Monthly Archives: August 2017

My Version Of Back To School (or I Need To Get Out Of My Summer Mindset)

Most of the schools in LA went back this past week. It was cute to see all the first day of school photos from my friends with kids and most of my friends are pretty excited to have some free time back in their lives. It’s crazy to see some of my friends’ kids in school when it seems like it wasn’t that long ago that they were born. Especially since I don’t feel like I’ve aged as much as those kids have!

Back to school time used to mean so much to me. When I was in school it was a great way to reset things in my life and get them back on schedule. Even when I was working as a substitute teacher it had that effect on me. There’s something about knowing that school is back that triggered a sense of seriousness in me and I’ve realized that I don’t have that anymore.

I don’t miss school. I do a lot of learning through various things on my own every day so I don’t need a set class that is fall to summer. But I do miss the feeling of resetting things and getting back on track. And getting back on track is something that I do struggle with at times and yet again I’m going through that.

I have to feel lucky that I have my fitness stuff down and that doesn’t need to much work. I think things would be so much worse for me if I didn’t have that in place. But food is still a struggle and I know that things have gotten a bit out of control again. It’s a combination of my schedule being crazy, having lots of adventures and outings, and just being lazy because of the heat.

I’ve said this so many times before, but I really need to get back to my meal planning. Or at least having better options in my house to choose from. There have been far too many days where it’s 3pm and I’m done with work and I’m going to the grocery store because I’ve got nothing to have for dinner. And unfortunately, when I do that I will sometimes buy things I don’t need because they seem good to me in the moment.

I’m working on getting back to the way I was meal planning earlier this year, but it’s not exactly what I think I need right now. So I’m back to experimenting with what things will work and what will help to make me as successful as possible with not having problems with having the right food in my house. I know that my schedule is still a bit crazy and will continue to be a bit crazy, but that can’t be an excuse for me anymore. Life will always have moments of craziness and that can’t be stopping me.

I also need to refocus on work and time management. For the next month things are extra crazy for me because I’m doing the temporary job for an old boss of mine. I have to manage when each day I’m doing each job and I really need to focus on it because I need to get it done when I plan on getting it done. It would be so easy to let time fly by and not have the chance to do what I need to do a certain day. I make sure that it doesn’t happen, but I also see where there are cracks in my plan and where I can improve things.

It will be so nice when one day I don’t have to stress about these things as much. Maybe one day food will come as easy to me as the workouts do now. And maybe one day I’ll only have one job (or one job with a few side jobs that are related to that job) so I don’t have to color coordinate my schedule to know when I need to work each job each day. Fortunately with work, I am an organized person so it’s not too horrible to manage things. But I do look forward to when things are simpler in life and that I can focus on one thing at a time instead of multitasking every single hour and day.

Working On Money (or A Prosperous Heart Update)

I wrote before about how the podcast I work for was going to do the 12 week journey in “The Prosperous Heart”. We just got to the end of the 12 weeks and I figured it was time to do an update.

I’ll admit that I did not follow the 12 weeks as strictly as I did with “The Artist’s Way”. The main thing I did do was the morning pages. I struggled with the morning pages when I did “The Artist’s Way” and I really didn’t enjoy them. They became something that annoyed me at the end of that journey and I really was not enjoying having my mornings start off on such a negative note. So I decided that for me, doing the morning pages wasn’t going to benefit me the way that it should so I didn’t do them.

I know that some people will argue that I didn’t really do the 12 week journey this time if I left out doing the morning pages, but that’s ok with me. I have to do what is right for me and I would rather try to do the journey the best that I can instead of not doing it at all. I did do the weekly reading and the questions at the end of the chapters, so I feel like I did a majority of the journey.

The biggest thing about this 12 week journey is to track every single penny that you spend. Since I already do that with YNAB, I figured it would be pretty easy for me to keep doing it. And fortunately it was pretty easy for me. The only annoying this was with credit card spending. I track it in YNAB and it was a bit weird to have to track it in a second location as well (for “The Prosperous Heart”, I tracked everything in a little notebook). I didn’t like having to do everything twice, but it was a minor issue.

But while I track all my credit card spending, tracking cash was a new thing for me. I was looking forward to seeing how being extra aware of my cash spending would help me out. And for the most part, I got much better about being more cautious on what I was buying. There were a few times I forgot to track my cash spending (mainly laundry money or parking meters), but I would say I tracked all but maybe 10 times I used cash. It’s not perfect, but I’m pretty happy with being close to perfect.

I think that many people in our group weren’t as into this 12 week journey as they were with the other one. Some of us felt like the book didn’t speak to us the same way. Some people felt that the chapters were repetitive and a bit disconnected. It was not easy for us to admit that we didn’t enjoy this journey as much as the other one since we all felt so great after finishing “The Artist’s Way”. But it’s important to admit to yourself when you don’t feel like you are getting what you want out of a book/class/lecture.

We tried to encourage each other to stay on top of the weekly chapters and the lessons, but this time the group online wasn’t as active and sometimes it felt like we were each on our own journeys instead of doing it as a group. It’s not bad to do it alone, but it was different. And I don’t know if I preferred the group version or being a bit more on my own. Each journey was so different because of what was in it, so it’s not easy to compare them to each other.

