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Kitchen Sink


You Know You’re a San Diego Gal When…

October 14th, 2014


(Pretty much when I first moved to San Diego. So take the below list with a big crimping iron, which translates to “grain of salt” in San Diegoish.)


You’re a San Diego gal when:


  • Christmas beach day!
  • Carne asada French fries!
  • Don’t you dare make fun of In n’ Out.
  • Silk Stalkings!
  • You have tank tops in colors not even invented yet.
  • There’s an entire wing in your closet for flip flops.
  • You wait all fall to wear boots, then put on every pair you own during the boot window of 9AM, November 21 to 2PM, November 21. Central Standard time.
  • Your neighbor works for Qualcomm, your husband works for Qualcomm, you used to work at Qualcomm. 
  • There’s not a name for how blonde you want your hair to be.
  • You remember when Fashion Valley only had a Nordstrom’s.
  • You used to party in Tijuana, but wouldn’t be caught dead now on Revoluccion. Or you would, and that’s why you don’t go. 
  • You lived in OB at least once.
  • You go black widow hunting.
  • You kinda had a crush on King Stahlman.
  • You still call it Der Wienerschnitzel.


There’s plenty more, I know. I’m not an indigenous San Diego gal, but I’ve been here so long, I forgot all about what it’s like to be a Chicago gal. Except summer street festivals. And fireflies. And cicada invasions. Plus, Ferris Bueller. And rooftop parties. Also, the Cubs!


I should write a Chicago version! Because Wiener Circle.


PROMPTuesday #236: Back to Spooky

October 7th, 2014


It’s my favorite time of year: spooky movie season. I troll the Lifetime network and the Chiller channel obsessively from October 1 through Halloween, hoping to happen upon a cheesy, ghosty, scary show I can tuck into with full abandon.


Even better is when I’m in bed, the lights are off, and everyone is asleep. Spooky goodness galore!


As I do every year with the October PROMPTuesday I’m asking for a scary story. This can be something that really happened (I love those!) or a tale you make up in your head. I’m posting a horrible thing I wrote many years ago, but it fits the theme: cheesy. (Was that the theme?)


Nevertheless, keep in mind that PROMPTuesday is all about just writing something off the top of your head to get the juices going. It doesn’t have to be edited, or finessed or polished. Raw is best. Pick at the raw nuggets later to extract the good stuff, but for now, there is no pressure to write a masterpiece.




Add your post/comment/prompt answer below in the comments or write a post of your own and include the link for us to read!


To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.


Or, catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.


So: what scary thing has happened to you?



Susannah heard the sound after it was gone. What it was, she couldn’t say. But her subconscious had registered it and woke her with a jolt.

Her eyelashes snapped against her lids as she lay, prone, listening. Her heart beat that deep, ragged, thumping way it does when you think your plane is going to crash.

But she wasn’t in the air, she was in some guy’s bed, wondering where the hell he was, as her peripheral vision caught the emptiness beside her.

Some guy…Ron? That was it. Out with friends for happy hour, she’d ended up with Ron after a heartfelt discussion of life, love, and all that other stuff you talk about three martinis later.

She knew she shouldn’t have followed him to his place. She was, after all, in the middle of a three-year relationship, but she allowed herself this irrational act for no good reason whatsoever.

She kept her eyes on the ceiling. A sound loud enough to wake her up, the stranger beside her gone, a complete eerie silence…this wasn’t good. The air felt heavy, and pawed at her. In her deepest self, she knew something was very wrong (the plane was losing altitude…).

But no more noises…just movement. A swath of shadow cut across a small corner of the ceiling dimly lit by the glow of a nightlight. Susannah followed the circle of light down to a dresser on the right side of the bed.

Ron sat crouched on top of the dresser.

His face was expressionless as he threw a book at the nightlight, knocking it out of the wall, plunging the room in darkness.

She lay there, feeling like she would hit bottom any minute, and wanting to, because anything was better then waiting in the dark for something to find you. She strained to hear anything, some sound that would give away his next movement, but Susannah couldn’t hear a thing but the rumbling echo of her own heartbeat.

Should she roll over the side of the bed and get on the floor? Maybe under the bed? What then?

Any movement would creak the bed frame or rustle the sheets. She couldn’t change her position without her pursuer knowing about it. But, dammit, she couldn’t stay there.

