Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Gym Virgin gets pumped

I’ll concede that I was born with pretty good genes, but there’s a point in time (and if truth be told, I reached it a few years ago) where some effort is required to maintain the chassis. However, as mentioned in an earlier post, I have an aversion to paying for services that I can do myself for free. And since exercise falls into this category, I just couldn’t bring myself to join a gym.

I tried to remedy the situation on my own–by walking, biking, etc., but I knew my meager efforts weren’t quite cutting it. So last fall when a new fitness center opened very close to my house, I thought: Maybe it’s time. For one thing, the gym was running a Grand Opening special. For another, numerous medical studies have concluded that people with my husband’s condition benefit from regular exercise. So having a convenient place to exercise would not only help me get in shape–it would actually be therapeutic for him. Therefore a gym membership was an easy expense to justify for that reason alone. But would joining a gym translate into actually working out?

photoWe took a tour of the facility and signed up for a membership on the spot. The membership included a free consult with a personal trainer (designed for the purpose of up-selling a fitness package), so we scheduled the consult for a few days later. The training director put me through some basic fitness tests that underscored the fact that I needed some help. While my height/weight/BMI were all within a good range, my flexibility, endurance and strength were not. Faced with the offer of special introductory pricing for a package of personal training sessions, I had to make a shrewd financial decision. We had already joined and would be paying a monthly fee—sunk costs. If we never actually went to the gym, we’d join the millions of Americans who pay a monthly membership that funds nothing but good intentions. I knew I needed some accountability, so I signed up for a year’s worth of training sessions.

My personal trainer is a petite, pretty blonde who is probably underestimated on a regular basis by the men she meets outside the gym. And I pity the man who makes that mistake. 😉 To kick off our first session, she asked me some questions about my fitness routine and experience. I told her I was a gym virgin and didn’t even know how to use most of the machines. In short, I told her: “Assume I know nothing. Assume everything needs work.”

With this liberal direction, Marcia got down to business. She took me over to the free weights and handed me a 40 lb. barbell. “Okay, stomach in, butt out,” she ordered. “Girls out! Shoulders back!” she continued, coaxing me into a posture that my mother had been discouraging in me since puberty. “Stick ’em out! Be shameless! Okay, now bend over slowly… There you go!” The back of the gym is where all the serious iron-pumpers hang out, and I could see their amused smirks as my trainer ordered me about.

And so the Gym Virgin mastered the exaggerated, floozy stance necessary to properly execute a Romanian Deadlift (at least, I think that’s what it’s called).

Marcia alternately encourages and challenges me to try progressively heavier weights (check out those squats). And while I still feel like a weakling when I see what Marcia can do, I’ve found that I actually enjoy my workouts. The slow progress is my own darn fault since my training appointment is the only time I get to the gym some weeks.  This proves my accountability theory correct, but I’m sticking with it—and am starting to develop some pretty buff arms.

photo-2Perhaps as important as the physical benefit is the psychological boost that comes from getting out of the house and being active on a cold winter’s evening. Or realizing that I’m still capable of learning new skills and healthy habits. Or maybe it’s just having an excuse to have fun and act a little shameless in pursuit of a better bod. 🙂

Finding your happy place

For me, there is nothing in the world like being out dancing with girlfriends. I probably should be saying something like “having children,” “watching a beautiful sunset,” or “accomplishing a long-term goal.” But if I am being perfectly honest, my true happy place is out with girls dancing. It is the perfect pairing of two favorite things.

Dancing: My husband and kids know at any time Mom may throw on a playlist of a random genre and start a dance party around the house. It may be pop, glam rock, alternative, heavy metal, hip hop or even country (usually inspired by my last visit to the cabin and the local dance bar). Lately my morning routine has been blasting “Chicken Fried” and singing and dancing for the family. They find me a bit annoying but I’m hoping somewhere … deep down … they secretly find me fun and silly. How else do you break up a morning of crabby kids, a grumbling husband and facing another crazy day at the office? Especially since running away  does not seem to be an option.