Now that this is done, I’m going to keep some of the lessons and challenges going but I’m not going to keep all of them. I might continue to track cash spending, but I think just having the extra awareness I have now will be helping me so much. And for credit card spending, I already track that and I have noticed that I haven’t been charging as much stuff as I did before. So it’s nice to know that I did learn something and that I’m not spending as much as I did before. I’m not saving as much as I’d like, but it’s baby steps toward that.

Overall, I’m glad that I took this journey. Even if I didn’t do everything that was supposed to be done, I feel like I have made a change and I’ve learned new things about myself. I’m hoping that I can continue to spend less and focus less on things that cost money and look for things that are free that I like to do. I know that I need to get my credit card debt paid off and I really want to get it done soon. I just need to buckle down and work harder toward that. And hopefully the lessons I learned from “The Prosperous Heart” will help me over the next weeks and months to accomplish that.

An Epic End To The Pantages Season (or We Aren’t Going To Throw Away Our Shot)

This past Sunday was the final show for my group in our current season at the Pantages. While we are a bit sad our season is over, we already have bought our season tickets for next season and we are really excited for that. But what was even more exciting was that the final show for the season was Hamilton! Getting to see Hamilton was the reason many people got season tickets this season. But I think all of us in my group were just excited to see all of the shows. Hamilton was just going to be a super amazing addition to the season!

And as we have done with the past few shows, we went to dinner at Wood & Vine before the show. And Wood & Vine just introduced a new menu with their new chef so we were ready to try some amazing new food and to have some of our favorites! Everything on the menu looked incredible, but we had to try to limit ourselves to make sure we didn’t feel overstuffed while at the show.

We ordered some veggies because they sounded delicious and they were a lighter option. The squash had an amazing butter sauce with some cheese and they were perfectly cooked so they still had a bit of crunch to them. And the carrots reminded us all of eating Honey Nut Cheerios! It was so crazy how sweet they were without having the sweetness overpowering the flavor of the carrots.

And while we knew we’d be ordering the bone marrow again, everything else that we got was something that was new to the menu. We were also able to have the tuna tartare, pork belly tacos, and the branzino filet.

And as we expected, everything was just incredible. I only had a taste of the tuna as it had a chili sauce on it and I’m really sensitive to spicy food. But it was really good and everyone else loved it. The pork belly tacos were so tender and the sauce on it was really refreshing. And the branzino was flaky and so flavorful! And of course, the bone marrow was out of this world! We had 2 orders of it and between the 4 of us the bones looked like this within minutes of the plate being brought to us.

When the bones were empty, Dani and Michelle decided to order some shots to have with the bones. They were actually talking about doing this the night before at my party so it was pretty funny that they were getting to do this. Doing a bone luge is a thing, I just hadn’t heard of it before they were talking about it at my party. If I knew I could handle a drink, I think I would have joined in with them. But it was cool getting to watch them and they seemed to really like it (even if it was a bit messy).

We also got to try some of the new desserts! They have a buttermilk panna cotta now which had berries on top. But what was our favorite was the new Nutella bombshell (and yes, I loved that it had bombshell in the name)! It had chocolate cake that was light and fluffy topped with Nutella mousse that reminded us of the texture of ice cream but was room temperature. It was so good that I can’t even think of better ways to describe it! And we also were given the butterscotch that we’ve had in the past but now it comes with maple ice cream which was loved by all of us.

Then the chef, Jennifer O’Neill came out to the table. It was wonderful to meet her and we were so excited to tell her how much we loved the food! And we got to learn about some things that might be coming up at Wood & Vine that we can’t wait for. I can’t share that stuff yet, but trust me I will as soon as I can!

After dinner we headed across the street for the show. We couldn’t believe it was finally time to see Hamilton! We ordered our season tickets about a year and a half ago and it seemed like we would never get to this date. And we were all remembering how we realized at my birthday party last year that it marked one year until the show. And it was finally here!

The energy in the theater was electric. I think everyone was just so excited to see the show (it only opened 2 days before so it was still very new to LA). The 4 of us kept saying how we couldn’t wait for the show to start. Michelle and I both have listen to the music from the show (many, many times) and have seen videos as well. But Dani and Elisa both tried to avoid seeing stuff about the show ahead of time since that’s how they like to see shows. But we were all equally ready for the show to start.

And I’m happy to say that all the hype about the show is true and more! I don’t know how to explain how amazing this show was and how it really is an incredible piece of theater. I wish that more people could see it because it’s that great. I know that ticket prices are high and there aren’t enough seats for everyone to see it now who want to. But hopefully eventually with the tours more people can experience this show.

While it’s a pretty long show (almost 3 hours when you include the intermission), it doesn’t feel like that at all. It goes by so quickly even though it is a very full show. I could see how there could be so much more show that I’d want to see and now I’m even more motivated than ever to finish reading the book that the show is based on (I’m about 1/4 of the way through the book).

