What I’m Into ———> June Edition

Ah, June.

The most glorious jewel in the crown. It’s the first official month of summer, it’s my birthday month, it’s Summer Solstice! It’s the time of year when everything is laid out before us – we have all of the summer months ahead of us.

As a kid, I was always playing music in my room, and my brother Rick gave me the Beach Boys Endless Summer LP. I played it relentlessly, my most favorite tune was “In My Room.” The album came with a poster of an airplane carrying a banner that said “Endless Summer,” which I promptly hung on my wall. I can still remember the jittery excitement I felt every time the radio DJ would say, “The summer of 77 is just beginning.” Yes, anticipation is sometimes better than the actual experience. Bring on the coconut Hawaiian Tropic!

Each month here on the blog I will list out some of the things I’m really diggin’. Plenty of bloggers do this, and I always love getting that pinhole peek into other’s favorites. Hopefully, you will enjoy hearing my list, so let’s go:

My patio

You guys, after owning three homes in 25 years, I now live in a two bedroom apartment in quiet suburbia. It’s freaking delightful. I’m on the top floor and have a decent sized patio that I’ve decked (pun!) out with all of my plants, chairs, a small table, gas grill and white lights. The best time is dusk when the lights glow and the green of the plants adds to a jungle-like atmosphere. Even better, there are several trees right outside my place, so I can barely even see the other apartment building across the way. It’s like living in a treehouse. All winter I looked forlornly at the barren trees out my window and impatiently waited for them to leaf out in April. I sit out there all the time: drinking my morning coffee and journaling, dinner al fresco (fancy, no?), late evening as I ponder my life. Having a patio is akin to a whole other room to hang out.

Summer Reading
I read year ‘round, a lifelong habit & my most favorite hobby. Yet there’s something about summer, where you can sit anywhere outside and read that adds a layer of delight. Plus we have the distinct pleasure of alllllll that extra daylight. My goal is to read 52 books this year and I’m definitely on track. I did recently decide to put a hold on borrowing books from the library and instead am going through the many piles of unread books I already own. Anyone else do this? I keep accumulating books and then, because I’m in the middle of a couple ones already, I set the new ones aside. A few examples of books I cannot wait to tear into include Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Start and Do Over by Jon Acuff, You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero, The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. So many books, so little time could not be truer for this girl.

Papermate Ink Joy gel pens 0.7m
Oh, what a simple pleasure these pens are. I bought a huge 20 pack in a rainbow of colors and use them every single day to journal, make lists. They write smoother than Bruno Mars’ sweet voice. Whenever I use them I feel a bit like I’m winning at life.

Outside activities

I am a faithful club-goer for Zumba and yoga. I love my city’s rec center and have my own community of friends there. It’s what keeps me going all winter long. But in summer, I dial back on the classes and instead take to the trails and parks of my city to hike, bike, swim and get this – rollerblade! I stumbled upon my rollerblades while cleaning out a closet and I got super excited at the thought of taking the sport back up. I mean, it’s been 20 years since I’ve bladed, what could go wrong Kidding! To be honest, strapping them on and actually doing it absolutely scares me – which is exactly why I’m riding my book to the nearby high school this afternoon to test out my rollerblading skills in the huge parking lot. I will be the gawky middle-aged woman donned in full-on protective gear wobbling around. It’s gonna be great!

Cleaning up social media
I try to get to this every year or so. I go through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I update my profile and cover pics, tweak my bio, edit my list of followers/friends/contacts. Recently I looked at my hundreds of pins on Pinterest and had to laugh. Not once have I gone back to my Incredible Edibles board to try a recipe. I definitely got carried away when I started using that site. Pin all the food! The clothes! The landscaping! And then…nothing.

Just like reading, listening to podcasts is a complete joyful pastime. I listen just about everywhere – driving, folding laundry, cleaning, exercising. Some of my faves include: Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Real Talk with Nicole Antoinette, The Life Coach School with Brooke Castillo, Making of Oprah, This American Life.

What about you, friend? What are you into this month? Do tell…!

Baker Street

Winding your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well, another crazy day
You’ll drink the night away
And forget about everything

From the first soaring notes, I’m into it.