She had to do something now. Her mind clung to option after option, but nothing stuck and Susannah ended up immobilized. Suddenly, a dot of light flickered. Then, another, and another, randomly. It was like, it was…fireflies? In here? She hadn’t seen the bugs since her Chicago childhood. She lived in the city now, and nearly forgot the things existed. With each flash, and resulting glow, she caught all-too-brief glimpses of the room. And with a lurch, she saw the top of the dresser now bare.

Why couldn’t she hear him? Her precious fleeting light afforded no comfort, especially when it disappeared altogether. She lay there, blood rushing, as a pile of crushed fireflies fell upon her face.



When the Universe Knocks…

October 4th, 2014

There are two ways I know when the universe is asking me to pay attention to something:

  • The same comments/feedback/messages come to me again and again from people, places, and things.
  • Despite all my best efforts, my focus is brought repeatedly to an idea or thought process, usually one I’ve been trying to avoid or deign.

Let me back up and tell a story.


Last month, I began group weightlifting training led by a bodybuilding pro. In my first session, it became abundantly clear that I was the weakest weakling in the group. Many of the women in the class had been taking the session for years, or were frequent gym goers with muscle tone. I on the other hand, visit the gym sporadically and sport zero musculature.


My subpar strength showed itself most obviously during arm exercises, where I could barely do a regular pushup or bench anything even half of what the other women could lift.


Sure it was frustrating. When you leave a machine and the person behind you pulls the pin out of the weights and re-inserts it 85 weight bricks below your hard-to-manage, just-lifted weight, it stings.


I really didn’t let it get to me though and that’s the truth. I mean, I accepted that it would take me awhile to build up muscle and stamina. I knew it would be awhile before I would not die during tricep dips.


Still, I wanted to progress. I’d been taking twice-a-week strength-building classes for a month, and I thought I should be adding weight by now.


Apparently, the trainer agreed. When I asked what I “should” be pressing on the tricep machine, she asked the rest of the group what they do and when the answer came back 65-70 pounds, I about melted into a gelatinous fat puddle right there. I’d heard from a bodybuilder friend that it was recommended you advance weight by 5% every six weeks, and 65 pounds represented a more than 40% increase over my pansy norm, so I wasn’t sure that increase would work for me.


As I contemplated, the trainer said something like, “You build muscle by pushing yourself,” and “Most of the time, doing it is just a state of mind.” I knew both those statements were true, yet I wondered if “pushing myself,” would also mean “broken muscles.” Either way, so be it. This trainer is very focused on proper form and lifting safely, so I figured she must think I could do it.


And yet. The way she delivered those statements and the emphasis she put on certain words, suggested to me that she also believed a) I wasn’t pushing myself usually; and 2) I was choosing not to lift more. Because “a” can be true sometimes, I thought she knew something I didn’t and so I put the pin into 65 pounds. And my muscles broke.


I very nearly couldn’t operate the machine, but now I was irritated and close to pissed, and I wanted to show that I didn’t back down and that I had the right state of mind.


After dying, I walked to the next machine and upped the freaking weight from my norm, and again could barely lift. At that point, the trainer told me that if the weight is so high that I can’t do the exercise properly, I needed to adjust the pounds.


I then proceeded to passive-aggressively mutter something like, “Do you want me to put the weight up or the weight down? I thought this was state of mind,” and other things four-year-olds say when they’re upset.


I left the gym still mad and concluded that what I didn’t like about the whole thing was the alleged implication that I wasn’t pushing myself and my state of mind sucked.


That possibly imagined implication bothered me so because I wondered if they were true not just for weightlifting, but for my life, and I wondered this because I suspect there’s some truth in those statements.


“Is my state of mind why I’m not a millionaire?”

“Is my not pushing myself why I haven’t finished writing a book yet?”


It’s how you see people react the strongest to comments that they feel are somehow true about them. For me, it goes something like,


“Oh Debbie, you’re so blonde.”


(Wait. Am I blonde?)


It’s as if the universe is getting you to pay attention to the things you need to change, or not change, or acknowledge, or know.


For further instance, lately I’ve been plagued by noticing people who really push themselves and say things like “If you hustle, you’ll make things happen for yourself!” and “Focus and work the plan.”


Real go-getters like this and I don’t get along and never have, which says more about me than them. Yet, I see them everywhere and am bombarded with their “just go for it” messages, which I’ve deduced is the universe talking to me and getting me to push myself.


