Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to tackle a to-do list

I am constantly beating myself up for all of the things I don’t get done. The never ending, always growing to-do list is my daily reminder of all the things I failed to accomplish each day. Around 9:00 p.m. each night, once I am home from work, everyone is fed, back from various activities and a bit of quiet has settled in the house, I look at my to-do list on the counter and inevitably choose to sit on the couch and watch a show instead of tackling something productive.

Sadly, I end up not even enjoying my relaxation time because I am haunted by thoughts of what I should be doing instead and how I failed to make the most of my time. These nagging feelings continue to build nightly. Then, eventually, one evening I am so overwhelmed, crabby and stressed that I lash out. Like when I walk into my daughter’s room, filled with the strangest hoarding collections that could trigger an avalanche. Or I open up my son’s daily grade information online and see homework assignments he didn’t turn in or a low score on a quiz in an easy subject…which just proves his lack of effort. (The negatives to both a parent and child from giving parents access to a kid’s daily school life is a whole other blog in itself.)

I will say both the kids deserve “the talk” they get after these encounters, but maybe not with the level of frustration present when I snap.

After one such instance, I finally decided it was time to whip myself into shape. I decided to organize and figure out what I was actually doing with all my time so I made a list one day. (Yep, another list!)

  • Woke up for Pilates
  • Came back home and got kids ready and on the bus
  • Went to work
  • Grocery shopped over lunch
  • Back to work
  • Got dinner served and eaten before son’s practice
  • Answered a few quick work emails
  • Helped daughter finish cereal box book project
  • Quizzed son for the next day’s science test
  • Tucked in daughter
  • Went back to daughter’s room to explain why I couldn’t go on tomorrow’s  field trip (was less comforting and more annoyed as 20 minutes passed until I yelled,“Just go to sleep!”)
  • Looked at to-do list but didn’t do anything
  • Watched a show
  • Went to bed

The next morning I looked at my “what happened today” list and was somewhat impressed with all I got done. Plus, the cereal project box wasn’t part of the normal routine and did suck up my time that was available to work off my to-do list. Also, usually grocery shopping would be on my to-do list for the week, but running out of milk that morning forced the quick lunch-break shopping trip. I decided to add those two items on my to-do list and then immediately crossed them off. Strangely, that felt great.

In fact it felt so good to cross something off the list, I started adding things like, “do the dishes,” “work out,” and “fold laundry” to my weekly to-do list just so I could actually cross something off. It was a high being able to cross something out each night. This “cheat” helped me let go of all the other things I wasn’t actually getting done. It also helped me feel like I was a fairly productive person. I certainly felt better while on the couch watching Orphan Black.

I am now in the process of changing jobs with an unheard of luxury of one week off before I start my new position. This week, I had big plans of productivity with all the extra hours I was granted. So, what did I do? I made an even bigger list, of course. The first day I actually was able to cross off “organize the linen closet” but that was it. Though, I did think often about how in 20 minutes I would get up and conquer more of my list.

“Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.” Vanilla Sky.

(Yep, I should have added watching old movies with a glass of wine in the middle of the day to my “week off” to-do list.)

Until Thursday morning, I really didn’t stress too much about not doing anything at all. But then I felt that shadow of panic and self-blame approaching. Thank you to Stormy for the reminder that maybe I just needed to relax and do nothing. I am really happy her advice wasn’t just to get up and start doing something. So, I added “relax” to my list and enjoyed the day free of guilt.

Interestingly, on Friday I woke up, made coffee, organized my own closet, got rid of clothes, cleaned the house, bought a living room rug, wrote a blog, signed the kids up for summer camp, did some work to prepare for my new gig, and planned the next week’s meals. Maybe there is something to be said for giving yourself a break once in awhile.

Another Year, Another Goal

A more appropriate title may be, another year and hopefully a goal. I don’t mean my vision board goals, which I never even put together in 2015. The kind of goal I am working toward is achieved on the ice.

