Back To The Gym For Some Yoga

So, a monumental thing happened today. For the first time all year I went to the gym. This is huge for me because I have really fallen off the wagon this year when it comes to exercise. I am so far off the wagon that the wheels have rusted and broken off. It all started around the holidays. Probably around November. I just got really lazy-no excuses. Then, by the time February rolled around and I had still not gone back to the gym. I had a schedule change because I switched offices and went from working 7:00-3:30pm which I have done my whole working life to 8:00-5:00pm and going to the gym that late just seemed undo able. At least in my mind. So, I just didn't go. I used to be a gymnast, then a cheerleader in high school, then I took ballet classes for about three years. I have had a gym membership for a while so in between anything else I was doing I could always get to the gym for some exercise. I'd do weights and run on the treadmill. Last year I'd started doing Yoga and Pilates there pretty regularly. I also went through an exercise video phase when I couldn't stand going to the gym and wasn't doing anything else. That started around the time of my major weight loss and I used to do one every day without fail. I guess I felt the world would end and I would get fat if I didn't. I found that it was a nice break from the gym and did keep that up for a while. Since I've re arranged my little studio last December there really isn't room for exercise in the home. I have been maintaining my weight with diet alone and so I guess I'd just been feeling like I can get away with it-but no matter what size you are the heart needs exercise. This isn't the first time I've quit the gym. I've kind of had a love hate relationship with it for a while. Sometimes it just seems like such a chore. After a long day at work, usually the only thing I want to do is get home. I'd love to get back into ballet for variety but the classes are expensive and not in my budget anymore.

I went straight to my mom's on Saturday after the Spa and spent the night. It's still really hot (82 degrees even at night) so I was definitely better off there then at home. We had a really nice visit. Hanging out, watching a movie, running errands. My mom knows I am "off" the gym so when she mentioned she was going to Yoga she didn't really even ask me at first. Then, she said "would you like to go?" I said no at first and then for whatever reasons just decided to go ahead and go. She's been wanting me to and I was there. So why not? I ran around getting dressed and out the door in about 5 minutes flat and off we went. It felt good. I love movement. I love pushing my body to do more. I can tell I am out of shape because I was fatigued not too long after class. Yoga didn't used to make me sore at all.

So, I am not making any promises yet about when I'll be going back. I somehow have to get over this whole schedule hang up, get some motivation, and stop being so darn lazy. I just haven't figured out when all of this is going to happen yet. They are building a brand new 24 Hour Fitness near my house and if I upgrade to a Sport membership I could actually go to it instead of the dank and funky Active one that I was going to before. I think that when MJ comes back I might be more likely to make an effort with his influence but for now at least I broke my no gym streak for the year.

It's Gettin' Hot In Here

When I left work yesterday I was greeted by a wall of heat. When I pulled out of my work parking lot my car registered 102 degrees and dipped down to 97 as I headed inland towards home. So, when I get home there is no hesitation this time about turning the AC unit on or not. I usually will sweat it out a little and see if I can make it but it's way too hot to worry about the electric bill today. It was still warm after the sun went down but I will NOT go to sleep with it on. Let's not get too crazy now. Looks like it'll be another scorcher today. On my way to work at 6:30am it was already 72 degrees.

Lost and found story: As I was getting out of my car yesterday, I found my earring that I thought I'd lost the day of the fashion show 4 days ago. I'd put them in right before I got out of my car and by the time I got the bathroom inside the one in my left ear was gone. Just little cheapie silver hoops but I really liked them. I used to freak out and get upset EVERY time I lost any little thing but this time I shrugged it off and then it just shows up on my seat waiting for me to find it. I love it when stuff like that happens.

