100 Day Dash

On August 18, I decided to take a walk. I laced on my shoes, stretched a little, and set out to see how far I could go.  First I walked one block, then another and another. Pretty soon, I had trekked an entire mile, then another and another.

100DayDash3On and on I went. I had a goal, but I wasn’t quite sure I could make it. I would have to be dedicated if I wanted to succeed. I would have to make this my number one priority if I wanted to count myself among the best.

For the next 100 days, I would have to take an average of 10,000 steps every day because I intended to walk 1,000,000 steps as part of my employer’s annual 100 Day Dash fitness challenge.

I work for a healthcare company that is committed to having not only healthy customers, but healthy employees as well. As part of that commitment, it encourages employees to get moving and stay moving through healthy lifestyle programs like the 100 Day Dash.

Soon after the event kicked off in August, pedometers became a fashion statement. Throughout the office, I could see everything from bulky step trackers on belts to sleek wearable fitness devices wrapped around wrists.

Fitbit

My Fitbit Flex is the height of fashion these days!

Watching someone make laps through the office suite while on a conference call (thanks to wireless technology) turned into a common occurrence. Fitness bikes with a laptop attachment were also installed, so multi-taskers can pedal and type at the same time. The stairwell is now almost more well-traveled than the elevator.

I set my goal of one million steps and started walking. I parked at the back of the parking lot. I took the long way to the fitness center at lunch time, and I devoted my workout to cardio exercise. I walked the pups more often than usual and on those nights when the Young One had soccer and field hockey practice, I chose to walk the perimeter of the field instead of sitting idle in my folding chair.

Last weekend, I am happy to say I hit my goal, and I kept right on going. As of today, I have taken 1,050,892 steps. That’s approximately 525 miles.

Tomorrow is Day 100, but I don’t think I’ll rest now that the challenge is nearing its end. I like knowing I am more active than not. I like making the choice to take the stairs. I like being active and knowing that my legs are strong enough to take me any place I want to go.

How do you stay motivated to keep moving?

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The Fun In Between

I’m finally having some fun!

I’ve been between jobs for a little more than three months now, and while the Hubs likes to say I’ve had a three month vacation, my opinion is a little different. I would agree if I thought the definition of vacation was waking before dawn each morning, making sure the Young One’s belly is full and her hair is brushed before taking her to the bus stop and then coming home to log onto the computer and starting the job hunt, the interview research, the contemplation of an uncertain future.

Sure, I’ve spent my downtime blogging and learning how to do it better. That’s been highly enjoyable except for that nagging bit of guilt when I let myself think about how my family actually depends on me to help out with the finances. That thought inevitably turns around to ponderings of what happens when the severance period runs out. Worry and doubt have no place on holiday.

If I were truly on vacation, I wouldn’t set my alarm. I would wake only when my body starts craving that first hit of caffeine. I would brew a cup of butter toffee Keurig coffee, grab my Kindle and a sunny spot and stay there until I had a desire to do something else.

Maybe exercise would call me next, and because vacations are always sunny and warm, I’d lace on my running shoes and hit the pavement. I’d crank the volume on the iPod and let Katy Perry set the pace while she tells me I’m a champion. I wouldn’t worry how long I stayed out circling the neighborhood. I’d just look at the clear blue sky, feel the warm breeze and be happy to realize I had absolutely nothing better to do than be in this moment.

When my legs finally felt like rubber, I’d find myself back home in search of lunch. I’d probably reach for the Kindle again as I ate, getting lost in someone else’s world and letting the food go cold. Then I’d remember how I left a hidden objects adventure in limbo last night on the iPad, and I’d give it a little of my brain power.

An hour or so later, I’d think about how I want to capture this relaxing day, and I’d power up WordPress. I’d put some words on the screen, add a pretty picture or two depicting my favorite vacation day, click Publish and be happy.

It sounds like a perfect vacation day….It sounds a lot like today.

I have a job offer I’m excited about, and I have little doubt in my ability to pass the drug screen and background check. In 10 days, I’ll be employed again. I’ve unsubscribed to the job search emails. I don’t check LinkedIn every day to see who’s looking at my profile.

