Small Miracles

Mom is home and slowly acclimating back to her regular environment after a 1-week hospital stay, which we all believe was crucial to her well being. She has her appetite back, thanks to a happy little pill that gives her the munchies. She’s had pizza, chocolate, even a hamburger! Dad’s working on a plan for the next stage, which will include some physical therapy and nursing care at home to help her out. He’s got a lot on his plate and he’s handling it like a champ. But he’s exhausted. So if you call or text him, don’t keep him on the phone too long. Ken is visiting this weekend.

I spent the morning at the hospital getting my pre-surgical tests – blood, EKG, and chest x-ray. Tomorrow, I have a mammogram to make sure all is good there before I have surgery. My PCP insisted on it. And that’s it. I’ve fulfilled all of the pre-surgical requirements so the next step is my pre-hospital stay diet, and then a week from Monday, I will have 75% of my stomach surgically removed. And my life will be forever changed.

My review yesterday, overall, went well. My boss said I have far surpassed their expectations for me, and with the 7-figure gift I’m finalizing, I have met my FY19 goals within 11 days of the fiscal year! So that’s pretty fucking fantastic, pardon my French. It can only go up from here with work. My boss said he’d like to put together a promotion plan for me so that by next year, I will gain a “senior” title.

And, Mr Ted came over last night for dinner. He gave me – seriously – the best massage I’ve ever had. He eliminated knots in my shoulders, legs and back that I’ve been carrying around with me for years. Seriously, I told him I felt like I should give him a tip! My body feels better today that it has felt in years. He’s a keeper.

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When the Exhaustion Sets In…

Ever peel off the gel manicure from your nails, even though you know you shouldn’t because your nails get so thin and soft and weak. So, then, you have to cut them shorter or they’ll just get caught on things and tear.

How about doing all of that at 1am?

That was me in the middle of the night. Since I don’t binge eat anymore, I look for other things to keep my mind off of middle-of-the-night thoughts. Usually I play video games on my iPad but I guess something enticed me to pick at my polish. Luckily they don’t look terrible but I wasn’t happy when I looked at my hands this morning.

I raced to my 10:30am donor meeting and got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the Mass Pike. We had a nice meeting but then I got to the office and I’ve pretty much been a zombie ever since.

I am dragging myself tonight to Mt Auburn so I can fulfill my last requirement before surgery – one more group session. Dreading it. It’s about meal planning. Ugh. It’s literally checking off a box. All I want to do is sleep.

I just ordered a whole bunch of “bariatric friendly” things online – protein shakes and powders, vitamins, sample packs of fake coffee and hot chocolate, and the like. I need to find things that taste good and give me nutrition post-surgery or I can become malnourished. And my hair can fall out. Certainly my nails will be thin and brittle.

I was supposed to see Mr T tonight but I told him I just don’t have the strength to drive to his place tonight. It sucks – I miss him – but his car is in the shop and my steam has just about run out. Although I’d be surprised if my car didn’t just drive on its own at this point.

Well, I appreciate you allowing me to have this momentary bitch session. I’m sure I’ll feel better after a good night’s sleep!

BC/AC

I told my dad I feel like our lives are divided: BC (before cancer) and AC (after cancer). He totally got it.

Today is mom’s first round of chemo. As luck would have it, I am here in NJ so I’ll be able to accompany her. It takes 3 hours – she said, “You don’t have to sit with me,” but I’ll bring my laptop and work from the hospital. It isn’t like I haven’t done it before. Again, grateful to my amazing boss and job that I have this flexibility.

This was today’s FB post:

Screenshot 2018-08-13 11.04.36.png

Sharing it here in case you missed it. Mom is barely eating – she is enjoying protein shakes, eggs, and a few other favorite foods. But I doubt she is even consuming 500 calories a day. But Dad is enjoying the food deliveries, although he said he has lost 10 pounds too (which delights him).

Speaking of weight loss, dad and I had a big heart-to-heart on Saturday night about my bariatric surgery, which is still full steam ahead. He and mom said they want me to hire someone to help me post-surgery since they can’t be there to help me. I said I would consider it but I’m not really sure what help I’ll need. Maybe laundry – but my cleaners do it for me – and errands – Amazon, anyone? I have Mr T, Ken, and Marina, and some friends who can help, so we’ll see if it is needed. I’m hoping to have the surgery towards the end of October, after my 2 big work events. #priorities

More later about the chemo.

