It is 10:42 Mountain Time on Tuesday and I am on a plane
from Burbank to Denver. Soon I will land and I will get an hour of my life
back. Funny how time works like that.
The woman sitting next to me has been typing away at her
laptop for most of the flight. Maybe she’s a writer. A real writer who actually
writes. I don’t know because she’s at the window and I’m on the aisle, an empty
seat between us. We smiled politely at each other, said some pleasantries, but
it seems nobody talks on planes anymore.
Except for my trip out to Denver. There were two women
across from me talking excitedly the whole time, as if they were lifelong
friends, and yet somehow I knew they had just met. They talked and laughed and
I heard one of them say the F word when she told a story. They were comfortable
with each other. After we deplaned I used the bathroom (as I always do) and saw
one of them alone – my intuition confirmed. Fast friends for two and a half
hours, likely never to speak again. How nice for them to have passed the time
of the flight in such a lovely way.
I finally finished East
of Eden on this flight. My friend Laurel calls it The Great American Novel.
It took me two months to read because it’s six hundred and two dense pages and
I’m a slow reader who never takes the time to read. She loves Samuel Hamilton
so much. Adores him. The greatest character every written, she said. She might
not have said that. My memory is shit these days. I loved Lee. I found him the
most wonderful. I liked the book, but I didn’t love it like she did. It’s too
soon to say if it will stay with me or not, but I think maybe not. I wasn’t sad
that it was over like I was with Pride or
Prejudice (if we’re talking about books that are dense) and it was lovely
but I didn’t find it heartbreakingly beautiful (like The Goldfinch if we’re talking long-ass books that take two months
to read). Maybe my original assessment of John Steinbeck was right – he’s fine,
but I don’t love him.
And so that brings me back to this flight. I should have
paid for the internet and worked. That would have been the best use of my time.
And since it’s a work day and I’m on a work trip, probably appreciated by my
company and my boss. But I worked all day Saturday and was away from home on
Sunday (though I did not work and had an awesome day that was both relaxing and
fun-filled), so we’ll call it comp time.
I’m writing because I made a writing goal at my last writing group – to write two blog posts. The meeting is Saturday and I’ve not written one yet. I don’t know what to write about anymore. I said at my writing group recently that I no longer have anything to say that anyone wants to hear. Kim says that she doesn’t think that’s true, but I think she might be wrong. Because I’m just writing down my random thoughts on a plane and not one of them was funny and who would ever want to read that?
Is it too late to write a blog post where I reflect upon 2018? (Is it reflect upon or reflect on? I don’t know. I’m too lazy to look it up. Anyway…)
In fact, I think it’s one of the reasons I was never successful as a blogger. Well, there are many reasons. But I won’t bore you with all of them today. (And yes, boring you is probably one of them. Whatever. Moving on.)
It’s because I was never very topical. Whatever the topic of the day (hour, minute) other bloggers were writing about, I was always late to the party. I tend to let things like life and family (and general blaziness) get in the way of getting my butt in the chair to write.
I did sit down the first day of the year to relax and read my 2018 Happiness Journal to reflect on (upon?) the year that had just passed us and to set an intention for the year ahead.
Some wonderful things happened in 2018. Chandler turned 21. Marley turned 18, graduated high school and went on a trip to London and Edinburgh. I went to Stagecoach for the 6th year in a row and was back up in the VIP section. (Whoo Hoo!) I took on new responsibilities at work and got to travel to Las Vegas, Vancouver, Denver, Illinois, Texas (twice), Washington (twice), and Nashville. (Nashville! Squee!) Dave joined me on the Denver trip to mix pleasure with business and my friend Rita joined me when the work part of my Nashville trip ended and I extended the trip into an awesome girls’ weekend.
And some unspeakably terrible things happened. The Borderline shooting. The sad and sick truth is that everyone in this country knows what it feels like to wake up to the news of a mass shooting. But I have to tell you something. When it happens in your town it feels different. Because you were just at that nightclub having the time of your life two weeks beforehand. Because it was College Night and at least three of your friends had kids who were invited to go to the club but didn’t (thank God). Because your daughter knew one of the twelve people who were murdered. It’s different. And for those of you who don’t live here I hope it’s a difference you never have to feel.
