4.12.2017

I Am Not My Own Boss

Do you ever get really, really annoyed with work for stealing your fun, and preventing you from doing things that you want to do?  When I'm really tired, waking up in the morning for work is the worst.  Who wants to sit in an office all day when the sun is shining and there are so many other alternative activities in this world?

That was me last week.  Slightly bitter because my husband was home for a limited time only.  It was a surprise so I had no extra days off planned, and had just taken quite a few days off two weeks prior when he was here.  It sucked getting out of bed when he was still in it, and sitting at work when he was sitting at home.  I rushed home every day so anxious to spend what was left of the day with him.  We didn't do much, because even though he was on vacation, I was in work mode.  I was tired (although so was he from jet lag) and had to be up early, so we ate dinner and watched TV.  Not super exciting, but time together is time together and I was glad to have it.

It's times like this when I wish I was one of those multi-level millionaires that work from home and poolside locations throughout the world.  Surely you've seen their pics and gushing testimony all over social media about how awesome their life is.  How they make so much money that they retired their husbands out of the workforce.  How they can work from anywhere as long as they have a laptop and wi-fi.  How they don't have to ask their boss for time off, and no longer hate Monday's.  They seem to be on cruises a lot. 

Be your own boss.  Be home with your kids.  Take vacation when you want.  Drink wine in front of a fireplace on Tuesday afternoon.  But isn't that sales?  Oh no, you don't have to sell anything.  It's so easy!  Working 9-5 is unnecessary. 

Guys.  I don't get it.  If I don't have to sell anything then how do I make money to support myself?  Multi-level marketing is all about sales, but I have been approached by people who claim to be making a lot of money and claim that you don't have to sell anything.  If your income depends upon a product that you actively promote it is sales.  Even if the product is so good it sells itself, it's sales.  Let's just say it's true and you don't have to sell a specific product or a specific thing, you are most certainly selling something.  You are selling the program, and you are also selling yourself in a way.  That's how you get people to sign up...so you can make money off of them...and then you motivate those people so they will get other people to sign up...so you can make money off of them. 

I don't doubt that there are people making a ton of money selling wraps, essential oils, fitness products or cosmetics, but I have this feeling that they are the exception not the rule, and that there are just enough of them to make people think it's easy to have that same success.  I also don't doubt that there are a lot of people stretching the truth and probably don't like it as much as they claim or don't make full time living off of it as they imply, because if it was truly that easy, and that lucrative why isn't everyone doing it?  Why hasn't everyone quit their jobs, signed up to sell whatever it is they like, and found themselves rolling in the dough on a permanent vacation?  Also, if everyone did it, who would do everything else?  From what I understand, we actually need people working in offices, retail shops, hospitals, airports, and all the other places that are integral to society.
This Guy.  Heart face emoji
So yeah, last week I was a little bit bitter about having to go to work.  It happens to the best of us, I'm sure.  Why can't I be that girl I follow on Instagram posting about how she sold enough wraps to buy a house and gets a six month vacation twice a year?  Then I thought about how I probably couldn't sell ice-water in hell.  Not only do I suck at sales or promoting, I don't like it.  I don't even like pimping out my own blog.  No matter how you slice it you are selling something.  I do it sometimes, and  there's nothing wrong with it, but it usually makes me uncomfortable.  I'm also pretty risk adverse.  I like the idea of knowing that I'll get a paycheck every month.  It may not be #girlboss #instagramgoals but I also like generous paid time off, my retirement plan, and paying $0 dollars for a zero co-pay no deductible health insurance plan.  I have a really solid job.

Earning money online as your sole source of income isn't for everyone.  This blogger could write one million posts about how she made $100,000 in a month online, not in a year a month, but I still wouldn't be able to figure out how to do it!  My mind is literally blown by how successful she has become through blogging.  This girl is legit, and she doesn't brag about it, she informs. 
Burgers Again!!
Plenty of people find another way, but that isn't my path.

My job limits the amount of vacations I can take, and the days I can stay home, but I also wouldn't be taking vacation if I didn't have it.  I wouldn't be doing a lot of things if I didn't have it.  I might not even own a home if I didn't have it.  We love to travel, and thanks to my job, not necessarily in spite of my job (because that's the better way to look at it), I have managed to take some pretty fantastic vacations.  Over Thanksgiving I got to spend a nice chunk of time with my long distance husband.  Last week I got to spend a wonderful long weekend with family.  It may not be as much as I want.  It never is!  But that's life.  Some things you can and/or are willing to change, others you can't and/or won't.  You maximize what you have, make it work, and even if it isn't ideal, you have to move past the bitter and be glad for the good things you got.  You really just have to.     

I had to make do with less time with MJ than I wanted last week, I live for the weekends, I hate Monday's, and the only thing I get to choose about my schedule is what time I take my lunch break, but we saw Beauty and the Beast together at the "fancy" theater The Lot, and spent too much money on overpriced drinks downtown just because.  Searsucker is kinda pricey, and we could have stayed there and eaten if we wanted to, but chose to get sloppy burgers at Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers instead.  Yes, that's the name.  I'm not a Girl Boss.  I am not my own boss.  I have a boss, who I had ask for an extended amount of time off this summer.  The answer was yes, and for all of that...all of it...I am grateful.      


4.06.2017

The Sensational Phenomenal So Good Very Rad Day

I would have been content to party with the parents in Vegas for my Birthday.  That was the plan.  It didn't make any sense for me to spend my Birthday alone, so I was going to fly to Vegas and spend it with my parents.  They probably go out more than I do.  We would have fun.  As it got closer, we started making plans about what we would do.  I was to get in Thursday evening, so my mom scheduled spa time for Friday afternoon, then we would go to lunch and go shopping.  The night before I left mom said, "consider going out on Friday night" so I packed an extra pair of black pants, just in case.  The plan for Saturday was to hit the strip, dinner and a show, and then one of my fave spots Vista Cocktail Lounge at Caesar's Palace.  Sunday, would be a day to relax or do whatever, and Monday I go home.  That was the plan.  Reservations were made, tickets were purchased, it was all set.

My flight there was delayed three hours due to high winds in Vegas.  No big deal, delays seem to be the norm these days.  Unfortunately.

