January 8, 2014

2014… be worthy.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 6:20 pm by Restless Idealism

My life has changed. I like writing down what I remember when big things happen. But nothing like this has ever happened, so I guess I’ll just write it now to remind myself what I need to do when my resolve starts to fail down the road.

This year I learned what it’s like to have your life come to an abrupt halt. On December 9th my Dad died, and nothing will ever be the same. He was only 57, and had a heart attack, with no warning, no previous cardiac history, no nothing…

On that day I looked down at my phone as I was working, and saw missed calls from my Mom, my aunt, and my sister. I had a text from my sister, Laura: “Call me, it’s an emergency.” I didn’t even listen to my voice mails, I just called her. The next few hours were a complete blur. Who am I kidding? This past month has been a blur. Tomorrow will mark one month since he’s been gone, and it feels so strange… I kind of just expect that I’ll wake up, and everyone will say ‘It’s okay Als, it was just a bad dream, Daddy’s fine.’

Instead I got “Daddy had a heart attack, Allie. He’s at Lehigh Valley Hospital, I don’t know anything else. Just get here.” Laura said to me, when I called back.

“Okay, I’m coming…” I said. I ran back to my boss, told him what happened, and hopped in my car with my head completely clear. I know I can count on myself to get through crisis situations, I’m good under pressure, I know how to deal with doctors- this would be no different.

I said to myself, what am I walking into? Having run a Cardiology office for several years, I thought I pretty much knew what I should be looking at. Not to mention my own cardiac adventures. Not once did it cross my mind that I wouldn’t be walking into anything other than a noisy hospital room, bustling with activity, and worried family. Not once did I think that I’d never get to see my Daddy again. People survive heart attacks all the time, no big deal. We’ll just have to pitch in a little until he’s better… Oh, how wrong I was….

I drove up the turnpike to Allentown, worried, but confident everything will be fine. When I got to the hospital, they wouldn’t tell me what room he was in (red flag number one, that I proceeded to ignore.) They said someone would come get me, and escort me back (red flag number two…) I tried calling my sister. No answer. What the hell? Why won’t they just let me go?! I can figure out how to navigate an ER! The hospital chaplain came out to get me (red flag number three… I saw it, and I would not, absolutely would not, believe it.) He took me to the “Family Room” and I ignored that too… I walked in and saw that my family sat in front of me, Monsignor Murphy from my childhood parish, my mom’s best friend…. but no Daddy… Where is my Dad?!

I looked around, just completely refusing to believe what I already knew. I could see it in the tears of everyone around me. I tried to ask, I tried to say “Where is Daddy?” Seriously, stop all this nonsense. Just take me to him.. please… but my sister took my arm and looked at me, and I couldn’t refuse it anymore…. The tears came, and I fought them back, hard. I breathed through the instant pain in my chest… No! No. My mom cannot see me like this… No!

 

My Mom….

 

My Dad… Oh, God….

 

My heart was throbbing, my breath left me as my Mom told me what happened, but I tried so hard to avoid hysterics. It won’t help to fall to pieces now. Just take me to him… I held on to my brother and sister as the chaplain led us to the room where Daddy was… Mom stayed behind. Once we got there, I looked in the door, saw him, and turned right around utterly unable to walk one step farther. I steadied myself against the wall… This. Cannot. Be. Real. Well, my efforts to avoid hysterics dissolved, and I cried. I cried, and cried some more. Then I turned around and walked in the room to face this. They had taken away the tubes, and he just laid there not looking like my Daddy. He was too pale, and too cold. I felt so many things, guilt, anger, shame, rage, worry, sadness… such sadness…

Somehow we left him, somehow we made it home… Somehow we kept breathing when we felt like dying ourselves… Liquor and chocolate, according to my family, is how that’s done. Laura went to the liquor store, I went to the grocery store and Josh Early Candies. Liquor and chocolate… You’d be amazed what you can survive on.

The arrangements, the viewing, the funeral, the holidays… it was all like walking around on auto-pilot, There were too many emotions trying to run me, so I just felt everything at once, and tried to make the best of it. For what it’s worth, there is no best of it. There’s no way to reconcile having your father taken from you too soon. There’s no way to make seeing the broken hearts of everyone I love any easier.

I can tell you, dear person interested enough in my silly life that you’re willing to read my rambling thoughts: that I quite literally would not have survived without the rest of my family, and my friends. My friends: Those amazing people that I couldn’t hope to deserve. Those incredible people who dropped their entire lives to bring me my clothes when I had none, feed my cat, drive me around, come sit with me, leave their families and kids on a cold, snowy night to stand by me at the services, send me beautiful cards and flowers, stop in to check on my mom or me… talk to me in the middle of the night just to make me laugh a little bit… gather me up in their arms, and hold me while I cried… I am one of the luckiest, most blessed, utterly undeserving women in the world to have people who care about me like that, because I cannot imagine having to do all I’ve done this past month without them. Which leads me to the only resolution I set at the end of 2013 – not for 2014, but forever:

Be worthy of the love people bestow on me.

I feel that guilt that it took my Dad’s death to shine light on this perspective, but I want to live to honor those people who love me enough to get me through something like this, and deserve their love.

It’ll take me a long time to resolve the sadness I feel and some of the guilt for being so mouthy when I was a kid. I was so damn stubborn… I couldn’t have been easy to deal with. But the last words we said to each other were him saying “I love you, Allie.” and my reply of “Love you too, Daddy. Bye.” so now I just have to keep living to be worthy of that… to honor him.

I love you, Daddy. I miss you so much. 

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June 21, 2013

Bring it!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 12:22 pm by Restless Idealism

Happy first day of Summer!!!