Girlfriends: I don’t think I have to do too much explaining on this. Most likely, just seeing the word made you smile. These are those to whom you can say whatever you want to and they just get it. Some are really close and know all your intimate secrets. Others are fabulous neighbors, coworkers, workout partners or a  even random meet-up. They are the honest women who don’t try to tell you life is perfect, but are just there and get it with you. They make life perfect. Okay, I am gushing, but I do recognize when I am blessed.

So, combine these two fabulous things that make me feel completely free, totally myself,  and always put a huge smile on my face  – mix in with a couple drinks (the cherry on the top) – and I have a moment of selfish bliss. And that moment helps get me through a lot of other kinds of times.

I am hoping there are others out there who would consider volunteering or overcoming a challenge to be their happy place. They help add some balance to this world. (My runner-up happy place is on the couch – quiet with no one else around – with a glass of wine.) But, the important thing is knowing where it is and visiting it as often as you can.

True Confessions II: Freak outs and phobias

Did you think our earlier post was the full extent of our weirdness? Heck no, we’ve got plenty more where that came from…

Let’s talk about fears, aversions and phobias. Heights? Spiders? Nah, after all those are fairly normal–and one of the things I have a fear of? Being normal. 🙂

Stormy: Centipedes. There’s no reason they need so many legs! Millipedes? 10x worse! I once had a dream that I was laying in my bed and looked up to see a centipede above me on the ceiling. Then it dropped into my bed. I screamed, threw back the covers and leapt out of bed, nearly giving my poor husband a heart attack. At that point, I noticed that the room was completely dark, and there was no way that I could have seen a monkey on my ceiling, let alone a centipede. Frankly, I’d prefer a monkey.

Jaws_KitKat: Sharks. Now that seems like a pretty healthy and normal fear. I mean, sharp teeth, that scary fin circling you as it closes in for the attack, the Jaws theme song … scary stuff. But I must admit, my phobia is a bit extreme. Whenever I am in the ocean, I always make sure there are other people in front of me in the water to ensure plenty of other shark bait, allowing me to run as others are gobbled up. I am often harassed about a fear-induced comment I made once about how I need a gun whenever I am in the ocean so I could shoot myself if a shark was going to eat me. And, don’t get me going on my ultimate fear of my plane crashing into the water and surviving until the sharks attack. Thank goodness for airport bars prior to flying.

Stormy: Like Mitt Romney, I’m no fan of Big Bird. I have nothing against educational children’s shows as a whole (although, let’s face it: most of them are drivel). However, I detest the big yellow bird. His voice grates on me, he’s a bit stupid (bird brain?) and worst of all, he’s just plain dull. Dullness is unforgivable in a Muppet. Give me Gonzo anyday… Or better yet, Animal. He’s kinda sexy.

KitKat: Wet bread. Yuck! I do not get dipping toast in egg yolk, grilled cheese in tomato soup or crackers in chili. It turns a perfectly delicious starch into a mushy, baby food consistency. I am gagging a bit as I type. If I pack a sandwich for lunch, the tomatoes and any mayo is packed separately so my bread won’t have any soggy spots when I eat it. Anyone who wants my help doing the dishes will be extra careful to throw all bread items into the garbage and not the sink. The ultimate worst – dirty water soaked bread. If I even see a piece of wet bread stuck to a plate or floating in the sink, I will call it quits and someone else is on dish duty.

Stormy: Belly buttons. They’re like some sort of mystery portal–a connection between the life force that spawned me and my own individual identity. I know that doctors tie the umbilical cord off after childbirth to create the bellybutton, so part of me worries that the darn thing will unravel and all my guts will spew forth. Is that really so irrational? After all, they were invented by man, not God–and we all know, man makes mistakes! This phobia extends to touching my bellybutton: Don’t go there! I’ll take your hand off with a cleaver if you come within a 3 inch radius of it. (Ask my husband, Stumpy. He once rolled over in his sleep and his arm flopped over on my stomach. Now he’s a lefty.) Navel rings? Over my dead body.

