Monthly Archives: June 2014

End Of The Mentoring Circle (or One Final Lunch)

My WIF Mentoring Circle has pretty much come to an end. My group had a lunch meeting this past week and the mentors announced that this would most likely be our last gathering. We might have one more in the fall, but we have been told that we can apply for new mentoring circles when applications are being accepted again.

I had gone into the mentoring circle experience with really high hopes. Since Women In Film could no longer match mentees with their own mentors, they hoped that these circles would create a little community where all the mentees could help and support each other.

The first meeting of my mentor circle had about 10 mentees (plus our 2 mentors). But after that first meeting, there was only one other mentee who attended all the meetings. There was another mentee who attended all but this last one, but she is based in NYC and is about 7 months pregnant and unable to travel now. But she still joined us by phone to join in on the conversation.

Pretty much everyone else who attended that first meeting never came back for another meeting. It was a little disappointing. I was totally looking forward to getting to know the other women and to see how we could all help each other reach our goals. I believe that over the other meetings, there were 2 women who each showed up for one meeting. But 5 women never came back at all.

I didn’t get to know those 5 women really at all. But the 2 women who were there at pretty much every meeting I did get to know. And I keep in touch with them both outside of the meetings. I share my successes with them and they share theirs with me. If my entire group (or even half of my group) were filled with women like these 2, I would have zero complaints about the mentoring circle.

But I am going to apply for another one. I’ve talked to a few people who were in other mentoring circles and they did not have as high of an absence rate as my group did. Also, their groups did meet 6 times within 12 months (which is what the application for the groups said we would do). My group met 3 times within the year plus this 4th time after the one year mark had passed.

I don’t want to say that my group was a dud. That’s not it at all. I did meet amazing women and I’m so grateful that both of my mentors have said that I can always come to them for advice. I just wish that I had gotten to know other women who are in the same spot in their career as I am. I wish that I had more chances to get to know the women in my group.

I think I can apply for a new group in the fall or near the end of the year. As soon as I can turn in an application, I will. And hopefully my next mentoring circle will be everything that I am hoping for.

Spending The Next 2 Months Going Orange! (or A Bombshell Partnership!)

I have some exciting news to share with  you all! Orangetheory Fitness was so inspired by my story and how I want to lose my extra weight (and not gain it back again) that they have offered to help me.

Orangetheory will be sponsoring my workouts for July and August! For the next 8 weeks, I have committed myself to working out there 3 times a week (right now I’m scheduled for Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays). This is both super exciting and scary.

I haven’t worked out 3 times a week regularly for a while. I know that this is something that I should do, but it hasn’t happened. 2 times a week seems doable, but the whole idea of this partnership is to push myself and to see what I’m really capable of.

And I’m so excited because this is a commitment. I can’t back out if I’m tired or just not feeling up to it. I’ve given Orangetheory my word (and I take that very seriously).

I start my 8 week challenge/partnership with them next week. And I’ll be posting on here at least once a week with updates on my workouts. I’ll be sharing my challenges and my goals as well as updating you all on my progress.

And I’d love to have some of you come with me to a class over the next 8 weeks! If you go to the Orangetheory website, you can get signed up for a free class! Just let me know that you want to workout with me and I’ll let you know what times I’ll be going that week.

This is a major positive step in my weight loss plan. I know that I need to get better about working out, and this is exactly the push that I need. I know that it will be tough and I’m sure that I will wonder what I got myself into at least once or twice, but I know that after 8 weeks I’ll be stronger and hopefully weigh much less than I do right now. And they say that it takes 21 days to create a habit, and I’ll have 60 days of this ahead of me!

I can’t wait until Monday for my first class of this new journey!

Making The Most Of My Last Day In Tahoe (or Tucker Is A Lake Dog!)

On my last day in Tahoe, I didn’t have to leave for the airport until after dinnertime, so I had a full day to have fun. So for the day, we decided to head to Donner Lake to enjoy some time on the water.

We went to the exact same beach that I went to last summer. But besides bringing the raft with us again, we also brought our 2 kayaks to the lake!

We decided that my mom and Kate would each take a kayak out and my dad, Tucker, and I would go in the raft. Tucker had been in the raft one other time the week before and he did ok then. But this time, he wouldn’t be with both my mom and dad so we were a little unsure of how he would do.

