Monday, May 22, 2017

The Red Door

There is nothing exceptional when you drive up to The Red Door. I wouldn't have even called it interesting back in the summer of 2014.

And this is what we saw to entice us to come look:

What I loved was the possibility. Except back then I saw more of the potential on the inside. 
This house was staged so poorly, and when I look at the online listing I can't believe it had just five photos.

Initially, we were planning on putting the house on the market in early April. So we spent a lot of hours working on the yard - Tom (bless him) rented a power washer so we could spray down the stone walls and pavers (in no particular order, one of the top five things the new owner won't see coming unless they have previously owned a home with a stone wall and pavers). We cleared out yard beds from a long, wet, snowy winter of neglect. Gutters were cleaned. The deck was scrubbed. It was an all-out battle with the months of Pacific Northwest winter weather and what happened thanks to Mother Nature.

What a difference almost three years makes. And while today (well when I wrote this it was) is what I'd call a 'big day' in our family, it's so different than I ever might have guessed it would feel. Maybe I didn't know how it would feel.
Our house is on the market. 

It looks absolutely beautiful - inside and out. We're so proud to show it off. But heartbroken too.
And I guess the only thing I can hope for is a large number of people I've never met, and probably never will, walk through our house (I pray, without their shoes on) and think it's as magnificent as we do. 
And as we did when we were considering which house to make our home.
At least our living room looks far better today -

Friday, May 19, 2017

Venturing back

This. This is not true. Not for me. It's clearly been established - cupcakes are out. Don't get me wrong, I loved them. 
But call it what you want - road trip, vacation, getaway, traveling is quite honestly not for me these days. I just do not enjoy being away from home. 

So when it was time to pack a suitcase, leave instructions for someone staying with Scout and Oliver, and go to the airport I was unenthusiastic. Except this time, it was not for a vacation. Or a getaway. It was to return to the place I had very purposely left more than three years ago. 

And to a place I hadn't been back to since.

Los Angeles, from my perspective, is an interesting city. It's filled to the gill - so insanely crowded, it leaves any one individual lacking breathing space. Exceptionally diverse, which is not just important but vital. Busy. Traffic is awful (and yes, it's still way worse than my home city of Seattle - no matter what anyone - including those who deal with a daily commute here - tells you). And the air quality, especially compared to the Pacific Northwest, leaves much to be desired. 
But there is beauty. 

And while I love the rain, I love sunshine too. So there's plenty of that.

When we were moving to Seattle, I wrote so many blog posts about our upcoming adventure. I wasn't just excited. I was giddy. I couldn't wait to get there (here.) I had no idea whether it would make sense to live here, and yet I was certain it was meant to be home. 
And I was right. This place stole my heart. 

By being here, I learned. I learned who I was and what I was capable of. I believed in myself again. I thrived in many ways. And what I take with me, as we venture to a city that is both familiar and unknown in some ways, is I have more to learn. And I am stronger now than I was then. Wiser. Older. And while I'll still want to avoid packing suitcases and leaving my little loves, I'm ready for the next adventure.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Practicing gratitude

I'd like to think of myself as someone who regularly feels grateful - for my family, including the two most spectacular souls I might ever know (Scout and Oliver), for my dedication to being healthy and my amazing health insurance that helps me stay on top of my challenges, for my home - both where I put my head down every night and where my life takes place.

I know this is true. But what if it's not just about clicking with someone, but some place. I knew Seattle was meant to be home before the plane touched down in October 2013. It was pouring down rain when I met this city. Having come from a place where sunshine is so prevalent, it would be easy for many to miss the beauty through the gray. It would have been easy not to be impressed. 
I certainly wasn't impressed by the real estate agent we randomly connected with who generously agreed to spend a few days with us while we attempted to find a place to live. I remember being in her car like it was yesterday. She said, amongst other things, no one cares about football in Seattle. (This is categorically untrue, by the way)

The experience of finding a home and moving our life to the Pacific Northwest was such a gamble, with so many unknowns. But every piece of that experience showed me this was exactly what we were meant to do. Move to a city where we knew absolutely no one, where outdoor adventure reigned  and fresh air was free. 

Not that I moved here for the experiences of camping, snow shoeing and canoeing. I still, more than three years later, have not done any of those things.

