Thursday, August 29, 2019

It's Like Rain On Your Wedding Day

My son and his bride had rain on their wedding day and it was extremely romantic.  Of course, we were dry and in a gorgeous venue, but still, rain on your wedding day is not so bad! It’s just rain!

Have you ever really listened to the lyrics of that Alanis Morissette song, Ironic?   I’ve always thought it a little inconsistent that she compares rain on your wedding day to getting into a plane crash! And really, it’s not so bad to have 10,000 spoons instead of a knife. Just eat the damn steak with your hands, cave-man style! I’m not very tolerant of whiners about insignificant happenings! (The guy getting in the plane crash? He can whine!)

But I get it…  Life happens and it’s not always fair. 

It’s like ten thousand steps that just get you lost
And your bones just get weaker
So you’d rather get sauced…

Yes, people, this is me, Super-Carpe-Diem-Woman, taking a break from my regularly scheduled healthy, happy, habits to, instead, drink high doses of sugary sweet Bailey’s Irish Cream and bask in a personal pity party. Despite a year of obsessively trying to improve my bone density, results from my latest Dexascan are in and show the biggest decreases yet. 

I’m happy to report that despite this highly disappointing news, I still walked more than 10,000 steps today. Not only that, I’m also happily wallowing in self-pity by drinking high quantities of my favorite alcohol, which is undoubtedly thousands of calories.

Sugar and alcohol are bad for my bones, but TAKE THAT, you stupid bones!  Note that I really wanted to say something much more profane to my bones, but I’m not drunk enough to publicly defame my bones. They do, after all, hold me together.  This is about as rebellious as I get.

That being said, I am Sooooooo disappointed in my bones. Come on, guys! Toughen up!

I’m used to doing all the things I’m supposed to do and getting the intended rewards. I study and get good grades. I work hard and get promoted. I act nice and people like me. I do “weight bearing exercises” and I get strong bones.. (do you HEAR THAT, BONES? That’s what’s SUPPOSED to happen!)

When we do the things we’re supposed to do and we don’t get the rewards, it really sucks. 

We do a good job, but we still get laid off. We study, but we still don’t pass. We’re a faithful spouse, but our partner cheats, we lay off sugar, but we still gain weight..  It’s just not fair! (I’m working on the lyrics for a whole new song for Alanis…) Also, please note, I’m speaking a bit rhetorically. Thankfully, not all these things have happened to me, but I know they do happen.

I’m used to doing what I’m supposed to do. (I am an “Upholder”after all).  Usually doing what I’m supposed to do works well, but this time it didn’t. 

There have been other times that I’ve done all the things I’m “supposed to do” and still “failed.” Three of my four pregnancies were unexpected! One resulted in a miscarriage. I have been laid off (3 times!) despite doing awesome work.  I’ve had my heart broken despite loving my partner. I’ve had to stop mid-piano-piece in the middle of a recital due to stage fright. I have farted unexpectedly at a very inconvenient time. Things have not always worked out as they were supposed to despite the best laid plans. But usually those unexpected disappointments result in growth, learning, or even unexpected happiness.

And my 'disappointments' are nothing compared to what my friends, Craig and Steph had to go through with ALS. They were very active people with healthy habits when they got an ALS diagnosis. All I have to do when I start having one of these pity parties of mine is to think about them and realize how lucky I have it. 

So, yes, I’m feeling a little down tonight that my bones have failed me. But I’m so grateful for all the wonderful blessings I have.  All the times I’ve been luckier than I deserve. The times I’ve screwed up, but still come out ahead. Mistakes I’ve made driving, yet never had an accident. Bosses and staff who gave me so much credit for jobs that I loved and were easy for me. Children who were healthy. Awesome housemates! Friends and family who love and support me. In the game of life, I’ve had many more unexpected rewards than disappointments. And I’ve lived through the disappointments, coming out stronger on the other side.

And let's not forget that despite those test results, I look and feel amazingly healthy! 