We got my mom and Kate in the kayaks and into the water first. Tucker watched from the shore and yelped a little that my mom was paddling away. He didn’t want to get into the water so he stayed on the very edge of the shore. Then I got into the raft and my dad picked Tucker up and placed him in with me. Then my dad got in and he took over the paddles (he’s way better at it than I am).

The kayaks are pretty easy to maneuver, so my mom and Kate were off and going around the lake. My dad refers to the raft as a bathtub so we paddled away from the shore and pretty much just floated out there.

But I have to say that Tucker seemed to really love it!

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And yes, he’s wearing Dante’s old life vest.

Tucker spent his time in the raft people and dog watching and then just leaning back on either my dad or I and enjoying the sunshine. But his favorite thing to do was to lick the water off of the paddles.


You can tell from that photo how giant his ears are! And you can tell that he’s a bit of a redhead too!

When my dad and I got back to shore, there were a few other families with their dogs near where we set up our stuff. The dogs were jumping in the water and swimming and Tucker was mesmerized by that. We thought that maybe if he watched other dogs swim, he would try it too.

The owner of the other dog wanted to help us get Tucker to swim, so she kept throwing toys into the lake for him to get. But again, he refused to swim. He got very close, but when he realized that he couldn’t put his foot onto the ground, he backed up. But even without swimming, Tucker had so much fun.


My mom and Kate kayaked back to the shore then and my mom wanted to see if Tucker could kayak with her. So my dad got into the lake with Tucker and got him on the back of the kayak. My mom paddled in the shallow area incase Tucker fell off, but it turns out he has amazing balance and managed to stay on!

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We spent a good few hours at the lake, and eventually it was time to head back to the condo. Kate and I wanted to watch the World Cup game and my mom was going to make a nice early dinner.

Around 6pm, Kate got into her car to make the drive back to the Bay Area and my mom, dad, Tucker, and I got into the car to do a little walking around before I had to get to the Reno airport.

It was a gorgeous evening at Lake Tahoe and I was sad that my vacation was coming to an end.


At about 7pm, we got back into the car for the drive to Reno. Airport security only took me 5 minutes from the time I was dropped off, so I spent a lot of time looking at all the tempting ways I could spend my money in the Reno airport.


I managed to keep all my money in my wallet and just read my book while waiting for my delayed flight home.

I’m so glad that I was able to do this trip to Tahoe this summer. Even though I got to go last summer as well, I haven’t been able to go up as often as I’d like. I talked to my parents about me going up this winter since it’s been a few years since I’ve been up in the snow. Hopefully we can make that happen.

I’ll see my parents again in about 2 months when they come to LA. We are all going to a show at the Hollywood Bowl together. And I’ll see Tucker again at Thanksgiving. There’s a small chance I might be visiting my sister-in-law at the end of the summer when my brother is working out of the country, so I might get to see everyone then as well.

But for now, I’m just grateful that I got to spend a nice long weekend with my family (and chosen family as is the case with Kate).



Long Lake And The Best Caesar Salad In The World (or The First Day Of Adventure In Tahoe)

While this trip to Tahoe was a relaxing trip, we still went on little adventures each day. On our first full day there, we did a little hike (although my parents called it a walk) to Long Lake.

This is a hike I’ve never done before and my parents warned me that the first part of it is extremely steep (going down at the beginning and going up when you are coming back). I figured that I could do it, even though I knew I’d need to take some breaks. Besides my usual hip issues, I also had to deal with being at altitude. This seems to affect me a lot. I’m not sure if that’s a weight related issue or the fact that I never spent too much time in the mountains so I never acclimate to it.

The drive to the start of the hike was a bit off-road, so that was a fun little adventure. Tucker was sitting in the back with Kate and I and he had a few moments where he fell off the seat. He decided to sit on the floor after that.

The first part of the hike was crazy steep and I took at least twice as long as everyone else to get down, but I did it and I didn’t fall. The rest of the hike (which was about a mile) was up and down and there were a lot of rocky sections. I was careful and managed to not lose my footing at all.

I was a little out of breath when we finally make it to the lake, but it was totally worth it!

