2013 or Bust

You may have seen me tweeting the hashtag #2013orbust these days. That’s because I think this year is a transition year for me.

I’ve always had a strong appreciation for stories. I’ve been reading since I was 4 or 5 and started developing a fondness for really good movies (you know: beyond the blockbuster, especially documentaries and indie films) in my 20s. An appreciation that developed further when I started dating Evan, the cinephile 5 years ago (5 years ago tomorrow!!). While there are many important aspects to telling a good story, character development has always been the most intriguing aspect of storytelling. And then I read Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (thanks, Krissie!) and realized I, too, had a story to tell. I just had to figure out what it was. Some of his words gently poked me when I read it as part of our little book discussion, but they punched me in the gut when I re-read parts of the book last year.

Words like:

  • “Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.”
  • “And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”
  • “A story is based on what people think is important, so when we live a story, we are telling people around us what we think is important.”

2011 was the year I started this new identity. Charlie was born. Priorities shifted–but I needed to figure out what was a shifting priority and what was just an excuse. The year flew by at breakneck speed. This year was just about me living, surviving, keeping my head above water–not that any of that was negative. I was busy falling in love with my son. My story was starting a new chapter.

2012 was a year of reflection. Time to sort through those priorities. Figure out what I want. Create a new vision for my future. Determine the things that are most important to me. Identify the less satisfying parts of my life and decide what needs to be cut loose and what needs more of my time. Celebrate the more satisfying parts of my life and figure out how to maximize them.

And now we come to 2013. I’ve pulled out all the stops when it comes to identifying the words, mantras and goals that will define who I am and what I’m becoming this year.

FOCUS is my defining word of 2013. I haven’t had good focus in a couple years–partly because I haven’t know what I WANTED. And my identity as a committed partner and mom has shifted, which has created different passions, a change in confidence and evolving priorities. I am also learning that I work best when I do NOT multitask. Life is also more satisfying when I’m living in the moment (as opposed to doing one thing and dreaming of another). This means checking Twitter and Facebook less. Not leaving e-mail open ALL DAY LONG and answering e-mails while I’m working on projects that require or deserve my time and attention. It means looking at my task list and figuring out what requires and deserves my time and attention and getting rid of the clutter. The removal of clutter also applies to my physical life. I spent Christmas through the first full week of the year sorting, organizing and donating things in my home I really don’t need. I’ve been playing around with different organizational tools the past few weeks and think I’ve found the system that will work best for me this year (and, quite honestly, it’s really just a refined practice for what I already know works best for me).

PLAN, DO, BE is my mantra. I can very easily get lost in my head or in my desires for the future. 2012 taught me that wanting and wishing and planning for is not enough. You gotta do it. And then a TEDTalk by Amy Cuddy taught me that once you start doing it, you become it.

So here are what my priorities are in 2013:

1. My health. I want to get back to being a loser. I lost 70lbs before. I want to do that again (that means losing preggo/new mom weight plus some of the weight I wanted to lose prior to learning I was pregnant). I want to be an athlete. I miss running and biking. I’m currently working on this by using my new Fitbit pedometer, striving for 10,000 steps a day, logging my food on MyFitnessPal, planning meals/snacks and preparing them ahead of time, following a low calorie, high protein diet and working on building an activity plan into my week once the semester starts back up.

2. My career. I’ve been in my current position for 6 years. Time to think about that next step. I’m ready for it. This year’s priorities are moving towards that next step. I’m doing that by defining what I want and what I don’t want, networking more, taking on projects that challenge and excite me, redistributing those that don’t. I’m both adding and editing my professional life. I’m working on an entrepreneurship in higher ed program with colleagues from a regional professional organization. I’m working on a book that can serve as a guide for parents who work in student affairs. I am updating my resume and realizing what wonderful experiences I’ve had recently. And looking for positions in residence life, student conduct, academic advising or creating training and development materials for either higher ed or other organizations. (You may have seen me tweet about wanting to work for Dan Pink or the Gallup Organization last week. Totally true. Love them. And my work and personal experience would fit in with doing training and development for both organizations and probably many others.)

