MIY Studio Crafts Co. and Raining Cookies: Women supporting Women!

One of the main reasons that I began blogging was to connect with other women who were struggling with the big “what’s next” question. One of those amazing women is Mary Forbes. Mary is a lot like many of us moms who raised her kids and has worked most of her adult life, and then found herself in the position of asking herself “What do I want to do now”?

Many of us don’t know that answer right away, but Mary really did have an idea. She has always had a talent for all things crafty, especially with a needle and thread, or yarn. She wanted to create a space for women to come together, support one another and enjoy crafting. It didn’t happen quickly! She had to find the right place, fix it up, take care of her family, work at her job and successfully battle breast cancer!

Now Mary’s dream is a reality, and in Snoqualmie Washington! MIY Studio Crafts Company offers a variety of workshops and classes taught by either Mary herself, or other women from all over the state. I was eager to visit her studio and when a cookie decorating class popped up on the schedule, I jumped at the chance to sign up!

MIY Studio Crafts Co is a converted home that Mary purchase and turned into a warm and inviting crafting studio. The house was built in 1910, and needed some serious upgrading.

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When the railroad was built, it ran right through the front yard of the house. So, now the back of the home is the front entrance.

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I arrived a little early to take some pictures before our class began, which was focused on the basics of decorating cookies with royal icing.

The inside was redone and was bright, pretty and organized for any type of craft project one could imagine.

 

This class took place on Sunday morning, so Mary offered snacks and mimosas!

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The mimosas were quite popular!

I then met our teacher for the class. Julia Omholt from Raining Cookies is a young woman who operates her cookie business from a commercial kitchen in nearby Redmond, WA. Mary and Julia have known one another for many years. In fact, Julia makes cookies for wedding ceremonies and Mary served them at her daughters nuptials this past summer.

Julia brought everything needed to teach the class, which I really appreciated. Many of you know I like to bake and decorate cookies already. But, the most annoying part of that process is making all the icing, getting the consistency correct, and making all the colors….Well, that was all ready for us and all we had to do was the fun part! Oh and drink mimosas!

Each participant was given a folder with recipes for the royal icing, sugar cookies and a source list where we could purchase cutters, tips, and general baking supplies.

 

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Our box contained six cookies: 2 giant hearts, heart shaped sunglasses, XO, lips and a cookie that said “love”. This was a Galantine’s Day event after all!

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The studio had a designated space for demos, and Julia spent time going over the correct consistencies for our Royal icing. She provided both piping and flooding icings for us to work with.

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Our colors were red, pink and teal.

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Julia demonstrated her method for piping and flooding.

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Then it was our turn to practice on plastic covered lines before moving onto the cookies.

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Julia was very patient with us and provided detailed instructions on how to achieve the specific look of the cookies. It was fun to attempt to make the cookies as professional as hers!

These are my cookies below.

 

 

Have you ever purchased a cookie that looked great but tasted like paste? Well, that is not these cookies! Julia has wonderful flavor combinations, and these were delicious 🙂

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Mary is planning on having more baking classes and workshops, in addition to all the other great offerings that she has scheduled! And, Julia ships her cookies anywhere, so you can find out for yourself just how tasty they are!

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I love it when women support other women! I am proud to recommend and promote both of these ladies and their businesses. I plan to attend more of Mary’s workshops, especially over the holidays, to learn and create her beautiful projects.

You can find MIY Studio Craft Co on Facebook and on Instagram here

And Rainingcookies.com or follow on Instagram here

So proud of both of these ladies, both doing what they love and are passionate about. Taking the big steps to make their dreams come true 🙂

 

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Half Marathon Training, August Recap

August 2017 is in the books and it was a crazy time for us to be training as we were traveling a total of 17 or 18 days of the month. I say 17 or 18 because we lost hours going to Europe, then gained hours on the way back, and lost control of all bodily functions to jet lag both directions. Jet lag gets worse the older I get and running with jet lag is not what I recommend to anyone!  Here is a reminder of what we were trying to accomplish this month.

 

August 2017

 

Monday Tuesday Wed Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 2 3 4 5 6
  Run 4   Run 4   Run 6  
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
  Run 5   Run 5   Run 7  
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
  Run 5   Run 5   Run 7  
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
  Run 6   Run 4   Run 8  
28 29 30 31
  Run 6   Run 4      
         
           

The first two weeks went great, right up to the 13th when we left for England. After we got our bearings, and survived driving on the left side of the road, we went out into Southampton for a 5 mile run. We were staying near a harbor and I tried to hug the waterline as best I could.

 

england run

It was a slow run, and this route resembles my lower intestines, but I got it done. My hubby ran 5 miles as well. Here is a better picture of his run!

 

england

We toured the HMS Victory in Portsmouth

The next 5 miles that was scheduled had to be done at sea as we had boarded the Caribbean Princess and set sail for Ireland. Our choices were to run on a treadmill in the fitness center, or around the Promenade deck which was narrow, had two sets of stairs and 2.7 laps=1 mile. I chose the treadmill and my hubby went with the deck.

cruise run

Pretty nice view for my run

 

So far we were doing pretty good with keeping true to the plan. Our first longer run was 7 miles in Dublin. Of course, since this was Ireland, it was raining. Hard rain, pouring rain, but the temp was good (low 60s) and, more importantly there was zero wind.

The tough part about this run was that we had to start from the port where the ship was docked which meant navigating a busy, industrial area to make our way toward some sort of city. Once again the traffic was predominantly coming from the left and there were overpasses and onramps to cross. We had a basic plan, which my husband stuck to, but I decided to remain closer to the waterline to (hopefully) avoid getting lost. My strategy barely worked. I ended up running around a water sewage treatment plant which stunk, really really badly! Probably because of the backed up drains due to the heavy rain we were experiencing. And the hope that I would not get lost? Ya, I took two wrong turns and my 7 mile run was really 7.65. Oh well, we got back to the ship, showered and went back into town for lunch at a great pub and enjoyed a hot lamb stew!

dublin

We pulled away from the dock in Ireland and made our way to Greenock, in Scotland. Once again we had to figure out a path from the port and run 6 miles into town. This was much easier and far more straightforward this time. We exited the ship and turned right, ran 3 miles then came back. Of course, I still managed to take a wrong turn somewhere and went 6.60. How is it my mistakes always cost me a half mile more?!

greenock

Now, if you are keeping track, which I doubt you are or want to, we should have a 4 mile run to report next. We looked at the itinerary for our next stop and saw that Invergordon, Scotland was the next port of call. Much like Greenock, this was a spot where we could run right from the dock into town and felt it would be best to go for the 8 mile run and just skip the 4. It was a little tougher to fit in 8, more so than I originally thought it would be, due to the small size of the town.

