Thursday, September 20, 2018

Checking Things Off of My 2018 "To Do" List

As you know, at the beginning of the year, I made several goals for myself. I'm glad you're helping me stay accountable!

1. Give back to my community by volunteering my time: I've been trying different volunteer opportunities: at my local nature preserve, the no kill animal shelter, random community events, Tampa Bay clean up with co-workers but nothing has really "stuck" or inspired me to continue with any of these so far. Have you had the same experience? Did you find something that you loved?

2. Travel! This year, I've had some staycations, traveled for work and for fun, so I think I'm good there. Recently, I checked two items off of my list with one trip. Friends and I celebrated our birthdays by hiking a 14er and just generally having a great time. Years ago, I told myself that I would "get out of this country" once a year. I haven't always met that goal and since purchasing a house, don't know if I'll meet that goal this year, but I still have time! One of my dearest friends just moved to England for a few years. My goal is to visit her by the summer of 2019...while I'm there, I might as well go to Paris...if someone twisted my arm, then maybe visit my friend in Switzerland, too. Side note...I was mentioning the people who I met when I worked a summer in Colorado. One of my friends from that summer and I re-connected via social media. She now lives in New Zealand. I've always wanted to visit that country and within the past week, New Zealand has come up at least 3 times. I think the universe it telling me to GO! I'd love to do some hiking there, and catching up with my friend would be icing on the cake! I've heard wonderful things about the avalanche trail - although, I'm not too fond of the name! Have any of you traveled to New Zealand? Do you have any must see places?

3. Go snorkeling at Egmont Key: I went, earlier this year, but it was too choppy and cold to snorkel. This goal is a primo reason to go back! The Gulf is having quite a horrible time with red tide - so many animals are dying...tortoises, fish and dolphins. :-( Hopefully, it will end soon & I can check this one off of my list.

4. Read one book per month: as far as reading one book per month...I knew that this was going to be difficult, but if I gave myself that challenge, I would definitely read more...which I have. So far, I've read:

"Bon Bons to Yoga Pants" by Katie Cross

This was a freebie with my amazon prime account, so I thought I'd give it a go. It was a quick and easy read. Although, it was a chick-lit (which I actually love every now and then) that was a bit too young for me, I did enjoy the writing style and humor. I would highly recommend it for a younger audience.

"Clean" by Alejandro Junger

Parts and pieces of this diet were good, but I don't know how sustainable. The book was ok. Mostly it pointed out that we have become creatures who value convenience over health and nutrition.

"The Code of the Extraordinary Mind" by Vishen Lakhiani

This book was recommended to me by my primary care physician...their group is ALWAYS giving me homework! It was a good reminder of little adjustments that you can make in your everyday life to achieve and surpass your goals.

"Deep and Simple" by Bo Lozoff

I just finished this book and will be reading it again. Yeah, it was that good. There are a lot of references to God and religion which would normally be a turn off for me, but in the context of the book, it doesn't bother's not "preachy." Although, I was raised Christian, now my beliefs are a bit different and I don't identify with any organized religion that I know of...anyway, this book provides different, powerful perspectives. It encourages the reader to embrace difficulties or road blocks, as they are placed in our way to teach lessons and/or catapult us to a higher level, to be more mindful and engaged in the most mundane of tasks or interactions. Deep and simple is much more essential and valuable than shallow and complex. I highly recommend this book!

"We're All Doing Time" by Bo Lozoff

I loved "Deep and Simple" so much, I wanted to read another book by Bo Lozoff. This book (I think) was really intended for incarcerated individuals, who are literally doing time. However, my view is that this book still provides insight and guidance on practicing kindness and breaking free from both mental and physical prisons. I'm not that far into the book. So, I'll get back to you on this!

"Girl Wash your Face" by Rachel Hollis
Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be

I received a 30 day trial of audible, so started listening to this book, by recommendation. In true attention deficit disorder fashion, I was switching between listening to this and reading "We're All Doing Time." This one was ok...towards the end of the book, I really couldn't wait for it to be over. Had I been reading it, I'm sure I never would have finished. Overall, I found that I didn't relate to much of the book. Also, the narrator plays a role in book likability, don't you think? Well, I do, now. The author is the narrator. It's her story. She's passionate about what she's learned about the lies that she has told herself...but it's HER story. She's had a lot of therapy to discover things about herself; how traumas have shaped coping mechanisms that are stifling. She tells herself all sorts of lies. Lies about being the perfect mother, having the perfect career, making excuses for others to make her feel better, how to be the perfect partner...all of these lies that are doing no good. My story is different, yours is different. She tends to sound preachy in some parts, which was off putting to me and the way she pronounces contractions began to grate on me. Didn't was "Did-ent." I know it's superficial, but it's like nails on a chalkboard. The more it grated on me, the more contractions she spoke. Some of the book is common sense, like giving yourself a break, goal setting, meditating and envisioning those goals, but still they are good reminders.