3. My family. It’s no surprise that when you have a kid, your relationship changes. Evan and I are definitely struggling with the lack of (money and time and resources for) date nights and are trying to figure out how to make sure we fit that in to our lives and budgets this year. We also came up with a list of experiences we want to have this year. A trip to the Philly zoo and the Camden Aquarium, going to the museum, traveling to California to see family, taking a vacation with just Evan and I, going to several concerts, taking Charlie to his first concert or music festival. I also want to understand Evan better and understand his changed role and I want the same of him for me. So there’s that. 

And with that, I have a very full plate for 2013. This is providing the foundation for what I do and what I spend my time, energy, money and other resources on this year.

2013 or bust.

Can ya feel it?

9 months

So it’s been a bit since my last post–9 months in fact.

I used 2012 to get my bearings, explore some new ideas, enjoy parenting, figure out what I wanted from my career, hire and develop and fall professionally in love with my new team and reflect.

I used to be very good about compartmentalizing my life: fitness, Evan, work, family, friends. Now all these parts blur in crazy confusing ways for my organized file drawer of a brain. I need to make 2013 a year that connects all these pieces and finds ways to integrate each of these priorities seamlessly into each other.

I will be posting about my 2013 goals soon. And hopefully blogging regularly (at least weekly) again.

Lent & Life Updates

It took me days to realize that WordPress ate my last post. The title seemed funnier than intended with no blog entry.

What I had written is that the No Negativity Challenge hasn’t been as challenging as I expected. I’ve been reframing things a lot–I’m sure it’s annoying to some, but it works. I’ve been lowering my expectations at times and putting things into perspective as well as giving up emotional investment in things that I can’t control and that have limited importance to me. Surprisingly, that’s been the most difficult part. I had a series of tech issues that slowed my productivity. I couldn’t control it and in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter–I had the opportunity to work from another office or bring in my personal laptop. But it annoyed me. Because, really, how difficult is it to quickly and effectively address a printing and network issue?

On the other hand, I had a significant health issue diagnosed which could compromise my weight loss and certainly changes any plans I had to start training for another race anytime soon. But, I’m kinda okay with it for now.

These are my heels. The highlighter shows where my heel bone should end. The white stuff that breeches that line are heel spurs which are causing me foot pain and aggravating my Achilles tendinitis.

They are big enough to suggest they’ve been around and growing for as long as 2 years. So probably since I started running or maybe even back when I was training for the Breast Cancer 3-Day.

How the heck did this happen? And why am I only figuring it out now?

I’ve intermittently had Achilles tendinitis problems. It flares up,
I treat it as I was originally trained to treat it and it goes away. It flared up when I increased my mileage, so I scaled back and increased slowly. I also stuck to treadmill running since it was easier to be attentive to my form and the surface felt better on my feet.

And then shortly after giving birth to Charlie it came back. This time, I assumed it was just ligament/tendon pain that is pretty common during pregnancy and just afterwards. Hormones can sometimes cause temporary ligament issues. So I waited. When it didn’t go away, I assumed it was because I was still carting around the baby weight. I treated the symptoms (anti-inflammatories, stretching) and just stuck to walking for exercise.

And now my son is 8 and a half months old and on the verge of running around the house himself, yet I am still in pain to the point where it compromises my day to day life. I haven’t been to the gym in months, I haven’t gone on lunchtime walks since early February, I’ve been selective in my shoe choices, I daydream about being to run again, I walk down stairs leaning against the wall and one step at a time–particularly in the morning when the pain is at it worst.

So I sucked it up and made an appointment with a podiatrist at the same medical group where I was treated for my back in 2008. And that’s when I found out I have significant bone spurs. There are two options to treatment:

1. non-surgical

2. surgical

I don’t need to tell you that I’m trying non-surgical first, right? It may not work (it will only treat the tendinitis–not the bone spurs) and it will require an overwhelming amount of patience and time, but it is worth a shot. Here’s the plan:

1. Get fitted for custom orthodics and a heel lift. This will lessen the pressure on the tendon, reducing the inflammation and growth of the bone spur. It will also mean wearing sneakers or open backed shoes or my Dansko clogs which is a shoe fashion limitation just short of tragic. No flip flops, no cute kitten heels, no patent leather flats. Ugh. Plus side: it justifies me purchasing a new pair of Dansko clogs and a clog-appropriate wardrobe for summer (because summer dresses would look frumpy with clogs–I’m thinking some nice light, wide-legged linen pants and blousy tops.)