So whoo, hoo it's Friday. I am getting together with friends tonight at a place that we simply refer to as "the spot" for happy hour. But it's unlike any other happy hour I've been to anywhere else. We do this about once a month and I am so ready to let loose. I will be doing a quickie wardrobe car change (what girl hasn't EVER done that?) from work drab to party fab into my cute little short shorts and my new high heels that I just treated myself to the other day. They are HOT if I do say so myself. A little out of my "conservative" box but I am ready to rock them today.

I Think I Love My Husband

-MJ in Kosovo-
Ok so I don't think, I know. Oh, how I love my husband....err, Fiance.  There are seriously times that I have to pinch myself just because I cannot believe that I got lucky enough to have such a wonderful man. Yesterday during our usual lunch break phone session he told me all the reasons that he loved me. He was so sleepy and as it got closer to the end of my lunch break and closer to his bedtime I could tell he was dozing off. I don't get offended. Hey, it's late and the guy is tired. Even so, he didn't want to get off the phone until our full hour was up even though I kept saying, "just go to bed."

Today he sent me an e mail out of the blue just saying he was thinking about me. When I asked him what made him think about me today he just said that he is always thinking about me. This day is no different than any other-he just so happened to tell me about it in an e mail.  My heart...melting. Oh, and did I mention how absolutely sexy and adorable he is?

Sometimes the phone relationship gets old. I get frustrated and irritable and I told him as much today. He always more than makes up for those frustrations just by continuing to be him and I love him for it. " cute, they must still be in the honeymoon phase.  It won't last," is what they say.  Well, we have been together long enough that we are definitely past that point. True, during the time that we have been together he has been deployed for almost half of it, but long distance relationships come with its own set of potential pitfalls and we have held up just fine through the worst of it thus far. I know the true test comes when he comes back and we shack up in my studio which is small enough for one person let alone two. On the one hand I say, "We must be crazy!!" but on the other hand I think it will be good for us to know we can get through something like that. Regardless, this will be our home for however long it takes us to find a house. Space will be limited. We're gonna get on each other's nerves. My neat freak tendencies are going to be sent into overdrive and will probably drive us both crazy. We will disagree. We might argue. Bring it. I'm ready.

Sephora Pro Beauty Runway Show

Photo Set

Me & My Make Up Artist

The 80's Look
I pull into the resort unsure of which way to go until I see a gaggle of tall thin girls heading towards me from the opposite direction. Ahh, must be some of the other models. So, I guess I'm in the right area. Then I see a large black Sephora sign with white lettering posted on the building to my left so I look for a parking spot. As I walk to the Veranda Room a young woman wearing a black Sephora T-shirt says to me, "Are you CeCe?" She says she is my make up artist. She must've recognized me from the photo that my agent sent over. Soon after I am ushered to a white back drop where my lovely "before" shot is taken. Then, over to my make up artist's station to work on wardrobe. My make up artist is Jelena and she's got the coolest Puerto Rican accent. I love the way it sounds when she says "Miami"-which is where she is here from.

This is the Sephora Pro Beauty Competition. Thirty make up artists from all over have been chosen to compete for 12 spots on the Sephora Pro Beauty team and each one has it's own model. We wait around for a while before we head over to the ballroom where the show will be held for the rehearsal. Each model's image is projected on two huge screens on either side of the runway as we walk and we can see this from backstage. I can hear the other girls making comments about each one and I can only wonder what will be said about me as I take my turn. We only have time to walk through it once before heading back to the Veranda room.

Once everyone is in place at their make up stations the games begin. The artists are given exactly 2 hours to complete their look. This includes hair. Jelena goes to work. I sit still and take quick sips of my soda between brush strokes. She doesn't talk much and I can tell she is really trying to focus. She applies these funky blue and black false eyelashes to my lids and can't seem to get them right. Not too long after that I hear her say, "I'm not gonna make it." Someone yells out that there is one hour left and before I know it only 5 minutes remain and she hasn't even touched my hair. She hurriedly pulls my hair into a high side pony tail right before they call time. She is obviously disappointed-she felt she didn't do her best, but I am impressed. My face is a rainbow of colors and my eyebrows are downright sculpted. Not your every day look for sure, but very artistic. The judges come around and inspect all the models. They are wearing black and white looking very serious as they confer and take notes on each look. I sit there awkwardly not knowing where to look as they stare intently at my face.