I think all of us agree that this was such a highlight of what ended up being a pretty amazing season at the Pantages. We are all hoping that we will win the Ham4Ham lottery so we can go see the show again. It’s in LA for a few months so there’s a chance that at least one of us will win. But no matter what, we are all so grateful that we were able to see it with our season tickets!

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Birthday Party Adventure! (or Another Traditional Celebration)

I’ve celebrated my birthday at Bodega Wine Bar a couple of times now. It’s such a great place to have a casual birthday hangout so when I was trying to plan what to do for my birthday this year I had going back to Bodega at the top of my list. I looked at having a party at other locations, but I kept coming back to thinking Bodega would be perfect. So I gave them a call and they were able to get me the same section I’ve had in the past for a birthday party this past Saturday! So it was another Bodega birthday adventure!

Before my party, I actually decided to go to DryBar to get a blowout. There is now a DryBar right by my house, so that’s so much easier than having to drive 10-15 minutes to another location. I could walk there, but that day was so hot and humid and I didn’t want to ruin my hairstyle on the walk back. Fortunately there was a meter right in front of the salon for me!

The blowout only took about 30 minutes so that gave me plenty of time to go back home so I could relax a bit before getting ready to go out. I didn’t take a photo of my outfit, but I decided to try to be dressy and casual at the same time so I wore a basic black sundress with some cute heels. And then it was time to head over to Bodega!

And I lucked out with a parking meter again! I found one that was right around the corner and it was free since it was after 6pm! It was perfect and I walked right over to see who was an early bird for the party.

I’m glad I wasn’t the first person to arrive because I always hate waiting for people. And right after I got there more people started to arrive. I’m glad I got a reserved section again because it made things much easier for us. The bar was a bit crowded with some other parties and this way we didn’t have to worry about finding space for everyone. Although at one point there were maybe 15 of us there and it was getting a bit crowded. But I don’t think that anyone really minded that.

I hadn’t had a drink since my birthday party last year, but I knew I’d be ordering one at my party this time. My liver surgeon has told me that I can drink, but I haven’t been drinking since I don’t want to put more stress on my liver than I need to. But this was a special occasion so I figured it was a good time to have my first drink in a year!

I knew my tolerance for alcohol would be down, but I was actually surprised how low it was. I’ve had time without drinking before and it never seemed like I lost too much of my tolerance. This time, I was able to drink maybe about half of it before I felt like it was hitting me. I ordered food to help me feel a bit better, but I ended up not drinking any more of my drink. It was delicious, but I guess I need to realize that I can’t drink the way I could before (at least not for a while).

But I didn’t have my party to be able to drink. I had it so I could hang out with my friends and have fun. And that’s exactly what happened! I love when different groups of friends come together and meet. And this had people from so many different parts of my life there. It was so fun watching my neighbor talk to someone who is part of the leadership of the Unite for Strength slate. Or to see one of my Disney friends talk to someone from my WIF mentoring group. It was just awesome sitting back and watching people get to know each other and have my worlds combine!

I didn’t want any presents (although I did tell people if they wanted to do something they could donate to Unite for Strength) because I wanted this to feel more like a regular fun hangout and not a birthday party. I didn’t want anyone to sing Happy Birthday to me or make anything a big deal. Some of my friends did pay for my food and drink, so that was special and I wasn’t expecting it. All I wanted from my friends was to have them there and get to have fun with them.

We ended up being at Bodega for a pretty long time. It was getting a bit noisy and I think most of us aren’t usually late night people so by 11:30 we were all ready to go. People had been coming and going all night so it was a rotating group of people there, but pretty much everyone who was still there decided to leave when at the same time at the end.

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday adventure. It was fun and no-stress. Everyone there seemed to have a great time and that’s what I wanted. I always want everyone else to have fun and that’s what makes me happy!

While this was the main birthday adventure for me, what I have to write about in tomorrow’s post was almost the grand finale of the birthday fun!

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Birthday Workouts (or Just Having A Good Week Of Workouts)

This past week of workouts was my birthday workouts! Since I usually have a birthday week, it only makes sense to have a birthday week of workouts. I didn’t have any expectations going into my week of workouts since I’ve had some really great running weeks and some really bad running weeks lately and I didn’t want to have something in my head that I wasn’t able to get done.

Monday was another 2 group class (instead of the 3G the it is supposed to be now) and it was a power workout. I was actually pretty excited since I know that power days are usually the best ones for me to work on running (and I wanted to run to burn off the calories I’d eat at Truxton’s later that day). In the 30 minutes on the treadmill, there were 13 all outs. It was pretty crazy!

There were 3 treadmill blocks and all of them started with a push pace which I ran. Then we had all out pace intervals with walking recovery in-between. The first block was 1 minute intervals, the second block was 45 second intervals, and the last block was 30 second intervals. I did the first block with my speed at 5mph and the second and third block with my speed at 5.5mph. I know I could have gone faster, but I’m really working hard at not burning myself out because I’m wondering if that is what has been causing the off weeks I’ve been having lately.

