What’s important. What’s not.

I’m really trying not to let this summer just slip by. It feels like it just got here, but already we’re seeing preparations for the Fourth of July. I would like to just stop and enjoy what’s here right now, thank you. As soon as the Fourth comes along, my mindset shifts to the idea that summer’s half over. Which is ridiculous because it truly has barely begun at that point. I need to have a talk with my mindset.

The weather has been a perfect balance of sun and warmth, and just the right amount of rain. I feel so fortunate to be getting just what we need, especially while recognizing that so many other places around the country are seeing extremes.

Summer gets me into my really happy place. I love dressing for warmer weather, and not having to wear a bulky jacket. I love taking a break in the middle of my workday to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise while walking around the pond and simultaneously feeling the sun soaking into my skin. I love wearing sunglasses and a soft breeze blowing my hair. And dinners taste better when cooked on the grill and eaten out on the deck under the shade of the canopy.

And having Kacey home for the summer is such a blessing. No offense to the menfolk of the household, but it’s nice to have another female around for a change. We can gab for hours about things the boys just don’t get. And she’s such a great storyteller. I feel like I know her coworkers and friends through the tales she tells, and there’s no shortage of humor in the way she describes her world.

Also, she’s an awesome gym buddy. My usual gym buddy, Erin and I only meet twice a week, so normally, it’s up to me to be self-motivating on the off-days. And sometimes, it can be too easy to allow myself to be a slacker. So I was pleasantly surprised when Kacey said she planned to get on the 5 am gym bandwagon while she’s home for the summer. And she’s held to it. Between the three of us, we’re expanding beyond cardio, and I’m tackling my fear of the machines and free-weights. And both my body and mind are thankful for it. I feel good!

2015-06-20Out in the bird house, the wrens have had their babies. We haven’t seen the little ones yet, but we can hear their tiny chorus of chirping as they beg to be fed. Mama and Daddy wren have been busy flying back and forth, making their way in and out of the house trying to keep their brood fed while Lucy keeps watch.

At work this week, there was a someone-dropped-the-ball situation. Nothing earth-shattering in the broad scheme of things, but it brewed into an ugly finger-pointing and it looked like I was going to take the fall for it. There was a meeting in which  I was surrounded by a group of people who were senior to me and after a few attempts to backtrack to what had actually transpired, one person kept tossing the blame back on me. I felt about this big and was certain everyone had reduced me to a moron in their minds. Since we couldn’t go back in time to rectify the situation (which, again, was a fairly minor hurdle,) the conversation ended with everyone choosing to believe what they believed. My boss left the meeting early, I guessed seeing the pointlessness of it all and having other important things to do.

I went back to my desk afterwards, wracking my brain in an attempt to call up the details of past events, and for the life of me, could not recall a situation where I should have done things differently. Believe me, I would have owned up to it if I’d honestly felt it was my fault. I have a good track record at work and would be willing to admit that I’d made a mistake if I’d thought I actually had. But based on my documentation, I really couldn’t confidently claim ownership of this one. I honestly think it was a matter of several parties just getting their wires crossed, and as so often happens, lack of proper communication.

While I was back at my desk, working and stewing over the situation, I received an email from my boss asking if I was interested in taking a walk around the pond. Here we go, I thought. I’m gonna get chewed out.

But, no. As we headed outside toward the pond and walking path, my boss asked, Did you feel like you were getting thrown under the bus?

Oh, yeah. I said. Completely. I told her I’d be willing to take the blame if I honestly thought the mistake was mine, but I just couldn’t find a scrap of memory in my mind where I now thought I should have done something I didn’t.

Stop, she told me. I know you, and I know you’re making yourself crazy trying to figure out what you might have done wrong. I breathed a cautious sigh of relief and thanked her. Why had I thought she would chew me out? She has never once dealt with anyone that way.

You know I trust you, right? She asked. I assured her that I’ve always felt trusted and supported by her.

Then stop killing yourself over this. This is not on you. It was [the blaming person] who failed to check facts with the rest of the team before finalizing the project. Considering the length of time this has been in the works, all the people involved and all of the moving parts, it was [the blaming person]’s responsibility to make sure this didn’t happen.

