Tag Archives: 40×40

When it rains it – ZIPS!

1 Apr

Ziplining at Climbworks Oahu

Our first full day on the North Shore started with a walk along the beach, a brief wander around Waimia Valley and a run to the grocery story. By noon, I was starting to get my first inkling of “I want a nap!” just as it started to lightly mist outside. Within minutes, that mist had turned into a full-on downpour and Alan and I sat staring at each other, wondering if we should give in to the urge to nap.

Answer: NO! When you’re on vacation, you milk every minute out of it. (At least, this box-checking, spreadsheet keeping person does.) Relaxing and sleeping are NOT the same thing.

So we brainstormed things that would be fun to do in the rain – and decided that ziplining was the way to go. We headed to Climbworks Keana Farm, signed a rather extensive waiver and got strapped into our gear.

Foolishly, it was only as we climbed to the top of the first platform that it dawned on me that there might be an aspect of this that was mildly terrifying. I couldn’t pinpoint if it was the height or the fact that my entire body weight would be suspended from a cable using just one point of contact. The weigh-in they’d performed upon arrival suddenly seemed less embarrassing and more alarming.

As soon as I had this realization, I began scrutinizing our three guides – all appearing to be in their 20s and potentially having a taste for weed. Did I really trust them to attach me to a cable correctly? At this point, my heart began to race, and I hadn’t even stepped off a platform yet.

By the time I arrived on the other end of the first zipline, my mouth was dry and my knees were weak. I obsessed over watching the guides clip people to the cable to make sure they were doing it right. Nevermind that – thirty minutes prior – I’d had no idea what “right” even was.

Fortunately, the course is long so I had ample opportunity to shake my jitters so I could actually enjoy the ride. And once I did? Yee haw!

Perspective on a zipline

The course consists of seven zip lines, two repels, a rope bridge and one climbing station. It’s spread out over sixty acres and starts at the top of a jungle-like mountain and works its way back down to ground level, taking you over the tree canopy along the way so you can soak in some pretty spectacular views of the mountains and the ocean.

At times you’re zipping 120′ in the air, and the longest line is over five football fields long, so you can really pick up some speed – and have a chance to look around.

The guides ended up being completely professional and hilarious. We had a trio of Tyler, Andrew and Cami, and they made the three hours pretty fantastic. There were about 10 people in our group, and they did a great job creating a friendly vibe so we all felt “in it together” even though we were strangers.

There were a few mis-steps along the way – like when I came in a “bit hot” (read: too fast) and almost kicked the receiver in the balls. Here’s what it looks like when you’re worried you’re about to sterilize your guide:

Climbworks Keana Farms

By the end, we were zipping backwards and upside-down. Even people who had admitted a fear of heights had broad smiles on their faces. And we only ended up getting rained on a little bit.

All told: awesome first full day on the island.

Next up: Pearl Harbor brings WWII to life for us. Also? Our obsession with the shaka. 

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So, this is a milestone. GULP.

30 Oct
Little baby me with my adoring big sister - who would later dump me out on my head.

Little baby me with my adoring big sister – who would later dump me out on my head.

Happy birthday to me! Today marks 40 years on this fine planet!!!

How lucky am I? Answer: Very.

A year ago I launched my 40×40 – a mini-bucket list of things I wanted to do before I turned 40. So… how’d I do?

If you know me, you’re probably thinking, “With her undiagnosed OCD, it’s a given that she meticulously did every item on the list.” And if you’d made this wager in December of last year, the odds would’ve been in your favor.

But then this thing happened: I started the Georgetown University Transformational Leadership Coaching program. And I was, as they say, transformed. I loosened up a bit. I stopped riding myself so hard. I gave myself permission to only honor the commitments that served me – and eliminate or renegotiate the others. That right there was worth the cost of tuition alone.

So it is through that new lens that I present my final scorecard for the last year’s 40×40.