The floor on Monday also had 3 blocks. The first block had skaters, ground to press squats, row with weights, and a 100 meter row. I was pretty happy with my skaters because I was able to keep my back foot up the entire time (something that I still struggle with). With the 100 meter row, we were supposed to do both timed rows and counting the number of pulls. For the timed row, I did it in 18.1 seconds, which isn’t the best I’ve done but also isn’t that bad. And for my number of pulls, I got it down to 8 which beat my goal which was 9. The next block was lunges, ab twists, sit ups, and a 150 meter row. I only got to the timed row and did it in 28.6 seconds. And the last block was 200 meter rows (I didn’t focus on my time) and squats between each row set. Considering that this was my last workout as a 33-year-old, I was pretty happy about it!

Wednesday was a birthday workout! I was hoping that I’d have some friends with me in class, but it’s not easy for my friends to meet me at the time I go so I was on my own for the workout. But that was fine because the studio manager, Adam, decided to take that class and made sure that he pulled the treadmill card for my favorite treadmill and he took the treadmill next to me! And it was as if the universe was working in my favor because my birthday workout was a run/row!

It was also a strength day which means running on inclines, but I was determined to see what I could do. Usually a run/row is for the entire block and you go at your own pace. This time, there were 3 blocks and we repeated what we could in each block during that time. And then we switched with the floor between blocks. So I figured that since we would be switching I would try to run on the inclines. The first block started with a 400 meter row (which went down by 100 meters each time) followed by a .2 mile run. The run started at 2% and each round went up 1%. I was able to run the entire thing and even made it back to the treadmill to start the .2 miles at 3% incline. The next block was a 300 meter row (each round went down 50 meters) with a .15 mile run starting at 3% (each round went up 1%). Again, I was able to run it all but I only did the run once before time was called. And the last block was a 200 meter row (it stayed the same) with .1 miles at 4% incline. And I ran it all but only made it one round on the treadmill. Even though I didn’t do a ton of running, I ran all of it and did it at inclines which is a pretty awesome accomplishment for me.

The floor work was also 3 blocks and each block was a bit tough in the beginning since I was still catching my breath from the run/row. The first block was shoulder work, rowing with weights, lunges and abs. The second block was squats, flys with weights, and plank work. And the last block was all tricep work.

I would have to say that this was a pretty successful birthday workout. I’m glad that I spent my birthday at Orangetheory since it is such a huge part of my life now! And I think they were pretty happy to have me there that day too!

Friday was a power day (again, super happy because I could work on my running!). This time, everything on the treadmill was 30 second intervals. We had 5 blocks and the first 4 blocks all had the same pattern. Each block was 30 second push paces with 30 second base paces and the last minute of each block was a 30 second push to a 30 second all out. The first block was 5 minutes and each block got a minute shorter. The very last block was a slightly different pattern but the same concept with push to all outs with walking and more all out paces.

I was able to run all of my pushes at 4.5mph and all of my all outs at 5mph. I tried to do my base pace at my new faster base pace but I could only do that for a bit of the first block. All the running made me need to have a walking base pace that I’m comfortable with. But to me, being able to run as much as possible was more important than to work on my increased base pace. I’m glad that all the intervals were only 30 seconds because running was a bit tough for me that day. I was dealing with some nausea and I’m still experimenting with that time on a workout day it’s best for me to take anti-nausea medications.

The floor work was the same block pattern with the first 4 blocks being one minute shorter than the other. The 4 minute block and the 2 minute block were both rowing with the same intervals as the treadmill. The goal was when doing the 2 minute row to get at least half of what you got in the 4 minute row. In the 4 minute row I did 850 meters and in the 2 minute row I did 460 meters so I’m pretty proud of myself. With the other 3 blocks, we had a mix of squats, burpees, plank work, and biceps.

I felt like I had done a lot of great running work during the week and I was not expecting to be able to do much running on Saturday. But then I found out it was going to be a 15 minutes for distance challenge and I knew I needed to run. But there was no way I could work on running for the entire 15 minutes so I decided to follow the intervals that we were given.

It was a mix of endurance, strength, and power in the workout so the treadmill started with a 3 minute push pace. After that, we started to do push paces at inclines and I was able to run those as well. And the end of the treadmill block was 30 second intervals that were similar to Friday’s workout. And as always, we ended with an all out pace. I know that if I had run the entire 15 minutes I would have gone farther, but I’m pretty happy with the distance that I got to at the end of the cardio block.

Next I moved to the floor where we had one longer block and one short block. In the longer block, we had single leg deadlifts, squats, weighted swings, and strap work. Single leg deadlifts are a tough one for me since I don’t really have the ability to balance on one leg for that long right now. So I balance by holding onto the weight bench with one hand and then doing the single leg work. It is so much harder than regular deadlifts, so I know that I need to keep doing them to get stronger. I have no clue if I’ll ever be able to do single leg stuff without assistance, but I know the only way to find out will be to keep doing the work and trying. And the short floor block was situps and plank work for 3 minutes.

And I ended on the rower starting with a 3 minute row for distance. My goal was 650 meters and I wanted to scream in frustration when I got to 649 at the end of the 3 minutes. It was so annoying to be so close! After that, we had squats and more rowing. I didn’t go too hard in my rowing because I knew we’d be ended with another 3 minutes for distance and I wanted to beat 649 meters. The last 3 minutes for distance was a push, base, push, all out pattern similar to the treadmill and I really tried to do pushes and bases on the rower. It’s not easy for me to do that all the time because I’d rather be steady, but I wanted to see the difference compared to the 3 minute row I did at the beginning of the row block. I think my stubbornness paid off because I was able to get to 668 meters this time!