We all line up for our "after" shot and then we break for dinner. Models DO eat!! Well, at least the ones here. I saw it with my own eyes. Some plates were piled pretty high and I even saw a model with 2 pieces of cheesecake. Our lipstick is totally ruined of course after chowing down. The artists do touch ups and we sit for more judging.

Next, it's showtime!! We are shuttled over to the ballroom and line up in order. We can here the crowd going crazy in anticipation and there is loud music playing. There are six different eras being showcased from the 50's pin up girl to the 21st Century. I am in the 80's group. I am wearing a green spandex short halter style dress, fluorescent green ankle length spandex and bright yellow chuck taylors. Some of the other eras have much sexier outfits. The disco girls were on gold roller skates! It's kinda hard to feel sexy and strut down the runway in that funky outfit and flat sneakers. I sure could've used some extra height since I am a shortie on the runway, but this show is not about me. It's for my make up artist so I do the best I can to make her look good. Oh, and the worst thing ever is that my not a stitch of make up looking like I just rolled out of bed "before" shot is now displayed on the huge screens for everyone to look at as I walk to the center of the runway. I had this bad feeling they were going to do that to us!! Some of these other girls are sooooo tall, soooo thin, and sooo gorgeous that I feel a bit like an like an oompa loompa in comparison but I don't let that stop me from feeling good out there and enjoying myself. I strut down the runway with confidence and my before shot is replaced with live action of me workin' it. I pause at the white tape mark towards the end which we were told is the "sweet spot" for photos and look at each of the judges. After that we all walk out onstage side by side with our make up artist to a lively cheering crowd. The Black Eyed Peas song "I gotta Feeling" is blasting and everyone is on stage clapping and having a good time.

After that the models are free to go. So, as I leave that night I don't know how my make up artist fared. I gave her a hug and wished her the best of luck. This is her dream and I would love for it to come true for her.

Most of the other models were younger and are probably doing modeling full time. That's not the case for me. I don't get to do this very often so when I do I just drink it all in and really try to enjoy it. This was such a fun show to be a part of. It wasn't looking like I was going to do any modeling or acting jobs this year which I would've been OK with because it's just the way it goes, and now I end up with two jobs both within days of each other and I've still got my big Joe's Jeans casting next week. I'm going to be able to actually save a chunk of money for a change and maybe spend a little of it too! I earned it right? And I had fun doing it. Pretty cool if I do say so myself.

Why I Love My Body

Are these women normal?

This is an interesting question for me because I have had so many issues over the years with body image and weight. Most women including myself are not genetically engineered to be a Victoria's Secret model. So often those are images that are considered the standard of what a perfect woman looks like and if you don't fit the mold, well it can leave you feeling like you don't measure up. Like there is something wrong with you, when in reality that is not the case. Those models are actually freaks of nature, beautiful freaks of nature yeah, but they are not the norm. It is not reasonable to even try to measure myself against them but it is so hard not to sometimes. The average American woman is 5'4, weighs 140 lbs, and wears a size 14 dress. That is reality.

Victoria's Secret asks women to answer this question in 500 characters or less for a Body By Victoria Contest. Normally, my thoughts naturally turn to why I hate my body and not why I love it so this was a good exercise for me. This is my answer:

I've been critical of its shape and; complained about its size. Mistreated it, taken it for granted and; even hated it at times. In spite of it all my body continues to sustain me. I am alive and well because of its unfaltering resolve to love me even when I don't always return the favor. I love my body because it is healthy, strong and toned. It allows me to do things I love and be the person that I am.