For the past six months, I’ve been posting workouts to my Facebook page, tagging the line #summerscoming… and now it’s here. Sorry to those of you who say “no one wants to see workouts on Facebook…again.” The posting was much more for me, than the attention from the FB community… I needed to keep myself going (but I have some awesomely supportive friends). And when I woke up this morning, I smiled a bigger smile than I have in a very long time. I’ve accomplished something that I promised myself I would. I’m proud of myself, which is a feeling that I had forgotten what felt like…

Every day, I keep promises I make to my friends, family, coworkers, and even people I don’t know. But for a long time, I never kept promises I made to myself. When I look back at a promise I made to myself on January 1, 2013, I remember feeling like I probably wouldn’t be able to keep it. I remember thinking I’d give up on myself, like I had so many times before. Why would I do anything for other people, but not dedicate that effort for myself?

I felt like there was so much standing in my way. I let a bad relationship, work, and illness get in the way; I let myself get in my own way. And when I looked myself in the mirror, I didn’t know who was looking back at me. The woman in my mind didn’t fit with the body I allowed to become sick, sluggish, and overweight. Also, I watched people around me that I love get sick, really sick. I sat by the hospital bedsides of half a dozen people I know and love dearly, over the past year. I watched them suffer, as I could do nothing but sit there. I felt the effects of my own laziness too; the achy, lethargic, depressed feelings that I couldn’t shake. I never had enough faith in myself to think I could fix things on my own. To top it off- I had just been diagnosed with an infection around my heart that caused chest pain that felt like someone was placing my heart in a vise, and pulling my lungs out at the same time, which none of my doctors could identify. I felt lost and alone…

I wanted to be energetic, healthy, and happy, but I had no idea how to get there. (I also want a body like Jessica Biel’s, but let’s be realistic now… baby steps! ) I realized something that I actually already knew: the only person who is going to make it happen, is me. So I stopped talking to a toxic ex-boyfriend who did nothing but hurt me (took me long enough), and I started on a journey with a six month goal set: lose 40 pounds by the first day of summer (#summerscoming!), be in good shape, be healthy, be happy, and take crap from no one (within reason). As I looked forward I felt intimidated, scared, and pained. I went to the best cardiologist in the city, (no really… she’s actually the best, and a friend of mine. It helps to have worked for the best health system on the east coast for five years). I asked her what I should do. Tears fell down my face as I sat thinking this unidentified infection, the effects of which apparently can linger for an indeterminate amount of time, would stop me yet again from keeping my promise to myself. I hadn’t told my family or friends what was going on with me either; I didn’t want to worry anyone, when no one could figure out what kind of infection I had. So I battled it on my own for a long time. It started back in October, and I just kind of kept it to myself hoping I would get better… it didn’t. But my doctor was amazing, and while treating me, she looked me square in the eye and told me it’s not just a fitness goal for me anymore, it’s a lifesaving one.

She told me to start running like my life depended on it, because it did.

If I don’t get myself healthy, my heart was at a much higher risk of succumbing to this unknown virus that wouldn’t quit. They had run out of my blood they took in October when the episodes of pain started, and no one could figure out what virus actually caused the initial infection. Regardless, she told me to work through the episodes that left me breathless and clutching absently at my chest, with no relief. There were some meds but they didn’t help, they just made me short tempered. They restricted my driving privileges to avoid me passing out behind the wheel if I had an episode while driving. I just kept having tests, getting scanned, poked, pricked, and giving blood, and hoping the episodes/swelling didn’t get worse because if they did, I’d have to have interventional surgery.

Heart surgery at 28 years old? … Absolutely not!

I couldn’t run though, I was so out of shape, I just couldn’t run. So I swam. I started getting up at 5am, and much to my chagrin I put on a racing suit for the first time in 10 years, and I went out in the freezing cold winter mornings to swim at Villanova Masters. I also avoided the mirrors in the locker room. I clung to the side of the pool when my chest hurt, and somehow figured out how to live with the pain, and keep swimming. It took me a while to get the muscle memory back. It took me longer to be able to lift my arms after a practice, and even longer not to be sore. I added #cantholdmedown to my workout tags to remind myself not to give up: it just isn’t an option. It was a constant pain; if I stopped living my life for it, I would literally have to stop living all together.

I ate better too. To support my roommate and her sick Mom, I joined them in a month long challenge of a Vegan diet in January (which my doctor loved!). Then I continued being a Pescetarian (no chicken, beef, or turkey) and fought through my pain every minute of every day. I had to tell my coaches about my heart, which wasn’t getting any better, so they would know if something went really wrong in the water. But I still kept the details from the people I knew. I hated it and felt guilty about it, so many people close to me were going through so much harder battles right now: cancer, surgeries, more cancer, more surgeries, biopsies, amputations, auto immune disorders, and things so much worse than I was going through. I felt like I didn’t compare, and I shouldn’t complain. But as time went on, I told a few friends. I felt more supported, I felt like maybe I could do this. Now, I’m telling anyone who wants to read my blog about it. Maybe my struggle can help someone else somewhere… I can do it because I have faith in myself, and I had to fight for it. I had good advice from good friends, and my doctor (thank you for taking care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself Jane, truly, thank you {and for the advice Christy- you’re an amazingly smart nurse!}). The episodes of chest pain (very) slowly started to weaken in intensity… I felt like there might be a light at the end of this nine month battle against an unknown enemy. I had a little setback earlier this month (apparently my heart doesn’t like pressurized airplane cabins) but the pain is less and less as I get in better shape, and my tests and scans are coming back better!