Though life hasn’t slowed down and I am behind with all my normal to-dos, I have spent the year with a feeling that I need more. That something was missing. (Perhaps the curse of ditching the vision board.) Not coming up with any good ideas, I decided instead to try out hockey.

The idea first formed this summer but came to fruition while I was working off some of the forced hockey parent volunteer time in the concession stand. (Stay away from the slushies. Anything that can stain your skin can’t be great for your stomach!) During my shift, another hockey mom working with me mentioned she has been playing hockey for the past three years. She had fallen for the game watching her son through the years and decided to give it a try herself. She found it one of the hardest and most thrilling things she has taken on – both physically and mentally challenging. That aroused my interest. She also assured me that there were all levels of play including the most basic beginner teams. The association does a formal assessment to place you anywhere from AAA to C3. C3 being a lower division than the lowest found in the kids league. That is where her team is ranked, and in fact she just got her first goal ever this year.

I started thinking that maybe I would try the summer clinics offered to women who wanted to play and then join a team next season. That night I went to the WHAM (Women’s Hockey Association of Minnesota) website and saw there was an upcoming assessment. Being impulsive and impatient is my nature, and with summer clinics so far out I decided why not just jump in feet first? I was sure I could figure it out. I had watched enough games. So with confidence, I registered myself even though I have never been on hockey skates. (It couldn’t be that different from being on figure skates?) The season was half over so I would be unlikely to get picked up by a team but I knew getting assessed would commit me to the following year and get me focused on a training plan. The next morning, to the dismay of my horrified son, I started trying on his old equipment and I was all set.

I was able to get three practices in at a local rink before the assessment. I used the time to try to learn to stop and skate backwards. I quickly found out that stopping in hockey skates is a totally different world from figure skates. I somewhat figured out stopping on one side, or more like turning myself into a half circle to slow me down. As for going backwards, I moved in that direction a little bit. I brushed it off that I would probably be offense at first anyway. I even started wondering if I possibly could make C2 level if I could score like I do in my son’s shooting room. I was having so much fun daydreaming, feeling proud and laughing at myself that I amused myself out of realizing how bad I was. You would think it would have been apparent to me with the comparison of the six year olds darting around the rink.

Then came assessment day. Recent college players down to … well down to me … gathered at Augsburg Ice Arena to show off our skills. The first half hour was skating, passing and shooting drills. All of which I failed miserably. The puck is much easier to shoot in the basement when both it and I are standing still versus crossing paths on the ice. And for the skating and stopping drills, they did not go well forwards or backwards. I was becoming concerned since the last half an hour was a scrimmage.

That is where I shined. Not in my skills, but in sweat and smiles. It was so fun hockey sayingpretending to play. I didn’t really do anything but chase the puck around during my shifts and watch the good players actually move the puck and play. I also learned it is very difficult seeing out of that cage, which was a good excuse when I completely missed a puck right by me. But even as bad as I was, it was fun to hear the other skaters on my bench cheer me on. I also loved how each two minutes on the ice had me dying for my next two minutes on the bench to catch my breath. It was exhilarating.

That night ranking came out. My name was registered as a C3 player. Seeing my name on the list felt like I won an award. Granted everyone made the list and I was the lowest ranking possible. Still, I told all my family the good news and emailed my hockey mom/player friend that I did it and would take clinics in the summer so I could be on a team the following winter. Next thing I know, I get an email back asking me to join her team. They were short players lately at games since the whole team has overbooked lives like mine. If I was willing to dedicate myself to showing up and practicing as much as I could, they would take me on so I would be ready next season as they try to advance to C2 play. I registered as a USA hockey member and signed on!

Thus far I have had one practice and one game. At the practice I didn’t embarrass myself too badly. Though one of the coaches took me aside and tried to teach me crossovers. Which basically is a more efficient way of skating, but first he has his work cut out for him just teaching me to trust lifting one skate up and trusting the other to glide on its edge. I prefer both skates firmly planted on the ice and even better a stick in my hand for extra balance support.

