Tag Archives: birthday

So, this is a milestone. GULP.

30 Oct
Little baby me with my adoring big sister - who would later dump me out on my head.

Little baby me with my adoring big sister – who would later dump me out on my head.

Happy birthday to me! Today marks 40 years on this fine planet!!!

How lucky am I? Answer: Very.

A year ago I launched my 40×40 – a mini-bucket list of things I wanted to do before I turned 40. So… how’d I do?

If you know me, you’re probably thinking, “With her undiagnosed OCD, it’s a given that she meticulously did every item on the list.” And if you’d made this wager in December of last year, the odds would’ve been in your favor.

But then this thing happened: I started the Georgetown University Transformational Leadership Coaching program. And I was, as they say, transformed. I loosened up a bit. I stopped riding myself so hard. I gave myself permission to only honor the commitments that served me – and eliminate or renegotiate the others. That right there was worth the cost of tuition alone.

So it is through that new lens that I present my final scorecard for the last year’s 40×40.

  1. See the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. YES. As long as “from an airplane” counts.
  2. Try sushi. NO. To quote George Bush: “Just couldn’t do it…”
  3. Attend Nerd Nite DC. KIND OF. I tried – repeatedly – but it was always sold out. The winning twist is that because it was sold out, I ended up discovering and attending “Story League” which was completely up my alley. (You might just hear of me competing in it as part of my “40 AFTER 40.”)
  4. Become a certified coach. YES. And it was so much more than I bargained for. I’d considered applying multiple times over the last ten years, but finally pulled the trigger last year. What a great reminder to stop putting off the things that you’re interested in.
  5. Take a “Girls Trip” with my mom and sister. YES. And it was more than just a girls trip. What a blessing to get to spend time with my two favorite women – while seeing some amazing sites.
  6. Practice yoga every day for one week. NO. When I joined a gym so I could access a pool for the swimming goal on this list, I discontinued my yoga studio membership. As a result, I got a bit lazy on the yoga front, but it’s rotating back in.
  7. Take an official walking tour of DC. YES. In fact, I took two and learned a lot about this city I’ve called home for the last 18 years. Including where manure used to flow. And still does.
  8. Find the doors at the O Street MansionYES. Well, we found SOME of the hidden doors, but not all of them (perhaps in part because the place deserves to be featured on “Hoarders”). It provided a great bonding activity with two of my new classmates from Georgetown – and reminded me why I can’t handle pack-rats.
  9. Explore wine country with Alan. YES. We had a blast and covered a frightening number of miles (and bottles) on this trip – from San Fran to Pismo Beach and SLO to Napa and Sonoma. And we may or may not have flown two cases of wine home with us.
  10. Completely avoid Diet Dew for one month. YES. TIMES TWELVE. I did the Un-Dew. And I’ve stuck with it. I stopped drinking it on my last birthday and have only had one per month (if that) since. And I haven’t switched to another variety of soda, so I’m slowly purging the Aspartame from my body. Whew.
  11. Get a library card from the Library of Congress. YES. It was a process, but I now can peruse the stacks at will. Just don’t ask me how many times I have actually cashed in on this privilege.
  12. Sponsor one classroom project each month on DonorsChoose. YES. Over the last year, I sponsored some amazing projects for the public classrooms in this country. From hatching butterflies and harnessing rain water for a community garden to equipping an entire classroom with copies of “Wonder” and buying a library college-prep books – I helped students in our most impoverished communities know that someone was rooting for them (and willing to invest in them). If you don’t already give to DonorsChoose.org, I highly recommend it.
  13. Go Facebook-Silent for two weeks. YES. Read the post. I might do it again. And again. And again… Starting now?
  14. See an exhibit at the Phillips Collection. YES. Alan and I went to a “Phillip’s After Five” event and saw a “Mad Men inspired” exhibit from the 50s and 60s. There was also a DJ, some random food, and conversation with strangers that involved hiring a stripper for an octagenerian on life support. We may or may not do it again.
  15. Make a Halloween costume. YES. Just don’t ask how many times we got to wear them. After all – today’s my birthday and we only have plans to wear them to my office party this afternoon.
  16. Find a StoryCorps booth and record a story. Ideally with my dad. NO. Nevermind that we didn’t figure out what our story would be (though I’m pretty sure we’d have good fodder for the Booth), the real challenge here was finding a location and time to head in for an interview. It’s kind of like winning the lottery. Fortunately for me, my dad is a master diarist, so I have plenty of his history captured for posterity.
  17. Get professionally fitted for a bra. YES. You know I did. And I learned that my breasts are the ONLY reason I’m not a professional golfer. Well…
  18. Get a new driver’s license. NO. But for a fantastic reason: my current license is good for TWO MORE YEARS! Boom! So why would I go willingly sit in the DMV to get a license with a photo that makes me look older? Right… I wouldn’t – and didn’t!
  19. See the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. YES. Multiple times when Alan and I were touring California last fall, though the most spectacular was probably in Pismo Beach.
