The end of the #RoadToSixPointTwo

Since I’ve last blogged many, many months ago, I’ve become a legitimate runner. I now have a real training plan, drink PowerAde Zero (and eat real carbs!) and have plans to run my first two real “long” races – my first 10k in October, and my first half marathon in February. I think about things like hydration belts, Sweaty Bands and Body Glide, which all sound like they’d be a lot more fun than they actually are!

So, why did I start this journey? In part, boredom. Although I’ve been insanely busy with work over the summer, I wanted to have a new goal to work towards. Yes, I do have other goals that are more important, but they are practically unattainable, including (1) finding a new home for my family and (2) learning how to braid the girls’ hair in either French or Fishtail style. So, I needed an achievable goal. Many of my similarly aged friends run long distances, including full-time working moms, so I thought, why can’t I? If I am ever going to run a half marathon in my life, I wondered if I was more likely to do it at 41 or 45. And hell, if I was going to get myself to the Walt Disney World Resort in 2017, the only way to justify it was to run 13.1 miles, right?

As I started training, I discovered that running gave me permission to take time for myself, and as a full-time working mom of three, I treasured the time alone (shhhhhhhhhhh, don’t tell Patrick!). There was absolutely no one around outside at 5:30 a.m. in Allston (cars or pedestrians), and I could take any problem plaguing me (personal or professional) and just let it roll around in my head as I ran. By the time I was finished running, the problem seemed totally manageable and I usually had a solution for it. And no matter what life threw at me on a “run” day, I could take it in stride. It was as if the run took the edge off the crazy. For real. Talk to me on a “non-run” day, and you’ll easily be able to tell the difference.

But the biggest motivation for running came when I discovered that NOTHING makes me happier than seeing the sunrise. There’s something amazing about the subtle way the colors in the sky first change, that first dot of reddish sun peek over the horizon and those rays of sunlight starting to creep across the water (be it the ocean, a reservoir, or the Charles River). There were so many mornings where I’d snooze a bit and remind myself that I didn’t HAVE to get up to run. But then I’d lace up my shoes, stumble out the door and as soon as I saw that first hint of light in the sky, I’d be OFF trying to get to the best possible point on my running route to see the sunrise. And take a million pictures while my fellow and more legitimate runners rolled their eyes at me. #WillRunForSunrises #SorryNotSorry

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Sunrise over Narragansett Beach, Narragansett, RI (July 2016)

The beginning of my running journey was actually pretty easy. The summer flew by, and I racked up the miles. The first time I ran six whole miles, I gained so much confidence and just had this feeling in my heart that I was going to achieve my running goals and be able to finish the half marathon without getting “swept” by the Disney balloon ladies. I never stressed about my pace, and instead focused on building distance and endurance. Even with the time I spent snapping pictures, and doing “intervals” (i.e. walking) up the big hills, I was somewhere in the realm of a 12 minute mile, which felt pretty good for a relatively new runner despite some people asking me, “but don’t you want to run a 10 minute mile??” (Well, yes, of course I want to run a 10 minute mile…and I also want a condo in the city big enough to fit my family, so your point is what?). Depending on my route distance, my pace this summer was between 10-12 minute miles.

But now it’s September and this race stuff is getting real.  My first 10k is only ten days away. And with all my focus on building distance and endurance, I’m afraid I didn’t spend enough time focused on pacing and speed. Although I don’t care about my time for the half marathon (really, it’s a runDisney race and part of the fun is everything you get to experience on the course), I really care about my time on the 10k. In order to get “preferred” placement in a corral in the middle of the half marathon pack, I have to submit a proof of time of about one hour and fifteen minutes, which is roughly a 12 minute mile pace. If my math is correct.

Given where my pacing has been on my training runs, this goal *seems* achievable. (And shush, all you experienced runners who can do a 10k in under an hour….this is my story!). However, there is a certain word that keeps creeping into my brain no matter how I try to avoid it. Well, two words actually. “Can’t” and “fail.” I keep hearing that running is “90% mental” and I believe it. In these last few days, I’ve been trying to get myself into a positive frame of mind, despite recent personal and professional setbacks. I need to view this first 10k as a fun experience, knowing that I’ll be in one of my favorite places in the world, and that the worst thing that can happen is that I won’t hit my goal time. Well, no, actually the worst thing that could happen is that I get a horrible race photo, with an awful pained facial expression mid-stride along with three chins and muffin top. But seriously, if I don’t hit my time, I won’t get a “preferred” corral, and I’ll be somewhere way in the back for the half marathon. Is that really a crisis?  No. Will it allow me to come back and PR on this same 10k next year??  Hells, yes.