Almost 6 books in nine months isn't so bad, right? I also took a Law for Financial Professionals (yawn fest) class that sidelined my "reading for pleasure" for a few months. So, I'm happy with what I've accomplished with this goal!

5. Hike a 14er with friends - Check! I'm ready to do the next one. Luckily, I have friends who are ready to plan and hike another one with me. Maybe in New Zealand??!!!

6. Gratitude Jar! While I haven't been officially doing my gratitude jar, I do try to think of 2 things each day for which I am grateful. On my birthday, one friend asked me 3 things that I was grateful for this year and 3 things I was looking forward to in the upcoming year. I really liked thinking about it...I might make it a birthday tradition. :-)

7. Kayak more: My paddle board and I have become good friends. It's not exactly the same, but they're both manual powered vessels on the water, right? I think that qualifies, so I'm checking that off the list, too.

8. Always find time to play! I think I'm pretty good with this one. I'm still such a little kid. Those who know me well, can attest to this! :-)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Comedy of Errors

Y'all...have I got a story for you! One of my credit card companies allows free credit report monitoring, which I use, almost daily. That's how I found out that some of my information has been exposed on the dark web...multiple times. :-/ I want to make sure that I get "in front" of any unauthorized activity.

I recently bought a house and now, it seems like EVERYBODY wants what's left of my money. It could be worse and I know that it will subside, it's just annoying. Then, one morning I was checking my credit report and something popped up. A medical debt from Memphis that was "charged off." Immediately, I thought that someone had jacked my information, because I haven't lived in Memphis for almost 6 years.

Luckily, the creditor's information was listed, including a phone number. So, I promptly called to get it all sorted out. The representative let me know that this charge was from September of last year from an ER visit. Whoops...that WAS me. I escaped Hurricane Irma in Memphis. While I was there, I was bitten by something and my leg swelled to twice its size.  Since, I had been doing a lot of traveling, I thought it might be a blood clot. After the Dr. asked me questions about my activity level, he was like, "probably not a blood clot." And, it wasn't...I never felt a bite, but my sister noticed a red dot on the back of my thigh - after the ER visit, of course...but I digress. Anyway, I paid my hospital co-pay in the ER and received bills from the doctor and labs, so thought I was good. Well, evidently, I owed the hospital additional money but never received a bill because those jokers fat fingered my address or something. Bear with gets better.

The collection agency representative rolled off an address and asked me if it was correct. I sad "no." I never received any sort of bill. Was the mail returned? Did anyone do any sort of address validation (most companies have a process like this for returned mail, right?)? Then, she said, "well, we have a copy of your drivers license. Is this your address?" I said, "yes, until recently, that was my address." THEN, she proceeded to tell me that her collection agency is not allowed to work with people in FL (they HAD my FL license!! Did that not raise a red flag??), so they would never have called me or sent any correspondence. Ok, well how in the crap was I supposed to pay this? Had it not shown up on my credit report, I would have never known. I'm like a Lannister...well, without all of the castles, killing, conniving, and incest. Ok, maybe I'm not like a Lannister...but I pay my debts!

After talking this through with the representative, she agreed that this was handled poorly from the start. I was not given an opportunity to pay this and it should be taken off of my credit report.  Her manager approved for it to be removed, if I paid the balance that day.

Ok...I was born at night, but not last night. If I paid the entire balance, what motivation would they have to keep their end of the bargain? So, I said that I couldn't afford the whole thing, but could pay half of the balance and set up monthly payments for the rest. The representative agreed. Most of the people I told about this had similar stories and all of them said, "good luck getting it off of your credit my case, it was removed after 7 years."