The truth is these people make me angry – another glaring clue that I probably need to learn something from them – because their focus tends to eclipse everything but the BLINKING GOAL IN FRONT OF THEM. And look, I know that’s probably good and why they meet goals, but does being focused and working the plan also mean you dismiss everything and everyone around you that doesn’t fit the MAKE IT HAPPEN mold?


I’ve been to a few conferences dedicated to GOING FOR IT and I really felt out of place. If what you say or what you do is not purposeful or devoted to how you can make more money and take over the world, you are viewed as frivolous and not invited to future conferences and then you just feel bad. Again, because you dimly grasp that you are probably not a JUST DO IT person and have no business fraternizing with DOING IT people.


It’s just that do the DO IT people need to be so smug about their less-DOING-IT brethren?


That’s neither here nor there.


Where this whole thing dovetails for me is that I probably DO need to DO more to be a better person, and progress in life, and make things happen for myself, but where I am on my road, maybe a 5% increase every four weeks IS pushing it and going for it and upping the ante by more than 40% in a month isn’t in your muscles, which doesn’t mean you don’t want it to be; it’s just that you’re working on it.


I may not be decoding the universe’s message properly, but I’ll keep my ears open, and next month when I’m 5% smarter, I’ll try again.


Because I may not push big, but my trying is large.


PROMPTuesday #235: The Songs

September 27th, 2014

We’d been waiting for the new parish center for years. Father Duffy brought its construction up at every mass and the fundraising was epic, as were the sales pitches: the auditorium would double as a roller skating rink, the young adult groups would have a place to meet, offices would be expanded allowing St. Mary’s to be served well and ably, the school would have an indoor basketball court  AND bleachers. Plus, even more exciting for some people who were my parents, a new church space would be built, and our clergy would no longer have to conduct mass in a little old charming chapel, because a larger, more modern, DISCO church would be added onto the small nave of the lovely historic space, with enough room for parishioners to bring extended family, distended soul, and pretended grace along with them.



The new church came first, but the always-to-be-built parish center plans ruled St. Mary’s student imaginations from 1978 to 1980.


Finally, the parish center renderings made themselves known in stone and concrete and glass, and everything Fr. Duffy promised arrived. I remember the week the parish center opened because John Lennon had just been shot, and the air was charged with history changing and that kind of feeling you get when a ripple in human collective consciousness lets loose.


Yet, my attention turned pretty quickly to the sleek, plastic-looking yellow-with-red-checks auditorium floors, the very ones to serve as a sometimes roller skating rink; and as foundation to the meeting space for the Young Adult Madness Society (Y.A.M.S.), run by my high-school-aged crush, Joe Pinder.


I’d just turned 12, and strange feelings arose in my solar plexus when  Air Supply’s “Lost in Love” played on my wooden Panasonic  stereo, a parent-bequeathed musical luxury with silver-ridged buttons I’d turn up to the right more often than to the left. I’d lay my head down on my bedroom’s green shag carpet next to the Panasonic’s speakers every night, a familiar movement I could re-enact for you to this day. Always waiting for the top 10 of the evening to be announced; I’d usually spend the time during commercials placing the faded blue-labeled Air Supply 45 on my turntable, laying the spindly needle down just so on the black vinyl, thrilling to the scratchy cue of impending solar-plexus pre-pubescent urges.


After my Air Supply moment, it was back to the radio, and if you ask me now, I could sing any song played on it from 1978 to 1983 word for word, especially those heart-piercingly sung by Christopher Cross, Eagles, or Dan Fogelberg.


I carried the sensibilities evoked by lyric and rhythm with me into the parish center’s opening. Everything had a soundtrack, naturally: my crush on Joe Pinder (“Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer”), my adolescence (“This is It”), and that yearning, churning, persistent tap on the pre-pubescent head, saying “who are you going to be? who are you going to be? who are you going to be?” (“Cool Change”).


EVERYTHING felt magical and touched by song. Like if the words I heard every night could come true and be real, if those stories familiar through speakers might be a kind of life I could create, if what were ahead were soul-thrumming, and heart-pounding, and love-bonking – delivered to me through renderings hinted at and eventually made known in 3D.


In the interim, I donned my orange-rubber-wheeled roller skates and hummed inside my head, as Fr. Duffy made pleas for the next thing, as Joe Pinder’s mom died of cancer, as I learned that songs could be fabrications, and as life continued to happen, ripple after ripple.