2. An aggressive schedule of heating, stretching and icing that will take up to an hour twice a day. I’m not worried about finding time to do this at night–I can do it after Charlie goes to bed. Mornings will be more difficult. I may find myself getting up at 5:30/6am just to stretch.

3. Physical therapy: 3x a week for an hour each session. Not sure exactly what this will entail but it’s likely more than the stretching I’m already doing–perhaps massage, ultrasound and stim therapy.

4. No weight bearing exercise. Not even walking for exercise (although normal walking to meetings, around the house, etc. is perfectly acceptable). I can bike, swim and do the elliptical. No stairs, no speed walking, no running and no spinning (at least not out of the saddle stuff, since that would put weight on my achilles tendon). I’m already bored, but hoping it’s an opportunity to improve my swimming for future tris. (See! There’s that reframing!)

The doc says this could take three to six MONTHS which means I may not be able to get back into a running routine until September–and that’s only IF this works. It’s frustrating to say the least. I’m sure we’ll re-assess throughout my treatment plan and if progress isn’t happening, I’ll have to consider surgery. But, this is both feet. I just can’t imagine running around after a VERY active boy after having surgery on both feet.

I’ve got this little guy to keep up with–so it’s time to really buckle down and focus on health.

Screw No Negativity Lent!

Happy 2012! Happy Lent!

I had every intention of getting back to minimal, yet regular, blogging (say, once a week) once the holidays were over. And then the germs hit. Charlie, Evan and I all got colds and sinus infections in January, then we all had norovirus in early February, followed by colds again for Charlie and me. It gave me a lot of reason to complain throughout the first 6 weeks of the year. Do you know how puke-phobic I am? And how much I had to detach that phobia as my child puked and dry heaved on me a grand total of 7 times over the course of a few hours. Poor, poor kid!

Aside from that, here’s what I’ve been up to:

1. Reading The Happiness Project and integrating it into my own life.

2. Taking on a work-related “motivation” project to get back into publishing (professional newsletters, magazines and other publications).

3. Reducing my TV and online time and increasing my reading time. I hope to read 12 fun books and 6 work books this year.

4. Enjoying the heck out of this little bugger who continues to astound me with his curiosity, positive attitude and development. And his cuteness.

So I’ve decided to take advantage of all of this positive energy and take it a step further:


I toyed with the idea of avoiding negative energy during Lent, but that’s not possible nor is it helpful. The point of this project is to focus on developing and maintaining my own optimism, energy and happiness.

I know I can totally be a sponge around negative energy, absorbing it and taking it on as my own misery. So it’s important that I don’t avoid negative energy during this project, otherwise, when the 40 days are up and I reintroduce myself to life, I’ll be back where I started. Furthermore, it’s not realistic. Am I just supposed to walk out of a meeting at work, if folks are complaining about something. Yeah, THAT would go over well!

So, here’s the plan:

I’ve announced my no negative Lent plan to colleagues,Evan, Twitter and Facebook. They will help me hold myself accountable.

I will continue to develop and fulfill my Happiness Project.

I will take time to reframe issues or incidents when I’m starting to feel pulled into negativity. So instead of thinking “Dammit… I have to go to another nighttime event tonight for work and drag Charlie out past his bedtime and leave the warm comfy house” I replaced it with “I’m so lucky to have a flexible social kid who can be exhausted yet still enjoy these outings and it was fun to hang out and connect with students and staff.” Both those statements were true, so why not focus on the positive one. Did it still suck that I couldn’t be in my pjs watching Jeopardy at 7 and then couch surf the rest of the night? Yes. But did I get something out of it? Absolutely.

So that’s my plan. What, if anything, are you doing for Lent??