The swimming and healthy eating started to pay off, and slowly but surely the pounds started to come off. In April I put my favorite electronic dance music in my ears (it just revs me up!) and I began running. I had lost enough weight, and gained enough strength that I actually felt I could run. I was by myself, but I just had to be okay with that. I started out barely making two miles, and now I can run almost seven! In May I switched swim teams and coaches, and I’ve come farther than I imagined. (Thanks Coach Kenny!). Yesterday, some new friends that I’ve made through swimming convinced me to swim in the river next week! I’ve never swam in open water, except playing at the beach- it’s not the same. I’m so excited to try it! Next month, I’m going to race in the river for the first time too… It’s going to be quite the summer of milestones for me!

I know my milestones might be small compared to other people. I know I’m not some sensational athlete, or rock star; but I kept my promise to myself, I reached my first set of goals: I shot for losing 40 pounds and I’m actually down 42, and I’m stronger than I have been in years and years. I’ll never let a man treat me poorly again, and besides the chest pain (which will happen until all the swelling around my heart is completely gone), I feel great. I’ve had to put a few things off, I’ve had to prioritize. I wanted to start my own business, and I still haven’t accomplished that yet, but today is the first day of summer 2013, and I woke up smiling. And I’m not done! I’ve set a whole new batch of goals to reach by September (More FB posts- Holla!), and I actually have faith that I can accomplish them. I still want to own my own company too, so that is still on my horizons. And even with chest pain or whatever may come my way (calf cramps- seriously they’re evil…) I can definitely do it! I used to not believe it was possible, but now I think I might be able to do pretty much anything. My life has changed forever, and I’m so happy about it!

Happy First Day of Summer! 😀 Bring on the next set of goals!

Can’t. Hold. Me. Down.

June 5, 2013

Welcome to Miami!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:29 pm by Restless Idealism

So- my good friend/former roomie Lauren got married this weekend, in Miami. She married her soul mate, Brett. Congrats to the cutest couple ever!!

I’ve decided that if I ever get married, I’m totally asking for a wedding that requires a plane ride to someplace fun! (I’ll just have to get all of my people from All Around Entertainment to come too, so I can still have a kick ass reception! You know who you are! Party!!) But seriously, you get to have a four day wedding party weekend, instead of one day, and get a tan. You make it a mini vacation- and tell people super far in advance so we can all save a little extra cash. It’s incredible, but Miami sure does know how to take advantage of the fact that they can charge whatever they want for things ($21 for one drink!). Everything there is next level, from the yellow Maseratis and red Porsches, to the “enhanced” women, to the tricked out clubs… It’s just all next level!

Now, I’d never been to Miami, so I’m sorry to all you posh travelers out there who already know how fantastic it is, but I just thought it was sensational. Firstly, any place that has turquoise water is my kind of place. Swimming in the ocean is one of my favorite things to do, and it’s not like the Jersey shore at all. It’s still got waves but is so much prettier than up here. I went swimming at night on Saturday after the wedding, after a rain storm had moved through. That night there was no wind at all, the ocean was so calm, just like a bay. It was so perfect!

I stayed with two girlfriends, and almost all our other girlfriends were close by. There was some drama, as is pretty much always the case when a bunch of girls and alcohol is involved; but sure enough, as is always the case, we worked it out, and still managed to have more fun than any of us has had in a long time. Some guests stayed at the Trump Hotel, and some stayed at the Days Inn (like us). That in and of itself was an interesting experience- who demolishes a hotel room at 8am on a Saturday?! But none of us spent that much time in our hotels anyway!

We had sunny, tropical drink filled beach days. After our sun filled days, we had some more delicious food (we went to the Pancake House for breakfast on Saturday, and pretty much just died and went to heaven), and drinks, and amazing company to dance the nights away. I met some truly awesome people. Here’s to new friends, and drinking wine right out of the bottle at the pool. I know, you wish you were as classy as I am! I can tell you though, I had fun- truly unabated fun!

Even though it rained during the wedding, none of us really seemed to care. We just got wet. Lauren and Brett seemed so happy, despite the rain, and we had the most gorgeous venue for the reception. We were at the Ancient Spanish Monastery, the oldest monastery in the Western Hemisphere. It’s one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places! (Speaking of breathtaking beauty- you should have seen Lauren. She was a vision!) I wore my rented Badgley Mischka dress (renttherunway.com- holla!) and felt really pretty in all those sparkles! (If not in Miami, then where else are you going to wear a totally bedazzled dress?! {OK, maybe Vegas…}) The bridesmaids wore purple, strapless gowns, and the groomsmen all had underwear with their titles on the back. I’m sure that made for some interesting photos. There certainly were some scandalous photos throughout the weekend, but I’m pretty sure we edited most of them! ;o)

My trip was extended, completely unplanned, from a Sunday to Monday departure. I’m so glad it all worked out that way because I got to go to South Beach on Sunday night and dance that night too! (P.S.- Have I mentioned? I am NEVER drinking again! Haha, sorry Mom!) I stayed that night in South Beach, and almost got my arm chopped off by an antique elevator. They don’t play. No, really they don’t.

We chilled out on Monday, at the pool of course, until our flights. (P.P.S- I’m never traveling alone again, if I can help it. That part sucked.) All in all, I say thumbs up to Miami!

 

April 8, 2013

Keep On Marching!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 5:21 pm by Restless Idealism

So, I’ve been keeping up the whole “Let’s be the best version of me I can be” campaign (does that sound  too much like the Army slogan?). And I don’t even know who reads these, but I figured an update was in order.

