Looking Back on 2019

My husband would like you to know that the new decade does not start until next year – 2021, so everybody needs to calm down. (Because, you know, year one started at one, not at zero, so decades start with ones and end with zeros, not start with zeros and end with nines.)

Of course I pointed out to him that whether it is a new decade or not, it is now the 2020’s and no longer the 2010’s, so maybe focus on that. Nobody likes a know-it-all.

One thing I do know is that I don’t have the energy (or the attention span) to focus on the past decade whether it’s come to an end or not. But if I were to give some brief highlights of the past 10 years (I know, I know – brevity is not my strength) these few things come to mind:

I started the decade with a child in middle school and a child in elementary school and now I have a college graduate and a college student.

I had a book published.

I ran two 10Ks. (I never in my life thought I’d ever run a 5K.)

10K runner
There I am, getting ready to run my first 10K.

I became a country music fan (which, believe me, 10 years ago I would have found even more unlikely than becoming a runner).

Old Dominion Meet And Greet
Hot country rockstars & happy me!

I turned 50. (Which is both awesome and terrible. But mostly awesome. Mostly.)

I’m 50 and I’m Fabulous!

But more than anything I learned that when I set my mind on something and work hard and focus, I can accomplish it. It may not turn out as planned, but I can do it. I have the power to make things happen. (We all do.) I just have to remind myself to set goals and focus rather than get bogged down by my inner-laziness and the general minutiae of daily life.

But again… I’m not reflecting on the 2010’s. I’m reflecting on 2019. And the minutiae of my life last year.

On the first day of this year I ran away and hid from my family and read over my happiness journal – my calendar where I write down the happiest moment of my day. And I have to tell you – some days are shit and it’s hard to find a happy moment. And some days are so great, that all of it is my happy moment. But most days are in between. I wouldn’t call them boring. Just… ordinary. And so my happy moments are often the same – dinner with Dave and Marley, sleeping in my own bed after a trip, a wonderful meal during a trip, the inspiration and love I feel from my writers’ group (even though I haven’t really been writing this year), happy hour with friends, walking my dog.

Here are some of the moments that stuck out for me as I read my calendar. Some of them big. Most of them quite small. All of them the sum of the parts that make up a happy life.

January 17 – First Writers’ Group of the year. What a happy heart that gives me. Especially at the end when we lit a candle and set our intention for the year. How lucky and grateful I am to be part of this tribe of women.

January 29 – I went to Trader Joe’s after work and the sunset was beautiful. I heard a girl working there say to one of her co-workers, “Go look at the sunset. Trust me.” He went to look and afterwards told her, “Thank you. That was beautiful.”

February 7 – Happy hour with Debbie, Jeannie. and Linda. When we were leaving Jeanne hugged me so tightly and said, “I was really looking forward to seeing your face. I told Jimmy I was seeing a playgroup mom tonight.” Playgroup days were the best days and old friends are the best friends.

February 28 – Landed at LAX. Home! When I came down the escalator to the exit I saw a family waiting anxiously for a loved one at the bottom and a guy waiting for someone as well. The girl in front of me dove into his arms and they gave each other the biggest embrace. I felt like I was in the middle of Love Actually.

March 24 – Playgroup mom mini-reunion. Chandler and his first best friend Katie were reunited. Seeing them catch up and catching up with some of my first mom friends filled my heart with love and happiness.

March 26 – I finally saw Matt Nathanson last night and it was everything I thought it would be and more. It was AMAZING. (He’s also very funny.)

If you ever have the chance to see Matt Nathanson live, do it. He is amazing.

April 15 – I put a picture of Marley when she was five on my phone as the screensaver. She is on the pumpkin patch field trip and she is just done. She looks so cute and it makes me so happy every time I look at it.

This girl is done!

May 5 – I met Dave Grohl and got my picture taken with him. The end!

Look how happy Dave Grohl is to meet me!

May 12 – Marley gave me a thoughtful present and lovely Mother’s Day card. She does appreciate me and I love her so much.

May 20 – Seeing Chandler walk across the stage at his graduation ceremony and hearing his name called. He had the hugest smile on his face. His happiness shined through.

I realize he is not walking across the stage in this photo, but those photos were blurry AF.

June 8 – I spent the day with Rita in Ventura. All of it. I’m so blessed to have this friendship.