She went on to tell me that she had left the meeting early because she was “so pissed” on my behalf that she couldn’t respond to [the blaming person] in any semblance of a professional manner. She said that [the blaming person] has a long-standing and well-known attitude of it’s business, not personal, which seems to allow her to act and speak in unthinkable ways and it’s getting old. My boss assured me that there wasn’t a person in the room who didn’t see through [the blaming person]’s smokescreen. No one else there thought I should be taking the fall for this, and she informed me that the VP was livid on my behalf. And ultimately, it was [the blaming person] who was directed to rectify the situation.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my boss? Afterwards, it was tempting to hold a grudge against [the blaming person], but I was just so relieved to know that my boss had my back that I decided it wasn’t worth the effort. And ultimately, I feel sorry for [the blaming person]. She has a brilliant mind, but she’s an island. It must be awfully lonely being her at times. And based on her approach with me after all was said and done, I can tell that she truly didn’t think she’d done anything hurtful. She was leaning on me for support in her efforts, asking my opinion, letting me know she values my capabilities, just like she typically does.

The longer I’m in the corporate world, the more I’m reminded, this is not who I am. It’s just what I do. I’m fortunate to be passionate about many aspects of it, but I can see that if it were one day gone from me… there’d be something else to take its place and I’d get by. So I’ll do it for as long as I’m allowed and as long as it serves my family’s needs.

And at any rate, I am just so happy it’s summer and it’s the weekend! Moving on!

One Good Thing – The Sheriff

Considering my recent gripiness – I thought it might do me good to acknowledge some of the good stuff now and then. Even if it’s just one thing. So here’s today’s one thing.

There’s this guy at the gym. Your first impression is that he’s kind of annoying. My gym buddy, Erin and I have been seeing him for years, as long as we’ve been meeting there at 5:00 am to use the treadmills.

The 5:00 am crowd isn’t much of a crowd, which is why we like going at that hour of the day. There’s no question we’ll find a couple of open treadmills. And it’s relatively quiet. Obviously, those who make a habit of frequenting the gym before sunrise are morning people.

The guy? He’s a little too much of a morning person. When Erin and I do our cardio, we’re stationed in the upper level of the gym, where we can look down below and see those who are doing weight training. The guy can usually be found down there. From our position, we can see – and hear him as he moves among the free weights and machines. He’s got a circle of acquaintances with whom he interacts. We can often hear him yelling at one or more of them. I guess he sees himself as a sort of motivator.

He’s always yelling to one person or another to do more reps or add more weight. His target will usually toss him an embarrassed smile and just keep doing what they’re doing.

“He acts like he owns the joint,” we’ve said to one another on more than one occasion, usually accompanied by a rolling of the eyes.

I call him “The Sheriff.” I call him that because I heard him refer to himself that way one day. There’s a woman at the gym who, quite honestly, you can’t tell she’s a woman from behind. She’s got muscles everywhere! The guy yelled something to her one day and she yelled right back, “Shut up!”

I thought maybe she was going to beat him up. He’s built like an inverted triangle, but he’s pretty short. My money was on her.

“Hey,” he said, shooting her a friendly glare. “I’m the sheriff around here.” They parted ways peacefully.

I just sighed and rolled my eyes. Show-offs.

Not long ago, after years of doing only cardio, Erin said to me, “What would you think of doing just a half hour of cardio next time and then going down below and figuring out some of those weight machines?”

“Yeah!” I said. We were due for a change in routine. So lately, on Tuesdays after we’re done with cardio, we go downstairs and work on arms. On Thursdays, we work our legs.

Yesterday I arrived at the gym a few minutes ahead of Erin. Usually she’s there first. Our role reversal didn’t escape the Sheriff’s attention. As I started my treadmill, I saw Erin climbing the stairs and then I heard a familiar voice from the free weight area directly below. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him loud and clear.

“You’re late!”

I caught a glimpse of her embarrassed smile and saw her nod in his direction.

“You’d better get up there! She’s already bookin’ it up there and you’re late,” he said, referring to me. I was hardly bookin’ it. More like just warming up.