On Feb. 16th, I got my LASIK eye surgery- and I could not be happier. It’s the best money I have ever spent. Period. The End.  If you’re thinking about getting it, and can reasonably afford it, I say go for it. If you can’t afford it, then don’t. But not having to worry about my red, irritated eyes, and being practically blind (-6, it was bad) is such a blessing.  If you’re scared, then make sure to ask them for the rx for Valium to calm you down right before hand. I didn’t need it before the procedure; I was cool as a cucumber. But I was wishing I had some for the first few hours right after surgery. They tell you to go home and take a nap, but the normal stinging and watering that happens immediately following the procedure kept me awake, thank goodness it only lasted for the first 5-6 hours. I’m betting a few Valium would have helped with that part!

I’ve decided to stay a vegetarian. Veganism is hard to keep up with at all times, but I’ve changed a lot of the choices I used to make to healthier ones, so while I’m not a vegan, I’m definitely more than a regular Vegetarian too. The hybrid version is not hard at all, and I don’t have to feel guilty if my dinner has a little bit of egg or dairy. I switched to soy milk in coffee, if I drink coffee, which isn’t often. I use almond milk for cooking and cereal. I don’t eat ice cream any more, and what’s more: I don’t want it. Fake parmesan cheese is yummy, so I stuck with that. And I’m sorry but I’ve decided that I can’t get behind the veggie hot dogs. I like the veggie burgers, and “chick’n”/ “turk’y”, etc. but I know how good a real hot dog tastes, so the substitutes just don’t cut it there. (I also know what kind of crap they put into meat, which is why I’m still okay with not eating it.)

I’ve stuck with shopping at Wegman’s or Whole Foods. They have so many great choices for Vegetarians, and they have the best produce for breakfast! About 6 weeks ago I bought a Nutri-Bullet Blender, and I love it! I didn’t know how to incorporate kale or chia seeds into my cooking yet, but they’re super easy to put in a smoothie for breakfast. I like that it tastes like fruit when I make the smoothie and it’s filling. Boy is it filling! I often end up having some for breakfast and keeping the rest for my snacks.  I found a greens supplement in capsule form, and I started taking that every day too. I learned the ways Spirulina, Chlorella, and Blue-Green Algae help balance the endocrine system, detox, and regulate body chemistry. I’ll definitely keep them as part of my diet for life now too. The whole process has been such an education for me. But I’m glad I’m doing it, I feel fantastic, truly.

I’ve officially lost 30 pounds, which is a fun milestone, and I’ve gotten to the point now where some of my clothes are actually too big, not just loose. (I’m thinking of getting my red dress tailored though, I’m not ready to part with it!) I’m still swimming, and I added jogging into the mix now that I’m feeling stronger, plus the weather is getting nice, finally! I crave going outside, and even though I still don’t like running; I do like sunshine! Swimming truly keeps me centered. It’s a full and engrossing experience that I have always loved! Running is just because I am NOT getting up at 5am EVERY day. Hehe! ;o)

I have about 30 more pounds to lose, 40 if I’m really shooting for “slender and lean”, and the funny part is, even with 30 down already, my bra size has not changed. I guess that’s a good thing, but I thought everything would get smaller as I lost weight. Guess not!

I am happy to feel so good, even though it definitely takes some work. But all things that are worth having require work. And now I’m thinking of starting a new business venture. It’s an exciting time all around for me! I have my friend Lauren’s wedding festivities, my birthday, the Tex Mex 5K, summer, and new career ventures all coming up. There’s a lot to smile about!

January 23, 2013

It’s amazing how you forget.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 11:18 am by Restless Idealism

I’m getting healthier from eating better since Dec. 1, 2012, but I haven’t been exercising that much. I knew that in order to keep the momentum going, I’ll have to stick to something. I really like Zumba, but if I’m honest, I only ever loved one sport: Swimming. It was the only sport I was ever remotely good at. I wasn’t great, but I loved being part of the team in high school, and working under a coach to get better and compete. It didn’t always matter that I wasn’t the best one on the team, because of how much I loved doing it. I did my best and was a solid member of the team. For the past ten years, I never actually thought to Google “Adult Swim League” because if I had I would’ve found out about the US Masters Swim Team a long time ago! (That and a program slot on Cartoon Network at night!) But I found out about it through reading an article online, and now that I know, I’m in! I signed up right away, paid my dues, and proceeded to make preparations to begin training in the pool again. I chose Villanova University as my location, emailed the coach, and got all ready to go.

So, I had my first swim practice in 10 years, at 6 am this morning! Last night I felt like a child on Christmas Eve. I went to bed early, knowing something great was in store for the morning! I couldn’t sleep, and my alarm came very fast to Oh-God-Dark-Thirty,  more commonly known as 5 am. Out of bed I sprang, and happily gathered all my things: new suit, new flip flops (I had to throw out all my old flip flops a few years ago when they got moldy in the basement… ew), goggles, cap, shammy, towel, water bottle, and hair/shower things. I brushed my teeth,  gave Cammo some breakfast and a quick belly rub as she gave me her best ‘What the hell are you doing out of bed?’ face. I grabbed my peanut butter crackers to munch in the car, and a Naked protein juice for afterwards, and bundled up to brave the 10 degree January morning! Side note: it’s way too cold, there’s a reason I don’t live in Alaska… as my sister said “10 is not enough degrees!”, and I agree.

Once I got to Villanova (while it was still dark out), a very nice man let me in the back way, because I had no idea where the actual entrance to the pool was… (not sure what I would have done without him). I was the first one there, early of course in all my excitement. I got ready,  stretched, and met some really nice people! I bonded a little with another newbie. She was practicing swimming for triathlons so she was in great shape, but not an experienced swimmer…

I was all ready to go, and so I went… I got to about 300 of the first 500 and felt much less like the Rock Star of half an hour ago, and much more like a out of shape, hasn’t trained in 10 years, this is going to be way harder than I thought, regular Joe. I was reminded of all the things you quickly forget when you have stopped training!