Well, I am happy to say, that it has been removed from my credit report, now!! It took two weeks longer than they said that it would, but I'm persistent and was prepared to tell the representative that they would not receive another dime from me until the item was removed from my credit...but I didn't have to go all "bad cop" on her. I may have to buy a lottery ticket because luck is on my side. :-)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Birthday 14er!

People who know me well, know that I like love challenging myself. I'll try just about anything once, if only to see if my body can do it (cycling a double metric century - that's 124 miles y'all, UMCA year rounder, Olympic triathlon and the list goes on). Just ask my brother who has "dared" me to do things practically my whole life. Haha!! I also LOVE hiking. Ever since one of my best friends who I've known since college, mentioned a 14er to me, I've had the itch to accomplish one.

Last year, another one of my besties moved to Colorado. Color me so excited to visit her! Last year, when I visited her, we hiked and hiked. It was a blast, but I was not in the best shape because...Florida. So, no 14er in the cards for me, then. However, we talked about it then and throughout the year. We tossed out the idea of doing it on/around our birthdays. Well, her birthday is two days before mine (I tend to have a ton of friends born in August...maybe we just "get each other") and our birthdays fell on the weekend, this year! Enter the birthday weekend, including a 14er!

We settled on Grays Peak. I received a lot of good feedback about it and read articles that supported it being a good 1st 14er. The trail was well marked, relatively easy (as far as 14er's go) and it was pretty popular, so if something went wrong, there were people around who could help or go and get help.

I landed in Denver and we took off towards Grays. Our plan was to hike, early in the morning. In hindsight, it might not have been the best idea to fly from no elevation to elevation and immediately go on a hike like this. Oh, well. It actually wasn't that bad.

The 2 miles of road leading to the trailhead was bad. Scary, insanely rough, bad. My friend had a 4 wheel drive and it was still scary. To give you an idea of how bad it was, it took 20 minutes to drive 2 miles! The road was rocky, with big boulders sticking up and huge potholes to navigate. Once at the trailhead, though, I knew I would have a great time hiking!

The hike was about 8 miles round trip with about a 3,500 ft elevation gain and we made plenty of friends along the way...

About 2 miles in, I started getting queasy. One summer when I was in college, I worked in Colorado, taking horse back rides through Rocky Mountain National Park. It was an amazing experience. I fell in love with the area immediately. Anyway, during that time, I became familiar with recognizing altitude sickness and remedying it before it got too bad. When I started getting queasy on the hike, I knew I need to eat something. Then, boom, I was fine. I drank a ton of water, so never really had much issue in that department.

View of Grays to the left and Torreys to the right
This part of the hike had the only bushes on the trail. If nature called, you either had to find a bush or big rock to hide behind. Basically, if you had to go badly enough, you had to put your inhibitions aside and just go. People were going to see you. They were going to know what you were doing, but c'est la vie. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

trekking up the side of Grays Peak

Mountain Goats!!
Around this part of the hike, we had climbed to about 13,000ft elevation. At least that's what someone's GPS read...anyway, it was shortly thereafter that the climbs got much more steep. After a super steep stretch, I would find myself getting a little light headed. Not bad, but just enough to stop, have some water and let myself adjust for a minute. I didn't was the perfect opportunity to enjoy the majestic scenery!

Almost there and still all smiles!
 Made it to the top! It was hot the day we hiked, so I was in my sleeveless top at the summit. After lunch though, it got a little cloudy, so I put my fleece and gloves on...basically, almost all of the clothes I brought!

Made it!

With the sign, to make it official. It's not official without the sign! :-)

view from the back side of Grays Peak
View of Torreys Peak from the top of Grays
View from the front side atop Grays Peak

The last view from the Grays Peak Summit, before heading back down
It took us about 8 hours, round trip, but to me, it didn't seem that long at all. We took our time going up - about 4 1/2 hours. At the summit, we had lunch, enjoyed the views and took pictures - there were SO many people climbing that day that we had to wait for people to clear out a bit, in order to get good views from all sides. So, we probably stayed at the summit for about an hour. Some people do Grays and Torreys in the same day, which is really doable. It's right there, as you can makes sense to knock out two 14ers in one big hike, but we weren't trying to be heroes!

The hike was tough, but it really wasn't as tough as I thought it would be. I enjoyed every minute of it and absolutely can't wait to tackle another 14er. I'm so awed by what my body and mind can accomplish and am endlessly thankful that I have adventurous friends who are willing to accept these challenging journeys with me!! I've said it a million times and I'll say it again...I'm such a lucky girl!!