So, it’s 10:22 pm. Chemo day #1 went very smoothly!

We arrived at the doctor’s office at 12:45, and mom’s chemo went from about 1:30-5:30pm. It was an extended day but it should run about 3 hours now on Mondays.

I worked through most of the chemo as mom & dad chatted with the nurses and other patients. Of course, they knew other people getting treatment. Small town.

Mom had energy and more of an appetite tonight. Amazing what some drugs can do! I ran out and got her pills, more snacks, etc. We all settled into College Jeopardy. I killed it tonight. I’m seriously the smartest 43 year old college student. Ok, I’m obviously kidding but it’s always nice to win in fake Jeopardy.

We then watched the most painful show to watch – it’s called “escape to the continent” or something like that. Brits go to their favorite places in Europe, look at tons of homes, and never end up purchasing one! So frustrating. Bring on House Hunters International – in 30 minutes, they’ve sold all of their earthy possessions, looked at tons of houses, rented one, and moved in. Yes, all in 30 minutes. Bring me that instant gratification, please and thank you.

But I digress.

Mom did great today.

I’m off tomorrow for a work event in NYC. Ciao!

Balance.

Sometimes I feel like I’m standing on my tiptoes, teetering very delicately, trying not to fall to one side or another. On one shoulder, I’m juggling a relatively new job (less than 1 year), a new relationship (a couple of months), home ownership (must. replace. lightbulbs.). On the other shoulder, I balance my own health issues (you’ve heard about them about them all here), mom’s cancer, and dad’s need for support. How does one balance it all?

And, how do you factor in the self care?

It’s crucial to find time for self care. I have found that when I sacrifice myself to help others, I can crumble.

I’m working on it. I had a manicure today – checked my work email during it, of course – and will be chilling out with Mr T tonight, which is always enjoyable. And, although this sounds weird, we’re doing a really cool event in NYC for work that I wanted to attend, so I am going to NYC next week for the day. This allows me the opportunity to see my folks as well. So, it’s a balance of helping others and enjoying the work that I do.

I tell you, I am generally exhausted all of the time. I’ve been relaxing at home (when I can) with 7 (?) seasons of the show, The Closer. I think I’m midway through season 3. It’s one of those formulaic crime shows, so you can pretty much predict how it will end and the crime gets tied up in a little bow at the end of each episode. There are a few longer storylines, but in general, you can watch one or two episodes, and be satisfied. It’s funny how these type of shows are calming for me, despite the fact that it is a cop show. Perhaps it makes my life seems small and insignificant in perspective, which isn’t always a bad thing.

Didn’t mean to get on a TV tangent!

Now to focus on changing the light bulbs….

 

 

 

Facebook, Surgery, and Other Fun Things

Taking a few minutes break to write here. Sitting alone in my office, listening to Pandora, as my colleague has a visit with a donor and we haven’t yet hired a new support staff member. I sat in Starbucks for the first hour or so of the workday, but it was very noisy and distracting. Here, it is the opposite. It’s silent minus the sound of my music and the air conditioner pumping cool air into this humid space. Neither environment are inspirational. But, I need to get those meetings set up, so I plug away, trying to focus on my work while my head spins with all that’s going on in my life.

Mom is doing fair. Dad is doing fair. Mom is weak from lack of nutrition and likely dehydration. She’s pushing herself to eat and drink, but it’s like going uphill – both ways – for her right now. And my dad is taking care of her. He’s exhausted. My brother is heading to NJ tonight so he can help accompany them to her important appointments on Thursday and Friday. She’s getting a port in her upper chest where they will input chemo into her body. On Friday she’s getting a cat scan for one of the studies she’s doing with Sloan Kettering. Likely these two days will zap any energy she has, and she will be exhausted. I’m glad Ken will be there. And my sister-in-law will arrive on Friday, to help over the weekend. I’m lined up to head there the following weekend. Mr T will be with his kids so off I go. But, never fear: she’s still active on Facebook!

Last night we went to see Richard III as part of Shakespeare on the Common – my former employer – and my family met Mr T. Briefly, but a meeting did occur.