It’s amazing that I forgot:

The searing pain of a cramp in the arch of  my foot. (Haven’t had one of those since last time I was training.)

The split second right before I realized my cramp is moving up to my calf, and I felt like a lame duck in the middle of a lane.

The blisters you get from fins.

How lightning fast 1 minute 30 seconds goes by when you have to do 4 one hundreds descending. Seriously, the time clock must be lying!

How cold the air can be, when the water is so warm.

How my hair will freeze if I go out afterwards and don’t dry it, so will a wet bathing suit. (Don’t worry Mom, I dried my hair and wore a hat!)

How it felt to not be able to lift my arms when trying to hold a hairdryer above my head.

How quickly I can kiss my manicure and pedicure goodbye. Oh well, they looked nice yesterday!

 

But there were some things I was surprised by:

How I actually like the smell of the pool literally hitting me in the face when I walked in.

How it doesn’t faze me at all to have my sinuses fill with water, just blow out.

How even though at 9 am, I already felt like I needed a nap, I feel better than I have in I don’t know how long!

How amazing it feels to zoom through the water with fins on.

How I actually like that burning in your quads from dolphin kicking.

How “hurts so good” really does feel so good! (Though I might have a different opinion on that tomorrow!)

How it made me smile that my skin still smells like the pool even though I showered, and put lotion on.

How ravenous swimming makes you! I could eat a feast!

 

But mostly, I’m surprised and excited by how even though I felt like I sucked, and I was in the slowest lane, I didn’t stop. I swam the whole hour and a half, and only took a few tiny breaks between sets. I stretched if I got a cramp, then worked through it. I focused on my form, and pushed myself, and I am so excited to get up and do it all again on Friday!

January 19, 2013

Who would have thought?!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 7:57 pm by Restless Idealism

In October, 2012 I was in one of my best friend’s wedding. I also officiated it. (Cross that off the bucket list!) I had an incredible time, I looked super cute (thanks for making my hair look great, Amy!), and was so honored to be a part of Tracy and Josh’s first step into married life. At the end of November Tra showed me the pictures from the wedding. They turned out so beautiful, but I noticed something in the pictures that I didn’t like in myself: my shape.

I had let life take control of my fitness. I never cared what anyone else thought of how I looked, but I started to care now, and that made all the difference. I decided that since having lost my new job only 6 months after I started it, that my second new job of the year would be my turning point. I started the new, new job, and added in some new health goals on 12/1/12, and haven’t looked back. In the beginning it was just about moving more and controlling what I put in my mouth. I decided to refuse to let myself choose food as comfort. I also limited the portions of my meals. It was working, but then I decided to take it further…

My roommate, Courtney, has one of the sweetest women for a mother that I know, she insists I call her Mommy, since I’m now an honorary member of the family. Mommy had been sick for a while though, and to summarize what is a very long story, her doctors put her on a Vegan diet the week before Thanksgiving. Since then she lost 15 pounds, was able to discontinue her diabetes medication, and has started feeling much better overall. She did feel alone though, all the usual holiday meals at parties and get-togethers had a whole new menu just for her. So as a show of solidarity, Courtney and I decided to become Vegans for the month of January. We both wanted to lose some weight, and be healthy, and what better way to do so? Plus, Mommy didn’t have to feel so alone for a while, we could do it together. We used the rest of December to transition, taking meat our of our diets almost completely, and cutting back on some other things like dairy and eggs so it wouldn’t be a total shock when we began.

Yep, that’s right, as of three weeks ago, I’ve been eating as a Vegan with no cheating!

We both thought it would be hard, but it really hasn’t been at all! We get most of our food from Giant like before. Now we add in a trip to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s for some of the more Vegan things. I’ve increased my cooking repertoire, and I feel fantastic! I’ve learned what things like seitan, and tofu can do, and how to cook with them. There’s a Vegan restaurant literally across the street from where I work, and Court and I have discovered new ones all around us. I never would have thought that I’d actually like being a Vegan. (Now, I can’t claim to be a true Vegan because they adopt a full lifestyle including no animal clothing. I still own leather shoes, and handbags, but I did already own those.) I feel great, and it’s helped my own health (down 20 pounds since 12/1/12), Mommy’s morale, Courtney’s health, and the environment. I’ve been posting some of the things I’ve been making on my Facebook page, people seem to think they look good. Truth is, they are good, I haven’t had to sacrifice taste at all. I thought I’d be eating bland salads and beans all month, but I’ve been making so much tasty stuff that I’ve wholly surprised myself.

Who would have thought, indeed!

I’ve also joined the US Masters Swim Team too, so I can train again! I have 11 days of mandatory Veganism left, and I start training next week. Honestly, I think I’ll keep it up, even though I do miss Brie cheese a lot, that’s the only thing I really miss so far though. I don’t even miss ice cream.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Avocado, mixed greens, organic tomatoes, green peppers, and organic balsamic vinaigrette

Avocado, mixed greens, organic tomatoes, green peppers, and organic balsamic vinaigrette

 

Organic Spinach, carrots, artichoke hearts, red peppers, and champaign vinaigrette

Organic Spinach, carrots, artichoke hearts, red peppers, and champaign vinaigrette

 

Whole grain pasta with organic spinach, and garlic sauteed in butter with salt and old bay... VERY yummy

Whole grain pasta with organic spinach, and garlic sauteed in butter with salt and old bay… VERY yummy

August 27, 2012

We’re in for a wild ride!

