Here we are in December, weeks away from the New Year and the beginning of winter. Colder weather, darker days, a lot of stress for some trying to survive the holiday season.
For me, it can be the perfect recipe for losing motivation and momentum – if you let it. I used to think that this time of year and into early January, when all the gyms are full and people start creating New Year’s resolutions, was the time for renewed inspiration. I find myself starting to feel the pull of the warm bed in the early morning and find myself staring at the clock during some of my workouts wondering how much longer I have until it’s done.
It’s a good thing to recognize because as someone who loves working out – the feeling of a good sweat and the feeling of strength that comes with a great workout. There’s nothing like it, I can’t imagine drifting away from this lifestyle – but it becomes more chore-like if I don’t continue to challenge myself by trying new things or switching things up.
So – for those who are active on the regular and reliably focused on leading a healthy lifestyle – I challenge you to switch things up in the upcoming year. If you find something you love already – great – keep it up but also try a few new things to spice things up. Try a new class – ZUMBA anyone?? Try weight lifting, try Barre. Get outside of your comfort zone — your body and mind will actually benefit from it!
- How Often You Should Switch Up Your Workout to Keep Losing Weight
- When, Why, How & How Often Should You Change Your Workout Routine
Star Wars Kraft Macaroni & Cheese “Can’t Play”
I’ve been following the recent controversy around accepting refugees into our country. Our country was created by people fleeing oppression and it continues to flourish by all of us who make up this glorious melting pot.
History repeats itself – I shared a recent article about groups of people not wanting to accept Jewish refugees fleeing from Germany during WWII and we all know what happened there.
With the explosion of digital information there are groups of people who are taking advantage of situations like the terror in Paris to instill the fear of fear in people world wide. In this NYT editorial, Fearing Fear Itself, Paul Krugman makes the interesting point, “the biggest danger terrorism poses to our society comes not from the direct harm inflicted, but from the wrong-headed responses it can inspire.”
“The world would be a whole lot safer if people would stop caring about politics and start caring about people.” – a friend on facebook
It also goes along with the sensitivity of society lately. Disruption, thinking differently, being better at something or inadvertently saying something stupid – any and all of the above can produce responses that seem unfit for the situation.
Here are just a few examples I’ve seen lately…
Online, people can’t make an off color joke (intentionally or unintentionally) without it becoming a big ordeal, causing an uproar, a boycott or producing a verbal lashing. What used to happen? We would think to ourselves or even say out loud “oh that person is an asshole” and we moved on.
Kids and sports. My son and I were not that thrilled that he received a ‘participation’ trophy for playing flag football this Fall. All I did was pay to have him on a team and he got a trophy at the end of the season. That is not trophy worthy in my book and as it turned out, it wasn’t trophy worthy in his book either.
I think all of this ultra-sensitivity is causing people to be less kind, more risk averse, and too careful -which seems to be the sentiment in this email my brother sent to me today (copied below). I obviously did not write it. It was one of those long, forwarded, you don’t know who really wrote it, emails, but it resonated with me because I do think we as a world are becoming more and more sensitive and less tolerant than is good for us.
TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED THE 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s!!
First, we survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.
Then, after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets, and, when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps, not helmets, on our heads.
As infants and children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes..
Riding in the back of a pick- up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one actually died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter, and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar. And we weren’t overweight. WHY?
Because we were always outside playing…that’s why!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day. –And, we were OKAY.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes.. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem..
We did not have Play Stations, Nintendos and X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVDs, no surround-sound or CDs,
no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms.
WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broken bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits from those accidents.
We would get spankings with wooden spoons, switches, ping-pong paddles, or just a bare hand, and no one would call child services to report abuse.
We ate worms, and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and -although we were told it would happen- we did not put out very many eyes.
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.
Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!
These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers, and inventors ever. The past 50 to 85 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas..
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.
If YOU are one of those born between 1925-1975, CONGRATULATIONS!
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good. While you are at it, forward it to your kids, so they will know how brave and lucky their parents were.
Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it ?
This weekend I attended the memorial service, well, it really was a celebration of life, for my friend Niki. A group of her local DC friends gathered in a church basement behind the Nation’s Capital to connect and share the joy that was Niki Mitchell.