  1. See the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. YES. As long as “from an airplane” counts.
  2. Try sushi. NO. To quote George Bush: “Just couldn’t do it…”
  3. Attend Nerd Nite DC. KIND OF. I tried – repeatedly – but it was always sold out. The winning twist is that because it was sold out, I ended up discovering and attending “Story League” which was completely up my alley. (You might just hear of me competing in it as part of my “40 AFTER 40.”)
  4. Become a certified coach. YES. And it was so much more than I bargained for. I’d considered applying multiple times over the last ten years, but finally pulled the trigger last year. What a great reminder to stop putting off the things that you’re interested in.
  5. Take a “Girls Trip” with my mom and sister. YES. And it was more than just a girls trip. What a blessing to get to spend time with my two favorite women – while seeing some amazing sites.
  6. Practice yoga every day for one week. NO. When I joined a gym so I could access a pool for the swimming goal on this list, I discontinued my yoga studio membership. As a result, I got a bit lazy on the yoga front, but it’s rotating back in.
  7. Take an official walking tour of DC. YES. In fact, I took two and learned a lot about this city I’ve called home for the last 18 years. Including where manure used to flow. And still does.
  8. Find the doors at the O Street MansionYES. Well, we found SOME of the hidden doors, but not all of them (perhaps in part because the place deserves to be featured on “Hoarders”). It provided a great bonding activity with two of my new classmates from Georgetown – and reminded me why I can’t handle pack-rats.
  9. Explore wine country with Alan. YES. We had a blast and covered a frightening number of miles (and bottles) on this trip – from San Fran to Pismo Beach and SLO to Napa and Sonoma. And we may or may not have flown two cases of wine home with us.
  10. Completely avoid Diet Dew for one month. YES. TIMES TWELVE. I did the Un-Dew. And I’ve stuck with it. I stopped drinking it on my last birthday and have only had one per month (if that) since. And I haven’t switched to another variety of soda, so I’m slowly purging the Aspartame from my body. Whew.
  11. Get a library card from the Library of Congress. YES. It was a process, but I now can peruse the stacks at will. Just don’t ask me how many times I have actually cashed in on this privilege.
  12. Sponsor one classroom project each month on DonorsChoose. YES. Over the last year, I sponsored some amazing projects for the public classrooms in this country. From hatching butterflies and harnessing rain water for a community garden to equipping an entire classroom with copies of “Wonder” and buying a library college-prep books – I helped students in our most impoverished communities know that someone was rooting for them (and willing to invest in them). If you don’t already give to DonorsChoose.org, I highly recommend it.
  13. Go Facebook-Silent for two weeks. YES. Read the post. I might do it again. And again. And again… Starting now?
  14. See an exhibit at the Phillips Collection. YES. Alan and I went to a “Phillip’s After Five” event and saw a “Mad Men inspired” exhibit from the 50s and 60s. There was also a DJ, some random food, and conversation with strangers that involved hiring a stripper for an octagenerian on life support. We may or may not do it again.
  15. Make a Halloween costume. YES. Just don’t ask how many times we got to wear them. After all – today’s my birthday and we only have plans to wear them to my office party this afternoon.
  16. Find a StoryCorps booth and record a story. Ideally with my dad. NO. Nevermind that we didn’t figure out what our story would be (though I’m pretty sure we’d have good fodder for the Booth), the real challenge here was finding a location and time to head in for an interview. It’s kind of like winning the lottery. Fortunately for me, my dad is a master diarist, so I have plenty of his history captured for posterity.
  17. Get professionally fitted for a bra. YES. You know I did. And I learned that my breasts are the ONLY reason I’m not a professional golfer. Well…
  18. Get a new driver’s license. NO. But for a fantastic reason: my current license is good for TWO MORE YEARS! Boom! So why would I go willingly sit in the DMV to get a license with a photo that makes me look older? Right… I wouldn’t – and didn’t!
  19. See the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. YES. Multiple times when Alan and I were touring California last fall, though the most spectacular was probably in Pismo Beach.
  20. Send one handwritten note of gratitude to someone each month. KIND OF. I sent more than a dozen thank you notes (and not just in response to things I received) but they weren’t paced by the month. In fact, I took the February “Month of Letters” challenge and sent a handwritten note each day of the month – many of which were unprompted thank you notes. So I consider the spirit of this one fulfilled.
  21. Record a podcast with my friends. NO. Mainly because we’re too lewd to hold jobs if we do it – and too disorganized to meet at a house instead of at a restaurant on the fly. This WILL happen in the next year – even if no one but us hears it. (Looking at you, Al, Heddy and Shawn.)