My facial was not quite as relaxing as I'd hoped, because the woman went to town on my face doing extractions with her evil little tool.  She did a good job removing all the invisible black heads I didn't know I had, but it was the most painful facial I've ever had in my life and left me with marks on my face.  Exactly what you want the day before your birthday.  I guess I should have known better, but I've never had a facial like that.  I had a fantastic time shopping with my mom.  I felt like a kid again.  We shared a fitting room, tried things on, and I handed some of them over to her at the register to pay.  Thanks mom! The shopping marathon continued after a pit stop for lunch.  

So this is the part where things started going differently than I expected.  My mom and I had just opened a bottle of wine, and were chatting in the living room, until she decided she needed to camp out in her little office off the kitchen and get busy with paying bills.  The doorbell rings, and my mom insists that I answer the door.  It's probably a neighbor she said.  Well, it was not the neighbor.  I checked the peephole and all I could see was the back of somebodies head, so I opened the door and guess who turns around?  My big sister Dani who lives in South Carolina.  My big sister, who I haven't seen since October last year, and whom I didn't know when I'd be seeing again was standing there at the door.  My first reaction, after screaming "Oh my gosh, what are you doing here?" was basically to start bawling because I could not believe my eyes.  My sister doesn't get to travel a lot, so it was a huge deal that she made this happen.  I could not believe that she was here for my birthday, and I was just so so happy to see her.  The good news is that she made it, but the bad news is that her flight path was delayed by 8 hours so she was super exhausted, and had missed out on some of the fun stuff we had planned for that day.  I have a love hate relationship with the airlines.  Mostly hate at the moment.

Later on that night, I got another shock.  My dad walks in, and right behind him is my little sis all the way from San Francisco, whom I also had no idea would be making an appearance.  Just last week, she asked me if I was excited about the trip, and there she was...on the trip!  More happy tears!!  I kept looking for my niece and nephew, but they left the kiddos at home and flew into to town for 48 hours so they could be there on my Birthday.  I know I already said this, but I couldn't believe it.  I could barely believe that the five of us were all together again, and that they had gone to all this trouble to be there on my Birthday.


I didn't know what was going to happen with the show because MJ had only purchased three tickets for The Beetles Love Cirque Du Soleil at Mirage, but now there were five of us.  Nobody seemed too concerned about that minor detail.  MJ was quick to ask me via text if we needed more tickets, but mom said she'd take care of it.  Later that day I explained to my sisters that we probably wouldn't be sitting together since the tickets were purchased in two sets.

Little did I know. 

Big sis, Middle Sis, Little Sis
We went for a walk Saturday morning, and then started getting ready for the strip.  I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day.  My birthday turned out to be the most perfect day weather wise the whole time I was there.  I was a little disappointed because I didn't get to talk to MJ before we left.  He texted me Happy Birthday, and I replied, "No phone call? Sad face emoji," but he said he couldn't because it was moving day so the wi-fi in his new apartment had not been set up yet, and he was out of data.  I understood because it's just one of those things you learn to deal with when you are in a long distance marriage.



The four of us stopped at Golden Spoon for yogurt first because it's Dani's favorite.  The parking situation at those huge hotels is so confusing that it was a group effort figuring out where the lot was, but we made it and we were lucky enough to catch one of the beautiful Bellagio water shows on the way to New York New York where they have the Pizza pretzels I love so much.  Turns out, they taste better when you are drunk, but it was still a good pre-dinner snack because I hadn't eaten since breakfast.  We sat and had a drink at the nearest bar, and took one to go, because you can do that in Vegas, before heading to Planet Hollywood.  Little sis bought some earrings and we met up with one of my mom's friends.





We underestimated how long it takes to walk the strip so little sis and I rushed ahead back to the Mirage so we could make our 6:45pm dinner reservation at Fin.  They put six chairs at the table, even though our reservation was for five.  Odd, but I didn't question it.  Mom and big sis show up, and I didn't even see it get taken away, but next thing I know that extra chair had disappeared.  Okay, whatever.  I didn't think much of it.  My dad showed up next.  I was busy checking out the menu and chatting, when in walks my husband, who is supposed to be in Germany.  Why is he not in Germany?

Three weeks ago we had three days together.  I dropped him at the airport, he spent a week in Arizona, and then flew back to Germany, so why was he here in Las Vegas at the restaurant where I'm having my Birthday dinner, when he left the states exactly seven days ago.  Or did he? How? What are you doing here? For a second I thought he must have been hiding out somewhere for the last week.  "I came back for your Birthday," he said and even though, I could clearly see that he was there standing in front of me, I couldn't believe it.  I gave him a big hug and I couldn't stop crying.

Well, no wonder he couldn't call me.  Surely, I would have heard an airport loud speaker announcement over the phone and ruined the surprise.  My dad had gone to pick up MJ from the airport and they went directly from the airport to the strip. Everyone else was talking and laughing and I was slumped over in my chair clutching a napkin to my face sobbing, because I just couldn't believe they had orchestrated this entire thing.  I finally gathered myself, we placed our orders and enjoyed dinner.

Well, we show up for the show and lo and behold, there are not three, not five, but six seats together all in a row.  The show was so good.  It was 1 1/2 hours and didn't end until almost midnight.  Two of the three surprise guests were in for some serious jet lag, and really, everyone was pretty tired after a long albeit wonderful day, so we never made it to Vista Cocktail lounge.  We went home, ate cupcakes and drank wine around the kitchen island before hauling off to bed.

As our family has spread out geographically, as my parents get older, as I get older, I am acutely (and sometimes painfully) aware of just how precious people are and the experiences that we have together.  There is no better birthday present than time and people you care about, and that's what they gave me this year.




The first airport drop on Sunday was big sis.  Less than 48 hours after arriving mom and dad shuttled her to the airport.  Little sis still had time to come hang out at at the casino for cheap drinks and some gambling.  MJ taught me how to play Black Jack, and coached me to $20 in winnings.  The drinks were actually really good, but they we got the gambling discount so they were only $2-$4 bucks each, which is a steal for anywhere let alone Vegas.  We picked up Steak Shack to go, and then it was time for the 2nd airport drop for little sis.  MJ and I had one more day there.  We had breakfast at Cracker Barrel and watched a movie at home, and then it was time for the parents to shuttle us to the airport.  MJ stalked me and got himself on my flight so we flew back to San Diego together, and I got my husband back for an entire week.


