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!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Diva Dash

     In the fall, I received an email from Karen E. about the SHAPE Diva Dash just as I was finalizing my top 45 list and it sounded intriguing enough to add it to the list especially since I was going to be doing it with some fun people including Karen, Holly, Marcelle and Kellyn. 

     You know how sometimes in a professional players' contract they forbid them to do certain activities like skate boarding, pogo sticking, or motorcycling in order to avoid injuries that could cost the player and the team a lot of money?  Well, Karen E. went skiing in January and this is what happened to her:

Karen's personal escort down the mountain.

She ended up needing knee surgery and not getting to train for the race.  She was a great sport though and actually came with us, mostly for the free swag bag and beer, but we really appreciated the fact that she drove us to the race and took some great photos.  Below is a picture of the 5 of us pre-race:

Divas from L-R: Holly, Me, Karen, Marcelle and Kellyn

Before the race, the four of us who were actually running that day made a pact to end the race together.  I was to benefit from this pact because the other Divas are actually faster than I am at running.  Another fact of note is that I had to psych myself up for the run since I knew the course all too well having done it 3 times during the Danskin Triathlon in the past.  I don't like the course, period.  It is more like a trail run up and down hills with large pieces of wood mulch that spread all over the course to prevent it from getting too muddy in case it actually rains in Austin.  The course is also quite hilly with large and small rocks scattered all over the place and hazardous to people like me who are prone to twisting their ankle on a flat surface just merely walking down the sidewalk.  Even with all these things against me, I was determined to run the entire time and knew that the other three ladies would be there to encourage me.

The first obstacle was fairly easy and consisted of walking across a balance-beam type maze raised about 8 inches from the ground.  If you slipped off the beam you were supposed to go back and start again...this rule was not really enforced, but I made it across the first time so it was no big deal.  The second obstacle you can see in the photo below:

We had to run through the inner tubes on the ground like football players while simultaneously trying to avoid getting knocked to the ground by these pink Hoppity Hop or Jumping Balls that had these oddly wicked looking smiley faces on them. 

A couple of the next obstacles were similar and had us ducking under those plastic flags woven over a maze or bungie chords crisscrossed throughout a wooden frame.  My favorite 'challenge' came next and was a tent without a top on it and was filled with bubbles!  One of the odd obstacles, in my opinion, was when we had to pick up a small log and run up a hill then down again ala the movie An Officer and A Gentleman.  I was wearing my Nike Fuelband and decide to just carry the log under my right arm to be sure to keep my left arm moving in the proper motion because I was getting as much credit for this run as possible!

One of the last 'ground' obstacles featured 5 rows of those plastic barricades that we had to maneuver over which brought us to the last hill of the course.  My guardian angel, Kellyn, noticed that I was pretty far behind our pack and came back to encourage me up the hill and to keep moving.  When we came up the hill and around the curve, I could tell it was the final leg because we were next to the water.  The breeze off of the water was refreshing and because I love to be in the water, I really enjoyed two of the last three challenges.  The first consisted of five long buoys floating in the water that we had to hop over and then in the second water challenge we had to grab an inner tube and place it around our waists then go out into the lake a short distance around some pyramid shaped buoys and return to shore.  The very last obstacle was a wall made of rope that you climb up one side and down the other.  The hardest part of this one was making sure not to get kicked by someone trying to throw their leg over the top of the wall.  I met up with Holly and Marcelle on the other side and we all waited for Kellyn to get over then we crossed the finish line together. 

We Made It!

Not my favorite photo but Whateva!

We all enjoyed the experience so much we are planning on doing it again next year.  Dressing alike like other participants in matching outfits including but not limited to tu-tus, tiaras, matching socks etc. is still up for debate.

Next Post:  Bootcamp AKA Torture Treatment

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Earth Day

Spring Garden Update

It has been a while since my last post...been a VERY busy two weeks as I was away on business so the week prior and the week after are always busier than usual.

This past Sunday, April 22 was earth day so I thought it is only fitting to have a garden update.  It would have also been my father's 88 birthday but he passed away 9 years ago this coming September.  Here is a picture of him by some wildflowers taken by my older sister Ginny.  I know that I got my love of nature from both my mom and my dad and fondly remember many days spent out of doors as a family.  We had an old mobile home in the country near a lake called Lake of the Woods Club where we would spend summer weekends.  It didn't have running water, but we loved it.  We would make aluminum can pull-tab chains and drape them throughout the forest making trails for us to follow, have bonfires at night, fish and swim during the day and each night have a new report put on by us kids.

