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!

Monday, February 27, 2012

8 Seconds

     Swim practice for the NW YMCA Narwhals is at 6am or noon MWF and 7:15am on Saturdays. I usually go to the noon practice as often during the week as I can for at least two reasons: I really can't go to the 6am practice during the week because that would mean leaving Nic home alone AND I don't really like going at 6am other than it is nice to get it over with and get dressed early as opposed to 2 in the afternoon.  Also, to make it BY 6am, I have to wake at 5, eat something light and possibly drink coffee and give it enough time to settle before swimming (I am not worried about cramping and drowning, but loosing my cookies in front of my team mates is not appealing.)

     Our awesome Coach Carolyn is helping us set some goals by timing us monthly in either the 200 or 500 yard freestyle.  The first time she did this in January, I had to go to the 6am practice because I had an appointment I couldn't change at noon that Wednesday and I didn't want to miss both practices because she was taking team pictures.  Nicole spent the night with her dad so I could make it to the early practice and did I go to sleep early? No.  I went to an art opening and dinner with my friend, Greg, and drank more wine than I should have (even 1 glass is more than I should on a school night.)  Needless to say, I was pretty tired when the alarm went off at 5am and a little bit dehydrated and I forced myself to practice anyway. 

     After the team photo, we all hopped in the water to warm up and Carolyn announced that she was going to time us so we could start setting goals and tracking our progress.  I felt like a slug and my time of 2 min 59 sec reflected my lack of sleep and lack of attending practice regularly...

     Last night, I watched the Oscars, drank wine, and stayed up way too late again, even though it was a school night and swim practice was today.  The major difference between last time and this time was that I went to noon practice instead of 6am.  I felt 100% better in the water and ended up taking off 8 seconds in my timed 200 yard free getting a 2 min 51 sec time.  Another big difference between this time and the previous time is that I have been making more regular practices.  I am no Janet Evans or Dara Torres, but I am definitely encouraged by the improvement in time and having these goals gives me the motivation to keep making it to practice even when I don't want to.

The other motivation?  If I don't keep moving to burn excess calories, I can't have any more of this:

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Well, there is no backing out now....

. . .and let the training begin!

I have already been swimming for over a year and a half but that is the easy part of the training for me.  I ran last Sunday and it took me many days to recover and not limp as I walked, but I will run again tomorrow.  The Shape Diva Dash that I will do in April will help me keep running and then I will just need to add the bike into my training.

A week from tomorrow?  Zip Lining!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


 I just finished reading the article in Time magazine titled, Lent and the Science of Self-Denial.  One of the first paragraphs really kind of explains some of what I am doing this year.

"Willpower is a quality that can be in short supply in all of us but it’s one that, as we report in this week’s TIME, is increasingly seen as cultivatable. Indeed, the best way to think of willpower is not as some shapeless behavioral trait but as a sort of psychic muscle, one that can atrophy or grow stronger depending on how it’s used. What’s more, neurologists and behavioral psychologists generally think of willpower as what’s known as “domain general,” which means that the more you practice it to control one behavior — say, overeating — the more it starts to apply itself to other parts of your life like exercising more or drinking less."

Of course the irony of the Lenten season is that it is preceded by Mardi Gras, a day of excess, but I digress....

I am really finding that my thoughts are changing each day and I am finding fewer and fewer excuses for not getting things done...especially the ongoing tasks.  I don't feel like I am denying myself of anything because I really don't, but I do now think twice about having that second brownie.

Another great article in Time, The Secrets of Self-Control: The Marshmallow Test 40 Years Later, 

"In the late 1960s, researchers submitted hundreds of four-year-olds to an ingenious little test of willpower: the kids were placed in a small room with a marshmallow or other tempting food and told they could either eat the treat now, or, if they could hold out for another 15 minutes until the researcher returned, they could have two.

Most children said they would wait. But some failed to resist the pull of temptation for even a minute. Many others struggled a little longer before eventually giving in. The most successful participants figured out how to distract themselves from the treat’s seduction — by turning around, covering their eyes or kicking the desk, for instance — and delayed gratification for the full 15 minutes.