I have to keep my head in my own race, if you will, and try not to worry about the six-foot tall, 22-year-old Barbie doll blowing past me with the swishy blonde ponytail wearing a Victoria’s Secret “sports” bra that doesn’t actually support anything and booty shorts. The only person I’m really competing with here is myself.  I can’t expect that I’m going to be crushing races this early into my training, but by golly, I’m hoping those booty shorts start looking good on me too pretty soon! 😉

For those of you who are more experienced runners, what are your best pre-race tips? How do you spend the week before a big race? More importantly, what are your must have songs to get you pumped the morning of your race?

#RoadToSixPointTwo #TheEndOfTheRoad

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Smile! You PAID to do this race! (After my first 5k on September 21, 2014). #WillRaceForFinishersMedals

 

 

 

 

Dagobah Swamp Nose

Some people say that birthing babies is a beautiful experience to observe. Strangely, no one says that about removing nose packing.

Today was nose cast and packing removal day. I was nervous and a little bit excited. Me being me, I researched as much as I could to find out about the process in advance. I found a terrific blog by someone who had a similar procedure to mine called humpbegone.blogspot.com (great title!). The woman from the blog looked terrific in all her post op photos, even though she was more banged up than me after her cast was removed. The scariest thing was that she suffered an injury to her new nose (eek!) about a month post op when her toddler accidentally head butted her in the nose. A tiny piece of cartilage was dislodged and added a very slight bump to her nose. She hasn’t updated the site in several years, so no word if she ever had the “revision” surgery. That story was almost enough to scare me into moving in with my mom for a month!

I asked Patrick to drive me to my appointment, not only so I could load up on painkillers in advance, but also because I was scared and wanted someone to hold my hand during the process. I was sadly disappointed when they called my name in the waiting room and he said, “noooooo way, I’m staying in here.” (I had assumed he was working in the waiting room, but more on this later).

The room was freezing and after taking my vitals, the nurse/assistant offered me water. I hadn’t showered in six days and while I had “sponge bathed,” was terrified that I smelled bad and no one would tell me. I wondered if that’s why Patrick didn’t want to come in. No one was recoiling in horror over my smell, so I assumed I was acceptable.

The adorable doctor came in (she’s seriously adorable, can we be friends?) and started by pouring a liquid over my nose cast to dissolve the adhesive. Then she said it was time to remove the tiny stitches under my nose, and that it might sting a little. The first two snips were not bad but the next few felt like pulling nose hairs out with a tweezer in a very sore nose. Or getting stung by a bee under your nose. #Yeowch I had to take a break midway through to catch my breath. Yeah, I started crying, which not only was stupid but made my stitched McRib ache. It turns out I was supposed to be applying Aquaphor on my stitches every day, which would have helped them dissolve. #Oops

Then Dr. Adorbs swabbed out some “space gunk” from my nostrils, which really, really hurt. More tears and achy rib. I should have taken another break then, but she quickly swooped in for the packing. She did the left side first and said, “you’re going to feel a bit of pressure.” Side note: any time a medical professional tells you you’re going to feel some pressure, it’s code for: yeowch. I don’t know the particulars and by golly I did not look at what came out of my nose, but it felt as though I passed a semi inflated balloon through my nostril. It was not pleasant. That poor nurse/assistant let me claw up her arm throughout the ordeal (that’s what a husband’s arm is supposed to be for!).

Then Dr. Adorbs says, “it’s kind of like having a baby!” (Ugh, NEVER say that to me!) as she moved to the other side. But yes, it IS kind of like having a baby. The right side hurt a lot more than the left (whatever creature was lurking up there somehow felt bigger), and it felt like my nostril was ripped open. I assume it hurt more because that was the direction my septum was deviated towards and therefore was being pulled in the other direction. There was a little squirty water gun and vacuum cleaner that she used afterwards but my nose was just so sensitive I want to scream, get the hell out of my nose!!! The doctor and nurse were cheering afterwards and kept asking me, “can you breathe, can you breathe?” I was afraid to breathe. There was all this – stuff – in my nose but I couldn’t deal with the nose Stanley Steamer anymore. And I could sort of breathe from my left nostril, which was a new and weird experience. While I was still very congested, I could feel a tiny pinhole of air at the top of my nostril. Is that what the rest of you feel, everyday?