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16 1/2 Hour Video Shoot

It's 5:00 am on a Saturday morning and instead of being in bed like I usually am I am in my bathroom slathering liquid foundation on my face. No make up artist on set today. I'm it. I hit the road by 6 am to make my 7:30 am call time. Upon arrival I am handed scrubs. They aren't exactly flattering but I don't really care because I basically get to wear pajamas all day. After changing I am sent into the exam room where the filming will take place. At the moment I am just background. This is the easy part and it allows me to get a feel for how the set up will be.

I booked a shoot for a Dental Network's instructional video and I am going to be playing Tasha the Dental Hygienist. I was told that there was no need to memorize the lines because we'd be using teleprompters, which is something I've never done before. I find out that with teleprompters you have to actually pretend that the monitor is the other actor. As you say and respond to lines you do so not towards a person but a 17" screen with words scrolling down it and we are not to ever look at the other actor in the scene. This makes me nervous but I am not overly concerned. At least not yet.

The shoot moves pretty quickly. There is little to no prep time or rehearsal from scene to scene. When my scene comes up I am caught off guard. I am handed a prop, the director is talking pretty quickly, and they are all focused on me.

I don't know what happened but suddenly I am nervous. I lose my confidence and then it's all downhill from there. I begin to perspire and my heart speeds up. I feel like I have lost my ability to even read. The director says action and I awkwardly stumble through my lines. At the end I am to show the "patient" her CEREC Onlay (still have no idea what that is exactly) and when I lean in to do so it is stiff and awkward. The director tells me as much and gives me some corrections. On top of the trouble I am already having now I am told that I need to memorize the lines and play towards the actor now. I couldn't even read them and now I am supposed to have them memorized?

My nerves have taken over and I feel a if the connection between my brain and my body has been completely severed. All I know is that I am in here screwing up and there is a room full of various people including the client, crew, and other cast members watching this on a the big monitor set up in the main room. Oh yeah, and this is HD. Every flaw is going go be magnified by 10 million. In my mind I am saying, "What made me think I could do this?, Omg,omg,omg. What is wrong with me?" Only three lines and I am already panicking. Somehow I make it through the scene and walk out feeling like the biggest idiot on set. I have visions of totally blowing the rest of my scenes and getting fired from my agency for being such a looser and the director yelling at me for ruining the whole shoot.

And so the day goes. Mostly I am background and I continue the day with this cold fear in the pit of my stomach. I sit around with the other actors chatting. I mention that I don't do this all that often anymore. "Why?," they ask. "Uh, because I have an actual job I reply." They order in Mexican for lunch. More sitting around pretending like I actually know what I am doing. We have a location change around 6. There is more shooting. More sitting around. I watch the other actors get through their scenes dreading that all of mine are still to come. They take Starbucks orders. Then, dinner arrives from California Pizza Kitchen.

So, I'm finally up. I try to relax and I tell myself that I am a pro and I CAN do this. This is what I've been hired to do and I've never had a problem with lines on any job I've ever done. We stand in as they light and set the scene. We rehearse it a couple times and they change some dialogue.

And then, the director says "camera rolling...action."

I deliver my lines to the monitor perfectly. No hesitation, no problem. I got this! Why was I so worried before? I feel great now and have no problems with the rest of the shoot. At one point I am to smile warmly and greet a backpack on the floor as if it were the patient sitting in the chair and even that doesn't phase me. On camera it will actually look like I am talking to the patient but at the moment it looks quite silly. Each take is done from a distance, then close ups of each actor. So, there are three different angles and with each angle we do it as many times as it takes until the director is satisfied that it's good. There is no going home for anyone until all the shots are done however long it takes. By the time we finish it is midnight. I don't get home until 1:30 am and I am in bed around 2:00 pm. It's late enough that I can call my honey to say goodnight. It's really nice to get to hear his voice before I go to bed.