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We brought a little picnic lunch to enjoy on the rocky beach there so we set up a little area for us and enjoyed the amazing view.

There were some other people there and most of them also had dogs with them, so Tucker was running around greeting everyone and trying to get all the dogs to play with him. We don’t know if Tucker can really swim yet, so my mom got into the lake and tried to make him swim by throwing sticks for him to retrieve.


Tucker got in the water and he did put his face in, but he refused to swim. If a stick went out too far, he would just watch it and hope that it would come back to him.

After spending a nice relaxing time at the lake, it was time for us to do the hike back. For some reason, I got extremely light-headed and my vision started to get blurry as soon as we starting walking again. I have no idea what happened (maybe dehydration?) but I took it slow and it seemed to get a bit better.

After the hike, we spent a little time at the hot tub in the condo complex before getting ready to go out to dinner.

I had requested to go to Cottonwood because it really is one of my favorite restaurants in Tahoe. My family has been going there for as long as I can remember, so it truly is a Tahoe tradition for me.

We enjoyed a nice dinner which included the best caesar salad ever. We get this salad every time and it’s so yummy and garlicky!


And as it says in the Cottonwood menu, the salad is traditionally eaten with your fingers (they are full leaves of lettuce so it’s easy to pick up). I absolutely love it!

I didn’t really get any pictures of the rest of the meal. I was too busy enjoying time with everyone.

After dinner, we just hung out at the condo and watched some tv and read. It was such a perfect first day in Tahoe and it got me ready to have a day on the lake the next day!

A Plane Ride And A Mini Road Trip (or My Adventure To Get To Lake Tahoe)

I got to go see my parents and puppy this past weekend in Lake Tahoe. My parents own a place near Truckee (I went there last summer as well). I grew up going to Tahoe every winter to ski and most summers to hike and enjoy the mountains.

Even though I went to Tahoe last summer, I haven’t gone as often as I’d like. This is because it’s not the closest place for me to go and my parents are pretty busy people. There are times where I have to make sure they set aside a certain weekend for me so they don’t invite friends of theirs up there.

My parents had invited me as well as my friend Kate to come up and she and I both set aside the time in our calendars. I know I’ve said it before, but Kate is like a sister to me, so having her come to Tahoe is more like a family hangout.

As a kid, we pretty much always drove to Tahoe (it’s about 4 hours from where I grew up). I flew a couple of times when I was in high school and couldn’t go on vacation as early as the rest of my family. And since moving to LA, I’ve pretty much only flown up there unless I’m combining a trip to Tahoe to a trip home to the Bay Area.

But for some reason, Southwest (who I pretty much always fly when I’m flying between Northern and Southern CA) stopped doing lots of non-stop flights from LA to Reno. There’s only a couple a day now when there used to be at least 6 or 7 options. And I didn’t want to have to have a layover in Vegas or Utah.

So my parents suggested that I fly into the Bay Area and Kate could come and get me. Then Kate and I could do the drive together (my parents were in Tahoe a few days before we went, so they couldn’t drive me).

That actually worked out pretty well! I got a flight from LA to Oakland and then Kate came to pick me up after she was done with work (which was pretty much the same time that I landed). Then she and I drove for about 3.5 hours to get to Tahoe.

It was a really fun mini road trip. We caught up on each other’s lives (she’s got a new job and she’s living in a new city). We shared crazy stories that have happened lately. We discussed the World Cup (we are both following the games, but she’s following them a bit better than I am).

By the time we got to Tahoe, it was dark so we pretty much just went inside to hang out with my parents and dog (who is more than double the size he was when I saw him in February).

While making my trip take almost 5 hours instead of 1 is a little crazy, it was totally worth it to get some hangout time with such a good friend. Plus, if that’s what I had to do to get to Tahoe, I’m fine with that.

I’ve got some fun pictures from the weekend coming up in my next two posts, so make sure you check those out when I post them!

Bicycle Financial (or Using Online Tools To Help Get Me Back On Track)

FTC Disclosure: I was given a free trial of this product in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are mine and were not influenced by the free trial.

I was recently given the opportunity to check out Bicycle Financial, which is an online financial planning tool. Bicycle Financial knew that I’ve been working on paying down my credit card debt and they wanted to show me some ways that their service could help me out.