KitKat: What freak ever made satin sheets a sexy bedroom item? There is nothing that would have me running from a room faster, no matter who was under those covers. I can’t stand even a hint of satin trim on anything. The feel of it makes me shudder. My sister used to like scratching on it and then watching me cover my ears and go into a fetal position. It is like fingernails down a blackboard for me. Back when women wore suntan nylons, someone scratching their leg was a form of torture for me. If you have an old pair, feel them–very similar to satin.

Stormy: Wool. As people grow older, it’s recommended that you start communicating your wishes on critical end-of-life decisions to your children. Here’s mine: When I’m in the nursing home, DON’T LET THEM PUT WOOL SOCKS ON ME! OR A WOOL BLANKET! In fact, I’ve mentioned this not only to my kids, but to my husband, nieces, nephews and sibs, just to make sure my bases are covered (BUT NOT IN WOOL!) This is not a quirk fear…Somewhere in my early 30s, I developed an acute sensitivity to wool. I can try on a sweater in a store and, within 10 seconds, identify that there’s wool in it. As little as 5% in a blended fabric can start a rash. I can only wear wool skirts if they are lined and my top is tucked into my tights. And if I wear a wool coat, I have to have a turtleneck or scarf wrapped around my neck. As someone who lives in chilly Minnesota, I live in perpetual fear of wool. Thank God for cashmere!

KitKat: Stormy left an aversion out that as mothers we share: The Berenstain Bears. There are a few things playing against them: To begin with the droning preachiness about every and any lesson you care to know and some you don’t. The Little Brute Family There is no humor behind the stories and boring characters. To top it off, the books are really long. Not the book I am looking to read as I am quickly trying to get my kids to sleep and finally enjoy some quiet time. Check out The Little Brut Family. Stormy gave that to me as a recommended family favorite. Reminded me of my family (before they turned polite), sense of humor,  and a quick bedtime read.

Where did all my visions go?

Well, this year’s vision board was not as smooth of a process as last time. Perhaps it was a bit of the first-time novelty wearing off. Or, since I threw out to the online world that I would share it, I knew/I felt like everything I selected would be scrutinized by any followers (since there are only a handful of you at this point, this probably was a bit silly, but I have never been one who likes to look like an under performer).

Now don’t get me wrong. The swilling-of-wine and laughing-with-friends part of this project was a blast. But, I could not find the right pictures. Actually, I had no idea what to put on my board. Instead of inspiring, it had turned into a to-do list project. Witnessing others easily pull theirs together did not help matters.

So there my board sat empty, except for the smiling girl in the rain brought over from last year. I did find a photo of a kid blowing bubbles forming the word dream. That seemed like an obvious one since I had no big aspirations for 2013 – I might as well prepare for 2014.

“Knock off a few easy ones,” a friend suggested, “don’t just think big.” That got me on a bit of a roll…take better care of my nails, try wearing my hair in different styles, a clock to remind me of stricter time-outs with the kids along with adding a “drop everything to read” ritual to try to get control over my children (spurred by a turn off-the-electronics battle as I left the house).

Other easy ones to add an were photos representing getting into better shape. With finding-the-perfect-stomach-and-butt-photo a common search for everyone, the Yoga and Shape magazines were very popular. And soon a drinking game was created: Toast and drink every time someone calls out a spotting of the “It’s a Yeast Party” advertisement. Yes, I am serious that is an actual ad (and placed enough to create a game out of it).

By the end of the night, I had a board put together.  It was fine. (Anyone who knows me knows fine is not a word I like or aspire to in any aspect of my life.)

This weekend I decided to head up to the cabin to “clean” with a girlfriend (a post later on that). I decided to grab my board, thinking maybe I would be able to add something. I wasn’t quite ready to give up.