And then less than 24 hours later the Woolsey Fire raged through our town. Before we had a chance to get over the shock of the shooting (let alone even begin the process of grieving) we had to evacuate our homes. My family was lucky. The fire came to our back hill, but not to our house. Just down the street, starting four doors down there are three houses that suffered damage. Some of my friends are still displaced due to damaged homes. Some of my friends lost their homes completely.
When I reflect on (I actually think I can use on or upon) 2018 I think a lot about luck. I’m lucky that I was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m lucky that the wind did not shift towards my house when the fire was on my back hill. I’m lucky to live in a community that has grown stronger in the wake of two terrible tragedies.
Every morning I try to sit down a think about the day before and focus on the one small (or sometimes big) moment that made me happiest. It teaches me to be grateful when life is stressful or busy or boring or wonderful or even terrible. To find light even when the tunnel is so long and so, so dark. And to not take for granted the light that shines brightly when it does so many days (weeks, months) in a row.
Here are some of my 2018 happy moments:
January 5 I took the day off work and spent it with Chandler. We went shopping and had a sushi lunch and visited Tom and Lisa. At the end of the day he hugged me and said thank you and that he liked spending the day with me.
February 8I wore bright Kelly green pants and a pink shirt to work today and it made me feel cheery.
February 17Dinner at Larson’s with Dale. It was so great to see her. She’s such an awesome person and I need to be a better friend and see her more often.
March 9Writers’ Group at Julie’s. And Lexi was there – yay! Julie gave us HER BOOK! Holding Lily in my own hands filled me with so much joy!
March 14Watching Marley’s speech on National Student Walkout Day. My daughter is a rockstar.
April 6I was walking Geordie and a saw a man coming home from work. When he opened his door I heard a little boy yell, “Daddy!” Oh how I remember that. Such joy! How wonderful!
April 21Writers’ Group was brought to a whole other level – karaoke! I sang Lady Antebelum’s A Kiss Goodnight and it was magic!
April 27Stagecoach. Those first steps walking into the pit and the excitement of the beat of the music pounding in my chest.
May 20My mom had a 100 year party for my grandparents and I had a happy/sad moment when I realized how much my grandmother would have loved that party – to be honored like that. I miss them.
June 8Hugging Chandler. Breakfast with Chandler. The four of us in one room. Chandler is home.
June 15Marley graduated high school. Hearing her name called was sublime. She was so happy and proud of herself. And I’m so happy for her.
July 5Dinner alone at the hotel bar in Vancouver. A cute bartender/server. Delicious food. An eight ounce glass of wine. Heaven.
July 14Hanging with Dave in Denver. Reconnecting. So nice to have a mini-vacay.
August 2Talking to Marley after dinner about music and watching her eyes light up. Priceless.
August 19Concerts in the Park with Mary. Drinking Sangria. Talking to friends. Loving my town.
September 23Breakfast tacos with Rhiannon. A long solo walk on the San Antonio Riverwalk. Wine at an airport bar. I had a lovely, lovely day.
October 19Borderline with Rita, Keri, and Linda for Jerrod Niemann. Country music – even when you don’t know the songs it makes you feel so good. (This one really breaks my heart.)
November 5My dad and I had to run an errand and he opened the car door for me and I remembered that is something that he does. Such a small gesture, but so nice and it made me happy to have stirred up that memory.
November 18When I got home from writing group (after midnight) Marley and Hunter had made a very elaborate fort and were laying in it watching TV. Oh how I love that!
December 23There was a time in the afternoon when we were all together in the house. Marley and I were baking cakes and I just had such a warm, happy feeling that we were all together. Home.
I’d love to hear from you. What do you think of when you reflect on (or upon) 2018?
Last weekend was reserved for two things: unpacking my living room and going to Sipurbia. My living room has been in boxes since we had our floors redone last year and I needed to get it unpacked and put back together once and for all. (Yes, I said last year, but it was December. And I’m a busy person. So shut up.)