So you see, my April Fools Day Birthday was a Sensational Phenomenal So Good Very Rad Day.  Like best day ever sensational!!  All of it.  I make a point to do things I enjoy on my birthday, but it's typically never anything big, and for me this was big.  It crossed my mind that with MJ gone for the year, I could end up spending my Birthday alone.  I wasn't even looking forward to it that much, but one turned into three, turned into five, turned into six and I was lucky enough to spend the entire day with a bunch of people I love.  Everyone leads busy lives, and we all have our own thing going on, but they hopped on planes from near and far just to be with me on this milestone Birthday.  They made me feel so special and so loved.  It was truly unforgettable, and I will be forever grateful for what they did and the fun times we shared.



3.20.2017

Three Days Four Nights

Wow.  This is officially the longest I've ever gone without posting.  In eight years.  I've been tired, and haven't felt inspired.  I almost re-wrote that sentence because I didn't mean for it to rhyme, but really, that's what it was.  Tired and uninspired. Why am I not surprised that the first post in a month is about none other than my handsome husband?

Three days.  That's all we had.  Well, five if you want to get technical, but I don't because a Sunday night arrival, and a pre-noon departure does not a day make.  It took me at least a day to believe that he was really here.  This was a surprise visit that came out of nowhere because he had to make a trip to Arizona, so I wasn't expecting to see him any time soon.  I didn't believe it when he told me he was coming two weeks prior.  I didn't believe it when, I got his flight itinerary.  I didn't believe it when I picked him up from the airport, and wrapped my arms around his neck.  I still didn't believe it the next morning when we were laying under clear blue skies at our favorite picnic spot in Balboa Park watching airplanes roar above our heads.

It was a perfect day.  The weather warmed into the 80's just in time for his arrival, and neither one of us had eaten those juicy Italian Subs from Capriotti's in a while.  The next day I took him on a date to The Lot.  It didn't bother us that our showtime was cancelled due to technical difficulties and that we would be seeing Get Out at 3:30pm instead of 2:00 because we had nowhere to be except right there with each other.  Instead of eating inside the theater we ordered another drink, and ate burgers at outdoor the bar all the while soaking up the ambiance.  We were refunded the cost of the tickets for our trouble, which really wasn't any trouble at all.


Just when I fully and truly believed my husband was really home, is also about when it started to hit me that he would soon leave.  On Monday, Thursday seemed so far away, and I refused to acknowledge that his presence was temporary, but by Tuesday night, I couldn't help it.  One day left.  We met his co-workers for lunch, and sat outside eating Mexican food.  Then we stopped for yogurt, before heading to Best Buy for a new Blue Ray player, because I had to get in at least one Honey Do while the getting was good. 
 
He was jet lagged the whole time.  Early to rise, and early to get tired.  He managed to stay awake those first two night, just because he didn't want me waking him up and marching him to bed, and he knows I would.  With only so few nights home I wouldn't allow him to spend a single one of them sleeping on the couch.  It was enough that I could watch him sleep, so on the fourth night I let him doze off, and he didn't complain when I woke him up after two hours and marched him up to bed.

It was so nice doing even the little things we always do together.  I held off on watching The Walking Dead on Sunday so we could watch it together on Monday.  I got to watch him dart around the kitchen cooking our Blue Apron meal in half the time it would take me, using proper cutting technique I will never master, and then swoop in to finish off the dishes while he started the movie.  We did that spur of the moment run to Mary's for the best donuts in town.  When it was time to eat them he want straight for the milk.  He doesn't believe in eating donuts without milk, but he saved a little bit for me because I don't need my own glass; just a big sip after my last bite.

I couldn't believe he was here, and then I couldn't believe I was at work.

I dropped him off at the airport, and was slogging through emails by 10:30am.  It was surreal.  Almost as if the last 3 days had never happened.  Getting to see him at all was great, but another airport drop, and another good-bye smacked me in the face with the reality that even though we've been living separately for seven months (!!), he's been gone long enough to be moving into a second apartment in two weeks, and we still have another nine months to go. 

He'll be in Arizona this week, before he heads back to Germany, and I thought I'd like it that we could at least share the same time zone for a while, but oddly enough, I don't think I do.  I've grown accustomed to counting ahead nine hours to figure out what he might be doing, and I'm used to not doing things here at the same time that he does them there.  When I'm on my way to work in the morning, he's on his way home.  When I'm powering through the middle of my work day, he's winding down for bed.  When I'm winding down for bed, he's getting in that last hour of sleep.  It might not make any sense, but when he's nine hours ahead, and our days are so out of sync it somehow makes the distance between us feel less real.  He's doing his thing in his time zone and I'm doing my thing in mine.

I don't like it that we are doing the same things at the same time, but can't do them together.  I don't like it that we are both going to sleep at the same time, but can't sleep together or watching the same TV shows at the same time, but not watching them together.  I don't like it that he's gone, period, but this is how it is right now and I'm so grateful for these visits in between that break up the time.

Seven months down, nine months to go...


2.15.2017

Things I Order on Amazon

I'm kind of obsessed with the idea of documenting my life.  It's why I started journaling with I was 10 years old.  It's why I was always the one with a camera taking pictures at every sleep over, birthday party (which were also sleepovers if I had my way), gymnastics meet, and football game.  I'd drop the film off at Long's and wait the five days or so for developing, because as anxious as I was to see the prints I would not pay extra for overnight processing.  I'd pick them up and excitedly shared them with friends at school before carefully arranging the best ones in photo albums. I was the unofficial team historian.

Now.  I haven't bought a photo album in many many years, and all of my journaling is online.  Then I started a blog.  Of course I did.  Instagram and Facebook serve as date stamped time capsules, of all the fun things I've done and the special people I did them with.  Who woulda thought that shopping on Amazon could do the same thing?




I went through my past orders looking for a product I want to order again, and the first thing I noticed is how my Amazon obsession really exploded over the last three years.  This is a tally of my Amazon order history since 2003.  I'm already at 5 orders for 2017.  It's only February.

2003-6
2004-1
2005-2
2006-3
2007-1
2008-0
2009-1
2010-0
2011-3
2012-1
2013-3
2014-31
2015-38
2016-49!