Well, flipping through magazines I happened upon a photo of a girl. (Is it more proper to say woman? Sorry if I offend anyone, but I am still in denial about my age and prefer girl.) Now I can’t explain what I liked about the photo. Sure she was attractive, but she also  just seemed put together in an eclectic way. Confident. Interesting. Not perfect. I don’t know exactly what it was, but something clicked. I tore off my last year’s spokesperson and put on the new girl. That was it. I finally looked at my board and felt inspired.

KitKat's vision for 2013

KitKat’s vision for 2013

I didn’t achieve that pure happiness of the blonde in the rain from last year’s board. And, I didn’t feel compelled to achieve it this time. This is a different year and I am different. I still want to settle my mind, teach myself to live in the present, and embrace contentment. But, maybe I want pieces of my weirdness, craziness, longing for more to also stay part of me. Be confident to be me  … temperamental, quirky, goofy, stubborn, spontaneous … the whole mishmash of stuff (naughty and nice) that—as a whole—people hired me, befriended me and married me for. I want to improve me without losing me – the good as well as the not-ideal. In this business of life, marriage, kids, career, I have already given up enough of me.

And I’ll tell you … sounds a bit silly, but a few times when I’ve felt my head judging myself, worrying or over-analyzing, I have focused on that picture, stopped myself and switched gears. (Well, and a few times I went down my crazy rabbit hole – but the girl in the photo I picked would give herself a break for an occasional slip up!)

I won’t bore you with what all the photos and words stand for (I will refer to them here and there in other posts) – but I’d love to hear some things others would put on their board. Remember, don’t just think big. I actually got the nail polish out and did my nails after walking by my board and being reminded. Maybe these things really do work. Heck, even promotes doing one.

Frugality vs. Sanity: The fine art of creative rationalization

I was raised by parents who were children during The Great Depression. This has served me well in many ways… My parents instilled in us kids an appreciation for hard work and frugality that has put me into a relatively comfortable financial situation. However, it’s had an interesting side effect on my psyche and that is a knee-jerk aversion toward paying for services that I can do myself for much cheaper. A prime example: House cleaning. As one of nine kids, you can bet I was taught how to clean. However, once my career started to take off, I hated spending my limited free time cleaning—yet hiring someone else to clean seemed so “elite.” It felt like a slap in the face of my mother and mother-in-law, both of whom maintained large family households without any domestic help (well, except for the help provided by the aforementioned large families–did I mention I know how to clean?).

feather dusterA discussion with a coworker at the time changed my view. She relayed some advice from an executive in the company who had similar concerns over hiring a lawn service. He asked himself whether his limited free time was better spent mowing the lawn or focusing on his career, and he chose the latter, knowing his executive salary would more than offset the cost of the lawn service. This perspective made economic sense, as well as career sense. I had found the perfect rationalization to alleviate any guilt I felt about hiring housecleaners: I wasn’t a lazy slug or spoiled princess–I was a competent working mother making a strategic investment in my career. Bam!

Over the years, I was able to apply a similar rationale to a few other paid services. For example, hiring a plowing service is easy to justify with my husband’s disability and I creatively rationalize my rather expensive hair cuts/color by going to my niece who is a senior stylist at a local salon (because I’m supporting a relative in her career, haha).

The one line that I could not cross—until recently—was paying for a gym. This is most directly related to my upbringing. Thankfully, my Dear Old Dad is still on this planet, but if he weren’t, the thought of me paying a company money for the privilege of sweating would make him roll over in his grave. Actually, exercise for the sake of exercise would confound him when there is a world of productive exercise—in the old days we called them chores—just ripe for the pickin’… (And if the “chore” is weeding the yard, that’s a very literal analogy!)

I figured what my Dad doesn’t know can’t hurt him. And I knew that a lack of exercise could have much more expensive consequences down the line–in the case of my parents, consequences like diabetes, joint problems, high blood pressure–things that can be prevented or lessened through exercise. So guess what I decided to do?

