Beignets, Bourbon street and Breaking a Sweat in New Orleans!

I have wanted to visit New Orleans for years. I have read so many novels set in the big easy that I feel like I have already been to the French Quarter several times. For my 50th birthday, my husband and I, are finally crossing this one of my bucket list. We set out on Friday and spent all day in airports so did not arrive until dark.  All we had time for was a quick catfish po’boy and some chicory coffee ice cream. We are staying at the Lafitte Guest House right on Bourbon Street. Probably not the best choice as it is crazy, all day and night! We are not sleeping a lot but can walk everywhere we want without the need of a car, taxi or horse driven carriage.

Saturday we set out for a full day. Our first foray was to the convention center. Ya, I know. Who goes to the convention center for sightseeing? We were registered for the Rock and Roll  10K and had to pick up our packets in person. The convention center is accessible from the Riverwalk located along the Mississippi River, which I have never seen so that was the path we chose. Here are a few of the sights we captured along the way.

The convention center itself is rather impressive. We clocked the length from our entry point to the other side and it was 1/2 mile long! It was the biggest convention center we have ever encountered!

dscn2254

This was my favorite statue in the convention center

Now that this errand was completed it was time to do something I have always dreamed about, a trip to Cafe Du Monde for chicory coffee and beignets! To say the line was long would be an understatement. And, the look on my husband’s face sent a very clear message-why do you want to stand in this huge line for some donuts? He did not dare actually say that to me because he knew this was a critical component to my birthday trip, but he was not eager for the experience. Fortunately the line moved quite fast. I was able to snap some fun shots and enjoyed the treats!

Now that we were full of fried dough and powdered sugar, we had plenty of energy for The Museum of Death. It was nearby and all the good Voodoo shops were on the other side of the city-so, why not? This museum is full of letters from serial killers, crime scene photos and torture gadgets. It’s a distinctive New Orleans experience so we went for it. They do not allow pictures inside the exhibits (which is probably for the best) so I have just a couple shots of the outside.

My husband was left feeling slightly destabilized by the experience but quickly recovered enough to head over to one of the historic, local cemeteries but we were not able to enter without a tour group and decided we had enough death for awhile. We returned to Bourbon street and found it swollen with people. It was hard to walk down the middle of the street due to the crush of humanity drinking, dancing and watching the many street musicians. I tried to photograph a small fraction of the action.

dscn2265dscn2266dscn2267dscn2268

dscn2269

One of my favorite sights in the city are the decorated balconies on the buildings

dscn2270dscn2271dscn2273dscn2274dscn2276dscn2277dscn2278dscn2279dscn2281

dscn2282

We saw 2 or 3 celebratory wedding processions that parade down several streets with a police escort

dscn2283dscn2284

That evening we put our walking shoes on again and went to Harrahs Casino for our pre run dinner and some black jack. We lost $55 dollars but the buffet fueled us up so it was all good. We ended up logging just under 9 miles for the day!

Sunday morning we woke up at 5:30am and started prepping for the run. I didn’t take my camera because I was busy running, but I did get a proof of completion shot of the medals.

dscn2289

The run was great, the course flat and the weather perfect. I ran the 1/2 marathon in both Seattle and Vancouver B.C. last year and there were too many hills and cold! I am hoping to convince my husband to head back this way next year to run the half here. We did have to walk to the start line, run the 6.2 miles and then walk 3+ miles back to the hotel. We found lunch somewhere nearby and are now getting ready to watch the super bowl. This was a 12 mile day for us and we are tired!

Tomorrow, I turn 50, Ugh! My husband has some big plans and I am excited about that part, not the aging!

6 Remedies for a Midlife Crisis

Make it Ulta, a psychology blog posted an article that I wrote on coping strategies for midlife. If you are interested, you can read it here:
https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/49689215/posts/1306563942
I really respect this blog and its mission, I am honored to be a contributor as they address a number of important issues. Be sure to check them out!

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!

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 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!

Exploring Your Second Adulthood

book-review

Suzanne Braun Levine’s “Inventing the rest of our lives” was first printed in 2006 and, while is it over a decade old now, I found the material to be fresh, helpful and well beyond the standard list of what ails the average mid-lifer. Most of the literature I have read to date addresses the common issues faced by both men and women. There is no shortage of men out there that are struggling, mightily, with this transition, to be sure. But men and women are approaching this quagmire from decidedly different viewpoints. Men tend to wonder about what is best for them and turn their focus inward while women worry about how their spouse and children will be affected by their new path. We are wives and mothers first, and individuals second. If we are caring for elderly parents or good friends, we may not even rate that high on our own list of priorities.