Niki was a writer, a published author, The New Color of Success: Twenty Young Black Millionaires Tell You how They’re Making it, and a masterful PR executive with a wicked sense of humor, wit and passion. It was clear if you knew her and if you didn’t, all you had to do was be in this room this weekend. Her friends and family are a collection of amazing, talented, funny people.
The celebration of her life was full of stories told by the people who knew her best – the ones she loved, she worked with and shared with. We laughed a lot during the afternoon as we remembered her. We cried about the void her unexpected passing has left. We comforted one another as we said goodbye. She will never be forgotten by anyone who had the pleasure of knowing her.
Her childhood friend, who literally knew Niki her whole life, shared all the phases of Niki’s life – childhood, young student, writer, wife, mother. One thing she did share was a few weeks before Niki’s unexpected passing, they spoke about taking better care of themselves. She said she had noticed that Niki was not taking care of herself. She was so busy taking care of everyone else around her – she was neglecting her own wellness. It’s a reminder to us all – take care of yourself first -mentally and physically- so you can take care of others around you.
Closing out the celebration, her business partner spoke about ways you can tell you lived a good life. Niki checked all the boxes and even though she left too soon, her life made a difference. His words reminded me of a favorite quote: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln
On the drive home, Scotty and I talked about how this type of remembrance is how we would want to celebrated. I want a celebration of my life that included laughing, eating good food and as I shared with Scotty, dancing! Everyone will need to bust a move in my memory! I want people to say their goodbyes in the spirit of who I am.
The rest of the weekend, I was mindful, evaluating where I am, where I want to be and who I am around. Life is too short to be around people who suck the happiness out of you. It’s cliche but true — life is way too short to waste time with fools and to worry about stupid little things that at the end of day, don’t matter.
My entire family went and saw the new James Bond pic, Spectre over the weekend. I will be the first one to admit that the entire Bond genre does not embrace the idea of positive female role models. It doesn’t scream feminism by any stretch of the word. However, like anything, it is fantasy fiction and for me, I am able to get lost in the mindless action without being offended. I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of the Bond Girls was actually a Bond Woman who was sexy, hot and desirable. Monica Belucci, who at age 51, became the oldest Bond Girl in the history of the series with her role in Spectre. She’s a gorgeous woman regardless of her age, but the fact that Bond romanced her was a different twist we had not seen before.
Daniel Craig who plays Bond is in his late 40s and no one bats an eye when his character romances 20/30 year olds. It became very clear to me over the weekend that it’s a pervasive cultural feeling, even in the younger generation. During the Monica and Daniel love scene, my 11 year old son leans over to me and says “she’s old, Mom.” That comment stopped. me. in. my. tracks. Here’s my son, whose mother has a career, is independent, strong, and liberal, felt the need to not only notice, but remark about the age of the female during the scene. It didn’t even occur to him that Daniel and Monica are pretty close in age and their romantic exchange is a more likely occurrence in real life.
We talked about it the next day – I mentioned that I was surprised by his remark and wondered why he didn’t mention how old Daniel Craig looked. He shrugged and said, well everyone knows he was old. He added that he thought she was beautiful but she was old.
My son didn’t make the remark with bad intentions. I think he was remarking about something that struck him as different because he rarely sees an older sexy woman being romanced in the media.
And maybe, if it becomes more and more common it won’t need to be something to comment on…
When Scotty and I first moved to Northern VA, my new boss, Daryl and his wife, Niki, were one of the first people who befriended us. That was almost twenty years ago. They moved away recently and although we didn’t talk regularly, when we did – it was just like old times. Yesterday, Niki died unexpectedly.
Niki was a loved and loving wife, mother and friend. Professionally, she was a journalist whose articles have appeared in the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times. She was part of a reporting at the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour that earned the prestigious Peabody Award. She ran her own media relations firm.
My heart breaks for my dear friend Daryl and his daughter. Another reminder of how precious and short life is. There is no time to waste….
The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed.-Eminem
Today’s Halloween comics offer a glimpse into the changing culture. Now, I am one to be sensitive to dietary issues but it’s gotten to the point where it’s ridiculous. You can’t cater to everyone or every child. Is it so bad to teach our children that things don’t always work out for them or apply to them? They get over it, I swear!
Have a safe and wonderful and FUN Halloween!
Did you know that 14 percent of U.S. households were considered “food insecure,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, compared to 11.1 percent in 2007, before the Great Recession began?