When you are going through the set-up on Bicycle, there are several different plans that you can use. They are designed to be for different stages of life (student, new baby, planning on kids going to college, saving for retirement). The plan that was suggested to me was the Single Life plan, which is designed to help build the foundation of financial independence.

The set up was super easy and user-friendly. You just type in your income, any debt you might have and what type it is, and some financial goals you have.

My main financial goals are to pay off my debt and to start a savings account (technically I have a savings account, it just doesn’t have any money in it yet). Bicycle sets up a plan and says how much you should put toward each goal each month. And these amounts are customizable. For example, the credit card debt goal was listed as something I should put $10/week toward. However, the minimum payment on my card is higher than that. So I was able to change it to the minimum payment.

The only problem I saw with Bicycle is that it is designed for someone with relatively stable income. My income varies so much from week to week so I found myself changing my income on the site every week. And since it is based on an annual income, I had to take what I made that week and multiply it by 52 to get an idea of what my yearly income would be if every week was like the previous one. But if I had used this when I was in telesales, even though my income changed each week due to commissions, I still had a decent idea of what it would average out to. So I could have made up an annual income that seemed reasonable.

Besides this little set back, I did really enjoy Bicycle. Other online financial planning tools are more like online calculators for what you need to do. On Bicycle, there was also advice and tips on different topics that I found super useful. I also like that this one didn’t connect to my bank accounts. There are other online financial sites that link and connect to your bank accounts so they can report how much money you have in there. Those always seemed to make me nervous and even though I know that there are lots of safeguards in place, I always was scared that someone could access my bank account and take what little money I had in there.

I highly encourage all of you to check out Bicycle. You can find them on  Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Youtube. You can even enter a contest. It is usually $15/month to use the service, but I noticed that right now online they are offering $10/month to new customers. I’m still going to take advantage of my set up on there. While it’s not easy for me to plan based on having such sporadic income, I do love the advice that’s on there and I find it very empowering that there are solutions and plans for me to be debt free one day!


Working To Find Work (or Maybe My Last Work Related Post Did Get Read)

Earlier this week I posted about a woman who lied and insulted me on the phone while trying to convince me that I should be grateful to work for her. I really thought that I would hear back from her about an interview and then I could meet her and find out who she really is.

I’m actually shocked to say that she has not contacted me again. Maybe she realized that I wasn’t falling for anything she said. Maybe she had no job openings and was just goofing off on the phone. Or maybe she actually read the post that I wrote about her and crossed me off her list.

Whatever the reason, I don’t think that I will ever hear from her again. I did tell my friend’s aunt that she’s more likely to see her before I will. And maybe if that happens, my friend’s aunt could find out more information about her and pass it on to me.

As much as I wanted to see who this person was so I could warn other people about her, I have to let it go. I really do need to find another job to fill in my schedule and I have to only focus on real possibilities.

Until September, I won’t be able to get more work at my box office job. I’ve talked to my supervisor about it and we did have a pretty serious talk. But the way things are set up right now, there is only room for one part-time employee to work each day. And that is going to go to someone who can work the entire shift (unless there’s some weird reason that nobody could and then maybe I would get a chance). We are still discussing any other possibilities for me to come in, but I also understand the reality of the situation.

But I do have a job interview for another job next week, and I’m actually pretty excited about it. It’s for the company I worked for earlier this year doing recruiting for movie screenings. Even though I’m a pretty outgoing person, it turned out that I was just too shy and timid to work the recruiting job. But I saw a posting on craigslist that they needed someone to do coding/data entry. It would eventually be work from home, but for several months I would have to do on-site training and it would be during graveyard shift hours (11pm-6am).

While I don’t want to work a graveyard shift job, I am willing to train during those hours if it leads to a great work from home job. My interview is on Tuesday and I feel good about going in for it. I know the company from working there as a recruiter and I left on good terms (at least I think I did). When I left, I was very honest that I just didn’t think that the job was the right fit for me. But I told them that if there were any other job openings in the future I’d love to work with them again.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up about this job interview. There’s a chance that they won’t want to hire me since I did work for them briefly in the past. So I’m still spending a few hours a day searching online for jobs and applying for everything that seems right (and pays decently enough).