We laughed when Erin stepped onto the treadmill next to me. Now we were getting yelled at too! When we went down below, he gave her a few more jabs and when he walked away, I said to her, “I don’t want to like him. But he’s kind of growing on me.” Erin agreed.

This morning being Wednesday, I was on my own at the gym. Erin takes turns with her hubby for the early shift. One has to stay home with their little boys in the early morning when the other goes to work out. On Wednesdays, Erin’s hubby is at the gym.

So I was just starting my run on the treadmill on the far end of the upper level when I noticed someone standing below. I slowly looked down and there stood the Sheriff, elbows against his sides, arms outward and palms up. He didn’t have to speak a word. I could see the big question mark on his face.

Still running, I pulled the earbuds from my ears and called down, “She’s Tuesday/Thursday!”

He pulled his earbuds out and said, “What? Didn’t you give her the spiel?”

I’m not sure what the spiel is, but I assume he meant some kind of lecture about being more dedicated. Being as I was calling down to him from the upper level, I opted not to explain to him that Erin just finished a 100 Day (in a row) workout challenge and is actually still going. It just doesn’t all happen at the gym. She’s the one who should be giving me the spiel.

I shrugged at him and he said, “Tell her there are no breaks in fitness!”

I gave him a thumbs-up and he disappeared below into the free weights area as I went back to my music and running. Periodically I’d notice him walk out to one of the machines and then back again. When I could see him, I noticed I was motivated to run harder. Didn’t want the Sheriff yelling at me for not working hard enough. I had to laugh at myself. Clearly there is something to his methods.

When I’d finished my run and had just reached the bottom of the stairs on my way out, the Sheriff was also finishing his workout and heading toward the locker room. He caught my eye and wagged his finger at me casually in a gesture of goodbye. I tossed him a smile and wished him a good day.

When I got home, I texted Erin and let her know that the Sheriff had questioned her whereabouts. We joked back and forth about how she’s going to hear about it tomorrow. But I think we both realized, we’re both in his inner circle now. And we’re okay with that.

The Color Run – SO MUCH FUN!

Sunday morning arrived, the day of the Color Run. I was excited in a way I can’t remember feeling in… well, forever! I was surprised at my level of enthusiasm, partly because when Kacey asked me to sign up with her, I was less than enthusiastic. I had given running a try a while ago, but seemed only to meet with frustration and failure. Eventually, I decided there just wasn’t a runner in me. But my daughter wanted to do the Color Run with me and she was excited about it. So I agreed and decided to do my best to get in running shape, at least enough to succeed in this fun run.

I ran my usual three miles on Saturday morning, the day before the run. The air was heavy and it was harder to breathe than usual. I felt like I was struggling through most of my run and I arrived home dripping in sweat. I worried that Sunday would arrive with more of the same. But all Saturday afternoon it rained off and on. And when Sunday dawned, the air was lighter, the sun was bright and the temperature was a near perfect seventy-ish.

Color Run 1

Starting out clean!

I was awake early and enjoyed my morning coffee in the quiet house before getting ready to go. Soon Kacey was awake too and we got dressed in our shorts and white tees, pinned on our numbers and decorated ourselves with a few complimentary Color Run tattoos.

John and Shelby came to pick us up and we headed off to the state fairgrounds where the run would take place. We all chattered excitedly as we drove and John made it clear several times that he does not consider running to be enjoyable and that he would likely hold us all up with his slow pace. I told him I was relieved to hear that. I didn’t have the greatest confidence in my own ability. But any doubts I had about succeeding in this run were erased when we arrived and saw all of the other runners and walkers heading for the starting line.

It was a total party atmosphere and there were people of all ages, shapes and sizes getting ready for the big event. I relaxed and just decided to soak it all in. I couldn’t seem to stop smiling as we made our way into the crowd of people. It was such a beautiful day and Kacey kept telling me how glad she was that I was there with her.

Kacey, me, John and Shelby... ready to run!

Kacey, me, John and Shelby… ready to run!