And, my journey towards my surgery continues. I’m following all of the steps required of me pre-surgery, including meeting with the various members of the medical team at Mt Auburn. Next steps are my colonoscopy and endoscopy, which I will have next week. Other than the prep, they’re relatively painless. I’m hoping for a positive result. Then, the following week, I have a full immersion day, where I learn about the surgery, my hospital stay, and the follow-up. I understand I will be on a liquid diet for 2 weeks, and then slowly, we will introduce foods back into my diet. It’s all very surreal. In 10 months, I will likely lose about 100 pounds. All sorts of things roll around in my head.

Ok, must get back to work!

Balancing Act

My dad called me this morning in a panic about mom. She is weak, he said, she isn’t sleeping. It was a few minutes before I was jumping into the shower so I paused and listened and talked things through with him a bit. We hung up, and then I called my brother, on my way into the office. We strategized a bit, and agreed that my dad needs some support. During a break, I reached out to my mom’s friend who works for American Cancer Society, and asked her for some resources for people who are supporting cancer patients. I wasn’t as worried about mom as I was about him. It is to be expected that mom will be weak and frail after such a big surgery. He is struggling which hat to wear – retired surgeon or current husband. It’s a lot for anyone to bear, let alone an 80 year old man caring for his wife of nearly 50 years. It makes me think that sometimes, life is just not fair.

In the midst of it all, I am moving along with my bariatric surgery. My job is so incredibly supportive – it is unreal  – I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I suppose if I neglected my responsibilities, it might, but you know me – work is very important to me. I have an appointment with HR next week to discuss FMLA, which basically will protect me from losing my job when I have surgery and when I need time to care for my mom. I have been banking my vacation time so I can full recover – and still pay my mortgage – but it will also give me the opportunity for unpaid leave if I need it. At my last job, I was given $300 towards buying my own health insurance. That is it. At my current job, I have very good medical insurance, dental insurance, etc. In fact, I just got back from getting 3 cavities filled. The bill was over $1,000 but I paid $115. I did not have dental insurance at my last two jobs and, unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to pay for all of the maintenance I needed. So, I’m paying for it now, so to speak,  with the endless fillings and whatnot. But, at least I have insurance to cover most of the cost. The rest can be covered by FSA or outright cash. Good job benefits are crucial.

Mr T is coming over for dinner tonight. It’ll be nice to have his company.

Jumping through Hoops

I met with one of the bariatric surgery physicians earlier today, and he gave me the official green light for the surgery.

My insurance company, however, is making me jump through literal hoops to have it done. Seriously, they require 6-months of dieting before they approve the surgery. Yep, Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or the like. Because having surgery to remove 80% of your stomach isn’t daunting enough. Let’s throw in 6-months of restrictive eating on top of it!

I pretty much dieted in some way, shape or form for about 20 years. I still remember being a size-6 my senior year of high school, afraid to wear my bikini in public. Should I show them my WW Lifetime member card? Yes, I have one of those. I successfully kept my weight off for about 3 years by starving myself between the years 2005 and 2008. I was hungry for 3 years!

Listen, none of this is a surprise to me. I knew this might be the case with my insurance. I wish I could do what Roxane Gay did and just pay out of pocket for the surgery. It costs about $25,000, and unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of cash available to me.

But, to ask a women with a deep history of eating disorders & depression to go on a diet is, frankly, stupid. The negative consequences of that clearly outweigh the positives (pun intended).

If it was so easy to lose weight on a diet and keep it off, wouldn’t we all be a community of thin folks?

As the dr explained to me today, we end up at our body’s normalized weight and for some people, it can bring us to obesity. Without getting into the numbers, my weight is big. But, I don’t want to live by numbers on a scale or by the 45-page document my insurance has created as an obstacle to my health.

I’m going to have to play the game, though, if I want my insurance to cover it. I am going to have to pay for a diet for 6-months just to prove to them that I need surgery. It’s frustrating.

The plus side is that I am working with one of the best bariatric teams in the Boston area – Mt. Auburn – which is affiliated with Harvard University. So, I know I am in good hands!

 

 

Day 8: Heading Home

It’s 1:40pm and I’m on the train heading home, listening to the sounds of a baby crying, a woman humming, and a millennial on the phone discussing whether her friend is “hetero” or “heteronormative.” Speaking of said millennial, she plopped down – alone – in a section marked “for party of 3 or more” and thus separated a family of 4. The mom is next to me. I hate this millennial. Fortunately, a nice guy was sitting behind her and lifted my 50 pound suitcase onto the storage rack. My faith in humanity is quickly restored. Phew.