It's like feeling great, when your bones are a mess.
It's when you know you're strong, in spite of the tests.
Isn't it ironic?
Don't you think?

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Week 35: The Anatomy of a CamelBak

It's Week 35 of my 60 until 60 project and I've already completed more than 35 goals, so this week I'm blogging about a "bonus goal".  In the movie, The Bucket List, one of the items Edward Cole's list was "Laugh Until I Cry."  Even though that wasn't on my list, I accomplished it today!

This morning, I was doing one of my favorite Boulder summertime activities: hiking at beautiful Chautauqua Park. I went with my friend, Mary, who had bought a new CamelBak and needed help figuring out how to use it properly.

The rangers were extremely helpful and practically gave us a whole course on how to use all the bells, whistles, buckles, and pockets associated with the CamelBak and how to properly place the water-filled bladder in position so the water would freely flow whenever Mary needed to quench her thirst.

CamelBak Lesson

As a final hint, one of the rangers suggested that Mary put her wallet in a more secure spot.

"I'll just put it down here in your pack next to your penis," the ranger offered thoughtfully.

Huh...  So I guess the hose next to the 'bladder' is called a 'penis'?  I'd never heard that before, but I guess it kind of made sense.  I would have thought 'urethra' might be a little more acceptable (but just barely). Not wanting to appear a naive hiker who wasn't familiar with CamelBak parts, I didn't ask if the hose was really called a penis, but I made a mental note to look that up as soon as I got home!

Mary's mind went elsewhere. She thought, 'Does she realize I don't have a penis? And if I did, it wouldn't be back there!"

We both looked at each other confused and then, luckily, Mary asked for clarification: "Next to my penis?"

"Peanuts! Next to your peanuts!" explained the embarrassed ranger.

I thought this was hilarious! 

I felt a little like my grandchildren when they're being silly and laughing over the word, 'poop' since I was laughing hysterically while the rangers maintained their professional composure. 

I managed to control my hysterics until our CamelBak lesson was over but once we got to the trail, Mary and I had another laughing fit. 

Mary wearing her CamelBak with wallet safely next to her 'peanuts'

Nothing better than a laugh-until-you-cry misunderstanding! I don't think I'll ever look at a CamelBak hose the same way again!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Week 34: Pickleball

Pickleball seems to be all the rage (at least with my age group) these days, so Goal #6 on my 60 until 60 list was to give it a try.

I ran into some people at a party who were saying they were newbies and invited me to join them, so not only did I get to try it out, I made some new friends!

What worked well

  • Fun that I was able to meet some new friends who were willing to loan me equipment and let me try pickleball out!
  • I won my first game!
  • Pickleball is a lot like tennis and ping-pong, both sports I like, so I should be able to learn it easily.
  • Beautiful weather to give it a try.
  • Lots of pickleball courts available.
  • Seems a lot easier than tennis, and probably a better alternative because of my back problems.
What could have been better
  • I've been so busy that I didn't have time for lessons or to play more than this one time. Looking forward to playing more and I'll start earlier in the season next year!

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Four Tendencies - Agile Recommends Becoming a Questioner

I'm going to take a break from blogging about one of my 60 until 60 goals, to blog about..  well..  my obsession with goals. According to Gretchen Rubin's "Four Tendencies" framework, I'm an "Upholder."

I've been a long-time fan of Gretchen Rubin's, especially her work on happiness. She's written several best sellers and co-hosts with her sister a super-popular podcast, Happier, that I listen to regularly, usually while I'm walking my self-imposed 10,000+ steps around my neighborhood.

I haven't missed a day in 2019 of walking at least 10,000 steps. If it's the end of the day, and I have less than 10,000 steps logged on my FitBit, I will pace back and forth in my bedroom if need be, until I get those precious 10,000 steps, setting off the celebratory 'virtual fireworks' from my FitBit. 