 

invergordon

No, I didn’t run on the water! There was a massive pier that went straight out toward some sort of rigs that dotted the waterway. The guard on duty was kind enough to let me go out and back, which ate up a good 1 1/2 miles from my route. It was a really pretty run out there. My husband wasn’t feeling it that run and decided to cut it to 5 for his day.

Aside from a couple shorter jogs on the ship this was our last real mileage of note for the trip. The picture below sums up our training for this month. I was really happy with my total mileage for August, especially when you account for all the travel time.

scotland run

All totaled, we were pretty happy with our ability to keep training while getting in some sightseeing as well. The pictures from our travels are being (slowly) posted on the travel portion of my blog here and here.

As for running in September, here is the plan

September 2017

 

Monday Tuesday Wed Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 2 3
          Run 8  
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
  Run 5   Run 4   Run 9  
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
  Run 5   Run 4   Run 9 10k fun run
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
  Run 6   Run5   Run10  
25 26 27 28 29 30
  Run 6   Run5   Run10

So far so good, we are on track as of 9/4 but we are traveling again from 9/9 to 9/23. I will have to update next month with our training efforts in Tucson as we are visiting our new home and trying to get it set up. We also have added a 10K in Tucson for the 17th and will have to rearrange some training runs around that event.

I am grateful for so many wonderful things in my life right now. Running, traveling and our second home. Life is good! Hope all is well with you too 🙂

 

Gratitude for Attitude, Day 21 Update!

gratitudeI decided to not reblog my daily gratitude challenge so that I would avoid filling up your feed with a ton of my personal responses. Instead I am opting for periodic updates, such as this one!

It is day 21 of my 30 day challenge, heading into the homestretch! I have been doing a good job keeping on track but did miss one day when I was posting in other categories. I am still worried about posting while we are in Mexico, I don’t know how my internet will be while we are there, and day #26 will be a long travel day. I will try to finish this challenge!

Day #21

The prompt today is “what song are you grateful for?” Hum, I don’t have a song, but I am grateful for Pandora. When I began running I didn’t listen to music. I used that time to organize my thoughts and sort through feelings, often unpleasant ones, and focused on pounding and purging those sad, hurt and painful emotions out of my consciousness. Honestly, some of my longest and fastest runs were when those emotions were at their strongest, and most agonizing. I always felt better after my workout but, perhaps that was not the best therapy for my mental health. I loaded Pandora onto my phone and found the Def Leppard radio station, along with classic 80’s rock platform (I’m old, remember!) and found that running with music helped me to finish my work out and have a more positive outlook. I still use running to work through the same issues, but now have a way to turn the noise down when it becomes truly difficult. So, I am grateful for the music technology that brings the songs to me on the go!

Day #1

When I woke up this morning the first thing I smell is coffee brewing. Today I was extremely grateful for the odor of fresh brewed coffee made by my husband! He rises early to catch the stock market before it opens (so we are talking 5am in the Pacific Northwest). I am always grateful that he makes a wonderful ,strong pot of coffee for me when I get up!

Day #2

This is a tough one! This is like picking your favorite child (which I don’t recommend doing!). I am grateful for both my cell phone and my computer. My cell phone keeps me connected to my kids and helps me keep track of my life, perhaps I am too dependent on this particular technology.  My computer is invaluable for entertainment, blogging and information.  I am grateful that there are innovative minds out there helping me navigate my world and keeping me connected to all of you!

Day #3

Today’s prompt is “what color are you grateful for today?” For me, this is ocean blue. When I am stressed or upset and need to refocus and calm myself, the image of the ocean waves on a warm sandy beach is my “happy place”.  I don’t live close to the ocean, in fact its about a 3 hour drive with no traffic-and there is always traffic! I am close to many rivers or lakes and find that most bodies of water help to calm me and realigns my attitude. I hope, one day, to live closer to the ocean itself, perhaps a home with an ocean view, that is a dream that makes me happy!

Day # 4

What food am I grateful for? This will sound odd but I am grateful for solid food! I grew up with a genetic anomaly that affected my colon. I really suffered from age 13 until I was 42 and met the doctor that would change my life -no exaggeration here! It took medicine 30 years to catch up to this ailment and I spent the majority of those three decades eating soup, broth and a few other foods that did not hurt! So, today I am grateful for all the spicy, meaty, cheesy goodness that I can partake of like all the rest of the world! And, grateful for a doctor who went into the oh so glamours field of gastroenterology!

Day #5

It’s day five of “Gratitude for Attitude” and January 1st. What sound am I grateful for? Well, I drank and ate a lot last night during New Years eve, so I was awake a good portion of the night trying to sleep but my body was processing my excess indulgence and sleep was not going to happen. I did hear my husband softly breathing next to me which usually irritates me that he can sleep so easily! But, this morning I realize just how much I would miss that sound if he were not there. How many nights have I lay struggling to sleep and found his quite, slow inhale and exhale comforting? Too many to count! The few nights we have been apart, recently for his work travel, have reminded me how hard it would be if he were not there, laying next to me. I am grateful he is in my life, and still here to enjoy the future with me. I am resolving, on this first day of the New Year, to be grateful for is presence, even when he can sleep and I can not!

Day #6

I guess I already spoke about the ocean and what it means to me in day #3-I did not read ahead to today’s prompt which is “What in nature are you grateful for today?” I could easily reiterate how much the ocean and flowing bodies of water mean to me, and that would be a true statement of gratitude! But I guess I will cheat here a bit and include another aspect of nature that makes me happy and fulfilled, and that would be hiking in the woods and rock climbing outdoors. Our son is a rock climbing instructor and hiking and climbing often mean spending time with him. I cherish the time I spend with my husband, daughter and son and being active with them, running, climbing and hiking outdoors and, in nature, feed my soul. I miss this specific outdoor interactions with them, but when I can’t be with those whom I love, I still find peace and happiness when I am alone hiking through the woods, sitting by the ocean or running along the river. I am grateful to have these happy connections to draw from when times are tough!

Day #7

gratitutde-challenge-copy

It’s been a week so far and I have been doing a pretty good job keeping up with the prompts. Some have been really easy, day #2 for example. Others like today: “What memory are you grateful for?” are considerably more challenging. Not because I don’t have any amazing memories, but because I am a parent. Every mother knows that there are so many incredible milestones that you are privileged to witness as your children arrive into adulthood. I am grateful to have lived long enough to be an active participant and have a front row seat to many such achievements. It is too hard to pick just one!

I am blessed with two healthy and talented children and one of the memories I am grateful for was the opportunity to see my daughter win the state gymnastic championship when she was 8 years old (the next four state championships wins were really special too!). The look on her face when they hung the 1st place medal around her neck, after all the hard work and practice she had put in, was one of the most prideful moments my husband and I have shared with her. She beamed for a week! Another close rival for that coveted “grateful memory” award came during my son’s senior year of high school. He is a gifted clarinetist and was a performer in orchestra, the high school symphony and wind ensemble and was the principle clarinet for the Bellevue Youth Symphony here is Washington State. Each of these groups bestow a year-end award to a special musician and is either awarded by the peers or the music director/conductor. I sat in awe as my son’s name was announced at each end of year concert. He had been recognized and honored by every ensemble and was so proud, as were his parents!