Today’s writing prompt is: what songs defined you? made you who you are? bring you back to a “time?”


Add your post/comment/prompt answer below in the comments or write a post of your own and include the link for us to read!


Meanwhile…to bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.


Or, catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.


Comparing Man Pain to Childbirth: Don’t Go There #ARant

September 26th, 2014

Just yesterday, my husband hobbled home from two days playing a racquetball tournament that wrecked him and every single muscle group in his whole entire body. At the end of the thing, he couldn’t walk, drive, or be. Ended up, I picked him up from a nearby shopping center where he was buying beer to bring over to a hot-tub-owning friend’s house.


He never made it.


His muscles clenched to the point where he cried, and could barely move without assistance.


When I picked him up, one of the first sentences out of his mouth was, “This probably feels as bad as childbirth.”


And then all my bitch alarm bells went off because Oh hell NO, he didn’t just say that.


His pain might feel like giving birth, but probably not, and more importantly, I would not presume to know how something feels unless I’ve felt it, even though I just did.


See, birthing a child is so impactful that drugs are shot DIRECTLY INTO your spine to numb the pain. And also that pain can last for hours, or even DAYS.


Then, the pain only alleviates after you push a large-poundage mass out of your delicate areas or are cut open.


So NO, not the freaking same as having muscles clench.


Stick an eight-pound mass in your pelvis and shoot it out your p@nis and then let’s talk.


Also, good luck with your muscles clenching for that few seconds!


(What? I am NOT PMSing.)


The Haircut

June 16th, 2014

{This is free association writing. It was good and necessary for me to do, but if you’re looking for a point, I’m not sure it exists here. If I find it buried in these words somewhere one day, I’ll know why I wrote it.}


He enters the house with the usual fanfare, carrying buckets of chocolate and collected change for the girls, bottles of wine, and a scuffed leather duffel I remember from the 1980s. His shoulders are flecked with flakes, a sight I’ve grown up seeing, and his hair is bright white and unevenly growing in haphazard layers left to their own devices for far too long. My girls flock to his side, another thing I remember from 30 years ago, when the four of us kids would greet him in a furious tumble of limbs and “me firsts” after one of his frequent business trips to Denver, or Berlin, or Lisbon.


I can’t recall if my mom hung back angry at his absence, or was still in bed, exhausted from it. I do know my dad spent most of those weekends home carting my brothers, sister, and I to shoe stores for new sneakers, or to soccer games for coaching, and to arcades or movies or whatever else was planned that my mom couldn’t get to with the cooking, caring, and coddling four flouncey children during long stretches of time alone.


Back then, his energy seemed boundless. Either that, or he couldn’t sit at home too long. Maybe it was the constant expected motion of work and traveling. The sudden stop at home base must have seemed boring after so much going. So round and round it was, and if his body would agree now, it would still be in spite of the work and the trips snatched away years ago.


My girls love him like we kids did. He knows that when he walks in the door, and it sustains him for awhile.


But he always grows quiet again, uneasy, not content to sit or talk unless there is something happening, somewhere to go, or someone to joke with in a raucous rush. Whether he was home from trips or here to visit, it’s all the same. I never quite felt enough, matchless to his wit or appetite for doing. Now at nearly 77, his legs don’t take him far and his back keeps him more still than he’d like. Today, his choice has been removed, but he still flails at it, wants to get out. My daughters sense it, too and so when he says, “I want to see the old house,” none of us are too surprised.


The “old house” was built in 1986 in a subdivision not far from where I live now. My dad, mom, and siblings moved there where it was brand new, and I’d just graduated from high school in a Chicago suburb. I was miserable in San Diego, looking at the office window at my neighbor, recently moved from the midwest as I had, my age and assimilated into Southern California, a too-sunny fake existence I loathed. I’d watch his car come and go at all hours, while I sat inside, nurturing homesickness and loss of center. We dated once, but I couldn’t grab onto what he offered because it meant I’d be resigned to San Diego. I didn’t want to stay. I wanted to go. In between, I closeted myself in my bedroom, observed him living his life, wondered when I’d have one, and wallowed.


It was one of those nights when my dad had enough of my hermitism.


“You know you’re going to need to make friends,” he scolded from the doorway. “You can’t stay here forever.”


His voice wasn’t kind. He wanted to push my buttons and make me defiant; to move me to the point where I’d socialize just to get him to shut up. He did that: needled and teased and got you going however he had to do it. For your own good.