The first game went well in the fact that we won. Another plus, was that I have watched enough games to understand offsides and icing so I didn’t get the whistle blown on us.

Playing left wing at my first game - and still staying upright!

Playing left wing at my first game – and still staying upright!

My plan though was to get one goal or at least one assist. It would be my thank you to the team for taking a chance on me. I skated as fast as I could and often I would hear the coach yell to me “that is your puck!” meaning it was up to me to do something. I would have my eyes on it and a deep desire to take it and skate up to the opponents’ net. My biggest motivation was seeing the other team’s player also approaching and knowing if I didn’t at least hit it away from her I would have to skate all the way back across the ice again.Well, the closest I got to a break away was falling across the ice on my face trying to reach for the puck. No fairytale ending here. Three days later I am still sore and I have a bruise on my chin. But I can’t wait to get out there again.

I have never played a team sport and am excited to learn about being part of a team. Even the locker room is foreign to me but I like listening to everyone’s chatter and then the silence as the coaches came in for a pregame strategy. (Not that I could follow or carry out the moves they marked up the board with.) I still feel like a kid hoping to fit in and become one of them soon. So far, all the players have been encouraging and forgiving. Plus having the coaches pull me aside on tips and mistakes, even yell at me on the ice, is what makes me feel most included. They actually think I can maybe contribute.

It is a totally new feeling to be so new to something. As my teammate said, “It is not often as adults we have an opportunity to start the learning curve so low.” Physically and mentally there is so much to learn. It is draining and thrilling to push myself in a direction I have never tried. It has also made me realize how good these 12 and 13 year old boys are. It makes me truly appreciate the strength, skill and grace they have. It may tone down my yelling “move your skates” and “get that puck” as they race down the ice.

Wish me luck in the playoffs! If I have nothing else to offer the team, I am competitive and hopefully that drive will help make up for my lack of skill and talent. I am hoping to report back that I finished my first season with one goal.

Thank You Grandma – a “sort of” eulogy

In my last post I had mentioned a few lessons from my grandma. The post actually started as a lessons learned from both of my, let’s say “unique,” grandmas. But writing about both of these interesting ladies, who mean so much to me, was too big of a task to take on.

Well since my last post, my other grandma passed away. During a recent trip, I received a text that grandma fell and broke her hip and died an hour later during x-rays. She was battling dementia, so in many ways it was a blessing it went fast. I think she was ready to say goodbye awhile ago. I also know how lucky I was to have had 46 years with two grandmas (and hopefully many more with the remaining one).

My dad asked me to do a reading at the funeral. After finishing it up and getting ready to head down to the River where she lived to do my reading and say a final goodbye, I decided to post the reading. Not that I feel that others are interested in my random memories, but for a few other reasons:

  • Grandma liked being the center of attention. She would get a kick out of being on the Web.
  • During my writing, it hit me that I also am genetically predisposed to dementia. If that happens, maybe someone can pull up my blog and I can at least read about my past.
  • It lets me “cheat” a bit by reusing content I already wrote and I can now say “It is your turn, Stormy!” Let’s call it being efficient.

Thank You Grandma

I have never given a eulogy. I am not sure if there are “normal” requirements or expectations. I did try Google, the answer to everything. But anything I found sounded formulated, wasn’t personal, and didn’t sound like me nor like her. So, you are stuck with what I came up with on my own, which is simply sharing some memories. It may not be right (if there is a “right”) so bear with me…Grandma would have. She sat through countless shows, including costume changes, put on by my sister Kristin and me through the years. And always pretended to love them, no matter how awful the performance.

So much of my, and Kristin’s, childhood is wrapped in memories of grandma. We spent a lot of time there. With parents who were divorced and moved often, being at the cabin with grandma and grandpa was one of our few constant settings.