Friday, August 3, 2018

2018, So Far

It's been a fun filled year, so far. A lot has happened. Here's the condensed version of my mid-year review:

I spent time with family who visited & enjoyed the sunshine:

Went on long bike rides with nice, shady trees and met new friends:

Traveled to Memphis to work and enjoyed the view, while there:

Bought a new house and changed a faucet all by myself - well, with help from youtube:

Before (grody to the max!):

After (don't worry, I also changed the drain, too!):

Logged a lot of time at the beach:

And a lot of time on my paddle board:

Watched the sunrise and sunset:

Found time to run for coffee & spend Q.T. with friends:

Friday night Shuffleboard - not just for old people, anymore!

Excited to see Lynne Koplitz - one of my fav-o-rites!!

 And saw these two gems that made me giggle inside:

I hope you're enjoying your 2018, so far, too!!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Enjoy the Silence - Yeah, Right

Happy summer, friends! As per usual, it's been a while. A lot has happened in my world and I have the pictures to prove it, which I will get to, eventually...for now, I want to have a chat with you about an old friend from my childhood. Mister Rogers. That's right, Mister Rogers. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about the movie in theaters right now, "Won't You Be My Neighbor." Well, when I heard about it, I thought, "I LOOOVED Mister Rogers as a kid. What was it about his show that made me like him so much?" So, I consulted with the google-machine, like many of us do, and found videos on youtube, in a flash.

Sidenote and funny story: I dated a guy once and somehow we got on the subject of how much we liked Mister Rogers as kids. If it had been a competition, he would have won with this story. He had a record player in the corner of his room and he was listening to a Mister Rogers record. He must have been around 4ish? His mom walked in on him and he was peeing on the record player. His mom said, "What are you doing?" He proudly responded, "I'm showing Mister Rogers that I can pee like a big boy!" I'm pretty sure I cried from laughter when he told me that story.

Ok, back to my story...I watched an episode of Mister Rogers Neighborhood and quickly remembered why I liked him. He looked directly into the camera and established a level of intimacy with the viewer. He asked me, the viewer, questions. I remember as a kid answering him. "I'm going to color with crayons today. Do you like coloring with crayons?" "YES, Mister Rogers, I do!" Anyway, at the end of the episode he said, "I like you just the way you are. There's no one else in the world like you and that's what makes you special." My eyes aren't watering, yours are! Yes, that's one of the many reasons I loved watching Mister Rogers as a kid. He had such a warm, calm, inviting felt so safe.

It's easy to go down the "youtube black whole" isn't it? One minute you're watching videos on ways to style a scarf, then the next minute you're watching a video of how to build a villa off the coast of Greece with road gutter scraps. Not that that has ever happened to me or anything. Anyway, I stumbled upon an old Charlie Rose interview from the early/mid-'90's. Mister Rogers was talking about how we're inundated with information and crave more. "How do we, as people who work in media, encourage people to value silence?" That was before everyone had a smartphone (facebook, twitter, instagram, snapchat, etc.), tablet, laptop and multiple monitors...can you imagine what he would think of our information overload, today? After thinking about it, he was quite right. Often times, I reach for my phone out of sheer boredom. Is it so horrible to be quiet and alone with thoughts? Or not even thoughts, just surroundings?

Yesterday, I put my phone away, turned off my radio and told myself I would sit through every red light on my commute home, without looking at my phone or calling a friend to catch up and help pass the time. I'm a multi-tasker, see. I won't die if I actually sit through a light with no other distraction, will I? It was hard. At the first red light, my hand - on autopilot - dug into my bag and grabbed my phone. It was halfway out of my bag before my brain registered and said, "halt, you! Put the phone away!" Uggh, what to do with all of that time just sitting there, waiting!! I managed to get through the first red light. Shockingly, I noticed businesses along my normal commute that I had never noticed before. Then it happened. Out. Of. Nowhere. An earworm...

"What would you DoOOOoo foooorrrrr a Klondike bar?" What? Where did that come from? Oh lawd, make it stop!

That evening, when I arrived home, I never took my phone out of my bag. I thought, wow, I haven't looked at it in hours (sorry, friends and family members who I didn't get back to until this morning). I wouldn't say it's a first because I'm not shackled to my phone to the extent that I see other people, but I'm much more reliant than I would like to be. I mean, how can you be "present" if you can't sit for 5 minutes without needing electronic stimulation??