I have no more doubt, no more uncertainty, no more reason to feel guilty about doing the things that make me happy.

In 10 days, I’ll wake up early, fight traffic, sit in meetings and work at a desk that is not directly off my foyer. Until I punch in on day one though, I’m on vacation, and I intend to have a little fun in between jobs!

**Inspired by The Daily Post prompt: Nothing But a Good Time.

Top 10 Momma-Can’t-Stop-Smiling Moments of 2012

Sometimes I don’t even realize it’s there until I notice my cheeks are sore. It starts with a glimpse of something–a person, a picture, words on a page, a text message.

It starts with an upturning of lips, then a thump of the heart as the grin widens to a full-on smile–the kind that puts a twinkle in the eye and makes the heart feel larger in the chest.

That’s a Momma-can’t-stop-smiling moment, and as I reflect on the year that is nearing its end, I’d like to share those moments that have made my top ten.

1. The Older One Realizes His Dream. Watching your child’s dream come true is a humbling experience. Years ago, I treated the Older One to dinner at the local Chinese restaurant. I watched his face light up when he cracked his fortune cookie open at the end of the meal. I wanted to know what could cause such joy in a 14-year-old, so I asked what his fortune was. “‘Your greatest dream will come true,'” he read.

“What’s your greatest dream?” I asked.

“To play Division I football.”

I wasn’t surprised. Since he won his first city championship at age six, football had been his passion, and in October, his dream came true when he took to the field and played his first downs for the Army Black Knights.

I cheered from the stands and smiled through the whole five minutes of game-play. My cheeks still hurt 30 minutes later.

football

Check out #55…His dream is coming true.

2. The Young One Finds Her Sport. After the Hubs and I started the paperwork to adopt a girl from Russia, I began planning her after-school activities. She wasn’t even born yet, but I knew she would be an athlete–at least that’s what I hoped for her.

Playing a sport is a source of self-confidence, and above all else, I want my daughter to believe in herself, to feel strong and capable, and to be confident. She found all those things this year on the soccer field.

She out-ran the boys with an effortless stride. She stole the ball from the opposing team with a relentless desire to win, and she beamed like an angle with each goal.

I captured sheer joy on my camera, and I now know we have many more soccer games in our future.

Happy

That’s a confident, happy little girl!

3. Twenty Years and Counting. In September, the Hubs and I celebrated twenty years of marriage. I’ve been able to spend half my life with my best friend by my side. We’ve watched our son grow into a remarkable young man, and we’ve survived the painful reality of infertility when we found our daughter on the other side of the world. We’ve grown, and we’ve changed. But we have done it together. I can’t help but smile about that.

4. Fifty Years and Counting. In 1962, a blizzard roared through western Pennsylvania on the eve of my parents’ wedding. Although my grandmother had to put chains on her tires before she could take my mom to the church, and my dad had to shovel more than a foot of snow from the church’s sidewalk, they still said “I do”.

50th anniversary

I do…again.

Two weeks ago, they said those words for the second time as they renewed their vows on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. I smiled through my tears as my dad recited a poem about growing old together, and I understood that my 20 years of togetherness is nothing compared to the love these two amazing people share.

5. Adopting a Fluffy One. When I first saw the Fluffy One at the shelter, I knew she was meant to be a part of our family. After quizzing me on the type of canine we were looking for, the shelter attendant took me into the room reserved for small dogs and puppies. “I have the perfect dog for you,” she declared. “She just came in last week. I’ll warn you though…she’s a diva.”

I wanted to tell her another diva would fit right in at my house, but I refrained.

“We named her Audrey after Audrey Hepburn.” Seriously? You named her after one of my fashion icons!

“Oh, no,” she said as she opened the crate door. “Her papers need changed. Here,” she said, thrusting the ball of fluff into my hands, “Hold her while I clean this up.”

That’s all it took. I filled out the application before I left, then called the Hubs from the car to tell him I’d found our doggie.