But we were hit with an unexpected flood (I guess all floods are unexpected) due to a home plumbing repair gone wrong. So instead of returning my living room to its former glory, I spent most of the weekend mitigating the damage of the flood. Which included (but was definitely not limited to) emptying all of the books off five floor to ceiling book shelves. And then re-shelving them. (Thank you, Mom and Aunt Debbie – I couldn’t have done it without you.)
But this is not a story about the flood, or the brand new floorboards that need to be replaced (not all of them – just a few), or my disaster living room that keeps me from having company over to my house.
It’s a story about an unlimited wine and beer tasting event called Sipurbia.
Because who says no to that? (Not me!)
So, on Sunday afternoon when we finished our damage control (with the help of my mom and step-dad – again, THANK YOU!), instead of tackling the living room or (you know,) resting, we decided to go to Sipurbia as we had originally planned.
Because as my mom said to me Sunday morning, “You like to do everything.” And she is not wrong. (I like to have fun.)
Sipurbia was held just a few miles away from my house at Paramount Ranch, a national park where they have filmed literally hundreds of movies and TV shows including American Sniper (which must be why my friend Karin saw Bradley Cooper in Westlake Village a few years ago, because why the hell else would he be in Westlake Village?) and HBO’s Westworld. Plus the event benefited an awesome charity called the BumbleBee Foundation, so the beer and wine weren’t the only things there to make you feel good!
Because I am a nice wife I acquiesced volunteered to drive, so my wine drinking was limited, but my lucky husband’s beer drinking was unlimited. (Very unlimited – everyone was extremely generous with their pours.) My favorite wine was Cielo (so good) and Dave’s favorite beer was Santa Monica Brew Works (he thinks – remember his beer tasting was unlimited).
In addition to taking selfies, we stopped by the cutest photo booth in the world, Shutter Bus Co. and posed for some fun photo booth photos.
I drank a little more wine. Dave drank a lot more beer. We shopped at the stalls and danced to the Spazmatics, which everyone knows is the best 80’s cover band on the planet.
And we ran into a bunch of our friends. Including my friend Kim (AKA Agoura Hills Mom) and her husband Stewart.
Unedited ten minute writing prompt from my last writers’ group meeting. The prompt: Describe “that moment”.
Oprah says you’ll have an “Aha moment.”
“What was your Aha Moment?” she asks. As if I’m supposed to know. But the truth is, I haven’t had one yet. It seems Oprah’s had a ton of Aha Moments, so who knows – maybe she stole mine.
“I made cauliflower mashed potatoes,” she says on TV. “Get them at your local supermarket.”
But I searched my Vons high and low and I could not find those fucking cauliflower mashed potatoes anywhere. Maybe it’s because I’m a Trader Joe’s shopper.
So it seems not only can I not find my Aha Moment, I can’t even find Oprah’s Aha Moment even though it’s advertised on national television. During prime time.
There have been times I thought I’ve had an Aha Moment. AHA! That’s what I’m going to do. This or that or fill in the blank, but I’ve never done any of those things. I don’t even remember what any of them were because I didn’t do them. Aha meet blazy.* Blazy is the winner.
So that moment? I’m still waiting for it. Maybe I’ll find it one day in Vons next to Oprah’s cauliflower mashed potatoes.
*Blazy is a term my writing group came up with that means being blasé about your laziness.
So, there’s this young woman in my office named Angela who is super chill. (My seventeen-year-old daughter will never read this, but if she did, she’d roll her eyes all the way to the back of her head and say, “Mom! Don’t talk like that.” Anyway.) Angela said to me, “I saw this thing that looks really fun and made me think of you, but I don’t know if you’ll be offended by it.”
“Uh oh,” I said. “What is it?”
“It’s this wine and beer tasting event called Sipurbia,” she said.
“I know what that is!” I told her. “What would offend me about it? The fact that is sounds awesome?”
She giggled and shrugged.
“Or that it sounds like something a suburban mom would do?”
“Yeah, maybe that,” she said coyly.
“Well, that’s what I am,” I told her. “At this point, I sort of have to own it. Plus, it sounds like a lot of fun.”
