Why Top 45?

These are the things that float to the top of my list of activities that I want to do for the year 2012 when I am 45 years old. The list is comprised of things that I have either never tried or have wanted to try and just didn't have the courage or time to do it. Follow along and watch my progress and feel free to comment or add words of encouragement to help keep me going for the next 365 days!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Home Highlights

  1. Make my bed each weekday morning - ongoing
  2. Garden enough to produce some vegetables/herbs - ongoing
  3. Get an egg from a hen in our coop - ongoing
  4. Empty kitchen sink each weekday night - ongoing 
  5. Redecorate Nicole’s room for 10th birthday - June

As you can see from the list above, I am focusing on some things around my house for the next year.  To be honest with you, I have started trying to do #1 and #4 already since I figure I need to have the habits in place to keep doing them all next year.  I am not a slob, and I am not OCD either about my house.  I figure if I can pick it up quickly enough to have it be presentable if someone where stopping by in 30 minutes, then I am happy.  I believe that there are so many more things in life (like spending time snuggling and spending time with my daughter before she doesn't want me to any more) that are more important then having everything in its place after all, most of us have all heard the saying, "A place for everything and everything in it's place."  I am really starting to see a shift in my attitude about #1 and #4 and don't like waking up to dishes in the sink any more, or walking into my bedroom when the bed is not made.  There is also a shift in my thoughts because before, I would hem and haw about doing those two things and now, I notice that they really don't take that long to finish.

I wasn't always so laid back about this.  I know one of my sisters, poor dear, could vouch for the fact that I used to be so anal retentive about making the bed that we shared that if there was even one crease in the sheets when we made it, we would have to start over.  Today, I find myself purposely leaving things out of place so that I don't feel so controlled by my environment and the need for it to be perfect.  Heck, anyone who has been to my house can see the unfinished edges of the counter tops that have been this way for 4 years!  Slowly I am making changes to my house that I wasn't able to complete largely for financial reasons when I first moved into the house.

Last spring, I started a community garden project of sorts in my backyard because I have a lot of space to do so.  We did get some sugar snap peas, a few carrots, some lettuce and a few tomatoes out of it, but I hope to replant some things this spring to really harvest a good bit before it gets too hot here.  I will use the experience of the past to hopefully have a more productive garden.  I will talk more about #3 when the time comes, but I must say, I am NOT doing it for the reason hypothesized by my friend when she said (and I am paraphrasing here), "The reason you are so determined to get an egg from a chicken at your house, is because you are trying to offset the effects of your impending menopause and the demise of your eggs!"  As Nicole would say, "Harsh!" 

Finally, Nicole turns ten in June.  Her room has been virtually the same since we moved in and it is time to give her a new room.  She is growing up and maturing out of the colors and decor that are in there now and I figure we can decorate it in such a way that it will take her through high school.  Over the summer, we went to the Austin Museum of Art for a family day and the exhibit focused on design.  We saw one chair that both of us really loved and it was the inspiration for her new room.

If you do a search for marshmellow chair you might come up with this:

But the one we actual saw at the museum looked something like this:

I am not sure we will be able to find one of these sofa/chairs for her room, but I am excited about moving from one stage to the other and celebrating her 10th year this way. 

Next up: Fun!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Team Lisbeth

First there was "Team Edward" and "Team Jacob" from the Twilight series.  Then there was "Team Coco" for people who wanted to show their support to Conan O'Brien http://teamcoco.com/ after the whole Tonight Show debacle.  Now, I think there should be a "Team Lisbeth".

Some of you may recognize the name Lisbeth for the title of this post from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series by Steig Larsson.  We read the three books in book club and I have watched the three Swedish versions of the movies with Noomi Rapace playing Lisbeth (Rooney Mara, you have some big shoes to fill in the English language versions!  I loved you in The Social Network and can see why they chose you to play this part.).  I know that some people may have a hard time understanding why I think this fictional character would be inspiring, but it makes perfect sense to me.  Lisbeth did not have an easy life, not one bit, and yet with every obstacle she encountered, she did not make excuses nor did she play the victim card.  I do not recommend the books, nor the movies, to everyone because the subject matter is controversial and can be hard to watch.  The thing I want to point out is that Lisbeth is a survivor and can take care of herself.  She knows how to kick a** but does not do so to random people and only believes that those who hurt others deserve to be punished. 

