinking I look good and then not- because I know that there are a lot of people out there that can relate. I hope that my writing about it makes it real and okay to feel that way. I hope it makes someone feel better about themselves and to realize that like Amy Schumer's character Renee, we do have that self-confidence inside of us all the time. 

(This blog became all about "I Look Pretty," so I didn't get to talk about "Book Club." It's a great movie about growing older and not losing our sexuality after 65. It gave me hope for the future as I'm getting older and closer to becoming an empty-nester. I want to have the self-confidence of Jane Fonda's character when I'm 80! Hell! I want that self-confidence now.)