  22. Learn to change my bike’s rear tire. YES. Learned from YouTube. Attempted in real life. Not that difficult – though I’ll probably freak out and forget how when I need to do it in real life next summer.
  23. Write 50,000 words toward my next novel. NO. That’s on the list for 2015.
  24. Complete a Century Ride. Preferably with my sister. NO. But I flew a shit-ton of miles in an uncomfortable seat to meet my sister in Italy. Does that count?
  25. Learn why ziplines are so hyped. NO. Still clueless. Our weekends got away from us, but it will happen – when we next go camping near one. In the meantime, I plan to just leave my zipper down occasionally and see why that’s so hyped.
  26. Review the books I read on Amazon. KIND OF. I reviewed A LOT this year – like the books I read, the apartments I stayed in, the restaurants I ate in, etc. – but I didn’t do it on Amazon. So check me out on TripAdvisor or Audible and you’ll see that I have quite the collection of reviews – and people who argue with them.
  27. Swim 50 miles. Not all at onceYES. This was the BIG ONE. And I did it. Don’t ask me how many laps I’ve swum since hitting this goal. (Hint = none.)
  28. Roast an entire chicken. YES. And once I realized how easy it was, I hung my head in shame – and roasted a bird each week. Seriously – why did this take me so long? And how many other simple things are out there that I haven’t tried because I’ve made them more difficult in my head. (Stay tuned for 2015, when I build my own rocket pack and travel the globe.)
  29. Compliment a stranger every day for a week. NO. I attempted this and got crazy looks. I definitely complimented more strangers than I usually would, but I didn’t do it for seven days straight.
  30. Volunteer for a cause I care about. KIND OF. This is still a biggie because I’m passionate about so many causes. This year was a bit nutty, however, so I sponsored a lot but didn’t necessarily participate. Earlier this month I did participate in the Alzheimer’s Walk (and I raised $1,500 for the cause!) but that still doesn’t feel like volunteering. Next year I’ll do better.
  31. Declutter my friendshipsYES. And in the process, I’ve realized how many truly great friends I have. 
  32. Do an inversion every single day. NO. I still think it’s good for you – I just struggle to remember to do it. And let’s be honest – I didn’t do it the first day after my birthday last year, so it was a lost cause, mentally.
  33. Update my resume. KIND OF. I updated it – then took on a new role. So now it’s out of date again. But it was still a good exercise in seeing just how much experience and how many skills I’ve acquired since joining my company.
  34. Help Alan have a good 40th year. KIND OF. I should rephrase this, because – despite my intentions of being awesome to Alan, he ended up being more awesome to me. As just one example: He didn’t complain when I scrapped our vacation to go to Italy with my mom and sister – in fact, he stayed at my place and cat-sit Miss Moneypenny.  I think I need to help him have a GREAT remainder of his 40th year.
  35. No candy for a month. YES. Of course, I chose February because it is the shortest month. Even so – did you know that by gutting candy, I didn’t lose a single pound? That wasn’t my goal, but – given the quantities of sugar I consume – I would’ve thought that’d be a natural bi-product.
  36. Host a scavenger hunt. KIND OF. It’s a bit of a stretch to even count this as “kind of” because I technically did not host a scavenger hunt. However, I did organize a series of puzzles and games so that my dad could be an armchair traveler and have one envelope to open each day we were in Italy.
  37. Break a rule. YES. I actually realized that even though I think of myself as rule-abiding, I break rules frequently. The most common? Jay-walking. I actually got yelled at in Boston this year for jay-walking in front of three cops on a street corner.
  38. Provide free sales coaching to someone who tries (poorly) to try to sell me something. YES. After months of receiving horrible emails from a salesperson who clearly didn’t understand my role or what my company does, I wrote her back a very thoughtful response, including feedback on what would’ve been a more effective way to grab my interest. I can only assume she applied that feedback and became wildly successful, because I never heard from her again.
  39. Contribute to Wikipedia. YES. Actually, I learned something. After creating an account so I could contribute to Wikipedia, I learned that the kind of contributions they want people to make are generally editing or fact-checking, rather than straight-up authoring. That explains why there’s no entry for “pithypants” on Wikipedia – yet.
  40. Go camping. NO. I can’t believe this one didn’t get accomplished. I love camping and used to do it all the time. But it’s tough to get all the variables in alignment – it has to be a weekend when Alan doesn’t have the kids, the weather has to be dry and warm – but not too warm, and we can’t have plans that tie up one of our weekend evenings. Next year this will happen, because I miss the smell of wood smoke.