These are the moments and memories that I am grateful for today! What are yours?

Day #8

When I first read the “what book are you grateful for?” prompt, I was completely overwhelmed. How could I possibly choose just one book! I started mentally reviewing all the great novels, autobiographies, true crime, mystery series……then it hit me. I am grateful that there are still book stores where I can grab a cup of coffee and spend hours perusing actual books! Not E-readers, nooks or kindles, but actual hard backs and paperback editions. I don’t read on my electronic devices, I want to curl up with an actual book, by the fire with that cup of coffee. I want to use a book mark or highlight a fact or passage that speaks to me. I may be in the minority here, and I am ok with that, what I am not ok with is the loss of choice. When Borders went out of business I was terrified that all other brick and mortar bookstores would follow suit. I try to buy from small businesses and Barnes and Noble as much as possible to do my small part in maintaining my future options. Long live the hardback!

Day #9

Today’s prompt: What place am I grateful for?

I am going with a place that is a composite of every beach scene I have encountered. Its my “happy place”. The space that I envision if I am practicing yoga, meditating or attempting to still my mind. It looks something like this:

happy-place

In my mind the waves are making a beautiful, powerful sound, the wind is gently blowing and I can feel the sun on my face.

I am fortunate enough to have travelled to some amazing places and this imagery always comforts me and takes me back to a place where I feel safe, loved and protected.

I am grateful for nature!

 

 

Day #10

I am moving into the middle of the challenge now!

Day 10 asks “What taste are you grateful for today?”The molecular biologist in me automatically goes to the sour, sweet, salty and bitter taste bud options. But I think the intent of this prompt is supposed to be more emotional based, so I will respect the spirit of the question and go with coffee! I came to coffee drinking later in life, around the age of 25, when I was in graduate school. I had and hour and half to two hour drive each way while living in Southern California. I was exhausted and needed some sort of help staying awake while commuting at 4am and working in a demanding doctoral program. So, I had my first cup and I still remember that moment today! It was amazing, the taste, the energy, I thought “now I can get through this!”. Two years into that program I had my first child, 17 months later my second child, 6 months after that I defended my doctoral thesis-and needed coffee the whole time (minus gestation and lactation time of course!). I am still excited to taste that first cup of coffee in the morning and have been back in the Seattle area for the last 20 years- a perfect match!

Day #11

What holiday am I grateful for? They each have their own unique qualities that I enjoy, but I think I will go with Thanksgiving. I really enjoy having the food, family and fun without the pressure to buy presents! We have a very traditional day with all the standard dishes, which are great. But for me the best day is the day after Thanksgiving. I get to lay around in my pjs, watch football (all day) and then eat wonderful leftovers!

Day #12

The texture that I am most grateful for is that of paper. I know, I keep talking about books! I recently was not able to choose the stories and novels that I enjoy the most as I was reading other material. It reminded me of how much I crave and really need that time to connect with a good book. “A good book” as any writing that is important to you! Don’t let others judge or dictated what they deem worthy of your time! It is none of their business what you enjoy reading! I have been made to feel bad about my literary choices to the point of where I would conceal my books and read only when I was alone. It took time for me to realize that this person had no right to make me feel this way, but it’s hard to set aside  harsh judgements from those we love. It is a struggle to this day, but I am grateful that there are still books to hold, read and enjoy!

Day 13#

“What ability am I grateful for today?”I think the timing of this entry is quite apropos as I just finished a three mile run.  Well, more like a three mile hobble! I am running with an injury and was so irritated that I could not go faster or farther today. I was down and discouraged by the slow healing timeline for this nagging damage in my calf. I was feeling worried because I am scheduled to start my half marathon training next month. I grumbled to myself all through my shower about how long this is taking to heal. Then I sat down to look at my daily “gratitude for attitude”prompt and realized that I am grateful to be running at all, or walking for that matter! So many others would love to have the mobility and the opportunity to be healthy enough to even consider entering a half marathon. I should be focusing on what I can do, what my abilities are and as opposed to what they are not! And, this is why I am doing a daily gratitude challenge-so I remember what is truly important!

Day #14

What sight am I grateful for? Our kids are young adults, 22 and 20 years of age. They have school, work, friends and hobbies. They are close, not just in age, but as friends as well. They rock climb with a group of friends, the go to Dairy Queen to eat blizzards and they lead busy lives. The sight I am most grateful for is the rare moment when all four of us are home together, just eating dinner, watching a movie or talking about our day. It is a sight I took for granted when they were younger, because we had plenty of time together back then.  I cherish these moments now that they are so few and far between!

Day #15

I am most grateful of Fall.  I have been a student and professor for my entire life. Fall for me is the start of the year where I am gearing up for classes. Either teaching them, taking them or, when my kids were in K-12, preparing my children for the start of the school year. I know January is linked to renewal and resolutions, but for me, September was that “fresh start”. This was the time when all things were possible, when I was going to be more organized (supposedly) and it meant that a new 9 month list of deadlines, assignments and test schedules began. There is a surge of energy that always will be linked to Fall. And Football is back baby!!

Day #16

Is this a trick question! Who asks a woman what she likes about her body? Well, I am going to go with strength. I am grateful for my body’s mobility and it’s abilities. I have run two half marathons (two more planned next year), rock climbed both indoors and outdoors (I’m climbing at about a 10.d/ 11a/b level inside and much lower grade outside!) and I do yoga regularly. I need  this exercise to survive my everyday life and really feel the absence of endorphins on the days I cannot be active. My knees ache, my left calf spasm all the time, my shoulders pop and crack but I will never give up! I am lucky to be able to do all these activities and truly appreciate my body’s ability to keep up with my mind!

Day #17

Today’s prompt: What knowledge are you grateful for? I recently found myself in the very real possibility of loosing connection with some extremely important people in my life. They have been my family for the last three decades and severing that connection looked like a certainty. You never realize how much time you will have with someone and my time was rapidly running out. I took the time to write a letter to each person letting them know what they have meant to me, my children and my life. I am grateful for the knowledge that  they know how I feel about them moving forward, no matter what happens in the future.

Day #18

My “piece of art” is really the entire genre of classical music. My son studies classical clarinet performance in college, and there were many moments during his k-12 years when my husband and I did not know if our son would even go to college. We are in one of those school districts that are very challenging. Our son does not fit the traditional math, science, reading curriculum. He is artistic and loved classical music and history, which were the subject he excelled and not the subjects covered on standardized tests. He struggled because his gifts were not appreciated in that system. When he discovered classical music his world opened up and his path was revealed. He has blossomed in college where his abilities and talent are appreciated. That was all we wanted for our son, and the art of music made that possible-I am eternaly grateful for that!

