Friday, August 31, 2012

I wish I could say it all

I wish I could really express how I am feeling about things right now. I try to ignore politics but I care about our country. I want to know who is going to be leading it for the next four years. And although I am moving more and more into the "I don't think the President really makes a difference" camp, I still feel outrage and horror at some of the thoughts people express online, in the news, etc.

True story: I was once a part of an online community for newly married people. Because I live in Northern California, my political beliefs put me in the minority. When political discussions/posts would pop up, I would try to stay out of them because I knew I would get attacked. I saw it happen to other people. Good people. Nice people. Well meaning people, attacked for their political affiliation.

A conversation came up, the exact topic I can't recall, that made me so horrified that I disabled my account and never went back. Another contributor to the community had recently lost her teenage nephew in a tragic accident. Her nephew was a donor. She stated that if there was any change her nephew's organs were going to go to a Republican, she would do everything she could to stop that from happening.

I'm not kidding. I wish I would have taken a screenshot of that exchange because I was appalled. Now, perhaps other non-open minded people would say the same thing about other groups. That isn't okay either. In fact, it is down right disgusting. I can't believe that someone who celebrates freedom to be who you are, despite color, creed or orientation would say such an awful, close-minded thing. Anyone who claims to be a Christian, or a loving and caring person or kind or generous shouldn't say things like this. No one should say things like this.

No one is perfect. No party is perfect. The party I am registered under isn't perfect. I vote on issues and my issues are all over the place which makes it very difficult to cast my vote. My important issues are not important to others. Others important issues aren't important to me. And that is okay. There are issues that I have changed my mind on and I cringe when I hear opposite views but the chances of changing minds? Slim to none.

My problem? The hatred. The anger. The downright awful attitude that people have towards "the opposite party." And this goes for both sides. It is not in my DNA to openly disparage a person just because they believe something different than me. Do I agree with them? NO. Do I care? NO. I just let them be. And I hope they will allow me to be as well.

On November 7th, my life will move on. I might wake up and not even realize that an election happened. And on January 21st, no matter who is up on those steps taking a pledge to honor and serve America, my life will go on. And as sad as this may be, I'm not sure we will be talking about different issues in 2016. I hope we have moved on. I hope we have recovered. But my faith in this system is nearly gone. My faith in the people of this country is at an all time low.

Stop the hatred. Stop the vile words. Allow yourself to come to terms with differences of policy and thoughts.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Skin Care Favorites

Once upon a time, for a long time, I had really bad skin. Oily, combo, acne prone, dry. All at once. In my teens and early-mid 20's, I would buy every acne product on the market and slather my skin hoping that those pesky pimples would go away.

And they did! But my skin also dried out which caused even more pimples. It was a vicious cycle that I didn't stop because of my obsession with products. Eventually, I had an intervention with myself and realized that in terms of my skin, less is more. Layering product after product just wasn't something that helped my skin. It became over stimulated and freaked out.

Today, if I get a pimple, I just let it go and heal on its own timeline. And it is more like "when I get a pimple" and not "if" because I still break out. I will never have perfectly even, unbroken out skin. Never. I'm okay with that. My skin is 100 times better than it was even just a few years ago. I'm not sure if age or a new routine of products has made the difference but I'm not begging for answers.

I more than anyone know that all skin is not created equally. What works for me might not work for you. I do know that I am always so weary of putting any new product on my face, whether that be a face wash, moisturizer or anti-aging product. I just wait for the breakouts but hope for the best. I do want to share what I've been using for the past couple of years on a daily basis and a new product that has been amazing for me.

(I also have used the Ole Henrikson On the Go Cleanser)



I was instructed by a magazine, I think, a long time ago not to use scrubs on acne prone face but this one can be very gentle. If you add a lot of water to it, it foams while scrubbing away dead skin. It really does leave my skin soft and fresh!


Those are the 3 products I use. That is all. I use tinted moisturizer as my base makeup so I really only use the Vitamin Plus at night. I put a good layer all over my face and neck after washing my face. But recently, I put something else on before it.....