This is the type of quirky "goal crazy" person I've always been. I'm relentless about meeting my goals even when no one but me cares.  I mean, really... what's special about 10,000 steps (other than that's when the "fireworks" go off)? Does it really matter if I get 9000 one day? (In fact, I've had a few friends send me links to articles that tell me there's nothing magic about 10,000 steps, probably trying to 'cure' me of this weird obsessive behavior of mine.)

When Gretchen Rubin came out with her "Four Tendencies" framework, I discovered that this ultra-goal oriented behavior was associated with the "Upholder" personality.

A quick recap of the Four Tendencies from the site are:

Upholder: “I do what others expect of me—and what I expect from myself.” 
Questioner: “I do what I think is best, according to my judgment. If it doesn’t make sense, I won’t do it.” 
Obliger: “I do what I have to do. I don’t want to let others down, but I may let myself down.” 
Rebel: “I do what I want, in my own way. If you try to make me do something—even if I try to make myself do something—I’m less likely to do it.”
(Here's the quiz, if you'd like to discover what your tendency is.)

The Upholder personality has served me well throughout my life. I feel proud of all I've accomplished and that people can rely on me. When I say I'm going to do something, I do it. 

I've been labeled as "Type A" which I'm guessing is common of people with "Upholder" personalities, but I don't really like that label. In the world of Agile Leadership, there's literature that specifically says that Type A personality types do not make strong Agile Leaders because of their rigidity and rule-following ways. 

I once set a goal for myself to "be more of a Type B", but I didn't really define how I'd meet that goal. Not defining, achieving, or caring seemed very Type B to me, so.. maybe, in fact, I did achieve it! Yay! Uh oh... That's my Type A coming out again..  Such a conundrum.

In any case, I much prefer the "Upholder" label to the "Type A" label. 

As an Agile coach, I teach people to be Questioners, and have learned to become more of a Questioner myself.  Questioners won't blindly follow a checklist without understanding the reasoning behind why they're doing what they're doing.  

The Agile mindset promotes asking 'why' and then constantly be looking for ways to improve. Can the same objective be achieved in a better way?  As our world changes and we learn additional information, we need to be open to change and not so tied to our original solutions.

So, I need to ask myself 'Why do I walk 10,000 steps a day?" 
  • It's good for my back and my health to walk.
  • I want to be in a habit of daily walking.
  • I enjoy the gamification with the FitBit and don't want to lose my "streak"
  • It helps me meet my 2019 miles in 2019 "Run the Year" goal
  • I feel good about exploring new places, hiking, and looking for new ways to "get my steps in"
  • I'm able to listen to Podcasts, audiobooks, Pimsleur Spanish, or have walks with friends - all things I enjoy doing.
  • I get outside every day
All these have been positive things that I enjoy. If one day I don't get in the full 10,000 steps, I'll be a little disappointed because my quirky Upholder self wants to say I did something "every day for a year." 

But the Questioner will recognize that the important thing is to get the health and wellness benefits, rather than focusing on getting at least 10,000 steps a day, so I'll tell the Upholder self to chill out and be a little more Type B.  And then I'll get a jolt of satisfaction that even though I missed a day of 10,000 steps I'm at least meeting my "be more of a Type B" goal!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Week 33: Minnesota Island Adventure

Just sit right back
And you'll hear a tale

A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this scenic port
Aboard this little ship

The captain is a generous man
Who hosts this trip each year

Three years ago I joined his crew
And met these friends so dear

OK, the Gilligan's Island theme song rewrite is corny and doesn't do justice to this treasured tradition. Give me time and I'll some day write a pretty song or a poem, but I still won't be able to capture the love and gratitude I feel for this group of people and the special memories from these island retreats.

In 2016, I wrote a lot on my blog about my 6-month stay in Eden Prairie, Minnesota while working on a contract at Optum. I viewed the experience as a bit of an experiment to see if I'd be able to make good friends in a short period of time.