Fluffy One

She’s not Audrey anymore, but she’s still a diva!

6. Furry Plays Again. The dog toy box had remained untouched for almost two years before we brought the Fluffy One home. The Furry One had stopped playing when he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

All that changed when Fluffy joined the family. Little by little we saw Furry change. He went from setting his boundaries with a gruff growl to watching with cautionary interest as Fluffy threw what used to be his toys in the air.

Almost three months later, he finally gave in. He pulled himself from the sofa and rolled on the floor with his new sister. His growls are playful. His tail is wagging, and Momma is happy to have two puppies in the house again.

Furry One

The Furry One doesn’t hang out in his bed quite as much any more!

7. Stiletto Momma Wears Out a Pair of Gym Shoes. Normally, the pumps give out before the trainers, but this year, I decided to not let my daily Crohn’s Disease symptoms keep me down. I got back in the gym. Three cardio sessions and at least two weightlifting classes each week since mid-January, and I have bi’s, tri’s and traps again!

8. Baking for Soldiers. I have sent 13 packages to Afghanistan and Iraq. Thirteen soldiers who are strangers to me have tasted my snickerdoodles. They have shared my care packages with their battle buddies and read my words of appreciation when I thanked them for their service. West Point Moms Bake is the organization that provides me the names of the men and women protecting our freedom, and participating in this effort has been the most fulfilling experience of my life.

Boxes

Two of my 13 care packages that have hopefully made a few soldiers smile.

9. Capturing Life Through a Lens. For our anniversary this year (the big two-oh mentioned above), the Hubs and I scrapped our plans for a weekend getaway, and opted instead to splurge on a digital SLR camera. Many of my can’t-stop-smiling moments have come from reviewing the hundreds of pictures I’ve snapped since September.

10. A Blogger is Born. I’ve been a writer since the sixth grade when I started to pen my first novel. I didn’t get much further than the first chapter, but it was the first of many attempts to record my imaginings. I’ve written short stories, essays, and a few poems. I’ve held internships that afforded me my first official byline and a portfolio of published pieces.

Life, however, sometimes gets in the way of dreams, and I put my journalism degree in a drawer when marketing jobs were easier to come by. This year, however, I returned to my own passion when Stiletto Momma was born.

I have recaptured the joy of writing…that amazing feeling of losing myself for a few hours and the immense feeling of accomplishment that comes from seeing my words in print.

I smile with each click of the “Publish” button, and I smile with each “like”, each follow notification and each comment from a reader.

Thank you, dear reader, for encouraging me on this journey and for making me smile on a regular basis.

This is what has made me smile in 2012, and I’m looking forward to sharing many more with you in 2013. What’s your favorite can’t-stop-smiling moment of the year?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Stiletto Momma

* This post was written for the WordPress Daily Post Weekly Challenge which tasked bloggers with writing a post to wrap up the year.

Bring It, 2012!!

Last night as everyone was counting down 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…, I was thinking, “Here we go again.”  Another year. Another set of resolutions. Maybe this is the year, they will still be with me when the ball drops on 2012.

I have a few things I’d like to do in 2012–some of them ambitious and some just general common sense things most people resolve to do every year.  So, for the record, here is my list of things I’d like for the new year, and how I’m doing with them as of 8:00 p.m.  on January 1.

In 2012, I will:

1. Do something new…

I’d like to learn photography and how to Photoshop more than just a box with some words in it. I’d like to write a book about the odd dysfunction that follows my extended family, but somehow skips over and around my immediate fam. Those are longer term goals, though, and they require a little more planning and organization than I had time for in the latter half of December when I first started thinking of this most unique of my New Year’s resolutions.

With those on the back burner for the time being, I’ve decided to start a new blog. To be honest, I’ve blogged before.  Maybe you’ve run across “Tales From The Waiting Room” in your search for the perfect online reading material.  That’s me…chronic conditions and poor view of all things healthcare related.  I stuck with that one for a few months, but I found it to be too limiting, and honestly, too depressing.  I live with Crohn’s Disease every day.  I don’t think I really want to write about it all the time.

