Friday, December 31, 2010

End of the Year Lessons

Hey Everyone!

It’s that time of year again….the most wonderful time of the year…or so the saying goes. Time to wrap up all the end of the year stuff. Time to stop and reflect upon all the lessons you learned in the past year. Once again, for your end of the year entertainment:

The Top Ten Things Heather Learned in 2010

10) If I get stung by a bee, I will NOT die.
Actually, after my Jurassic leg incident last summer, I learned lots of things about bee stings: there are 5 types of venomous insects in New England. There are 3 types of reactions to bee stings. The hummingbird sized insect that stung me was most likely a yellow faced hornet, not a yellow jacket. Many vegans eschew honey. I never had any use for this type of information before. And really? I still don’t. But that whole not dying thing; that’s good.

9) In South Carolina, 1 inch of snow is like the apocalypse
Or at least enough to cancel a marathon. That you’ve spent months training for. And flew down to Myrtle Beach to run. Stupid southern states!

8) There is something worse than the California DMV…the Massachusetts IRS
Somehow, the state of Mass decided that in 2006 (the year I lived in California until August and in Mass for the remainder of the year) I should have had the foresight to pay taxes to Mass for the ENTIRE year. And it took no fewer than 6 separate pieces of correspondence to convince them otherwise. Not to be outdone, California followed suit once I THOUGHT everything was solved. Four pieces of correspondence and counting. Stupid blue states!

7) St. Mark’s Square in Venice floods
You know that place with the big gold basilica and the pigeons? I tried to go there and hang with the pigeons. I went down in my super-cute sundress (that will now be known forever as my “pigeon dress”). Turns out, I shoulda worn duck boots! There was, like, 2 ½ feet of water in the square. The entire foyer of the basilica was underwater! Don’t know why that bothers me so much.

6) I learned what a bulging disc feels like.
It’s HORRIBLE! Now I have a smidge more sympathy for my patients. But not a whole lot. ‘Cause I also learned that physical therapy works when you are compliant with that home exercise program!

5) Summer really is just spectacular!
This year, we had the warmest, most wonderful summer weather I can remember in years. It was great. I really love summer. Which leads me to the next logical conclusion: I hate cold.

4) I am not the lifestyle police
Wouldn’t it be awesome if I was? Everyone everywhere would be roaming around as rumpled, tangled, messes with 4 types of athletic shoes in their car at all times and plans to see every live music act in a 15 mile radius. Alas, as I creep into the fourth decade of life, I hear friends reporting news like “I was hospitalized overnight for chest pain twice this year” or “I had this numbness all along the left side of my body for 3 weeks before I went to the doctor and he said it was a mini-stroke”. Most often with a cigarette in one hand, a beer in the other, and a plate of fully loaded nachos in front of them. Don’t they know that they should be striving to be within one standard deviation of ME? Clearly not. And it really doesn’t go over too well to say so. Guess I’ll just have to lead by twirling, pigeon dressed example.

3) I’m becoming less organized as I get older
You’d think that by now, I’d have my Xmas letter written by Thanksgiving and mailed out by December 1st. Yeah, not so much. My friends will be getting Xmas letters around Jan 5th.

2) Children’s behavior is much more tolerable when you share a genetic link with them.
You know, except for you guys. YOUR kids are ADORABLE! It’s all the other ones out there I’m referring to!

1) I got a hug from the lead singer of Ozomatli!
OK, technically, that’s not something I learned, that’s something I did. At the Life is Good concert in September. I just thought it was exciting enough to share. Plus, after returning home and consulting Google, I learned that his name is not, in fact, “that scruffy trumpet player guy”, but Asdrubal Sierra. (I can’t pronounce that anyway, so even if I knew that beforehand, I still woulda called him “Dude”)

Happy Holidays, Everyone!
And learn lots in 2011.

Monday, December 27, 2010

question of the week

Well, I hope everyone had a great Christmas. I had fun with the family and the kids, and Santa was good to everyone. And today, I braved the blizzard in my jeepy-jeep to get into work and make the world a better place. (or, at least to treat a few brave souls who also braved the elements and to start chipping away at the piles on my desk)

Anyway, as I was driving home, I was thinking about how I moved back to a place where I am almost blown off the bridge while driving home in 15 degree weather and snow squalls. How I moved back here deliberately. And how I may have been a bit crazy to do so.