June 16 – At the end of Concerts in the Park I was watching the families with small kids running around, playing – knowing they didn’t realize how quickly this season of their lives would pass. I was filled with such a feeling of calmness and happiness and nostalgia. It was almost overwhelming. I wanted to hug the feeling and hold it tightly forever.

June 26 – I walked Geordie through the park tonight. There was a father and son playing baseball, a mother doing a word search puzzle while her son played on the jungle gym, a family having a picnic on a blanket, and a woman laying on the grass playing with her little dog. And not one of them was on their phone.

July 5 – I drove up to Cheryl’s house in Sacramento and I finally met my longtime blogging friend, Kim Sisto Robinson in person and she is as down to earth and lovely as I knew she’d be.

Look at these beauties – my longtime skirt! blogging friends Kim & Cheryl.

August 3 – Beach with Rita. My first time this summer just hanging out at the beach. Stepping onto the sand and smelling the ocean and the sunscreen just filled my heart with joy.

August 23 – Driving from Knoxville to the Cumberland Gap. What a gorgeous drive. I played music from my phone through the car stereo and took in the beauty. I kept thinking how Chandler would have loved that drive.

September 1 – Just me and Marley for dinner. We played 3 games of Rummy Tile afterwards. She beat me twice! GRRRR! This competitive mama does not like that! But it was so nice to spend the night with her.

September 23 – Chandler snuck home at 3AM. I had no idea. Seeing him walk into the den and say, “What’s for breakfast, Mom?” was the best surprise ever.

October 8 – Marley got an A on her Women’s History test and she was so happy and so proud of herself. (And so was I.)

November 12 – Listening to Bean’s last show on the Kevin & Bean podcast. So many memories. I’ve been listening to that show for over half my life.

December 9 – The fall colors have been making me so happy. I thought fall had passed us by, but it’s here and it’s glorious.

December 31 – We ate too much and drank too much and binge-watched The Politician (Ryan Murphy at his best). The kids were in and out – mostly out – and it was nothing fancy or exciting, but it was nice to know that this is my life. I have enough. I am content.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. This was a long one. (I know. I know. They’re all long ones.) I hope your 2019 (and your 2010’s) was full of more happy moments then sad ones and you’ve been able to take the time to reflect on them. I’d love to hear what some of them are.

Here’s to love and laughter in 2020 and beyond.

10K Training

I’m training for my second 10K. It’s in less than three weeks. I ran my first 10K last year and said I’d never do one again. One and done. But of course I always said I’d never be a runner either. (Not that I am.) I seem to live in the land of never say nevers.

I wasn’t going to run the 10K this year but all of my running friends talked me into it. “C’mon, it’ll be fun.” “You have to run the Great Race.” Turns out I’m a sucker for peer pressure.

And now? It seems at least half of my friends have dropped out due to injuries. And the ones that are running rarely show up for the Sunday group runs. Kids’ sports schedules. College tours. Life. (Assholes!)

We get running  homework every week from our coach. Last year we had to train five days a week and I never skipped a run. I had to give up so much. I never had time to write. This was part of the reason I wasn’t going to run again. I can’t write in the mornings or go to boot camp – the things I actually enjoy doing at 5AM. But last year I would go to the gym and run on the treadmill (ugh) next to my friends and we’d moan and groan about how terrible running is and how much it sucks and there was a comfort to that. And as much as I hated running, (and I did – still do) it felt good to be doing something hard, something I never thought I could do.

This year I haven’t been running on the treadmill. I’ve been trying to write at 5:00 and then run at 6:30 when it’s light outside. It kind of works, but only kind of. And now that the clocks have moved forward it will still be dark at 6:30. I might have to hit the treadmill again. Ugh.

Our coach has scaled back the training this season to four days a week, but I’ve only been running two or three. I’m trying to find some sort of magic formula between the writing and the running and the boot camp classes, but it’s hard. I haven’t figured it out yet. Last year running was keeping me skinny, but this year the pounds are slowly starting to creep back on. Yesterday I ran six miles and today when I got on the scale I’d gained half a pound. Six miles! WTF!

At least I know I can still run six miles (6.2 actually). It’s the first time I’ve done it since the race last year. I had to walk some of it, but not much. I ran the 6.2 in 1:09:34 – an 11:14 mile. Not great – a little slower than my 1:06:58 10K time last year, but like I said, I’ve really scaled back on my training. My goal is just to finish, not to finish fast.