  20. Send one handwritten note of gratitude to someone each month. KIND OF. I sent more than a dozen thank you notes (and not just in response to things I received) but they weren’t paced by the month. In fact, I took the February “Month of Letters” challenge and sent a handwritten note each day of the month – many of which were unprompted thank you notes. So I consider the spirit of this one fulfilled.
  21. Record a podcast with my friends. NO. Mainly because we’re too lewd to hold jobs if we do it – and too disorganized to meet at a house instead of at a restaurant on the fly. This WILL happen in the next year – even if no one but us hears it. (Looking at you, Al, Heddy and Shawn.)
  22. Learn to change my bike’s rear tire. YES. Learned from YouTube. Attempted in real life. Not that difficult – though I’ll probably freak out and forget how when I need to do it in real life next summer.
  23. Write 50,000 words toward my next novel. NO. That’s on the list for 2015.
  24. Complete a Century Ride. Preferably with my sister. NO. But I flew a shit-ton of miles in an uncomfortable seat to meet my sister in Italy. Does that count?
  25. Learn why ziplines are so hyped. NO. Still clueless. Our weekends got away from us, but it will happen – when we next go camping near one. In the meantime, I plan to just leave my zipper down occasionally and see why that’s so hyped.
  26. Review the books I read on Amazon. KIND OF. I reviewed A LOT this year – like the books I read, the apartments I stayed in, the restaurants I ate in, etc. – but I didn’t do it on Amazon. So check me out on TripAdvisor or Audible and you’ll see that I have quite the collection of reviews – and people who argue with them.
  27. Swim 50 miles. Not all at onceYES. This was the BIG ONE. And I did it. Don’t ask me how many laps I’ve swum since hitting this goal. (Hint = none.)
  28. Roast an entire chicken. YES. And once I realized how easy it was, I hung my head in shame – and roasted a bird each week. Seriously – why did this take me so long? And how many other simple things are out there that I haven’t tried because I’ve made them more difficult in my head. (Stay tuned for 2015, when I build my own rocket pack and travel the globe.)
  29. Compliment a stranger every day for a week. NO. I attempted this and got crazy looks. I definitely complimented more strangers than I usually would, but I didn’t do it for seven days straight.
  30. Volunteer for a cause I care about. KIND OF. This is still a biggie because I’m passionate about so many causes. This year was a bit nutty, however, so I sponsored a lot but didn’t necessarily participate. Earlier this month I did participate in the Alzheimer’s Walk (and I raised $1,500 for the cause!) but that still doesn’t feel like volunteering. Next year I’ll do better.
  31. Declutter my friendshipsYES. And in the process, I’ve realized how many truly great friends I have. 
  32. Do an inversion every single day. NO. I still think it’s good for you – I just struggle to remember to do it. And let’s be honest – I didn’t do it the first day after my birthday last year, so it was a lost cause, mentally.
  33. Update my resume. KIND OF. I updated it – then took on a new role. So now it’s out of date again. But it was still a good exercise in seeing just how much experience and how many skills I’ve acquired since joining my company.
  34. Help Alan have a good 40th year. KIND OF. I should rephrase this, because – despite my intentions of being awesome to Alan, he ended up being more awesome to me. As just one example: He didn’t complain when I scrapped our vacation to go to Italy with my mom and sister – in fact, he stayed at my place and cat-sit Miss Moneypenny.  I think I need to help him have a GREAT remainder of his 40th year.
  35. No candy for a month. YES. Of course, I chose February because it is the shortest month. Even so – did you know that by gutting candy, I didn’t lose a single pound? That wasn’t my goal, but – given the quantities of sugar I consume – I would’ve thought that’d be a natural bi-product.
  36. Host a scavenger hunt. KIND OF. It’s a bit of a stretch to even count this as “kind of” because I technically did not host a scavenger hunt. However, I did organize a series of puzzles and games so that my dad could be an armchair traveler and have one envelope to open each day we were in Italy.
  37. Break a rule. YES. I actually realized that even though I think of myself as rule-abiding, I break rules frequently. The most common? Jay-walking. I actually got yelled at in Boston this year for jay-walking in front of three cops on a street corner.
  38. Provide free sales coaching to someone who tries (poorly) to try to sell me something. YES. After months of receiving horrible emails from a salesperson who clearly didn’t understand my role or what my company does, I wrote her back a very thoughtful response, including feedback on what would’ve been a more effective way to grab my interest. I can only assume she applied that feedback and became wildly successful, because I never heard from her again.
  39. Contribute to Wikipedia. YES. Actually, I learned something. After creating an account so I could contribute to Wikipedia, I learned that the kind of contributions they want people to make are generally editing or fact-checking, rather than straight-up authoring. That explains why there’s no entry for “pithypants” on Wikipedia – yet.
  40. Go camping. NO. I can’t believe this one didn’t get accomplished. I love camping and used to do it all the time. But it’s tough to get all the variables in alignment – it has to be a weekend when Alan doesn’t have the kids, the weather has to be dry and warm – but not too warm, and we can’t have plans that tie up one of our weekend evenings. Next year this will happen, because I miss the smell of wood smoke.