I have loved this song since I first heard it back in high school. What captured me back then was the music. I mean, I definitely knew all the lyrics but I didn’t give much thought to them. But recently I sought this song out in my iTunes library. It had been awhile since I heard it, and like I am with ice cream, after awhile you just feel so compelled to experience it again, to scratch that itch.

I listened to Baker Street and allowed all the feel-good memories and emotions wash over me. But this time, I heard the lyrics in a different way, and that lead me down a rabbit trail of thought. While the music in this gem is fantastic, the lyrics are really a downer:

He’s got this dream about buying some land
He’s gonna give up the booze and the one-night stands
And then he’ll settle down
In some quiet little town
And forget about everything

And that made me think of all of the well-meaning people who do this.
They make very definitive plans and goals. They declare to their partners and friends that it’s time, they’re going to make that change. Sometimes it happens, but most of the time, we stall. Maybe it’s a Monday morning diet (like Monday needs anymore bad publicity!). You get all of your fruits and vegetables, your lean meats and whole grains. You research recipes. You fill your gym bag with all the clothes, shoes and water bottle. Monday comes and it’s dynamite! You are full-on into this. Look at you eating so well! Not giving into your mid-afternoon candy bar. Go you! This lasts for a few days, but then you turn the corner, walk into the office kitchen and see the box of beautiful, velvety frosting cupcakes. Well, cripes. Didn’t see that coming. You stand over the box and work on your resolve. Some twenty-something with kick-ass metabolism walks in and immediately begins urging you to try one, as he shoves half of a cupcake into his pie-hole and exclaims, “OMG this is amazing! Have one! YOLO!” This is when it gets hard.

Or when you had a day full of disasters – a call about your child acting up in school, the need for $500 in car repair, a nagging persistent headache You walk into the grocery store and all you can think about is crunchy, salty nachos with mounds of gooey cheese and guac. You know that would make you feel immediately better and suddenly you’re walking to your car with a giant Tostitos bag peeking out of the top.

Change is a real mother.

It’s much easier to float back to comfortable ways, the foods you love, the TV shows. People should just love you for who you are, right? Yes, they should. But I’m more concerned about YOU loving YOU.

When you decide to make these changes, the most important thing you must do is determine what your WHY is. Why do you want to be a size 8? Be honest, is it purely for vanity’s sake? Why do you want to start a consistent running schedule? Is it to feel much better, or do you want something to post onto your Instagram feed? “Got 5 miles in before breakfast! #killinit.”

Are these valid, real reasons? Let’s look at this a bit deeper. What if you thought long term?

Let me share my “why” regarding my commitment to my consistent workout and healthy eating routine:

I like how I feel both at the end of a workout and also ongoing. I feel accomplished, confident, satisfied and to be totally honest, a bit superior. Now I do get some aches and pains, but that’s part of it. My core is stronger which is going to do fantastic things for my health as I age.

I want to be as healthy as I can be for my young-adult sons. I want to model to them that this is how to do life. If I live the trans-fat garbage in, garbage out life and couch surf all night, I’m likely to become disease-ridden in some way, shape, or form. Since I am single, I don’t want my kids to have to worry about how to help me, how to care for me. If I invest in my health now, it increases the odds of me staying fit and healthy. I consider that a real gift for my sons.

I can’t wait to meet my yet-to-be-born grandchildren one day. I want to be super active with them. I want to see them meet life’s milestones, and I don’t want to do it from the park bench, I want to be running around with them.

Truth be told, I also like fitting into a cute dress or skinny jeans. I like that my weight doesn’t fluctuate much because I’ve learned how to eat consistently enough in a manner that serves me. I’ve learning – and will keep on learning for certain – how to not feed my emotions, but rather, deal with them by journaling, walking, or venting to my best friend. All of this adds up! Most of our success comes from many small decisions and actions that over time, build up into an incredible succession of changes and benefits.

Another year and then you’ll be happy
Just one more year and then you’ll be happy
But you’re crying, you’re crying now

This is the other thing, friend. We have got to stop putting off change.

Not one single human on this planet is guaranteed tomorrow. Now is all we have for certain. Stop saying you’re going to improve your life “when the kids go back to school,” or “when I switch jobs.” NO! Start now, start today, start exactly where you are in this present moment.

Commit to loving yourself more by making a couple small but impactful changes. YOU are worth it. Do it now, and do it for YOU.

Please hit reply and tell me what one or two small changes you are going to commit to doing for yourself RIGHT NOW ☺

I’ll start – I’m going to go to the chiropractor to figure out how to help my lower back pain so I can do proper chataurangas in yoga class. I’m also going to drink a big-ass glass of water right this minute.

Let’s Get Real Right Off the Bat

How about some real talk for my very first post?

I was raised in a sports-filled writing household. My Dad was the Executive Sports Editor of my hometown newspaper. He got his start on the local radio station and transitioned to print shortly after, where he remained for decades. He won “Sportswriter of the Year” three times. His typewriter keys were always clacking in his den next to my bedroom. After he retired from the newspaper, he wrote a book about the history of our county. We definitely a sports-minded family. Dinner table conversation was about basketball, football, baseball, and wrestling. My oldest brother followed in Dad’s athletic footsteps and became a sportswriter for the state’s biggest newspaper. He won “Sportswriter of the Year” way more times than Dad, and he also won plenty of other awards and accolades. My next oldest brother focused on coaching, but he recently wrote a book about his basketball life. The brother closest in age to me is a very successful businessman who is a state golf champion.

And then there’s me.

All three of my brothers are gifted athletes – golf, basketball. I was on the high school tennis team for a short bit, only because it was less humiliating than trying to play basketball (which everyone wanted from me since I was almost six foot). But alas, I am a slow moving sort, who finds her stride with yoga, biking, and Zumba.

But let’s talk about the writing part. As I said, I grew up amongst writers. The only classes I got excellent grades in were those that had to do with English, writing or communications. I definitely got the family gift and majored in Journalism. My career has been working in advertising, marketing, public relations and publishing. I’ve been a writer my whole life.

And yet.

I haven’t done a whole lot of writing outside of my career-life. Oh sure, I have filled 27 journals and had a tepid Blogspot in 2005 (RIP, Mom, Interrupted), and I even spent a couple years blogging about my single parent experiences for two sites (see those posts here). But something always held me back. After much introspection (and a little therapy), I realize I have such a fear of rejection that I’ve been too paralyzed to put myself out there.

For years, I’d say I was going to do some freelance writing. As soon as I could find the time. And then I’d start a huge home project to distract me. To be fair, I did end up being a single parent for the majority of my kids’ lives, all while working full-time plus, and maintaining a house and yard. But still. People have done, people do it every day.

Flash forward to last year. My youngest duckling left the next. I sold my house. I moved to a rental and got rid of my mini-van. I started writing a book about how to empty nest. I was on my way!

And then.

I did it again.

Allowed myself to get distracted. Threw myself into a romantic relationship. Read an absurd number of books. Binged many Netflix series. Cleaned and organized and sorted through every possession I owned. Distractions. However, in going through a basket of treasured letters, I found one that changed everything.

It was from my Dad. Let me pause for a moment and tell you that my Dad was my number one fan. I was the only girl and the youngest. He was hyper-protective of me, and now I get why – the world is rough. Dad passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in 2012, a few months before my oldest son graduated high school. I lost my biggest fan. (Note: my sweet mom is incredible and loving, always supportive of me as well, but there was something extra intense about my father-daughter relationship).

On to the letter. He wrote it a couple years before I married my sons’ dad. He was praising me for a special book I created for him while he was recovering from knee replacement surgery. It was full of private jokes and everything I could find that would entertain him. My mission worked, he was elated. And then he went on to write:

I really sincerely believe that you have the most writing talent of anyone in our family. Somehow you have to work into a position where your boundless and ample writing talents can be recognized. You should look into freelance writing.

Mic drop, as the kids say. I held that letter to my heart and sobbed. He saw my potential, and it was time for me to do the same. I keep his letter, in the original envelope postmarked April 6, 1989 on my desk. It is my inspiration, my muse.

I am finally ready to do this, and by using my writing talent, I’m honoring my father in the best way I know how.

Thanks, Dad. Let’s roll.