That night, he pushed me too far, and I dissolved into tears and he left, contrite. He spent the night trying to make it up to me. Because he did that, too: played the drill sergeant bit to break you down, then returned to dad to build you up. I was fairly used to it and he always got me up and at ‘em again. Within months, I’d made friends and built a life, but I knew I wanted to go, still. I did, too, transferring to a Wisconsin college halfway through sophomore year and leaving behind the sun and wallow and the wanting to be somewhere else.


My mom called me from that same house to tell me she had breast cancer. It was in that town I came to see her in the hospital after her mastectomy and hysterectomy. It was there she celebrated her 50th birthday, ostensibly cancer-free, it was there my dad would leave for days at a time with only credit card clues pointing to a Las Vegas binge, or some other place he had to get to to get away from boredom? Tedium? A routine?


I don’t think I’ll ever know, but that house transitioned most of us into someone else, and we all knew it. Some of us haven’t been back for decades. Today, my dad wants to go. He asks to drive by Pomerado Hospital where my mom was diagnosed, treated, and given the go ahead to live; he grows quiet at Rancho Bernardo Inn, a place my mom loved for a brunch or a stay; he retreats further inside himself at the Remington Club, my mom’s place of employment for her “after-retirement” job, which was down the road from the Vons where my brother worked as a cashier and the Jack in the Box that was my sister’s first job and my youngest brother’s first choice for fine dining in the whole entire world.


We drive by the old house.


The images flashed by for me, and I imagine it was that way for my dad. How his scuffed duffel and garment bag would hang aloft from his fingers as he held his arms up to hug his children, older then my daughters are now, and used to my dad coming and going. The golden retriever wagging her tail at his arrival, my mom hanging back a little, still tired, and a little angry she married a salesman even though he gave her a choice, told her he’d be more gone than there.


I wonder if he remembers needling me out of self pity all those years ago, if he sees the credit card bills my mom threw to him across the table; or if he’s recalling only happy things. It’s most likely a pungent and rollicking mix of all these memories, furiously throwing themselves at the psyche, hoping for a chance to be retold or re-testified. Old houses will do that.


I can no longer stand my once electrified dad, always moving or wanting to, sitting silent and motionless in the passenger seat next to me. We have to get away from there, and what the past is doing to him. I suggest a beachside restaurant and never quite succeed in getting him out of himself, so we head home earlier than the sun. As we draw close to my neighborhood, I have a sudden and strong urge to buy my dad a haircut. In fact, I insist. I don’t know what to do with this maudlin man and his quick onset arrested inertia. A haircut seemed reasonable. Or different. Or desperate. Or, something.


No, I know. I wanted my dad to look less sad. More in control. His hair is shaggy and past his shoulders, and I need it to be tamed and coiffed, because that would mean everything was neat and orderly and not going outside the lines where I might be losing my dad to regret or not being able to move or despising himself for being in motion decades upon decades, because family is most important, he knows that now, I imagine.


I imagine. I don’t know what he knows or thinks because he so rarely tells me. I wonder if he’s content to relive the adoration my girls shower on him for those brief moments of first arrival because he thinks back to my brothers, sister and I as children; if he’s relegated the silent wife and the impatience and the always-having-to-go and always-wanting-to to the that’s-just-who-he-was-and-what-he-had-to-do compartment, or if he’s needing to somehow go back and change things.


I don’t know. I instruct the barber to cut my dad’s hair, watch as thin, snow layers fall to the ground in clumps of fuzz, and study my father’s face in the mirror.


It’s all I can do.

Grocery Outlet Giveaway (GOG)

June 16th, 2014

Grocery Outlet 2


You know how you rave to your friends about something again and again and they largely ignore you and then try it for themselves one day and it’s like they’ve discovered it themselves?


That’s so annoying.


For instance, you might say, “Hey! The burgers over at Burger Dee-lite are delightful! You need to try one!” and your friends will act as if you said zero words and are not talking. And then you’ll repeat yourself over the course of 68 weeks because everyone should have a Burger Dee-lite they’re so delicious but no one listens to you and you just want to jump up and down on their faces and shove a Burger Dee-lite into their pie holes. Then, someone will try a Burger Dee-lite randomly because the restaurant was right there by Avery’s dance studio and she’ll mention at a Lia Sophia party, “Oh my God! Have you guys tried Burger Dee-lite? It’s the best!” and everyone will lose their minds over the prospect of this delicious burger despite the fact you’ve been insisting they have one for the last nine years.