The second thing I noticed is that browsing through my order history was like catching a glimpse of my past life via the things I ordered on Amazon.  It's all there, neatly organized by year, and in their own way they tell a story.  A story of me. 

2003
So this is my very first Amazon order, ever.  Did you know that in 2003 I was kind of sort of an aspiring actress?  These two books were required materials for a pretty intense acting class with a local casting director here in San Diego.  Once a week I sat in this cramped walk up studio downtown for three hours while this dramatic man by the name of Samuel Warren yelled and gestured with all his might trying to teach us the subtle craft of acting. I starred in an exercise infomercial and did lots of industrial videos.  Nobody I know ever saw them (thank goodness), but I still got paid!  I auditioned for an independent film in L.A. and distinctly remember blowing the call back because I didn't realize they were having us read a different script.  Obviously, I didn't "make it" and it was mostly really discouraging, but I loved it and I still look back on those days very fondly. 

2003
These purchases show that I prefer working out at home rather than the gym.  I do believe that these were my first home workout videos.  Ever!  I bought them on VHS because VCR's were everything back then.  That's all we had.  I always made sure to hit rewind after I finished otherwise I'd be super annoyed when I was ready to start my workout and had to wait for the rewind.  According to Amazon I grew my collection again in 2006 with some toning videos, and again in 2011 with 6 more videos.  By then, I was really into Barre, Ballet, Yoga, and Jillian Michaels, but I also repurchased that Kathy Smith Time Saver cardio video in DVD.   I can only imagine how funny I look doing it, but it's such a fun cardio routine, I don't care and it was worth buying again.  I went through a weight lifting phase in 2014 with the purchase of a cell phone arm band, but the at home workout thing really stuck and these days I workout almost exclusively at home.

2005
This purchase shows my age!  In 2005 I had a flip phone.  A Samsung VGA1000 Sprint to be exact.  'Aint she a beauty?  I think I'd lost my phone out of contract, and this was the replacement.  I'm pretty sure I thought it was the best phone ever at the time, but I remember how distraught I was that I had to spend Two-hundred dollars on a cell phone.  I WISH my iPhone only cost $200.  Was there ever a day that an iPhone was that cheap? I didn't get my first smart phone until 2010. 


2014
These purchases expose the serious popcorn addiction I developed in 2014.  It took me 5 months to eat my way through a 12.5 lb bag of popcorn kernels all by myself.  I had to eat it every single day,  and I loved this popcorn bowl so much I bought one for my sister and my mom.  That reminds me.  I really miss popcorn.

2015
These purchases reveal that my skin is not always perfect, and that I was on a mission to lose weight.  I had perfect skin for most of my life, but in 2004, out of nowhere I had a horrible bout with hormonal acne that recurred in 2006, 2009, 2014, and then crops up here and there every year since.  When my skin is good it is very very good, but when it is bad...UGH!!  In 2015 I scoured the internet looking for products I decided on Arcona Acne Raspberry Clarifying Pads, Alpha Hydrox Intensive Serum 14% Glycolic Acid AHA, and Alpha Hydrox AHA Enhanced Lotion.  I really like the skin care products, because by this time it was less about getting rid of the acne and more about just caring for my skin and treating the acne as best I could during that time.  I had given up on trying to "cure" it because it seems to come and go as it pleases without any kind of rhyme or reason.  I bought the CoQ10 and Acetyl-L Carnitine cellular energy promoting fat transporting, pills out of desperation because I read somewhere that they'd assist with energy and weight loss.  They did nothing for me.  In 2016 I went about it the good old fashioned way.  Diet and exercise.  It worked, and I got to use the tape measure to keep track of inches lost.     
2016
These purchases show my love for writing, traveling, and that I married a Bills fan.  I bought these books for a fiction writing class I took last year.  I hated how long and exhausting it made my day, but I LOVED the class.  I learned so much and it was something I've always wanted to do.  I venture to guess this neck pillow is probably one of the best ones out there.  I HATE sitting up while sleeping on a plane for hours, so I bought this last year before my looong ass flight to Germany.  It's high enough so it actually supports my neck, unlike the cheapie one I had before, which I gave to MJ.  He likes it, but it was useless for me.  These Packing Cubes are awesome.  They keep everything organized in my suitcase and when it comes time to unpack I just take out the cubes.  It also comes in handy when I stay in places with minimal storage.  I bought a set for the husband too.  These socks were part of MJ's Chrismas gift.  He loves them.  Being married to a Bills fan means my husband makes me go to Buffalo.  I've got two Bills games under my belt, and I see more in our future.   

It started out innocently enough with using Amazon as easy order and ship for gifts, things I was having a hard time tracking down or things I couldn't find at a decent price like an inexpensive duvet cover, or a space heater during the summer. 

Then it turned into all the things.  Hair accessories, shampoo, cell phone chargers, goggles, protein powder, ice packs, toilet paper holder.  No item is too insignificant for me to order from Amazon, but I do try to keep a cart going until I have a few items so I can do a group order.  It is a heck of a lot easier than running out to the store, searching for the item, then possibly going to yet another store if they didn't have it.   Like those awesome storage cubes I got a few weeks ago to deal with all my stuff.  I could have gotten lucky and found the right ones on my first trip to Target or Bed Bath & Beyond, or not, but with Amazon I can do the run around online.  And if they don't work, I just print out a shipping label and drop it off at the Postal Annex down the street to send it back.  I used to add to my list of things to buy, never get around to it, and then give in and order it on Amazon.  Now, I don't even fight it.  I go straight to Amazon, because chances are I'll have it a lot quicker than the time it would take for me to go get it.

Amazon is easy and efficient; exactly how I want my life to be.  It feeds my obsession to document all the things, and makes a pretty nice time capsule of the past.  So there's that, as if I needed any other reasons to use it. 

2.01.2017

I Hate Stuff

Remember the good old days when everything you owned fit into your bedroom?  Everything.  All my clothes fit in one average sized non walk in closet, one tiny dresser, and a tall dresser.  I had one bookshelf, and a desk.  I had even less to work with when I lived on campus in college. 


And then this whole adulting thing happens. Somehow you end up with more stuff, and sometimes even your stuff needs stuff.