Overall, I’d say this was a pretty epic birthday workout week. I wasn’t expecting to do a lot of great running and somehow I did have that. And because I think I took it a bit easier than I could have done, hopefully this week of workouts won’t suffer from what I did the last week. I want to get over this one good week one bad week pattern and just have more consistent weeks. Hopefully that will happen for me soon!

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Taking Back A Medical Miracle (or Getting My Eyes Checked Again)

I wrote recently about how I got my eyes checked and how I had another medical miracle. It was so crazy to be told that my eyes were getting better, especially since my prescription hasn’t changed in about a decade. But after talking to my mom, we figured that maybe when I went off hormonal birth control something might have changed with my eyes. When I was looking into it, your vision can get worse when you start birth control. When I started it, my eyes were getting worse every year so I wouldn’t have noticed it.

I was so excited and ordered new contacts and lenses for my glasses right away. I had a slight issue when the lenses for my new glasses came in, but I was able to resolve it (and get a partial refund because I was able to go with a cheaper option). I didn’t notice how my vision was in the glasses because I was wearing my contacts while I was there. I didn’t want to take out my contacts and just figured it would be fine. But because of the issue, I had to get my old lenses back in my glasses while they ordered the second set.

Then my new contact lenses arrived at my house. The day after they arrived, I tossed my old lenses (with my old prescription) and put in a pair of the new lenses. And everything seemed fine for the first few minutes. New contacts always feel nice when you put them in, so I was getting used to that feeling fora minute. But then I sat down on my couch to watch the news that morning and realized that things weren’t right. There is a clock on my cable box and I wasn’t able to read the time on it clearly. Then I started to look around my house and noticed that things were blurry that never have been blurry for me before.

I knew that something was up and I immediately put the new lenses in a spare case and put the last pair of contacts with my old prescription in and everything stopped being blurry. I was told my vision had been overcorrected, but I knew that I should be able to see things within my house without them being blurry. So I called the appointment call center to see what could be done. They agreed that I should come in to get my eyes checked again, but I wouldn’t be able to be seen for a few weeks.

So I waited patiently and this week I went in to get my eyes checked again to see what was happening. Long story short, while my vision is slightly better than what it was 5 years ago, it’s not improved enough to change my prescription. I could go to a slightly weaker prescription, but in my case it’s better to overcorrect things a bit (it becomes a problem in 6 years when I’ll be 40). The doctor I saw the second time was so nice to me and explained that so many things could have caused my eyes to be weird and to make it seem like I had improved vision. But in the end, I’m keeping everything the same.

I was able to get a straight exchange of the contacts I bought (I’m just waiting for the new ones with the old prescription to be shipped to me) and I was able to cancel and get a refund for the new lenses for my glasses that I ordered. And since this appointment was a re-check of my eyes, I didn’t have to pay for the appointment. Basically I walked out with everything being the same as it was before I walked in for my first appointment.

I know that some people would probably be a bit disappointed to not have another medical miracle. But honestly for me, I’m actually a bit relieved that my vision didn’t get better. I’ve felt so disconnected from my body with the entire tumor situation and to not realize that my vision got better would make me feel that way even more. When the eye doctor told me my vision was better, I was actually a bit disturbed that I didn’t notice anything. And I tried to let that feeling go because I thought that I was just being crazy.

So to know that I shouldn’t have noticed any differenced helped to make that feeling go away. I also like knowing my vision is still the same because it gives me the option to get laser eye surgery if I chose to do so. It was a bit annoying to have to go through 2 different doctor appointments and some complications with ordering contacts and glasses, but that’s a minor inconvenience compared to how disconnected I was feeling.

I still have the medical miracle going on with my liver and my tumors, so that’s pretty awesome. But I’m ok with only having one miracle going on at once.

Birthday Twin Tradition (or An Almost Free Meal)

One of my favorite birthday traditions is going to Truxton’s with my birthday twin Joanna for dinner. We’ve been doing this for pretty much as long as we’ve been friends and it’s always a fun night for us. We try to have more catch up hangouts throughout the year and we’ve been getting better at doing that. But our birthday dinner is something we always look forward to.

We were going to try to do our dinner on our actual birthday again this year, but our schedules didn’t quite work out that way. So we ended up going 2 days before our birthday which was a great way to kick off each of us celebrating our birthday week!

We did a later dinner than normal, but that was fine because parking meters in Santa Monica were free! We both found parking pretty easily and walked over to the restaurant together. Because it was a later dinner, the restaurant wasn’t that packed, but that was nice since it wasn’t horribly noisy either.

When we started going to Truxton’s the birthday deal was a free entrĂ©e and free dessert. That made things really simple for us but we also always felt like we didn’t need 2 desserts. Now, the deal is $20 toward the bill. They used to combine the coupons (so we could get $40 total) but now it has to be split onto 2 checks. We decided to try to see if we could make it so when it was split each half would be $20 and we would get our totally free meal again.