That’s exactly what happened with Grocery Outlet and I’m still giving people a hard time about it.


Because I’ve loved Grocery Outlet for years, and when one opened in my neighborhood last year, there was not enough talking about it that could come out of my mouth.


“Hey!” I’d say. “The wine selection is fabulous!” or “Oh, this little filet mignon? I bought it at Grocery Outlet!” or “You mean THIS gluten-free, organic, all-natural granola I’m eating that costs 10 gold bullion elsewhere? I got it for three smiles at Grocery Outlet!”


But still, no one listened. I don’t know if this says more about me, or about my friends who seemingly have no ears.


Either way, slowly and one by one, my pals would try Grocery Outlet because it was “right there by the Michaels” and one by one, they’d all come back with, “Oh my GOD! Grocery Outlet has the best wine selection!” and “Enjoy this filet mignon I got at Grocery Outlet” and “This granola usually costs four newborn babies and a diamond, but I got it for three smiles at Grocery Outlet!”


I’m telling you all now: heed my words. If there is a Grocery Outlet near you, get there now and do not tell me how great it is afterward because I will throw a six-pack of Burger Dee-lites in your face.


Maybe This Will Help: How Grocery Outlet Works

Grocery Outlet sources its products directly from the manufacturers, cutting out middle man prices a lot like Trader Joe’s does. But while Trader’s primarily sells its own branded products, Grocery Outlet sells brand names such as General Mills, Dole, and Kraft. There’s also a million organic brands  available that normally sell for twice as much elsewhere.

The manufacturers that sell to Grocery Outlet often do so due to products overruns and cosmetic packaging changes that typical grocery stores don’t accept. For example, when GlaxoSmithKline changed Sensodyne toothpaste packaging from a squeeze cylinder to a tube, the manufacturer was left with thousands of cylinder-packaged products it sold to Grocery Outlet at a hefty discount passed onto the consumer. The product still had years to go before its expiration date and was the same product packaged in the tube.


Grocery Outlet Products

Grocery Outlet sells health and beauty care products, toys, paper products, wine and beer, frozen foods, organic items and produce. On a recent trip, I picked up a $25 bottle of wine for $6.99 (many Grocery Outlets have their own wine buyers fully dedicated to sourcing excellent wines), several packages of Amy’s Organic entrees for as low as $2.99 each, and 100% maple syrup for a little over $5.


What to Know

Grocery Outlet’s inventory changes often so if you saw your favorite organic burrito there two weeks ago, you might not be able to find it again when you have a sudden craving and hope to find it again (and I’m STILL heartbroken about it). The products change so frequently due to the opportunistic shopping model explained above. Even so, on each trip, you should be able to find grocery staples and typical stock-up products. When you find what you love, buy a lot because you can never be sure when it will be back.

It’s a great idea to sign up for Grocery Outlet’s email notifications because additional deals and special savings events are communicated that way, in addition to through Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, Grocery Outlet does not accept manufacturer coupons mainly because its prices are already so low.



My Grocery Outlet location that I told my ignoring friends about is in Poway, but there are other locations in San Marcos, Escondido, and Oceanside.

The Giveaway


Have a $25 Grocery Outlet gift card! With that you can surely buy wine, filet mignon, and granola and have enough left over for some many other things! Try it and see!


Just please leave a comment with what you’ve tried to tell your friends repeatedly only to have them pretend you never talked and then they try it and act like they discovered it themselves. Or just leave a comment telling me how smart I am. Or just leave a comment.


I’ll pick one at random for the gift card on Friday, June 20.


My 30-Day Transformation

May 17th, 2014

Somewhere around March 7 of this year, it occurred to me that I should probably clean up my act. This meant taking more vitamins (or just taking any vitamins to be precise), eating less beef-on-buns products, and exercising more (or just exercising in general).


I’d been feeling plenty run down, stressed, and bulky for several years, and I often cycled through periods of conscious health and detoxing, only to jump back on the eat-hamburgers, enjoy-the-wine, sit-on-the-couch-working-for-eight-hours train days later. Then, after a period of extreme exhaustion and ultimate burnout in late February, I knew that vicious back and forth had to stop.