“It does,” she agreed.
And you know when a fifty-year-old suburban mom (I know, I turned fifty two-and-a-half years ago, be quiet!) and a super chill twenty-five-year-old think something sounds fun, you know it’s going to be fun!
So, you’re asking, what in the heck is Sipurbia? It’s a wine and beer festival happening right here in Agoura Hills at Paramount Ranch. And when I say wine and beer festival I mean there will be unlimited (yes, unlimited) wine and beer tastings from local wineries and breweries. So please. Leave your car at home and make sure that Lyft app is downloaded on your phone.
There will also be food trucks, lawn games, cool vendors, and music. And when I say music, I mean the The Spazmatics (which everyone knows is the best 80’s cover band in the world!), 3 Strange Dayz (for those of you who prefer 90’s music), and a DJ to keep things going when the bands are taking a break.
Plus, if that weren’t enough the event benefits The Bumblebee Foundation, which gives financial and emotional support to families affected by pediatric cancer. So by going, you will not only be doing something good for yourself. You will be doing something good for others.
Here is all the info you need:
Website: www.sipurbia.com When: Sunday, May 6th 2018 from 3-7 p.m (last call at 6:30) Why: Benefiting Bumblebee Foundation (www.bumblebeefoundation.org)
Where: Paramount Ranch 2903 Cornell Rd, Agoura Hills, CA 91301 (just off Kanan)
What: Beer. Wine. Music. Food. Charity. Memories.
Look, Dave and I are actually going to be in Napa that weekend for a wedding on May 5th, but we’re hauling ourselves back home early Sunday morning so we can go to this thing. It sounds that fun.
Tickets: $40 (GA) & $100 (VIP) per person until 2/28. (And then they go up, so get them NOW!)
But because I’m so nice (and I want to hang out with you) if you click here to purchase tickets you will get 25% off if you use coupon code ROSS25
I sit at my writers’ group on Saturday night with my third (or maybe it’s my fourth) glass of wine in my hand and feel so lucky to be int this group of smart, funny, kind women who happen to be great writers. They encourage me and hold me accountable and don’t judge me. We laugh and cry and commiserate and tell each other our triumphs and heartaches and fears. I look forward to our meeting every month. I know that the next morning I will write “Writers’s group” in my happiness journal for Saturday, February 10th.
A little after midnight I receive a text from Dave asking if I’ve heard from Marley yet. She’s at a concert downtown at the Shrine and she said she’d text us on the way home. We knew it would run late, but it seems too late. I tell him I’ll come home and wait up for her.
Rina lives down the street and Dave dropped us off so we could take a Lyft home, but Kim only had one glass of wine and even though she lives in the opposite direction she says she’ll give us a ride. Julie’s husband dropped her off too, installing Uber in her phone so she can get home that way. Kim offers to drive her home too, but she declines, saying she lives too far (all the way in Thousand Oaks). We tell her Lyft is better and she promises to download Lyft next time. We tell her to text us when she gets home.
Marley’s phone goes straight to voicemail and she does not answer texts or Facetime. I’m not quite worried. Yet. But I’m tired and want to go to bed. Marley calls at 12:44. She’s sorry! No service! She can’t believe how late the show went. They are on their way home, but might stop for a quick bite to eat once they get in the Valley. I tell her fine, as long as they go through the drive through.
I sit on the couch with the dog snuggled next to me and try to read my book , but it makes me too sleepy, so I scroll through Instagram the blue light from my cell phone keeping me semi-alert. Julie group texts to thank Laurel for a lovely evening and to let us know that she is home safe and her Uber cherry has been popped. I let them know that Marley is on her way home. Drunk “I love you” texts circle around. I try to doze off but don’t really and Marley walks through the door at 1:45. She had fun and I’m happy that live music gives her the same thrill it gives me. Since it’s technically Sunday, maybe I’ll hold onto that feeling for my Sunday happiness journal entry.