I got this as a sample a while ago. I threw it in my makeup drawer and only recently came across it. I looked  up the description online (Sephora has great user reviews) and decided to try it out. I figure that a product that costs $67 is worth a try. I'm so glad I did. This stuff is amazing. I put it on after washing my face. It has a bit of a burn to it and you don't need a lot to smooth over your skin. I wait for it to dry and then put the Vitamin Plus over it. Once upon a time, I used a Murad acne product and broke out with the most horrible pimples around the sides of my chin. It was painful, deep and ugly. I swore off Murad ever since but this product is different. I have had no bad reactions and my skin is softer because of it. My sample ran out a couple nights ago and I'm waiting to pull the trigger on buying another bottle of it. 


I'm not sure how many people reading this still experience trouble skin but I want to say that the Ole Henrikson line of products has been really great for me. And my biggest skin care lesson that I can share is: Less is more. Don't pile on products. Allow your skin to cycle through naturally to rid itself of toxins that cause pimples. 


Sunday, August 26, 2012

We Stroll. With Wine.

I have a friend. Her name is Melissa. We call each other "Mista" (pronouced meesta) inspired by Happy Gilmore. 

We have been friends for 16 years. I love her. She is the most amazing person. She is a loyal friend to many people. She has been married for 11 years (!!!!) and has two adorable boys. In high school, she told me that I had to marry someone from her class (I was '97, she was '99) so I could go to her class reunion. Funny how things work out. :)

 It seems that whenever we would end up living near each other, one of us would move. For about a year and half, we lived just 15 minutes away and I regret not spending more time with her then. Even though we are now an hour apart, we make time to see each other and our friendship is very strong.

Months ago, when word of the Wine and Art Stroll in my town hit the streets, I knew that I had to invite Melissa. We had such a great time yesterday. Chris drove us into to town, we ate dinner and strolled from store to store, sipping (and chugging) wine. Our driver picked us up, we sobered up and went to get frozen yogurt at 9:30 p.m. and stayed up talking until 1:00 a.m. She spent the night (I love having a guest room) and took off for home this morning, still bundled up in one of my sweatshirts.

There are some friendships that only last a short time. Others span a lifetime. I know my friendship with Melissa will endure. I feel so lucky to have a friend like her in my life. She is a treasure.

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The gross and weird things you find in a thrift shop in a small, small town.

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We looked both ways and then took pictures on the train tracks while slightly drunk. Fun.




Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Michelle on.....Massages

I love massages. Whenever someone tells me that they have never had a professional massage, I excitedly tell them they must go get one ASAP.

But not all massages are created equal. I still remember my first massage. It was in Palm Springs. I was 20 or 21 and my mom was there on vacation. I lived in Long Beach for college and she invited me out for the weekend. I was nervous about the massage and that only escalated when I realized my massuese was a male. I tried to relax but found it difficult to really enjoy it. My mom assured me that next time, I should make sure I get a female. And that is something I have always tried to stick with.

Sadly, I've slipped a time or two. A couple days prior to my friend Lisa's wedding, we went to get massages. She said hers was amazing. Her other friend was sure that her massuese checked out her boobs while changing positions. And my guy.....I think he fell asleep at one point. Awesome.

I also remember the best massage I've ever had. The stars aligned, people. I fell into such a deep relaxation that I not only fell asleep, I forgot where I was. That was something special.

For my birthday, my mom asked what I wanted. I couldn't think of any material things that fit criteria.

"Think of something that you really want but wouldn't buy yourself." I rarely buy myself anything (without feeling guilty after) so this was challenging. I talked to my friend Lindsay about it and she suggested massages! Perfect.

My mom got me a years worth of massages at her favorite place. I've already mapped out exactly when to use each massage for the next year starting with my first one which took place yesterday. With a male massuese. Why oh why don't I learn my lesson.

It wasn't that he was bad. Not at all. He did a fine job. But I just can't seem to relax. The distraction of the male massuese set off a flurry of random thoughts in my head the entire time:

Massages are weird. You walk into a room, undress and lay on a table with two blankets, usually face down. You wait for a strange to enter the room and without saying a word to each other for 60 minutes, that stranger rubs all over you with oil/lotion. And then you pay for it. And most of the time, you go back and do it all over again. I mean...really?

The entire time, I kept thinking how weird massages are and those thoughts did NOT allow me to relax and enjoy it at all. I thought I would get over it when the scalp massage took place because that is my favorite part. I can really knock out weird thoughts and just live in the moment during the scalp massage but nope. Didn't happen. Probably because the guy was cupping my face and my ears for 5 minutes. Which I probably would have enjoyed if I wasn't so hung up on the fact that this was a dude doing this.