With a setting like this, how can you not love being at Grandma’s!

Now, if you know my grandma well, you can probably imagine she wasn’t the typical grandma characterized in storybooks. Though, she did bake the most incredible pies. Even when she got to the point where she didn’t have much else in her house when we came to visit (and we actually preferred she didn’t cook), she still would have a freshly baked fruit or pecan pie waiting for us. And yes dad, the pies for us continued long after she stopped having them waiting for her sons.

Grandma wasn’t always easygoing. Actually, she could be a bit difficult. The best way to describe it is that she acted like a child. Grandma spoke her mind, often without thinking. She liked things to be centered around her own needs. Often she would cut off her nose to spite her face, for example hiding in her bedroom pouting when she knew we would be leaving the next day versus just enjoying the day we actually had left. But on the flipside, that same childlike essence is what made her magical to her granddaughters. No other adult would sit on the floor playing paper dolls or Barbies. And really playing, not just the distracted act of playing that most adults do to keep kids occupied. She immersed herself in our play. In the mornings, we could crawl into her bed and entertain each other by taking turns making up silly stories with us three always as the star characters. She understood little girl fantasy play and made our pretend world better, whether by providing scarfs and fancy skirts (Kristin, remember the pink poodle skirt and black lace Flamenco one?) or by showing us how to use the radio on the wall as an intercom to improve our game of being Charlie’s Angels. At the sandbar, grandma would help us “plant trees” – which meant finding big sticks, poking them in the ground and watering them. I could go on and on, because for me, the majority of my memories as a little girl include grandma. I was happy there, and I knew I was loved. She gave me a stable place to revisit and build memories upon. And, she was fun.

As we got older, busier, and independent our visits became less frequent. But besides being a family gathering place for Dad, Shari and Mark, visiting grandma also continued to be our special girls’ place. My sister Kristin even held her bachelorette party there. Grandma and the girls celebrated at the Pioneer Club on karaoke night. I can still picture Grandma’s big smile and hear her laugh the next day as we teased her about the guy who tried to pick her up. Another time we brought our friend Elizabeth down to visit Grandma with us. We had a fashion show as Grandma pulled out all of her fantastic clothes. (The dress I have on is from that day and Elizabeth still wears a couple of pieces she adopted that day too.) One time, we sat in the basement looking at her old photos and teasing her about the comments she had written on them. How her legs were looking pudgy, or that is a bad angle for her versus anything about the cute baby that sat next to her. What I remember most about those times is all the laughter. We would always get each other laughing till our jaws hurt and tears rolled down our face. Grandma had a great laugh.

When I first faced I was losing Grandma, to age and dementia, I was playing three-handed pinochle with her and Kristin. We grew up with cards at the cabin, and my sister at four would use a tinfoil box to hold her cards. This time, however, in middle of the game, grandma stated that she had never played pinochle before. That was hard. I didn’t want her to forget me.

The times when Kristin and I were able to visit her in the hospital these past couple of years, anytime she would remember something about us girls–when we could get her to crack a smile about our past memories, or see interest pique at “girlie things” like the fake eyelashes we had on–those were the times I had my grandma back again.

During my Googling I did find a quote that stuck with me – “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment till it becomes a memory.”

Thank you, Grandma, for so many moments. I love you.

Hotel Lovefest to Ring in the Holidays

Now this could sound sexy and hot, but don’t forget I am a crazy over-scheduled working mom. My hotel fantasies consist of visions of a bed to myself, no one to tuck in, and room service dancing in my head. (This would cover  #22-24 on the “28 Gifts Every Mom Wants for the Holidays” that Stormy posted to our Facebook page. Stormy, I am still counting on you to deliver gift #28 in person before Christmas.)

Neither of the possible fantasies mentioned above happened. The reality of my recent hotel night was a lovefest of a completely different kind. There was a hotel involved, but the room was shared with my two sisters and the lovefest was filled with giggles, confidences and tears—the kind that only siblings (or girlfriends) can cram together in a just few hours.