It turns out that one of the friends I met that year, Chris, hosts an annual island retreat each August, and I feel so lucky to be included on his guest list! This trip feels like a wonderful family reunion to me.  The island is such a secluded and serene getaway and I get to visit with some of my favorite people. 

It's kind of like the movie, "Same Time Next Year" (except rather than an "affair," I'm having more of a "group kumbaya love" for this special group of people.)  While we're all away on this island together, we have time to talk, and I love getting to know these people better.. finding out what makes each of them tick and what their passions are...  Every year there have been both familiar faces and a couple of new ones, and it's always fun for me to get to know people in this kind of setting.

This year, I really went overboard with taking photos. I wanted to capture the happy feelings I had from the scenic beauty, the lazy nights around the campfire, and the fun of enjoying the outdoors.

One of the many things I love about this crowd is their playfulness and sense of community! Brenda helps coordinate the meal sign-up sheets before we go, and everyone pitches in with cooking and cleaning. The weekend is full of good food, drink, and laughter. We also celebrated two birthdays (Gale's and Chris's) with cupcakes (brought by Nancy.)

Mischievous Dennis!

I had fun smashing one of these in Darren's face!

I stayed a few extra days in Minnesota this year since I'm happily devoid of job responsibilities. This gave me the opportunity to meet up with my boss from Optum, Emran, and have special 1:1 celebrations with Lisa and Nancy B. (To be documented in my 60 celebrations slideshows!)

Taking a work mentor, Emran, out to breakfast.

Celebrating with BFF, Lisa

Enjoying the day with Nancy
And so completes Goal #36 of my 60 until 60 list: Visit Minnesota friends in August!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Week 33: Sing and Act on Stage

YES! My 'scariest' achievement yet - Singing Solo on Stage (Fast Forward to 3:15 in this video)

I love musical theater. Every time I've been to a play, I've imagined what it must be like to be up on that stage and have thought, "I wish I had the talent to be up there."

This year is all about doing things I've always wanted to do, talent or no talent.

And so, goals #22 and #23 on my list of 60 until 60 were:

  • 22. Sing with a group
  • 23. Explore an acting group and try and get a part in a play 

Notice both of these are kind of weak goals. 

Neither goal required me to actually perform on stage in front of audience, because, well..  I wanted to be realistic.  At my age, with no experience or training, it seemed unlikely that there would be any opportunities to actually perform.

But then I found "Broadway Boomers," a musical theater group in Boulder catering to Baby Boomers who want to learn more about musical theater.  No audition required! Perfect!

I couldn't believe my luck and immediately enrolled in the Broadway Boomers summer program. Then the Welcome email came from Faye Nepon, the program's director, explaining that each of us would be singing a solo, and even though no audition was required, she wanted to hear my singing voice so she could assign an appropriate song.

Wait! What? A SOLO!?! 

Suddenly the panic set in. I wanted to sing with a group not a SOLO! My immediate reaction was to tell Faye I couldn't do a solo. (In fact, I did tell her that. Yup. No talent. No experience. Terrible stage fright.) 

But she still wanted to hear my singing voice so I went to the studio and sang the little la-la-la exercises she wanted me to sing as she moved up the scale on the piano.  Faye told me that I didn't have to sing a solo, but assured me that I could carry a tune and she encouraged me to go for it.

At this point in my life, there aren't too many things left that push me out of my comfort zone any more. I've pretty much pushed myself my entire life to do things that I've wanted to do, even if they scare me. I went to ToastMasters and gave speeches in front of audiences, and have managed to face most of my fears and insecurities. But singing solo on stage? That was not something I ever thought I could do.

But, hey, I like to be challenged, and here was an opportunity! Faye said there'd also be an opportunity to 'act' since the performance would include some acting and expression as we transitioned through the different numbers, so I decided this would be a "twofer" and I'd be able to accomplish both goals 22 and 23 by the end of the 5-week session.  