I lived in a few apartments.  I accumulated things, along with furniture.  I got rid of all that furniture and a lot of things, and started over in a tiny 400 square foot studio.  I'd say that was my most minimal moment of all.  MJ still laughs at me because I only had like three pairs of shoes...and they were all ugly.  Also, I had almost nothing in my kitchen.  Over time, I accumulated more clothes, more shoes.  Not a lot, and very few things, simply because of limited income and limited space.  I really grew to hate stuff, and would only take in essentials because any new items that came into the house was just another things to find space for.

Then we got a house.  It's great.  We don't have to live on top of each other, and my clothes were no longer perpetually wrinkled from being too tightly packed.  There is a place for everything and everything in it's place.  Well, as much as humanly possible, because let's just say I'm the neat one.  We brought our own set of stuff into the merged household.  We decided what to keep, and what to toss.  Houses need stuff, so we bought furniture, decor, and kitchen housewares.  I got a 3-drawer file cabinet to keep up with important documents.  We have a basket of cords, and chargers, and all manner of random electronics.  I don't even know what half of it is.  Over time, I accumulated more clothing, and my own personal junk drawer, that I've been meaning to clean out for a few years.  We have plenty of stuff.  

I have a bunch of plastic shopping bags in my bottom drawer at work.  Why?  I have receipts for random things from three years ago.  Why?  You would not believe the number of tote bags, and carry cases I have.  I am literally, a bag lady.  I have a bathroom cabinet, make that two, full of toiletries I'm not using.  I have a stack of photo greeting cards we have received over the years sitting on a leaning bookshelf, that I don't want but feel badly about throwing them away.  I have clothes I haven't worn since Bill Clinton was president.  Whhhyyy? 

And you can only imagine how excited we were when MJ's aunt sent him a gigantic box full of random stuff from grandma's house.  We pulled out a few items, but this box of useless stuff basically went from one person's garage to another.

I'm not into nick nacks or having random objects.  I am conscientious about what I bring into the house, but once it's in I find it really hard to let it go.  I've got my childhood keepsakes down to two plastic bins in the garage, and I plan on holding onto some letters and cards from family that hold sentimental value.  That fits in a box.  I'm fine with that.  My biggest problem is clothing, and personal items.  Like those damn tote bags.  And pajamas.  I have only purchased a few pajama items in the last decade for two reasons.  1. I went through a serious Victoria's Secret pajama frenzy a long time ago and I have a ton.  2.  A lot of my old clothing becomes lounge wear/pajamas because I am so reluctant to get rid of anything.  It has to be a rag before I think I should get rid of something, and even then something inside of me makes me think I can save it...or that I need to re purpose it into a dust rag.  I get anxious about getting rid of things I might need later, because it would be the end of the world, if I had to re-buy it.  I feel guilty about getting rid of anything that was a gift.  I once drove around with a Goodwill stash in my trunk for an entire year.  I am not proud of this. 

I might be a a borderline hoarder.





These cubes are awesome!! 
I came home from work one day and went on a rampage.  I didn't plan it, I just knew that stuff needed to go.  I went straight to my closet and started pulling clothes of hangers.  Then I moved to my pajama trunk, then my sock drawer, then my workout wear drawer, then my shoes....and well...you get the idea.  Once I started I couldn't stop and I ended up with a nice pile of clothing that is going to goodwill or the trash or anywhere, but my house.  I found these cloth collapsible bins to organize my pajama trunk and purses.  I feel really good about it.

All that stuff was sitting inside my house, but once I let it go I realized that I had also been carrying it around with me.  It bothered me that my closet was so tight with clothes I don't wear; clothes I don't even like.  Seeing clothes I disliked, mixed in with clothes I did like, was making me feel bad about my entire wardrobe.  It was a burden just having them take up space, and now that they have been relegated to the get rid of it pile, it feels great.  I have tons of boxes that have been chilling in the extra room since last year that need to go as well.  It's time! I'm over it.  I did a round of paring down the house a while back, but I need to go back and do more.

I love the idea of minimalism.   I even love the idea of  Tiny House living for that reason.  You cut stuff and you cut expenses freeing up your time and money for what is truly important to you.  I kind of want a Tiny House, however, I don't think I could get my husband to live there with me and I'm pretty sure I'd end up hating it anyway.  I lived in that 400 foot studio for five years.  It was cool at first, but by the time I moved out I felt like a rat in a cage.  It was stifling.  I need space, but I also want a streamlined and uncluttered life.  I enjoy having a reasonable amount of stuff, but I crave order, organization, and simplicity.  I want stuff, but I hate stuff.


I don't want to be forced into keeping less stuff by living in a shoe box.  I want to do it on my own.  The trick of it all is finding a balance, and learning how to free myself from an attachment to items. That's the part I suck at.  I did the KonMari folding method on my husbands T-shirts awhile back, and I think it's time to KonMari my life.


1.18.2017

Bikini Body Guide vs Healthy Body Guide Reviewed

I really love the flexibility of working out at home.  I don't have to drive there, jockey for space, or look at other people's sweat.  I was so excited when I found Bikini Body Guide because it gave me more workouts to do in the convenience of my home.  I don't even have to bother with a DVD and I can blast the music as loud as I want.  Then I found Healthy Body Guide and that was even more variety, which is always a good thing to prevent exercise boredom.  I've completed all 24 weeks of the Bikini Body Guide and done the 12 week Healthy Body Guide.  They are both circuit training style workouts and kind of similar, so I thought it might be helpful to review and compare the two for anyone who might be wondering which one to do or if the more expensive Bikini Body Guide is worth the money.   This is the basic rundown of each program.



BIKINI BODY GUIDE | KAYLA ITSINES

The Bikini Body Guide is a PDF Circuit Training style plan with detailed pictures and explanations of each workout that you can print out or view electronically, keep forever, and take everywhere.

The cost is $53.00 for each 12-week guide, and if you want the Nutrition Guide it's more money.  There is also a Sweat With Kayla App that is $20.00 per month.  I have no idea what features it provides, as it isn't something I was interested in.

The Bikini Body Guide is 24 weeks but broken down into 1.0 and 2.0 for 12 weeks each.  Each workout has two Circuits.  Each circuit is repeated twice for a total of 4 circuits.  Every week of workouts is done twice in a row before moving onto the next set.