I felt like I was walking on clouds moving here, but I was also pretty broken. I had never fully recovered from the closure of the Los Angeles office of the company I truly loved - I still haven't. My  experiences at several more jobs slowly chipped away at my self-confidence and happiness. And though the last year before we moved gave me new friends and great hope, it was not until we put everything we owned in a truck and snuggled Scout in the passenger seat of my car for the long drive north that I began to heal.

The adventure wasn't mine alone. If almost anyone my husband works with was told to make a prediction about his success of staying with his company in Los Angeles and working from home in Seattle, I don't think many would have put down very much of their hard earned cash in a bet that it would work. It didn't just work. He thrived. And now, though they've recognized his value and dedication for more than a decade, they'd like him back. 

My heart is heavy these last couple of months. We've known about the offer since early November - Election Day to be exact (which was already a shitty day - excuse my language) and last week (I wrote this in January, actually) (when my health, or lack thereof, was causing it's own drama - no joke, thank goodness my blood pressure is so low) the decision was made. My heart, or a least a significant piece of it, will always be north of my address for all of time. 
And I will forever be grateful.

To be continued....

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Four years…that is how long it's been since I began my blog. Four times…that is how many times I made the effort to write this whole year. So to sit down and mark the important occasion may seem not entirely right. But I still feel the same way about this blog as I did the first day I sat down in my dark Los Angeles apartment: the real purpose is to share and journal, (occasionally) rant and wonder to anyone who will listen. I suspect that's just about no one these days. But I still love going back and reading entries. It helps me to see how far I've come. It allows me to celebrate hardships and happiness.

The biggest helping of happiness this year….this little guy

Just over a year ago we added a second rescue to our family. Oliver Miles. He's not so little anymore…more than 60 lbs and stronger than can be. But guess who loves her as much as my husband and I do…

They are the very best of friends. Oliver has helped Scout become a better dog. She is braver, less fearful, a way better eater, and probably far more active than she would be otherwise. We are celebrating her seventh birthday this coming fall, and she has the bounce of a much younger girl thanks to him. 

And this year we all went to Iron Springs in Copalis Beach together. Our family of four.

And I love them to pieces.

Celiac Disease, food allergies, hormone deficiencies. All things I've embraced, accepted, and handled - quite well - for years now. I rarely complain (I miss eggs tremendously but outside of that…) and I rarely go against what works for me (I just don't want to cut sushi out of my diet, but see it as an occasional treat.) It seemed like enough issues for this decade. 

I have not handled my sleep apnea all that well. I really, really hate my CPAP machine. We fight every night. I put it on but, in my sleep, tear it from my face, which of course keeps me from accomplishing the one goal I have with this problem - to get better rest and not fall on my face at 4:00 p.m. from exhaustion. All I can hope for is a year from today I'm writing about my grand success at finally conquering this problem. But for real. I am respectfully requesting no more health issues for now. Let me finish my thirties with what's on my plate.

 Most of the people in my life have been extremely understanding about all the issues. And fortunately, for those who don't or don't care to try, it's been exceptionally easy to move forward without that. I wouldn't say I've gained my confidence back just in the last year, but I am beyond grateful and proud of it. It does not make me popular, and no one would describe me as fun. But I own my truth and I take care of myself, and that is what works for me.

In nine days I'm marking an exceptional professional - and deeply personal - milestone. For far too many reasons worth listing here, I've never worked more than two and half years anywhere. Geography, economy, and health have played the leading roles in my career moves - but next week I will surpass that. And I'm committed to being there for some time to come. And I'll have a new role, which made the commitment possible.

Every year on this day I reflect on what I've learned and gained over the last twelve months. This year what impacted me most was the realization that sometimes you have to made decisions and take risks without having nearly as much assurance it'll work as you have doubt it won't. 

The new role I'm taking on may be amazing. Without a doubt I'm going to learn a lot. I'm going to grow. I'm going to gain even more confidence. But it may not be love at first sight. It may not be love at all. I'm absolutely taking a risk. 

Adopting Oliver was a risk. We had no idea how our cozy, well-adjusted, happy family of three would change with a new addition. I knew in my gut it was going to be the right thing for us to do, but I couldn't be sure. And I honestly risked a lot, but it was worth all of it.

Several times this year, most often in the last two months, I've been told 'go with your gut.' But what if your gut goes very quiet. What if you don't really know what to do. 