The cast coming off was the least painful of the entire ordeal. It really was like a very sticky bandaid, definitely sore in spots, like on the bridge of my nose. When they took off the cast, the doctor and nurse oooohed and ahhed over my nose. “It’s so pretty!” “It’s so perfectly straight!” They exclaimed. I was very suspicious about all these rave reviews. How could my nose possibly look good, I wondered. Then they handed me a mirror, and I was really disappointed (and may have cried a bit more).

The bridge of my nose looked like it tripled in width, the end of my nose was roughly the size of a golf ball. Not at all what I was expecting. The bump on my nose was gone, though, and I did like how straight it looked from the side. I felt like Flynn Rider in Tangled when they just couldn’t get his nose right on the Wanted poster – a parody  cartoon of myself.

With tears still staining my face, I went to collect Patrick in the waiting room. I rushed out so quickly, that he didn’t even get a chance to look at my new nose. On the car ride home, I told him how disappointed I was that it was so swollen and big but was happy that it was straight and without a bump, to which he replied that in nearly 12 years of being married, he never noticed that my nose was crooked or even had a bump.
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When I told him how sad I was that he wasn’t in there with me, holding my hand (considering he was front row for the birth of three babies and not grossed out at all), he said there was no way in hell he was going to see them pull stuff out of my nose. Fair enough. He did buy me coffee every day, after all, and let me sleep.

So now I just wait and continue to improve. Hoping that I look and feel better soon because it’s time to get back on with my life. Seeing people this weekend, heading on a vacation in just three weeks, business travel in May and June. Most importantly, I want to feel like I made a good decision in doing this, and that it was worth the time, expense and pain. Right now I feel like R2 sitting on Dagobah clearing swamp mud out of my nose. I took a 30 minute shower today and it was heavenly (shhhh! Don’t tell Dr. Adorbs that I let it get it *really* steamy in there — I needed it!). I even had a very faint taste of my coffee today. And a jelly bean. It was fleeting and felt like I had to travel through hyperspace in order to get there, but I could taste it. That, and the bright sunshine today, gave me a little hope. Now, off to do my nose therapy!

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So you want to get a nose job?

Disclosure: This post is not for the faint of heart – there are some graphic details ahead.  I will not be at all offended if you skip over this post! ;o)

As I stared at my swollen, bruised reflection the day after my surgery, I wondered if this will all be worth it in the end. I received a text from my boss, checking to see how I’m recovering and encouraging me not to check my work email. I did anyway, and was instantly overwhelmed by the thought of getting caught up. But that was a problem for another day. There were two more hours until I could take more pain meds, and my brain felt like it was about it to explode.

In comparison, the surgery and first day was a breeze. After arriving at and getting checked in at Mass Eye & Ear in Longwood, before I know it, I was heading into preop and getting into a hospital gown. Sidenote: There is little I find more unnerving than stripping down with only a curtain between you and multiple strangers going about their day on the other side. I’m irrationally terrified that at any minute, some random nurse is going to whip open the curtain, displaying me in my underwear for all the world to see.

But, oh! Those heated blankets make it all better….and as soon as one cools down, the nurse ran off to fetch another. I turned my head as the nurse tried three times before successfully inserting the IV. As I’m wheeled into the operating room, I could hear the pumping bass of music. Suddenly I realized that they were playing The Weeknd in the OR – you know the song that goes, “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you.” “Is this for real?” I asked the nurse, startled by the connection between the song and what’s about to happen. “Oh, we’ll turn it off when we get started,” she replied as she moved me on to the operating table. I vaguely thought of asking them to play Maroon 5.

Just then, all these huge screens/monitors switched on all over the room, each featuring three high-def, huge pictures of my face from the front and sides. These were the pictures my doctor took of my “before” nose. I started to feel like I’m in some sort of sci-fi young adult movie like Divergent (which I’ve actually never seen) and that’s the last thing I remember.

Suddenly I was in recovery and a nurse is waking me up and I do not want to wake up. I felt as if I was severely hung over with a massive headache. The insides of my nose were burning. I had gauze underneath my nose and it felt as suffocating as a fuzzy blanket over my mouth on a hot summer night. There was an actual cast on my nose – it looked like a white band-aid but was stiff. The doctor showed Patrick the packing inside my nose, which she said was like PVC piping. Sweet. The nurses kept asking me if I wanted a mirror to see. (Why do nurses do this? They do this when you are giving birth to babies too and in neither situation do I have any desire to see what’s going on.)