 

So what’s the tally? 22 clearly completed? 7 kind of? 11 scrubbed? Whatever the count, I’m considering it a win. I had a great year and my list did exactly what I’d hoped it would: it prompted a bit of reflection and a greater reconnection with my friends and family, my curiosity and creativity, and my health.

As I look back on the first four decades of my life, I feel grateful to all the splendid people who have made my life so rich. I am one lucky lady.

Who says aging is a bad thing?

18 May
Image Source: PithyPants 2014

With Karen, left, and Rosaura, right – my college roommates!

I just returned home from a whirlwind visit to Chicago to surprise my college roommate for her 40th birthday.

Alan and I flew out Thursday afternoon and had to keep reminding each other NOT to post anything to Facebook that would accidentally reveal that we were in the Windy City prior to Saturday evening’s party. It was surprisingly difficult, which probably means I can skip any “How Narcissistic Are You?” quizzes that appear on Buzzfeed this year. (But then, isn’t that true of anyone with their own domain name?)

It started when our flight was two hours late departing. The plane’s door closed at 2:30, which was 15 minutes behind schedule. Not a big deal, until the pilot crackled over the PA system, “Well folks, the tower just informed us that we aren’t going to be able to take off for another hour or so due to some severe storms in Chicago. We’re going to have to push back because another flight needs this gate, but we’ll keep you posted.”

We ended up sitting on the tarmac at DCA for close to two hours before leaving. Passengers were remarkably calm, considering there was no beverage service offered and the air conditioning was off. Alan took a nap and had sweat running down his temples. I refrained from posting about our predicament on Facebook. It was unsatisfying.

Image Source: Terese 2014

With Terese, at Pop’s Champagne, after dinner.

We arrived in Chicago just in time to meet our friends Brian and Terese for dinner at Eataly. (We all lived in the same dorm in college 20 years ago, yet whenever we reconnect, we don’t spend much time traversing memory lane. I love friendships that evolve with time – and I love seeing a couple whose relationship has weathered the years gracefully.)

The next day, as planned, I worked from our Chicago office while Alan ventured out to explore. When we awoke to SNOW that morning, I was actually glad to know that my day would be spent at a desk/on a phone/in meetings – doing anything but being outside. (Hello, Mother Nature – it’s mid-May. Don’t you think it’s time to cut these people some slack?)

After work, we took the train to Southport, where our friends Dan and Molly live with their son Eddie. We haven’t visited them since they relocated there last July, so it was great to catch up and re-imagine them as midwesterners. Also? Eddie is now 18 months old, has a contagious grin and an awesome arm on him. He pulled out an assortment of balls shortly after we arrived and demonstrated more strength and accuracy  when throwing than I did when I played softball in seventh grade.