As I drift off to sleep I am exhausted but happy. I have never had a longer day then this. All told I was up for about 22 hours. That's rough for a wimp like me. A freaking 16 1/2 hour shoot is insane!! It was a marathon of a day but I am so glad to have overcome my jitters. It was great to be making some extra money and doing what I enjoy doing.

Baby Maybe

A couple weeks ago I was at a girls get together and my friend brought her one month old baby. It is not often that I am around a newborn so at first I was reluctant to hold her but as the night went on I found that I could not resist. She is absolutely precious. She was wearing tiny silver shoes with a bright pink matching leggings and top outfit. Soft sweet smelling baby skin and baby fine curly hair atop her little head. Tiny hands, tiny feet. Tiny mouth with yeah, you guessed it, tiny little lips. I sat on the couch holding her and just marveling at this tiny little person. I looked into her eyes as she stared back at me and I could only wonder what little baby thoughts might be passing through her mind, and what it might be like to have a little person like that of my own.

Then, she started crying and I had to give her back to mama. I watched as mommy rocked her and tried to sooth her with pacifiers, bottles, and a diaper change. I listened as she described the pain of breast feeding and her so far 22 pound weight loss. Sometimes I wonder if I am capable of doing such a thing. Nine months of gestation, gaining massive amounts of weight, labor pains, the whole change in lifestyle. Oh, and let's not even talk about the cost. I am not one of those women who always wanted to be a mom or has this innate love for all things baby and child. Should I take that as a sign? As I get older and older I have started to think that perhaps my life is fine just the way it is. The thought of bringing an innocent child into this increasingly scary world is well...scary. I really don't want to be an "old" mom. Right now 35 is my age maximum although it used to be 30, so a very short window remains in which to make this decision. I am not ready for a baby just yet, but my biological clock is tick tocking away and those maternal instincts keep showing up when I least expect it. I don't want to miss out on the joy that being a mother and having a family can bring but I want to enjoy married life without kids before we take that step. He is kind of on the fence about the whole thing too, so at least we are on the same page. He is younger then me and is even less ready then I am.

I am not sure what it will take to push us to one side or the other, but I suppose only time will tell. It is a HUGE decision and one that we will ultimately make together but until then...that biological clock will just have to keep on ticking.

Kiss Me Through The Phone

I spend my lunch breaks in my car talking to MJ before he goes to bed. Because of the nine hour time difference that is really the only time we get to talk during the work week. He tells me I have put him on restriction but I didn't really have a choice. Just this month we have cut down to Mon, Wed, Fri for an hour instead of five days a week because I only have 1000 minutes that can be used outside of nights and weekends and the numbers just weren't adding up. I feel like something is missing on the days I wake up in the morning and know that I won't be talking to him. I considered just talking for 30 minutes daily but once I have him on the phone that feels way to short and it's hard for me say good bye, until I have to.

We basically have a long distance relationships right now so the phone has become our primary means of communication. It's great and all but the phone really does have it's limits. Telling him about my day or what's going on in my life day after day on the phone can get old and it's not because I don't love him or because I don't want to talk to him. There is a whole element of non verbal communication that is totally missing when all you get to do is talk on the phone. So much gets lost in translation. I'll mention something and he'll have no clue what I'm talking about even though I told him about it just a few days before. He'll say something and I can't hear him because of poor reception or maybe his voice is too low. I'll say something and he says "what?" so I have to repeat everything twice. I'll deliver what is essentially a monologue about one thing or another and I can't really be sure if he's heard a word I've said. After this happens over and over again I begin to feel that he is either tired, not paying attention, or I am boring him to death. I have no idea which because I CANT SEE HIM. Suddenly, I am feeling irritable and I don't feel like talking anymore. Then, I feel like the wicked witch of the West because this is my fiance, I love him dearly, and even as irritable as I am feeling I just want to hear his voice. He has been so wonderful to me throughout this separation. During the extremely busy pre deployment trainings and traveling he was working 7 days a week but he always made time for me. Since he's been overseas I have never had to wonder if he'll call me, if he misses me or if he's thinking about me because he has been so great about being right there on the phone telling me. He lets me run my mouth about anything and everything for hours on end without complaint. Sometimes if he wakes up in the middle of the night (afternoon or evening my time) he'll call just to hear my voice and say "I love you." He just gets it that I need to hear from him and he does it willingly.