They told me that they were able to extract cartilage from my own rib and use it to bolster my septum in the right direction. I was so relieved to hear that no cadaver tissue was needed! I mean, I felt like hell, but at least I didn’t have to worry that I was become possessed by a mass murderer, like in the movie Shocker. Fortunately, they did not have to break any bones, either. A little McRib, sandpaper and spackle did the trick.

The first night home wasn’t that bad, other than the fact that the pain became excruciating in the last 1-2 hours before my next dose of pain meds. It was worse than the worst migrate I’ve ever had, the insides of my nose felt like they were on fire, and even my teeth hurt. Oh, and vomiting was extremely unpleasant. I was most worried about the pain in my nose when I threw up, but I should have been worried about what my McRib would feel like, and the fact that I couldn’t bend over. Have you ever tried to vomit while standing up? It was not pleasant. Thank god I took ballet as a child and could still plié in front of the bathroom sink. If there was an award for most graceful vomiting ever, I totally would have won.  I still  haven’t hit that other dreaded post nose surgery milestone – sneezing – but will report back on that.

I knew eating would be a challenge, but didn’t think about the fact that since I can only breathe through my mouth, closing my mouth while chewing would become impossible and eating anything solid made me feel like I was choking. Each meal time became a choice: will I starve or suffocate? Slurpable foods proved to be the easiest to tackle – yogurt, soup….and I found that using the kid’s mini spoons really helped as I couldn’t open my mouth very wide.

The so-called “mustache” dressing was very unpleasant too. It was basically a long piece of gauze taped under my nose to catch the blood and other “ooziness” coming out of my nose. Horribly gross, but I kept my rib and nose stitches in stitches as I couldn’t stop thinking “I mustache you a question!” (What can I say, pain meds make you loopy). The first day, I had to change the gauze multiple times an hour but finally got to get rid of it altogether before the end of the second day. I’d really like to know how men with mustaches eat! The minute the gauze got wet, even with water, I had to change it immediately.

Day two of recovery was much more difficult, although there was no more ballet vomiting.

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But first, lemme take a hot selfie! #NoFilterNeeded

I felt and looked like I was hit by a truck. My eyes swelled shut and became black and blue. I could barely get up because of the pain in my McRib. With the kids at school and Patrick at work, it was quiet enough around the house, but it was tough being alone. It was hot in the apartment and there was no one to help me open the window. Every trip to the refrigerator to refill my water was a struggle. I fell asleep at the kitchen table as I was trying to cut up a Luna protein bar into tiny pieces for breakfast. I finally finished that bar around dinner time.

They said it’s supposed to get worse before it gets better, and so far, that has been true!

Mel 2.0 (the #39BucketList never dies)

So, there was one item on my #39BucketList that I never had a chance to do until now…

For the second time in my life, I’m getting plastic surgery.  It sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud, and even worse when I tell other people about it.  In my defense, I have only sought plastic surgery for medically justified reasons. The first time, of course, was to get my jaw reattached after I fell and broke it during a nighttime run – the whole reason I started to blog in the first place.  This time, it’s to fix my (very real) deviated septum. And since documenting my first adventure with plastic surgery was SO much fun, I thought I’d do it again.  But be warned:  this series of posts may not be for the faint of heart!

So, how did I get here?  I never really thought about my nose until I was an adult.  Sure, there were two times when people made fun of my nose when I was younger – one was a friend in junior high (who was mad at me for reasons I don’t remember) told me that my nose looked like a long stick with a ball attached to it, and another kid in my confirmation class in 10th grade said something about it.  I always thought my nose was perfectly fine until, as a young adult, I was getting fitted for new glasses and I asked the optician what he could do to get my glasses to sit straight on my face.  And he said, “Sweetheart, it’s not the glasses – it’s your face!”  Then of course the plastic surgeon who fixed my broken jaw, “Dr. T” (aka “Dr. Adonis,” as Patrick called him) told me on multiple occasions how severe my deviated septum was and it wasn’t just about aesthetics, either.  After seeing a CAT scan of my head, he asked me, incredulous, “how do you even breathe?”  It turns out that I have likely had a deviated septum my entire life, and it has worsened with age, actually causing my nose to GROW crooked. If i don’t fix it now, it will only to continue to grow more crooked, ensuring that I’ll look like a woman in a Picasso painting by the time I am 50.  Breathing through my nose has become remarkably difficult as I’ve aged and I’ve noticed a significant impact on daily activities.