The initial plan was for us all to escape our hectic lives and take a moment to really enjoy the holiday season. We would leisurely shop, have a delicious dinner, and retire to our room to watch “Love Actually” over a bottle of wine.

Then we’d wake up rested for breakfast and spend a full day helping each other cross off our holiday shopping lists. One comment that was continually repeated by each of us was how excited we were to be in a relaxing atmosphere with a time out from normal chores, family and work. We would be able to actually catch up on some much-needed rest.

Well, the first part of our outing went as planned, including heading up to the room at 9:30 p.m. We congratulated ourselves on being back in time to have our peaceful evening and not letting freedom con us into staying out and trying to enjoy the bar scene. It was while waiting for our room service that the evening plans took an unforeseen turn. Why not turn on a little music while we waited for our bottle of Pinot Grigio? A little Taylor Swift seemed harmless. But that was when the night took on a different course:

Yes, I know every word!

Yes, I know every word!

  • We danced and sang together. Current hits. ’80s rock. Country. (I did save them from hearing me belt out a heartfelt rendition of “Let It Go.”)
  • We decided to order a nightcap following our wine, which included a call to the bartender, instructing him on how to make our first drink. And, so we didn’t have to call again, to bring extra orders without ice. Can’t have the waiting drinks diluted!
  • We shared. Everything from giggling about bodily functions, memories that we each had different versions of, family dysfunction, to our secrets and fears.
  • We asked each other hard questions. Things we perceived or guessed by just knowing each other a little too well. Things no one else is brave enough to ask you.
  • An argument. What started as a heartfelt sharing, followed up by smart sisterly advice, turned into tears, hurt feelings and stubborn silence on both sides.
  • Ten minutes later a post-fight make up. Who besides a sister can you sit on and threaten disgusting things that will happen if they don’t give in and smile?
  • At some point a decision to sleep – last clock check was remembered at 2:30 a.m.

We woke up foggy headed but still laughing as we reminded each other of things we did and reminisced about our silly night. There was nothing any of us would change. We agreed even the fight added to the perfection of the night.

21 Reasons It's Awesome to have your Sister as Your Best Friend

21 Reasons It’s Awesome to have your Sister as Your Best Friend

So that sums up my hotel lovefest. How an evening of being completely uncensored and totally yourself can be so freeing. How much you love those people, deep to the core of you, with whom you can share that kind of night.

I left the Westin packed with unforgettable memories and true love.

 

D-I-Y attitude adjustment

Usually, it’s KitKat who has trouble getting her posts queued up in time. Our unofficial schedule is supposed to have us alternate posting, one each week, but sometimes (read: often) life intervenes. This time, however, Stormy is the slacker. KitKat has been patient. Meanwhile, my muse has been buried under an avalanche of work and isn’t bringing anything to the party, so I’m left to struggle it out.

I was trying to come up with some Significant Thought that encapsulates everything going on in my life right now. But I’ve found that sometimes the more that’s going on, the less I’m able to write about it—coherently. However, a loose theme has emerged over the last couple of weeks that seems to be worth sharing.

You’ve probably figured out by now that both KitKat and I are introspective people—always trying to look for the meaning in things, figure out a way to do things better. I already know I over-think things. I’m not very good at stopping myself from thinking discouraging thoughts, even when I know my time would be better spent focusing on the positives in my life. But even though I can be a bit slow to learn some of life’s lessons, it’s hard for even me to ignore them when they come in threes.

The first reminder was while reading a post from an email that KitKat mentioned in a previous postThe Daily Love. I don’t remember the exact wording but the topic was aimed at people like me who have this over-thinking problem—that we have a tendency to get stuck in the information-seeking stage (i.e., analysis paralysis). It said, “You likely know exactly what you need to do and just have to take action.” This is true. I keep looking for answers to some of my pervasive challenges—but I KNOW the answers. I just don’t want to take the actions I need to.