 

So what’s the tally? 22 clearly completed? 7 kind of? 11 scrubbed? Whatever the count, I’m considering it a win. I had a great year and my list did exactly what I’d hoped it would: it prompted a bit of reflection and a greater reconnection with my friends and family, my curiosity and creativity, and my health.

As I look back on the first four decades of my life, I feel grateful to all the splendid people who have made my life so rich. I am one lucky lady.

When in Rome…

26 Sep

Image Source: http://www.see-digi.tv/shared_images/novice/rome.jpg

You might remember that about this time last year, I crafted a 40×40 list. It’s a list of 40 things I want to do before my 40th birthday on October 30. One of the items on that list was to take my first-ever girls’ trip with my mom and sister. Simple, right? Two Google spreadsheets, 40+ hours of research and planning, countless conference calls with my sister and it’s finally here.

And the best part? We’re going to be on a plane in 12 hours and my mom STILL doesn’t know where we’re going. When we sprung the idea of a girls’ trip on her back at Christmas, she indicated she was game. We felt her out a bit, asking if she’d be comfortable going somewhere that required a passport. (Aside from Canada and a cruise through the Bahamas, she hasn’t left the US before. Not because she’s not interested, but because my parents try to live in a way that reduces their carbon footprint on the planet.)

She gave us the nod for that and we asked if she’d want to be involved in the planning or just be surprised. Amazingly, my 70 year old mother who can out-plan anyone, opted to be surprised. Once my sister and I recovered from the shock of that decision, we sprung into action…

If you’re only going to leave the country once, where should you go?

We decided it would be important to a) Choose a place where the weather was likely to be nice in early October, b) See something that causes goosebumps, c) Have our American minds blown by a real sense of history, and d) Find a place where the food, the wine and the people all convey a sense of hospitality.

With those guiding objectives, where would YOU choose?

As much as I love France, this one was a no-brainer: Italy. I mean, going to the Ancient Forum and seeing something that was built BEFORE CHRIST? Walking the same ground that Julius Caesar once walked? Seeing Michelangelo’s handiwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Yeah… all pretty mind-boggling and goosebump-inducing.

Also? Let’s be real. Two words: Pasta and Gelato.

So here we are – after months of planning, we’ll all be boarding flights later today and – if all goes well – we’ll manage to find each other (without the assistance of mobile phones) in Rome’s FCO airport at 8:30am tomorrow. And my mom STILL doesn’t know where we’re going.

When she originally told us to surprise her, we thought she meant, “Tell me a month before we go so I can get excited.” But as the day approached, she kept pushing off the big reveal. Finally, she said, “Just tell me what to pack and then you can surprise me the day of the trip with where we’re going.”

As someone who can be a bit of a control freak (and I’m not judging – I have a good dose of it myself), she’s blown us away with her willingness to just go with the flow on this one. So at noon today, when we host a three-way call and reveal where we’re going, the items we asked her to blindly pack – walking shoes, sleeping pills, a bathing suit – should suddenly make sense.