As we waited our turn to start running, music was pumping through the air and a young emcee was busy tossing out Color Run goodies and keeping the crowd pumped up. Our countdown began and we were off.

I soon found out the true meaning behind the words “fun run.” There were both runners and walkers. No pressure! People were dressed in crazy clothing with colorful tutus and crazy socks. One woman ran in a wedding dress!

The route itself was actually much easier than my usual route, which has a lot of incline. I was able to run it easily and even found myself conversing with John and the girls as we ran. The color stations were crazy and we did our best to get our shirts as colorful as possible as we ran through each one. I was having the time of my life!

Color Run 3After the finish, we made our way to the big party. We received our own packets of colored powder and joined the huge crowd in the grandstand area of the fairgrounds. Music was blasting, we were dancing and laughing and took our turn volleying the huge beach balls bouncing around above the heads of the crowd. And when it was time to toss our colors up into the air, we did our duty, whooping and laughing along with the rest of the crowd. If there was any part of my body not covered in color before the big toss, it was sure covered afterwards!

Now that we were tasting and sneezing colored powder, we were ready to head back home. All the way back, we all kept saying how much fun it was. I think John and I were both really surprised how much we had enjoyed it and we told the girls we would definitely do it again next year! Heck, I want to do another run well before next year!

My HAPPY tattoo!

My HAPPY tattoo!

As soon as we were back home, Kacey and I packed up the car and headed up to the cabin to join Mark, Brad and Connor for a few days of fun. We were anxious to get there, so we skipped showering and just tossed some towels over our seats to keep the car as clean as possible. When we arrived a couple of hours later, Mark couldn’t believe how covered in color we were! Yep, we were definitely not as clean as we’d started out, but we’d had such a great time!

Color Run 6

Nothing a nice shower and a good scrub wouldn’t take care of!

Color Run 4

Okay, maybe two showers! (I discovered after my first shower that my armpits were still a little blue!)

I am so totally doing this again next year. And probably the best part of it all? I discovered that there is a runner inside of me. And now I just want to push her harder and see what more I can do! Nobody is more surprised than me!

Color Me Happy

It’s Color Run day and I’m ready!

Months ago, Kacey asked me to sign up for the Color Run with her. And although I had long ago decided that I was not a runner, I agreed to do it, if for no other reason than my favorite girl wanted me to. We’ll be joining Kacey’s friend and former softball teammate, Shelby and her dad, John who is the girls’ former softball coach.

Color Run 2014

Early in the year, I thought, “Well. I should start getting ready for this thing.” But I didn’t. January, February, March all went by and I didn’t run. Then the cold weather, snow and slush finally subsided. The sun started coming up earlier and the temperatures grew warmer. The thought of running outside as opposed to in they gym gave me the motivation I needed.

Lucy Pie was more than happy to help me get back into a running groove. If not for her habit of practically dragging me along each day, often helping me to keep running when I might otherwise have stopped, I don’t know that I would have gotten back into it. Gosh, I hope I can do it without her.

005bI’m ready for some fun! Wish us luck today!


Yoga la la la

As the muscle in my lower back slowly continues to heal from the “tweaking” it experienced three weeks ago, I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t resume the high intensity workout I’d been doing. It bums me out too. I had surprised myself by keeping up and progressing to a higher level. Unfortunately, it involved too many moves that would only continue to strain the sore muscles in my back and I haven’t been able to pick it up again. And all this comes so soon after I’d been reminded of what a mental and physical boost a good workout gives me. Exercise for me is such a big part of staying happy!

As I was picking up some necessities at Target last night, I wandered over to the exercise aisle to peruse the workout DVDs. Since I had been contemplating yoga, I was happy to see several DVD options. The only yoga I’ve ever attempted was on the Wii Fit, and I can’t say I was either impressed or very successful at it. I’ve got very limited knowledge and experience with yoga, so when I saw a Jillian Michaels yoga DVD, it seemed like the way to go. After all, I had been thoroughly enjoying her Six Week Six Pack workout until the tweaking.