The moral of the story is to listen to your instincts. I'll only get naked and lay face down on a massage table for females from now on.

Wait.....that didn't sound right.


*I'm considering a series of "Michelle on...." posts. Any suggestions?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Running Progress: Week 1

Things went better than I expected this past week and I already feel excited every day to get to the gym and start running. I can't wait until it gets cooler so I can run outside in the evenings.

Tuesday 8/14: 4 minutes run/1 minute walk intervals for 30 minutes

Wednesday 8/15: 4 minutes run/1 minute walk intervals for 35 minutes

Thursday 8/16: Ran 2 miles without stopping in 23:45

Friday 8/17: Rest day

Saturday 8/18: Ran 2 miles in 23:36 (total 2.1 miles in 25:00)

Sunday: Rest day due to some pain in my achilles. It is feeling a lot better now so tomorrow it is back to running!

My goal is to be able to run 3 miles by August 27 when my official half marathon training starts. I'm feeling pretty good at my ability to get there and hope to slowly increase my mileage this week.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A real bed

We finally have a real bedroom set. Complete. At last.

Before, post painting.

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And now....
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I guess this means it is officially time to put some stuff on the walls? Always something to do in the world of home ownership!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Something to look forward to

In my eyes, summer is over. Why? Because my birthday has passed. Selfish, right? I am a Leo!

Once the warm weather hits in May, I get excited for the summertime. Slurpees on the way home from work, feeling the sun beat down on my face when I go outside to get the mail, wearing shorts and tanktops (and still putting a blanket on my lap at night because the a/c is pumped up so high). And my birthday. So once my birthday is over, summer has ended. Especially with my current job. School gets back in session and things kick into high gear around these parts.

But I do get end of Summer blues and need things to look forward to. Christmas is just too far away so while I have it on my mind, it isn't close enough to get excited about. Here is my "looking forward" list:

1. We are finally get a bed! We have a mattress and a box spring on a metal frame. So boring. It will be delivered on Saturday. Pictures to follow.

2. My little town holds a wine stroll each August and this will be my third year attending. Each year, I ask a different friend to join me. The first year, it was my cousin Christina. Last year, it was my friend Lindsay. And this year I asked my friend Melissa! I don't think she and I have ever sipped (or chugged, whatever) wine together so I am SO looking forward to it. I love keeping up with this tradition and supporting my town.

3. More birthdays! The birthdays in my family are spread out but squished together. January has my dad and brother in law (Chris' bro). February is Chris. April is my brother in law's fiancee. May is my sister and mom (and Kitty). June is my niece. July is my brother in law (sister's husband) and my niece. August IS ME. September is my father in law, October is my mother in law and November is my sister in law. So we pretty much have birthdays all year long which is good for me because I love cake.

4. Cold weather. I'm not one of those huge "OMG I HATE SUMMER I NEED FALL" people. I love seasons. Cold, hot, extremely cold, extremely hot. I'll take it all. Except Spring. I don't like Spring at all. But I love feeling the seasons change. In Northern California, we get to see that happen. While I have loved living in dresses all summer, I'm excited to wear pants and sweaters and jackets and feel the chill in the air while the sun is shining above me. Basically, I'm sick of sweating all the time. I actually look forward to winter more than fall. Winter is my jam.

5. Thanksgiving break. Just 14 weeks way people! We get three days off but I take the entire week off. I need it, believe me. I work with middle and high school kids and they exhaust me. September and October are so insane. Hold me.

6. Progress and Closure. I'm really making a point to make progress on things in my life. House stuff, relationship stuff, personal stuff. I just want things to happen. And when they happen, I want to have closure. And if they don't happen, I want to have closure. I need that.

I hope whatever you are looking forward to brings you joy and happiness. And can you believe that we are almost done with week 33 of this year? I tell ya....time is a tricky thing. 2013? I'm not ready for that yet.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Run for Fun, Run for a Purpose

It is no secret that I enjoy exercise. Taking a day off from the gym never serves me well as I am a creature of habit and routine and if that routine is broken, even if only for a day, I get lazy and never want to go back. But I do go back. And I love it. I love the endorphins. I love the sweat. I love the burn in my muscles. I know that if I didn't eat like a pig, I could actually be really fit and toned. That part is a work in progress, as usual.