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Day #19

The touch I am grateful for is that of the simple, but powerful, hug! I did not grow up with a lot of hugs in my family, we were not a hugging family. I met my husband when I was 19 and he is from a hugging family and all of there family friends were big time huggers. Every holiday, party or small event now required multiple hugs from folks I really didn’t know all that well. They are amazing people, who only meant to be welcoming and I was not uncomfortable, but unaccustomed. It would take years for me to grow to a comfort level with this greeting. Once I did, I realized how kind, warm and comforting this simple contact generates. Once my children were born there was not acclimation period needed! I hug my children all the time and I may not have had that ability if my only exposure had been from my parents. I am grateful to my hugging coaches over the years!

Day #20

Ok, this one is too big for me to answer with just one name. Who in my life am I grateful for? That is not a one name answer! I can take the easy way out and say my children of course, but if it were not for my husband, they would not exist. If my in- laws were difficult people then I may not have married the man who would later give me said children! I am already up to six people! I will say that my family have all contributed to making my life worth living, and the difficult times worth weathering and I am grateful to have each of them in my life!

Gratitude for Attitude, Day 21 update!

gratitudeI decided to not reblog my daily gratitude challenge so that I would avoid filling up your feed with a ton of my personal responses. Instead I am opting for periodic updates, such as this one!

It is day 21 of my 30 day challenge, heading into the homestretch! I have been doing a good job keeping on track but did miss one day when I was posting in other categories. I am still worried about posting while we are in Mexico, I don’t know how my internet will be while we are there, and day #26 will be a long travel day. I will try to finish this challenge!

Day #21

The prompt today is “what song are you grateful for?” Hum, I don’t have a song, but I am grateful for Pandora. When I began running I didn’t listen to music. I used that time to organize my thoughts and sort through feelings, often unpleasant ones, and focused on pounding and purging those sad, hurt and painful emotions out of my consciousness. Honestly, some of my longest and fastest runs were when those emotions were at their strongest, and most agonizing. I always felt better after my workout but, perhaps that was not the best therapy for my mental health. I loaded Pandora onto my phone and found the Def Leppard radio station, along with classic 80’s rock platform (I’m old, remember!) and found that running with music helped me to finish my work out and have a more positive outlook. I still use running to work through the same issues, but now have a way to turn the noise down when it becomes truly difficult. So, I am grateful for the music technology that brings the songs to me on the go!

Day #1

When I wake up the morning the first thing I smell is coffee brewing. Today I was extremely grateful for the odor of fresh brewed coffee made by my husband! He rises early to catch the stock market before it opens (so we are talking 5am in the Pacific Northwest). I am always grateful that he makes a wonderful ,strong pot of coffee for me when I get up!

Day #2

This is a tough one! This is like picking your favorite child (which I don’t recommend doing!). I am grateful for both my cell phone and my computer. My cell phone keeps me connected to my kids and helps me keep track of my life, perhaps I am too dependent on this particular technology.  My computer is invaluable for entertainment, blogging and information.  I am grateful that there are innovative minds out there helping me navigate my world and keeping me connected to all of you!

Day #3

Today’s prompt is “what color are you grateful for today?” For me, this is ocean blue. When I am stressed or upset and need to refocus and calm myself, the image of the ocean waves on a warm sandy beach is my “happy place”.  I don’t live close to the ocean, in fact its about a 3 hour drive with no traffic-and there is always traffic! I am close to many rivers or lakes and find that most bodies of water help to calm me and realign my attitude. I hope, one day, to live closer to the ocean itself, perhaps a home with an ocean view, that is a dream that makes me happy!

Day # 4

What food am I grateful for? This will sound odd but I am grateful for solid food! I grew up with a genetic anomaly that affected my colon. I really suffered from age 13 until I was 42 and met the doctor that would change my life -no exaggeration here! It took medicine 30 years to catch up to this ailment and I spent the majority of those three decades eating soup, broth and a few other foods that did not hurt! So, today I am grateful for all the spicy, meaty, cheesy goodness that I can partake of like all the rest of the world! And, grateful for a doctor who went into the oh so glamorous field of gastroenterology!

Day #5

It’s day five of “Gratitude for Attitude” and January 1st. What sound am I grateful for? Well, I drank and ate a lot last night during New Years eve, so I was awake a good portion of the night trying to sleep but my body was processing my excess indulgence and sleep was not going to happen. I did hear my husband softly breathing next to me which usually irritates me that he can sleep so easily! But, this morning I realize just how much I would miss that sound if he were not there. How many nights have I lay struggling to sleep and found his quiet, slow inhale and exhale comforting? Too many to count! The few nights we have been apart, recently for his work travel, have reminded me how hard it would be if he were not there, laying next to me. I am grateful he is in my life, and still here to enjoy the future with me. I am resolving, on this first day of the New Year, to be grateful for is presence, even when he can sleep and I cannot!

Day #6

I guess I already spoke about the ocean and what it means to me in day #3-I did not read ahead to today’s prompt which is “What in nature are you grateful for today?” I could easily reiterate how much the ocean and flowing bodies of water mean to me, and that would be a true statement of gratitude! But I guess I will cheat here a bit and include another aspect of nature that makes me happy and fulfilled, and that would be hiking in the woods and rock climbing outdoors. Our son is a rock climbing instructor and hiking and climbing often mean spending time with him. I cherish the time I spend with my husband, daughter and son and being active with them, running, climbing and hiking outdoors and, in nature, feed my soul. I miss this specific outdoor interactions with them, but when I can’t be with those whom I love, I still find peace and happiness when I am alone hiking through the woods, sitting by the ocean or running along the river. I am grateful to have these happy connections to draw from when times are tough!

Day #7

gratitutde-challenge-copy

It’s been a week so far and I have been doing a pretty good job keeping up with the prompts. Some have been really easy, day #2 for example. Others like today: “What memory are you grateful for?” are considerably more challenging. Not because I don’t have any amazing memories, but because I am a parent. Every mother knows that there are so many incredible milestones that you are privileged to witness as your children arrive into adulthood. I am grateful to have lived long enough to be an active participant and have a front row seat to many such achievements. It is too hard to pick just one!

I am blessed with two healthy and talented children and one of the memories I am grateful for was the opportunity to see my daughter win the state gymnastic championship when she was 8 years old (the next four state championships wins were really special too!). The look on her face when they hung the 1st place medal around her neck, after all the hard work and practice she had put in, was one of the most prideful moments my husband and I have shared with her. She smiled for a week! Another close rival for that coveted “grateful memory” award came during my son’s senior year of high school. He is a gifted clarinetist and was a performer in orchestra, the high school symphony and wind ensemble and was the principle clarinet for the Bellevue Youth Symphony here is Washington State. Each of these groups bestow a year-end award to a special musician and is either awarded by the peers or the music director/conductor. I sat in awe as my son’s name was announced at each end of year concert. He had been recognized and honored by every ensemble and was so proud, as were his parents!