I am really am lucky and grateful to be able to talk to my deployed soldier as much as I do and I am even luckier that my deployed soldier is as thoughtful as he is. So, for now the hour long lunch break phone conversations and weekend Cyber Dates are here to stay. When he gets home we can NOT talk on the phone all we want because we'll be talking and doing all kinds of other things...up close and personal!

I Don't Really Cook

I cooked the last two of my frozen chicken breasts so I could eat one for dinner. This is a big deal for me because I do not cook on a regular basis. In fact, I think this is only the second batch of meat or other actual meal I've prepared that required the use of an oven since I have lived here. The first was probably about two years ago and was also chicken breasts. I know, it's really sad but I have lived alone for the last five years and my eating habits have gone up and down during that time frame to the point where cooking just has not happened very often. I am almost surprised when I smell the actual aroma of actual food coming from my kitchen. I am sure that will become less of an isolated incident when MJ gets back. When I went to his place on weekends cooking was something for us to do together and saved us from spending money on eating out ALL the time. I even got crafty once and made up my own recipe that turned out pretty tasty. My first marriage was so dysfunctional I don't even know where to start in terms of why me cooking ultimately never really happened but I definitely want things to be different this time. I never enjoyed cooking growing up. Maybe it's because my mom used to try to make me. She loves cooking and I always wished I did too. I just had no desire to do it; but somehow it's different for me now. The idea of providing for the man I love somehow makes it seem like less of a chore.

Cooking also represents making an effort to eat food with significant nutritional value. This is something I used to totally avoid at home. "Real meals" were reserved for eating out or with friends and family only. In between that at home, well let's just say the pickings were slim. For months and months on end I put three slices of lunch meat, a Kraft single, and mustard between two slices of Wonder bread. I paired it with exactly 14 fat free Pringles and called it dinner. And forget about actually going out and bringing any kind of food home. Money was so tight for a while that I simply couldn't spare it very often but in addition to that, it served a dual purpose of preventing me from eating "excessive" calories. More recently, I will get either Taco Bell or Subway if I want to go out and get something. Five dollar foot longs that last for two days and 99 cent tacos. I stick to the same order every time and know the calorie counts for each item. Old habits die hard. I will also eat Smart One's or Lean Cuisine's at home whereas before I would not. When I am alone It's just too easy for me to fall back into my old restrictive and routine patterns around food but it is getting better. Believe it or not the chicken tasted better then it looks! Boring and simple, but healthy, nutritious, and normal. Rachel Ray I am not-but it is definitely a step in the right direction for me.

Oh, the bummer for the day is that I think my garbage disposal is broken. When I turned it on today, instead of roaring to life like usual it just make this kind of dead buzzing sound. The crazy thing is I hardly ever even use the darn thing. Wonder how much this is going to cost me? My movie for the evening was I Love You Man. It was really good and funny. Now, I'm going to watch Make It Or Break It then go to bed. It is a really phony and dramatic new TV series on ABC Family that is targeted to kids half my age. It's the first show ever centered around Elite Gymnastics so have to watch it right? Well, that's how it started out, but I have to admit that I actually like it!