Sunday morning I wake up late, but not nearly late enough. I’m lucky that too much wine and cheese and not nearly enough sleep did not net me a hangover. I have a cup of coffee and make toast out of the Trader Joe’s beer bread I made for dinner Friday night and chat with Dave. I’m meeting my mom at Costco at 10:00, but have to run errands first so I need to get moving. I go to Bed Bath & Beyond for hairspray, mascara, and a nail file, using my $5 off $15 coupon. I text my mom and ask if we can meet at 10:15. I didn’t get going quite as early as I’d meant to and I’m running late as usual. Then I head to Target with a return and pick up cedar balls and store brand peanut butter for the dog’s Kong. Small, but necessary suburban errands.
We take our time and Costco and buy too much and chat in the parking lot after loading up our cars as our frozen items grow warm. I don’t get home until almost noon. I put the groceries away, make myself some tuna, and start some laundry. At 1:00 I insist Marley wake up. I spend the rest of the day on the laundry, organizing papers and filing, getting my tax documents together for my appointment with our accountant on Thursday. Sunday busy work.
Rina and Kim and I have been texting throughout the day. Rina has clothes she had put aside for a clothing swap that Kim and I went to a couple of weeks ago that Rina was unable to attend and wants us to come over and look at them before she donates them. We were supposed to go over at 4:30 but she is stuck at a birthday party and it’s looking like 5:00. Too late, I say. I need to start dinner. Maybe another night? Kim calls me at 4:59. “I’m coming over to get you. I’m already on my way. I need to cross this off my list. It will only take a few minutes.” I inform my family I’m being kidnapped and dinner will be a bit later and head out the door.
We go through Rina’s clothes quickly. Rina’s family is going to a friend’s for dinner at 5:30. Kim has been hiking all day and still needs to make her Sunday trip to the market. And I have to make dinner. But it doesn’t feel rushed. It feels nice to be with my friends, even briefly. A quick reprieve from the busyness of a Sunday evening. Again I feel lucky. To live in a Shangri-La at the northern most end of Los Angeles. To spend a Sunday doing mundane and ordinary, yet useful things.
I go home and Dave and Marley are watching TV and I smell popcorn, their hunger unable to wait for my late dinner. After a dinner of roasted chicken, roasted cauliflower, green beans and rice, we all clean up and then I walk the dog. I choose “new country” on Pandora and decide to do a two and a half mile loop. Dave and Marley want to watch something that doesn’t interest me, so I retreat to the bedroom to read my book. It’s only 8:00, but I put on my pajamas and snuggle into bed early at the end my my ordinary Sunday in the suburbs. I am content.
What will I write in my happiness journal for Sunday? All of it.
Go to the gym for a 5:30 class or write. (Translation: go to the gym or fuck around on the internet while doing everything in my power to avoid writing.)
Take Marley to school. (She has zero period and her first class starts at 7AM.)
Take the dog on a two and a half mile walk.
Get ready for work and be at work by 9AM (ish). (I’m really supposed to be there at 8ish.)
But on Monday I wanted to be at work early, so I walked at 6:00 during my workout/fuck around on the internet writing time instead of after dropping Marley off at school. And then I remembered that is was finals week. Finals week has a different schedule and the kids go to school later. What time did Marley have to be at school?
We did talk about finals the night before and whether or not Marley was prepared (she swore she was, but I never saw her crack a book over the weekend), but we never talked about what time school started. Or we started to, but never finished the conversation. We must have gotten distracted by a squirrel or something.
I stopped mid-walk and tried to find the schedule on my phone, but either the school’s mobile app doesn’t have that information, or I’m not mobile app savvy enough to figure out how to find it in the middle of a dog walk when it’s freezing outside (45 degrees – BRRR!), so I texted Marley, whose morning routine is to get up at 6:00, grab her cellphone off the kitchen table (because we make her turn it in at 10:00 at night so she can go on her iPad or laptop or whatever and roll her eyes at how stupid we are to think that we are helping her go to sleep at a decent hour by taking away her phone), go back to bed until 6:40, where she takes all of ten minutes to get ready for school so I can drive her, to see if she knew what time finals started. But since she goes back to sleep she didn’t answer.
So I texted my friend Kim because even though her kids aren’t in high school, she’s the Communication Coordinator for the school district, plus she gets up early to actually write, so I figured she’d have access to that information.