These are the moments and memories that I am grateful for today! What are yours?

Day #8

When I first read the “what book are you grateful for?” prompt, I was completely overwhelmed. How could I possibly choose just one book! I started mentally reviewing all the great novels, autobiographies, true crime, mystery series……then it hit me. I am grateful that there are still book stores where I can grab a cup of coffee and spend hours perusing actual books! Not E-readers, nooks or kindles, but actual hard backs and paperback editions. I don’t read on my electronic devices, I want to curl up with an actual book, by the fire with that cup of coffee. I want to use a book mark or highlight a fact or passage that speaks to me. I may be in the minority here, and I am ok with that, what I am not ok with is the loss of choice. When Borders went out of business I was terrified that all other brick and mortar bookstores would follow suit. I try to buy from small businesses and Barnes and Noble as much as possible to do my small part in maintaining my future options. Long live the hardback!

Day #9

Today’s prompt: What place am I grateful for?

I am going with a place that is a composite of every beach scene I have encountered. It’s my “happy place”. The space that I envision if I am practicing yoga, meditating or attempting to still my mind. It looks something like this:

happy-place

In my mind the waves are making a beautiful, powerful sound, the wind is gently blowing and I can feel the sun on my face.

I am fortunate enough to have travelled to some amazing places and this imagery always comforts me and takes me back to a place where I feel safe, loved and protected.

I am grateful for nature!

Day #10

I am moving into the middle of the challenge now!

gratitutde-challenge-copy-2

Day 10 asks “What taste are you grateful for today?”The molecular biologist in me automatically goes to the sour, sweet, salty and bitter taste bud options. But I think the intent of this prompt is supposed to be more emotional based, so I will respect the spirit of the question and go with coffee! I came to coffee drinking later in life, around the age of 25, when I was in graduate school. I had and hour and half to two hour drive each way while living in Southern California. I was exhausted and needed some sort of help staying awake while commuting at 4am and working in a demanding doctoral program. So, I had my first cup and I still remember that moment today! It was amazing, the taste, the energy, I thought “now I can get through this!”. Two years into that program I had my first child, 17 months later my second child, 6 months after that I defended my doctoral thesis-and needed coffee the whole time (minus gestation and lactation time of course!). I am still excited to taste that first cup of coffee in the morning and have been back in the Seattle area for the last 20 years- a perfect match!

Day #11

What holiday am I grateful for? They each have their own unique qualities that I enjoy, but I think I will go with Thanksgiving. I really enjoy having the food, family and fun without the pressure to buy presents! We have a very traditional day with all the standard dishes, which are great. But for me the best day is the day after Thanksgiving. I get to lay around in my pjs, watch football (all day) and then eat wonderful leftovers!

Day #12

The texture that I am most grateful for is that of paper. I know, I keep talking about books! I recently was not able to choose the stories and novels that I enjoy the most as I was reading other material. It reminded me of how much I crave and really need that time to connect with a good book. “A good book” as any writing that is important to you! Don’t let others judge or dictated what they deem worthy of your time! It is none of their business what you enjoy reading! I have been made to feel bad about my literary choices to the point of where I would conceal my books and read only when I was alone. It took time for me to realize that this person had no right to make me feel this way, but it’s hard to set aside  harsh judgements from those we love. It is a struggle to this day, but I am grateful that there are still books to hold, read and enjoy!

Day #13

“What ability am I grateful for today?”I think the timing of this entry is quite apropos as I just finished a three mile run.  Well, more like a three mile hobble! I am running with an injury and was so irritated that I could not go faster or farther today. I was down and discouraged by the slow healing timeline for this nagging damage in my calf. I was feeling worried because I am scheduled to start my half marathon training next month. I grumbled to myself all through my shower about how long this is taking to heal. Then I sat down to look at my daily “gratitude for attitude”prompt and realized that I am grateful to be running at all, or walking for that matter! So many others would love to have the mobility and the opportunity to be healthy enough to even consider entering a half marathon. I should be focusing on what I can do, what my abilities are, as opposed to what they are not! And, this is why I am doing a daily gratitude challenge-so I remember what is truly important!

Day #14

What sight am I grateful for? Our kids are young adults, 22 and 20 years of age. They have school, work, friends and hobbies. They are close, not just in age, but as friends as well. They rock climb with a group of friends, the go to Dairy Queen to eat blizzards and they lead busy lives. The sight I am most grateful for is the rare moment when all four of us are home together, just eating dinner, watching a movie or talking about our day. It is a sight I took for granted when they were younger, because we had plenty of time together back then.  I cherish these moments now that they are so few and far between!

Day #15

I am most grateful of Fall.  I have been a student and professor for my entire life. Fall, for me, is the start of the year where I am gearing up for classes. Either teaching them, taking them or, when my kids were in K-12, preparing my children for the start of the school year. I know January is linked to renewal and resolutions, but for me, September was that “fresh start”. This was the time when all things were possible, when I was going to be more organized (supposedly) and it meant that a new 9 month list of deadlines, assignments and test schedules began. There is a surge of energy that always will be linked to Fall. And Football is back baby!!

Day #16

Is this a trick question! Who asks a woman what she likes about her body? Well, I am going to go with strength. I am grateful for my body’s mobility and its abilities. I have run two half marathons (two more planned next year), rock climbed both indoors and outdoors (I’m climbing at about a 10.d/ 11a/b level inside and much lower grade outside!) and I do yoga regularly. I need  this exercise to survive my everyday life and really feel the absence of endorphins on the days I cannot be active. My knees ache, my left calf spasm all the time, my shoulders pop and crack but I will never give up! I am lucky to be able to do all these activities and truly appreciate my body’s ability to keep up with my mind!

Day #17

Today’s prompt: What knowledge are you grateful for? I recently found myself in the very real possibility of loosing connection with some extremely important people in my life. They have been my family for the last three decades and severing that connection looked like a certainty. You never realize how much time you will have with someone and my time was rapidly running out. I took the time to write a letter to each person letting them know what they have meant to me, my children and my life. I am grateful for the knowledge that  they know how I feel about them moving forward, no matter what happens in the future.