Hopefully soon I’ll have another job and I can finally start relaxing about paying my bills.

Happy Hour Party (or Getting To See Co-Workers Again)

This week was the end of the year party for the theater I work at. We had a party last year at the end of the season, but that was when I was still working in telesales and I was working 6 days a week.

Now that I’m in the box office, I’m lucky if I’m there 1 day a week. And even though I’ve been back for a while, some people didn’t know that I was back until a staff meeting that we had last month. Everyone works in an office building across the street from the theater except for the box office staff. We, obviously, work in the box office that is attached to the theater. So unless someone is coming over to the box office for some reason, they never see us.

I’m still getting used to being back. It’s weird to work in a job that is so similar yet so different from what I’m used to doing. While I do know some things, there are so many things that in telesales we couldn’t do. So I’m still learning a lot every day.

Also, I’m used to this time being the busiest (and most profitable for me) time of the year. But in the box office, we maybe get 1 phone call over a 3 hour shift. We don’t have tickets on sale yet to the public, so we don’t have a ton of work we have to do.

Anyway, back to the party.

Before the party, there was a staff meeting and then we all headed over to Bodega (yes, where my 30th birthday party was last year). Bodega is only about 3 blocks from the theater, so it’s super convenient. I used to go to Bodega all the time. But that was also when I worked in telesales until 5:30 on Wednesdays and wanted to wait out rush hour traffic. Since being laid off from telesales, I haven’t been back.

It was free food and drinks for everyone, which made it pretty fun. I only had 1 cocktail since it was only 2pm and I knew I had work to do at my house later.

We played some random games like get-to-know-you BINGO where it turns out I’m the only person who works at the theater who has been to Africa. But honestly, it was just a nice time to get to chat with people who I don’t really get to see at work. Again, some people forgot that I had been brought back to work in the box office. I’m the only person from the telesales team who is back.

After 3 hours of hanging out with everyone, I headed back home. It’s nice to be social with co-workers and I feel like the fact that I was social before is one of the reasons that I was asked to come back to work. Building relationships with people always helps and I’m glad that when I was let go I had left a positive enough impression for them to want me back.

Unreal Reality TV (or I Need To Stop Comparing Myself)

I’ve talked about my love/hate relationship with weight loss reality shows in the past. They are still a guilty pleasure of mine. I really don’t know why I still enjoy them when they make me feel so bad sometimes.

The only weight loss show on during the summer that I watch is “Extreme Weight Loss” (I think “The Biggest Loser” isn’t coming back until the fall or winter). I was watching it last night when I started to think more about why I watch these shows.

On “The Biggest Loser”, time is condensed, obviously. You are watching one week of footage in a single episode. But each week there is only one episode on. So it’s almost like it’s in real-time.

On “Extreme Weight Loss”, each episode represents an entire year (each episode follows a single person for one year). Every week, it’s a different person’s year.

I think I’m holding myself to the standards that these reality shows are creating. It’s not normal to lose weight like that. And I think that “Extreme Weight Loss” is making me judge my weight journey really badly.

Within a 2 hour episode, you go from seeing someone who is even more overweight than I am to seeing someone who is pretty much at a goal weight. That all happens in 2 hours. But in real life, that took a year. It makes things seem so quick and easy when they aren’t. Even though the contestants on these shows have pretty much no distractions while losing weight so they are able to focus on it 24/7, you still don’t really see the struggles someone has when the scale jumps up suddenly. You only see the weigh-in where the weight is down (this is not technically always true, but the majority of the time it is).

Why should I think that my journey should only take 2 hours as well? And the weight loss goals that they reach are completely unreasonable for me. On last night’s episode, the guy features was challenged to lose 118 pounds in 3 months (he was over 200 pounds overweight). If I lost 118 pounds in 3 months, I’d pretty much be done. That’s not possible (or if it is, it is definitely not healthy).

I should not look to these shows to be examples or even inspirations. They are for entertainment purposes only.

It’s hard to find inspiring people in the real world who have gone from obese to a goal weight. Most of those people either gain the weight back (like I have several times), or they aren’t out and about sharing their story. And some of the ones I have seen are people who had weight loss surgery or have used some other method that I don’t want to do.