I’ll tell you about my fitness adventures in a future post. Meanwhile, they say everything has its price… So I’m curious: What are the jobs that are most worthwhile for you to outsource?

True Confessions…

I know what you’re thinking: “These women represented themselves as ‘more messed up’ than me. So far, they’re pretty average… Trouble juggling work and families, blah, blah, blah, trouble keeping New Year’s Resolutions, YAWN. Bring on the idiosyncrasies!”

Okay, since you put it like that…

IMHO, there are two types of idiosyncrasies. 1) The weird thing that you suspect is actually normal and 2) the weird thing you know is weird. Case in point: There are mornings where I have trouble deciding what to wear. I’ll try something on and it just looks bad or I’m not feeling like wearing a wool skirt or whatever. So, I change clothes several times before settling on an outfit and leaving the house. This is weird, but I suspect it’s pretty common, so I don’t give it much thought.

I remember a conversation with KitKat and another coworker where this idiosyncrasy came up. The other coworker–let’s call her Alissa–maintained that she NEVER did this. She simply woke up, decided on an outfit, got dressed and never looked back. While this may be true (Alissa was/is quite decisive and put together), I will submit that she’s the freak in this scenario. This is just not normal female behavior!

Okay, so that’s my example of the first type of eccentricity. The following would be the second type…

Stormy: I sometimes get dressed, will iron something to wear, put it on, notice I missed a few wrinkles and will try to iron my clothes while wearing them–simply because I can’t be bothered to undress again. This is a bit tricky, as my body is not completely flat (although some parts–unfortunately–nearly resemble an ironing board). Also, the temp of the iron has to be just so: Hot enough to smooth the wrinkles, but not so hot that one has to embarrass oneself explaining an odd assortment of second-degree burns to the ER doc.

KitKat: I have a thing for vampires. This is not just a confession to liking tween books such as Twilight. (Though they weren’t bad.) More like if I made my “free list,” it would be filled with vampire stars. It makes no sense, I understand even if they weren’t pretend they would be killers yet I find them completely sexy and fascinating. I root for them in movies and shows and feel a bit (quite a bit) envious of the lucky girls they turn. Interesting to find your self sounding weird and demented writing about your secret confessions.

Stormy: I drink coffee in the shower. In fact, I had a shelf put in at just the right height for my morning cuppa. It’s on the other end of the shower from the showerhead, so no water gets in the cup to dilute it (I like my coffee quite strong, with a liberal amount of half-and-half and some Ghiradelli ground chocolate). Although to the naked eye (get it, naked, because we’re in the shower?) it would appear to be a shelf for shampoo… Don’t judge me.

KitKat: Though no one has ever defined me as a clean freak, anal, or overly particular … actually I would usually be classified as the opposite of all these terms … I have a strange issue with cushions. If one side of my couch gets sat in all the time, I will purposely make time to even it out. This is the same for sides of pillows or any other cushion-like objects that may get unevenly flattened if ignored. Yes, I even keep track of which way I have laid on the couch to read so the next time I can lay the opposite way. I also watch if guests are over-favoring one side and when they leave I give the other some attention. My husband and sister find this oddity of mine an amusing way to torture me.

Stormy: Sometimes when my kids were little and wearing me out, I’d send them to bed. Often they would protest, “But I’m not tired!” to which I’d respond, “Yes, but I’m tired OF you…” For the record, they’re all pretty decent adults now, so I don’t think it scarred them.

KitKat: Though I truly believe my hair gets better not being washed everyday (yes sometimes the third day is its best), I am insane about shaving. I shave every day and often twice if I have plans at night. It doesn’t matter if anyone will see or touch my legs. I want them smooth. I can spend a lot of time shaving over and over the same area not sure what is hair or goosebumps because I am losing my hot water. This also puts me on a constant quest for the perfect razor. I have tried every recommendation and still have yet to come across THE ONE. I am open to suggestions?