We originally wanted to get Monkey Bread as an appetizer (it’s so good there!), but unfortunately they were all out! It was crazy that they were out, but we figured it just wasn’t meant to be. And for our entrees, we both were kind of debating between the same two things: the brisket sandwich and the club sandwich. So we decided that we would order both and would each have half.

It was a bit messy when we tried to cut the sandwiches in half, but it was fine. And it ended up being the perfect thing since we both got to have some of each thing we were craving. We also did one sandwich with garlic fries and one with regular fries so we got to have both options.

And dessert is always the highlight of the meal for us. We decided to go for the giant cookie that has ice cream on top. It’s pretty decadent and seems like one of the more festive desserts they have there.

They brought plates out for us so we could try to split the cookie and ice cream up, but there was no way to really do that. And we are fine sharing a plate so we each grabbed a spoon and pretty much stuck to one half of the pan. And even though we were both full from the sandwiches and fries (it’s probably a good thing we couldn’t get Monkey Bread), somehow we were able to finish the entire dessert!

We really tried to do some planning on what we were going to order to see if there was a way that we could make sure that each half of the bill would be $20 or less. Technically there was a way to do it, but it would have been with the dinners we really weren’t wanting. As much as we want a totally free meal, it’s better to order what we want to eat. And even though we didn’t have our free birthday tradition, it was still a very cheap dinner out.

And even though the bill was super cheap, we like to leave a big tip because we know that servers make most of their income from the tips (we left about $20 on what would have been a $41 bill).

And while the food was awesome, getting to catch up with Joanna was even better! It had been a while since our last catch up meal and we both had so much to share! Joanna has gone on some fun trips and has had some changes in her day jobs. I’ve become a medical miracle and also have had some changes in my day jobs. But I’m lucky because even though it’s been a few months since we had seen each other, when we get together it seems like we can always pick up where we left off.

We ended up hanging out at dinner for about 2 hours before we both had to head back home. The next tradition we have is our cheesecake outing that we do around the new year, but I know that we both are going to keep trying to make an effort to see each other more often (even if it isn’t a free meal that we are meeting up for).

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Happy Birthday To Me (or I Can’t Wait To See What 34 Will Be Like)

It’s my birthday! You all know that birthdays are a big deal to me so I’m pretty happy that it’s my birthday today! Although I am working multiple jobs (most likely I’ll be working all 3 of my jobs today) so today won’t be too much birthday celebration. But I still enjoy all the phone calls, texts, and Facebook messages I get even if I have to look at them between customers at work.

Birthdays are always so awesome for me, but this year seems even more amazing. And that’s because 33 ended up being such a great year for me. If you had asked me when I turned 33 if I thought it was going to be so amazing, I wouldn’t have guessed it would have turned out the way it did. And a few months after my birthday last year, I started to have what felt like a horrible streak of bad luck.

I had the discovery of the tumors in my liver and then my car breaking down multiple times, spending money to fix it, only to have my car die on me. I also had issues with my eating disorder and some other personal things happen that made me feel like my luck was just awful and good things weren’t going to come my way. I didn’t want to feel so negative about my life, but it was hard to ignore the feeling that things were just going horribly for me and I didn’t know how or when that would change. But then things turned around so much starting with my tumors shrinking!

I still don’t know what changed my luck, but I’m so glad that it did. It’s not that I’ve always been unlucky, but I feel like my luck is better now that it ever has been in my life. And I feel like the good luck is allowing other good things to come into my life and I don’t want that to stop. I’m trying to not worry too much that my good luck is going to run out because I know it can end at any time. But I’m working hard to enjoy it while I can since things are just so much fun right now for me!

And if when I turned 33 I had no clue how awesome my year was going to be, I’m thinking that 34 will be even more incredible since I’m getting off to a good start. There are so many things that I’m looking forward to this year already and I know that things will continue to be added to that list. I’m so grateful that things in my life seem to be going so much better for me and I have hope that it will continue to be this way. I know that there may be some tough stuff this year, but I’m trying to stay optimistic about things this year.

I’m not trying to stress about my liver and the scan that I’ll be having this fall. If my tumors have grown, I’ll have surgery and that will be fine. I don’t want surgery, but I think I’m in a much better head space now to have surgery than I would have been if I had it in April. And I’ve got some stresses at work right now that I really can’t control. I’m just working on getting through it and dealing with things as they come. Hopefully things will turn out my way, but I also know that I’m doing everything I can to make that happen and I can’t worry about it any more.

Today isn’t going to be the most exciting day for me, but that’s ok. I knew having my birthday on a Wednesday meant that I would have to plan celebrating on other days. I’ve already done some birthday fun and I’ve got more coming up this weekend. But today will be a relatively normal Wednesday for me. But to know that I’m working hard, going to the gym, and doing stuff that makes me happy is all I could really want for a birthday.

I’m actually kind of excited to think about what my blog post will be like 1 year from today. I hope that being 34 will be just as great as being 33 has been for me. But again, I have no clue what my future holds and there is no way for me to predict it. I just hope that I continue to have fun and that whatever happens makes me happy and makes my life even more amazing!