Care Package For My Cutie

I was luxuriating in bed feeling quite lazy after sleeping in on a Saturday morning when It suddenly occurred to me that I was supposed to get a care package out to MJ. The post office closes a 1:00 pm and it's about 10 am so I jumped up and got into the shower so I could get out the door and get going. I have other errands to run and so while I was out I was also trying to get those done too. Errands can be so annoying, especially when you are in a hurry and you just don't feel like doing them. I went to Food 4 Less and picked up a bunch of his favorite snacks but they didn't have the one thing he specifically requested which was Salami sticks. So, I rushed to Target to pick up some things I needed since it's right next door then I go to Ralph's looking for those darn meat sticks. Nope, not there either so he'll have to settle for Salami slices. I drive to the post office and put all of his goodies inside and tape it up with the packaging tape I keep in my car just for this purpose. Feeling triumphant that I have made my deadline with 45 minutes to spare I walk into the post office only to find that it now closes at 12pm. Damn budget cuts!! The sign on the door says there is another one nearby that is open later so I stop at the house to drop off the items I'd picked up from the grocery store that need refrigeration then head back out to the post office. Too bad I passed this very post office 2x during my earlier errands without even realizing it existed!! Then, there is the lovely long line that seems to be a constant no matter which post office you go to.

Although, fairly isolated he is on an actual military base where he does have access to stores with snacks and various sundries but it's not the same as getting them from me. And, there are some things he can't get. If he wants or needs something I send it. Right after he left I ordered a package of standard rate priority boxes and have probably sent him about a package a month during the course of his deployment so far. Besides phone and computer it's just one more way of staying in touch, supporting him, and letting him know that he may be far away but he is not forgotten. I love sending him packages and I really think he appreciates receiving them from me so it's well worth the running around it sometimes takes to get them to him. I only have one more package to send him which is a very good thing because that means he's coming home soon.

Hump Day

I did the hard part. I actually fell asleep with the help of my sleeping pill Rx in a timely manner and was sleeping soundly last night. The kiss of death was when I woke up to use the restroom and couldn't go back to sleep. I don't know what time it was. I usually make a point never to look at the time while I'm trying to fall asleep or if I wake up in the middle of the night. Knowing the time usually makes me a little bit anxious if I have to wake up early and only feeds into my insomnia problem. So, I lay there for who knows how long. My mind is racing with thoughts about something I want to write about and things I need to do so much so that I get out of bed and make a list so instead of hoping I don't forget I can quiet my mind and hopefully get some sleep. It helps a little but I still lay there until the sounds of my morning radio show tell me to get up. One more hour and I might have been able to fall back to sleep. But alas, duty calls and I must drag my tired body to work like it or not.

So, here I sit at work with 2 hours to go and I am DRAGGING. I can literally hear the clock ticking. And with every tock I get closer to where I'd much rather be. At home wearing my jammies. Relaxing.

High Cost Degree Can Be A Gamble

There is a story that circulated the Internet last week about a Bronx girl who sues Monroe College, NY for $70,000 tuition reimbursement because she can't get a job in the IT field as she was led to believe she would. I think this girl is ridiculous as most seem to agree. You go to college and you put out the money to do so with hopes that it will lead to a good job and higher earning potential but that is not always the case. Neither the college or anyone else can guarantee it. You weigh your options and you decide just how much money you are willing to invest in the possibility of that correlation being true and you hope for the best. I was conservative and I am so glad that I was.

I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do so I wasn't about to spend excessive amounts of money on College if I didn't have too. My 4 year degree in Sociology cost me about 16k in loans which have since been paid back and will not prevent me from buying a house or ruin my credit. I got into USC. I liked the idea of the ultimate College experience but I didn't like the price tag. I went close to home to an excellent state funded school and cut costs by living in an on campus apartment instead of dorms then commuting the last 1 1/2 years. I took advantage of a semester exchange program where I attended Spelman College in Atlanta GA. I had an amazing "going away to college" and private school experience and didn't have to pay their prices. That one semester away was much richer and way more memorable then all of the other years put together. I will truly treasure that experience forever. I may have missed out on some things by being practical but I got what I went there for-my degree. I worked too, and didn't use my loans to pay rent and subsidize my lifestyle as so many do. I am currently in a job where I don't use that degree and I make less then many people who have not earned a college degree yet. Although it has been helpful in my job endeavors the cost would not have been worth the benefit if I'd spent 70k. A degree was a goal I wanted to accomplish so no matter what, I'm glad I did it. If you want to be a doctor or a lawyer you know it costs but you also know that you will make an extremely high income once hired and that there is always a need for those professions. I am not sure exactly how much difference it makes to get a Liberal Arts degree from Harvard or a no name besides the price tag. Perhaps it is advantageous because it's such a prestigious school. Again, it's a gamble.