Visions for what is ahead

Unlike Stormy, I usually forget about setting resolutions. By the time January 1st passes, I am still catching up on my normal tasks such as scheduling a mammogram (could the postcard reminder I received in September be right – didn’t I just have one?) and getting my oil changed. (Yes, I realize oil should be changed more often – baby steps.) It is usually not until someone asks me about my resolutions that I quickly throw some out to the world….umm, eat healthier, start a budget, don’t over-schedule myself…basically the same things I have been saying and not doing for years.

Well last year, I was convinced by a group of girlfriends to try a vision board. If you don’t know what this is, it means creating a collage of photos and placing it where you will see it daily to inspire you to achieve your goals. Sounded a bit hokie to me but I decided sitting around with girlfriends, having wine and giggling over silly wishes would make up for the crafty, spiritual part of the assignment. What did I have to lose?

It was a great night of flipping through magazines together looking for just the right imagery clearly emulating our goals for 2012. Even more fun as the evening progressed and the wine bottles emptied. And, you can always count on girlfriends to see you clearly and provide some honest suggestions you hadn’t even thought of. I came home excited, lighthearted from a night with the girls and ready to give it a whole-hearted try. And true to form, the first couple weeks I looked at it every day. I even knocked off a couple of goals right away. Create some play lists on my phone – check! Organize my closet – check again! January hadn’t even ended and I was rolling through my goals.

And then also true to form, it lost my attention as I was side-tracked by other things. That is until two days ago when I got the email that it was time to meet, share what came true, and make a board for 2013.  Yikes! I couldn’t even remember what was on mine. I also knew some of the other girls really nailed theirs. (It is a bad sign when you remember other’s goals more than your own.) For example, one girl had visions of meeting someone, falling in love and getting married. I remember thinking, shouldn’t she just start with the meeting someone this year? Well I was proven wrong. She got married a month ago. The pressure was on. Especially since, I seem to look at even vision boards as a competitive sport. I dug through my closet and pulled out my board to see how I did.

KitKat's 2012 Vision Board

KitKat’s 2012 Vision Board

  1.  Tennis – check! I took two lessons with Stormy.
  2. Concentrate on career – big check! I got a new, higher-level job.
  3. Yoga – check! I took a few classes.
  4. Start writing – Now that’s interesting, I totally forgot about putting that on. The blog has to count. Check again!
  5. Girlfriends – check! It has been an amazing year of building even stronger bonds with my friends. (More on that in later posts.)
  6. Kids  – Work in progress. If I remember correctly my intention was to do more things with them, enjoy them while they are young, and be a better mom. (Does forgetting this goal make me a bad mom?)
  7. Make time for my Grandmas – check! I haven’t visited them but I have been calling and emailing much more. (Love that one of my grandma’s discovered email, even if her caps lock always seems to be turned on.)
  8. “Stop” – unaccomplished. A word I get told once in awhile when my mind is whirling and over analyzing (when I am caught in a loop) to remind me it is all in my head. That one may need to move to this year’s board, along with the stomach I wanted and haven’t achieved. Actually, I don’t like that word and my head won’t stop – I am who I am. That one won’t move forward to a new year. I don’t need to fail two years in a row.

Overall, I was a bit shocked to discover how many of the forgotten things on the board had actually become part of my year. Perhaps it is like a horoscope that you can always twist to make things mentally fit your scenario.

This year, I am not sure what to put on my board (besides the perfect stomach). Maybe, simply the picture of the woman smiling in the rain. I put her on last year’s board because she looked so happy. Not just content, but joyful. Perhaps this year it is as simple as figuring out what things bring that joy to me. And finding ways to fully enjoy those things (and STOP continuing, worrying about or analyzing those that don’t).

I’ll share my 2013 board next week. If you have some good ideas for my board I’d love to hear them, especially a few that I can knock off quick. I also just snatched up a Living Social coupon for a private horseback lesson giving me one more check for my 2012 board. I have always worked best under pressure!