Follow-up studies on these preschoolers found that those who were able to wait the 15 minutes were significantly less likely to have problems with behavior, drug addiction or obesity by the time they were in high school, compared with kids who gobbled the snack in less than a minute. The gratification-delayers also scored an average of 210 points higher on the SAT."

I can't go back to being 4 years old and learning to NOT gobble up the marshmallow but reading these article and focusing on my list is helping me discover some great traits/characteristics to pass on to my daughter....

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Price of Admission

This post is not so much about 'the list' but about lessons that I am learning while taking this journey this year.  It kind of piggy backs on the post "Sister Wives" that featured Madea's Advice that I wrote about in December.  I think it is true that we need to accept significant others, friends and family with all their faults because, as Dan Savage puts it in the video below, it is the price of admission to have these relationships.  I would to take it one step further and say that it is great when we can also learn to accept ourselves, warts and all, because it can be empowering to do so.  All of these lessons I hope to pass on to Nicole in words and, as a role model, who actually lives these ideals.

FYI, there is some cursing in the video, so be mindful of who is around when you are watching it.

Back to regularly scheduled posts soon...

PS.  I forgot to mention that this video is courtesy of Jon Armstrong at http://blurbomat.com/. Thanks Jon!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ongoing Update

Several of the items on the list are classified* in the category of 'ongoing,' meaning that they can't be completed in one day and they are on the list to help me develop some habits that I have wanted to incorporate into my life.  [*Not classified as in I won't share what they are ; )]

As you may have guessed, I am doing better with some of the items than others but everyday I wake up and I think about the list of ongoing activities and try to fit them in.  The ones that I would consider rating as habits now are cleaning out the kitchen sink, making my bed (and Nicole's, an added bonus) exercising each week (not quite the minimum of 5 times that I had hoped, but 4 pretty consistently), writing in this blog and the Courage to Change blog.  I am finding that if I don't do the ones listed above, I feel off balance.  This month, I will get going on practicing my French, The Artist's Way, writing my stories to Nicole and writing some handwritten notes to friends and family.

One big item, Nicole's room, has actually been progressing.  The intended end date is her birthday on June 25, but I have been making some movement on it because I don't want the time and expense to hit all at once.

When we started in January, her room was a nice shade of pink befitting a young girl.

Since she keeps on growing, and growing up, much to the dismay of her dad and I, I figured it was time for a more grown up palette.  I let her choose the color and you can see samples of the color on the walls above.  I often crave light, so we chose to paint one of the walls a darker shade of the other three walls so that the main color is the same but the headboard wall would pop.  I was having some new carpet installed in her room so it was the perfect time to paint the walls in January.

I had intended to buy her a new bed and bedding and really like the bed she has at her dad's, the Stratton bed with baskets from Pottery Barn.  A new one cost a little over $1k with delivery and I actually started looking on Craigslist a few months ago hoping to get lucky.  Last week, while laying in bed with Nicole playing on the laptop, I decided to check out Craigslist.  Low and behold there was a listing for a Stratton bed with baskets that had been posted just 2 days before for $350.  I immediately clicked on the email address and sent an email expressing my interest in the bed.  Since I had just started using iCloud technology and not always trusting 'unknown' technology, the next morning I sent another email from my trusty desktop.  A few hours later, I received this response, "Hi Theresa, This is J#$%#$^ (names have been altered to protect identities ; ) ).  You sold us our house about 2 years ago and the bed is still available.  Can you come and see it tomorrow?"  Such a small world I thought...I saw the bed the next day and wrote the check immediately saving myself over $700 dollars!  Yesterday, I got some help transporting it and putting it together.

Her room will not be complete, complete until this summer because we still have to pick out the rest of the decor and the bedding and I also have to decide if we will get a queen mattress that fits the platform bed better.  Nonetheless, I wanted to post a 'progress' picture of the room thus far.  The color is so soothing and the bed is very inviting, even more than it was before.  Can't wait for the big reveal this summer!

Off to work on my new habits...