Day #18

My “piece of art” is really the entire genre of classical music. My son studies classical clarinet performance in college, and there were many moments during his k-12 years when my husband and I did not know if our son would even go to college. We are in one of those school districts that are very challenging. Our son does not fit the traditional math, science, reading curriculum. He is artistic and loved classical music and history, which were the subject he excelled and not the subjects covered on standardized tests. He struggled because his gifts were not appreciated in that system. When he discovered classical music his world opened up and his path was revealed. He has blossomed in college where his abilities and talent are appreciated. That was all we wanted for our son, and the art of music made that possible-I am eternaly grateful for that!gratitutde-challenge-copy

Day #19

The touch I am grateful for is that of the simple, but powerful, hug! I did not grow up with a lot of hugs in my family, we were not a hugging family. I met my husband when I was 19 and he is from a hugging family and all of their family friends were big time huggers. Every holiday, party or small event now required multiple hugs from folks I really didn’t know all that well. They are amazing people, who only meant to be welcoming and I was not uncomfortable, but unaccustomed. It would take years for me to grow to a comfort level with this greeting. Once I did, I realized how kind, warm and comforting this simple contact generates. Once my children were born there was not an acclimation period needed! I hug my children all the time and I may not have had that ability if my only exposure had been from my parents. I am grateful to my hugging coaches over the years!

Day #20

Ok, this one is too big for me to answer with just one name. Who in my life am I grateful for? That is not a one name answer! I can take the easy way out and say my children of course, but if it were not for my husband, they would not exist. If my in- laws were difficult people then I may not have married the man who would later give me said children! I am already up to six people! I will say that my family have all contributed to making my life worth living, and the difficult times worth weathering and I am grateful to have each of them in my life!

Day #21 is at the top of this post

Day #22

What story am I grateful for today? We have all been there. You have this hilarious story about something that happened when you were with a friend, and you try to tell someone who wasn’t there all about it and they just look at you with a small smile on their face, humoring you because they don’t see why its so funny. Your next line is “I guess you had to be there”. Those are the stories for which I am most grateful, for precisely that reasoning of “you had to be there.” I am lucky to share many of those stories with my husband, my kids and my friends, those unique moments that only the two or three of us who were present can enjoy.

Day #23

Today the question is “what tradition are you grateful for?” As I sit here watching Good Morning Football, the family tradition I am thinking about is the first Seahawks game of the season. Of course, my daughter and I watch the 4 preseason games that are held starting in August. And, there is the fantasy football drafts which occur right before the start of the regular season, and all the hype shows on ESPN and NFL network. But for me that first game in September really marks the start of the season, and the hope that this year we will win the Super Bowl. I usually make some good food to go with that game and my husband, daughter and myself get set up in front of the TV with all the optimism and excitement of the new season. We will cheer, cry and experience profound anxiety, along with the rest of the 12th man collective in Seattle, and although rooting for this team is exasperating at times, it is a tradition that our family enjoys every year. GO HAWKS!!

Day #24

What challenge am I grateful for?, isn’t just living from one day to the next challenge enough! I guess if I have to pick just one, I will go with earning my Ph.D. I grew up in a family that did not value higher education and I knew that I wanted to go beyond high school. I also knew that this meant there would be no college fund or moral support for my decision and that completing this goal would be a huge undertaking. I didn’t know where the money would come from and I was pretty sure that working many hours while being a student full time was going to be rough. I was also living on my own and had silly stuff to pay for like rent, food and health care. I was also 19 years old and not really prepared to handle it all, but knew that this was going to be my only shot at it. I did get one HUGE break in all this, at the same time as I was trying to figure all this out I met my future husband. He did come from a  family where college was important and he had been taught by his parents how to navigate this phase of life. Together we would go on to earn five degrees and make two beautiful children together. I am grateful that I met this challenge as it made my future teaching career possible, but I know that I could not have done it without the love and support of my husband and his family!

Day #25

The moment that occurred this week that I am grateful for was on Wednesday night. My husband and I were having a hectic week and we had plans for that night. We were supposed to drop off his car for servicing, then kill 4 or 5 hours and then attend a lecture on the French Revolution. Now, to be fair, that probably would have been a good evening. But, of course the weather was awful as it had been pouring all day with no end in sight. It was also very cold that day and the traffic was miserable just about everywhere we need to be to meet that schedule. We are also leaving for Mexico in a few days and both of us were feeling stressed about getting everything set for being away from the house and work next week. So, after much deliberating we canceled the auto service and decided to skip the lecture and go to a local happy hour that is close by and that we have really enjoyed in the past. We saved ourselves several hours and felt a lot less stressed as we checked off items from our to-do list, and after a couple of these, who wouldn’t feel less stress!

chocolate-martini

We were very happy with our decision to downsize our original plan and I am grateful that we gave ourselves that time together!

Day #26

“What form of expression are you grateful for today?” I have spoken already about my gratitude for both books (writing) and for classical music in my son’s life. So, I will reiterate how important writing is to me. Since I have started this blog I have created more articles, reviews and recipes than I have ever penned before in my life. Prior to this experience the majority of my works were in the science field in the forms of technical papers or educational materials (tests, national competency standards and the like). I am enjoying the change of focus and the ability to be creative with a different direction. I hope to expand this area of my life!

Day # 27

The small thing that I use everyday that I am grateful for is my coffee pot! I have been quite vocal about how much I love coffee, even as I sit here now writing this I am drinking a cup of fresh brewed java. I have two automatic coffee makers and one french press and a 4 cup espresso stove top unit.  They are all precious to me!

Day #28

I am currently vacationing in Mexico so I have a very positive attitude today. That means that there have been many small things that I am grateful for today. If I have to choose just one it would be swimming in the warm ocean. We visited Santiago Bay today and the beach was warm and the water an extremely comfortable respite from the hot sun. This winter has been colder and wetter than usual in Washington state and being able to enjoy a break from the dreary days in Seattle have been fantastic!

Gratitude for Attitude, one week later!

gratitude

I decided to not reblog my daily gratitude challenge so that I would avoid filling up your feed with a ton of my personal responses. Instead I am opting for periodic updates, such as this one!

Day #7

gratitutde-challenge-copy

It’s been a week so far and I have been doing a pretty good job keeping up with the prompts. Some have been really easy, day #2 for example. Others like today: “What memory are you grateful for?” are considerably more challenging. Not because I don’t have any amazing memories, but because I am a parent. Every mother knows that there are so many incredible milestones that you are privileged to witness as your children arrive into adulthood. I am grateful to have lived long enough to be an active participant and have a front row seat to many such achievements. It is too hard to pick just one!

I am blessed with two healthy and talented children and one of the memories I am grateful for was the opportunity to see my daughter win the state gymnastic championship when she was 8 years old (the next four state championships wins were really special too!). The look on her face when they hung the 1st place medal around her neck, after all the hard work and practice she had put in, was one of the most prideful moments my husband and I have shared with her. She beamed for a week! Another close rival for that coveted “grateful memory” award came during my son’s senior year of high school. He is a gifted clarinetist and was a performer in orchestra, the high school symphony and wind ensemble and was the principle clarinet for the Bellevue Youth Symphony here is Washington State. Each of these groups bestow a year-end award to a special musician and is either awarded by the peers or the music director/conductor. I sat in awe as my son’s name was announced at each end of year concert. He had been recognized and honored by every ensemble and was so proud, as were his parents!