There are LOTS of everyday people who, like Lisbeth, are abused or neglected and I hope they can find the inner strength to pull themselves up from their bootstraps and kick some a** is their own way.  We all have it in us to flourish, be successful and follow our dreams.

Here's to Team Lisbeth!

Random note:  Lisbeth is the Swedish version of the name Elizabeth, my mom's and one of my sister's name...interesting coincidence.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Physical List

The first part of the list outlines some physical things I will work to accomplish next year including the following:

  1. Get physical exercise 5-6 times a week for 45 weeks
  2. Capitol of Texas 10k or an Austin 5k like Turkey Trot
  3. Livestrong Challenge – October
  4. Danskin Tri – June
  5. Austin Tri – September
  6. 135/8 - ongoing
  7. Attend a Masters swimming meet
  8. Change hair either color, style or?
  9. http://warriordash.com/
The biggest thing I aim to get out of this part of the whole list is to feel stronger than I have in recent years.  I am already swimming in a masters swimming program at my local YMCA up to three times a week and often go to the gym a couple more times each week especially when my daughter is in her swimming lesson.  I have found that in preparation of the coming year, instead of making excuses for why I don't want to workout, I try to find reasons TO workout.

In order to be properly prepared for the Cap 10k, Danskin and Austin triathlons, I am going to have to ramp up my training to do a little more each week including getting on my bike more and start running.  I have done the Danskin Tri and Capitol 10k before so I am familiar with them, it is adding in the Austin Tri, which is co-ed, and the Livestrong Challenge that are a little daunting since I have never done a bike road race or co-ed event.  

As for my hair, I have basically worn it the same way for years...it is getting boring to me and just would like to change it up a bit.  My daughter didn't seem to like when I mentioned this, but I assured her it could go back to the way it was before and I keep telling myself this to not be so nervous about it myself ; ).

The 135/8 refers to the weight and size I would like to be by the end of the year.  I don't put too much emphasis on this because I think it will just come naturally with the overlap of physical activity I will be engaged in, and if it doesn't happen, I will have a lot of work to do at the end of the year to get there.

The Warrior Dash looks like something fun to do and will probably be considered and alternate to the entire list because I have to relax sometime.

Next Up:
Home related tasks...

Monday, October 24, 2011


I have heard in the past that one should set SMART goals.  SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Specific goals have a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general one.
Measurable goals establish a concrete criteria for measuring progress.
Attainable goals make you develop attitudes, abilities, skills and financial capacity to reach them.
Realistic goals must represent an objective toward which you are willing and able to work.
Timely goals should be grounded in a time frame, without it, there is no sense of urgency.

"The List" is broken down into 5 areas.  I didn't mean for it to be that way, but as I was revising it, it seemed to fall into place.  I have until December 31 to set the list in stone, and I will probably have a couple of alternates, but here this is how it stands today:

  1. Get physical exercise 5-6 times a week for 45 weeks
  2. Capitol of Texas 10k or an Austin 5k like Turkey Trot
  3. Livestrong Challenge – October
  4. Danskin Tri – June
  5. Austin Tri – September
  6. 135/8 - ongoing
  7. Attend a Masters swimming meet
  8. Change hair either color, style or?
  9. http://warriordash.com/

  1. Passport Vacation
  2. Trip with Kim, Stacy and other peeps - August
  3. Paragliding - August
  4. Surfing lessons - August
  5. Snowboarding/snow ski - December
  6. Drink Chateau d’Yquem
  7. Chicken Shit Bingo – January
  8. Zip lining in the Hill Country - January

  1. Make my bed each weekday morning - ongoing
  2. Garden enough to produce some vegetables/herbs - ongoing
  3. Get an egg from a hen in our coop - ongoing
  4. Empty kitchen sink each weekday night - ongoing
  5. Redecorate Nicole’s room for 10th birthday - June