Mom was doing well this morning when I saw her. She has been having trouble eating, so they did a cat scan yesterday and saw that her esophagus is very sore. Like mother, like daughter! She’s on a med to help it heal, and she’s going to off the epidural today. She’ll be taking another pain medication so that will be a good transition. It was very good to leave her on a high note. It would have been harder to leave if she wasn’t having a good day. Fortunately, my brother and sister-in-law are on their way to NYC to help out Dad and be there for mom.

I started crying last night about leaving and my dad said I had done enough. Fortunately, I have a work trip to NJ in about 2 weeks so I’ll be back to visit soon. Mom said it was good for me to get home and have some normalcy again. Not sure that I’m going to particularly enjoy this “new normal” but I don’t really have much of a choice.

I will miss the wonderful people from Sloan Kettering. Sandy would come to clean mom’s room every day. She’s an amazing woman who loves my dad, so I feel good leaving him in her hands! Her nurses were all wonderful. I met an NP who handles pain. Just pain. There are techs who only put in IVs. And of course, there’s Dr. Smith – my dad dubbed him “Smitty” – who was very gentle but answered all of our questions. If you stumble upon this blog, I thank you so much, Floor 10!

So now what. Ken heads to NYC and takes over. I go home and pass out for 1.5 days. Mr T is picking me up in a few hours and I warned him I may just break down and cry since I’ve been holding it together relatively well for the past 8 days.

Dad asked me today, “What was the worst day for you?” I thought for a minute and said, “I’ve actually been focusing on the good stuff.” The good stuff includes:

  • The post-op could have been worse with complications. Mom’s doing amazingly well and is determined to go home.
  • The walk to-and-from the hospital was cathartic. On York, I would wander under the shady trees of Roosevelt University until I saw the awning of Sloan. I’d walk back on 1st Avenue to stop for dinner or snacks or whatever we needed that say at Duane Reed.
  • The outpouring of support was (and still is) wonderful. This morning, I left mom while she was visiting with Sister Maggie and another friend from ACS who does cancer advocacy. Maggie is a delight and we even managed a cordial talk about politics a bit (we tend to be on opposing teams).
  • Mr. T, of course. He kept me smiling all week.

This will be my last daily update. I’m going to be more focused on my own health now, proceeding with exploring bariatric surgery & figuring out what’s wrong with my esophagus. Apparently, I helped bring in a $50k donation this week for work so I am feeling pretty happy about that!

Keep reading, keep supporting mom, and keep being you!

Day 7: Totally Tubular

It’s 2pm and this will be one of my last daily posts, as I head home tomorrow at 1pm. For updates, please text mom, dad, or Ken. I’ll do my best to update the blog but it will be less detailed since I won’t be sitting beside her while writing it.

Mom is officially chest tube free! This is great progress. They have also removed the narcotics from her IV, so she will be on regular pain killers now, which is also great progress so she will likely be less groggy and not have to deal with the side effects of narcotics.

Yesterday was nice for me to get into the office and see a show, but today I’m focused on spending time with mom before I head home.

I made a mani/pedi appointment for Tuesday afternoon, which will be so nice! I’ve been keeping up with work emails and projects, which has been a huge weight off of my shoulders.

Ken and Marina will be here tomorrow, so they’ll be giving updates to me.

More later!

Day 5: Quiet

10am:

Mom is very groggy this morning and feeling less comfortable, but I suppose that is to be expected. I am sitting in the “library” with my laptop, working and getting stuff done.

My poor dad lost one of his hearing aids yesterday – and the battery is nearly dead in the other one – so he has instructed me to speak slowly and look at him while speaking so he can hear me. I referred to us to one of mom’s friends on the phone as a “motley crew.”

Thank you to everyone who shared their support last night via Facebook and subsequently, via messenger and text. Everyone has been very gracias and lovely.

We have our routine down now. I’m checking my steps on my phone and am walking a lot more than usual, which is probably good for my own health. Tonight I am taking a breather, and having dinner & pedis with my friend who lives in the city. She has a puppy so I will enjoy some doggie therapy!