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:45 pm by Restless Idealism

Whew- what a weekend! Michelle came in for the shower, and the B-party. It was so great to see her again so soon, I saw her in May when I went out to CA for my trip, and she came back for this weekend’s festivities (and she’s coming back in Oct. for the wedding! I love having my friends close again!). I took Friday off (note to self: don’t take off the day before invoice day, because you’ll end up leaving work at 5pm the day before for an appt., getting some dinner, and going back to work to finish your invoices- until 2am….) But I got to spend time with Tracy, and Chelle, and Stacey, and all the other bridesmaids, and our family and friends! We had a private yoga session on Friday night, it felt so good to stretch, and relax. The teacher did some really cool group poses too, very fun!

The Bridal shower for Tra was a great success! I’m constantly amazed by the capacity of human creativity! We had such a whirlwind weekend, and a lot of why it was so great is because of the amazing effort from the combined effort of a great set of girls, and my friend Stacey. She put her creativity into the bridal shower, and bachelorette party this weekend, and made it so much more than it could have been. She made an amazing picture display out of a room divider, and chalkboard paint on the bottom: (I wrote on the bottom, with chalk!)

She also created gorgeous center pieces too, by hand! She bought the vases, and Suzanne supplied the corks from work! Stace glued the ribbons and charms, and added the roses. We ate good food, played Bridal pictionary, and trivia games (did you know an octopus has three hearts? AND a cow sweats through her nose!) and opened presents :o)

After the shower was the Bachelorette Party! We got a stretch hummer to drive us around to have professional pictures taken, and then to the Melting Pot for dinner, then out to dance! The bridal party wore little pink rhinestone tiaras, and Tra was all decked out in bridal regalia. Tracy is on the left, and that’s her mom sitting there on the right! :o)

We had some hiccups along the way, what bridal event doesn’t? But all in all, we had a great weekend, and an amazing ride. We were hung over, and sleep deprived, jet lagged, and all hot and bothered, rained on, and all in all, we had a spectacular time!

August 23, 2012

Don’t Drop the Ball

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:55 am by Restless Idealism

The other day one of the partners in my firm posted the following on our Enterprise Social Network:
In a university commencement address several years ago, Brian Dyson, CEO Coca Cola Enterprises, spoke of the relation of work to one’s other commitments: “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you are keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”
I love his quote. It’s so true, and it’s so hard to do. But hard doesn’t mean impossible, and usually if something is worth it, it doesn’t come easy. Hard work, to maintain balance is the only way to live a full life, and that has become one of my goals. I made sure to name my priorities, like Mr. Dyson said. Not only did I name them, I made sure that the ones made of glass now come first. Jobs will come and go, but if you treat the important things with the attention they deserve, you’ll come out on top. I certainly have so far.
You’ll sleep better, you’ll feel better, you’ll love more fully, and you’ll give more freely. Work is not the end all, and your job should never define you. I’ve noticed people who have their priorities out of whack, are always the ones trying to bring others down with them. Did you ever see someone who is happy, balanced, faithful, honest, and devoted to her family try to make other people miserable? Probably not. I don’t know anyone who, with balance in their lives, would try to negatively affect the lives of others. I do know a few people concerned with money, greed, instant gratification, indulgence, and selfishness. I’ve watched those people try to manipulate others, bring them down, or hurt them, and they’re no better off because of it. It took me a while to learn that they do this because they are so limited. They will reap only what they sow, and if those are the things that they keep as top priorities, then that’s what life will give back to them.
I’ll never let my life get that way. I want to live my life like my high school librarian, Michele Honochick. She recently passed away, too soon, and though she didn’t pull down 6 figures, she completely understood how to preserve the glass priorities, and made those her life’s work, bringing happiness and positivity to whomever she met. I want to be like her, and keep my glass smooth and un-cracked.

July 18, 2012

Best Year Yet! Disneyland!

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:41 pm by Restless Idealism

As I mentioned in my previous post, May 16, 2012 was a turning point for me. I decided, that day, that I was going to have the best year of my life. It seems like a random day to decide things like that, I mean isn’t it usually January 1st that people make grandiose resolutions? But this was the day before my 28th birthday, and I decided that my 28th year will be the best yet. The universe has shown me in many ways that this new attitude of mine, was the right path to choose. It’s a great feeling, and I’m so excited to continue it!

Many of you know that I had been pretty unhappy over the past two years at work, and I didn’t want that any more. I was focusing on all the negative things in my life for a long time, and it just had to change. In late March, I had a 6’x4′ bulletin board fall on my head at work (I know, I know, only me!) It cracked the back of my head as I sat down in my chair… hard. I ended up knowing where I was, and that President Obama is currently in office, but I had a nice goose egg on my head and blurred, crossed vision. Have you ever tried to focus with blurred, crossed vision, and a stinking headache? It’ll make you want to throw up everything in you, right quick. I knew I had a concussion, and so did the nurses at work, who were taking awesome care of me. So they called an ambulance, and off I went to the ER to make sure my brain wasn’t swelling or anything. Before I went to the ER the straw finally came that made me decide, in my altered/nauseated state no less (!), that I was done being abused at work. It was absolutely no one’s fault that the bulletin board came loose from the mountings, and fell on me, and it certainly couldn’t have been predicted. Almost everyone was concerned for my safety and care, except one person. She made it worse. I don’t have to explain the details, they don’t matter, but I do know that if you have one of your staff laying down with a concussion from being struck in the head with falling objects, you don’t make it worse. Decent people do not take things like that personally, I didn’t get injured to inconvenience anyone, or take time out of the day to deal with it! Hello, I was the one with the damn head injury, trying desperately not to hurl all over the place! Even the EMTs commented on what was going on, when they were setting me up to be taken out. You know when complete strangers can feel the callousness emitting from someone that something’s probably wrong.