The next morning (Saturday, if you’re keeping track!) we met up with Alan’s mom and aunt for brunch just down the street from Dan and Molly’s house. This is VERY random, since Alan’s mom lives in Virginia. She’s driving cross country by herself to deliver a car to Alan’s brother in San Diego, and managed to time things so that she’d be passing through Chicago while we were there so we could pre-celebrate Alan’s 40th birthday together. Pretty cool, right?

After brunch, we walked to Wrigley Field, where Terese (of earlier Brian and Terese fame) had hooked us up with amazing tickets to watch the Cubs completely shut-out the Milwaukee Brewers. The weather had miraculously recovered from the day before, so we had blue skies and 60 degrees. It was a perfect day for a ballgame, and Alan’s first visit to Wrigley Field. Overall, a win. Thank you, Terese!

The Birthday Girl!

The Birthday Girl!

Finally… with these fantastic few days serving as a warm-up, we arrived at The Featured Event: Karen’s birthday party. It was great to see such a dear friend surrounded by so many people who adore her. She was absolutely glowing. It’s a good reminder for anyone who is upset about aging: The beauty that comes from decades of friendship, from knowing who you are and being confident about your place in this world trumps the effortless beauty of youth.

Or will I? Alan just told me I look old.

Or will I? Alan just told me I look old.

As I close in on my 40th birthday later this year, I’m grateful to Karen for leading the way.

I booked my ticket to Chicago simply hoping to help a friend ring in a milestone. I returned feeling overwhelmingly fortunate for all the people who make my life so much richer than it was when I was half this age.

I’ll gladly trade wrinkles for them all.

(As long as I can post about it on Facebook along the way.)

40 x 40 Challenge: Happy Birthday to Me!

30 Oct

Image sourceL http://cdn.themetapicture.com/media/funny-dog-birthday-cake-sad.jpg

Today is my 39th birthday. That gives me one year before I celebrate the most infamous milestone of midlife. And buy a corvette and get a trophy wife. Oh wait – sorry, women don’t do that. Got confused for a minute!

Seems like a good time for a bit of reflection to reconnect with my friends and family, my curiosity and creativity, and my health. In that spirit, I’ve created my list of “Forty by Forty” – a mini bucket-list to be completed before I turn 40.

Since these need to be done in a year, they’re not the grand items of a life-long bucket list. I’m not trying to see the pyramids or raft the Nile. (Hopefully those happen in the NEXT forty years.)

Because life is good. And it’s often in paying attention to the little things that that we live life most fully. Here goes…

  1. See the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. Try sushi. I know, I know. I’m the only person in America who doesn’t like sushi. But it’s been ten years since I last attempted it, so I’m going to see if my palette has evolved. 
  3. Attend Nerd Nite DC. I’m a nerd and I’ve always been curious.
  4. Become a certified coach. Already enrolled, so unless I screw up, this should earn a checkmark. 
  5. Take a “Girls Trip” with my mom and sister.
  6. Practice yoga every day for one week. 
  7. Take an official walking tour of DC. I love walking tours. I live in a city that offers them. Why haven’t I done this before? No idea.
  8. Find the doors at the O Street Mansion
  9. Explore wine country with Alan. We’ve booked our flight, so this should get a checkmark. 
  10. Completely avoid Diet Dew for one month. Ideally, I’d like to give it up for good. But let’s start with a manageable goal.
  11. Get a library card from the Library of Congress.
  12. Sponsor one classroom project each month on DonorsChoose.
  13. Go Facebook-Silent for two weeks. This one already gives me palpitations, which probably means I’m addicted.
  14. See an exhibit at the Phillips Collection. Unbelievably, I’ve lived here almost two decades and haven’t set foot inside this gallery, only blocks from my place.
  15. Make a Halloween costume.
  16. Find a StoryCorps booth and record a story. Ideally with my dad. 
  17. Get professionally fitted for a bra. No sense giving in to gravity just yet.
  18. Get a new driver’s license. Actually, this is kind of a to-do list item. But still…
  19. See the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
  20. Send one handwritten note of gratitude to someone each month. 
  21. Record a podcast with my friends. Not sure what we’ll do with it, but I’m pretty sure it will be hilarious.
  22. Learn to change my bike’s rear tire. Although I hope I’ll never need to use this. 
  23. Write 50,000 words toward my next novel.
  24. Complete a Century Ride. Preferably with my sister. 
  25. Learn why ziplines are so hyped.
  26. Review the books I read on Amazon. I use other people’s reviews to shape my reading list – time to give back. 
  27. Swim 50 miles. Not all at onceI used to swim all the time, but it’s fallen by the wayside in recent years. Time to jump back in.
  28. Roast an entire chicken. Yep, I consider myself a pretty solid cook, but I’ve never actually cooked an entire bird. WTF?
  29. Compliment a stranger every day for a week. Different strangers… because otherwise that would be creepy.
  30. Volunteer for a cause I care about.
  31. Declutter my friendships. Prioritize the people who make time for me. 
  32. Do an inversion every single day. For non-yogis: this is basically just doing something upside down. Headstand, handstand, shoulder-stand – it’s supposed to be good for your lymph system and your perspective.
  33. Update my resume. Not because I want a new job, but to reflect on my accomplishments.
  34. Help Alan have a good 40th year. 
  35. No candy for a month. Ridiculous that I’m almost forty and still think Skittles count as part of the food pyramid.
  36. Host a scavenger hunt. 
  37. Break a rule. Easier said than done when you’re compulsive and risk-averse.
  38. Provide free sales coaching to someone who tries (poorly) to try to sell me something. 
  39. Contribute to Wikipedia. Not just in a financial sense. Edit an entry. 
  40. Go camping. I used to do it all the time, but haven’t since I got rid of my car. Time to bring it back!