Just do it
  1. Blanton Opening – January (Go West! Exhibit opens Jan 14)
  2. AMOA Opening - ?
  3. Wine & Food Festival – La Dolce Vita October
  4. Opera – Turandot - April
  5. Broadway Across America – Wicked - January
  6. UT football game - November
  7. Symphony – December (Handel’s Messiah or Christmas Sing-Along)
  8. Ballet – Romeo & Juliet - May
  9. Paramount Theater show or movie - Summer
  10. Volunteer for Thanksgiving or Christmas
  11. Texas Advocacy Project Volunteer (Handbags for Hope?)
  12. SXSW - March
  13. Austin Film Festival - October
  14. Organize family birthday calendar and distribute @ Christmas – December

  1. One handwritten note a week to Nicole to Christmas present book - ongoing
  2. Creative writing class – DOM - January
  3. Photography class – February        
  4. Art class - February
  5. Top 45 @ 45 Blog - ongoing
  6. Al-Anon Blog - ongoing
  7. The Artist’s Way writing and Art dates - ongoing
  8. A letter/note a week to a friend or family member - weekly
  9. IPhone/Android app/Apple class – January
  10. Practice French - ongoing
  11. A Whole Foods or Central Market Cooking class

As I said before, most of these things will stay on the list as long as they pass the SMART test....

Anyone is welcome to take part in some of the list, the more the merrier (especially training for the physical items ; ) )!

Friday, October 21, 2011


I saw this today on Facebook and had to post it here because I believe it is relevant.

"The future has several names.
For the weak, it is impossible.
For the fainthearted, it is unknown.
For the thoughtful and valiant, it is ideal.
The challenge is urgent, the task is large, the time is now."
~Victor Hugo

The time is now....

Coming soon:
"The List"

Those of you reading this blog, feel free to comment!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Defying Gravity

I love, love, love, love the musical Wicked.  The first time I saw it in Chicago with my friend Stacy, I was mesmerized from the first note.  I like how clever the script and songs are that intertwine the story lines of the Wizard of Oz into Wicked and how you realize how there are often two sides to a story.  I like art that makes you think, at least some, and entertain at the same time.  I remember sitting on the edge of my seat when Elphaba was singing Defying Gravity and being drawn to the entire song and especially the following part of the lyrics:

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!

I can really relate to those lyrics today.  It is hard to completely explain it, and I think the feeling comes part from just getting older and having enough life experiences to draw on and some of it comes from just finally feeling comfortable in my own skin.

Idina Menzel is incredible as Elphaba and I like her performance at the Tony awards, you can see it here:

Even though she is a fictional character, her attitude standing up for what she believes in no matter the cost, is an awesome trait.

I will see Wicked for the 4th time in February (as part of my list) and I will be taking my daughter, Nicole, for the second time.  My hope is that she learns from Elphaba, and this song, that "Ev'ryone deserves the chance to fly!" and that she will have the confidence to defy gravity in her own way.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


In the past few years there have been some top-tier women athletes who have definitely motivated me to increase my physical activity and caused me to think, "If they can do THAT, there is no reason or excuse for me to not think I can do THIS!"

Three of those women are Dana Torres, Janet Evans and Diana Nyad and they just happen to be swimmers, my favorite sport.  Why are they inspiring?  See below:

Dana Torres is my age, technically 4 months younger.  She is a twelve-time Olympic medalist and most recently competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics and won three silver medals as the oldest swimmer ever to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic team.

Janet Evans is 40 and recently announced her comeback with intentions to swim in the 2012 Olympic Trials.  She held world records in the 400-, 800-, and 1,500-meter freestyle events.  Her 800-meter freestyle record was one of the longest standing ever in the sport of swimming, lasting through four Olympic Games.  You can read more about her here http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/more/08/25/Catching-up-with-Janet-Evans/

D.L. Steward wrote about Diana Nyad, "But for each of us, isn't life about determining your own finish line? This journey has always been about reaching your own other shore, no matter what it is, and that dream continues."-The toughest athlete in the world is a 62-year-old woman.  Diana recently attempted to swim from Cuba to Florida for the third time.  The swim is 103 miles and through rough, shark and jellyfish infested waters.