I made the decision that day, that minute, to get a new job, step # 1. So it took me about 4 weeks of looking, and I was officially hired at a great new job. At the time of the 16th of May, I still had five days until I started the new job. I had decided a few months before that to schedule a trip to CA, to see one of my closest friends. That was step # 2. So before I started the new job, I left on my birthday to go across the country to LA, and spend some time with the people who DO matter. I then decided that step #3 was to learn from my experiences. Since I was done with the old job, I would never repeat anyone else’s mistakes- I would follow that good ol’ Golden Rule: Treat people how you want to be treated! So that’s always in the back of my head, and I’m trying HARD to live up to it. Anyway more on that later. So, I don’t like flying too much, but I’ll do it. Excited for my trip, I got up at “O’God dark thirty” on my birthday (I am SO not a morning person, let alone a 4:30 in the morning person!), put on my most efficient airport clothes (slip on shoes and work out clothes, comfortable and effective!) and headed to the airport. I got through security in record time, which was fabulous for me because I really can’t stand swarms of irritated people waiting in lines. While waiting for takeoff, I got to sit and chat with the whole Philadelphia Soul, arena football team, because they were on the same flight out to LA that I was, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to chat up a bunch of physically elite men with nothing else to do? ;o) When it came time to fly out, I got on the plane and into my seat in the exit row at the front of the plane, (more leg room, sweet!) and got all settled, and ready to go. The man on my left ignored me completely, but the woman next to me on my right greeted me warmly, she seemed nice. She then turned around and said to the man behind her, “You okay, babe?”. Bummer- separated from your significant other, on a six hour flight. When I asked why they were apart, she just shrugged saying they were the only ones available when they booked the tickets. Well, I decided that if I were she, I’d want to be with him, so I offered to switch seats with him. They were delighted, it meant less leg room for me, but I got the window seat instead of a middle seat, so it wasn’t that bad, and I was only one row back, so it’s not like I had to sit at the tail of the plane and feel every little bump. They were so grateful, and seeing how happy it made them, made it totally worth it. (They snuggled up and fell asleep together, and it really warmed my heart to be following my Step # 3, and seeing positive results from it.) The flight was perfect, and I even dozed a little. which is pretty rare for me. I don’t typically sleep on planes. Before I knew it, I was being picked up at LAX, ready for an adventure!

Well, Karma must have been smiling on me because it definitely came back around. I didn’t offer to switch seats in the hopes of getting some karmic reward for it, but I think I had the best trip in CA that I could have asked for! Michelle and I explored the LA area, we went horseback riding, I got to see her teach the city kids about horses while feeding carrots to some pushy thoroughbreds (which in reality, I loved. I think a horse nuzzling my neck for more carrots is adorable!), we took a drive around the mountains just because, we went to Hollywood, the Observatory, ate really great food, and best of all…. we went to DISNEYLAND! Anyone who knows me, even a little bit, knows how much I love Disney movies. I know every word to all the classics (Beauty and the Beast especially, Belle is my favorite!) and I love the stories. (PS- that new show on ABC, Once Upon a Time, totally sucked me in, even though it’s really not that fabulous of a show. I’m a goner when it comes to that stuff!) I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Disney, but we were never fortunate enough to be able to take big family trips when I was younger. We were very blessed, but I guess family vacations just weren’t really an option. So, when Michelle said that we could go to Disney when I came to visit, I practically jumped out of my skin, best birthday present EVER! We started our trip to Disney with hardly getting caught in any traffic. That’s unheard of in LA, apparently all anyone does around there is drive, and sit in traffic. But not us, we breezed right over! So we got there, and got parking right up front, also apparently unheard of. We went down to the park and there were so few crowds! Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of people, it IS Disneyland after all. But Michelle has had to LEAVE before because the throngs of people were just too much, we didn’t have anything like that at all. We didn’t have to wait forever in lines, we got on all the rides we wanted to get on. Well, not all, we did have to get out of line for Splash Mountain because of technical issues (next time, Chelle, next time!). But we also had even more good luck come our way. We got to the Indiana Jones ride towards the end of the afternoon, we had already eaten and gotten on all the other good rides (how cool is the Pirates of the Caribbean ride?!), but this is one of the most popular in the park, and the line was long, over an hour wait. We were debating on waiting in the line for it, when a woman came up to us and said “Excuse me, we have these fast passes, and we happen to have extra, would you two like to come with me and my daughter? Someone might as well use them.” Holy cow!! A total stranger just saved us, completely out of the blue, and we got to skip the line with their fast passes! The ride would’ve been well worth the wait, but hey if you don’t have to wait, then why would you?! We were thanking our lucky stars that we gained back a whole hour and decided to go over to the California Adventure Park. I’d never seen that either, so I wanted to know what it was all about. Well, this was right before the Cars attraction opened so there wasn’t much going on in the park, but I definitely wanted to ride the Tower of Terror ride, it’s also apparently a Must Do, when you got to Disney. But alas, when we got there, we saw the line, the looooooong line, and the estimated wait time was over two hours! I didn’t need to ride it that badly, so even though I was a little disappointed, we decided it really wouldn’t be worth the time. As we were deciding this, however, another woman walked up to us, a little dark haired woman, and said in a Hispanic accent “Here girls, you take these, we’re going home now.” and she hands me two fast passes to Tower of Terror and walks away! I didn’t even get to say thank you! Michelle practically had to scrape her jaw off the pavement, this NEVER happens, let alone twice in one day! We must’ve looked like little 4th graders, standing there giggling at our good fortune. We just couldn’t help but laugh, Michelle said someone up there must’ve agreed with me when I decided it was going to be my best year ever! It certainly was an amazing trip, and time spent with Michelle and her hubby. I had a fabulous time and I can’t wait to go back! (There’s more, but this post is a bit long, so I’ll describe my other adventures, and events of the best year ever soon!) Until next time!