Now we’re just hoping it doesn’t land like a lead balloon, though my sister has done a great job trying to keep expectations in check by casually working remarks like, “We’ll be sure to get a picture of you on a camel…” and, “Not sure how you’ll ship a Persian rug back,” into the email correspondence along the way.

One a different note: let’s not forget to give a quick shout-out to the MEN who have been supportive of this trip: My dad, Alan, and my brother-in-law. There have been no sour grapes along the way, though I can’t say that I’d behave so admirably if roles were reversed and they were going somewhere fun without me. Alan’s even staying at my place to take care of Miss Moneypenny for me. How awesome is that?

So however this first-ever girls trip turns out, it’s already taught or reminded me of a few things: You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. (Or at least, old dogs can decide they want to learn new tricks.) And I’m a lucky girl – lucky to have a mom and sister I enjoy, lucky to have a dad who is supportive of our adventure, and lucky to have Alan waiting for me when I return.

Seems like a pretty great way to transition into 40.

 

This tortoise needs to step it up.

30 Mar

I’m half-way to goal for swimming 50 miles before my 40th birthday: Yesterday I logged Mile 25.

It almost didn’t happen. I’m an early riser on the weekends – so much so that I’m often ready to go back to bed around 7am, when my gym opens. But yesterday morning I fought the temptation to stall and trudged the 1.25 miles to the gym. All uphill. In the rain.

Apparently not EVERYONE believes a suit is mandatory.

Apparently not EVERYONE believes a suit is mandatory.

So it was with a certain self-congratulatory smugness (I’m conquering this weekend, dammit!) that I found a locker, stripped down, stepped into my flipflops and – CRAP. What is the one thing you absolutely can’t forget if you want to swim? That’s right: a swimsuit. Oh, I had my goggles and swim cap. I even had a lock for my locker and conditioner for the shower.

But my swimsuit was at home, hanging on the back of the bathroom door where I’d left it to dry earlier this week.

Clothes back on, I walked home, contemplating my next move. Should I mentally check the “gym” box since I’d made the effort, or grab my suit and take a Groundhog’s Day approach to the whole thing?

Tough call, but thirty minutes later, I was back at the gym with my suit in hand. (You don’t even want to know how pleased I was with myself for motivating not just ONCE but TWICE on a rainy weekend.)

I was able to get a good chunk of my mile in with a lane to myself, but with about thirty lengths to go, a guy climbed in my lane. The pool is fairly small – it’s only four lanes – so it’s not uncommon to share a lane. The thing that’s weird about gym-swimming is that almost no one ever circle swims (where you go up one side of the lane and back on the other), even though it would allow a small pool to accommodate more swimmers. Instead, the habit is to split a lane in half down the middle, with each swimmer sticking to his or her half, limiting each lane to a max of two people.

The lanes at my pool are a bit tight to begin with, so splitting a lane can shift my workout from great to frustrating if the person I’m sharing with has any bad habits, such as: being extra splashy, being scared to hug the lane marker, not holding a straight line, or kicking my kidneys when doing the breaststroke.

This guy was extra splashy, in no small part because he was trying to go REALLY FAST. When he hopped in and attempted his first lap, it looked like he was trying to outrun someone threatening to jam a bottle rocket up his ass. Watching him swim toward me, he was a blur of arms and feet, with splashes that would make a toddler proud.

My style tends to be really smooth and non-splashy. Not because I’m a good swimmer, but because I’m lazy. I’ve found that the easiest way to swim laps is by exerting myself as little as possible – so I rely almost exclusively on my arms and shoulders, allowing my legs to drag behind me, just enjoying the ride. I always figure I’m a good person to share a lane with, because I just move along like a sting ray, barely stirring the water.

Image Source: http://theosbornegroupblog.com/news/major-gifts-officer-fable/

However, when I’m sharing a lane with someone who is basically waterboarding me every time we cross paths mid-pool, I begin to get a bit testy. And so I’d deliberately land a few kicks on top of the water, just parallel to his face, each time we met.