These are the moments and memories that I am grateful for today! What are yours?

Day #1

When I woke up this morning the first thing I smell is coffee brewing. Today I was extremely grateful for the odor of fresh brewed coffee made by my husband! He rises early to catch the stock market before it opens (so we are talking 5am in the Pacific Northwest). I am always grateful that he makes a wonderful ,strong pot of coffee for me when I get up!

Day #2

This is a tough one! This is like picking your favorite child (which I don’t recommend doing!). I am grateful for both my cell phone and my computer. My cell phone keeps me connected to my kids and helps me keep track of my life, perhaps I am too dependent on this particular technology.  My computer is invaluable for entertainment, blogging and information.  I am grateful that there are innovative minds out there helping me navigate my world and keeping me connected to all of you!

Day #3

Today’s prompt is “what color are you grateful for today?” For me, this is ocean blue. When I am stressed or upset and need to refocus and calm myself, the image of the ocean waves on a warm sandy beach is my “happy place”.  I don’t live close to the ocean, in fact its about a 3 hour drive with no traffic-and there is always traffic! I am close to many rivers or lakes and find that most bodies of water help to calm me and realigns my attitude. I hope, one day, to live closer to the ocean itself, perhaps a home with an ocean view, that is a dream that makes me happy!

Day # 4

What food am I grateful for? This will sound odd but I am grateful for solid food! I grew up with a genetic anomaly that affected my colon. I really suffered from age 13 until I was 42 and met the doctor that would change my life -no exaggeration here! It took medicine 30 years to catch up to this ailment and I spent the majority of those three decades eating soup, broth and a few other foods that did not hurt! So, today I am grateful for all the spicy, meaty, cheesy goodness that I can partake of like all the rest of the world! And, grateful for a doctor who went into the oh so glamours field of gastroenterology!

Day #5

It’s day five of “Gratitude for Attitude” and January 1st. What sound am I grateful for? Well, I drank and ate a lot last night during New Years eve, so I was awake a good portion of the night trying to sleep but my body was processing my excess indulgence and sleep was not going to happen. I did hear my husband softly breathing next to me which usually irritates me that he can sleep so easily! But, this morning I realize just how much I would miss that sound if he were not there. How many nights have I lay struggling to sleep and found his quite, slow inhale and exhale comforting? Too many to count! The few nights we have been apart, recently for his work travel, have reminded me how hard it would be if he were not there, laying next to me. I am grateful he is in my life, and still here to enjoy the future with me. I am resolving, on this first day of the New Year, to be grateful for is presence, even when he can sleep and I can not!

Day #6

I guess I already spoke about the ocean and what it means to me in day #3-I did not read ahead to today’s prompt which is “What in nature are you grateful for today?” I could easily reiterate how much the ocean and flowing bodies of water mean to me, and that would be a true statement of gratitude! But I guess I will cheat here a bit and include another aspect of nature that makes me happy and fulfilled, and that would be hiking in the woods and rock climbing outdoors. Our son is a rock climbing instructor and hiking and climbing often mean spending time with him. I cherish the time I spend with my husband, daughter and son and being active with them, running, climbing and hiking outdoors and, in nature, feed my soul. I miss this specific outdoor interactions with them, but when I can’t be with those whom I love, I still find peace and happiness when I am alone hiking through the woods, sitting by the ocean or running along the river. I am grateful to have these happy connections to draw from when times are tough!

Day #7 is found at the top of this post

Day #8

When I first read the “what book are you grateful for?” prompt, I was completely overwhelmed. How could I possibly choose just one book! I started mentally reviewing all the great novels, autobiographies, true crime, mystery series……then it hit me. I am grateful that there are still book stores where I can grab a cup of coffee and spend hours perusing actual books! Not E-readers, nooks or kindles, but actual hard backs and paperback editions. I don’t read on my electronic devices, I want to curl up with an actual book, by the fire with that cup of coffee. I want to use a book mark or highlight a fact or passage that speaks to me. I may be in the minority here, and I am ok with that, what I am not ok with is the loss of choice. When Borders went out of business I was terrified that all other brick and mortar bookstores would follow suit. I try to buy from small businesses and Barnes and Noble as much as possible to do my small part in maintaining my future options. Long live the hardback!

Day #9

Today’s prompt: What place am I grateful for?

I am going with a place that is a composite of every beach scene I have encountered. Its my “happy place”. The space that I envision if I am practicing yoga, meditating or attempting to still my mind. It looks something like this:

happy-place

In my mind the waves are making a beautiful, powerful sound, the wind is gently blowing and I can feel the sun on my face.

I am fortunate enough to have travelled to some amazing places and this imagery always comforts me and takes me back to a place where I feel safe, loved and protected.

I am grateful for nature!

Day #10

I am moving into the middle of the challenge now!

gratitutde-challenge-copy-2

Day 10 asks “What taste are you grateful for today?”The molecular biologist in me automatically goes to the sour, sweet, salty and bitter taste bud options. But I think the intent of this prompt is supposed to be more emotional based, so I will respect the spirit of the question and go with coffee! I came to coffee drinking later in life, around the age of 25, when I was in graduate school. I had and hour and half to two hour drive each way while living in Southern California. I was exhausted and needed some sort of help staying awake while commuting at 4am and working in a demanding doctoral program. So, I had my first cup and I still remember that moment today! It was amazing, the taste, the energy, I thought “now I can get through this!”. Two years into that program I had my first child, 17 months later my second child, 6 months after that I defended my doctoral thesis-and needed coffee the whole time (minus gestation and lactation time of course!). I am still excited to taste that first cup of coffee in the morning and have been back in the Seattle area for the last 20 years- a perfect match!

Day #11

What holiday am I grateful for? They each have their own unique qualities that I enjoy, but I think I will go with Thanksgiving. I really enjoy having the food, family and fun without the pressure to buy presents! We have a very traditional day with all the standard dishes, which are great. But for me the best day is the day after Thanksgiving. I get to lay around in my pjs, watch football (all day) and then eat wonderful leftovers!

Day #12

The texture that I am most grateful for is that of paper. I know, I keep talking about books! I recently was not able to choose the stories and novels that I enjoy the most as I was reading other material. It reminded me of how much I crave and really need that time to connect with a good book. “A good book” as any writing that is important to you! Don’t let others judge or dictated what they deem worthy of your time! It is none of their business what you enjoy reading! I have been made to feel bad about my literary choices to the point of where I would conceal my books and read only when I was alone. It took time for me to realize that this person had no right to make me feel this way, but it’s hard to set aside  harsh judgements from those we love. It is a struggle to this day, but I am grateful that there are still books to hold, read and enjoy!