Dad is still catching up with friends and family via phone. He is funny because he shouts on the phone now because of his hearing aids. I told him this, and he told me he shouts for THEIR benefit. Uh huh.

It’s 2pm now. Mom is very sleepy still. She isn’t up for phone calls right now, so if you call her phone, you’ll likely get me. We’re keeping visits to a minimum right now too, FYI.

I have had a surprisingly productive workday today – even scheduled two donor visits next week! And we have a 1pm dismissal on Tuesday, and off for the 4th on Wednesday, so I have no doubt I will be sleeping for about 14 hours then! My hotel bed is super comfy, but there is no place like home!

I told Mr. T that a lot of people know about him now…and “are you ok with this?” I asked. He’s ok with it. Told you he’s a keeper!

Dad took a stroll to get some lunch, so I’m working from mom’s hospital room. Thank goodness I can work remotely! Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job? I’m heading over to our national office tomorrow so it’ll be good to connect with my colleagues that I usually talk to via Zoom or email.

Ciao for now!

Sunday Funday

Thank you to those of you who have reached out. It means a lot.

It’s Sunday and I’ve been busy working off & on all weekend to keep up with everything for work. My body and brain are pooped out. I have 4 “bumper to bumper” days at work and then I hop on the last flight out of Boston to NYC on Thursday so that I can accompany my folks to Sloan in the morning for mom’s surgery.

My dad bumped into his Rabbi this morning on a walk and filled him in on what is going on. See, my mom chairs the “caring” committee, so when someone is in this type of situation, guess who visits the family, brings them meals, drives them to appointments? Yep, my mother. So, what do you do when the chair of the caring network needs caring? I hope the congregants have learned by example!

My dad is so happy I’ll be there in the waiting room with him. He said that because so many people want to wait for her in the waiting room, perhaps the dr should consider moving to Lincoln Center? Such the jokester!

I’m doing laundry, trying to think about what I might need, and will plan to just bring a little bit of everything.

Yesterday I gave a presentation at Walden Behavioral Center, for a room full of people struggling with eating disorders. I had a chance to fill in my friend from MEDA about mom and dr’s suggestion to get bariatric surgery. She told me about a few people who’ve written about it, so I’ll be busy reading & researching next week. The thought of ditching my cpap and constant fatigue is appealing. But I need to be diligent about making sure it’s right for me.

Having this blog has been so helpful. Thanks for sticking with me.

Patterns

Have you ever taken the time to look for patterns in your life? You know what I mean. We all do things by habitually and the reality is, sometimes you don’t notice the patterns unless you write about them on a blog. When I’ve gone back and looked at posts from SingleSassy.com, my old dating blog, I’ve noticed a downward spiral in my mood sometime in early January each year. This is definitely due to the weather, the lack of natural sunlight, the depreciation of vitamin D, and anything else that is negatively related to the New England winter. Because I’ve noticed these trends, I’ve worked really hard to try to battle some of these challenges that I face year after year. 

A few years ago, I went to visit my parents in March, who were staying in Florida, and I was ready to pack my bags and move there after a few days of sun and relaxation. But a few hours after I landed back in Boston, I called my mom and said that I did not want to leave my home. As much as I enjoyed being in the sun, I didn’t want to leave my life back in Boston. But it was good for me to have a short break and to get some sunshine. This winter and spring are very busy at work. Unfortunately, because of the timing of our annual gala, I am not able to go visit my parents in Florida. So this afternoon, after spending a significant amount of time looking for good prices, I booked an excursion to the happiest place on earth…for me… Rome, Italy!

Listen, I got an amazing deal, but it isn’t as if I’m rolling in the dough. I rationalized booking this trip as an investment in my mental health. I think I may have written in an earlier post that I said to a few people in the last six months, that I truly believe that if I keep going the way I am in my life that I will die young from a heart attack or stress. I don’t want that to happen. So I am really trying to be more mindful and take care of myself. I’ve chosen a line of work that doesn’t allow for any moment of pause or relaxation when you’re in the throes of it, so it’s up to me to carve out time where I can focus on the things that I love. And for me, since 1996, the one thing that gives me absolute joy is spending time in Rome. Throw in a Caravaggio painting or sculpture by Bernini, and I’m in heaven.

But, really, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. I can be sitting on the stoop in a random Piazza. Or, I can grab a piece of pizza at a local Italian bar. Or, I can be sipping espresso while watching people walk by. It doesn’t really matter. The pure joy of being in Rome is enough.