Resound 11, Prompt 13: Best Gift

#resound11 Prompt 13: Best Gift

Today’s prompt is brought to you by Krissie from Questions for Dessert and @krissieb.
The holiday season is typically a time we focus on others, sometimes at the expense of ourselves. I can get so caught up in the expectations of the season that I have a hard time remembering to enjoy the peace and wonder of the season. I can forget to take time to care for myself. So lets look back on how we cared for ourselves. Maybe we’ll inspire each other to take a few minutes for ourselves today.
What was the best gift you gave yourself this year? Did you buy big, fluffy towels? Did you have a massage on a day when you really needed it? Did you forgive someone and give yourself the freedom from that grudge?
How will you resound?
The best gift I gave myself is the permission to live in the moment. I know I’ve said this in past resound posts, but here’s the deal:
  • I found the career I am currently in when I wasn’t even looking to change careers. It’s brought me more financial security than my previous job (journalism), it better matches my personality and skills, it offers me some of the same things I love about journalism (learning, teaching and communicating) and it’s introduced me to so many great things, ideas, inspirations and people.
  • I found the job I’m currently in when I stumbled across it online. I always believe in keeping an eye out for job descriptions that sound interesting. In my previous job, I wasn’t happy and I had finished up a rather intense round of job searching (8 on-campus interviews in several different states over a 2-3 month period) and decided that what I wanted and needed wasn’t out there and I needed to wait a bit, hold off and recharge myself before going through such an intensive process again. Job interviews in my field generally entail a 30-60 minute phone interview and a 1-2 day on-campus interview. Then I saw the posting for this job and things just gradually fell into place, despite a variety of stops and starts in the 4.5 months between me seeing the posting and starting the position. Most importantly, every part of the job search process (even when I was told the search might be suspended) just felt right.
  • Although I joined eHarmony intended to start dating and meeting people in my new town, I never expected that I would fall in love with and end up marrying and having a baby with one of the first people I met in person from the site.
  • I always knew that I would experience the death of my grandparents, but when my grandfather was diagnosed with a slow-growing type of prostate cancer, I never expected his decline to go the way it did. I didn’t expect it would kill him and I didn’t realize how slow (yet fast) and difficult that process would be.
  • Charlie was the biggest surprise of my life. Especially with being on birth control pills to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and after being told multiple times that as someone with PCOS in my mid-30s, my baby making days were seriously numbered. When Charlie was conceived I had missed just one birth control pill which I had taken the following morning, doubling up as the directions tell you to do in order to maintain that 99-or-whatever percent success rate. Um, yeah….. talk about beating odds.
So those have continued to be my life lessons. The surprises have lent the most joy (in most cases) and learning (in other cases) in my life. My natural tendency is to plot and plan every moment of my day, my life, to live by numbers and statistics, to nervously calculate risk and take the safer of my options, to think/worry about or analyze/plan the future instead of appreciating and recognizing what I have in the present. Over time, I realize that I don’t always know what’s best for me–and that’s okay–and that sometimes a world I never imagined possible opens up to me just by me allowing myself to be open to the possibility of whatever this crazy, fantastic world has to offer.  So for all the planning I do, I’m okay if Plan B–whatever life has in store for me–is the plan that ends up getting implemented.

Resound 11, Prompt 12: 12 in 12

#resound11 Prompt 12: 12 in 12

 Take today to talk about 12 things you would like to accomplish in 2012. These 12 things can be 12 resolutions, 12 changes in your life, 12 wines you’d like to drink, 12 cities you’d like to visit, or 12 monthly goals. The decision is yours. Good luck and have fun!

How will you resound?

I feel like I’ve been making a lot of promises I can’t keep these days. I’m not being realistic about my time, my efficiency, my ability or my energy. And sometimes, I’m just making too many excuses. Other times, I realized I’m still just working on figuring it all out. A while back, I decided that instead of making some crazy plan or promise on how 2011 is going to end (my final decision: it’s going to be fun and glorious and full of wonderful memories, it won’t be defined by a number on the scale but it will be thoughtful and intentional and not too indulgent), I’ve been reflecting on what is reasonable and important for 2012. And folks, I’m excited about it.