When we were younger, we moved a good bit mainly because our family was growing from 2 to 4 to 6 and finally 8 children.  One of the first houses we lived in that I can remember was on Ingersol Drive and it is where I met my oldest and best friend Kim Mulhall (now Kim Hickey).  We sold the house to the Spencer family when I was about three years old and I distinctly remember meeting Mary, who was my age, and vaguely remember her red hair and her frilly pink dress she was wearing when we were standing in the front yard of that house (Mary's family still owns that house as far as I know).  Mary Spencer ended up going to the same St. Albert's Catholic school that I attended with Kimmy and we are still friends over 40 years later.  Below is a photo of us in 2005 just before the 20 year reunion party for our graduating class from Alter HS.  I didn't actually graduate from Alter, but I had gone to school with so many from the 1985 graduating class, 9 years with many of them, that I felt more connected to this class than the one in South Texas.

After Ingersol, we moved to the house on Rosalyn.  This was one of my favorite houses from childhood.  It had a HUGE backyard with apple trees and my mom, with help from my brother-in-law Steve, planted a BIG garden in the back.  We had 52 rabbits at one time in cages along the side of the backyard and other animals including dogs and cats.  I remember many fall days picking up apples from the ground and from the trees so that my grandmother could salvage all good parts from the apples to make pies and apple sauce.  I would spend lots of time in the backyard looking at bugs and watching the plants grow.   Below are several photos of our garden this year and one showing Nicole standing in between two corn plants.  I have no idea how the harvest will be, but we are having a good time trying and Nicole is such a good little helper, often going out after school to water the garden without even being asked.

Nicole in the corn!

Our fav, tomatoes!

Praying for some cantelope.

The last house that we lived in before we relocated to Texas was on Claridge.  There was a North and South Claridge and at one point, we figured out that there were at least 25 kids of various ages living on the loop.  I remember walking to school in large groups, climbing the big tree in the front yard with perfect limbs for getting up high, playing kick-the-can into the late hours on summer nights and building all kinds of forts in the snow.  As I sit here writing this post, it is really driving home the realization that I had a few months ago that our current home really is a combination of my favorite homes as a child.   Nicole lives on the street with her very best friend, Grace who she has known since she was 18 months old (Kim and I met around the same age).  There are some really good trees in the backyard for climbing.  Presently, there are only 9 kiddos on our cul-de-sac of different ages but we often walk as a group up the elementary school that is a block away that I have dubbed the "Arrowpoint Gang."  Nicole and I have a garden in the backyard and will have chickens again, maybe even rabbits (sorry Alison).  Either I am trying to relive my childhood or pass on the best parts of my childhood to Nicole or maybe it is a combination of both.

I will update the garden growth over time....

Next Post:  Diva Dash

PS.  For those grammarians out there, I fixed some of the typos.  If you find anymore, send me an email and I will correct them ; ) .

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Besides Ice Cream

     I know that I keep promising to do a post about the spring garden and while I was outside watering it this evening, I think I realized I am hesitant to post anything because the garden always seems to need weeding or I want the plants to be bigger because they look wimpy to me.  There is definite progress in growth, just not a lot of 'WOW' factor.  Because it is already getting warm here in Austin, I am hoping we will be able to harvest something before the ground shrivels up.  To keep me from shriveling up tonight while eating dinner, I actually had one of these:

Cerveza! Compliments of Pedro

Those of you who know me pretty well, know that I am not a big beer drinker stemming back from an incident in high school and some quarters, but I am not going to get into that now.  The beer just sounded like a good idea and it was nice and cool on a warm evening while watering the garden.

When I came back inside, Nicole had a little surprise to share with me, actually two of them.  The first one is best shown in photos:

Now you see it...

Now you don't!

 I keep forgetting that there are still some baby teeth in her mouth!  She of course asked me if she was going to get some money from the tooth fairy.  When I asked her if there was a tooth fairy she said, "Yes, it is you and you should dress up in wings and sneak into my room with the money in exchange for the tooth!"  She really isn't greedy at all...maybe that will change in her teens.

The second surprise is this letter that she wrote to me while practicing her cursive in school today.

Understandably, It left me a little verklempt...talk amongst yourselves for now.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

     I have been so busy with work that I have not had time to post recently.  I literally have been showing houses and then coming home to do paperwork that the blog has slipped.  I have been pretty much keeping up with exercise to prepare for the SHAPE Diva Dash, but that is about it.  My running is feeling better, thank goodness, so I won't die on the obstacle course.

     Today is Easter Sunday.  It has been a quiet morning for me mostly, which is a good thing because I needed a bit of a break.  I got the proverbial bluebonnet picture of Nicole this year, see below.