Sunday, February 12, 2012

45 Plus 3


Whitney Houston was 48 when she passed away, just 3 years older than I am today.  She has had quite a life, good and bad times like all of us.  I am sitting here watching CBS Sunday and each time they show a picture of her or start to talk about her, I get a lump in my throat and have to swallow hard.  "When the eulogies have ended, let's let Whitney rest in peace" says the reporter on CBS and I agree.  As he said, "She was someone's daughter, someone's mother," and I think we should not drudge up all the bad stuff about her where her daughter and mother has to hear or read about it.

RIP Whitney

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


It was a busy weekend accomplishing 2 items on the list in addition to working all day Saturday showing houses, and it sure was fun.  As I mentioned in the previous post, I attended the Opera on Friday and then Wicked on Sunday.  As part of Christmas, I bought great tickets for Wicked for Nicole...okay, not just for Nicole, it was a Christmas present for myself, too. 

This was the fourth time for me to see Wicked.  The first time I saw it was in Chicago with my friend Stacy.  After trying to win tickets at a book store near the theater for several hours, or maybe a day or two, we finally broke down and bought what tickets we could afford.  The seats weren't great, but I do remember being so totally engrossed in the performance from the first note played by the orchestra that I literally sat on the edge of my seat for the whole show (occasionally sitting on my legs to raise myself high enough to see everything that was happening).

The second and third time I saw Wicked was here in Austin.  The seats were not any better either time, but I still enjoyed the show nonetheless.  On this fourth time, I decided if I was going to see the show, that I really wanted to see the show.  Our seats were row "E" just 6 rows back from the stage.  We could see the characters faces so well that at times, I thought the actors and actresses could see me singing along to the songs.  Here is a picture of the stage curtain from our seats (sorry for the head in the bottom left, wish I could have gotten a clear shot without it).

Several mother and daughter pairs bought tickets for the same performance, so we had lunch before the show at Mandola's Market .  The girls really had a good time and I look forward to many more shows like this one...and now that we are spoiled, I don't intend on buying seats much farther back than we had this time around, after all, how can anyone resist the smiles on these faces?!

I will be focusing on several 'ongoing' items for the month of February and post about some of them and in March will be zip lining, SXSW movies and Chicken S*&t Bingo.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cake Boss

Last night, my friend Alise and I went to Austin Lyric Opera's, Lucia di Lammermoor.  When I asked Alise if she wanted to go, she responded that she would love to because she wanted to see some drama other than the drama she was experiencing firsthand.  This opera is definitely not short on drama.  The basic story is about a couple in love from opposing families kind of like Romeo and Juliet.  The woman's family, specifically her brother, is trying to marry her off to a prestigious family who will make an advantageous marriage that will rescue his reputation.  It is interesting to me that the opera is set in Scotland, most of the characters have Spanish sounding names and the opera is performed in Italian.  In the clip below, Lucia has pretty much lost her mind because her brother has forced her to marry a man she does not love and eventually kills him.

During the second act, it occurred to me that the Italians have a long history of drama.  In modern times, fun examples of the drama is exhibited in a TLC show, Cake Boss.  Buddy Valastro runs Carlo's bakery in Hoboken, NJ.  Several of his family members work in the family bakery and there is a lot of conflict between them.  Nicole and I used to watch the show regularly when we had cable and stopped watching it for a time because the drama seemed a little unrealistic at times.  After seeing the opera last night, I realize that family in Cake Boss is just following in a long line of family drama that began in Italy hundreds of years ago and is just carrying on the tradition.

You can see a little snippet of the family drama in the clip below:

While the family drama in Lucia is a little more complex than that in Cake Boss, they are equally as enjoyable when you want to exchange personal drama for someone else's drama. 

Overall, I really enjoyed seeing an opera and especially liked that by the end, I was able to understand some of the Italian before the words were shown in the subtitles.  I may try to catch another opera this year if there is time.

Tomorrow, Wicked!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Busy Bee

It is going to be a busy weekend coming up...Friday I am going to the opera and Sunday I am taking Nicole to see Wicked along with some of her classmates.

I read the following quote today and wanted to share it...

"You have to count on living every single day in a way you believe will make you feel good about your life. . .."
~Jane Seymour

This list and year is helping me look at life the way described by that quote and I like it!

Two posts about the weekend coming up Monday!