So, it goes without saying that a woman with advanced control issues can’t resist the clean slate that is New Year’s. I’m seduced by the potential of any sentence that begins, “I resolve to…” Heck, I even like the word “resolve.” It sounds so decisive! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered more than 50 shades of grey (no, I haven’t read the book), and I occasionally crave simple, decisive action.

In short, I like resolutions…and while I’ve also been known to make them at the start of the school year and on Ash Wednesday for Lent, what better time than New Year’s to embrace my control-freaky-self and once again Resolve To Do Better?

Sometimes my resolutions are actions I’ve been considering for some time, but need additional motivation to tackle. Sometimes they’re just novelties that pop into my brain–things I think I should try (which explains how I ended up with a pair of snowshoes for Christmas this year). Currently, I have a long “to-do” list of things that other people might consider “resolutions” (you can see some of them on the banner graphic), but this is an on-going, lifelong list–a bucket list of sorts. I’ve been slowly tackling these one-by-one (including the one called “start a blog” wink, wink) and will continue working on them. Consequently, my resolutions this year aren’t going to consist of this type of “action item,” but rather they were inspired by a recent conversation with a friend and a couple of articles I’ve read. They would probably be more appropriately categorized as “attitude adjustments.” Here they are:

  • 1)   Assume good intentions in other people – I decided this would be a good exercise for someone who’s a bit of a cynic (e.g., me) and it has been. But interestingly, I’ve been able to take situations that would have ticked me off in the past and reframed them in my mind, giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. Often my initial negative assumptions actually were wrong (imagine that!) and in general I think this one will help me reap more positive interactions with others and develop a more positive outlook over time.
  • 2)   Do something nice each day for myself and another person – This one sounds a little pathetic—one would hope that this would come naturally and wouldn’t require a conscious effort. But if I’m honest with myself, I know there are complete days (usually workdays) where I operate on autopilot and neglect this very simple objective. I’ve been mostly succeeding at remembering this one, but I’m hoping I can just make it a habit.
  • 3)   Don’t overthink things – This is a great one for me to work on. I’m hypercritical about EVERYTHING and this results in 1) analysis paralysis, 2) dissecting every idea until I decide it’s no longer worth pursuing 3) thinking about an unpleasant task for longer than it would take to actually do it. 4) Generalized anxiety about things over which I have no control over anyway. This resolution has been the hardest one for me to keep. I’ve had some small successes–for instance, it’s been a godsend when it comes to my productivity: When a thought crosses my mind (to workout, to clean something, etc.), I say to myself, “Don’t overthink it” and then just dive in and do it rather than running through mental excuses and stalling. On the other hand, I haven’t been quite as successful at applying it when it comes to those Big Important Thoughts. I still get caught up in worrying thoughts about my aging parents, my husband’s illness, my job, etc.–sometimes looping over and over in my head like that damn Gangnam Style video. 

These obsessing-at-3 a.m.-thoughts are when I truly need to stop overthinking and just get my mind into a different mode, whether it’s getting a good night’s sleep, learning a new language or writing a blog post.

Are there any other resolution-minded, control freaks out there? What are your resolutions and why?

How this came about: KitKat’s story

I woke up one day as a grown up. No one tells you how to be that. Sometimes I excel at it and other times I am tripping through it.

Looking at myself from the outside, I see a woman busy raising two young kids, enjoying great family and friends, and building a demanding but good career. Shouldn’t that be enough? Isn’t it all I ever wanted? If I have it all, why do I fantasize about giving it all up and running away to sell toe rings on a beach? Maybe I need to add another distraction to my already over-scheduled life?

Usually a glass of wine and good girlfriends get me over the hump. Lately, the more I talk with others, the more I find out I’m not alone in my contradictions and craziness. Take Stormy for example, she was my professional mentor, the one who always provided words of wisdom through my ups and downs, gave sound advice on marriage, parenting, and career choices. Yep, the one who had it all together! So as our friendship grew over the years and we became peers, I was surprised (and secretly thrilled) to discover not even she had it all figured out and put together.