So, here’s a new blog–same author, same challenges, different attitude! I am so much more than a patient. I have a family that includes a pre-school child, a college child, a husband, live-in MIL and a dog. I am an internet marketing guru (self-proclaimed).  I am a woman who lives for a shopping spree and has been known to accidentally program the GPS for the nearest outlet mall on the way home from business trips.  I also wear the title “high maintenance” like a badge of honor and am encouraging my four-year-old daughter to do the same.

I am Stiletto Momma!

Resolution 1 progress-to-date: Resolution started (even if the definition of “new” has been twisted a little)!

2. Get Moving…

I used to be known as the Jane Fonda of my social circle. I would head out to lunch with my water bottle in tow so often that the rumor around the water cooler was that I was an aerobics instructor on the side. That was a total fiction, but I do have to say I was flattered by the assumption.  I used to fit in at least four workouts a week–cardio on the elliptical, weight training, Body Pump, Zumba, yoga, pilates.  I subscribed to Fitness magazine and read health and nutrition books for pleasure.

Then Crohn’s Disease kicked my butt back to reality. I’d been in remission for over 10 years, but in 2010, after over a year of “unexplained” pain, I ended up with two abdominal surgeries to fix several strictures in my small intestines.  I was finally starting to get back into the exercise scene (Zumba, how I loved you!) when I started having new abdominal pain.  This time it was sensitive to any pressure on the abdomin–such as the kind you get when you do sit ups, crunches (even the hip-wiggly Zumba kind), and just about any kind of exercise that uses core muscles.  The docs finally found a fistula (another Crohn’s complication)–think of it as a tunnel from the intestines to another organ.  Yeah, ouch is right!  So, we tried a lot of meds, and now I think I’m ready to give the gym another shot.

I have my Zumba DVDs on order, and they should be here by the end of the week. (Who would have thought that distribution for Amazon.com shuts down between Christmas and New Years?)  I was going to try P90X, but I thought that just might be a little too aggressive for someone returning to exercise after a seven-month break! I plan to hit the gym with the hubs on the weekend for some quality time with the elliptical, and maybe if we’re lucky, I’ll shake the dust off the weight equipment in my home gym.

Resolution 2 progress-to-date: Well, I’ve thought about it a lot today. I went for a walk yesterday…and it was in the latter half of the afternoon, so techincally, I can carry it over to today. Right? It’s a rounding error! Okay, I’ll schedule gym time for tomorrow at 10:00 am.

3. Try to eat better…

Yes, this one sounds really lame and something six million other people have resolved to do, but it might just be the hardest one for me to stick with. It all comes back to that CD thing.  Because so many things aggravate Crohn’s Disease, those of us with it tend to eat the same things over and over again.  It’s similar to the old addage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  If it didn’t hurt going down this time, add it to the heavy rotation slot on the menu. Fruits and veggies are now a must along with a good mix of carbs and protein. (Sorry, I can’t partake in the low carb diet.  If I take carbs off my menu, I won’t eat anything. That’s been proven.) And snacks should have some nutritional value. Chips and cookies do not count!

Resolution 3 progress-to-date: In the plus column, I didn’t eat a Pop Tart for breakfast. I forced myself to eat a bowl of cereal (low sugar) before I made the first cup of coffee. I also had a veggie burger for lunch. In the minus column, I had popcorn for dinner, but it was done while spending quality time at the movie theater with my daughter, so it was pretty much justified. Tomorrow, I’ll work in some fruit!

All in all, I’m excited for 2012 and Stiletto Mamma. I cannot wait to purchase the first pair of shoes for the new year. My daughter needs some new sparkly ones too. My son is heading back north for college in a few days, and I’m sure he’ll need something for plane trip…maybe a Snuggie to keep away the draft.  I have a trip planned for myself later in the month, and my route goes right past my favorite outlet mall! And I’m sure as the year goes on, I will have some of that family dysfunction to share.

Happy shopping! (It’s considered a form of exercise!)

Stiletto Mamma