The second message was a friend’s Facebook post. She was posting a book. I know nothing about the book (and this shouldn’t be considered a recommendation) but the title electrified me, “We make the road by walking.” It was such as simple statement, but was a powerful reminder that it’s the really simple actions cumulatively can make a difference.

Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.

Traveller, the path is your tracks
And nothing more.
Traveller, there is no path
The path is made by walking.
By walking you make a path
And turning, you look back
At a way you will never tread again
Traveller, there is no road 
Only wakes in the sea.” 
― Antonio MachadoBorder of a Dream: Selected Poems

The third message was at my daughter’s college graduation. I’m not a fan of commencement ceremonies, because—let’s face it—they are excruciatingly dull. As proud as I am of my daughter’s achievement, this one was particularly stressful as it required a long drive to her college while my husband was suffering (and I mean suffering) from a kidney stone. The planned speaker wasn’t able to make it to the ceremony and another student stepped up to the plate to deliver the commencement address on short notice. He did a remarkable job. The theme was based on a Zen proverb: “Before enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water. After enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water.”

As a marketer, I know that it sometimes takes multiple exposures to a message in order for something to sink in, and this was the third message that seemed to be telling me the same thing: Quit sulking and get on with your life.

You see, I already know that I’m the only one who is responsible for my life and that regardless of what happens around me, I’m the only one who can make myself happy. In fact, I know this so well that I based my New Year’s Resolutions around these very principles. But somewhere over the last few months, I seemed to have forgotten myself.

Last week, I decided enough was enough. I had been working extremely hard and had nothing to show for it but a bad attitude. It was time to try a new tactic. I started by following through on an idea I had been toying with—to take my daughters out to LA to visit a high-school friend who had moved there. It seemed a bit indulgent, but after reading about KitKat’s Vegas trip, I figured a trip with my girls might do me some good.

I took this new-found attitude right into the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend. I didn’t have time to schedule any social activities for the holiday, but had vague plans to go to our cabin with my husband and youngest daughter. I decided to just enjoy each day as it came. I spent nearly every moment doing whatever I felt like doing and was fortunate to have Blossom hang out with me. It was an awesome weekend—and nobody else suffered because of it. If anything, I was better company to my family than I’ve been in quite some time. By Sunday night, I felt a bit too decadent, and we headed home from our weekend place. On Monday, I was a bit more productive, but continued the theme of “doing what I want.” Overall, my weekend went like this:

Friday night:

  • Dinner outside on a restaurant patio.
  • Early bedtime.

    Oreos, chocolate, bananas and whipped cream.

    Oreos, chocolate, bananas and whipped cream.

Saturday:

  • Coffee on the balcony.
  • Run/walk along the river.
  • Boating.
  • Dinner at the local malt shop—sundaes for dessert.
  • Boutique shopping in town.
  • Read fashion magazine with a glass of wine on balcony.
  • Movie.

 

Sunday:

  • Coffee on balcony.
  • Run/walk along the river.
  • Made smoothies and lay by the pool.
  • Lunch on another patio.
  • Came home.
  • Shopping.

View from my morning walk/run.

Monday:

  • Run/walk at the local nature center.
  • Visiting Mom & Dad*.
  • Stop at Dairy Queen. (Yes, that’s two sundaes if anyone’s counting.)
  • Buying plants at the local nursery.
  • Grilling dinner.
  • Writing blog.
  • (Bedtime.)

*Visiting my parents was the one activity that was more obligation than fun since my mother tends to stress me out most days—but I didn’t stay long enough to let her get to me.

All in all, it was a nice, restorative weekend—just what the doctor ordered. While there is no Significant Thought in this post, that’s the takeaway: Sometimes life doesn’t require a complete overhaul. Sometimes a simple tune-up can do wonders. What can you do to make your life a little better…right now?