When I was in Rome earlier this year, I felt no depression or anxiety. I just walked and walked and walked throughout the city, and enjoyed every moment.

Is it April yet?

Spiraling up?

I went to see my therapist last night and read her yesterday’s post called “The Downward Spiral.” She specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), so she wondered aloud if we could use the imagery of the spiral to think of it differently should I begin to descend into the abyss.

metal-spring-white-background-35091162-1Instead of thinking of spiralling down, she suggested, perhaps you think of using the spiral as a spring to push you up, as demonstrated in the image on the left. Using the coils, push yourself up. I like this visual and have been trying to conjure it during work today to keep me from getting angry. It’s helping me enough to get by now, although last night I was ruminating my angry thoughts, so much that I posted “I want to punch everyone!” in a private Facebook group.

Somehow I need to turn my anger into positive energy. I need to think back to earlier yesterday morning when I listened to the founder of Life is Good talk about why he founded the company. I mean, it’s called “Life is good” for peet’s sake!

I am going to work hard to ditch the anger this weekend. Getting a haircut, maybe a manicure, which should help.

And, of course, the text & emails of support I received last night as a result of yesterday’s post meant so much to me!

 

Pitstop in Paris

Well, who would have guessed that I’d be hanging out in the Paris airport for a few hours today?  I’m transferring to Barcelona from here, and my flight is a bit delayed. Thank goodness I found some wifi and a place to charge my phone. It doesn’t take much, really.

Truthfully, what I really need is sleep….and a shower.  Really hoping that my “48-hour” deodorant is kicking in about now. But hey.  I’m in France. It’s all relative really.  See you soon!

Finding a little “me” time

I’m me-timenot going to lie – the last few weeks have been exhausting because I’m in the midst of a big work project.  I’ve been working 16-hour days, 6 days a week.  I’m tired.  I pretty much work during my waking hours.

Today I hit a wall and realized that although my day off isn’t until Monday, I need some time for myself.  I scheduled a manicure and told my colleagues that I won’t be at work until 5pm (our project runs generally from 6-11pm nightly).  After my manicure, I’m going to visit my condo’s pool.  I can work and swim, right?

Amongst this stress, I’m seeking out a little “me” time.  I believe this is important!

 

You!

You-Rule-You-RockLoyal readers and friends, tonight I am grateful for YOU!  I accidentally posted something to this blog that was meant for my other blog…and I had to quickly trash it because my other blog is anonymous…

Anyhow….two of you reached out to me concerned that the post was deleted.  “Are you ok?” one friend asked.  Another said that she keeps up with my life by reading my blog.  As a blog writer, sometimes we write for catharsis and forget that there are other people reading what we write. I was humbled and flattered by my friends!

Despite a hectic work schedule, I’m doing well.  Thank YOU for asking, dear friends!  You rock!

Food Glorious Food

8256b56a968008a5aa7dc1bb54f480b6I did something really dumb today.  I didn’t eat anything all day.  Yep.  First meal of the day was after 8pm.  This means that I worked an entire day plus went to a doctor’s appointment with nothing in my stomach but two cups of coffee.

By the time I got home tonight – around 8pm before eating – I was a grumpy crybaby who was clearly hungry and very bitchy.  It’s not a good idea to not eat all day.  After I ate, I felt better.  Full.  Happy.  Not as bitchy.

Most of you know that I used to have an eating disorder, so going a full day without food is not a good thing for anyone, but especially someone like me.

What is my takeaway?  Eating food = less grumpy, less bitchy.

I have a 10:15am appointment tomorrow and I plan to eat BEFORE it!  What a novel idea?

Debt-Free Roma

i-can-t-keep-calm-because-i-love-romeAs I just said to my friend in email, “This is really happening!”  Because of some consulting work I’ve been doing that put a few extra bucks in my pocket, I had some vacation money to spend on a fall trip to Europe.  I’ve paid for my Mediterannean cruise, and now my plane tickets to Barcelona are booked!  All paid in cash – no credit!  No turning back now.

Yes, yes, I’ve been to Europe many times yet it’s still so incredibly special when a trip is booked.  I like to do them in advance so I can pay for the flight, hotels, etc off over time and have plenty of time to savor the “before a vacation” joy and excitement!  I’m especially proud to be paying off the trip in full via cash, which wasn’t always the case with past vacations.  Debt-free vacations from now on!