I was assigned "Cruella De Vil" from 101 Dalmatians. Though I felt like a bit of a first-grader, there were so many reasons why this turned out to be a wonderful song for me:

  • It was one of the few songs in the performance that I actually already was familiar with!
  • My family raised Dalmatians when I was a kid, so I loved that Disney movie.
  • It was a short song and I was the first solo performance, so I was able to get through it quickly.
  • I had the perfect black and white polka-dot dress.
  • I was supposed to 'act' terrified of Cruella De Vil while I was singing, and since I was terrified of singing, that didn't require much acting.
After only five weeks of rehearsals, our group of 10 women performed for our friends and families on August 8th! 

As nervous as I was, I did it! Broadway, here I come!

What worked well
  • Getting assigned Cruella De Vil (see more specific reasons above!)
  • Having friends and family show up to support me (even though I was kind of embarrassed about asking, I knew to really feel like I'd accomplished this goal, I'd need to have people I knew there)
  • Getting through the performance without any major mess-ups
  • The fun and excitement back stage before the actual performance
  • Being supported by the experienced singers all with advice on how to calm nerves
  • Having a 'safe' environment to do something new
  • The gracious guidance and support from Faye 
  • Nice that it was a short session. I was able to make every rehearsal despite my busy summer schedule.
  • Feel lucky that Adam took a video of the entire performance!
What could have been better
Not really sure if the performance would constitute "acting" and still feeling very amateurish as a performer, but considering everything, this experience ended up being much better than I could have imagined!

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Week 32: Crested Butte

One of the goals I've been most looking forward to on my list of 60 until 60 has been number 2:

Hike in beautiful spots Including Crested Butte during wildflower season

I first experienced the Crested Butte wildflower mecca in 2011 and thought it must be one of the most beautiful places on earth. 

As I've learned from my experiments in happiness, experiencing beautiful things such as this awe-inspiring scene fills my heart with joy... but even better is experiencing this beauty with someone else.

I feel so lucky that Michael, one of my best friends and frequent Anonymous Blog Commenter, not only owns a condo in the coveted Crested Butte, but has hosted my visit both last summer and this last weekend and been my tour guide through this wildflower haven.  

What worked well

The Hikes and Flowers

OMG! THESE FLOWERS!! Even though I took a bazillion pictures, it's impossible to capture how truly exquisite these natural bouquets really are. Michael referred to it as a "cornucopia" of wildflowers and I thought cornucopia was a perfect word! Such abundance!

Neither words nor pictures can capture the feelings of wonderment from being in the midst of such a scene.  Michael and I hiked on both Saturday (Brush Creek Trail) and Sunday (Baxter Gulch) and they were "Goldilocks" perfect (another of Michael's word choices)..  Not too long, not too short, not too cold, not too hot, everything was just right!

Crested Butte Art Show

Not only were the wildflowers out in all their glory, but the Crested Butte Art Festival was also in full swing and we checked it out both days after our hikes. We found a crepe food truck, Be Crepeful, which was so yummy that we ate there both Saturday and Sunday!

There were all kinds of unique works of art - jewelry, paintings, photographs, ceramics, glass art, kaleidoscopes, scarves.. Michael and I both were high bidders in at the silent auction that wrapped up the festival. He won a gorgeous water color and I won a glass art picture of the changing colors of the aspens.

I loved the quaint town and the pretty painted houses. There was even a Purple Mountain Bed & Breakfast Inn with brightly colored bicycles for guests. But, I, of course, was enamored with the Flamingo-Themed bicycle that I saw parked at the Art Festival.  Another fun event was the rubber ducky race sponsored by the Rotary Club. Michael and I participated, but alas, our ducks didn't win. I, at least, watched the race to root on my little ducky, even though it was raining, but Michael choose to stay dry under a canopy (wimp!)

Michael's Hosting

Michael's hosting skills are indisputably unparalleled! He did everything from researching which hikes would show the wildflowers at their best to waking up at 4:30am to get me to the Gunnison bus station on Monday morning.  He had scattered fun little surprises around his house... a little stuffed flamingo that welcomed me on the bedpost, little books about friendship and happiness, a Spanish birthday card, and a flamingo-laden pillow and fruity margaritas that relaxed me as I gazed out at the breathtaking mountain scene on his patio.