She is growing up so fast...I think photos make her look older than she is, and this one really shows her personality I think.

     On Friday, some friends and family came over for a little Easter get together.  The kids decorated eggs, made resurrection biscuits, swam and then went up to the park to search for hidden Easter eggs. 

All in all it was a really nice weekend.  I will make time to take a photo of the garden this week and show the various veggies we are hoping to get.

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Quarterly List Update

     It has been a very busy 3 months and it doesn't look like it is going to let up anytime soon.  Work has picked up considerably and I am juggling several clients at once.  I decided that it would be a good idea to do a quarterly update of most of the ongoing activities on the list to help myself track whether or not I am reaching my goals better AND to refresh my memory of what I said I would do in the first place!

Make Bed (each weekday morning)
     This item has really become a habit.  I have worked it into my daily dressing routine in between drying my hair and using the Chi on it.  It works perfectly because my bathroom heats up from the hair dryer so making my bed is the perfect interlude to cool off before I finish getting dressed.  I actually can barely stand it when my bed is not made now.  I did only make this a 'weekday' item but it has been spilling over into a weekend habit, too.

Empty kitchen sink (each weekday night)
     This has become a habit, too, much like making my bed.  I find that I can't stand to wake up in the morning to find dishes in the sink, in the way of cleaning out the coffee pot to make coffee.  I much prefer being able to quickly make coffee because the first sip is crucial to getting my blood moving in the morning.  Much to Nicole's dismay, this item is helping her to clean out her lunchbox in the afternoon because I prefer it to be done as soon as she comes home as opposed to the next morning when I need it to be clean for her lunch.

One handwritten note to Nicole (per month)
     I have written 2 stories in their entirety for this particular item, however they both need polishing along with finishing the third story.  I have been thinking about this book that I want to compile for her and will probably get some guest writers to submit other stories about Nicole because I am sure she would like to hear from them, too.  I need to put this task in my calendar to remind myself to do it around the same time each month so I don't forget.

One handwritten note to Friend/Family
     I have been good about this item, too, although I still have to write March's note.  I will simply write two in April, one at the beginning and one at the end.  March was so jam packed with SXSW and work that the month ended before I realized I had not written the one for this month.  I already know I want to write to, I just have to do it.  I am really enjoying the handwritten part of this because I feel like my handwriting has suffered due to how much time I spend on the computer.  My handwriting still is not the best, but it should improve the more I do it.

Courage to Change Blog
     Today is the 1 year anniversary of this blog, couragetochangeatx.blogspot.com .  I have been writing the blog for 365 days and I am really proud of the fact that I kept with it.  It has really helped me to learn that I don't have to do everything in a day and that I can break things down into smaller, manageable pieces.  On occasion, I had to write several entries at once, but generally, it would not get past 3 total.  Even during SXSW I was pretty good at posting regularly because I didn't want to fall too far behind.  Technically, this item is complete...I may start another similar blog, but I think I have enough on my plate to let this one go for now.
Top 45 at 45 Blog
     I am really happy with the way this item is going...if you are reading this now, you can see the progress for yourself!

     If I didn't mention this before, the 135 represents the weight I would like to reach before the end of this year and the 8 is the clothes size I am aiming for by December 31, 2012.  I can tell with the amount of exercise I have been getting, that my body is making changes.  The scale hasn't changed all that much so I think the 8 will come before the 135.  I don't obsess about this one all that much largely because I am not focusing on it because it will probably be a by-product of the next item on the list.

Physical exercise (5-6 times per week)
     Finally, my goal of 5-6 days of physical activity is pretty close to being met in the first quarter.  I know that I told myself that this requirement is only for 45 weeks of the 52 weeks in a year because I needed to account for work (which has affected at least 1 week thus far) and illness (another week of minimal exercise due to sinus infection.)  One thing that is helping to motivate me to reach my exercise goal is the Nike Fuelband.  Yes, it is a glorified pedometer, in my opinion, but for some reason it is working to make me reach my exercise goals. 

The Fuelband tracks the time, Nike Fuel, Calories and Steps you take in each day.  You upload the info each day onto the Nike site and it tracks when you reach certain milestones.

The above video is really cool showing you how many different activities 'count' for Nike Fuel.  My biggest frustration with the Fuelband is that I can't wear it when I swim and it doesn't work great when you are on a bike.  I am training to do two triathlons this year so essentially, it won't count two of the three major exercises I do in a week.  It is however motivating me to not sit at my computer as long as I might and to walk or run a little bit each day to reach my Nike goal.

Up next:  Spring Garden