Since talking and sharing is what has helped us get through some major and minor internal struggles, we’re hoping this blog will allow other women to know they aren’t crazy – or if they are, well at least realize they are in good company. I also am hoping that by writing down and examining all the contradictions running though my head, I will finally discover that perfect balance between adding new excitement and being content with what’s already there. I have a feeling that this is easier said than done.

How this came about: Stormy’s story

For many of my adult years, I was consumed by activity. I married and started a family when I was relatively young, while simultaneously working part-time in my chosen field (marketing/communications) and earning a bachelor’s degree.

Once I had degree in hand, I redoubled my career efforts and took a challenging, full-time marketing job—where I met KitKat (more on that later). I also began a process I’d been considering forever—adopting a preschooler. This was the Holy Grail of my existence: something I had felt called to do my whole life. I have never felt so full of purpose and clarity as when I was working on my daughter’s adoption. Afterward, with my newest child settled into our home life like she was always meant to be there (because, in fact, she was), I felt a sense of fulfillment, but at the same time, a bit aimless. I felt like a bride after the big day or a kid on the 26th of December and was left wondering, “Now what?”

After crossing such big to-dos off my life’s list, being a standard-issue working mother of three didn’t seem like much of a challenge. Although my company did its best to keep me on my toes by changing its brand monthly (that’s only a slight exaggeration), I felt adrift for several years.

Whether you think nature abhors a vacuum or God has a twisted sense of humor, my world was turned upside down in 2003 when my husband was diagnosed with a serious degenerative condition. Wait a minute, God…This wasn’t what I had in mind when I said I needed a purpose! Couldn’t I just adopt another kid instead?

This kicked off what has been a decade of struggle. I knew in my heart that my new “calling” was to be a supportive wife to my husband as he battles his illness, but inwardly I rebelled against that role. (If you ask my friends, family or colleagues to describe me, I can assure you that “caregiver” will not come up anywhere in the description.) So, while I was committed to doing right by my husband, I felt that rising to this particular challenge might kill me in the process.

Denial seemed easier than acceptance, so having taken a decade to earn my BA as a part-time student, I plunged back into the familiar distraction of school. But once my MBA was complete, I finally had to face my new reality. My relationship with my husband needed to be renegotiated at the same time my kids were leaving the nest. I suddenly had more free time than I’ve ever had in my adult life–time to pursue a lifetime of interests that had always been put on hold. But now my husband’s condition complicated things, and I had a burning motivation to escape the premature “senior” lifestyle that his illness seemed to be forcing upon me.

Which brings us back to KitKat—and this blog. KitKat and I have known each other for almost 15 years. In that time, we’ve supported each other through a number of transitions: marriage, infertility, childbirth, adoption, career changes, unemployment, grad school—not to mention hairstyles and fashion trends. I’m a few years older, more established in our mutual field and have double the experience with marriage and kids. Therefore, she’s always looked to me for good advice and usually I can provide it. However, I’ve recently experienced the Peter Principle where my life’s choices are concerned—I’ve risen to the level of my own incompetence and it’s clear that I need a new approach to the rest of my life.

Although we are at different life stages, KitKat and I have similar temperaments—we challenge each other, but can always rely on the other to withhold judgment and to provide sound counsel. We’re on similar journeys with different motivations, different tactics and probably different ideas of what a “happy ending” will look like. But we’ve decided to tackle our individual challenges together and invite you, our readers, along for the ride. We believe “there is strength in numbers,” “some of us are smarter than all of us,” and “there is no I in team” (oops—that last one slipped in). We believe there are probably others out there who can relate to our thinking, who are attempting to solve problems of their own, and who might offer up a new perspective that provides insight into our own issues.

That being said, we’re looking forward to learning about ourselves as we continue to challenge each other—and to hear your thoughts and advice along the way—even if it’s all “easier said than done.”