And…it just doesn’t look right. I hate getting my picture taken for fear of my face getting caught in a weird angle.  Even my amazing opportunity to be on TV last summer was a *little* bit (only a little) dampened by the fact that they shot me from the side!  Ugh.  During the live shots, the producer kept telling me to talk to the person I was shooting with instead of looking straight into the camera, and I just couldn’t do it.  Every time I turned my head I kept thinking, yuck,  my horrible nose is being featured on TV and wondered if everyone was laughing at me.  The producer (and meteorologist I was shooting with) probably thought I was being a camera hog but it was actually an attempt to not scare viewers away!  Patrick snapped a pic during the live segment that was full on profile, but fortunately, my sister was able to get a better angle.

So last summer while I was at the Cape with my inlaws and in the #39BucketList mode, I decided that it was finally time to fix my nose. My first appointment with my  ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) specialist sure was interesting. Before I could even fully sit in the chair, the doctor called out my deviated septum as if my nose was the most twisted, deviant protrusion ever to grow from someone’s face.  As we were discussing the “options” to fix my nose, the doctor suggested that I get the “full workup” including creating a more “pleasing” profile by smoothing out the bridge of my nose, and narrowing and lifting up my nose’s extraordinarily bulbous tip, because as he said, “You’re a healthy young woman.  You don’t want to spend the rest of your life walking around looking like THAT!”  Ouch!  I wanted to ask him if he had a bag for me to put over my head on my way out.

Fortunately, the plastic surgeon to whom he referred me had a much different perspective.  She simply wants my nose to function normally and to end up looking like the natural nose I was born with, only straighter. I was floored when Patrick encouraged me to move forward with the surgery given the cost and the fact that insurance pays practically nothing.  After listening to me sleep one night with a cold, he said it sounded like I was being strangled in my sleep.  So really, Patrick just wants a good night’s sleep. Not to mention that he’s hoping that with the increased oxygen flow to my brain, my personality will improve.  Ha ha. #SolidInvestment

So, on this last evening with my crooked, deviant nose, I’m trying to avoid surgery horror stories on the internet while praying that my own rib cartilage will be sufficient to bolster my nose so that I will not need to get a donation from a cadaver (yes…I said a cadaver…somehow, I don’t think when that person gave their body to science, they thought it would be so that they could help make my nose straight). I have little idea what to expect, what I’m going to look like, how I’m going to feel, how long it’s going to take me to recover, or how the hell I’m going to finish all my work tonight and still get to bed by midnight.  Most of all, I’m really disappointed that I didn’t take time to stop and smell some flowers today.  Hoping to get my sense of smell back before the lilies of the valleys make their appearance in May.  And also (secretly) hoping that I’ll wake up tomorrow about six inches taller, ten pounds lighter, maybe blonde and my face will look like I’m 29 again. It could happen.

Me at 13ishBri and Me 2

 

#39TilYouGetItRight

I’m feeling reflective in the last few minutes of 2015.  Although this has been a year of loss and frustration, 2015 has turned out to be one of the most remarkable and memorable years of my life.   Like the #39BucketList, I’m really sad to see it go.

The #39BucketList started on the night of my 39th birthday.  I found myself alone in New York City on a business trip for a brand new job. My new boss had dinner with me, but once he headed home for the ‘burbs, I was alone for the rest of my birthday.  The city and evening stretched out ahead of me.  Was I going to go back and sit in my hotel room? Hell, no!

On that night, I decided to take advantage of as much of the city as I could. I wandered all over midtown Manhattan alone. I sat outside for a while watching the ice skaters at Rockefeller Center. I went to the very top of the Empire State Building (yes, I paid extra to go to the 102nd floor). I went to the really cool Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel and had a drink (try the Matilda!). I went shopping at H&M after midnight. Crazy, I know!

#39BucketList was never a specific list of things that I wanted to do before I turned 40. It was about saying “yes” to things that are important, that feel right and that make me happy. While it may sound juvenile and a bit selfish, it was a frame of mind to help me become more comfortable in my own skin and get me and my family on a better path. Instead of simply enduring life, I wanted to enjoy it.  It’s not that I’m not incredibly grateful for everything that I have. I am lucky to have a wonderful family, healthy children, and (while it’s not anyone’s ideal apartment) a roof over my head. For me, happiness means appreciating everything that I have, but also dreaming that there’s always something exciting around the corner.