Here is a list of the top 12 ways in which I will live in 2012:

1. I will find a balance of intentionality and spontaneity, being planned and living by the seat of my pants. I will not be perfect, but I will do this well enough to accomplish my goals (losing 30-50lbs) and living life (like having a kick-ass wedding that will appropriately signify Evan’s and my relationship and bond).

2. I will read. It may not be much (6 books is my goal with a Project Happiness book club as the kick-off/send off) and it won’t always replace television (especially not my love of Breaking Bad, Dexter and Criminal Minds), but it will be a productive and more soul-fulfilling replacement for the time I wander aimlessly on the internet. (Pinterest and Words With Friends has, at times, been my kryptonite.)

3. I will reflect on and share my life with others. This will happen through the conversations I have with friends and family and the writing I do on this blog. I aim for a once a week commitment to this blog. I know I used to write daily. But I’ve realized that a) writing daily takes time away from living the life I want to write about and the experiences I need to have in order to reflect and b) I don’t want to use the blog as a replacement for real, live conversations.

4. I want to be an athlete again. I’m giving myself the next three weeks to aggressively treat (self-care) my achilles tendinitis. I will use my week off between Christmas and New Year’s to get back into a gym routine and develop a plan for the month of January. I will return to the doc if the tendinitis continues to flare up. I aim to start C25k training in March and assess whether I’m ready to do the Philly Women’s Triathlon again in July.

5. I will live in the present 80% of the time with the remainder of my time dedicated to reflection and goal-setting (or goal evaluation). This is a new skill/talent, so I need to remember to cultivate it.

6. I will work with Evan to start planning some family traditions we’d like to start and carry out throughout the years. (Current considerations: a “Thankful Tree” in November, an Advent calendar where you pull a holiday themed thing to do each day, an annual vacation and a simple family weekly tradition–like pizza/popcorn/movie/pj nights.)

7. I will continue to strengthen my relationship with Evan and not let us get too baby-centered. In 2012, I’d like us to have a monthly date night. (Hey–we’re starting small and working on setting do-able goals here, folks!) I want us to go to concerts together again. I also want to work to make sure that on the two days or nights we get to spend together each week, they’re not both monopolized by chores, errands and busywork.

8. I will somehow clean up my recipe collection. I currently have two full shelves of cookbooks, binders, cooking/food magazines and folders of recipes. Ultimately, I find that I spend too much time searching for a recipe I want because it’s mixed in with a bunch that I’ve collected. I’m not sure yet how I intend to go about this, but I ultimately want to pare down this collection, have one binder of favorites (the recipes we make frequently, whether they’re from a cookbook, magazine or a family hand-me-down) that I can go to easily and have a monthly calendar that plots out the regular meals we’ll eat with. And it would be seasonal since I like to eat seasonally. It would take the guess-work out of what to make for dinner. Kinda like this, only it would include two days a month where I scheduled “trying a new recipe”:

Seasonal Dinner Menu

This goal may appear to be more tasky than lifestyle oriented, but it’s simply a strategy I have for my goal to make the most of my time and spend time doing the things I love. I love cooking but I don’t love spending an hour or more a night planning, preparing, cooking and cleaning up when there are other things (family time, Evan-specific time, career goals and gym time) that I want to include in my days.

9. Instead of letting myself get frustrated, I will consider reframing those little annoyances as a productive, effective (I hope) way of not letting the things that I can’t control get me down. This won’t always be possible, but which each of those situations, I’ll evaluate whether I can reframe and move on.

10. I will be more intentional with my spending. Current example: I’m overspending on Starbucks and underspending on quality clothes that will make me feel good about myself as I try to get back to my pre-pregnancy size.

11. Insert semi-private, semi-undefined career goal here.

12. I will be flexible and forgiving. I don’t need to score a 100% success rate on these goals to consider it a success. I just need to be able to say that I’m doing the things that are important to me and I’m minimizing the distractions that keep me from living a life that allows me to celebrate and experience the important stuff.