Each circuit is to be done 7 minutes.  If you don't finish, you don't finish, and if you do, you repeat the circuit.  You do as much of each circuit as you can for a total of 28 minutes.

The recommended schedule starts out with 2-3 resistance training circuits per week and 2-3 sessions of low impact steady state cardio (LISS) and progresses to 3-4 sessions of resistance, 2-3 sessions of 35-45 LISS, and 1-2 sessions of 10-15 high intensity interval training (HIIT) weekly.   The way I did it was 3-4 circuits per week, plus 2-3 LISS/HIIT sessions per week for a total of 5-6 days per week.  I did not do two workouts per day.  My LISS was either walking or the elliptical and HIIT was treadmill running intervals.

The split for Bikini Body Guide 1.0 is leg day, arm day, and full body for the first four weeks and then it switches to leg day, arm day, ab day.  2.0 is also leg day, arm day, ab day, but incorporates a fourth full body day circuit every other week.

Equipment:  dumbbells, jump rope, bench, bosu, steps, barbell, medicine ball, and kettle bell.  I did the entire program without the barbell, bench, kettle bell or bosu.  I didn't miss the bosu at all, and was able to use my dumbbells for all barbell and kettle ball exercises.  Barbells can also substitute for medicine balls.  My bench was a storage bench full of pajamas.  If you don't have a jump rope you can jog in place, but jump ropes are a great inexpensive exercise tool to have.  The only thing I really felt strongly about having was the the step up.  There wasn't a single chair in my house that would work, and step ups are in so many of the circuits that I think you will miss out if you don't have one.

Bikini Body Guide is super high intensity and it can be somewhat repetitive.  Lot's of jumping.  Lots of lunging.  If it's leg day you will be doing things like step ups, jump lunges, walking lunges, and squat and press with medicine ball.  It will hurt.  You will sweat a lot, and feel like you are going to collapse after almost every single workout.  Some ab days are a little bit less grueling, but the numbers are such that they are still very challenging.  Arm days are pretty intense too because of the sheer number of repetitions.

@Kayla_Itsines has quite the cult following on Instagram.  I would even go so far as to say some of the girls are obsessed with Kayla, the workouts, and everything BBG.  Her transformations are pretty impressive.  Kayla Itsines is basically a fitness celebrity in Australia and there are girls all over the world who do BBG meet-ups and provide support and encouragement to each other.  I think she was one of the first who created a guide and used Instagram for promotion.  #bbg #bikinibodyguide #bbggirls #kaylasarmy #sweatwithkayla #deathbykayla are just a few of her always trending hashtags.  There are girls on Instagram who have built their entire following by doing her guide and some of them claim to be doing it consistently for years.  Personally, my body could not handle the rigor long term, but more power to them.     


HEALTHY BODY GUIDE | ALEXA JEAN FITNESS

The Healthy Body Guide is a PDF Circuit Training style plan with detailed pictures and explanations of each workout that you can print out or view electronically, keep forever, and take everywhere.

I purchased its as part of a bundle for only $29.99 that included two 30 day Ab challenges, a 30 day butt and leg guide, and a 30 day meal planning guide. 

The Healthy Body Guide is 12 weeks long.  Each workout is 1 circuit that is repeated 4x.  Every week of workouts is done twice before moving onto the next set.

It takes as long as it takes.  There is no set time.  For me that was 20-35 minutes, depending on the workout.

The recommended schedule is five circuits per week, and two session of 30-45 minutes of cardio to be done on ab days.  I did not do it that way.  For all but the last three weeks I did the five circuits plus one day of cardio at the gym for a total of 6 days per week.  The last three weeks I did only the circuits for 5 days a week total.  By this time, I was well into my fitness journey and looking to stay steady, but if I had started out with this in January I probably would have done it how it was recommended.

The split is total body day, upper body day, leg + glutes day, and two ab day circuits. 

No equipment required, although I did add ankle weights, dumbbells, and a medicine ball for additional challenge.

The exercises in general are lower impact on the body, and easier on the knees overall because it incorporates a greater variety of types of exercises.   There is some jumping, and some lunging, but it mixes in exercises that are less jarring on the body.  On leg day some of the exercise include things like glute bridges and donkey kicks.

@AlexaJeanFitness has a much smaller community on Instagram than BBG.  You can still use her #healthybodyguide hashtag and connect with others using the program, but Alexa Jean has been criticized for being unresponsive to followers and not doing very much to nurture her online community. 

MY REVIEW

Bikini Body Guide is my jam, and I keep going back to it.  It is super hard and super sweaty.  I like it that when I give it everything I got, I know I am pushing myself as hard as I can go.  When I was sweating my way through the pain of my last set of double pulse box jumps in week 23 legs I felt like an athlete.  Pushing myself that hard makes me feel bad ass, and it gets results.  My strength and endurance improved so much, and it was instrumental in helping me lose weight and tone my body.  I did BBG 1.0 in 2015, 2.0 in 2016 and both times I saw real physical changes in my appearance.  My husband joined in a few times and has found every single workout to be extremely challenging.  It's no joke.  As much as I love BBG,  I also hate it sometimes because it is so hard.  It's physically and mentally tough facing those workouts day in day out.  I have bad knees so I knew I had to be very careful or else I wouldn't make it.  Sometimes, I couldn't run on HIIT day and had to do steep incline instead.  Sometimes I couldn't walk as fast on LISS day, and had to take it easier on leg circuits than I wanted to, but I did what I had to do in order to save my knees.   The different body part splits helped, but there were times I had to wait on leg circuits until the very last moment, because my knees were hurting so bad and filling with fluid.  My lower half was feeling pretty beat up by the end. It can feel repetitive, but Bikini Body Guide is designed to challenge every muscle of your body over and over and over again so when you finish you feel like you can take on anything.  If you follow a healthy meal plan and stick with the program it will whip you into shape with just 30 minutes of exercise per day.  I'd say it is overpriced, but I have gotten so much out of it that I think it's worth it.