As painful as it was to turn 40, I truly had an INCREDIBLE 39th year in 2015. For the first time since I was in my 20s, I traveled all over the country. In one year alone, I took four trips to NYC, two trips to DC, and trips to Houston, San Francisco, Cleveland, Chicago, the White Mountains, the Walt Disney World Resort (of course!), and more trips to Atlanta than I care to remember. On each of the business trips, I had the opportunity to meet, present to, and get to know all kinds of people. As much as a natural introvert as I am, I always feel a little sparkle inside when I’m out there in front of people.

I had the opportunity to be on TV, to the delight of my inner teenager, who was convinced that she’d dye her hair blonde, move to LA and become an actress.  I had a blast coming up with nonsensical soundbytes such as “the bustle of the city” and “gotta have these peppers,” all while showing off one of my favorite places in the world.  It was an AWESOME experience, even with the ridiculously frizzy hair and the wardrobe malfunction issues.

I found my voice on social media. I have come to love Twitter, a mini virtual universe where something is always going on. I have quite an eclectic Twitter network, made up of approximately 40% Disney enthusiasts, 30% social activists (many of whom I discovered during my #NoBoston2024 days), 25% professional contacts, and 5% spam accounts…well, ok, maybe it’s 25% spam accounts, and 5% professional, but whatever. Most of the time on Twitter, I feel like I’m the weird girl sitting alone at a cafeteria table talking to herself, but it is really fun to connect with people you’d never actually meet in real life.

I didn’t think anything would top the TV experience, but it was a spur of the moment cruise to the Cape that truly topped off my summer.  My husband and the kids were staying with my inlaws on the Cape, and as I had to work in the city, I planned to meet them later in the week.  Rather than take the bus (which was really the most cost-effective and sensible option), I decided she need to take the Provincetown Ferry, declaring it a #39BucketList item.  And I’m so glad that I did.  There I was, sitting in the open air on this ferry boat, my legs propped up on my suitcase in front of me.  The water was a little choppy that day and the boat was just speeding along, rocking in the waves, the ocean spraying in my face every so often.  I had no little people to care for, no worries that Bree was going to jump overboard, or having to take Owen to the bathroom.  I was completely relaxed, listening to my favorite playlist on my iPod, and just watching the as the city faded away into the place where the sky met the ocean.  The sun started setting, and I thought the ride couldn’t get any better.  Until I saw my first whale!  I’ve never been on a whale watch (that I recall) and so I just watched this whale in amazement. And then I saw another whale.  And then another. And I could see more in the distance – a random tail shooting up, a spray of water.  I think I saw about 10 whales in total.  Completely amazing and an experience I’ll never forget.

Even though I’ve crossed the threshold of 40, I am going continue the Bucket List idea.  One of my friends posted the perfect hashtag on Facebook that cemented this all for me:  #39TilYouGetItRight. Obviously, 40 is not an end point,  and while I can’t use #39BucketList anymore, the purpose and idea behind it doesn’t have to go away.  Maybe the next decade will be about pushing myself to really explore what excites me and what I’m really passionate about. More than anything, I want to feel more of that “sparkle” that I felt a few times over the past year. I’ve always admired people who knew what their dream was at an early age and chased it. It finally occurred to me this year that the reason I haven’t found my “dream” is not because I failed, but it’s because I never identified what that dream really was.

I am sad to see 2015 go, but can’t wait to see what adventures await in 2016.

 