So I need to turn myself into my own inspiration. I need to start thinking that losing 2 pounds in a week is awesome instead of horrible (since all the people on reality shows seem to lose double digits every week). I need to start think that it’s ok if my journey takes a year, or two years, or even a decade. As long as I keep going. And I need to start thinking of all those reality shows as mindless entertainment instead of examples.

It’s not easy to change how you think, but I’m really going to try.

Culver City 5K (or 5K #2 For The Year)

I’ve obviously slowed down on the number of 5Ks that I’m doing this year. In fact, at this point last year, I had just done 5K #5 (and reached my year-long goal 6 months early!). But when I had that goal in mind, I didn’t have any other workouts that I love. Now I have 2 different workouts that I’m really enjoying so my 5Ks aren’t getting the same focus that they used to.

But I’m still going to do some of my favorite races, and this past weekend was one of the ones I really enjoyed last year. It’s the Culver City 5K (if you couldn’t guess that already from the title of the post). I like this race for a few reasons. One, it’s a super flat course. I actually walk a similar path when I do some walking in my neighborhood. Two, this 5K starts and ends about 3 blocks from my house so it’s extremely easy to get to. And three, there is a discounted entry for substitute teachers of Culver City Unified (which I’m still signed up to do), so I don’t have to spend a ton of money to do the race.

This past Saturday was the bib pickup and it’s held in the parking lot of one of the schools I used to sub at a lot. It’s easy to get to and since this race is pretty small, it’s only takes about a minute to get everything done.


Since the race is pretty much down the street from me and it had an 8am start, I didn’t have to wake up too early. But as soon as I got up in the morning, I realized that it could be a pretty warm morning. And I’ve had issues with crazy hot 5Ks in the past and haven’t liked it. So I drank a ton of water and tried to think cool thoughts as I headed over to the start line.

I was also very excited for this race because I finally got to meet a new friend in person! Lyndsay blogs on The Balance Brunette and we had connected recently over several FB groups that we are both a part of. She lives very close to me and we had been trying to meet up at a happy hour or something, but our schedules just didn’t match up. But we realized that we both were doing this 5K, so we finally got to meet!


Originally, Lyndsay was going to run this 5K, but since some things had come up, she changed her mind and decided to walk with me. I warned her that I am slow and if she felt like she wanted to go faster she could ditch me and my feelings wouldn’t be hurt. But she said that she planned to stick with me.

Of course, I had to get a quick “before” photo of me before the race started.


We ended up being toward the front of the pack for the start, but we stayed off to the side to make sure we didn’t make any of the runner mad.

This was one of my slowest 5Ks ever. I finished in about 1 hour and 8 minutes. But I don’t care. I know that I walked slower than I would if I was racing alone because I wanted to chat with Lyndsay while we walked. And if I had been going as fast as I could, I would be too out of breath.

We had a nice walk together just chatting about random stuff. We did a lot of chatting about blogging and the various issues we both have. We also both babysit so we talked about that as well.

And at around the one mile marker, one of the coolest things that has happened to me so far regarding this blog happened. Lyndsay and I were walking and I was telling her a funny story about a store that we were walking past when I heard someone yell, “Jen, hi!”. I turned to look who had called my name and I didn’t recognize her. Since I’m horrible with faces and names I figured I just forgot who she was. But as she came up to me she told me that she reads this blog and just wanted to say hello! How cool is that!?!? And to the woman who said hi, you totally made my day! But you didn’t say what your name was so I can’t acknowledge you properly. Hopefully you are reading this and you can comment and let me know who you are!

After finishing the 5K, Lyndsay and I had to get some victory pictures with our new race bling.

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This was actually Lyndsay’s first race where she got a medal (and I know it won’t be the last)!

Eventually we headed our separate ways to head home.

Even though this was my slowest 5K possibly ever, I totally consider this a success. I finished and I didn’t finish last (about 15 people finished after us). That’s all that matters. And I got to finally meet my new friend.

My medal holder in my living room is starting to get a bit full now. I think it looks awesome. My dad is scared that I’m reaching the weight limit on it. Hope not because I know I’ve got some more awesome race bling coming up later this year!