So I was right that is was finals week. But finals didn’t start until Wednesday. And on Wednesday morning when I banged on her door at 6:50AM because she hadn’t come out and was going to be late, she yelled from the other side that her final didn’t start until 7:40 so she was still sleeping.
Even though I swear on Tuesday night (keeping the Monday morning debacle in mind) I asked her what time her first final was. She told me that she thought it was at the regular time, but she would check. She must have checked, but she never told me. And I should have remembered and confirmed, but I must have been distracted by a squirrel. Or something.
So I guess it’s me that’s the unorganized mess. And in five months she’ll be eighteen. I’m not sure she stands a chance.
A buffoon was sworn in as president, beloved musicians succumbed to depression or hard living (RIP Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Tom Petty), a madman killed 58 people at a country music festival, and Mother Nature showed us through hurricanes and wildfires that climate change is no joke
On the home front, a tree fell through my house during a storm in February.
Okay, through my house is an exaggeration. It fell on my house, creating a big hole and lots of damage and a ton of drama. And due to the drama (battles with the insurance company, contractor issues, etc.) we weren’t able to get new flooring until the end of the year. So instead of looking like this four days before Christmas:
My house looked like this:
Yes, ten months later. Because of the tree.
And no, my house did not look like this all year. But the scheduling for our flooring could not have been worse – new laminate floors throughout the house the day after Thanksgiving and new carpeting in the bedrooms four days before Christmas.
But I did manage to put together a Christmas in miniature in our den.
The kids got the gifts they wanted. And both told me separately that it was one of the best Christmases they’ve ever had.
And amidst the chaos, a bunch of good stuff happened as well. Things both humongously big and infinitely small. And I tried as best as I could to capture them in my happiness journal – the calendar that I keep to write down my happiest moment from the day before when I get up early to write (or more often not write) and drink coffee in quiet solitude.
And on January 1st, I sat down in my living room (that looked better than the picture above, but was (and is) still deep in boxes) with a glass of champagne and my happiness journal to reflect on 2017.
Here are some of my moments. Some of them big. Some quite small. But all of them filled me (at least momentarily) with joy:
January 3: When Chandler told me good night he said, “Sweetest sweet dreams in the whole wide world and have good luck.” (Which is what I used to say to him when he was little.) I will miss him when he goes back to school.
January 21: Marching with Marley and Arlyne and Marisa and thousands of other women for women’s rights. The signs. The sisterhood. The feeling. All of it.
February 12: I went to a clothing exchange and was talking to a woman who lost 90 pounds (the hard way – through diet and exercise) and she told me what a blessing the exchange has been to her because she could never have afforded to buy clothes in all the sizes she’s been. Listening to her gratefulness made me so happy and grateful myself.
March 23: Watching Marley audition for TedX. Wow! That kid is amazing.
March 24: Writers’ Group – Julie telling us that Lily by Any Other Name is going to be published. I’m so happy for her.
April 28: Heading out to Stagecoach was fab, but the highlight of my day was Chandler calling to say he got into Berkeley. OMG! Berkeley!
May 7: My mom’s 70th birthday party. I really think she had fun. Seeing her face when we brought out the cake. I love her so much.
May 20: Hearing the first drum beats of Sunday Bloody Sunday as U2 opened their set literally filled my heart with joy.
June 11: Chandler clipping a rose from the front yard because he loved the pop of color against the gray sky. And knowing that I taught him that – to seek out everyday beauty.
June 23: Driving home from Friday night yoga, I was singing in my car. At a stoplight I looked at the car next to me and saw Steve (also driving home from yoga) rocking out in his car.
July 16: While I was making dinner we were listening to music and Dave was sitting on the couch reading, I noticed he was swinging his feet back and forth to the music. That made me smile.
August 20: Taking an hour long nap on the couch in the afternoon. Heaven.
August 25: Dad literally crying tears of joy at dinner and telling us this was his best birthday ever. (My brothers and I flew out to Texas to surprise him for his 70th birthday.)