Resound 11, Prompt 11: Best Meal

#resound11 Prompt 11: Best Meal

What is the best meal or best food that you have eaten all year? Did you make it? Did you get it at a restaurant? Do your best to describe the food and the experience with us.

How will you resound?

This summer, I realized that Evan was spending a LOT of money on salads at work and when the hospital cafeteria didn’t have salad or grilled chicken, he’d grab something totally unhealthy, like a cheesesteak. At the same time, since school was out and the cafeteria on campus was closed, I was making my own lunches.

It was at that point, we decided that for an extra $20~ per week (he was spending about $50+ so we actually saved about $30 and purchase more varied, better quality ingredients than the day old romaine lettuce he was eating), we could just buy chicken breast and salad supplies and make our own awesome salads for the week. And I quickly discovered that by chopping up all the veggies and putting them in their individual Tupperware containers, the produce stayed fresh and it saved me time playing salad sous chef every day.

So there really wasn’t one dish that stood out this year, but the incorporation of salads as part of a healthy, creative, tasty diet was a clear winner. My fave: baby spinach, goat cheese, roasted butternut squash, roasted or sauteed mushrooms, roasted red onion and walnuts with a homemade cranberry vinaigrette.

Resound 11, Prompt 10: High/Low

#resound11 Prompt 10: High/Low

 Today is a bit of a choose your own adventure: write (paint, draw, photograph, record, etc.) about your best experience this year. If that’s not your cup of joe, write about your worst experience. Feeling chatty? Share both your best and worst moments.

How will you resound?

There were too many highs this year to let me be distracted or bummed by the lows. Seriously, I can think of one super-crappy, miserable thing I dealt with this year and it PALES in comparison to all of the awesomeness I got to experience.

The top 3 great moments of my year (and perhaps the top few things I’ve experienced in my life!):

1. Obviously, this little guy.

2. My first *real* (defined by: out of the country, staying in a hotel, for more than a long weekend) vacation with Evan. St. Thomas was wonderful and relaxing, and it totally let us reconnect after months of really busy work and travel weekends–and before mind-numbingly tired days as new parents.

3. When Evan proposed to me.

As much as I’ve been a slacker about blogging this year, I’m SO glad that the highlights are something that I have shared. Each of those posts have made me smile, giggle, grin and tear up a bit. 🙂

Resound 11, Prompt 9: Best Photo

#resound11 Prompt 09: Best Photo

 For the past 8 days, we’ve talked about our year. For the next 7 days (with a break in between for a special prompt), we’re going to talk about the best things of 2011, then we’ll round out the month planning for 2012.

Today, please post your best photo of the year. It doesn’t have to be the best technically, it doesn’t have to be the best visually, but it should be a photo that you consider the best. Does it have special meaning? Is it of a significant event or moment? Share it with us!

What if you don’t have a photo? That’s OK, share an explanation of a “missed shot,” or a photo you wish you could have taken had you had your camera with you or if your camera would have cooperated.

How will you resound?

Prior to this year, I never really thought about taking photos. Evan’s the one that’s good at that. But then my grandfather died and I wished I had more (although the few that I have are so wonderful that I don’t feel this regret too often) and then Charlie was born and he was growing so fast that we took photos nearly daily to document this rapidly passing part of this life.

But this, this is my favorite:

Aside from being anxious about the “what ifs” when I went through the genetic testing, my pregnancy and the labor and delivery was an easy and worry-free one.  Upon offering up his Apgar score, the nurse said with a smirk: “He’s a 9/9. I don’t give 10s, but he’s as close to it as they come.”

And then, a few days later, we had our first “scare”–a minor one in comparison to what some families experience, but frightening for us sleep-deprived, first time parents nonetheless. He was diagnosed with jaundice due to high bilirubin. It’s pretty common and treatment is relatively simple–a couple extra days in the pediatric unit with bililights and aggressive feeding to help get the excess bilirubin out–but when you hear the consequences are deafness, cerebral palsy and brain damage if the levels get too high, you get nervous.

Apparently, Charlie didn’t feel the anxiety at all, because I woke up and checked on him in the incubator after the first night to see what we have since called his Jersey Shore pose: