Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I'm super bad now.

I had a goal. To run a marathon when I turned 40. Well, technically I did that, although I didn't finish. The story behind that is in the last post on this blog, ironically enough. It was a beautiful run, for about 14 miles. I pushed too hard, and the Lost Dutchman course was not an easy one. With the knee problems, I just couldn't take the hilly course. So I dropped out. I tried to play it off like it was no big deal, but I was ashamed, and angry at myself. And worried. What if I permanently hurt my knee, and the one thing I love to do and am fairly good at is gone forever?

After that I went and had some X-rays, and it turned out that my knee was fine. The issue was my weak hips, glutes, pretty much the entire upper-leg area. So I started a couple months of physical therapy, but it didn't take long to make their exercises part of my regular workout routine. I also registered for the PF Chang's Rock 'n Roll Marathon as soon as registration opened. No way I could let an incomplete stand. "DNF*"- hell no.

I had to get over some things too. First off, I had to get over myself, and comparing myself to others. I stopped using the website Daily Mile, because everyone's accomplishments and fast pace just made me feel bad. Rationally I KNOW, it's not about the time, everyone is different blah blah blah... but the only way I could let it go was to stop looking at it. It didn't help that I went from an 11-12 min/mile runner to 13-15 minutes (I walk/run). Pain really slows you down, and although I loathe competitiveness, I am a competitive person.

I also had to get over the race. In my mind, I felt a little like I was giving up by switching races. You're supposed to conquer the course you fail, right? Rock 'n Roll is a flatter course, and you have more time to finish. It took a long time to convince myself that 26.2 is 26.2 no matter where you run it, or how long it takes to run it.

I had some setbacks during training. Number one, it's ALWAYS difficult to train during the holidays. November and December are the worst, plus I also have TechPhx in November. I also began a new job right as I started training. That was a difficult transition, and I didn't do nearly the amount of running I should during the week. I was getting nervous, and doubt started to kick in. Plus I was still having alot of joint pain, and was generally frustrated with what seemed like non-progress.

The turning point came when a friend of mind said out loud what I was thinking to myself.

"Maybe you're just not meant to run a marathon."

Screw that. It was like a switch flipped in my head. Even though I still couldn't get the miles in during the week (I was doing only about 5 or 6 each week plus my long run), I was still hitting milestone distances. I hit 10, 12, 18, then boom- 20 miles. I forced myself to be slow, to save it for the race. For the most part I did. I was training roughly at a 5/15 ratio: 5 minutes walking, 15 minutes of running. For race day, my plan was to walk 5, run 20. I was ready. Walking around the expo after picking up my gear, I felt excited. Itching to get going. A complete turn around from a year ago.

The race itself was awesome. The half marathon is definitely more popular, and I enjoyed that the starting corrals were not crowded. I also reconfirmed that I am a city gal, because I love being in DT Phoenix (though I prefer other cities, but you work with what you have). My 5/20 plan went wrong from the start- I was feeling so good, I was running a 5/25 minute (5 min walk, 25 min run). This lasted pretty much through the half. After about mile 14, things became more difficult. Externally, internally... I will spare you the TMI. Plus, the second half has more of the inclines on the course, so the long stretches of a slight incline slowed me down.

By mile 20, I had given up on even a 5/20 plan. Just kept moving forward. I think my family knew my mood was changing, because they met up with me at mile 21 and walked with me a bit (yes, they could walk, even as I was running it was more of a determined shuffle). Bret and the girls went back to the car to go to the finish line, and my brother Andy kept walking with me. It was perfect timing, plus I had my own documentarian (is that a word? It is now!) with me!

The last few miles were tough. My hips to my toes were on fire with every step. The cops were getting anxious to open the roads again, so a van kept picking up us stragglers and bringing us forward a bit. How sad is that? Heh. There were probably a dozen of us at the end of the pack.
One had a bad knee injury, but he was determined to finish. One woman who I saw throughout the day kept yelling happily, "I'm 78!!" We were all doing way more walking than running. Mile 25 was incredible to see, and then soon after that, the Mill Avenue bridge. That was the home stretch, and there was my husband waiting for me, and he walked across the bridge with me. Then it became the finish corral, and both he and Andy moved off the course.

Oh, when I saw that finish line- I gave that last ounce I had left and pushed. I thought he was only taking a photo, but Andy got a great video of my finish. It was perfect, as well as the song that was playing too (hence the title of this post).

So that's that. I don't have a long bucket list, but this was one of the things on it. It's now two days later, and I'm finally moving a little more freely, and haven't taken any ibuprofen today. My calves are still pretty stiff, and I still feel a little off my axis, but I think by the end of the week I'll be ready to go take a jog. :)

I have to thank my husband and my girls for coming out, and Andy for sticking around to be here for this. Love you all so much. I also have to thank my friends for celebrating with me at dinner that night. Sorry I wasn't full of conversation. I'm surprised I didn't faceplant into my enchilada. And all the support online- wow. You are all great! I happen to know most of you in one way or another, so as silly as it sounds, I really feel like every "like" and comment was authentic and true. You are all wonderful, and Andy read me many of your comments and posts as I was finishing the last 5 miles. You all kept me going, I want you to know that.

So let's talk 2015.

*DNF= Did Not Finish

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Almost Marathon Time!

Thanks to I Love To Run on Facebook.
"No one has any guarantee of being physically intact at this time tomorrow. So whining about a run is like whining about having too much money. Every drop of sweat from every run is a gift. Never complain about running." - Matt Judge 

Never have I believed words more, especially over the past couple of months. I can't say that training for a marathon is the most difficult thing I've ever done, but it certainly is up there. I was feeling great when I started way back in October. I had just run a 10k with my sister in Boston, and was excited to get my training underway. As I looked back over my entries on Daily Mile, I really messed up my legs trying to find new shoes. Plus training around the holidays is NEVER easy. I had to have surgery on my gums too- which put me on the couch for a good week, then another week of short running until my mouth was completely healed. AND I have been trying to get my business up and running. It was a crazy time from November through Christmas.

Yes, these are excuses. However, they took their toll, so by the time January came around, my legs were ready to fight back. By fight back, I mean my knee started tweaking to the point where I couldn't go more than 4 or 5 miles without pain, and then had to limp home on my long runs. Then I had a brace that didn't work for running, and my ankle took on the brunt of my leg and THAT started to hurt. By this point I was just miserable, and starting to really worry about this 26.2 thing I signed up for.

In desperation I went and had a running analysis done, and was fitted for shoes. That actually was a good move, because I found a pair that actually feel pretty good (however I had to change the insoles). I tried rock tape, but that wasn't enough support for my knee. The biggest problem was I kept running. Cardio-wise I'm fine. If I had no leg pain I could run 50 miles. By now I had major shin splints up my leg and needed an ankle brace to keep from moving so much. It had gotten to the point where I called Katie one day and completely broke down. I was ready to quit. There would be other marathons, and I wanted another chance to try rather than blow out my knee and never be able to try again. 

My friend Kimber pointed out the obvious- why don't I do cross training? I hate doing anything other than running. I don't like to ride a bike, or use the elliptical at the gym. I only want to run. But I had to get over that, and started only using the elliptical twice a week, and then my long run on the weekends. Kimber also reminded me that the time limit for the marathon can be done in a fast walk. That combined with running would keep me in the race (they actually check your time at the halfway point, and if you're not at a 14 1/2 mile/hr pace they stop you).

Armed (legged?) with a better knee brace, I started applying this running/speed walking technique, along with continuing cross training. At the same time, I was making sure to keep weight training to strengthen the rest of my body and core, and of course my frenemie the foam roller on my hips and legs. This past weekend was my best long run- still slow but I managed 15 miles. The next day I had just some minor muscle soreness, but my knee and my ankle were fine. Today at the gym I had to talk myself out of running, and still use the elliptical. I feel that good. It's amazing what your body can do when you take care of it.

I'm really glad I didn't decide to quit. I backed off and adjusted to heal as much as I can while still training. It seems to be working. I am so confident I can complete this marathon, I wish it was this weekend! 

My problems are so minor compared to the person who can't run (or do any activity) because of a bigger injury or illness. Still, it really blew my self-confidence for quite some time, the feeling that I can't do it. The feeling that I'm not physically able to do it. The feeling that I've failed without even trying. 

Running is a gift. Next weekend I'll run The Lost Dutchman Marathon. I'll be as ready as I'm going to be, and confident that I have done all I can. I will remember my journey and reflect on it as I'm running. I will be nervous about how fast I run the first half because of the time restriction, and hope that doesn't push me too hard too soon. It is what it is. All I know is I deserve the chance to try. 

Running is a gift. These past few months have taught me that I can't take that for granted.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Why I can't stand warm temperatures

View of the Superstitions from
the edge of my neighborhood,
when it was a high of 45.
 I bitch about warm weather ALL THE TIME. Basically, any time the sun is out, I'm going to be unhappy. We just had a freeze here for about a week, and the highs were in the 40's. It was the best weather, and I got to listen to everyone else in the valley complain for awhile.

View two days later when the high
was 70 degrees. 
Heat is gross. It hits 70 in the valley and it feels 10-15 degrees warmer than that. I sweat. OTHERS sweat. I get headaches. I can't run as well when it's warm. I physically feel bad when the temps are warmer. As you can see from the pictures, as soon as the temps rise, the air pressure increases, and it pushes all the crap in the air down. And we breathe it. Even on nice days Bret and I can rarely have our windows open, because we get scratchy throats.  This is just January too! In summer, throw in dust storms and 40 MORE degrees. It's why I escape to the east coast whenever I can over the summers. Even their 90 degrees and 90% humidity is more tolerable than the desert heat. The sun just isn't as intense as it is here.

The only time 70-80 degrees temps are tolerable in the desert is when it was 100+ for months before. I hope there are a few more cooler temps left in this season, because I'm all ready looking forward to next winter!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hi, I'm Dani, and I have a parking problem.

Just a scratch. Or ten.
I do many stupid things. Everyone pretty much hears about all of them, since I'm such an outspoken person online. The latest was backing out of the garage and scraping the side of my van on the side, also slightly damaging the trim of the garage. Hey- at least the door still works!

Anyway, I was thinking about parking, and how many times I've had a costly issue. I really do suck at it, and what I discovered while having this trip down memory lane is that every time it happened, I was IN A VAN. You would think after 20+ years I would learn, or at least own a smaller vehicle!

* 1990. The place? Slide Rock, Sedona. Yes, this newly-driving 18-year-old, with a van full of her fellow tired teen friends, forgot that there was a concrete divider separating the parking spaces. So instead of backing out, I went forward. And stopped. Then continued moving forward, grimacing at the scraping sound underneath us. I almost made it home free too, until my foster Dad came in from outside the next day and asked, "why is the license plate bent?"

It's not as bad as it looks. Really!
* 2004 (I think). The place? San Diego, CA. My sister Katie and I were there for our friend Tasha's baby shower. Katie had rented a van. She was also pregnant at the time. The one time she asks me to drive, the van is in a parking garage next to one of those big concrete supports. You guessed it- scraped the side backing out. 

*2006. The place? DT Tempe. I was meeting someone for lunch, and parked my new van where? THE PARKING GARAGE. Well, I parked it after I went too wide turning and hit the concrete support next to the space. That one we just left alone, and were very lucky it wasn't noticed when we traded it for the current one.

This time though, not so lucky. Personally I don't really care how it looks, but I guess at some point we'll get rid of it and it needs to look ok. Bret didn't like my Sharpie idea, so tomorrow I will go get an estimate, and keep my fingers crossed that if it comes out under our deductible, that it's WAY under. 

Obviously, I need to stop driving altogether. Or just hire a valet. Maybe this guy is available? He's got enough money, he would totally work for free, right?

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Buh-bye, 2012. You were good to us.

My Christmas Dinner Fortune Cookie:
"Consume Less, Share More, Enjoy Life."
Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe time merrily being merry. The last couple of years we had decided to go paperless in our yearly Christmas Holiday Letter. This year it seemed more difficult to get to. This isn't necessarily due to being lazy or even too busy. I found myself wondering why I was doing it. Then I put my ego in check. (No, Dani, not EVERYONE follows every single thing you post on Facebook, and not everyone you would send this too is even on Facebook! Get over yourself, lady.) So let us commence the yearly family brag!

Sam (as she likes to be known now) is 12 going-on complete stereotypical teen girl. She is the one who reminds me the most of myself at her age, and with 80's colors and clothing being back in style, it just hits me harder. Bright pants, big curls in her hair, and her favorite boy-band all over her bedroom wall (for her it is One Direction, for me it was Duran Duran). She also entered middle-school this year, and now I have both kids in the same place- thank goodness! I was worried after so many years of Montessori the transition to a more rigorous education would be a problem, but she did just fine, and continues to shine in the classroom as well as outside of it. She is looking forward to trying her hand at archery in the spring, and hopefully getting to the 1D Store in NYC sometime this year (that's the above-mentioned boy band).

Allison, now 15 and a sophomore in High School, could pretty much just live on her own at this point. Well, if she had a car and a job. She has always been the independent one, and at times it is really hard to forget she is still so young. Now that she has reached 15 and 6 months, there is a drivers manual lying around somewhere. She also continues to excel in her studies, and now the focus is beginning to turn to where she might end up for college. On top of school she is still playing soccer (and scoring some goals for the team!), and also keeping her steady archer's arm. A new development this year is a boyfriend, which I think has been a little harder on Bret than me. He's a wonderful young man, and it often reminds me of Bret and myself way back when.

Bret continues to work for Intel, and has also kept up the continuing education planning for other employees. He has been teaching and attending classes this year too. There has been a lot of discussion this year about making some changes, as he really wants to do something more fulfilling, or even switch places with me and stay at home for awhile. He also received a small bite from the athletic bug, and participated in his first Sprint-Triathlon this past April. He achieved his goal-time, and it was a lot of fun to see him accomplish this feat! I don't think he's interested in doing more, but I secretly hope he does.

As for myself, I always have 50 things going on at once, and 2012 was no exception. I ran another half-marathon, a couple of 5k's, the yearly Pat's Run with the family, and a 10k in Boston with my foster-sister Katie, who also joined us for Pat's Run. April was actually a big month. Not only did Bret run his tri, and we had more people join us for Pat's Run, I also turned 40. For the most part, I absolutely loved saying goodbye to another decade. I did a 40-to-40 blog series, had a roller skating party, and saw the musical American Idiot. I also led the organizing committee for TechPhx, which was a first for me (I was always on the committee but never leading). That was a great experience, and I look forward to doing it again this year. I also found myself looking for a job this year, which didn't work out so well. So I decided to start my own business! It's been so busy I put my political podcast on hiatus for the time-being, but one of the wonderful things about podcasting is you can pick it back up whenever you want!

As a family, it wasn't a big travel year. We managed to spend a nice weekend up at the family cabin with Bret's parents, and spent a week in Boston over fall break. The girls did more traveling on their own- they went off to Iowa to visit their Nanas in July, which was Sam's first flight sans parents. She loved it! Right after that, Allison went off to spend a week with Bret's sister in San Francisco. Though I am sad we didn't make our summer trek to the east coast, I am glad the girls did some exploring on their own. We also stayed home for Christmas too- my brother Henry and his family joined us for the holiday! It was great meeting his 4 daughters for the first time, and getting to know all of them better. We don't see them very often, so it made for a very special holiday.

So that is it. 2012 in a few paragraphs. I don't make resolutions, but I do enjoy looking back and seeing what a good year it has been for the Cutler Clan. I always try to be grateful for what we have, and not sweating the small stuff... too much. I'm not big on resolutions, but I do hope that you take each day of 2013 in stride, so you can also look back and smile at all you've accomplished come the end of the year!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Let the marathon training begin!

I am here in overcast, rainy New England visiting family this week for Fall Break, and having a blast! Just being in cold weather instantly cheers me. Vitamin D must not be an issue for me, as it seems to have an adverse effect. Even when it's pleasant and sunny I'm miserable, never mind 110.

Anywho, in the midst of vacationing, I ran a 10k with my sister Katie yesterday in Boston. This is my first 10k, after the disaster from February. It really helps to know others are there, or are on the course with me. I can't help it, I'm a social being and having support around helps me succeed.

This race was so much fun! First- I was with my sister. Second- I'm not in AZ. Third- It was cooler and I got to run through one of the oldest cities in the US, through beautiful streets and along the harbor. Fourth- I'm not in AZ. My back was still sore from flying out on Saturday, but I just wanted to enjoy myself and not be slower than an hour and a half. Mission accomplished. :) 1:20:28 was my official time. Really enjoyed myself and I feel pretty good today. Hate to say it, but I enjoyed this so much more than Pat's Run. That run is getting too big for the course they use. Plus, it's too hot and with the crowd I just don't have as a good of a time. I focus on the reason I'm involved with Pat's Run over the run itself. I'm also sure some of this has to do with the fact that I'm in a new place and it was a new experience.

This 10k was also the kickoff to my next bucket list item- running a full marathon when I'm 40. By February I will only have a couple months left of 40- but it still counts! I have decided to skip the Rock and Roll this year, and run the Lost Dutchman Marathon in February. I figure if I'm going to be out running for 6 hours, I am going to have nice scenery! This starts out on the Peralta Trail, and you run back in through Gold Canyon and end up at Prospector Park in Apache Junction. It won't be as flat of a course as the Rock and Roll, but I'm not concerned. They cut off the marathon at 600 people, and the time is cut at 6 1/2 hours. As much as I don't want to be the last person to finish, I am less concerned with that as I am with finishing in the allotted time. 6 1/2 hours is roughly a 15 min. mile average. To you non-slow runners that is nothing, but I average a 13 min. mile in a half marathon, and I believe in walking breaks. So it's definitely a concern, but also helping me frame how I train.

I'll also be posting here more. As I did training for my first half marathon, I want to document how training for the full is going! That will begin next week! I'm approaching this training a little differently than I did half training. I am going to focus more on getting to my distance goals, and less on interval training for speed. I will probably do one interval training session every OTHER week just to keep my cardio strong, but other than that it's going to be straight running. I'm excited! If you want to follow along you certainly can, you know I'll be posting links to these posts anyway. ;)

Let the games begin!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wanting For Less

I used to look around our house and want. Want another bedroom. Want a garage that can fit one more car. Want a master bedroom with a sitting area. Want more places to put stuff. Now, we've purged a lot. We've made room to be comfortable with the space we have (and if you know where I live, you know it's plenty of space!) Sure, we can always do more purging of stuff (it's amazing how junk suddenly appears!), and sometimes I give in to needless wants, we all do. But I no longer feel like I should have more. That I need more. When I do find myself thinking I need something now, I can assess that need and quickly realize that I don't need it. I want it. Then the feeling of need usually goes away.

My biggest want nowadays is less. I want less. The best part is, wanting less is the easiest and probably the least expensive thing you can give yourself! The benefits outweigh anything you could get from material wants. I don't think I could live in a house as tiny as in this post (perhaps if it was just me, but not a family of 4), but I do look back to our first house in Chandler and think... why did I want more? Why did we think we needed more? Of course I can only speak for myself. I know Bret likes the fact that with wanting less I BUY less, I don't think he would agree with me about our home. Which is fine, we're different people and have different ways of looking at things. We find our balance.

Unless you're starving or truly struggling to make ends meet, if you want more, you probably have too much.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Unplugged Weekend

I had a realization about this blog. I use it for me more than anyone else. Sure, I share my posts (when I make them) and love feedback, but it's not why I do it. I am documenting things for me. It's more of a public journal than a "Look at me! I'm blogging and you have to read me!!" thing. This answers my question about why I don't blog more. It's because I don't want to, but when I do have something I want to remember or look back on, I will blog about it.

That being said, this weekend was quality family time spent at Bret's grandparent's cabin up in Happy Jack. It was mostly an unplugged weekend from the internet, the girls still brought their games and movies on the iPad. There is no cell service either (thank you TMobile for being on top of that). Although you could put in satellite in order to get tv and internet, I am glad they never have. I did a lot of reading and a lot of music-listening, as I don't sleep well when we go on these trips. A lot of just sitting on the porch, staring at pine trees and the storm clouds brewing, and the dog enjoying the freedom of having an entire acre to romp around in. Bret's parents were with us so it was also nice connecting with them for an extended period of time. You don't realize how fast and busy life is until you are in a place where you have no choice but to slow down.

There was talk about how we need more than two days up there. You get there late Friday, have all day Saturday, half the day Sunday. Then you want to make sure you leave early enough so you're not coming back down with all the other traffic trying to get back to the valley for work Monday. So it's not a great amount of time.

Technically you could spend weeks there during the summer. There's plumbing so you can shower and use an actual toilet. You're close enough to Payson or even Flagstaff for supplies. I guess that would be a way to check email and news. Of course when you work online, that becomes more of a problem. And, although I could catch up by getting a paper each day or week, I know I won't be getting all the information I am used to reading daily. It would be snippets, and I would probably lose my mind. I haven't read a print newspaper in... geez I can't even tell you how long. A long time. So the lack of information would be difficult for me.

I also attempted a run. It's about a mile from the highway up the hill to the cabin, and nice gravel road that I was itching to put my feet to. However, it's a different atmosphere there, and everyone has their dogs roaming free, and a lot of places aren't fenced in. Sunday morning I was up nice and early, and ready to kill my shins on the downhill, and a big black dog decided to come running up to me and bark. A lot. Not happily. I guess if we were going to spend a longer amount of time there, I would have to do some introductions to the animals there, so they know the person running by isn't prey. Worst case is we are right on the edge of the national forest, so I can go in the other direction and still get a nice hike in.

Regardless, we all love it there, and it was a wonderful family weekend away from the disgusting bad air and heat of the valley. It was nice to breathe easier, and not sweat simply by standing outside. I hope they winterize the place someday so we have more opportunities to escape throughout the year.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

40 To 40? I'm on the flip side now!

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing for 40 days straight. Yes, even the lazy, post-a-youtube-video ones. I haven't posted in two days now and I found myself missing it! I guess that means maybe I'll keep on blogging away. :)

I had talked about how I feel emotionally about turning 40, but I didn't talk about what I actually *did* that day. Well, other than on twitter and Facebook. I all ready had my official party a week prior, so the day started out pretty normal. I took Allison to soccer practice. I picked up Allison from soccer practice. I had to make an small emergency run to the grocery store right after we returned from practice. Then I scrambled to get ready to see American Idiot: The Musical with my friend Scott.

I knew I wanted to see this musical since it premiered in Berkeley in 2009. I've been a Green Day fan since before their Dookie album, and of course I love the middle finger that the American Idiot album gives to societal norms. The ultimate goal was to see it on Broadway in New York City, but alas it closed just a few short months prior to my visit last summer. So the moment I saw it was on tour, and coming to Tempe the week of my BIRTHDAY- well, nothing was going to keep me from seeing it. Birthday or not.

Side note: The second track on the album is "Jesus of Suburbia"- and it's 9:08 minutes. I have a goal of running a mile while listening to this song.

I knew I would love this show before I saw it. I know the music, I know what it stands for. I know it was originally written as a rock-opera, with all songs connected. What I was trying to figure out is how they could put a story around it. To me, they succeeded. It was pretty intense and they packed a LOT of music into that 90-95 minutes. The only things I didn't like was the voice of the guy who was Tunny, and how they made me all mad at GW again. Dammit.

I was definitely spoiled by Scott, and it was a great birthday present. Sometimes I wonder how we ended up being such good friends. I met him in 2007 thanks to our mutual friend (and really, she is everyone's friend!) CJ. He has an interest in politics, so he checked out my show. Before I knew it, he was a frequent guest, and we've had some great discussions. From there we discovered mutual loves of The Beatles, Green Day, and acting like immature adolescents. Scott is a unique individual, and only a few people really understand him. I'd like to think I'm one of those people. He's like a little brother that I wish would grow up, but secretly happy he doesn't because it keeps me in touch with my silly side. Then suddenly we're talking about regrets in life and it turns into this crazy philosophical discussion. He's a cool dude, and I'm so happy to call him friend.

That evening the rest of the family, Scott, along with my sister and nephew ended up at Cheesecake Factory for dinner. A nice way to end the day!

Now all of our company is gone, and I've started getting things back to normal around here. I've put a lot of my volunteer duties on hold over the past few weeks, and today was the first day that things felt like they were back on a normal routine. I'm playing a little catch-up, but I'll be back on track soon enough. It's only a few short weeks until the kids are out of school for summer vacation too! It was a nice break, but now it's time to get back to work!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

40 To 40 Day 40! On Turning Forty

Turning 30 was hard for me. I wasn't very happy then. I had two kids under the age of 5, wasn't really doing anything other than taking care of them, and had an overwhelming sense of  "is this really it?" I was still just coming off of a career as a legal assistant, and still thinking that I needed a career to be considered successful. It's a hard thing to do, change the way you think. Change the way you see yourself in the world.

By 2006 I had really found what I wanted to do in podcasting and the radio, but then by the end of that year my foster father was really sick, and I had a falling out with another family member. My father passed in early 2007, and I never made any real amends with the family member, though I really did try (at least I think so).

It's cliche', but it took great loss to get me to appreciate what I have. To stop wanting more than what is necessary, to try and only stick to what I need. To know how quickly it can be over, and someone you love can be taken away, or can leave you. It's hard to learn that you can't change others, you can only change yourself. You definitely can't change things when someone passes on, and maybe that is what helped me learn to let things go easier. In everything. Not saying I'm completely Zen with it, we all slip up, but for the most part I feel I have a much better awareness of things than I did when I turned 30. If I am aware of my actions, and stay in control of what I do, that's enough. It has to be- because it's the only thing I can control.

You know what the biggest test is? Driving. If you can let all those other cars pass you by, or cut you off, and still keep a smile? You're doing pretty good. Driving is the ultimate test of our stress level. Think about it.

So here I am now, forty. I'm in a good place. I'm trying new things when I feel ready. I know that it's ok to not look too far ahead, so I can enjoy the moments I'm in even more. I have two amazing daughters who I love to watch grow. I have a husband who has indeed been the love of my life, and I can't see anything changing. Well, you know, as far as I look ahead I don't see anything changing. ;)

I feel better physically now than I did at 30. Hell, even at 20. I certainly feel better mentally. I'm more confident than I have ever been, and have stepped out of my comfort zone more times in the past couple of years than I would ever think to 10-15 years ago.

Forty is this. And this.

So forty, I embrace you. I start this decade not hiding behind hair color and dreams of the future, but as a woman who has both feet firmly on the ground. Confident in who I am and what I look like, and ready to take on the future- not with dreams, but only when the future becomes the now.

Friday, April 27, 2012

40 To 40 Day 39: On The Last Day Of My 30's

For a dollar, I will make this
face for you. Cheeks and all!
I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow, but today I felt great. I had to say goodbye to Andy, so that was a little sad. He was replaced by my friend Scott, who is here to do some traveling, and is also going to take me to see American Idiot tomorrow for my birthday! (which of course, came into town JUST FOR ME.)

So today it did hit me that it's the last day of my 30's. Not in a OHMYGODWHATAMIGOINGTODOWITHTHERESTOFMYLIFE kind of way, but sort of like, "Oh. Wow tomorrow is my birthday." And then I went and picked up Sam from school.

It's been a really great week of celebrating, even in ways that had nothing to do with my birthday. Tomorrow will be a nice finale' to the 40 To 40 series, and a great beginning of another decade!

40 To 40 Day 38: On Upcoming Awesomeness

Just got home from an awesome Yelp event- and I'm so very, very, very tired. So I leave you with a taste of what I'm doing on my birthday Saturday! No, Green Day won't be there, but I think I'll be ok. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

40 To 40 Day 37: On Being Super Cool

Rebel Mamas.
I think having company is good for me. It "forces" me to take a break. I put that in quotes because no one is keeping me from doing anything. It's a lot easier to go out to lunch, or go to a movie when you are hanging with family and friends who happen to be staying at your house. You want to spend time with them, since it's temporary. The to-do list and responsibilities will always be there. At least with the internet and tech today if someone needed me for anything I'm right there. Not doing much has sort of been a mental health vacation, and I didn't realize I could use one until I wasn't doing anything.

I have been a little worried about Bret though. He hasn't had any down time at all. No down time includes no break from work between racing a triathlon, Pat's Run, and planning my birthday party. I want him to take a mental health vacation! All I can do is try and make things as calm as possible at home. He's a super cool dude, I love him and don't want him to burn himself out!

I read another thing today, and this time it made me smile. It was the opposite of the stupid "what you NEED to do by 30" list from yesterday. Boy that list still makes me grumble. So when I read this other list it was everything I would want- and you don't even have to make sure you accomplish any of them by a certain age.

You are all ready super cool. Not matter what your age. :)

A taste:

You are super cool because you:

*know that if you are having a bad day, tomorrow will be better
*know that 30 isn’t the new 20, 40 isn’t the new 30 and 50 isn’t the new 40 and you are grateful
*don’t fit into your skinny jeans, gave them away and bought jeans that fit you.
*do serious things without taking yourself too seriously
*are a rebel mama
*are starting to recognize what matters

There are plenty more- read them and know that you are super cool!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

40 To 40 Day 36: On What Every Woman Should Know

I read a really dumb thing today. Side note- is it just me, or is the Huffington Post becoming a bastion of crazy paranoid ridiculousness?

Ok, this particular thing isn't crazy or paranoid, just a little stupid. "Turning 30: What Every Woman Should Have And Should Know" Well ok! I'm turning 40- so I should have all this down, right? So I clicked.

Oy. Why did I click on this nonsense? Here's a sampling:

You should have by the time you're 30:

3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.

4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.

6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.

11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.

And here's some of what you all should know by the time you're 30, ladies:

5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.

9. That you can’t change the length of your legs, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.

13. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.

Do women take this shit seriously? Besides, I can name plenty of women I know who don't have this any of this figured out yet. And you know what? It. Doesn't. Matter. This is why women get so paranoid about their looks, where they are going in life, and getting older. Why is the goal a juicy past? I would have LOVED to have the most boring, uneventful past. Lace makes my boobs itch- am I a total failure?

A lot of these things I didn't figure out until just a few years ago. Several things I'm still working on. Why does life have to be like a standardized test? Can women just live their lives and accept themselves the way
they are, without having to feel like they have to achieve certain things by a certain age?

Fuck you, Glamour. Now people are going to spend money on your nonsense, because you have famous people validating this stupid list.

We are works in progress, never failures.

Monday, April 23, 2012

40 To 40 Day 35: On The Beatles

Last night at the party Bret had a bunch of songs on the iPod for the DJ to play. Poor kid, he couldn't have even been 20... probably didn't know half the songs.

Going back further, in my late teens I really became a huge Beatles fan. It all started when I saw Paul McCartney in concert for the first time, in 1990. In Orchestra we were able to earn money for tours by working concessions at Sun Devil stadium for games and other events. My sophomore year we handed out water when The Pope was in town. Bret still kicks himself over not working THIS particular concert.

Anyway, McCartney was in town, and I signed up to work. We were there early enough we got to listen to sound checks, and he waved up at us as we cheered. That night, it turned out that concessions stopped being sold soon after the concert began, and although we didn't have seats we could still hang out and watch the concert. That's when my obsession love for Paul and the Beatles began.

What, doesn't everyone put the birthday of their favorite musician on their calendar?

So, my little group of airport- crashing friends are also Beatles fans, and there were many nights of driving around singing and living it up like 1965.  Hey Jude is my favorite Beatles tune, and we never missed a chance to "Jude" at the top of our lungs every time we heard it, and every time was in a car.

Last night at the party, was the first time we "Juded" on roller skates. Katie, Rob, Bret, and me- the 4 original dorks!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

40 To 40 Day 34: On Being Grateful

Tonight as I blew out candles on the amazing birthday cake my sister Jenn made for my birthday, the very young Skateland DJ kept yelling at me to make a wish.

I looked at the group gathered around me. Friends, family, all there for me. For some weird reason to celebrate me. They came in costume, they hung out, they donated to causes that are important to me. They (hopefully) had a good time.

My wishes have all ready come true, there's no need to make more. Thank you all.

My heart is full tonight.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

40 To 40 Day 33: On Charitable Celebrations

Pat's Run was another great morning. Unfortunately Sam hurt her knee at school Friday, so while running today it really started bothering her. We walked after 2 miles, then for the last mile we ran. So we've been icing a swollen knee all afternoon. It was still a good day, and I'm so proud of her for finishing, although I'm feeling a little mama guilt at letting her finish by running. I hope I didn't break my daughter!

I'm hoping it's going to be a very charitable weekend. We started with Pat's Run, which benefits the Pat Tillman Foundation. It continues tomorrow with my 40th Birthday Party. Yep, even though my actual birthday falls on a Saturday and is uber convenient for party-throwing, we decided to plan it around Pat's Run so my sister Katie could come out and do both! (I also think her kids are on Spring Break so that makes it a little easier to travel too).

I'm really not into focusing on me all that much, but I figure what the hell I'm turning 40. I also went to a friend's party a few months ago at Skateland*, and had such an awesome time that I decided that is what I wanted to do. A roller skating party, and people are dressing up in their decade of choice. I also decided that rather than gifts, I'm hoping people will donate to a few charities that are important to me:

CASA: Voices for CASA Children is the non-profit that raises funds to help educate and train new Court Appointed Special Advocates in Maricopa County. Currently there are less than 400 CASA's in the county, and over 7,000 children in foster care. As you have previously read, I was one of those foster children in Maricopa County once upon a time, and am currently on my first case as a CASA.

Planned Parenthood: Conservatives are trying to do everything in their power to defund this very important organization. Arizona has a bill out there now. A reminder: only 3% of what Planned Parenthood does are abortions. It's about women's health- exams, physicals, breast screenings... all for women who don't have access to insurance. They even offer men's health options. Access to health care is not a bad thing, and in this time more than ever they could use a donation.

Leukemia Lymphoma Society: Leukemia took my foster dad at least 20 years before his time. That's really all I have to say about that. There is also a great need for marrow transplants. If you haven't been swabbed- perhaps you might consider? You never know when you might have the opportunity to save a life, like my friend Amy did when she donated a kidney now one year ago!

The best part? It will make you feel good to give too. See, I'm giving YOU a present for my birthday! So thank you everyone for considering!

*I do wish I could have invited all 300 local people I know via the social media scene, but you know, you have to cut it off somewhere. I hope that if you read this and wonder why you weren't invited, that you understand. And hey you can still donate! Nope, no shame in me at all tonight, but I've been awake since 4:30 this morning so my gauge is off. ;)

Friday, April 20, 2012

40 To 40 Day 32: On Pat Tillman and Motivation

It's that time of year once again, the 8th annual Pat's Run is bright and early tomorrow morning. This was my very first race, and my third time running it now. I wrote this little post right before the first race. It all definitely still applies. The race now fills to capacity- this year they actually sold out! Just amazing, but it's a true testament to Tillman and also the work that The Tillman Foundation does.

I also have a great respect for Pat's widow, Marie. There was a great article in the Arizona Republic about her today. To use her pain and grief and turn it into something positive, she is one strong woman. Now she's remarried and a new mom- yet still keeps the Organization going. I can't wait to read her new book coming out in June.

Our crew of friends that runs each year seems to keep growing. My first year my friend Scott flew in and joined us by walking. Allison walked/ran it, and Sam only did the kids run. Bret took photos. :) Last year it was Scott, and my sister Katie joining me, and we all ran. Allison ran again, and Sam, Kimber's son and our friend Jill and her family also ran the 4.2 miles. Bret ran with the kids, and at the end of it he said he would like to seriously run it and see how he does.

This year Scott didn't make it out for the run, but Katie is here again. Plus, my whole family will be running. My brother Andy is running too, and our good friend Rob. Sara, who is a friend of mine and Kimber, is running for her very first time- and I'm so excited for her! I am guilty of planting the seed in Sara. Back in December I did a little presentation on running for the Girl Scout Troop, to prepare them for the Thin Mint Sprint we ran in March. Unfortunately no one signed up in time, but I guess it planted enough of a seed to encourage Sara to see what she can do. I for one can't wait and see how all her training with Kimber pays off!

Me, I have no goal time for tomorrow. Sam and Allison want to run it with me, so I think we're all going to try and stick together. It probably means I'm going to slow them down, but I'm going to try my hardest to keep up with them! Pat Tillman was always challenging and pushing himself, so I will keep that in mind as I run with my family tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

40 To 40 Day 31: On Boredom and Airports

Picking up my foster mom and sister tonight from the airport prompted this post.

Life is difficult when you're 18-20 years old. You're an adult, but you are still under legal drinking age, so it's not like you can go clubbing unless you are at some all ages show. You're also pretty broke too. You could go to the mall, but that closes way before a teen is done hanging out with friends and staying up all night. Movies were an option, but there had to be something you wanted to see. Or see several times (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves anyone?) Though you still have the cost factor. So a group of us decided one night to just go hang out at the airport. It quickly became a favorite pasttime.

Some of the best nights were spent at the airport just doing.... nothing. You didn't need a ticket to go through security and hang at the gates, so we could go watch planes take off and land. We'd wander around aimlessly for hours people-watching. We'd page each other. We'd go to the top of the parking garage and play that silly "hot lava" game. There was even a moment of taking a wheelchair ride down the winding exit of the Terminal 3 parking garage. As Bret says "yeah we only did that once." Apparently you can go really fast. And the place NEVER CLOSES. Which was great on hot summer nights when there truly is nothing else open.

The airport became our special thing to do: Me, Bret, Katie, Andy, Rob, at times our friend Eric, Jayson... oh my goodness we were such hoodlums! Bret and I even went out to the airport one Christmas to exchange our gifts. That's the great place it was to us. Every time I head out there I always remember the good times we had.

What kinds of things did you do as young adults when you were bored?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

40 To 40 Day 30: On Being Confident

I have to say, I love this photo.
I look happy, and perhaps even confident.
I sometimes feel like a fraud. Not a fraud in the sense that I am not sincere or truthful. More about my confidence level. I'm really a big chicken, and I struggle with it all the time.

If you've been following along the past 30 days, you know the connection. I certainly don't use what happened to me as a child as an excuse. For the most part it doesn't slow me down, but it does still to this day affect how I see myself, and what I think I'm capable of.

It pisses me off that at nearly 40 years old my childhood can still haunt me. I think that is part of the reason I have a hard time saying no to things. I  get this great need to conquer my insecurities, so screw you childhood I'm taking it ALL on. I also seem to surround myself with extreme Type-A motivating crazy people, who are very good at talking me into things like leading a Girl Scout troop, leading a tech conference, and doing some public speaking (yeah, you all know who you are).

I love them for it.

When I really think about it, it isn't just being coerced guilted persuaded. Before any of that, I was president of the parent-teacher organization at my daughter's school. For two years. That was my own doing. Going back even further, I stood in a court room and made a statement in front of a judge and my step-father and brought myself closure on a dark time. Coming back to the present, no one talked me into speaking at PodcampAZ last year. That was all me. Hell, no one made me start a podcast. I think you need a certain amount of confidence to let your voice be heard. Especially with the topics I cover.

A friend helped me train for Pat's Run. Running and becoming healthy and fit brought me more confidence, and now I'm about to run my third one. No one talked me to running a half-marathon. That was all me- and I think I was the one who coerced a couple friends into it this year! Soon I'll be running my first full marathon, and I'm confident it could kill me I will finish.

No, it's not persuasion, or guilt. It's about support. All the things I've accomplished over the years happened because of the support I've had. The support I do have. I've always looked for it, I've always known that I can't do things alone and there is nothing wrong with asking for help. The times that my confidence levels are down, when I feel like I'm drowning, it's a sign that I need to start reaching out to my support. That I need to ask for help.

They are all right there, waiting and willing to help. I just have to be confident enough to ask for it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

40 To 40 Day 29: On Friends

I have a wide variety of friends. Friends of nearly every religion, race, political, and sexual background. I have friends that are much older, and much younger. I have friends that make me laugh, cry, roll my eyes, piss me off, and think.

They aren't always in my life at the same time. Some I don't see for years, yet when we see each other again it's like I just saw them yesterday. There are times I need some friends more than others. There are times I don't want my friends around at all.

I have book wine club friends, twitter friends, Facebook friends, High School friends, neighbor friends, Girl Scout friends, social media friends, friends I've never met in person, friends I've only met in person once, parents of my daughters' friends-friends, family friends, friends that became friends via other friends, podcasting friends, old friends, and new friends.

Friendship is very important to me. I had a lot of neighborhood friends when I was a kid, and I have great memories of playing flashlight tag and hide-and-seek using our bikes and the entire neighborhood to hide in. I had a best friend, Denise, and had many sleep-overs with her until about 8th grade. After that, I had to struggle to keep friends, and friends were always scrutinized by my step-father. I didn't get to see friends more often than at school or orchestra events. I became very isolated. My senior year of high school I could finally interact as a normal kid again, and one of the high points was having a year-end Orchestra party at my house. From then on out I couldn't have enough friends!

Bret takes friendship a little differently than I do. Where I can embrace many levels of friendship, he likes a small, intimate circle of friends. Naturally that is what makes us clash when I'm ready to throw a big party and he'd rather have no more than 5. Even so, he knows I have a higher social need than he does, and I get my time out with my friends when I need it.

With my children, friendship has been interesting. We live in a time where people from many different parts of the valley can go to the same school. It makes maintaining friendships a little more work, since coordinating times and driving is involved, rather than just going up the block or next door to a friend's (though I'm very lucky that Sam has one of her BF's right next door!). The internet helps too, now with all the social media tools out there friendships can stay strong even when someone moves away or changes schools. Sam also keeps in touch with a friend that moved to Colorado this past year, mostly via Skype. It takes work, but the extra "work" is totally worth it. I think it will help them maintain their friendships even longer.

Even when new friends are made, the old ones will never fade away. It's a great time to be a friend!

Monday, April 16, 2012

40 To 40 Day 28: On Having Daughters

Confirmation Bias was really kicking me in the butt today, which told me it was time to write about this. Anyone who has even been watching 5 minutes of news lately knows that there is quite the anti-women movement going on. And yes, it's anti-women. If you are going to pass laws that take away choices for anyone, you are against that race/gender/sexual orientation. You take away power over their lives.

I link to Debbie a lot, because she has a lot to say. She also doesn't give a shit what anyone thinks. I wish I were that brave. Many tell me I'm opinionated, and that is surely true, but I always worry about what others reading will think. I need to work on that. I tend to be sensitive about other people's feelings, and sometimes I take it too far when I don't have to worry so much. Debbie writes a lot of great things that have made me feel stronger and braver speaking up about, because frankly I agree. I get tired of hearing others mouth off with their own opinions all the time as if it's the only way to live and they are better than YOU because of it. It's not the only way, and no, you are not better than anyone else.

Another friend, Mur, who isn't just a great writer but a great person also wrote about the anti-women movement happening lately, and how it's always been there. She nailed it in the very first sentence. And it's all true, every single word. We are seen as less, treated as less. No this does not mean that everyone (read: every man) sees women this way. You need a big brush to paint this picture, and you can't cherry pick your information. You have to really look at the world and look at history to see the truth. Even the poorest white man didn't have to fight for his right to vote.

I spent almost 17 years in a household where I was treated as less. Where I was raised to think that if I couldn't make it with the one talent I had, I would be a failure at life. I believed it. I saw my mom and my sister treated as less. Our lives were dictated to us. When I met the man who would ultimately start the snowball that started my new life, I didn't realize at the time that he was also holding me down, keeping me from my independence. This wasn't necessarily because he was a bad man. He wasn't. He was just much older than me, and when you're at a different place in your life you want and expect different things.

Once I did get married, it was with someone who was in the same boat as me. Meaning, we didn't really know what the hell we were doing, we just knew it would be the two of us doing it together. But I could still make the choices I wanted to within the marriage. Sure, we struggled with gender roles, but at least we were able to discuss it together, and work it out together.

Now here I am and thanks to the extra X's, I have two daughters. Well, that's just great. Obviously they are not going to have the same upbringing that I did. However, I constantly worry that I'm going to behave in a less-than-independent fashion that they will tap into. I still deal with a lack of confidence in my life, and a lack of worth (hey look another topic to cover!). I never EVER want them to feel that way because of me. They will have enough problems just growing up as females in Arizona, they don't need their mother's insecurities seeping into their psyche. So I try and give them as many opportunities as I can for them to build their confidence and learn about themselves. So far this seems to be happening with the older one more, but she also has a lot of Bret's personality in her. He's got the confidence and drive to push himself, and it shows in Allison. The girl took a plane by herself up the west coast to Alaska last summer and spent two weeks hiking with her Uncle and Grandmother. Hiking equals that plus kayaking and glacier-climbing. Every sport she takes on she seems to master. On top of this she still makes all A's and B's. In a prep school.

Sam is a lot more like me. She sticks close to home, dips her toes in the water but most times doesn't want to jump in. I encourage what I can, and I'm hoping next year when she is at a school with more opportunity she might find a little more confidence in herself. I'm also hoping as I've been working on my confidence lately that perhaps that will seep into her psyche instead of my fears. Still, I can't help but worry as I see how much more passive Sam is.

One thing I know for sure, I will never deny them an opportunity simply because I'm afraid of it myself. They are not me, and they deserve to try anything they want. Succeed or fail in anything they want. Now, affordability is another story...

The other thing I know for sure is I will do my best to educate them enough, to make sure they are empowered enough that the last thing they want to do is settle down in Arizona. Unless the politics here takes a complete 180 turn, I'd never recommend Arizona to anyone as a place to live, if someone was lucky enough to have a choice in where they live.

I hope you'll take the time to read the links here- I also had them on Facebook. My friends know what they are talking about, and I love them for their outspokenness. One more thing I hope you'll check out when you have time- this Ted Talk by Melinda Gates, speaking about the dire need to have birth control be back ON the agenda as a family planning choice, with a world view that is sure to make you think. It's about 25 minutes but very engaging and informative.

Encourage your daughters, encourage your female friends and family members. Stand behind them and support them, because there will be more than enough holding them down in their lives.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

40 To 40 Day 27: On Another Lazy Number One Hit Post

Well, only semi-lazy. I'm finding it interesting that for a decade or so I had no idea what was going on with top 40 music. Then as my kids reached 7 or 8 years old, that changed. All of a sudden I started knowing the songs again, because my kids were listening to it!

And most of it sucked. I kept listening though, because connecting with their interests is important to me. For the most part. I gave up on anime. I really can't get into that stuff.

Anyway, as I go down this list of number one songs from 2007, I find I know all but three of them. So, here's what was number one my birthday week the year I turned 35. Can't go wrong with a little JT, even if he's just featured!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

40 To 40 Day 26: On A Five-Year Plan

So, where do you see yourself in five years?

Is that question really necessary? I don't like the time frame. Five years is too far out. I like taking things moment by moment, and that time frame really depends on the moment.

Tomorrow I see myself cheering my husband on as he completes his first sprint triathlon.

Next week I see myself running 4.2 miles with my family. Then having a kick-ass party to celebrate my birthday.

In 7 months I get to see the final product of my first year leading a valley tech conference.

Within a year I see myself running my first marathon.

Just a sampling, but if anything else comes up, I'll just take it as it comes. It might make me seem like I do not have any motivations for my future. Really it comes down to just living in the moment and not losing the experience of now because I'm trying to achieve something too far down the line.

If I were going to have any long-term visions of my future, it wouldn't be for my life. It would be for my daughters'. And the only way I want to see them in 5 years is satisfied, healthy, and doing what they want to do as they begin their adult lives.

You can't ask for any more than that.

Friday, April 13, 2012

40 To 40 Day 25: On Happiness

To get right to the point, I think this poster nails what being happy- especially continuously happy- is. I think it does a disservice to reality.

I know, here we go, the bleeding heart liberal is about to pontificate. So what- it's my blog. However, I am only able to tell you what I think. I would never claim to know if I'm right.

I really have no problem with people being happy, actually I wish more would be. I was so happy when my daughter scored a goal at her soccer game today. I am so happy my foster brother arrived today to spend time for my birthday. Being happy is a good, temporary emotion. The problem is when happy people assume that all you need to do is just change your attitude, or your job, or your location and suddenly that will change everything. You know, because they are happy. What I don't think they are paying attention to is that there are some very real problems out there, some very sad situations that you can't just poof away with a big dose of happy. I know this from experience of course, but I think of all the others who need help or are stuck in situations they can't get out of.  Life keeps beating them down. I think of my CASA child whom I try to bring some happiness to, but I know the child can't possibly be feeling happiness with the situation. And I'd never expect it.

Am I saying we should all feel sad? Of course not, and I am not saying no one should feel happy either. To me, feeling happy comes in waves. It's meant to be a temporary emotion. Here's the definition:

hap·py  (hp)
adj. hap·pi·er, hap·pi·est
1. Characterized by good luck; fortunate.
2. Enjoying, showing, or marked by pleasure, satisfaction, or joy.
3. Being especially well-adapted; felicitous: a happy turn of phrase.
4. Cheerful; willing: happy to help.
a. Characterized by a spontaneous or obsessive inclination to use something. Often used in combination: trigger-happy.
b. Enthusiastic about or involved with to a disproportionate degree. Often used in combination: money-happy; clothes-happy.

Personally, I think it would be exhausting to feel this elation all the time. What I prefer is keeping a cheerful attitude towards life:

cheer·ful  (chîrfl)
1. Being in good spirits; merry. See Synonyms at glad1.
2. Promoting a feeling of cheer; pleasant: a cozy, cheerful room.
3. Reflecting willingness or good humor: contributed her cheerful labor to the project.

It's a bit more subdued, yet you can maintain a positive attitude towards life. People try so hard to achieve happiness, and have so high of an expectation that if they don't achieve that elation, they feel even more saddened. It's an extreme emotion, like anger. It's meant to pass.

I think if we focused on living life with a steady stream of cheerful versus an elated happy high, the lows wouldn't effect us quite so much. Who knows, we could possibly have a more cheerful society because of it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

40 To 40 Day 24: On Hit Music of 2002

Yeah, I'm being lazy. Shut up Debbie. ;)

What is scary here is now I have the age gap. I've never heard of this chick. When I turned 30 my favorite movie was Moulin Rouge, and I listened  to the soundtrack All. The. Time. I look through the list of what was number one that year, and I know maybe 3 songs.