That's what I have learned this year: decisions are just decisions. Choices are just choices. You can go back. You can erase and begin again. And even if there's evidence of the eraser, faint signs something was there before, you get another option. You get to try again. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Take me out to the ballgame

The team lost, but I successfully enjoyed bottled water and a bag of walnuts and sliced apples.

And avoided the Coors Peak Copper Lager. Which, if you are gluten free and not on the Whole30, is really good in my opinion.

It honestly was not too bad. If I can just make it through this Memorial Day weekend, I will have cleared a pretty significant hurdle.

Next up, wine tasting with friends who are trying to figure out what to serve at their June wedding.
Fortunately, they are looking for tasty, but inexpensive. And lately (seriously) inexpensive wine just is not cutting it for me. I've become insanely spoiled by our favorite Washington wineries.

JM Cellars


I'm not saying that'll make it easy. But it might make it just a tad easier.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Whole 30 & talking to myself

All day yesterday (well, not all day but at least a good chunk of it) I was talking to myself about two things.

The first: Why it would be not all that big of a deal to have a glass of wine and do the Whole30 differently. (It would be, by the way)

The second: Why I absolutely want to and must stick with the Whole30.

One thing I know - I can't wait to have sushi when this is done. But I can go another 24 days without sushi. And because everything else is either something I haven't eaten in years or can totally handle not eating for at least 24 more days, it is quite obvious what the issue is here. I don't need to actually write it out. 

That said. I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Whole 30 & National Drink Wine Day

While today marks day five in the Whole30, it feels more like week five. And my biggest challenges are still to come. But I can say I successfully overcame the challenge of not celebrating National Drink Wine Day. Which truth be told is really dumb….just like any other fake day declared as one to eat, drink, do, or not do something or other. Dumb or not, I would have normally have agreed it was only right to mark the occasion. 

Tomorrow is going to be a tad harder. We're headed to a baseball game. A couple of years ago I thought my ball game days of hot dogs and beer were over. And while the wine served at stadiums can actually be quite good, there's just something not quite right about sipping red at a ball park. But then gluten free hot dog buns and beer came along, and I was happily singing the famous tune once again as I enjoyed the great American baseball treats.

Not tomorrow. Tomorrow I will sneak in something listed below and buy overpriced bottled water. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Whole 30 - take two

Before I ever knew I had to, I cut cereal out of my life. I'm not entirely sure at this point if I can recall what actually motivated me to do this. Other than total desperation to lose weight. But it was a very, very big deal - as documented on this blog many, many times. 

And it was not my attempt to figure out what was wrong with me that drove me to commit to the Whole30 in November 2012. It was probably eating so much on Thanksgiving Day I swore I would change my habits. I selected the 30 days between Turkey Day and Christmas Eve to do my first Whole30. While exceptionally hard - and the hardest part was giving up wine - I succeeded. I never once cheated.

Starting today, I will be challenging myself with the Whole30 once again. Except this time will inevitably be exceptionally easier. More than three and a half years later, I know I have Celiac Disease. So I don't have to eliminate any food containing gluten. Did that years ago and would not eat gluten if you gave me a million billion dollars for every hour I would suffer from that choice. 
And for the most part, it's pretty easy for me to avoid dairy, corn, rice, soy, and sugar. I'm super allergic and I rarely ever make a bad choice with regards to my lengthy list of 'no no's.'

My hardest task will, once again, be eliminating vino. Between now and when I complete the Whole30 I will be moving through Memorial Day weekend, a wine tasting party, the last day of our academic year, a retirement party, an end-of-year party, a BBQ, and the celebration that summer has finally begun - without raising my glass. Or should I say without wine in my glass.

Not until I board an airplane to a destination with a view much like this one

will I be taking a drink. Until then, take two.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Fitness. Blended.

Long ago, when I wrote regularly, I would write about things I loved. Whether found by accident or pursued, the companies, ideas or recipes I think are amazing are ones I want everyone to know about. 

If you have the best trainer in the world, belong to the best boutique fitness studio you've ever found, or love your gym that's awesome. Whatever gets someone moving and keeps them active, healthy and in shape is the best thing for that person.

I've tried a lot of things - gym memberships (where I aimlessly figure out whether I should bore myself to tears on a piece of cardio equipment or fight for time on the machines), Cross Fit (which is a phenomenal community and probably great for some athletes but did not ultimately fit my needs - or my fitness level), a small boutique fitness studio in Los Angeles I loved (and miss), and personal training - which cost more than I want to admit to anyone but absolutely did work.