I started BBG 2.0 right after a two month program so by the time I finished it was five months of being on pretty hard core programs.  I needed a mental break from having to do specific workouts and a physical break to recover from the intensity so I spent the next two months mixing and matching workouts.  My goal was to keep going hard through October, but after seven months, I was losing motivation.  I needed something to keep me on track and that didn't make me want to keel over and quit.  Healthy Body Guide was just the thing to keep me going.  Alexa Jean realizes that squats, lunging, and jumping aren't the only way to work legs.  Her circuits include intense exercises like burpees (lots of burpees!!) and split lunges, but also incorporates things like donkey kicks, hip thrusts, and leg lifts that are great for glutes and legs, but also low impact on the body.  It is not as hard as BBG, but it is still a nice comprehensive set of workouts and very challenging.   The exercises worked my muscles in ways that Bikini Body Guide didn't and you really can't beat the price.

Which is better?  Which would I recommend?  I think it really just depends on where you are at in your fitness journey and how much pounding your body can handle.  My knees are awful and I made it through BBG so I think it's doable for those who have knee issues.  You just have to listen to your body and modify if necessary to make it easier on the joints.  On the other hand, Healthy Body Guide is already set up to be easier on the body as is.  If you are just starting out and want to do both, I would recommend starting with HBG.  See how you like it, build strength, and then move onto BBG.  Lately, I've been trying to incorporate at least one BBG leg day per week because they provide the greatest challenge then I mix in other workouts that give my knees a break.   I haven't even gotten to the extra Alexa Jean workouts that came with the yet, so I still have that to look forward to.   I really do recommend both if you enjoy the quick yet intense circuit training style workouts.  I absolutely love having both options available to mix up my exercise routine however I see fit. 

1.10.2017

In Those Jeans

Wow.  This time last year I was just starting my determined quest to lose weight, tone up, and fix my metabolism once and for all.  To those of you just starting out this year.  Keep going.  Don't quit.  You will thank yourself by the time Summer turns into Thanksgiving and you don't have to beat yourself up about extra carbs and a few missed workouts sabotaging your progress.  They won't, because you have already done the work.


I did an 8 week challenge I found on Instagram and the 12 week Bikini Body Guide back to back from January to May.  I continued consistent workouts, but took two months off from a specific program in June and July.  I took a bit of a break in July, due to travel and other things.  I could feel myself losing motivation so I started the 12 week Healthy Body Guide in August and that took me all the way through October.  I had an I have to do this, no excuses mindset that you really need to put up with hard workouts day in and day out on top of work and everything else.  It kept me on schedule.  If I missed a day, I'd have to double up, or I would fall behind.  Skipping even one day, could lead to another, and another so I committed to the process and that was that. I cannot begin to tell you how excited and relieved I was when I did that last total body workout.  It was the end of ten long, hard, awesome, and productive months of 5-6 days a week of intense exercise.  Being on a program is great for motivation and accountability, but I was so tired and so over it, and also pretty proud of myself for sticking with it and accomplishing my goals.  

The year before, I had gone through my closet and weeded out clothes I hoped I might fit into again and others I knew were a lost cause.  So many designer jeans.  Joe's.  Seven's.  Gone.  Never to be worn again.  Expensive jeans were never important to me.  I was fine with Old Navy, Levi's...whatever fit good at a reasonable price, until that one day I went out and bought a pair of Joe's Jeans.  I was hooked.  They felt AMAZING.  I had finally allowed myself to cough up the money for designer jeans and look what happened?  Sadly, I removed them from my closet because I couldn't bear to look at them any more and I told myself I would never buy another pair again.  Ever.  In my mind I didn't deserve them.  I had my chance and I got fat.
December 2011:  Not my lowest weight | December 2016: 18 lbs heavier 
It was so hard to see my body changing in the mirror and have no control over it.  I was aware of the fabric pressing against my thighs making me want to jump out of my skin, and I felt bulk and fat where there used to be bone.  The scale went up, and up and up and then my clothes got too tight.  I still remember that day, summer 2015, when MJ and I were getting ready to spend the day biking downtown.  I went through my drawers, and realized I had no shorts that fit.  I had been hiding under skirts all year, even in the winter.  I had already busted out of all pants, but could still squeeze into shorts.  We had to stop at Kohl's on the way, and there was hardly anything to choose from because summer shorts had already been replaced by Jeans.  I was devastated, miserable, ashamed, and so angry at myself for putting myself in that position in the first place.

By this time last year, I had mourned the loss of my skinny body for almost three years.  I'd gained so much weight and it felt hopeless, but I didn't give up.  I stuck to the plan and  ever so slowly, my body began to respond.  Ever so slowly, I am learning to appreciate the stronger healthier body I have now.

I know I should have been grateful just to have a body that works, but the reality is that I don't think I was ever going to be satisfied with the body I had last year.  I did not recognize the person I saw in the mirror.  It was not my best me, and I knew it.  That body was the aftermath of years and years of disordered eating.  My quest for thin had backfired, leaving me with a decimated metabolism, and insatiable hunger.  I was hungry all the time!  No matter how much I exercised or what I ate, the pounds piled on, and the only way to fix it was to do what I should have been doing all along.  Healthy eating (not minimal eating) and exercise.  It's no secret, but somehow all these years I had no idea that you could actually eat food and lose weight.  That concept did not exist for me and no matter how many times I read it, heard it, and was told it, I refused to believe.  It was my way or the highway, and my way was to eat as little food as possible, do as much exercise as possible, and still be a functioning human being.  It was a big change.  I had to get used to not ignoring hunger cues.  Hunger pangs used to mean I was doing something right, but now they mean it's time to eat.  I had to learn to feed my body what it actually needed.  1/2 cup of fiber one cereal, one string cheese, and a tiny container of yogurt is not lunch and thin deli slices of ham, with 45 calorie slice of reduced fat cheese between two pieces of 50 calorie bread is not dinner.  It's not normal to have a zero calorie day.  Do you know what that is?  It didn't happen all the time, but it is a day where I ate so little food and exercised so much that my net sum calories was zero.  I was trashing my body and it felt good.  I liked it.  Just think about that for a moment.

Oh, the things I had to do to fit into those jeans!

The worst thing about it.  Well, not the worst thing.  The worst thing was being that physically and mentally unwell.  The second worse thing is that I still thought I was fat, and nobody, not my mom, not my husband, could tell me any different.  If you are going to suffer that much you'd think you would at least enjoy being thin right?  But that's not how it works.