What's really interesting is that my musings closely resemble this week's question from
50 Questions to Free Your Mind:

To What Degree Have You Actually Controlled the Course Your Life Has Taken?

The simple answer is: more than most, but not as much as I would like to.

The more complex answer has been occupying my mind quite a bit lately, and not just when driving during a blizzard.

In general, I've done a pretty good job of living my life with intention. I didn't hang around, working the same job for years on end whether I liked it or not, and just SEE what would happen. I didn't sit on the sofa night after night, watching other people's stories march across the screen in front of me. I didn't TALK alot about all those giant life goals that everyone has-- run a marathon, go to Europe, climb a mountain, write a novel-- but do nothing about them except dream. I've traveled. I've lived and worked in 10 states. I've run marathons and triathlons, I've climbed mountains, I've traveled to Europe (I haven't written a novel, but hey, there's still time, eh?) I've set goals. I've prioritized them. I've tried to use my time productively.

But lately, it seems that I've been doing things halfway. I've been setting the goals, but not really working towards them. I've been starting projects, but letting them sit around, half finished. I've been firting ideas, but not really committing to them. And I'm not really happy with who I've become lately.

So, as the year comes to a close, and my horrible incapacitizing cold is coming to and end, I'm becoming a little more motivated. And, motivated by this gal, and this guy, and this chippy, and this chap, and this new firecracker I read about in a magazine, I'm taking back a little more control over the course my life shall take next year.

Today's Joy:
Running 3 miles without feeling like I was goind to throw up

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

So, after what I thought was a nice, gradual return to working out, I decided that tonight was the night I could start running again. Nothing crazy. Just a 10 minute mile pace.

I ran one mile. ONE!

And I felt like I ran 18. My body feels like I just got run over by a truck.


Today's Joy:
Work Holiday party with a fun Yankee Swap.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snow and a question

It's Monday...and a snowy Monday at that. I was all in love with the snow this morning, awed at how pretty and white everything looks. By the time I got out of work today, warmed up the car, scraped all the ice and snow off the car, cranked the defrost up to high, and drove home on the slippery, unplowed roads; well, I was over it. Exactly one day to get over the snow. (Bah Humbug!)

But, since it's Monday, its also time for the 50 Questions to Free Your Mind:

Week 8

If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

Well, if that were the case, I would have died last Wednesday! (But then again, I plan on living beyond the average life span anyway, so maybe not)

Looking back, I'd live a little more in my teens and early 20s. I was always the girl who did exactly as she was told. Got good grades, studied hard, came in on time, never did anything that would cause my parents grief. (and yet, I still was always in trouble. Go figure) You could say that I was preparing for a sensible life.

It wasn't until I was in my mid 20s that I figured out that I didn't want a sensible life! I wanted to drive across the country with the top down and my dreadocked, purple hair blowing in the wind. I wanted to climb mountains and swim with the dolphins and camp in the desert. I wanted the unconventional life, not the white picket fence and 2 children and dog. (Ok, I wanted a dog. I big, friendly, slobbery one)

I love reading memoirs; the good, sensible, girls who did everything they were told don't write memoirs. They'd be too boring. And yet, the wild crazy people -- the ones who did everything they shouldn't have and by all accounts should have been the failures -- have just as much chance of success and the sensible people. I didn't know that when I was younger. I wish I had.

The thing is, I know that now. So if I were to take this question to heart, I should be living my life as if it were on borrowed time. I've already outlived the hypothetical average life span. I should be taking as many chances as possible.

I think I'll start tomorrow.

Today's Joy
the snow (I'll go back to this morning in my mind)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Movies

"Christmas waves a magic wand over the world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful" --Norman Vincent Peale

Nothing can dampen that holiday spirit like being sick for the first 19 days of December. Yeah, I caught some kind of super-cold. Every time I started to feel better, I got slapped upside the head by its evil viral fists! Plus, my printer bit the dust this week.

Bah Humbug!

I entered this weekend simultaneously grouchy-ginchlike and frantic with the thought of all I needed to accomplish: finish Xmas shopping, write the Christmas letter for the Christmas cards, get those all addressed and stamped...get stamps...get a yankee swap gift, make something for the work pot-luck. Argh! I just wanted to climb back in bed with the humidifier on high and and endless mug of tea.