Election Campaigning (or Being A Captain And Getting Out There)

We are officially in the middle of SAG-AFTRA election season! This election season has been very different from the last time I ran as a delegate. But just because it’s different doesn’t make it worse or more stressful. I’m taking on additional responsibilities and that is making me so happy! But there are other things that are making this a unique election season.

The first thing that has made it different is that while we are doing our officer/board/delegate election, we also have a contract vote. I’m writing this before we know the result of the contract vote so I don’t know the outcome yet. But to be out campaigning for 2 different elections has been interesting. The contract vote is done online (unless you request a paper ballot) and the election has to be on a paper ballot. So many people I’ve talked to thought the paper ballot was for the online election and tossed it out because they voted online. I’m glad I talked to them so they could request a new ballot. And then there are the people who have told me they have voted but they only voted for one thing.

I’m hoping that the contract passes because I think it is a move in the right direction for us as a union and by the time you are reading this we will know what happened. My fear is that it won’t pass and that we will have to strike. If we strike, all work will be shut down and it may take time to get things back up and running again. And when there is a strike, that doesn’t necessarily mean we will gain anything extra in the contract. So I’m hopeful that it will pass (or I guess I should say has passed) and that we can move on from this first election.

And I’ve gotten much more involved this year in the officer/board/delegate election. I’ve been trying to be more active in reminding my union friends to vote and it makes me so happy when I get text messages from people showing that I’m the first bubble they filled in.

Our voter turnout was very low 2 years ago and I’m making an effort to try to get the word out so more people will vote. I know that some people think it doesn’t matter (like how they feel about a presidential election), but it really does. 2 years ago, the difference between getting elected or not was sometimes 2 or 3 votes. So literally every vote counts.

I’ve already written about attending the Union Working event (although that is a non-partisan group so that was a one time only campaign thing), but there have been other in person opportunities I’ve been taking to get the word out about the vote and my slate. I’ve done the campaigning at the Film Society screenings before when I was running 2 years ago, and I’m doing them again this year. This is such a wonderful opportunity to talk to members who may not usually vote or don’t have an idea of what each slate represents. They get campaign material in the mail, but it’s so much better to talk to someone one on one.

I normally just go to the campaign events and help out, but this year I was asked to be a captain at some of the screenings! That was a big honor for me because I still feel like a newbie at all this, but this shows that the slate knows how hard I’ve been working to help everyone. Being the captain isn’t too tough of a job, but I did have to get the flyers to provide to everyone else volunteering and just make sure that things were running smoothly. Fortunately everyone is familiar with the rules we have to follow and the shifts that I was captain went really well.

And finally, if you follow me on social media you know that I’ve been getting the word out that way too. Tweeting about the election is important and I’ve been recycling a tweet I used 2 years ago. Since the election is right after my birthday, I say that the slate is my birthday wish list and that that’s what I want people to get me.

I know that not everyone I know is a member of SAG-AFTRA, but I use what I can to get people to pay attention. And saying that it’s for my birthday seems to get people to notice. So I’m fine taking advantage of the timing and hopefully that will get me and my slate a few extra votes (again, every single vote counts!).

Ballots for this election are due in a few weeks so I know I’ll be busy campaigning more this election season. I’m hopeful that I’ll be elected again, but I know it’s not a guarantee. But I’m doing everything I can now so I don’t look back and wish I had done more if I’m not elected.

If you are a SAG-AFTRA member, please vote! And yes, I do want you to vote for me and the rest of the Unite for Strength slate, but to me I really just want to encourage people to vote no matter what. If you don’t vote, you are not taking the opportunity to decide who the leadership of the union is. The leadership will help guide the union over the next 2 years and you shouldn’t ignore the chance to have your voice heard.

Back To More Walking (or The Heat Is Messing Up My Running)

Last week I wrote about how I got back into doing more running and how happy that had made me. I was on such a high from those workouts and really thought that I was getting back to what I was doing before and that more of my workouts would be able to be running based ones. But of course, life never goes that smoothly for me and this past week of workouts ended up being a lot of walking ones. I know that progress is not a straight line, but it’s crazy how I’m really having 2 steps forward 1 step back so often.

Monday’s workout was my best one as far as running goes. It ended up being only a 2 group workout (my Monday workouts are normally 3G ones) and it was a special Orangetheory bingo workout. That meant that we had 3 challenges that we could choose from for cardio and 3 challenges we could choose from for the floor. We didn’t have to get through all of them, but we were encouraged to see how much we could do.

The first cardio challenge I did started with .5 miles on the treadmill. That I was able to run in full and I felt pretty amazing. Then I had a 250 meter row before going back on the treadmill. My body was feeling so exhausted already and I wasn’t able to do the second .5 miles on the treadmill as a run (I did .25 miles at 8% as a walk). It was throwing me off so much that I couldn’t run. But I also know that sometimes when I do something after being on the treadmill and try to go back to the treadmill my hips don’t like it. So I just tried to accept it and move on. To finish this cardio challenge, I had a 500 meter row. I was just heading back to the treadmill when time was called to switch, so I only ended up doing one cardio challenge.