Lately I have realized that I need a bit more purpose at the gym. I've been getting the urge to run. I see people running and I remember what it felt like to walk out the front door and run for over an hour. It has been a while since I've done that and I miss it. I still find it strange that I enjoy running since I was mostly a pool baby (my mom's water broke when she was on her way to coach a masters swim meet). Being on land isn't really my thing. I love the water. But running got into my blood and when I train properly, I really enjoy the freedom running gives me. I can turn down any street, follow any path and turn around and go back anytime. Lovely.

So I've decided to run. And not just run for fun. Run for purpose. As in....run a half marathon. In November. This plan is contingent on one thing (if you read my blog enough, you will know what this is) but until that happens, I'm working on building my endurance. Currently, I run zero miles a day. I do sprint intervals on the treadmill (2 minutes run, 1 or 2 minutes walk) but that isn't enough. Yesterday after a 10 minute elliptical warm up, I ran a 4/1 interval-4 minutes running, 1 minute walking, for 30 minutes. I felt great. My last running interval was at 6.0, which is fast to me. I felt the burn in my legs and lungs. I felt alive and happy. I felt confident that this is something that I can do. I told my husband on the way home from the gym, "I might be a lardass but I'm in pretty good shape!" Seriously. I'm overweight and it shows but get me on the treadmill and I'll push myself.

Running for purpose WHILE having fun? For some, it is unheard of. But for me, it has given me a renewed excitement about working out. The half is 14 weeks away. Official training starts in 2 weeks. I need to be able to run 3 miles by then so I'll be spending the next 11 days working on that goal.

Wish me luck!

Monday, August 13, 2012

33.

I turned 33 on Saturday. I spent the weekend at Donner Lake (just outside of Tahoe) with my family. It was a great weekend. My mom rented a house up in the hills among trees so high it seemed like they touched the skies. The stars were so plentiful that I hurt my neck staring up at them. I even took a nap outside on the deck and at times, I could hear a pin drop.


Throwing a bullseye was all I really wanted for my birthday and I did it!








And now that I'm 33, I have some perspective. I know, I'm so mature right? The past few years have been challenging. Things could be worse but I'm not one of those "other people have it so bad that your struggles seem dumb" type of people. We all manage our own emotional reactions to life events. For me, our challenges have been, at times, more than I can handle. And no matter how many times I try to use the "be thankful for what we have" line, I still feel like something is missing from our lives. But those feelings go away little by little and I step outside of myself to admire my life. It is a good life. 

I try not to get envious of what other people have because they might want what I have! And I try not to complain too much about things that CAN be different (my pay at work, my flabby stomach, my house not being clean enough) because it is up to me to make those types of changes. If I want better for myself, I need to go out and get it. 

So today, I'm going to try to escape the negative. That doesn't mean I won't complain about stuff but I'm going to limit my complaints. I can't allow negative energy to feed me. It is like a parasite that chews away at your soul and I see it happening slowly. 

Life is good. 33 is good. It is up to me to make this year the best year. And I plan to.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

If at fifth you don't succeed....

On Friday July 27th, I started injecting myself with meds in preparation for a new fertility cycle. I was excited and optimistic. Mostly because after handing over some serious green for those meds, I felt like this HAD to work.

On Monday, I had my first check up and things were good. My next appointment would be Wednesday. I dropped my dosage down but it seemed like I was on track.

On Wednesday, things turned for the worse. The doctor was worried that I was over stimulated. They won't continue with the process if I was producing too many follicles for fear of becoming impregnated with multiples and/or suffering from Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. That can be very dangerous. I asked if I could once again drop my dosage down and was told yes. I didn't think my chances were great because follicles rarely shrink. I had 4, 3 of decent size.

On Friday, I went back. I downloaded some meditation podcasts onto my phone and listened to them on the way to my appointment. I cried but tried to hold it together. It wasn't good news. I had 5 follicles. The doctor said "I think you know my answer." I held it together until he and the nurse left the room. I composed myself while walking into the waiting room so I didn't freak out the other two women sitting there.