July 3, 2012

It came time to act.

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:04 pm by Restless Idealism

     I tend to neglect this blog when I’m stressed, it seems. Given the amount of stress I’ve had since last March, it’s not surprising that I haven’t written anything in so long. So, this post will be some background on what’s been going on since 15 months ago, and I really will try to keep this up a little better now that my life has improved exponentially!

    I’ve learned some things (always good right?). It’s amazing how much a certain situation will reveal, AFTER you get yourself out of it. The overwhelming, consuming force in my life for much of the past year and a half was my job. It used to be great, and things just got worse, and worse… and worse. When I’m in a bad situation, I tend to overanalyze in all the wrong ways about how to fix things. Now, I’ve learned to recognize when things are bad, and then find out how to ACT. Sitting around thinking about how bad things are is no good for me. I did it for way too long with my previous job, and I’m so glad I finally acted to make things better. 

          I learned a lot about office politics, and how people who are willing to lie will get what they want. I have learned so much about taking responsibility for my part in things too. My previous job was making me miserable, for about ten million reasons. The reasons my job was good: my staff, helping the patients, and friends at the office, were just not enough to stay in it anymore. It was really hard to leave them after 5 and a half years, but I did what I had to do. I needed to look at my own part in it though, I needed to see how I was contributing to my own unhappiness. I stayed in a job I wasn’t enjoying, could not succeed in, wasn’t supported in, and had no room for professional growth because of that lack of support. Part of that was because there were aspects of the job that just had to get done, without errors. I made mistakes, and owned them, but was told by all the people I went to for help that it was just me, and I have to step up. Well, that’s not useful. I was looking for guidance and help, and the support I was promised when I took the job, but was left to hold the weight of the job without any of that. I worked for doctors who told me I was doing a fantastic job, my staff told me when I was doing well, and when they had suggestions for me to do better, but the administration under which I worked got to a point where they were done with me. The fallout from that was insurmountable. My boss actually started sabotaging me, and retaliating against me when I tried to make things better. It was terrible. I went through the proper channels, in HR, to seek help. I subsequently watched the administration, and HR close ranks against me to cover up for my boss’ bad behavior. It was simply easier to push me under the rug. Her position was more important than mine, so somewhere along the way, the administrators decided they could comfortably lay their heads on their pillows at night and sleep soundly with the choices they made, and I was left to be abused with no recourse. They decided to tolerate my boss’ egregious abuse of power, privilege, and indiscretions, and make my life so miserable that eventually I would give in. And I did, by leaving. But before I did, I fought in every way I knew how. I took the issues up the chain, I told the truth, and I tried so hard to rise above it. Everyone I sought advice from urged me to report the things I had seen and endured, and so I risked my own neck, and wrote it out in reports and gave it to HR. At one point, they told me it was all in my head. I nearly imploded when I heard that one! I’m pretty sure that the things several people have complained about are not just in my own head. (I can’t even write them on a public forum, it’s too disgusting, and I wouldn’t subject any one else to it!) I actually laughed as I left the meeting when I asked what should be done about my own, and my coworkers, complaints, and they told me that “…perhaps I was blowing things out of proportion in my own head, because that happens you know.” (I must admit, there was one HR staff member who fought for me, but this person had limited ability to make the decisions since they were not the rep. of our division. I will always be grateful for this person’s help though, they were the reason I was able to stick it out as long as I did. At least someone in that position knew that what was going on was wrong, and actually said it, instead of feeding me crap to cover it up.)  

     Consequently, I was left with a serious moral dilemma: do I become one of those people just to save this job, or do I be the woman I want to be, the woman I want my future children to look up to, and walk away? I took it personally, mistake number 1 on my part. It wasn’t personal, it was all about what made my boss look good. If a boss is willing to lie, cheat, and bury a hardworking subordinate in order to get heat off her, then she’s not worth the air she breathes, in my humble opinion. So why was I trying so hard to get back in her good graces? It made no sense, and if I had been able to step back, I would’ve left far sooner. No one, and I mean no one, deserves the abuse I took. Even though the doctors, and staff who knew what was going on, gave me their support, it was only morally encouraging, and functionally impossible to lean on. It got to the point where they tried to “write me up” with one of the charges being that I was posting on Facebook during work hours. How they knew this I have NO CLUE, because my Facebook is strictly private (people beware, your “friends” might not always be so loyal!) and yes, I did in fact place a post on Facebook at about 3pm the day before they presented me with the “write up”. What anyone failed to point out to the administration, was that I was OFF that day. The look on their faces was priceless when I pointed that one out! (The write up was actually completely false, and they weren’t able to keep it because all of the “charges” were lies, and I had by then, kept EVERYTHING so I successfully rebutted all of them.) I resigned a few days later.

     A combination of fear, intimidation, desire to “succeed”, and pride kept me where I was for so long. But I’m so happy to say that since I’ve left, a literal weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m so much happier now, than I was trying to please everyone else but myself. I learned that there are really good, smart, successful people who are concerned about the moral correctness of their industry. I decided to go work with them. I made a pact with myself, a few days before I started this new job. It was the day before my 28th birthday, I said to myself that I would have the best year ever and never let ANYONE treat me the way I was treated this past year and a half at my previous job, and I’m well on my way! (details to come!)

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