For the floor, I was much more successful. With the 3 challenges, each followed a similar pattern with the first move being 30 reps, the second move was 20 reps, and the third move was 10 reps. These moves includes squats, strap tricep work, burpees, situps, bicep curls, rows on the straps, and plank work. I actually made it through all 3 challenges and was getting ready to start on the bonus round when class finished. I wasn’t expecting to make it through all 3 challenges and I felt pretty great for doing that.

Wednesday’s workout was an endurance day. And going to the workout I was feeling pretty bad. There has been a heat and humidity wave in LA and it’s really been affecting me. But the worst of it is that I’m not sleeping as well as I normally do. And when I toss and turn at night, I can sometimes hurt my hip or make it painful in the morning. And that’s exactly how I felt when I walked into class.

The idea of this workout was to work on increasing our base pace. And I guess that worked out pretty perfectly for me because my base pace is pretty much always a walk (unless it’s a super short block and I’m trying to challenge myself a lot). My normal base pace now is 3.5mph and it can still feel a bit challenging at times for me. But this was a good opportunity to test myself and see what I could do. The treadmill time was 3 blocks and I decided to try to do the entire thing at 3.6mph. All of my push paces were at 6% incline and all my all out paces were at 8%, but I kept my speed at 3.6 the entire time. It wasn’t easy, but it was much easier than I expected it would be considering how I was feeling that day.

On the floor, the first block was squats, hamstring work, and rowing. For the rowing, we had 90 second timed rows and 30 pulls for distance. I didn’t do anything spectacular with either rowing thing, but if I’m being honest I wasn’t really trying either. And the floor ended with squats to hammer curls, hip bridges, and plank work. I was pretty exhausted after class and knew I needed to work on getting more sleep, but the weather wasn’t really letting me do that.

When I got to Friday’s workout, I was having the same hip pain I had on Wednesday and was still dealing with the effects of not sleeping well. But I was in a much better mood because that morning I found out that I won a prize during OTF Bingo! I honestly wasn’t expecting to win because I only had 3 raffle tickets, but I did put them all in the container to win a new blender (because my current blender can’t even blend frozen fruit). So to find out I won the blender totally put me in an amazing mood!

Even though I was in a good mood from finding out I was a winner, that didn’t change the fact that I was going to have to walk during this workout again. And not only was I walking, I wasn’t able to use my faster base pace that I had worked on the other day. It was a mix of endurance, strength, and power and most things were 45 seconds. For endurance it was 45 second intervals, for strength it was 90 second hills, and for power it was 45 second intervals again. I really thought about trying to run during the power block, but I knew that it was for the best for me not to do that. It’s tough to have the heat making things so painful for me, but at least it’s a temporary situation and not that I injured myself.

But because my cardio work wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, I was pretty tough on myself on the floor. The first block was 45 second timed intervals to go along with the treadmill. We had chest presses, shoulder presses, and double crunches. I used the 20 pound weights for the first two moves, and while that was fine on the chest press it was a bit too tough for the shoulder press. I probably should have gone down to a lighter weight, but I wanted to be tough. The second block was all strap work with Ys, triceps, and lunges to Ys. And the last block was on the rower following the treadmill 45 second intervals.

Saturday’s workout was a 3G one and I’m glad it was that way because I was hurting and pretty tired. I knew I couldn’t take 30 minutes on the treadmill. I started on the treadmill where it was all incline work. Because of the inclines and because I didn’t sleep well again (I’m so ready for this heat wave to be done), I knew I’d be walking the entire time. But I tried to do as much of the work as I could at 3.6mph this time. I wasn’t able to do it the entire time, but it was much more than I thought I’d be able to and I’m really thinking I need to start using that speed as my base pace. Even if I can’t keep that up the entire time I’m on the treadmill, I should start that way and see how it goes.

Next I moved to the floor where we had 2 blocks. The first block had lunges, arm swings, and abs. And the second block had a new move that intrigued me. They are called swing lunges and you basically start with a reverse lunge and when you stand up you swing your back leg forward for a forward lunge. I knew there was no way I could do this unassisted, so I decided to see if I could use the straps for stability. I know my lunges weren’t pretty and I had to pause a lot to get balanced, but I was able to do them! I was so sure that I couldn’t and that the attempt was going to prove that. I’m glad to know that I was wrong and I figured out how to do a new workout move! Also in the second block we had tricep and plank work.

And my workout ended with rowing where I know I was extremely slow. This might have been my slowest rowing all year so far but I finished each row that I could. And in-between each row segment, we had squats to do. Unfortunately the squats made it a bit tough for me to get back on the rower, but again I just took my time and did what I was able to do.

Even though this past week was not as amazing as the week before, I still had some victories. I didn’t let not being able to run get me down as much as it has in the past. I did what I could to make my walking better by working on increasing my speed and I didn’t go easy on myself on the floor. And I didn’t feel like I was upset with myself as much as I had before because I knew that this issue wasn’t something I caused but was a result of the circumstances of the weather. I’m working on figuring out how to sleep better at night so the heat doesn’t affect my workouts this week, but I know that no matter what the heat wave will eventually end and I will get back to normal soon enough.