Actually there's a commerical out there where the lady tries all sorts of fitness options (many of which are epic failures) and finally settles on one - I would look kind of like that probably. 

If you are self-motivated and don't require anything fancy, then you have to try 

It truly is a blend of so many fitness options. I literally have the following at home: two eight pound dumbells, one ten pound dumbell, a 20 lb kettle bell and a medicine ball. And it's been (mostly) all I need (I want a few more dumbells but I have made due).

It's free (unless you want a programmed weekly schedule of workouts - which are exceptionally reasonable in price) and it's exceptionally easy to pick a workout based on your time frame, athletic level, or type of workout you want to do. 

These three (okay - all the credit goes to Daniel and Kelli - their dog is just super cute) are brilliant. No fuss. No gimmicks. No sales pitch. Simple. Creative. Never-ever-bored-workouts.

Try it.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

So tired, my tired is tired

When I see the last time I posted was last summer, a part of me wonders where the last nine months went. But I don't feel as though it just flew by. My life has not been so exciting I just couldn't find the time to write. No. Instead I feel like most people do about their frequently used devices…

All the time. Well, no. Not all the time. In the mornings, when I think I've had a good night's sleep (and perhaps no wine before, with and/or after dinner) and I get up, workout, and manage to arrive at work less late than normal - I feel good. I feel energized. I am ready to take on the day. But most days I am lucky to still feel that way at 4:00 p.m. By the time I get home from work, I'm not just tired.

It takes everything to pull myself out of my car, go in the house, and start the process of preparing for another day all over again. Breakfast prep, lunch prep, dinner prep, workout clothes and what I'm wearing to work the next day prep. And you know, the more important things, like being able to spend time with and show affection for my wonderful husband and our two dogs. And they need to eat too. Lately, all three of them seem to get what's left over - not meals, mind you, me. And there's pretty much never anything left over. By Friday, I'm practically collapsing on the bed. By the end of the weekend I'm feeling like

And I always feel like 

In fact, I thought if Monday were optional (and Fridays too if I'm being honest) I just might make it through the other days of the week.

My natural path - who is officially the smartest person I know - has been working with me for years now on tackling my issues. From food allergies to hormone deficiences to GI issues and more, he has paid attention, done the right tests and listened to me in a way no other physician on the planet ever did. So when I went to see him recently, for a routine blood draw, I sat in the chair of the exam room feeling as exhausted as could be begging for him to help me figure it out.

He suggested more blood tests, which I could handle. But then he suggested SNAP. If I haven't mentioned it to-date - and likely I have - my ability to sleep with any kind of extra distraction is non-existent. I use an eye mask, ear plugs and extra blankets to be comfortable at night. It has to be silent, it has to be dark, it has to be the right temperature, and no one can be bothering me (cuddling is out) for me to even think about falling asleep. 
And now he wanted to put me through a test at home to determine if I have sleep apnea. I was not thrilled. I wasn't thrilled at the potential cost, the likeliness it would be all for nothing, or - frankly - the embarrassing amount of wires and buttons it would take to accomplish this test. My husband's become accustomed to it - but it's not like an eye mask and ear plugs are sexy. 
But I did the test - which I'll admit was not as bad as I expected - and returned the kit to the doctor's office.

Sitting there this past week I impatiently waited for him to confirm - waste of money, waste of time, waste of frustration.

Diagnosis: sleep apnea. Solution: (in non-technical terms) oxygen machine attached to my face. I'd like to see me fall asleep now. But my bigger problem, it turns out, is not staying asleep.
I'm not obese, so this problem might not go away. It wasn't caused by Celiac Disease, or the many foods I'm allergic too, it has nothing to do with my hormone levels (though likely it won't help them). It isn't cause by anything I could have prevented, in fact. Not even by the wine I drink. Phew.

It's just there. I'm sure as time goes by, I will learn to deal with the machine attached to my face - as you can see I'm not happy about that AT ALL. And I'm sure I will come to be grateful for both the diagnosis and the machine attached to my face because it (in theory) will give me a better (and safer) night's sleep accompanied by more energy throughout the day.

I mean. I might even be able to stay up for a movie on a Friday night. 

Or have the energy to keep up with my blog. Now that'd be something.