And now the American Academy of Pediatrics is asking that pediatricians start to ask the following questions to patients’ parents:
- Within the past year, were you worried whether your food would run out before you got money to buy more?
- Within the past year, did the food you bought not last, and you didn’t have money to get more?
I have lived in one of the richest counties in the country since 2009 and at times, it’s easy to lose sight that there are hungry families living all over the country. A few friends of mine work for the school system and have shared with me about some of the realities of students whose families can not afford the basic necessities that many others take for granted. Fresh food in general but especially regular access to fresh fruits and vegetables, basic hygienic items like face soap, tampons, body lotion. What if those families have to also deal with a food allergy like gluten? I am always remarking about how expensive avoiding gluten is when it comes to buying food — I can only imagine what it’s like for families who live paycheck to paycheck.
I was told that in our neighborhood school, approximately 1 in 13 kids are in need. It’s even more startling to think about when you are constantly seeing and hearing so many kids asking for Ipads, Uggs and vacations. So, how can we do our part to teach our kids to be mindful of how fortunate they are and why it’s important to do what they can to help without making them feel bad or guilty?
Here are a few things I have committed to doing with my own family to help:
- Monthly Donation of Non-Perishable Food: Once a month, during a Costco run, I have the kids pick out non-perishable food items to donate. It’s definitely hard to buy items that stay true to my own healthy eating beliefs, but I try to do the best I can. We usually end up buying boxes of single serve apple sauce, peanut butter, cereal etc.
- Monthly Donation of Needed Personal Items: Once a month, during a Target run, we buy items that many people don’t donate on the regular, including boxes of feminine stuff (tampons, pads), multi packs of toothbrushes, soap, facial wipes, deodorant.
- Saving Box Tops from cereal boxes and other items: Although my kids do not attend elementary school anymore, I still save these little things and drop them off at my neighborhood school when the bag I hold them in becomes full. Box Tops are the little coupon-y thing that you find printed on many products created by General Mills. Each one is worth 10¢ for the school and schools can earn up to $20K a year and many schools rely on that extra income to offer different programs and facility improvements. Improving our schools is a great to help the community.
- Saving and Donating hotel sized toiletries: Whenever I travel, I grab the courtesy toiletries that most hotels provide daily. I put all the collected ones in a large zip lock bag to donate.
The suggestions above are easy ways to involve your kids. Our kiddos learn most from their parents and what they see. Let’s show them how giving back is a family habit that they will hopefully continue as they leave our nests.
- The New Way That Pediatricians Will Look Out for Hungry Kids: A new policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests doctors are being encouraged take the socioeconomic roots of health more seriously.
I’ve been very retrospective and contemplative lately – thinking through things that have and are happening in my life. One of the things I have been doing, healthy or not, is revisiting some of the blogs I used to follow during Scotty’s cancer treatment. I’m not sure why I revisit them. Maybe it’s to remind me how fortunate we were to catch his colon cancer early. Maybe it’s to remind me how precious life is. Maybe it’s to remind me that there are many, many people out there with bigger, life and death decisions they are dealing with. Maybe it’s the real knowledge you can glean from their journey. Maybe it’s all of the above and more…
A few of the blog authors’ have died – my stomach drops when I revisit a blog and find the most recent post is their obituary. The blogs I followed were written by people who wrote so eloquently about their journey and held onto their strength until the very end.
It’s always a reminder to me that cancer happens to real people, rich, poor, young and old. It doesn’t discriminate.
I read a recent blog post from Julie Yip-Williams: My cancer fighting journey, who is battling Stage 4 Colon Cancer that really struck me…
I had grown over the months from the belligerent warrior who was determined to beat this cancer to the more contemplative philosopher who seeks above all else to find meaning, peace and acceptance in a life over which I have little control. Cancer, at least for me, truly is a journey that makes me question and analyze all my beliefs about myself (as in whether I am strong or weak, brave or cowardly), about the existence of a higher being and its role in the affairs of mankind, about commitment and love (as in how far will I go to stay alive for my family), about the meaning of my life and life in general, about death and what awaits. If you are open to these inevitable questions that only something like incurable cancer can force into the forefront of your mind, if you allow yourself the time and patience to mull over these complex, baffling, painful and impossible queries, the journey both will change you (for the better I believe) and make you more of who you have always been.