But I couldn't hold it together for long. I cried during the 13 minute drive home. I decided to go to the gym instead of sitting at home and pouting.

I worked out. Hard. I finished a 50 minute video class that I'd been struggling to complete. And wouldn't you know: I walked out of that gym a new person. I felt good. The weight of the disappointment was gone. I had a bounce in my step.

I drove down to the store to get a bottle of wine. A guy walking out of the store said to me "wow, your face is red!" haha! I went to a nice dinner with my husband, watched the Olympics, drank wine and had a hilarious text message conversation with my friend Melissa that elevated my mood even more.

I slept until 8:30 this morning and took a 2 hour nap this afternoon. I made dinner and chocolate chip cookies. I refilled my wine glass.

Life goes on. It doesn't wait for anyone. I chose yesterday to ride the wave of life and not sit on shore and see it move on in front of my eyes. Money was lost. We didn't even get to try for our 7% chance at getting pregnant. It hurt.

But what would hurt more would be to close my eyes to all that I have. A constant reminder at how amazing my life is.

Friday, August 3, 2012

My 4 Plan

Sadly, I've given up hope of becoming an Olympian. After watching Archery, I figure I had no chance. I don't have that much concentration. I haven't seen another sport that I can perfect in just a few years so I'm moving onto my next goal:

Olympic sideline reporter. I plan to spend the next 3 years writing loads and loads of stellar questions to ask athletes from a variety of sports after they win or lose. None of these questions will be:

"How did it feel when you saw you won?"
"We saw your teammates cheering for you. How does that make you feel?"
"What are you thinking right now?"
"Was this the outcome you had hoped for?"

That last one is my favorite. Horrid reporter Andrea Kramer actually asked Ryan Lochte this after he placed FOURTH in a final. Yes, Andrea, you complete idiot and disgrace to broadcasting, he had hoped to come in 4th place in the Olympics. At least it wasn't 5th?

I have no professional broadcasting experience. But I can wear a NBC polo shirt, hold a mic and ask 20 seconds worth of questions to an athlete without making them feel like they are talking to a 1st grader.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Emotional Gymnastics

SPOILERS if you haven't read about or watched the Olympics from last night.

I think I've already made it clear how much I love the Olympics. I can't count how many hours of coverage I watched last weekend and my eyes are currently burning from staying up way past my bedtime the past few nights.

But last night, this was the night I had been waiting for. Since I was lucky enough to attend the USA Olympic Trials back on July 1, I have been more obsessed than usual with the women's team. So much so that yesterday, I stayed away from the Internet all damn day. I changed my home page to Google so I wouldn't see the results on MSN when I opened my browser to check traffic or weather or research something for work. I sent out a warning to friends and coworkers not to say a word to me about it. When I went to the gym yesterday, I had my earphones on the entire time and didn't once look at the large tv on ESPN.


I'm shocked that I managed to avoid the results. But I did. And it was so worth it.


These girls ROCKED it. I watched each performance clutching my blanket, leaned forward on the couch. My husband, who knew the results, watched with me in amazement (and sarcasm, doing his best Russian accent when they showed those poor Russian girls) at some of the things these girls (yes, they are girls!) can do with their bodies. Knowing that just one slip, one fall, one bounce, one step can mean the end of the run for gold, I never felt confident but wow. I was blown away. The sight of Jordyn smiling throughout her floor routine and Aly starting to cry before her routine was over was enough to send me into a fit of tears. They did it and even typing this now, I get a huge rush of emotion. The dream these girls have, the dreams of their parents and the hard work they put in is incredible. To win an Olympic Gold Medal has to be the best feeling in the world. 

On another note, I was crushed for those Russian girls. The small (okay, the smallest) girl who went second on floor and totally flubbed her routine had me in tears as she floated from coach to teammate, getting comfort and looking completely devastated. My heart broke for her and her teammates just like it swelled with pride for our girls because they all give everything for this moment. 

I can't wait to watch the medal ceremony when I get home tonight. I might watch it 3 or 4 times. I already looked through the Instagram accounts of each girl (who I unfollowed on Monday to avoid any telling pictures) and the pictures they posted with their medals around their necks, smiles from ear to ear, words of joy and happiness on those pictures.....

I want to be an Olympian. That will never happen but I'm proud to be a fan. Great job, Team USA. You done good.