I tried to put myself in the mood; I dressed in red and green. I put on Christmas Carols. I drank some wassail. But nothing worked. Finally, I stumbled across something that could reach me unlike Mariah Carey screeching her way through 'Oh Holy Night'....I put on the Turner Classic Movie network.

White Christmas was on. I love White Christmas. It always makes me smile. It also gives me a serious case of leg-envy. (I think my entire body would only come up to Vera-Ellen's mid thigh! But this email isn't about my inferiority complex....) I was addressing envelopes and humming along in complete contentment.

After White Christmas, came A Miracle on 34th Street. I know it seems impossible, but I'd never seen that movie. (of course, I didn't see Casablanca until I was 26 or It's a Wonderful Life until I was 30, so that's just par for the course in my little world) Well. Miracle is even better than A Christmas Story. I think they actually got the REAL Santa Claus on the cast! (Really. He spoke Dutch and everything. I saw it!) I mean, watching the real Santa for a couple hours puts the printer situation in perspective.

And then today. When I came home with the new printer and was waiting for the software to upload to the computer, I came across Auntie Mame. Another movie I had never seen. (Were people funnier in the 1950s? 'Cause that movie was hilarious!) And I think I have a new role model, now, too!

And there you have it. A mere 6 days before Christmas, the miracle has occurred! I'm off to dance around the Christmas tree in my reindeer sweater. Have a good week!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Free Your Mind

I'm back! I spent the weekend sleeping, trying to shake this super cold from hell, drinking tea, and rallying to make appearances at the holiday party and play I was committed to. 'Twas fun, really. And I STILL am not back 100%!!!

But I am back enough to ponder....50 Questions to free your mind.

Week 7:

Are you doing what you believe in or settling for what you are doing?

You know, I can't help but think that this is a very all or nothing kind of question. Either you are doing what you believe in completely or you are settling. And while I get the purpose of the question: are you just doing something -- anything -- to pay the bills while ignoring your dreams or are you going after your dreams? In reality, I don't think things are as black and white.

For instance, I could say undoubtedly that I am doing something I believe in. I make a living helping people. I am working with people I really like, in a good environment, for a company I truly feel is a compassionate and forward thinking. I am making a difference.

On the other hand, there are things I'm not thrilled with. There are things I have to put up with that aggravate the crap out of me in order to continue to do what I do. There things that I have to settle for in this life. And there are dreams I'm still striving for that I have not reached yet and in all honesty may or may not work out in the end.

I think that's true with most things in life. In work, in love, when buying your "dream house", when going on vacation with friends. There are things you do that let you live out your dreams and things that you must settle for in order to do those things that let you live out your dreams.

That's where I am right now.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A couple days ago, I wrote that my voice had returned and I was on the mend. Well, that was after a weekend full of lots of sleep. Monday and Tuesday were filled with 10+ hour work days in which I had to pretty much talk all day long. VOICE NOT BACK.

Until today. Today at 3:00 pm, exactly. I was in the middle of an evaluation when suddenly my head went pfffffffft and the congestion in my head felt...looser. And my head felt less echo-y. And it wasn't a strain to talk. So NOW...I can say....I'm on the mend!

Today's Joy:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The end is near!

Today, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. (or, I'm breathing the air from the end of the tunnel?) I think I'm finally starting to kick this cold! It was the first time in 5 or so days that I had a phone conversation that didn't go like this:

me: Hello?
other person: Hello? Hello? Can you hear me?
Yes, I can hear you.
Are you on speaker phone? Cause I can hardly hear you.
No, no speaker phone. I'm sick.
What? I didn't get that. You must be in a spotty area. Are you in the car?
No, I'm home. I'm sick.
What was that?
I'm home. I'm sick.
You keep fading in and out. Are you holding the phone away from your head or something?
No, I'm sick. I have no voice.
You're what?
Oh, wow! That's not the phone? That's your voice?
Ok, I'm hanging up. I'll text you.

I can actually sort of talk now. So it's good. I have a zillion things to do right now, most work related, but every time I sit down to do them, I get fuzzy headed and can't think straight. So next week is going to be busy.