If you want to learn more about Julie, who is a prominent NYC attorney, here’s a good article: One Story: How The Challenge Of Colon Cancer Stage 4 Is Making Julie Yip-Williams Better, Smarter, Kinder
This month is Breast Cancer Awareness month. A recent article I came across had the title Celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness. The use of the word celebrate seemed odd to me. Real women and men are battling right now and while they celebrate their personal victories, the fact that they are dealing with this horrible disease at all is not cause to celebrate. We shouldn’t celebrate by talking about boobs and wearing pink. Instead, let’s figure out a way to make breast cancer detection methods easier and cheaper to access, learn ways each of us can influence brands and countries to limit exposure to the harmful chemicals that are invading our daily lives, and become more educated and aware of the ways each one of us can prevent cancer ourselves.
I was inspired when I read about football player, DeAngelo Williams, offering to pay for mammograms instead of wearing pink as a way to honor his mom who died from breast cancer. What an honorable way to make a true impact as opposed to just wearing pink or forgoing a bra for the day. Not every can afford to do that kind of gesture of course, but it certainly is leading by example. Maybe more professional athletes will learn from his actions and start putting money where their mouth is.
Comic Con New York 2015 was my first foray into the fandom and cosplay world. It was unlike anything I have experienced before, so after talking with a few of the ladies who attended Comic Con New York with me, I compiled a list of lessons learned…to help others who may be on the fence about what to expect…
Research, research, research
Days if not weeks before, start researching to prepare to get the most of your Comic Con experience. You are going to want to look into the following:
- 1. Panels and main stage events you may want to attend
- 2. Special Comic Con exclusive items that you may want to purchase.
For example, Funko Pop offered Comic Con exclusive figures that were sold to only those who waited in line for a wrist band and were sold out as soon as they were available.
- 3. Comic Con related events and meet ups that happen off site and in the evening
We attended a Comic Con meet-up on Friday and a related party on Saturday and both offered free drinks!
Expect Huge Crowds and Plan Accordingly
I was taken aback by the enormity of the crowds. 150K people all taking up space within Jacob Javits, which is huge to begin with. Many people are in costumes and you will get super up close and personal with cosplayers from all facets of the community.
Get There Before It Opens
If you want to get a wristband for a panel, or one for the Funko exclusives, you will have to prepare to get up early and wait in a long, long line. And for the record, that still does not guarantee you will get one for the event you want! Also, getting there early means you don’t have to wade through the mad rush of people trying to get in at the same time. Although, it does move quickly, the line is still enormous and crazy. We got there around 915A on Saturday and didn’t wait to get in the doors to get in the X-Files queue. However, on Sunday, we headed out after 10A, and apparently everyone else had the same plans.
Taking a Pee
From a woman’s perspective, if you see a restroom with no line, GO! The lines for the restrooms were forever present and slow….
Wear Comfortable Shoes
Wear comfy shoes that match your costume if at all possible. You will be walking and on your feet for most of the day. Trust me on this one — the last thing you want to deal with are aching feet.
Plan for Downtime
The crowds, the costumes, the enormous show floor with products and displays, the screaming kids, the constant barrage of people stopping to admire costumes, snapping pics and selfies. It’s sensory overload. You don’t have to spend all of your hours at the Jacob Javits Center. There are a bunch of other Con related events being held around the city and of course, touristy things are everywhere! You won’t be able to see it all even after being there for days -so don’t even try. Do your research and create a flexible plan that allows for it.
Be Nice to Booth and other Comic Con Related Workers
You should always be nice in general but sometimes, you will click with someone at a booth or in security and it can work in your favor. My friend struck up a conversation with a guy at the Walking Dead booth, and he gave her a special wrist band to actually meet the Walking Dead author!
Bring Certain Things With You
Bring a backpack or bag that you don’t mind carrying around with you to hold stuff you buy and freebies, a refillable water bottle, and snacks.
Don’t wait until the last day to buy a Comic Con t-shirt
They have some really cool NY Comic Con t-shirts but most were sold out when I finally got around to buy one on Sunday.
It’s a crazy, crowded place! Make sure you go with fun people who can go with the flow. It’s quite an experience and not one you will forget anytime soon.
I have so much to share but with my new job keeping me beyond busy, so little time to share it…
Here are some of the amazing pictures taken by Scotty at this past weekend’s New York Comic Con….