In less than three weeks I’m going to run this stupid race. My stupid friends who talked me into it had better be at the finish line cheering me on. And then except for Sunday runs on flat terrain where people actually show up and there is coffee and gossip afterwards I am done with running. I will never ever ever run another 10K again. (Says the girl from the land of never say nevers.)

What I Learned in 2014 (And Other Things)


Some years I learn a lot. Most years I am greatly reminded of things I already know. This year was a bit of a mix. But whether I learned it or already knew it, here are some things (as Oprah would say) I know for sure…

Being married for 20 years is an accomplishment to be proud of. (And not for wimps.)

The mama bear instinct to protect your child when an injustice is done to them does not wane as your child approaches adulthood. If anything it becomes even more fierce.

Parenting a teenage girl is also not for wimps. (And probably why wine was invented.)

I can run a 10K (and  not die).

Middle school sucks.

Helping your child through the college application process is more stressful and overwhelming than can possibly be imagined. (And must be added to the list of things that is not for wimps.)

The joy of reconnecting with an old friend should not be underestimated.

The most wonderful blessing can come from what at first appeared to be an unfortunate situation.


High points of 2014…

A trip to Paso Robles to celebrate our 20 year anniversary (with lots of wine).

A crazy 3 1/2 day college tour road trip that covered 1,365 miles. (Yes, you read that right. 1,365 miles in 3 days. In a car.)

A girls’ trip to my family’s lake house in Michigan. We did nothing but lie in the sun, float on the lake, drink wine and eat.

A trip to Fresno (yes Fresno!) to watch Chandler run in the 2014 Cross Country State Championship race. He ran the race of his life and his team placed 2nd. A proud mama moment for sure.

My two favorite books in 2014

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

This is a beautiful memoir about the mother-daughter relationship told through the eyes of Corrigan as she remembers an around-the-world trip in her early twenties when she ran out of money and got a job as a nanny in Australia for a recent widower’s children. It is laugh-out-loud funny, heart wrenching and heart braking.  At the end of every short, wonderful chapter I would say to myself (often while crying), “I wish I could write like that.” Trust me when I say, that you will love this book.


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I loved this book so much. It shifts through time both before and after the apocalypse caused by a flu killing 99.9% of humanity. But it is less about the apocalypse and more about being stuck. One of the main themes of this tale (taken from a Star Trek episode) is “survival is insufficient.” That art must be experienced and appreciated and that we must live our lives to the fullest.

Here’s to wishing your 2015 is lived to its fullest.

Happy New Year!

(P.S. I’d love to hear about something you learned or loved in 2014.)




Reflections on Running My First 10K Race

Yes, the girl who hates running ran her first 10K. Phew! Got that item checked off the bucket list.


It was never on my bucket list. I never had any desire to run. Ever. I love working out, but I’ve always hated running. It makes you out of breath. And sweaty. It’s solitary. And it’s hard. Really, really hard.

It sucks.

But thanks to some annoyingly fit (and supportive) friends, the best gym in the world, and an incredible trainer (thank you Regan – I couldn’t have done it without you!), I DID IT! I ran my first 10K.

Every year for the last eight years I’ve stood outside my house and watched 10K and 5K runners run past my house for the Great Race of Agoura.

10K runners
It doesn’t look like it, but there are a lot of people running up my street.


This year my neighbors were watching me. (Well, me and 1,227 others, but I’m pretty sure mostly me.)

10K runner
My son is a great runner, but a crappy photographer.


I have to admit, it was pretty exciting. I gathered at the start line with all my run club friends getting ready to do something I never imagined myself doing. Something I never imaged I could do – running for six miles, putting one foot in front of the other and gasping for breath for over an hour straight. What the hell was I thinking?!

Race Start line
Me and part of my crew.


When the gun went off and I crossed the start line I was a bit emotional. A little choked up, actually. (Probably because I realized there was no turning back.) I smiled as I ran down the street and saw the people from my neighborhood waving at me (and 1,227 others). Dave was out early to a NASCAR race (don’t ask) and Marley slept over at my mom’s, but Chandler was waiting for me on our driveway. I waved at him excitedly as I passed. He gave me a head nod and raised his hand in sort-of half wave and turned around and walked inside. Apparently the moment was not as monumentous for him as it was for me. (Whatever. Teenagers!)