September 23: Tailgating at Coastal Country Jam. All of it. All of it. All of it. Hanging with Lindy and Kerry. Getting a pic with Matt Ramsey. Meeting so many people. Putting my feet in the water. The music. The love. Dancing on the truck. Sharing all of it with Rita who feels it too. Best day ever.
October 13: Awesome date night. Dan Wilson at the Troubadour. I loved what he said about writing: It’s 10% hope (at the beginning), 80% self-hatred (in the middle) and the last 10%… Well, I didn’t die. OMG! So true!
November 1: Singing Something Just Like This at the top of my lungs in my car. There were sun rays beaming through the clouds. It was magic.
November 17: I say it every month, but only because it’s true. Writer’s Group fills my soul with love and my heart with happiness.
December 18: I said to Dave, “I made you laugh,” and he said, “Every day.”
So yes, 2017 was a struggle. But also, it was pretty great. I’ve read time and again that the key to happiness is gratefulness. And I am grateful – for the big moments (did I mention Chandler is attending Berkeley?) and the little moments (whether it’s for giving her a ride or making her breakfast or putting her clothes in the dryer (but only so I can put mine in the washer), Marley tells me “thank you” every day) and everything in between.
I’d love to hear from you. Tell me a big moment and a little moment that made you happy in 2017.
Four years ago I participated in a six-week, Biggest-Loser-Style fitness and weight loss challenge called Just Lose It at my gym, Stevenson Fitness.
I wrote a weekly blog post about the program and my process and how terrible it all was.
Actually, it wasn’t terrible. I mean, it was because it was so damn hard. (And I’m not talking about the grueling workouts or the clean eating, I’m talking about the fact that I couldn’t drink wine for six weeks!)
But it was also awesome, because I lost 12 pounds, 4.2% body fat and a whopping 13.5 inches of flab. (Almost 4 inches were from my waist!) Then I continued on working out with my teammates and eating clean(ish) and went on to lose four more pounds. I even started running (something I had never done or had any desire to do) and ran in a 10K race. Yeah, I was rockin’ it.
Well. That was four years ago. I managed to keep the weight off for two years, but then. You know how it is.
Eating healthfully takes planning and that takes time and who has that?
My plantar faciitis flared up again and I was unable to workout for a few months. (What did you say? I could have ridden the bike and done upper body? I can’t hear you because I’m plugging my ears and saying, “La-la-la-la-la.” Also. Shut up.)
And I got a new job a year ago that likes to keep its employees (very) well fed. (Turns out I forgot the word “no” was in my vocabulary when it comes to treats in the breakroom.)
Also, I was drinking a lot of wine. Like, one or two (or, okay, sometimes three) glasses a night. Not every night. But let’s say if a month has 30 days, then I probably had wine 28 of those days. So, okay. Every night.
And blah and blah and blady-blah-blah-blah. (Insert reasons and excuses here.)
So that 16 pounds I lost? It slowly crept back on. With a couple more. I found myself heavier than I’d ever been except for pregnancy and postpartum. Bleh.
And even though I obsessively got on the scale every single day (so it’s not like I didn’t know), I somehow managed to convince myself it wasn’t that bad. I mean, okay, so most of my pants didn’t fit anymore, but I still wore a medium top. (And the same shoe size!)
And then I saw this picture of me and almost cried.
And I’m not talking tears of joy because I’m with Shane McAnally, Nashville’s hottest songwriter and producer. And not because my bangs are all jaggedy. (Seriously, WTF is going on there?) Because look at my face. It’s so fat. And my face is always the last place I gain weight. It’s like my body hits maximum capacity and there is nowhere else for the fat to go, so it floats up to my face.
I knew it was time to get serious and do something. And since my gym was starting another round of Just Lose It, I decided to give it another go.
But as excited as I was to participate in the program again (well, maybe excited isn’t quite the right word), I also felt a bit of dread. Not because I had to give up my beloved wine (okay, maybe a little because of that) or because of the hard work I was going to have to put in (okay, maybe a little because of that too), but because I felt like a bit of a failure. I mean, I succeeded in this program four years ago, and here I was again, three pounds heavier than when I started the first time.