A particular school just might have a great program and/or prestige that could open doors in the field that one wants to pursue or it could simply be a goal to go to that kind of school. I am not knocking anyone who shells out the big bucks to pursue a degree. I just think that when you do that you should be aware of the possibility of not gaining on that return and don't blame others if you don't.

Read Article about Trina Thompson suing Monroe College.

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Nastia Liukin Just Won't Quit

Nastia Liukin just won't quit. She has 14 World and Olympic Medals, 5 of them from the most recent 2008 Beijing Olympics. She is the reigning Olympic All Around Champion which is the dream come true of any Elite Gymnast. She has endorsements up the yin yang to the point where she is pretty much a millionaire. She has all kinds of amazing opportunities being handed to her right and left. Her entire year after the Olympics were a whirlwind of appearances, star studded events, photo shoots and travel. And yet...she returns to the gym. Back to the blood, sweat, tears, and pain. Back to 6 hours of training 6 days a week at the gym where it all started. At the age of 20 in a sport where girls are considered practically over the hill veteran by age 18. In a sport where whether or not you continue depends upon if your body will hold up to the pounding. Gymnastics is hard. Injuries, surgeries, and working out with pain is all part of the package and yet she just can't get enough. I cannot even imagine having all of the discipline and dedication to deal with all of that day in and day out. How does she find the motivation when she has already achieved so much? She has already spent a lifetime in the gym and she wants to go back when most Olympic All Around Champions take their gold medals and run.

Going into the Olympics she wasn't even truly the favorite due to injury, "age", and the hot shot dynamo Shawn Johnson who was winning everything in site leading up to the main event. She fell all over the place at 07 Nationals and placed second to Shawn in 08. Nastia would not be denied. She kept fighting and her determination paid off. I was rooting for her. I favor artistry over raw power in gymnastics. Nastia is absolutely beautiful on every event. Breathtaking. She makes acrobatics that should not be humanly possible look easy. You can't take a bad picture of her. I am in awe of her talent. She was clearly born to do this. All you have to do is take one look at her in action to see that and I am thrilled to get to do just that again. She is only focusing on two events to start out but the sky really is the limit for her. The road to London 2012 starts with USA Nationals August 12Th in Dallas and with the heart of a champion Nastia is leading the charge.

Click here for another great Nastia video that illustrates her determination and beauty over the years. I absolutely get goose bumps just from watching it.

Read article: Nastia On October 2009 Worlds
News | Inside Gymnastics Magazine

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The Women's All Around portion of the 2009 US Nationals will be televised on Saturday August 15th on NBC.

Eat This, Not That - The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution From Men's Health

Eat This, Not That - The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution From Men's Health

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I really like Men's Health's "Eat This Not That" concept. The idea is not about dieting and eliminating an entire kind of food but more about making better choices and still getting to eat foods you like. Without compromising your waist band. Here is one of the latest about healthy food swaps at fast food restaurants. I used to and still do have a tendency to try to separate foods into "good" and "bad"-what I can eat and what I can't. This in turn kind of gets me into that food restriction mode which is not the healthiest thing for me. The idea of basic food swaps sort of reinforces the notion that I CAN eat little bit of everything if I want to. By simply swapping secret sauce for mustard and ketchup I can still eat that delicious hamburger and save myself some calories so that I don't feel guilty about eating it. I don't have to eliminate entire food groups because I have decided they are "bad."