 

Sleepless in Vegas

I returned from my Vegas girls trip almost a week ago, and I’m finally starting to feel like I am catching up on sleep and running on full capacity again. I have a bad tendency to maximize vacations. This means flying back home at midnight and still heading into work the next morning so as not to lose out on a minute of precious vacation time. (Pretty much how I live my life, rushing from one activity to the next.) Even with the vacation hangover, every exhausted moment I am paying for it is well worth it.

Stormy expected me to find blog inspiration in Vegas. At least she was hoping. I have been a little behind on my writing. My inspiration, and time, has run short—and it was even shorter with a vacation looming. For some reason, taking time off means working twice as hard before you leave and again once you get back. (In actuality, you don’t really get time off from work but just the same amount of work crowded into fewer days.)

Smiling for four days straight!

Smiling for four days straight!

So Stormy … I didn’t find any great Vegas inspiration (nor, admittedly, did I try) but I did full-heartedly enjoy it and lived in the moment for four straight days. Though, I have recovered enough to at least recap why I think Vegas is always a great vacation pick-me-up and well worth the week-long recovery (being 45 might play a part in my long recovery time, I used to bounce back quicker).

I know there are those who don’t love Vegas. For example, Stormy isn’t as sold on it as me. But I suggest you pack your bags, invite a couple of girlfriends and give it another try. If nothing else, you will be forced to live in the moment and be distracted from reality by the continual stimulation. Some of my favorite things about Sin City include:

The Sun – You don’t have to spend a full day traveling to find some much-needed sun. And once you are on your beach chair, being served your tropical drink of choice, Vegas feels as far away as a Caribbean resort. (And, if you preferPalazzo sand versus pool, you can always book Mandalay Bay.)  Lounging at the Palazzo pool being served pitchers of cucumber vodka lemonades is where is where we spent our days. No matter how late we got to bed, every morning we dragged ourselves out to soak up every minute of the sun. Another surprise benefit of Vegas was that by the fourth day we were too tired from sleepless nights to walk around with our stomachs held in or analyze our body flaws highlighted in swim suits. We just lazed in the sun without a care.

Gambling – I am not a High Roller and usually allot “entertainment” money that I am willing to lose, factoring in drinks are free when you gamble. None of us had illusions of hitting it big or plans to spend too much time at the tables. But, we did all enjoy the craps table. With some lucky rolling from all of us, our “entertainment” money (including tips we earned from the actual High Rollers at the table who were benefiting from our luck) kept us rolling all night.  In the casino is also where we discovered the strange passage of time in Vegas. One of us would look at our phone and realize hours had passed, that it was almost morning, and herd us all upstairs. Each day, exhausted, we would tell each other it wouldn’t happen again. Each night it did.

Adult Disneyland – Everyone is happy in Vegas. Sure, it seems a little corrupt and not the most wholesome of attractions. But how often do you gather with so many people who just let go and have fun? One night was dancing. One night was a show (if you’re not offended easily, “Absinthe” is incredible – I have never

A naughty puppet show ...

A naughty puppet show …

... amazing acts

… amazing acts

laughed so hard and out loud along with an entire crowd). One night was spent being tourists as we visited the dancing fountains, erupting volcanoes, and Chandelier bar. There truly is something for everyone and always something going on. You are surrounded by the best in shopping and food. I think there is even golf, if you like that sort of thing. No matter what your activity of choice is, everyone around you is also in a good mood and enjoying themselves a bit too much also.

Looking at the list above doesn’t do my trip justice. It is tough to explain just why you should go to Vegas:

So, to my lovely traveling companions: my sisters and “adopted” sister (the adoption happened on the dance floor and involved a Wild Turkey shot), I look forward to our new yearly excursion. I know a trip with the right people is incredible anywhere. But being in just the right atmosphere, Vegas, was the topping on the cake. Plus in Vegas, there seems to be more hours in the day to enjoy!