Would everyone think I was a big loser (and not the right kind) for joining this program again?
As it turns out, it was quite the opposite. What I got was encouragement. High fives, and “way to goes” and “you look great.”
We all fall down. And when we do we have a choice: sit there in the dirt and cry about our fat face (as we’re stuffing it) or stand up, dust ourselves off, and cry about the wine we’re not drinking and the dark chocolate almonds with sea salt we’re not shoveling into our gullet because our mean trainer has given us a clean eating diet and making us do hard workouts six days a week.
Okay, that was a terrible analogy, but you know what I’m saying. The real failure is not falling down. It’s not getting back up.
So for six weeks…
I got up every morning at 5AM and did a seven minute workout that at first was really, really hard and by the end was (almost) easy.
I ate clean. (Bye bye wine, dark chocolate and break room goodies, and hello chicken, chicken, more chicken, vegetables, vegetables, vegetables and quinoa.)
I recorded every thing I ate and drank in a food journal. (Boy is that eye opening. If you’ve never kept a food journal, you should try it some time. You’d be amazed at how much mindless eating you do throughout the day. At least I was.)
I drank an ocean full of water. Daily.
I weight trained three days a week at 6AM (good morning!) with these awesome ladies under the guidance of our trainer, the mean, terrible, awful awesome Christy. (I do not think there was one workout that I did not whine at her. Or swear at her. Or both.)
I worked out three days a week on my own doing sadistic cardio routines created by the Just Lose It evil masterminds. (We were encouraged to do our cardio as a group, but our schedules never seemed to line up. Stupid jobs and kids.)
I went to multiple Happy Hours and only had club soda with a (teeny-tiny) splash of cranberry juice with a lime squeeze. (Make that Unhappy Hour.)
Also I stopped drinking wine. And eating chocolate. (Oh, I said that already? Sorry.)
It was terrible.
But also. It was amazing.
I felt great. (When I wasn’t achy and hungry.)
I slept great. (Turns out not drinking wine and being physically exhausted from grueling workouts helps you sleep. Who knew?)
And about half-way through, I started looking great.
In the end I lost 14.4 pounds, 6.9% body fat and 14.75 inches! (5 inches from my waist alone!!!) Even better than the first time. (Okay, okay, I had more to lose this time. But still.)
And did I mention that it was a contest? We competed as a team. (Sadly my awesome team, the Iron Maidens -great name, right?- were robbed and did not win.)
But we also competed as individuals and guess what? All that hard work, clean eating and whining about not drinking wine paid off, because I was the biggest loser of all. (Meaning, I was the winner!)
So, yes, I am a big loser. (Exactly the right kind.)
Below is the result of the writing prompt “What are you looking at?” from a recent writers’ group meeting. My friend Kim decided to be brave and post hers. (Which by the way wasn’t that brave because it’s so good. You really need to read it.)
So I’m being brave and posting mine. I always intend to write fiction during our prompts, but almost never do. The event below never happened, but it’s also not exactly fiction.
“What are you looking at?” Dickie said.
“Nothing,” I answer, but we both know it’s not true.
“Liar,” he says.
“Fuck off!” I tell him and his eyes go big.
“I’m telling mom,” he says and we both laugh because that’s how it used to be. Except I never told my brother to fuck off. I don’t think. If I had I’d have gotten my mouth washed out with soap. That’s how it was back then. Mouth washed out with soap for bad language. The wooden spoon for… I honestly can’t remember for what. Lying. Defiance. Kicking in the bathroom door because I locked myself in when we were fighting. We did that. Kicked the door in. Twice.
(Side note: I tried washing Marley’s mouth out with soap once. But liquid soap doesn’t work quite as well as that bar.)
We fought a lot. We weren’t close.
But we are now. Or at least close-ish. We’re different. So different. I mean he voted for Trump. But I forgive him. Almost.
But we have each other’s backs.
“I’m looking at you,” I decide to tell him. “I’m glad you’re my brother.”
*My brother says he didn’t vote for Trump. But he also didn’t vote for Hillary. I forgive him. (Almost.)