But that's not all. Every minute was full of hospitality. From the Goldilocks perfectly heated hot-tub, to all the conversations (and Michael's patience at my 'Agile coaching') , to the Seinfeld sharing, to the special sweet corn and spiced chicken he prepared for us.

As I said at the beginning of this post, taking a hike in such a gorgeous setting was the goal, but having Michael as my host is what made this weekend priceless.

What could have been better

Michael knows I usually have both a "What worked well" and "What could have been better" section in my blog posts and he was curious what I'd put in the "What could have better" section.

I'm learning that my "What could have been better" sections are getting smaller and smaller because they can often be reframed into something that worked well.  For example, I could say, it could have been better if it hadn't been raining on Sunday afternoon, but instead I think how awesome it was that it was sunny for our hikes. The rainy afternoon was a nice cool-down and I didn't mind it at all! (And provided opportunity for me to call Michael a 'wimp' for not watching the duck race!)

I think my only disappointment was that my back was bothering me both afternoons, and I know I get irritable and moody when I get those back aches. But, like the rain, I feel so lucky that I didn't get them until after we hiked, and with all the pampering of hot-tubbing (and, oh yes, the bubblebaths!) and margaritas, I soon was back in my 'happy place' (as it says on my new flamingo pillow)!

The weekend and this goal was definitely one of the highlights of my 60-week birthday party and I'm so grateful to my hospitable host and friend for all he did to make it special.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Week 31: Dressy Theater Nights!

A couple of weeks ago, I cheated a bit with my blogging, by putting four pictures of four goals (from my 60 until 60 list) into one blog post.

I wanted to write a dedicated blog post for

Goal #39: Dress up and go to a musical at a theater

I had so much fun with this goal, I did it twice in July!

Earlier in July, I went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Buell Theater with my friend, Sue, along with indulging in a multi-course Prix Fixe meal beforehand at Rioja.

Then, this week, I went to Beauty and the Beast at the Boulder Dinner Theater with my granddaughter, Reneya.

Both times I wore a pretty dress that I rarely get to wear because I just don't have that many opportunities any more to dress up. Being on the 'use it or lose it' wardrobe plan, I've wanted to find occasions to get my glitz on.  I also wanted a chance to don some of my sparkly jewelry, usually just hidden away in a lonely and dark jewelry box.

The dresses I wore on these two glamour nights were both purchased years ago at thrift stores. Thrift stores were one of the many 'treasures' I discovered during the years I was very stressed about money (post-divorce and post-layoff).  I avoided high-priced restaurants and just about every other 'luxury' during those years, realizing that I usually preferred preparing dinners myself or DIY cheaper alternatives to luxury entertainment anyway.

But on these recent dressy theater nights, I lived the high life, splurging on foodie-quality food and close-up theater seats. After years of being so frugal, worrying about whether or not I'd have enough money for retirement, it's been a little hard to switch gears and spend on something fun and frivolous. But, hey, since I'm all about getting out of my comfort zone, I'm forcing myself to spend more money, especially if it involves a memorable experience with someone I love.

I used to associate a fancy theater date as something I'd do with...  well, a "date." But, the truth is, many guys hate dressing up or are not crazy about the same kind of (usually chick-flicky) kinds of plays I like. It's just as fun to have a 'gal pal' or 'Granddaughter' date as a 'romantic' date! The fun of it is being with someone else who is enjoying it, too!

I also think part of the fun is that I rarely do this any more so it's a special treat. I probably will always be frugal..  No matter how much money I have, I actually enjoy finding creative ways to do things with less money and hate feeling like I'm overspending or being wasteful.  Living a lifestyle of the rich and famous is not for me.  But an occasional splurge with someone I love is a sweet delight!