P.S. I did go to the theater and watch "Won't You Be My Neighbor." I cried. A lot. As soon as my eyes dried, something else would happen to start the water works again. I looked around and noticed others wiping tears from their eyes, too.

The movie was remarkable. It will tug at your heartstrings. It will make you leave, wanting to be a better person. The kind of person Mister Rogers knew you could be when he talked to you from the other side of the t.v. screen so many years ago.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Tweet Others As You Would Like to Be Tweeted

This weekend was filled to the brim, but not with coffee. I'm on another "dial down the caffeine" (like, a million notches) kick. I love coffee. I can hear you and yes, I love it so much I would marry it. However, I know that consuming copious amounts of caffeine on the daily, has many negative benefits. One that my stubborn nature gets tired of tolerating is, addiction. Yep, that's right, I get a killer migraine and am achy all over if I don't have my morning fix. After a day or two of suffering, I'm right as rain, again...and shockingly, I have plenty of energy. What's that all about?

Anyway, back to the weekend. It started off with some much needed exercise. Hooray for warmer Flo-rida weather! Then, I was off to volunteer orientation at one of my favorite nature preserves. I'm one step closer to checking off the "volunteer my time" goal, listed in my last post.

Sunday, I stumbled upon a huge group of people. All of the vibrant colors, especially hot pink, that they were wearing caught my eye, so I decided to investigate further. They were all walking with such purpose & I needed some exercise, so I thought, what the heck? I'm kidding of course. I was meeting people downtown to check out the anniversary of the women's march festivities. In the online information, there was nothing about an actual march, so I sorta did stumble upon it and...oh my gosh, some of the chants were hysterical. "We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter" was one of my favorites. While, it's not my nature to talk politics with strangers and I'm more adamant about not talking politics with friends (because...story about my dad #33 - if you're curious, I'll tell it to you), I will admit...reading Trump's tweets or listening to him speak is the equivalent of hearing G Dub say, "nuc-u-lar" or talking about how gynecologists need to be "allowed to practice their love of women." Do you remember that? So many "face-palm" moments. I mean, I see Trump's face and his mouth is moving, but all I hear is "nuc-u-lar."

The march and gathering afterward was all very positive. There weren't any people protesting the march, either. While I do get the gravitas of the situation (but I wanna keep things light-hearted, here), there were so many funny signs. Every two seconds someone was laughing and pointing, "look at that one!" From, "there will be hell toupee" (I just giggled typing that) to this:

I'd vote for her...

Friday, January 12, 2018

Looking Back on 2017

Wow, what a year 2017 was. I've been known to say that odd numbered years are better for me. This odd numbered year was different. It was wonderful and not so great at the same time. I've named it the bipolar year. The bad: Family drama, family members passing away, late night trip to the ER (my leg swelled so much that I thought I had a blood clot...turned out to be a bug bite. Whew!) and hurricane Irma to name a few. Many people experienced much worse than I, so I really can't complain. It was quite a roller coaster ride, nonetheless.

Now, on to the good:

I went sailing & snorkeling in the Bahamas (and put a check mark beside my, "let's get out of this country once a year, goal.") I had never seen such beautiful water. It changed from deep sapphire to crystal blue:

Celebrated warmer weather with my closest friends:

Watched many beautiful sunrises:

Even caught the occasional, gorgeous sunset:

Went hiking with friends...a lot:

Played, "where's Martie?

I even found the end of the trail, along the way.

Kayaked some:

Made sure to obey street signs. It's the law, after all:

Didn't walk, but went running in Memphis:

Had a business trip to NYC and spent the weekend to play:

Out of respect, I "Andy Warhol'ed" myself.

And became a Skimm'bassador!

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to travel more. By November, I thought, "I'm good, I want to stay home for a bit." I've been at home for almost 3 months now, and am itching for a trip. Oy vey! Who wants to meet me in Savannah or Peru to hike the Inca Trail??

All in all, it was a good year and I'm excited to see what 2018 has in store. I've set some goals for myself in 2018:

Give back to my community by volunteering my time
Go snorkeling at Egmont Key
Read one book per month
Hike a 14er with friends
Gratitude Jar!
Kayak more
Always find time to play!

What are your goals or resolutions for the year?