40 Reasons Why Being in Your 40s is Fabulous (really)!

  1. All the bands you loved in college are now on reunion tours and you can afford to get the really good seats.
  2. You can listen to Maroon 5 without embarrassment.  You score “cool” points for singing in the car while driving the kids to school.
  3. And, it’s not at all weird to crush on Adam Levine because at least he’s in his mid-30s.
  4. You can relate every guy you’ve loved in your life to a Taylor Swift, Katy Perry or Pink song, and you can’t help smirking while you sing along.  Jerk.
  5. You’ve figured out that simply wearing activewear gives the appearance that you work out.
  6. Same deal with a FitBit.
  7. Shapewear not only becomes socially acceptable, but expected and welcomed.
  8. Anti-aging skin products are now fully justified purchases as they are medically necessary.  They may not fly with the IRS as FSA-approved purchases, but your spouse cannot protest the cost.
  9. You are that much closer to retirement.
  10. Yet you are still smack in middle of the most desirable TV demographic.
  11. And you are still not *quite* yet at the age for bifocals or scary tests that end in “-scopy.”
  12. Do you still own any clothes, shoes, or purses from your 20s?  If so, congrats!  They are now vintage.
  13. You’ve figured out how to hide a bag of fun size Kit Kats from your family and so that you “forget” to hand them out to trick or treaters.
  14. You remember to hit up Target the day after Halloween for the 50% off Kit Kats and hide those too.  Beach season is over, anyway.
  15. If you have children, you stop feeling like the camp counselor or babysitter and more like a mom.
  16. If you are single, you can now *usually* spot and resist the allure of a “bad boy” — he may be exciting, but you have no time for that drama.  Been there, done that, have the T shirt.
  17. You finally got over that guy that ripped your heart out in your 20s.  Jerk.
  18. And you’re mature enough to be friends with said guy without getting sucked into a Vortex of Emotion.  He’s still a jerk though.
  19. You’ve forgiven your old boyfriend (one of the nice ones) for the whole “unanswered prayers” comment he made years ago because you’re there now too.
  20. Even as you grow tired of your own bull$hit, you have the optimism that there’s still time to change.
  21. There’s no shame in falling asleep on the couch by 8 pm.
  22. Or getting up at 4 am.  They have all those “early bird” sayings for a reason.
  23. You stop feeling like you need to compete with other moms.  They are going to better at some things, you’ll be better at some things, and it’s just best to find some to call friends.  All moms need good friends.
  24. Speaking of moms, you don’t have to wear mom jeans. Cute jeans nowadays do all the lifting and tucking for you.  Or come with stretchy waistbands.  Leggings?  Yeah, they ARE pants as long as your top covers your butt.
  25. You’ve finally figured out which clothes look good on you and you stop trying to make maxi dresses happen.
  26. You’ve learned to accept swim skirts, cover ups, and modest suit cuts, and for the first time since you were a little kid, you feel a bit more comfortable at the beach.  And you don’t miss being ogled at by gross old guys.
  27. You don’t have to worry about getting carded, unless you just ran to the liquor store and forgot your license (damn it, I’m 40!).
  28. You no longer get pressured to do shots at a bar.  Unless it is your husband’s 40th birthday and you are still in your 30s.  In which case the night may take a sharp, nasty turn and we shall never, ever, ever think about that again.  Like ever.
  29. You have fewer, but closer, friends.  Which is good because the limited time you have to socialize is too precious to waste on anything less.
  30. You really do stop caring what most people think of you.  It could be because you are just too damn exhausted to care, but it still counts.
  31. You have more credibility at work, no matter your field or job, if for no other reason than you’ve been in the working world for at least 20 years.
  32. And you are *that* much closer to deciding what you want to be when you grow up.
  33. You mentor the high-potential junior staffer at work because you used to be that girl.
  34. You also mentor the hot mess at work because, at times, you’ve been that girl too.
  35. At least one person looks up to and admires you, whether you know it or not, and even if you still feel like a hot mess most days.
  36. You finally settle on a title for your memoir.  And it doesn’t have a hashtag!
  37. You own at least one pair of nice sunglasses, a watch, or a great piece of jewelry that came in a robin’s-egg-blue box.
  38. You drive a car that has four hubcaps, both side mirrors, and is absent of major dents or rust.  (Oh, this one doesn’t apply to ME per se, just generally to people in their 40s).
  39. You have fun on Facebook watching friends, old and new, living their lives.  Some married their high school sweethearts and now have teenagers of their own.  Others are on second marriages becoming the modern day Brady Bunch.  Some are welcoming brand new babies at 40.  Others are world travelers, pursuing careers & dreams.  And all of these are valid places to be in life.
  40. You appreciate the meaning of “it all happens for a reason” because you understand that every heartbreak, missed opportunity and closed door put you closer down the path to where you are today.  And you are mostly satisfied with where you are today.

 

Winter Warrior Woman

Hello, most recent Snowstorm.

You have met your match.

I watched my Facebook newsfeed nervously today, and when that dreaded announcement came, I had the most surprising feeling. Instead of the sinking depression, hopelessness and overwhelming anxiety that I was expecting to feel, I felt angry. And then something miraculous happened.  Snowstorm, you have awakened the guerrilla mom within. The mom who is not going to be shamed from voicing her frustration by people who are not in her shoes.  The mom who refuses to be painted as an employee on the “mommy track” who does not prioritize her career. The mom who is tired of resorting to yelling, time outs and threats to keep the kids quiet while she’s on conference calls.  After all, this is the same woman who landed a career-defining job before college graduation, managed to pass the bar on the first try, and successfully reinvented her career three times. In other words…you are screwed.