What about you? If you weren’t designing a life-long bucket-list, but rather had to focus on something specific to do during the next year, what would make your list? I’m curious. 

Image Source: Matt Groening - The Simpsons, Fox Television

PS: Here’s the Donor’s Choose project I just sponsored in New Orleans for October:

Most of our students will be first generation college students. These students don’t get much help from their families in the college planning process. Our students are from the inner city and their needs are many, academic as well as socio-economic. I took over a high school library two years ago that has a fair book selection, but no budget for new books and very few up-to-date books on ACT, college and financial aid, careers and scholarship information. Our library has one up-to-date college guide and one scholarship book that are constantly checked out. I want my students to see all of the possibilities and plan the best future possible. 

What an almost perfect day looks like…

31 Oct

This is going to be me in 40 years.

Today, in (an extended) celebration of my birthday, I played hookey was given the day off work because it’s our company’s policy to consider your birthday a holiday. (Yay!)

So what did I do, you ask?

Well… First, I woke at 6am. And listened to NPR lazily from the comfort of my soft sheets for an hour. Because that’s what taking a day off looks like, when you’re a nerd. (We nerds know how to party.)

Then I made myself a perfect mug of espresso, before hitting a yoga class. Probably not the best sequencing of diet/activity.

But also not the worst, it turns out.

Not to out-do myself, after yoga (practically starving from the exertion) I demolished a tub of bean soup — without thinking about the massage appointment I’d scheduled a mere two hours later. Um. As soon as I was pleasantly full and tipped back in my recliner, I realized what I’d done.

Slightly panicked, I chatted my sister. Her advice? Take an egg and peel it in the lobby. Why? To really stink up the joint. Helpful. Thanks.

I shouldn’t have worried. Everything turned out JUST FINE. (But I did hit the ATM on my way, lest compensation need to run more along the lines of “damages” than tip.)

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Another year older…

30 Oct

Today was my birthday. Before this year, I raced into each birthday, excited for the additional year’s experience that lay ahead of me, wrinkles be damned.

This year, however, my body started to crap out on me in drips and dribbles… a mysteriously inflating calf, migraines, vertigo, Baker’s Cysts… I suddenly understood why old people only ever talk about what’s broken. Because everything breaks.

Oh, don’t  get my wrong. I’m not depressed to be another year older (beats the alternative!), but as I head into this year, I’m appreciative for what my body still CAN do, and I’m determined to maintain it as best I can.

I hit yoga twice today and during savasana I found myself giving thanks – not only for my health in general, but also for these specific things:

  • For being able to walk 25+ miles per week without thinking about it.
  • For not needing to change my underwear every time I sneeze.
  • For still having only my own teeth in my mouth.
  • For not having mysterious moles (with hair sprouting out of them) popping up on my chin.
  • For still finding bras that fit me.
  • And for still having the sense to not consider my waistband a bra.
  • For not truly knowing what a hot flash is yet.
  • For still being years away from finding adult diapers anything but funny.