The best part of this trip is that I will be spending several days in Italy.  Florence, Rome, and Naples are all part of the itinerary.  Italy is my happy place.  I feel at home there – I lived in Rome in 1996 & it’s never left my heart.

Here, here to relishing the longing for the trip!

No Baggage

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 7.31.29 PMI had an epiphany tonight.  I rarely take my work home with me anymore.  Ok, I technically do since my personal and professional laptop are currently one, but I’m talking more metaphorically.  I don’t leave the office anymore, carrying home suitcases of bad feelings, job dissatisfaction, anger, and hurt.  Instead, I leave with my briefcase – full of promise – which I leave at the door when I get home from work.  It doesn’t come upstairs with me unless I need to clean it out, but that’s only sporadic.  It lives at the foot of my stairs, hanging on a hook, and waiting for a new day.

It feel good to have little to no baggage.  I feel lighter – physically and spiritually – and it leaves more room in my mind for the good things in life, like family, friendships, and recreation.

Event-Free Evenings

happy-quotes-673On an average week, I have something after work about 3 nights out of 5 – meetings, dinner plans, work event, you name it.  I love my event-free evenings.  I got giddy earlier in the day today when I looked at my calendar and saw nothing scheduled after 5pm.  I left the office before 5:30pm and headed to Trader Joes.  I didn’t have to rush.  I leisurely strolled the aisles and loaded up on my favorite items – roasted seaweed, raspberries, and challah rolls.  I got home and caught up on the latest episode of Quantico. And now I’m writing & listening to my buddy Howard Stern.

Unscheduled life is good.

Moving On 

Had lunch with a dear friend today who has been in my life for years, but most recently, she was connected to my old job.  You know what I realized tonight?  The pain I felt from that experience has faded.  It’s not so raw anymore.  I’m in a good place – good, healthy job environment – with a supportive culture. I feel myself moving on & it is an incredible feeling of true healing.  Thank you, friend, for helping me feel good today.

 

Amtrak

6904444852_209dd55d64It’s Thursday, and Passover begins tomorrow evening.  It’s our family tradition.  My brother and I travel to my parent’s place in NJ, and we gather about 25 friends & family for our abbreviated seder.

I’m taking the train.  I was planning on driving, but I was getting very drowsy on the road this week after working many hours, many days in preparation for our big gala at work (broke records, by the way!).  So happy to have this option.  I’m listening to music/podcasts, responding to work emails, and – most importantly – not worrying if I doze off.

Worth every penny.

 

Taking My Face Off

IMG_4926I’ve been working long days planning a big event for work.  It’s a bit after 9pm and I just dove into my PJs as fast a possible.  Putting on my PJs is arguably my favorite part of the day.

But tonight I felt grimy.  My face felt icky.  Oh!  I had forgotten to take off my make-up.  I have this unbelievable foundation that literally stays on for 13 hours.  Yep, I put it on at 8am this morning and there was a large amount that came off on my makeup remover pad.

I don’t remember where I’ve heard the expression “taking my face off” but I love it.  I googled it in the hopes of teaching you fine people something but all I could find were youtube clips for the movie “Face/Off.”

Anyhow, these are what I use to take my face off.  They even smell good!

 

A Yellow-ish Brown IPhone Screen

Thank you Apple for adding a screen filter in the latest iOS update.  I firmly believe  that looking at the bluish tint of my phone screen or iPad late at night  affected my sleep. I spent the last several weeks, prior to the update, looking for an app that could change the screen to a “yellow-ish” tint, unbeknownst to me that this upgrade was coming.  

Listen, this new blog is all about mindfulness and enjoying the small things that make our life better. The screen that doesn’t keep me up at night is something to be praised. Hallelujah!

People Who Lift Me Up

Happy-Friendship-day-20132I bumped into someone from my past tonight and it shook me a bit.  Knocked me out of this happy life I’ve been living and brought me back to the negative for a few hours.  After some retail therapy (don’t worry – I only spent $10 at the Dollar Tree), I spoke with my brother and good friend about it.  Basically they told me that she doesn’t matter and that I need to live in the now, not in the past. I’m grateful for the people in my life who lift me up, and I include myself in that category.