Tag Archives: progress

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.

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Did someone call me chicken?

7 Jan

Image Source: http://www.disneymike.com/blog/whole_chicken.jpg

Since everyone just made New Year’s Resolutions and is constantly posting about their progress on Facebook (good job – you joined a gym!) I’m going to share a progress update from MY mini-bucket list for the year, which I kicked off on my birthday back in October.

One of the items was to roast a whole chicken. I know, especially for someone who cooks as much (and I’d like to think as well) as I do, roasting a bird should be old hat. Yet despite the fact that I routinely make roasts, when I made my list I had never dealt with an entire bird.

Two reasons: CAVITY and GIBLETS.

Just thinking about a chicken’s “cavity” reminds me of the metaphor Chris Farley trotted out in Tommy Boy: I can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking my head up a bull’s ass, but I’d rather take a butcher’s word for it.

You understand now, right?

Image Source: Maxine from HallmarkSomething about watching my hand disappear into a chicken, unsure if “giblets” await, makes me a bit queasy. Maybe I’d be more comfortable with a turkey, where I could open that sucker up and get a good look before losing my elbow to it?

And the word GIBLETS? That just implies that you aren’t even dealing with real anatomical parts – it’s more like a bag of mystery parts that have no real anatomical names. As in: This grab-bag contains one ovary, half a liver, four inches of intestines, a spleen-ish looking item and what might be a fallopian tube.

Now that I think about it, maybe I’m scarred from the Thanksgiving when I was in college and the house of guys living next door to us invited my roommates and me over for dinner. The meal itself was great, but I still remember opening our back door that morning to find what we thought was a severed penis on our stoop. (It was during the height of Lorena Bobbitt and in my defense, none of us knew what a turkey neck looked like.)

In any case, I bit the bullet and decided to make a chicken for our New Year’s Eve dinner this year. I thought it would be nice to ring in the year with one more item crossed off my bucket list. As it turns out, I got lucky with the bird – it was organic and the giblets were already removed so the cavity was as clean and smooth and vacant as the Capitol Rotunda on Christmas Day.

That hurdle crossed, I got to the fun part: seasoning the bird. The Thanksgiving turkey that my friend Lisa had made was so addictive that I decided to take a page from her book and prep my chicken with bacon butter.

Here’s the recipe if you want to make chicken that’s like crack. In a food processor, combine until it’s a smooth paste:

    • Fresh thyme
    • Fresh rosemary
    • Fresh sage
    • 3 cloves of garlic
    • Cooked bacon (I used six strips of center-cut)
    • 3 T. Butter (room temp)

Anywhere I could work the skin loose, I slid in a thin layer of this butter. Then I rubbed the entire outside with it before salting and peppering. I stuck half a lemon and a whole bulb of garlic in the (once-scary but now benign) cavity, then criss-crossed the legs and tied them in place like a proper lady to make sure nothing slid out during the roasting. Then I stuck the whole thing on a roasting rack on top of sliced onions.

While it was cooking, I made myself a toasted roll – and spread it with bacon butter. Then I made mashed potatoes – and added some bacon butter. And when it came time to sauté the green beans? You guessed it.

Basically, the entire meal was an ode to bacon butter.

I wish I would’ve taken a photo of the final result for this post because it did Norman Rockwell proud. I mean, that bird was golden and glowing and tasted as fantastic as it looked. I just can’t believe it took me almost half a lifetime to attempt it.

Now if only I can find a restaurant that makes bacon butter sushi…

40 x 40: Progress & Failures.

11 Nov
Wine country

Heaven on Earth: Sonoma.

It’s been almost two weeks since my birthday and already I need to update my 40×40 list – partially to mark my progress and partially to amend my list since I’ve already screwed up. (Too bad one of my items wasn’t to cultivate a practice of “self-forgiveness,” because I could totally check that box while blowing off the more difficult things on my list. Next year…)

So here are the updates – mainly to keep myself honest:

#9: Explore wine country with Alan. CHECK. You’re read about our adventures in Carmel, Monterey, and Hearst Castle – but we spent the last five days tooling through Paso Robles, Napa and Sonoma. I’ll blog about it soon, but the trip was all that I’d hoped for when I added it to this list.

#19: See the sunset over the Pacific. CHECK. Did this not once, not twice, but THREE times in the last week. Who’s a lucky girl?

© 2013 pithypants.com

Please note the Spartan t-shirt – worn the day we beat the Wolverines.

#10: Completely avoid Diet Dew every day for one month. IN MOTION. It hasn’t been a month since my birthday yet, so it’d be impossible to achieve this one, but I’m off to a good start. I’ve gone 13 days without a Dew. And I really had to avoid temptation on our trip because one of our B&B hosts had even stocked our mini-fridge with a can of Diet Dew for me.

#26: Review the books I read on Amazon. IN MOTION. I’ve actually taken this a step further – I’m reviewing EVERYTHING. This might be one of those unhealthy manifestations of my compulsive personality, because I’ve already earned a “Top Reviewer” badge on TripAdvisor – and I just started reviewing things a week ago. If there’s a “stalker” badge, I might earn that soon.

#27: Swim 50 miles. IN MOTION. I snuck in two miles before we left for vacation. Snuck might be a bad word choice, because there’s really nothing sneaky about flailing around in the pool, gasping for breath as you count laps and pray the lifeguard won’t need to intervene.

#23: Write 50,000 words toward my next novel. UMMM. I’d planned to do this by participating in NaNoWriMo (kind of like Movember, but instead of growing a mustache, you write a book – potentially as embarrassing, but not quite as creepy – unless it’s about mustaches). As it turns out, that was a horrible thing to attempt when starting a vacation. I found that I wanted to write blogs and jot notes about our vacation, so we’re going to need to revisit this one.

#33: Do an inversion every single day. UMMM. I’m amending this one. It should say, “Develop a daily inversion practice.” Because that’s the end goal, and it is REALLY HARD to remember to do something every day, cold turkey. Especially when you’re staying in a hotel and you really don’t want to put your head remotely close to the carpet.

So that’s my progress. And before you judge: How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? That’s what I thought.