I lost about 10 lbs and 5 1/2 inches.  I am fitting into pants and shorts I couldn't get into before, but there are others that I will never get back into.  I cried when I could barely pull them past my thighs, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that I will not and should not ever be that size again.  It's that simple.  I can't go back.  I have curves.  I have a butt.  I can no longer cut glass with my shoulder bones, and knobby elbows and that's okay.  I still have plenty of days when I miss how I used to look, but overall I'm happy with the progress I made and making peace with how I'm built.  I am sitting at 23lbs above my lowest weight, but thin does not always equal healthy.  I actually think I'm in the best shape of my life right now.  My blood pressure was 97/52 at my last doctor's appointment and my resting heart rate is in the 50's.  Those are the real reasons people should exercise.  Not just for vanity.

It took me a long time to come around, but if this is the body I'm meant to have I think it's time to reconsider those designer jeans.  The "fat jeans" I bought in 2014 are getting too big.  I've worked hard, and the curvy me deserves them even more than the skinny me ever did.  

1.03.2017

12 Days of Awesome

De Nile river is not just a river in Africa because it's running all through me right now.  Deep.  Even as late as driving to work today, I thought that somehow I was wrong and I wasn't supposed to go back yet.  I had convinced myself that I would arrive to an empty parking lot and realize I did my calendar dates wrong and I had one more day.  I'd already done the work of getting up, but no matter, I'd happily drive home and hop back into bed with my slumbering husband.  Whelp.  That didn't happen.

I also meant to write a post about Christmas, and then I'd do a second post about New Year's, but that didn't happen either.

The worst thing about the holiday break is that I stumbled out of bed in the middle of the night at the Hard Rock Hotel and accidentally drank an $11 bottle of hotel water instead of the $1.99 bottle I brought from home.  In other words, my break was pretty awesome. 

By the end of the year I'm exhausted.  It doesn't matter how many vacations I've had either.  I'm exhausted, and it's cold, and all I want to do is curl up into a ball for the rest of my life.  It's a good thing I don't ever have a lot of holiday shopping to do, because I simply don't have the energy for it.  Malls, crowds, post offices.  NO.  I went straight to Amazon for one husband plus an adorable niece and nephew.  We usually do a family gift exchange, but we didn't even do that this year.  Everyone had an expensive year, and for a bunch of adults Christmas gifting is just not that important.  We'll re-evaluate next year.  I look forward to holiday break with a vengeance every single year.  It's the one reason I won't quit this job.  Well, it's not the only reason, but totally free days of paid time off for Christmas is pretty high up there.  The first official thing I did over Christmas break besides shut down my stupid  6:20am weekday alarm was eat pizza at happy hour, and it only got better.  There were plenty of lazy mornings drinking coffee and watching TV, that turned into an entire day spent in pajamas, but I didn't spend the entire time at home...although that doesn't sound half bad.
We didn't do cards.  This is it.
We opened presents on Christmas morning, just the two of us.  Guys.  He got me Chanel No. 5.  I have definitely heard of it, but never smelled it because why would I?  But it smells so good.  I don't know how much it costs but I'm pretty sure it's worth every penny.  He also got me the perfect cashmere sweater.  It fits exactly the way I like it.  He got me a few other perfect gifts, but he always does good when it comes to gifts.  This year I think I did pretty good too, and I have to add that I did not get one clue from him as to what he wanted.  Not one!  The only thing he could think of that he wanted and didn't already have is a gun and I'm absolutely not the best person to shop for it so that was out.  He went out and bought his own gun (as adults do) and I came up with some other things that he loved including that polka dot shirt from Land's End.  I wore my new sweater and he wore his new shirt that night to dinner.  We are those people who go out to dinner on holidays so Christmas dinner was at George's at the Cove- California Modern in La Jolla.  It was pricey, but at least I can say I didn't mind the bill that much because the food was so exceptional it felt worth it.

The day after Christmas we went to the movies to see Fences (Denzel Washington).  The day after that we hiked Mt. Woodson at Lake Poway which is 7.5 miles and very challenging.  Afterwards we went to the very same place we went to after the last time we did that hike and I ate the very same thing.  Nicky Rotten's!!  Nothing like a hot juicy burger and an ice cold beer after a 1,000 calorie hike.


Hard Rock Hotel for New Year's Eve was his idea.  Well, it was his friends idea, and that friend didn't even end up going, but we didn't let that stop us.  My first thought when MJ told me he booked the tickets was darn, I'm going to have to wear heels.  I gave up on heels.  I hate heels.  I no longer wear heels.  The last time I wore them was during the summer when I went out in Las Vegas and my feet hate heels so much one of the shoes broke.  Heels aside, I was still excited because we haven't done the going out thing for New Year's Eve since 2013.  MJ is here for a limited time only so we might as well live it up.  The folks who came to party at Hard Rock are serious.  They showed up in droves dressed to kill, and by that I mean in the shortest, tightest, lowest cut, shiniest dresses possible.  I was no exception (minus the sequins)! The place was packed, the dance floor was packed, and any semblance that I made any effort at all to do my hair was gone by the end of the night.  I toughed it out in those heels for as long as humanly possible which turned out to be three hours.  My hair was wilted and my feet were DONE, but those three hours were really fun! I drank just enough to wake up with a headache, which was no big deal really.  Nothing that a giant pancake couldn't cure.


We stayed at Hard Rock an extra night so the next day we went to breakfast...well it was more like brunch by the time I made it out of bed.  No, I did not order an entire cake for myself.  That giant thing is a baked cinnamon pancake from Richard Walker's Pancake House.  I was only able to eat half of it, but it was really good.  After that we walked over to the International Auto Show at the convention center, and then picked up food from a really loud bar called Bootlegger, where we saw an almost fight on our way out, and ate dinner in bed while watching a movie.  I really like eating in bed because it's something we don't do at home, and I'm telling you, the Cobb salad that came out of that box was one of the best I have ever eaten in my life.  It was great.  Everything was great.  Not even the accidental drinking of bottled water that cost more than a bottle of decent wine could bring me down.
The Gaslamp
I love a good staycation.  I felt like I had all the time in the world with myself and with my husband for sleeping in, watching TV, morning walks, and just existing in life without any real responsibilities.  I really, really needed that and I'm pretty sure I'm going to really really need it again in approximately 353 days. 


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