What held me back slightly was that the nature of my work means I stare at a laptop for hours a day. Sometimes 12 hours. Sometimes 16. I try to optimize my working time during the kids’ school hours because I know that all getting-things-done bets are off the moment I pick them up and bring them home. This tendency means I’m loathe to take any time for myself from 8:30-3:20 because that is productive time wasted (I say in my mind). Also, if I don’t capitalize on every kid-free second I have to freelance, it means I’ll be taking my laptop to bed and working into the odd hours. Translation: going to the gym or popping in an exercise DVD took precious time I didn’t think I could spare. I always eat lunch at my computer, too, so chose simple edibles I could pop into my mouth with my non-writing hand, such as nachos and potato chip sticks.


Also, there was a general lack of restorative sleep happening, ill-advised relaxation methods such as Cabernet, and gravity pulling at my face.


So, after three days of thinking, on March 10, I decided to implement a 30-Day Transformation Plan I mishmashed together from Google advice and my own brain. I figured I would be bold and go big; and that I could do anything for 30 days, except sit in a spider den, and so I could probably live through less starch and more calcium.


I wanted to share what I did during this time because I truly felt more energetic and less nacho-y, and I always love to hear what people do to be better, and so maybe you will, too.


Here’s the breakdown:




I would do Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred every day. This exercise plan consists of three levels, each lasting 20 minutes, and implementing a two-minutes-of-cardio, two-minutes-of-strength, and one-minute-of-abs interval training sequence. I rather liked the quick, get-it-done nature of the levels and felt sore afterwards, which my husband assured me was a good sign.


After week one, I added in 20 minutes of AMT training at my gym, which was essentially an elliptical/treadmill/stair climbing combo exercise helped tremendously by the fact that a large TV was situated in front of my face. I tried to use the AMT every day, but in practice, I did it every other day.




I eliminated sugar, most dairy, white flour, processed foods, and soy. To survive, I made these protein pancakes almost every morning for breakfast, learned how to make paleo crabcakes, which saved me for many a lunch, and bought enough dips from the farmers’ market to drown the taste of all the other healthy stuff I ate. I also bought those all-natural grilled chicken strips from Costco and dipped them in Thai sauce or chopped them into salads. Finally, hardboiled eggs became my best snack friend.


Vitamin Regimen

All of the vitamin ingestion was complicated by the fact that I can’t swallow pills, and instead must chew them due to an unfortunate Thanksgiving incident when I was eight, so I went for liquid or chewable versions where I could.


 Mind Wellness


I would do five minutes of meditation, and ask my husband “how was your day?” every evening.


Face Wellness


To combat the downward pull on my cheeks, eyes, jowls, and neck, I compiled a daily facial exercise routine, some of which you can see here. I did these every day, faithfully.


I also added a product to my usual beloved Skin Authority skincare routine. The Resurfacing Accelerator is designed to exfoliate and “youthen” skin, which is a word I made up that should totally be a word.




There was zero wine in my 30-Day Transformation Plan, but lots of looking at it longingly.


(This awful pic shows me just before the 30-Day Transformation Plan)



(This similarly horrible pic shows me just after the 30-Day Transformation Plan)



(This ridiculously horrible pic shows me just before my tendons broke)



The Results


It turned out that 18 was my magic number because that’s the day I made it to with the plan. I completed nearly all of Jillian Michaels’ level two Shred, until something terrible happened to my hand and its tendons could no longer accommodate my weight resting on it from the five million planks I had to do. Despite this unfortunate appendage anomaly, I indeed felt firmer in places and my stamina rose dramatically.


I noticed a large energy shift for the better with the vitamins. I also observed that my hair and nails seemed stronger.


The meditation helped sharpen my focus somewhat when I could stay silent in my head long enough. I stopped asking my husband about his day after night three because I’m an awful person who was doing too many planks.


The best part of the transformation for me turned out to be the facial exercises. I really noticed a difference, and so did a lot of other people. I was told I “glowed” and looked years younger, which could have been the Resurfacing Accelerator, but I really felt that the exercises toned and lifted my face.


Giving up wine was a good thing. I slept better and that is wonderful for everyone concerned, said the crabby-no-sleep-getter.


Overall, I would do this again, except with less niacin and more “how was your days?” for my husband. Toward the end of the plan, I hit an exceptionally busy patch with work that derailed a lot of my routine. In the process, I observed how easy it was for me to get off course with a crazy schedule and realized that time MUST BE MADE despite it to be healthy. That was the most valuable lesson I already knew but needed to know deeper.


And that’s true for anything really, isn’t it?