Early, early this morning, I got up and put on some workout clothes. I put my new DVD in the player and rolled out my yoga mat. With the Christmas tree lights twinkling in the corner of the room, I began to learn what to do. And even though I’m not wise to the ways of yoga, I could tell that this version was a little unconventional. But I liked it! It didn’t produce a hammering heartbeat or profuse sweating like the more intense workout I’d been doing, but it felt good and I was able to do most of the moves. I learned that in yoga, the belief is that there is no such thing as perfection. That’s why they call a yoga workout a “practice.” If you can’t quite achieve a move, you just keep trying time and time again. And the more gentle pace was much easier on my lower back.


Doesn’t look that hard, but I can’t do it. Yet.

There were a few moves that were beyond my ability. As I was following along, I was thinking, “Wow. Some parts of my body are so tight! And not in a good way!” Maybe yoga will make me more flexible and with time, there may be fewer instances of my muscles feeling as if they’ve burst into flames while I’m doing something I always do, like bowling!

When it was all done, I was sweating and felt as if I’d accomplished something good. I didn’t quite have that zen feeling you hear so much about with yoga, but I felt ready to take on the day. Maybe that’s because I was exercising in the glow of the Christmas tree with the sight of snow falling gently outside the window. Maybe zen will come with time. Then again, it’s Jillian Michaels. Maybe zen isn’t included in her version of this exercise. That might be okay. I’m just glad to be doing something good for myself and learning something new.

Before going to work, I went to see the chiropractor for the second week in a row. He asked how I was doing and I told him that today was the first day that I didn’t feel any sharp pains in my lower back and hips, just some minor dull pain. I told him that when it first happened, I thought I’d feel better in a couple of days. I’d been stretching diligently every day and hoping the tightness would loosen up quickly. No way did I expect to still be less than a hundred percent three weeks later. I said that I probably needed to accept the fact that I was getting older.

“No,” he said. “Don’t accept it! Fight it!” That cracked me up. Dr. Dave’s humor is an added bonus to his chiropractic care.

He also said that when you tweak a muscle, it’s already over-extended and aggravated, so deep stretches are really not the best thing for it.

“Oh,” I said. “So I guess maybe I’m responsible for prolonging the problem.”

He said that an aggravated muscle needs time to heal. Give it rest and plenty of ice. And only when I’m feeling about 75% better should I think about doing some light stretching. Light. Stretching. Yep. Wish I’d have known that sooner.

Lesson learned. Also, I shouldn’t have waited two weeks, thinking the muscle would relax on its own before finally making time to see Dr. Dave. He’s a good guy. Even gave me his personal cell phone number and said anytime I needed advice but didn’t necessarily want to make an appointment, I could call or text and he will steer me in the right direction. Dr. Dave is so worth the money I spend to see him!

So, yoga it is!

Getting Stronger

Oh how I hate and love this move!

Oh, Jillian Michaels, how I hate and love this move!

I’ve been really diligent about exercise the past two weeks. I had been in such a slump for most of this year that I didn’t really think I could get back on the bandwagon. But the more I work at it, the more motivated I am to keep it up. I’d forgotten how good it feels to push past my limits and earn that sense of accomplishment for the day. I’d forgotten how the aches that tend to follow are a welcome kind of pain because I know they mean I’m getting stronger again. And the best part isn’t even the numbers on the scale or seeing the promise of the shape in my midsection again, (although I am in no way complaining!) The best part is the mental impact. Strength in the body seems to translate to a feeling that I can handle anything. It permeates into every aspect of the day.

Why was it so easy to forget how good this is for me?

All summer long I set my alarm clock to wake me in time to do some physical activity before I had to get ready for work. As the weeks wore on, that alarm would go off and my body would sleepily protest. My eyes didn’t want to open. More often than not, the weariness inside would win and the alarm would get postponed for another hour. Still, I couldn’t ever seem to get caught up on my sleep. I felt mentally and physically drained so much of the time.

My turnaround came slowly. A couple of months ago, I attended a birthday celebration for my former morning gym buddy. Near the end of her pregnancy, her gym visits had dwindled. After her baby boy arrived, there were a few months when escaping the house at 5:00 am just wasn’t possible. The night of the birthday party, she informed me she was back in routine and was hoping I’d start joining her again. Working out with a friend always makes the work feel so much easier! I started getting out of bed with the alarm and going to the gym to meet my friend a couple of times a week.

