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.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

How Things Are Going...

The kids have been home four weeks now. Seth got a job and he starts on Monday. Miranda is taking a gap year and is currently searching for her first job, post graduation. She's adulting! Confession. It's really hard having the kids back after being alone for five months straight. (maybe more on that later)

We've gotten into a routine, and although I ran a few times to train, leading up to our Memorial Day 5K run, I'm still struggling with getting back to a regular exercise routine. I have been diligently writing each day, even if all I can squeeze in is 15 minutes to be made up the next day with 45 minutes. I'm glad to report that with this blog post I'm all caught up. 

Collage by Me 

I have a daily/weekly To Do list reminder written in Italian on a sticky note on my bookmark inside my Franklin Covey day planner. 

It reads:

1. Mangia bene.

2. Fare esercizio.

3. Scrivi.

4. Imparare l'Italiano.

5. Fare arte.

Why is it in Italian? Because of #4. I also subscribe to Italian "Vogue" online so I can receive the daily email and read all the headlines. I also attempt to read some of the articles sometimes. #1 says to eat well, #2 exercise, #3 to write, #4 to learn Italian and #5 to make art. 

Fare arte. I've been trying to make art too. I greatly appreciate art and even though I've never considered myself an artist, I know what I like. So I've been going to a Scissors of Texas events, mostly at St. Arnold's Brewery once a month for the past few months and I've created four collages. I love it! I love making collages so much that I actually feel emboldened to say I feel like an artist. I mean, I know I'm an artist because I'm a writer, but now I feel like a visual artist too.

Another one of my passions are old cemeteries. Update on the Westcott Cemetery Association that I wrote about so many years ago. I sit on the board of this historic cemetery association now. This cemetery, recognized by Texas as a historic cemetery, is known as the McDaniel Street Cemetery and we have made so much progress! Check out our web site and please consider donating towards our restoration project. I write this as I head out to check on it and to pick up trash before sunset. It's been a labor of love for the sisters who are Westcott descendants and first messaged me about the cemetery so many years ago. 

Sunday, June 04, 2023

Can I Have a Do-Over? Writing Challenge Take Two!

I will not say I failed miserably at writing 30 minutes a day in May. I will say that I made an honest attempt and I was not successful. Therefore I am doing a do-over. Today is June 3rd and there's a full moon. I'd say that this is the perfect time to start again. I've already written the first two days of the month and I will continue to write each day, using this time for novel editing as well.

But first let's talk about the graduation and the road trip from New York to Houston. 

Miranda and I at Long Island University

The commencement ceremony was a success. I arrived just in the nick of time to see her march out to "Pomp & Circumstance." In my opinion there are only two important moments in a graduation. When the graduate marches out to that beautiful melody and when they call the graduate's name and she walks across the stage. Those were my two favorite moments. Then there are the photos afterwards. Here I am, a super proud mother with her first born child.

I was so touched by all of the family members who took the time and spent the money to go to New York to see her graduate. Her father and I were there of course. So was her father's partner and Miranda's big sister Amanda. Her brother Seth didn't have far to travel since he's a freshman at LIU Brooklyn. Amanda's son, my sweet baby boy got to partake in the celebrations, as did Amanda's partner. Two of my sisters were there, my nephew, my best friend who is an aunt to her, and her sister, who is like a second aunt. All in all, four states were represented- Texas, California, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Five if you count Seth in New York. 

It was an epic celebration and we had a wonderful weekend celebrating. I took one day for fun, Saturday when I walked along a small piece of Central Park with my sister, then we went to see the Starbucks Reserve location on the first floor of the Empire State Building, because she was dying to try the olive oil coffee. After that we went to see a musical, "New York, New York" and we had dinner in Little Italy. A perfect day. 

I won't go into the stress and chaos of getting Miranda and Seth packed and ready to leave because it will take too much time. Let's just say, it took a good two days to get Miranda's things sorted, packed, given away, or thrown away. I was so happy we could give one of the ladies, who was cleaning the dorms, Miranda's almost brand new winter coat, perfect for the really cold New York winters, and her snow boots. Seth took less time but we had to get his things packed into a storage facility because he's going back in the fall. We finished that on Tuesday morning, so I should really say it took two and a half days total between both children.

Miranda and I began our journey on Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. and my 7 p.m. we had made it to Hershey, Pennsylvania. No, we didn't make it in time for the tour of the chocolate factory, but we drove by the building and through the picturesque town with a very interesting history. It reminds me of the history of Sugar Land and how the company created housing for their employees around the factory.

By 11 p.m. or so we'd made it to Virginia and we spent our first night in Winchester, Virginia, the site of many battles during the American Civil War. We were exhausted so we didn't wake up early. We would start our journey closer to noon. 

Thank goodness the weather was perfect and it wasn't hot yet. Wednesday we drove all day until we made it to Nashville, Tennessee. I wish we'd taken the time to see something that morning but I really wanted to make it to Memphis to go to the National Civil Rights Museum. I'm so glad I did!

The drive through Tennessee was beautiful by the way and the Natl Civil Rights Museum built around the Lorraine Motel where MLK was shot is a must see when you're in Memphis.

We were extremely lucky that the only really bad weather passed over us while we were in the museum and at dinner. By the time we got back on the road that evening the road was wet and there was just a slight drizzle as we left Memphis. We pushed forward and we made it to Texarkana by 11 p.m. 

On Friday morning we had to go see the post office and federal building on the state line of the city. We also had an awesome breakfast across the street in an adorable cafĂ©. 

Onward and forward and it was a beautiful drive through our beautiful state. We took Highway 59 down all the way to Houston. I pointed out Goodrich and Seth's favorite chicken place as we drove through. I showed Miranda what road I take to the Yellow Rose Cabins, where I hope to take her on the 4th of July weekend. 

All in all we had a wonderful mother-daughter road trip.  It was cool to learn that the highway between Nashville and Memphis is called the Tennessee Music Highway.  If I could do anything different I would have taken an extra day so we could have made time to stop and visit places in Nashville and a couple of spots in Memphis. We are big fans of  Johnny Cash and June Carter so it would have been  nice to see some of the historic places. I would have loved to have stopped at the Sun Studios in Memphis. Alas, for a future trip. There are so many places to see in America and I hope to live a long  life to see as many as I can. 

Big shout out to my little 2012 Honda Fit, that not only drove up to New York in September 2022, but also drove my girl all around Long Island all school year, to and from rowing practice. THEN it drove us safely back down to Texas.