Plus, that 30 workouts in 30 days thing? Not going so well. Either I'm doing a lot of doubles later in the month or its a lost cause.

But I AM still getting rid of stuff, which is going swimmingly. I was able to drag myself to the thrift shop today with two bags of stuff. Including:
another book, another shirt, a holiday tin that I had from last year that just isn't practical for using as gift wrap this year. A pair of running shoes went into the shoe recycling container at the running store. And I pulled out some craft materials to give to my oldest niece.

There just may be room in here for some new stuff come Xmas!

Today's Joy:
Saw the Harry Potter movie with my two best buds. It was good!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

ARRGGHHH! I am so ready to be over this cold. I keep fluctuating between feeling like my body has let me down and feeling like I have let my body down by not taking care of myself enough and allowing myself to contract this horrible cold.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow I'll be able to talk.

Today's Joy:
Talking to my buddy, Nerd. I miss him.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday's Wisdom

The process of learning consists not so much in accumulating answers, as in figuring out the right questions
Today's Joy:
Hot tea with honey

Thursday, December 2, 2010

cooking for the clueless

Here's something that is sad but true: I tend to strike out at Thanksgiving with my contributions. I'm not sure why. I think its because people get a way of thinking what Thanksgiving food "should" be like. You know, like the stuff their mother or grandmother made. Anything that deviates from that preconceived notion is wrong. Like the time I made sweet potatoes with **gasp** parsnips, olive oil, sea salt, and chili powder. (NOT marshmallows, butter, and cream) It was like I ran over somebody's dog.

Or my cranberry sauce recipe. It's delicious! It's adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, for crying out loud! And, yes, it can be made in a crock pot.

But try bringing homemade cranberry sauce to Thanksgiving dinner. You'll be met with blank stares and comments like "I thought cranberry sauce came in a can."

Fortunately for me, this sauce can be used on just about anything. So when I bring my sauce back home with me, I can eat it with turkey, spread it on toast, use it as a condiment on sandwiches, I even mixed some with olive oil and vinegar and made a sassy salad dressing!

(plus, the two adventurous souls who ate some on Thanksgiving loved it and asked for the recipe)


2 cups cranberries
2 cups chopped apples
1 medium orange, sectioned
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Pop fruit, juice, and sugar into crock pot on high. (Unlike many other crockpot recipes, you can't just leave and let things take their own course on this one. I mean, keep busy, do stuff around the house, but keep and eye on things) When fruit has softened until you can mash easily with fork, blend with immersion blender but leave some chunks. Turn to low and all spices. Let simmer until about 1/2 liquid is absorbed and the smell of the spices has permeated the air. (about 2 hours) Periodically stir to make sure liquid on bottom and sides doesn't burn.

You can adjust sugar amount to taste or add more water if you prefer thinner sauce.


Today's Joy:
Snuggling down into flannel sheets.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Goals

You know how people say that when you have a cold your voice sounds all deep and sexy? Well, that's just rubbish! I sound like Peter Brady when the Brady Bunch sang that song: "It's Time to Change". Demi Moore voice my ass!

Anyway, it's officially winter in my book, even if solstice is 20 days away. And it's officially holiday season in everyone's book.....Happy Hanukkah everyone! I don't celebrate Hanukkah, myself, but I do enjoy lighting candles. So I'm gonna light candles every day this week...hell, every day in December! (Is it totally bad to say 'hell' when talking about a holiday?)

So in addition to lighting candles, losing my voice, and blowing my nose about every 5 minutes, December is about setting some wintry goals:

December Goals:

1) Wrap all holiday presents in recycled materials.
2) Training schedule all set up for 2011
3) Finish 5 books this month
4) Holiday Booty Buster (courtesy of this gal): Aiming for 30 workouts in 30 days. Of course, since I did not work out today, thanks to my cold, that means I'm gonna have to double it up sometime this month. That's ok. I like days like that!
5) Get stuff turned in for my advanced position (do you believe I gotta re-apply every year?)
6) Get apartment spectacularly decorated in Xmas cheer!
7) Organize a memorial for a friend (sad story)
8) Get rid of 30 more things.
9) Have a great birthday
10) And a great Xmas

And since December is the season of joy:

Today's Joyful Thing:
Wheelchair clinic at work. I just love my job when that's what I'm doing.