Being a working parent is hard. Really hard. It is an art that is practiced over many years, but never quite perfected. It is a constant balancing act, carefully patching together child care, coordinating drop off and pick up times, remembering homework, school projects, parent council meetings and responsibilities, snack donations and backup clothes, all while building credibility and proving yourself every day at work. It means doing housework at night or early in the mornings (or not at all) so you can spend your precious few hours outside of work with the kids.  This is NOT to suggest that being a stay at home parent is easy.  It’s just that there is a vast difference in the consequences of not doing housework during one snow day, and missing important deliverables and calls at work.  Schedule and routine are critical to the working parent’s success, and any anomaly, such as a business trip, must be carefully orchestrated as to not disrupt the balance. Anyone can manage one snow day, or even two or three. Facing eight snow days since the beginning of January, however, proves to be a special challenge. I wish that I had the luxury of spending this stolen time with my littles. I want nothing more than to do all the activities and crafts that I see on Pinterest with them. The worst is that the kids don’t get it. They don’t understand that I really am working, at a job that requires concentration and conference calls. They want to spend time with me, too, and I realize what a special (and fleeting) gift that is. I can’t describe how low I felt last week when Bree told me that she and Emma were wishing for “a big sister” so that I’d have someone to help me on snow days.

I work from home the majority of the time, and am so grateful for this. Not having to commute, or get myself gussied up for the office, saves me so much time and helps me be more productive at work. I do not want this privilege taken away. So while the one or two snow days would likely not put this at risk, eight snow days within five weeks is extremely problematic. Social media and online news resources are overflowing with people who are actually excited about missing school. It shouldn’t be a surprise that many of these people do not seem to be working parents. What is happening in Boston right now is unprecedented. It’s not just that we have a lot of snow and have missed a lot of school days. On the days when we do have school, it is virtually impossible to get around the city right now. The MBTA is not running consistently and is overcrowded (and not usual overcrowding – I’m talking crushing small children crowded) and many of the roads are narrow and clogged. Although some sidewalks are cleared, others only have a small path created by people walking – not wide enough for two people to stand side by side and certainly not wide enough to walk multiple children safely. If you’ve ever been in Back Bay or the Financial District during rush hour, you can appreciate what that does to the foot traffic. While I was away last week, it took Patrick two hours to pick up all three kids. And they are all the SAME city!!!  It took Patrick several calls to our City Councilor to get the sidewalks and streets cleared around Bree and Owen’s school, because as the City Councilor stated, the CITY WASN’T PRIORITIZING THE SCHOOLS.  Apparently, City resources were focused on prepping for the Patriots Championship Parade.  Priorities.

Feeling that I have been whining too much on Facebook, I was so happy to FINALLY talk to other working mom friends who shared my same level of stress and frustration. One admitting to having to do her conference calls in a closet last week. A few others set up a “child caravan” of sorts, carting a small group of kids from house to house for a few hours at a time while parents took turns attending critical meetings. Sadly, with three, my options are very limited – very few people offer to do “tradesies” with Traveling Chaos – and my youngest is too little for the usual backup care. But, as I’ve said Snowstorm, you’ve awoken the Winter Warrior Woman within, and I am not one to be messed with.

I plan to get through this winter with my job and work arrangement intact, no matter how many snow days you throw at me. And here’s how I’m going to do it:
1. Plan the day’s schedule, down to planned meal times, snack times, rest times, and activity blocks (both planned and “choice” time). This will also include a couple of times for me to do something with the kids when I am able to take a quick break.
2. Set ground rules for the day. Such as, when I am on a call or in the middle of an important project, you must keep voices down. I will come out to check on you periodically, but do not disturb me unless it’s an emergency.
3. Gather materials for activities to include art and craft supplies, etc. in advance.
4. Have a morning meeting with the kids. During this meeting, we will go over the day’s schedule and ground rules. I will welcome input and ideas from all at the meeting.
5. Clean up as I go, and expect the kids to do the same. We’ll see how this one goes.
6. Designate authority in the form of a mother’s helper. Emma Sullivan, your day to be the boss has come. Make me proud.

So take that, Snowstorm.  You’ve thrown me a challenge and awakened my fiercely competitive spirit.  You may get the best of me in the end, but I will not go down without a fight.

XOXO,

Winter Warrior Woman