In 2002 I knew a lot of these songs too. Guess I'm out of lazy hit music topics!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

40 To 40 Day 23: On All The Jobs I've Had

In order to the best of my memory:

* Babysitting
* Mesa Symphony
* Bagged groceries
* Grocery store deli
* String Quartet
* Telemarketer
* Librarian for the Lyric Opera Theater at ASU (work study)
* Back to bagging groceries
* Grocery store cashier
* Legal Assistant
* Mom
* Radio Host
* Freelance writing (just one article, but it counts!)
* Volunteeraholic

Best jobs were the ones associated with music, especially the Lyric Opera Theater. I had so much fun being in the pit for these performances, we always had a great time. Worst one was the telemarketing job. At least with this one people answered an ad, so I didn't have to cold call anyone.

How many jobs have you had over the course of your life?  What was the best and worst one?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

40 To 40 Day 22: On Higher Education

Most of my childhood I never really thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Once music entered my life and it was discovered I had a talent, I was raised to think that was all I had going for me. If I screwed it up I wouldn't succeed at anything else. During high school while everyone was working towards what college they wanted to go to, I was mostly waiting it out so I could leave home. College just didn't seem part of the equation.

Once I started life with my foster family, I pretty much had one year to figure out all the things my friends had all ready figured out when it came to where they would go after high school. I did enjoy music and knew I was good enough for a scholarship. I looked at universities that had a strong music focus, but at the end it seemed best (safer) to stick close to home. That means I tanked my SAT's, and just barely made the cut on the ACT. So I applied and was accepted to ASU. I also managed to receive a music scholarship which helped cover tuition.

It was scary and exciting, and I even went one step further and stayed in one of the dorms instead of staying at home, which was only a couple of miles from campus. I was doing what any normal person would do after high school- and for me it sucked.

I didn't know the first thing about living on my own. I also was very unprepared for college life and the self-discipline that was involved. I had no study skills, and quickly fell behind in classes. Eventually I just stopped going. That was also when music became more of a chore than fun, and I began to avoid it all together. I lacked a lot of self-confidence and took on too much, and the consequences of that was I flunked out of college my first year.

My foster parents have told me they blame themselves for a lot of this, but you know I don't blame them at all. None of us knew what we were doing, and they were only doing what they did with their other two kids. They have two highly intelligent children of their own and they both went off to prestigious universities. Then there was me, average intelligence and no skills in which to broaden it. I was trying to live up to the wrong standard.

I tried community college for awhile, but by then college started becoming less and less important to me. Eventually Bret and I were living together, and I had a job cashiering at Fry's Food. He graduated from ASU a couple of months after we were married, and for his last semester of student teaching he quit his job and I supported the both of us. My life was going in a different direction, and I didn't worry about higher ed. or a career for several years.

All this time I was cashiering at Fry's, and I was really starting to hate it. Leave it to a bad job to get you thinking about school again. At this point though, college looked really daunting and I still didn't think I had it in me. Then I discovered a trade school where I could get some legal training in just 8 months. I researched the school, talked it over with Bret and also my foster parents. I was a little afraid to bring it up at first, because I felt by going to something less than a university I would be disappointing my husband and family that all had bachelor's degrees. Turns out I was wrong. They all just wanted me to be happy and succeed, and if this was the way then I had their support. I got my mad legal assistant skills, also had a baby in the process, and found a job with a bankruptcy attorney who did debtor work.

When I had the second child, I stopped working and you know the rest of that story. I've had a couple of moments of thinking it would be great to go back to school and finally get a degree. I toyed with my two loves, political science and journalism. But you know, my thoughts on having a career have changed so much since I was cashiering in a grocery store. I look at that cashier job now, and I could totally do it and be perfectly happy. I don't need a college degree or a career to feel successful. With all the extra things I do with the radio and writing and the connections I've made over the years, I have a full social life, and a life full of "hobbies" that I take quite seriously. It's also help me build a resume' that could help me should I want to expand on the hobbies and make it a career.

My feelings on college make it hard to discuss it with my girls. Yes, I want them to go. I still do see the importance, and they of course have a better shot than I did graduating. However, where I separate from my husband is if they said they didn't want to go. I wouldn't have as much of a problem with it as I know he would.

It's just a matter of figuring out what you want in life, and then figuring out how to achieve it. It took me a little longer, but I have no regrets. And I always have options and even things to fall back on should I need them.

Just do what makes you happy.

Monday, April 09, 2012

40 To 40 Day 21: On Losing My Religion Part 2

Part 1 HERE

I like bumper stickers. Those who have seen the butt of my van know this to be true. It's a place to make a statement, just like Tshirts. This one is my favorite, and it keeps me centered when it comes to religion and belief.

When I hit my thirties, I went through another personal struggle. I blame the internet a bit for this. When you first start connecting online, it's a lot to take in at first. The information, the people, the range of thought and opinion- you get really sucked in. If you're in a place where you're not sure what direction your life is going, it's easy to be pulled in many different directions. What I knew for sure is I wasn't happy, and I didn't know what to do about it.

I met some great people over the years online, several I still call friends today. Several I've only met once in person, or not at all. Others come in and out of life but leave a lasting impression. I had many religious discussions and arguments on the Truth Seekers message board prior to the podcast beginning. I had decided at this point that I was definitely searching for something, but I also knew I couldn't just pick a religion and join a church. I didn't go completely off my rocker as in Eat, Pray, Love (I have many issues with her story), but I knew I was searching for... something.

 Eventually my journey brought me to Buddhism. It's sort of a "safe" religion. You find what you need on the inside, within you. A friend bought me a book and CD with some meditations on it, and when I was away at a greeting card convention in NY (yes they have conventions for that!) I tried it out. Have to say it was amazing. I don't think I ever felt so centered and totally in the moment. It was being in the moment and yet again being aware that started bringing me inner peace. I learned to let go of the emotions that do not matter. Put my ego in check, you might say. Now, I no longer meditate regularly, really I don't at all. I have learned how to be by myself and be quiet when I need to. Shut off the computer and the world around me and just sit for awhile. Yeah, I'm a freakin' Zen master. ;)

As I look back through this journey, I have discovered that really, there never was a place for religion in my life. Deep down, I was always skeptical, and I never fully allowed myself to believe in a God. I think it's more accurate to say I was looking for something to prove me wrong in not believing, and I never found it (insert Poison's 'Something To Believe In' here). This isn't to say that I'm not open to it should the proof come to me at some point in my life, but for now, I have to say I'm good putting the search to rest. I love talking religion and learning about other religions in the world, because it is a part of how societies function.  I always want to understand why people believe what they believe.

Today, I know without a doubt that I don't need God or a religion in my life to be happy. I make my own happiness, and I try really hard to find it within me. I have a community of people, both friends and acquaintances that I stay connected to enough online and off, and that brings me contentment. I give back to my community in several different ways, and that brings me fulfillment. I have a husband and two daughters that I will continue to share my life with and love deeply, as well as a very large extended family, and that brings me security. It's just the worship part that I can't bring myself to do.

If you think about it, I'm living my life the way God wants and intends everyone to live, and in that respect I am worshiping Him.

I mean, if I believed in that sort of thing.