But next time, I may be willing to give up the 4:00 am nights at the crap table in lieu of just a little more sleep. I came home and had a childlike meltdown my first evening back, when I couldn’t get my daughter to prance nicely off to bed upon my request. I was dying to go to sleep myself. And as I melted down, I caught the wide-eyed stares of my children, frozen so as not to fuel the rage any more. So though I may not have found a Vegas inspiration, I did find insight into the irrational mind of a tired tantruming child. Maybe I will be more understanding the next time I keep them up late for fun and am punished for it later.

Stormy, I think you should give Las Vegas another shot!

 

 

 

 

45 Candles

Well, tomorrow I will be waking up as a 45-year-old. Birthdays have never gotten to me. I celebrated 30 and 40 without any dismay about the accumulating years. That is not to say getting older hasn’t hit me. The increasing wrinkles and slowing metabolism are a constant reminder of the aging process that I am none too happy about. But, it has never been a birthday that has depressed me.

This year is different. For the first time, I am experiencing the birthday blues and want to protest or divert this upcoming age transition.

I should get some credit for skipping despair of turning 40. Though I may now resort to celebrating a repeating 44th birthday.

Perhaps it is that I am approaching 50. Every day, from here on out, I am closer to 50 than 40. Fifty sounds like a whole new life. Not an age I ever imagined being. But now it is sinking in as a reality. I am crossing over the line. I have friends in their 50s. They look amazing. Actually, they look better than they did in their 40s. But I am not ready to join them.

This birthday also means I have officially hit midlife. (I figure I will live past 80, looking at the women in my family, but don’t expect to see 100.)

Or maybe it is the combination of mood swings and hot flashes that have been a preview to what is in store. It’s an uphill battle from here on out. Good genes can only carry me so far. In an effort to take some control, I have taken a few preemptive strikes. Similar to Stormy, I am very good finding reasons (sometimes farfetched) to pay for services that make my life, and looks, better.

Covering the grey hair has been part of the age-fighting routine for years, although now the timeframe has narrowed from every six weeks to four. Though, a fresh hair color was not going to carry me through this birthday. When I was getting my hair done, my gorgeous 49 year–old stylist told me she liked me without makeup. I looked younger, fresher. Hmmm … it got me thinking. I always wanted to try “mink” eyelashes. And what better reason than a birthday—I would experience time savings in getting ready, less stress on my eyes if not applying makeup, saved makeup costs, and a new look. Plus, I had been complaining that my eyelashes were thinning out and breaking (a common complaint this year that I also attributed to aging). A week later my masterful rationalization has me donning new, lushes lashes with only a hint of blush and lip gloss: A natural look. (Okay, a fake natural look, bought and paid for.)

wrinkles

I did add some “natural” help, all shoved into a few weeks ago as I realized 45 was getting close. Microdermabrasion treatments to brighten up my skin (no needles were involved, so I count it as natural) and waking up at 5:30 to add a 20-minute Jillian work-out to my other routines. She promised it would change me in only 30 days!

I think the toughest thing is time is going so fast. It seems to be speeding up.

40 years ago with my sister and mom. Same bangs though!

40 years ago with my sister and mom. Same bangs though!

Sitting at the kids table at Thanksgiving, I used to wonder when I would feel like an adult. I remember thinking 30 was so old and now it seems so young. My mind still feels like that same little girl. I still have a lot I want to do and experience. I am not ready settle.

Yes, I know that aging graciously is the way to go. I am just not ready for it. And, if I have to distract myself from all the other issues of aging with a silly focus on looks, so be it. Right now, I will focus on the shiny object.

I will also spend my first day after turning 45—first day closer to 50 than 40—with Stormy for a birthday drink. We can catch up (we both have been crazily busy at work) and perhaps the bartender will buy me a drink after hearing I am turning 44 … again!

Did you think I would end this post by coming around to accepting my age and being thankful for all the wonderful things about aging and all the things I am grateful for? 🙂