This work is organized into three sections. The first, Getting to What Matters; Letting Go and Saying No, is an acknowledgment of the changes that have taken place. Whether those changes involve children growing up, a divorce, failing health, menopause or just the recognition that one is unsettled about the future, the point is to embrace that something needs to change. Levine offers the reader the opportunity to identify the change and then offers permission to the reader to navigate the path toward that end. Why do women need permission to seek what they need or want but a man innately believes he is entitled to happiness? No one tells a man he deserves to be happy-he just decides it is so and sets out to acquire it, be it a new job, new car or a new wife!

Levine defines the “fertile void” as the period of time in a woman’s life when she knows something needs to change. The imputes is different for everyone but the end result is the stirring and inner voice that propels her to begin to ask “is this all there is?” This marks the opportunity to begin her second adulthood. In the second section, Finding Out What Works: Recalibrating Your Life, the reader is urged to look at those areas of her life that are enjoyable and affirming and to consider changing those components that are no longer working for her. That may mean reevaluating a career, toxic friendships or an unhappy marriage. Confronting these larger than life topics in your fifties can be riddled with anxiety and fear. Many women still have the “bag lady” syndrome, as described in this and many other writings in similarly themed literature. It may be 2016 but the fear of being alone and unable to take care of oneself is still engrained in most women today.

The author moves into section three, Moving On to What’s Next: Making Peace and Taking Charge and offers the simple, but powerful discussion, about recognizing what you can and cannot change. She ends the book with hope and the acknowledgment that this is an ongoing process. The women whose stories have been shared are not resolved by the end of the text, because they are not who they were before, only older. They are coming into their new selves as stronger, more self-aware individuals. Levine is open and honest about her own path and struggles in each area of the book and I found her candor relatable. I recommend this work to any woman who is searching for a book that will speak to her specific concerns and not just in generalities.

Why Start a Blog Now?

My story is not unique or new, I am just like every other woman who made choices her whole life, worked hard, always with the future in mind, who wakes up one day to find that she is officially middle aged. I knew it was coming. My kids were finishing high school and entering college and my career had been put on hold to help them with the transition. I knew when I resigned my tenure at the college that I would be isolating myself a bit, but I thought when the kids get settled I would just pick back up where I had left off. I didn’t count on the possibility that I would question my passion for teaching and would start the long process of asking myself “what’s next”? This would mark the beginning of the next five years of soul searching, contemplation and waiting……so much waiting.

At this point, I didn’t know that I was in a mid life crisis, because you have to be at mid life for that, right? I was over 40, just like all the other women I knew at the time and most of us were asking these same questions as our families, and purpose, was growing more independent.   It was actually great at the start. I had more time for working out, gardening and experimenting in the kitchen, all activities I enjoy. But over time I found that I wanted more: more human interaction, more purpose and more experiences. I decided to enter a culinary program to see if that industry held any future appeal. I really enjoyed cooking, baking and working in a commercial kitchen and met some great friends that I still see when we can get our schedules to align. However, the thought of “proving myself” all over again in a new field was overwhelming and I knew that I did not want to work the restaurant hours required for success in the hospitality industry. While I was wrestling with these major life adjustments, my husband was entering his mid life crisis and where my crisis was a quiet, internal struggle, his was a category 5 tornado that ripped apart the trailer park. Any woman who has dealt with a man in crisis knows how self absorbed and all consuming his world becomes. There was no room for my problems or concerns at that time, and how could I figure out what I wanted until he decided if he would retire? He spoke of moving to another country, changing jobs, retiring and traveling the world….and so on, and so on. So, I waited some more. I know how hard this question is and that there is no quick answer and I wanted to be supportive and give him the space and time to work this all out. That was three years ago and he has yet to pull the trigger on any clear decision, and I am tired of waiting.

This blog is an account of how I continue to cope with both of our mid life issues and where I find an outlet for those times when I am overwhelmed and feel weighed down by the enormity of these difficult problems. I have found that exercise has been critical for my mental and spiritual health. I have always enjoyed physical activity but at this point in my life, I have really come to understand the benefits of regular workouts.  I signed up to train for a half marathon on a whim, and have finished two this year, I have started rock climbing (indoor and outdoor) and find that both of these challenge me and evoke a sense of pride upon completion. Pride in myself has not always been easy to find, so I have a new appreciation for it now that I am older. Another area that I find myself gravitating toward is time in the kitchen, cooking and baking are fantastic creative outlets for me.  I find it calming to work in the kitchen and really enjoy challenging myself with difficult or new recipes. Gardening is another way for me to relax, create and connect with the outdoors and I have spent considerable time and effort building structures, experimenting with different plantings and weeding (so much weeding!). And, like so many others, I love to travel and explore new areas and cultures as often as possible.

It is my hope that I will be able to connect with others to share ideas, stories and life lessons and, maybe, provide some support to those of you who are also in this interesting phase of life.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase”                              -Dr. Martin Luther King