I am not trying out for the Olympics or planning on swimming from Cuba to Florida, but in my own way, I will be working to expand my mind and instead of telling myself, "I can't possibly accomplish all of this," I have been telling myself that if these woman, who are my age and older, are able to do the above, it isn't my body that is not capable of doing it and rather my thinking that is preventing me.  I will definitely have to increase the amount of physical activity in the coming year to reach my physical goals on the list, but it is the mental part that I am working on to reverse that is probably the bigger challenge.

Eventually I am sure I will turn my thinking from, "Can I?" to "I think I can -- I think I can."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Primary Inspiration

So, I know this may sound corny, but I am going to have to say that one of my primary inspirations for my Top 45 would have to be my mom.  She has not had the easiest life, except for maybe a few fun years as a kid growing up in a hotel in Haiti, and rarely do I hear her complain.  She may mention on occasion some odd thing that happened to her throughout her life, but it is often in a matter of fact way and not a 'poor me' way.  She grew up in Haiti and a few years after her parents divorced, her mother moved her back to NYC where she started working at a young age.  Her father disappeared when she was 23 in Haiti and was never seen again, likely killed by someone because of his former ranking as Colonel in the Haitian military.

When she was in her early 20s she met my father in New York and proceeded to be pregnant or have a newborn for the next 16 years of her life giving birth to 8 children.  She has provided and been there for us as much as she can and still gets up and works on a regular basis as a realtor at the age of 72.   She is mother to so many 'adopted' children and adults the number is staggering.  She is like The Giving Tree only better because while she may give a lot of herself, there is still plenty there to keep on giving because she gets her strength from within and people recognize her for how giving she is to them.  She has given to me so many times and sometimes at really critical moments telling me that I can do it and that I can make it through to the other side.

My mom is the Energizer bunny and like a Timex watch all rolled into one...she keeps going and going and going and she can take a licking and keep on ticking.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Inspirational Song

This song is inspirational to me right now and I am playing it daily to motivate myself ...

I'll let Natasha sing it for you...turn up the volume and listen to the words.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Why Top 45?

The title of this blog is referring to the Top 45 activities/goals that I will accomplish next year when I turn 45 years old.  I don't turn 45 until January 3, however I figure that my first year of life was counted in months so technically, I am not starting early, just overlapping the years.

“Why am I doing this?”

This question makes me think of the BC comic shown below, one of my favorites that I read many years ago and describe to others from time to time.

The simplest response to the opening question would be, “Why not?”  But, as in life, nothing really is that simple.  More to the point would be, “Why now?”  For me, I have reached a point in my life that I feel like I have the confidence and the resources to set goals and see them through.  There is a famous quote from Hillel that goes like this:

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  And if I am only for myself, what am I?  And if not now – When?”

I think this quote can pretty much sum up many of the reasons I am doing this Top 45.  For as long as I can remember, I have been waiting.  Waiting for other people to step up and do for me or act, other people to express their likes, wants and desires, other people to stop spending money or just plain make up their mind while I put my hopes and dreams on the back burner.  It hit me this year that it is time for me to stop waiting and figure out what I want out of life because I am not getting any younger.

The graph below also explains a small piece of answering the question, “Why now?”  The pyramid shows the hierarchy described by Bloom’s Taxonomy.  It has been researched and found that in order to reach higher level thinking skills, individuals need to get beyond pure survival instincts.  Since the last few years have been a bit of a roller coaster psychologically as well as financially, I am happy to say that I feel like I am in a good place in both areas which lead me to be able to tap into my creativity and even imagine a list of things that would be fulfilling for me to attempt.

Of course, this diagram below is an excellent depiction of my “creative process.”

Last, but absolutely not least, is the fact that my daughter is now 9 years old.  She has reached an age and level of independence that allows me the luxury to spend time doing for myself and less and less of my day stressing over what her needs are for each day.  Don’t get me wrong, I still make her lunch each day, walk her to and from school most days, but evening and weekend time is not ALWAYS about entertaining her because she spends a good bit of time playing with friends, reading, doing homework and participating in her activities including musical theater, drama club and swimming.

The bottom line is now is the perfect time for me to dream, imagine, set goals and realize them.  Some may call me crazy to think that I can do this all in one year….to them I give Exhibit A and then Exhibit B below.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

So, unless you have something positive to say about all this, don't say anything at all.
; )

Up next:

Cups & Ice
The List