Mile One was surprisingly easy. It must have been the adrenaline. The excitement. My neighbors cheering me on. Plus it was all downhill. That certainly didn’t hurt.

The distance between Mile One and Mile Two was not quite as easy. I thought maybe they forgot to put up the mile marker. Or maybe I missed it. I couldn’t have missed it could I? Wasn’t there supposed to be a water station there? I was parched. Where the hell was Mile Two?! Finally! Water station and mile marker. Two miles down, four to go. (Seriously, what was I thinking?)

I hate to admit it, but between Mile Two and Mile Three it wasn’t that terrible. I didn’t like it, but I was well-trained and I knew I could do it. I never felt like I had to walk. Don’t get me wrong – I wanted to walk, but I never felt like I had to. My friends were all long gone. I’ve always been the slowest runner in my group (by far), but that was okay. There were still people behind me. A lot of people behind me!

When I hit Mile Four I was scared. Really, really scared. I knew the dreaded hills (or is that mountains?) were just around the corner.



But before the mountains hills, I was coming up to a U-turn so the runners ahead of me were running towards me. I’d call out my friend’s names and scream, “Whooo!” as I saw them pass and they’d scream, “Whooo, Charlene” back.

And then I saw him.

There was a child who could not have been more than five years old with a 10K race bib on coming towards me. I’m talking five-years-old tops. I was being outpaced by a freaking toddler!

Have I ever mentioned that running sucks?

(I know what you’re thinking, by the way. You’re thinking that I’m exaggerating. You’re thinking that some short nine-year-old was out there being all Bruce Jenner-like. (When Bruce Jenner was a runner and not a reality star.) No, I’m telling you, if this kid was in kindergarten he is for sure the youngest one in his class. Does one of the local pre-schools have a tiny tot track and field program? I mentioned this toddler running prodigy to my friends at the finish line and they saw him too. My friend Juliana said she saw him pass her, high-fiving people along the way. So I’m telling you, this kid was five-years-old. He was real. And I hate him!)

Anyway… on to the hills.

Here is the first one:

running hill
It’s even harder than it looks!


What the F?

Yeah, I had to go up that. Do you see how those people are bent over? No, it’s not because they’re vomiting (although who could blame them if they were?), it’s because that hill is so freaking steep you have to bend over like that to get up it. Also, I took this picture from the middle of the hill, so it’s also longer than it looks.

This is the hill of running legends and myths. This hill is the reason our asshole beloved trainer Regan wouldn’t let us run the course before the race. This is the hill that makes people make that face when you tell them you’re doing the Great Race of Agoura 10K. You know that face that people make when you tell them you’re about to do something stupid? The face with one eyebrow raised, their chin tilted down and the tsk tsk tsk that goes along with it? Yeah, this is that hill.

(I might or might have walked it. That’s for me to know and you to never ever find out.)

And then after going up another very terrible horrible no good hill I saw the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

No, it wasn’t this:

California beach at sunset



Or this:

Bobs Big Boy Burger



Or this:



Or even this:

Sorry kids!
Sorry kids!


It was this:

Hello gorgeous!

I cannot tell you the joy I felt seeing the 5-mile marker sign. It made me happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life (maybe this is what they mean by a runner’s high) because in 12 minutes or less I was going to be done! And it was all downhill! Well, mostly downhill. Until that last short but extremely steep hill that took me by complete surprise. (GRRR!)

As I came down the final hill and turned the corner towards the finish line I actually picked up some speed. I really wanted to finish strong. I do wish the last 50 feet weren’t on overgrown un-mowed grass, which is really hard to run on by the way.

My friends were waiting for me at the finish with high fives and sweaty hugs. We did it! And I’ll never ever ever have to do it again. (Maybe.)

10K medal
We did it!

And in case you were wondering how I did (you were, weren’t you?), here you go:

Not too bad for a first race
Not too bad for a first race


Oh, and can I end this post with a little bit of a mommy brag? My son? The one who gave me the half-hearted-yeah-whatever wave from the driveway? He ran the 5K and won. Yeah, that’s right – 1st place out of 999 runners. He must get his running gene from me! (Or I guess, probably not.)

One proud mama!
One proud and happy mama!


Today I am resting. But tomorrow I might go running again. (We’ll see.)


*And yes, Lisa, I did steal that picture of the beach at sunset from your Facebook page. (Thank you!)