Day 13#

“What ability am I grateful for today?”I think the timing of this entry is quite apropos as I just finished a three mile run.  Well, more like a three mile hobble! I am running with an injury and was so irritated that I could not go faster or farther today. I was down and discouraged by the slow healing timeline for this nagging damage in my calf. I was feeling worried because I am scheduled to start my half marathon training next month. I grumbled to myself all through my shower about how long this is taking to heal. Then I sat down to look at my daily “gratitude for attitude”prompt and realized that I am grateful to be running at all, or walking for that matter! So many others would love to have the mobility and the opportunity to be healthy enough to even consider entering a half marathon. I should be focusing on what I can do, what my abilities are and as opposed to what they are not! And, this is why I am doing a daily gratitude challenge-so I remember what is truly important!

I thought I was waving, a year in retrospect.

waving

There is no hesitation for me when I say that 2016 has been the worst year of my life. It started out excruciatingly painful and by April, I just wanted it over. I thought it could not get worse, until it did in June. Any recovery I had scratched out for myself to that point was smothered in a new round of despair. I found myself slipping under the surface time and time again, hoping that the decisions I was making were the best for my future and my self-preservation. I have never felt so alone, so sad and so invisible.

Slowly, so slowly, I have been moving forward and trying to find solid footing on this shaky, unstable ground. In the course of re-establishing my life I have been reading. Books, poems, song lyrics, really anything and everything that may, in any way, connect me to some sort of idea on how to proceed from this darkened space. In this massive literary consumption I came across a poem that truly spoke to me.

Not Waving, but Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,

But still he lay moaning:

I was much further out than you thought

And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking

And now he’s dead

It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,

They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always

(Still the dead one lay moaning)

I was much too far out all my life

And not waving but drowning.

-Stevie Smith

I began to research Stevie Smith and learned that this was her most famous poem, and I can understand why. Smith’s words perfectly captured my feelings of obscurity. That I was as far out to sea as one could get, yet no one saw my signal for help. I had become irrelevant in my own world. And I cried, but there was no one to see my tears. I hid them like I always do because I don’t want to upset my family.

The truth is that I pretended that I was waving, not drowning. And, it was not just this past year that has been the root of all my pain and problems. When I really started being honest with myself, and looking at the pattern of my behavior, I realized that I have been drowning for several years. I told my family and friends that I was waving the entire time but the reality was that I had been drifting further and further from shore. I had not been happy for some time and was trying desperately to figure out how to fix myself without inconveniencing my husband and children. This mid life quandary is impossible to navigate alone, but that is me, and how I deal with everything, on my own. It took the ensnarement of this massive rip tide of the last 12 months for me to finally ask for help. I had to realize that my friends and family want to help and we both gain from that exchange. I have been trying to change these engrained behaviors of mine for the last few months. It’s very hard for me because this often requires me to think of myself as a priority, and I am not wired that way. When I have managed to remember to include others and let them into my personal space, it has worked well and I feel better, prideful even that I acted against my nature and let others know what I am feeling and thinking.

The last two months have found me in a better place than back in June. I have started this blog and connected with many interesting people, which I hope will continue to grow. My husband and I are more connected today than we have been in several years. We are spending more time together exercising, traveling and laughing. I have been able to find the gratitude in the small things that one takes for granted in a long term relationship. If you think that is easy, wait until you have been together for three decades to render that judgment!

So, as I end this ugly, unpleasant year I want to start fresh in 2017. I can’t control how other people act, but I can control how I respond. I will…

-Stop putting my needs last

-Ask for help when needed

-Not be the last priority in my relationships

-Have my own back

-Continue to exercise for stress management and fun

-Remember that I deserve happiness too

-Travel more!

And to start a regular gratitude segment for my blog to remind myself how good I have it, how lucky I am and how great things may be in the future.

a-year-ago

Happy New Year!

Two Books and an Article

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ms-magazine

This image, which appeared on the cover of the first issue of Ms. Magazine in December 1971, is still quite accurate despite the 46-year age gap. Of course, some of the pictures could be updated. The typewriter might be a MacBook Air 2, and the rotary phone would probably by an iphone7, but the fundamental thesis put forth in Jane O’Reilly’s “The Housewife’s Moment of Truth” is still relevant and continues to build on the revolutionary themes presented almost 50 years prior. Women in the workforce today still do not have equal pay for equal work. Oh, it is better sure, but not equal. Modern husbands are far more involved in taking care of the children and helping with housework then their fathers or grandfathers. But, do you know any women who would not appreciate more help? We females do not ask for help as much as we should, I am the poster woman for this trait!

To read Jane O’Reilly’s full article from 1971, click here

In my quest for answers to the great mid life questions I have done what I always do, read a lot of books. Some have been tremendously helpful and others have missed (my) mark entirely. I am sure that others would find the publications that I have not connected with as invaluable. Which is what is so great about our literary offerings, there is, literally, something for everyone. I would like to share two books that my husband and I have found quite valuable in our search for “what’s next?”

my-book

Author, Dr. Tina B. Tessina, has several publications targeting women’s issues and providing marital advice. In “The ten Smartest Decisions A Woman Can Make After forty,” she chronicles case studies from real women who are at a variety of life stages. There will be several stories that most women will be able to relate to in their present state and can easily empathize with as they move forward. The book is a bit of a checklist, encouraging the reader to take stock of where they are currently strong and identifying areas that one may need to bolster. Tessina encourages journaling, like many other self-help publications, as a means of assessing those areas that may need tending, such as finances and personal friendships. Personally, I found this to be a great guide in asking pertinent questions and exploring avenues to secure a strong foundation moving forward in general. However, I did not find the focus of this book to be as helpful in the overarching question of “what’s next?” I would recommend this publication to women who are approaching mid life, even if they feel secure in their present marital status, or employment, because you never know when that status could change and that change is usually emotional and can be quite traumatic. It would be best to have these points addressed before you need them! Invest in your own security, how can that be a bad thing! You are worth the time!

his-book

This book is a recommendation from my husband. Stephen Cope takes a more spiritual approach in “The Great Work of Your Life.” He explains the concept of Dharma, which is akin to a calling of sorts. One does not choose his or her Dharma but rather it is what you are meant to do. Cope profiles individuals, both famous and the everyday man, to illustrate how one comes to the understanding that when you release the bindings of traditionally measured success, and achieving specific goals, you will find joy in the mastery process. Personal fulfillment is attained through the joy of the process. Essentially if you do what you are truly meant to, not what you define as success through the eyes of others, you will be actualized. The trick here, of course, is to identify your Dharma and embrace it fully. One must make decisions and/or take risks to align your life with your Dharma. Cope believes that it is better to fail at your Dharma then to be successful in a less fulfilling role. Cope draws his lessons from the Bhavagad Gita, if you are familiar with that work you know that indecision can be paralyzing. I think that is a great metaphor when looking at the “What’s next?” question that stops many of us from moving forward in any meaningful way.

I hope these reviews have been helpful and I will be posting more as I am currently reading several other publications on these topics.