A few weeks ago when I began to set weekly goals, exercise was a big one. Just having set the goal and telling others about it went a long way in pushing me to follow through. And seeing my parents’ health issues take their toll is a painful reminder that exercise isn’t just a nice thing to do for myself, it’s necessary to keep the effects of aging from coming on too soon. The more I work out, the more I want to work out, the more I want to eat better, the more I believe I can be healthier. I’m climbing out of the slump and it feels so good.

Life is Good – 2/2/2013

Life is GoodIt’s that time of year that I knew would inevitably come, when winter feels as if it’s been here long enough already and there’s no end in sight. This kind of winter is what I know, gray days and bone chilling cold at times. It’s not the season itself that really bothers me so much. It’s what I let it do to me. When I can’t seem to stay warm, I slow down. I stay inside, doing still and quiet things, like reading books or watching movies. My motivation  to get these muscles moving fades away. I can’t seem to get enough sleep.

These aren’t bad things, when I allow them in moderation. And lucky for me, I always seem to recognize when enough is enough. And this has been that week.

I’ve been guiltily joking about falling off the exercise bandwagon lately. Sure, there were contributing factors in the past couple of months – varying illnesses and a back strain that left a weeks-long ache in my hamstring muscle. But those things have long subsided. I said I couldn’t run outside. It was either too cold, too icy or too snowy. And as for the treadmill in the nice warm gym, it was getting boring. And the gym was packed with new bodies anyway. I felt crowded by all of those enthusiastic exercisers hell-bent on honoring their new year’s resolutions. And each day that’s gone by without any attempt by me to keep my body strong has gradually added to my pile of guilt. The guilt became too much this week, but I knew I needed something new, something to make me enthusiastic again.

I’m exploring the world of yoga! Thank you, Cable T.V. for your on-demand fitness programs that are tailored for everyone from beginner to advanced. I am once again starting the day in a healthy way. And don’t worry. I’m not giving up running – just taking a little break.

The good mojo seems to have worked its way into my work life this week too. I’ve found myself steadily busy and productive, just the way I like it. There’s been no word from the CEO about the headline contest, but he did send me another assignment yesterday. Seems he wanted a press release for a new product that’s up and coming. He gathered all of his thoughts and ideas on the subject and spewed them into an email which he then sent to me. He asked me to give it a good work over and “tighten it up” and I found myself with company approved time to just sit and write.

Brad Diploma 2Things are all good with the family. Our winter laziness has at least inspired Mark and me to do a good amount of home cooking, which feeds right into my ongoing goal to eat better.

Brad received his college diploma this week and sent me a text message to let me know. “Turns out I graduated after all,” he said. The day of graduation, he was joking that he might be cutting it close and wouldn’t know for sure until days or weeks after the graduation ceremony. I never doubted it though, and I told him so.

Kacey texted me several times this week from school. Once was to let me know that two of her friends had mentioned they were craving some soup that I’ve made on several occasions. It’s nice to know that my cooking skills are adequate enough to generate requests for a repeat performance.

Kacey also texted me to let me know she and her friends have signed up to do the Polar Bear Plunge – a fundraiser to support Special Olympics Minnesota athletes. Kacey and her team will be gathering pledges and in order to collect on them, they’ll be taking a plunge into Lake Calhoun on March 2nd – which means they’ll be taking a plunge into a hole cut into the ice and dipping into the frigid water! I think they are brave, and I am proud!

And I actually saw Jake this week and spent time with him for about an hour, while he was wide awake and in good spirits. He’s been working a lot, so time with him is often hard to come by.

And this morning, after a long, dreary, cold week… it is still cold, one degree outside as I write this. It was snowing as I left work yesterday afternoon, big, fluffy, lazy drifting flakes. The snow continued into the evening and left the landscape clean and fresh. It’s the weekend and the sun is shining.

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Temperatures are predicted to rise up into the teens today. It’s better than single digits. I’ll take it. Life is good!