At some point, I realized that although he was causing quite the commotion, by the time he stopped to catch his breath and rest at each end, I was actually out-pacing him, much like the Tortoise & the Hare.

In that scenario, I was totally cool being the tortoise – and was actually feeling somewhat smug about it – until I got home and saw on Facebook that my friend Brian just finished swimming 30 miles in the month of March alone.  Um.

Let’s do the math. I’m basically averaging one mile per week (which fits since I tend to make it to the pool weekly at best). Meanwhile, Brian’s doing a mile per day. And – to add insult to injury – somehow Brian has great hair despite the chlorine. So in this scenario, it’s kind of like the Tortoise and the Hair.

My take-away: Apparently the moral of the story isn’t that the turtle always wins. Sometimes slow and steady wins the race, and sometimes slow and steady is just – slow and steady. And has bad hair. I guess that’s what I get for all my smugness. Thanks for the reality check, Brian!

 

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My girls are riding a wee bit higher these days.

9 Mar

One of the items on my 40 x 40 list was to get a professional bra fitting. I know, it’s kind of pathetic that I’m almost 40, have huge knockers, and have never actually been fitted. Especially since people (by which I mean Oprah Winfrey) swear that the right bra makes all the difference.

So I put it on my list. And my clever sister gave me the nudge to get it done: For Christmas, her gift to me was a bra made out of $20’s and ribbon, along with directions to Coup de Foudre, an upscale lingerie store in downtown DC. How awesome is that? Here’s her handiwork:

Miss Moneycups!

Miss Moneycups!

The first two months of 2014 flew by, but I finally made an appointment this last weekend with Renee at Coup de Foudre for a proper fitting.

It started in a dressing room, where I faced a mirror, still fully clothed. Renee was behind me, and started feeling along where my band ran, talking as she went. “I’m getting a 34,” she said, “though you might need to go down to a 32.” It was kind of like a magician guessing “Ace of Spades” after asking you to cut the deck. Fascinating.

Then she had me turn around, and she set about deducing my cup size, still working over my tshirt. I have no modesty, so it wasn’t awkward at all, but I think even shy women wouldn’t get flustered – she was professional, unobtrusive, and able to capture measurements in a very short period of time.

After getting a sense of the geography, she disappeared to select a few bras. It turns out that measurements aren’t reliable because bras are all constructed and sized a bit differently. So the fitting is more than simply determining your measurements – it’s trying on a bunch of bras that are in the right ballpark to determine which ones fit the best and most comfortably.

The brilliance in that approach is that you completely move away from the traditional sizing system, so you don’t get hung up on wanting to be a certain size. Apparently this is common. To prove how varied the sizing is, I walked away with both a 34DD and a 32F. And you can bet your ass I would never have knowingly tried on a 32F.

Renee has been fitting women for over twenty years, so she was a wealth of information. She confirmed that most women wear bands that are too big and cups that are too small. She summarized boob job trends over the years: Apparently bigger is en vogue now, but a 36C used to be considered ideal. She also noted that most women fail to do a few key moves after putting on a bra – namely pulling the breast to the center of the cup, and using a finger to adjust the top edge of the cup for a perfect fit.

The only tip I have for women heading into the process: Choose your outfit wisely. Specifically, you want to wear a tshirt (or something smooth) so you can test it over bras to see how they sit under clothing, and be sure you’re wearing pants that you don’t mind looking at your stomach in. As crazy as that sounds, you spend the majority of the 60-90 minutes standing in a well-lit dressing room, dressed from the waist down as you try on a variety of bras. If you’re wearing pants that make you self-conscious about your stomach, your attention won’t be on the right thing.

So there you go. One more off the 40×40 list, and I’m walking a bit taller. Or at least, I appear to be.

Oh – and because I want to make sure I’m properly caring for my fine new bras, I googled “how often should bras be laundered.” Um…

Image Source: http://cdn.themetapicture.com/media/funny-bra-how-often-wash.jpg