Sunday, October 27, 2013

iTune Shuffle

To help me get back into the blogging habit, I found a list of 100 "prompts." Some -- like this one -- will be simple and fun, others a little more thought-provoking.

Put your iPod on shuffle and write down the first six songs that play.

I'm always amused by the songs I have on my iPhone, mostly because I only listen to music when I'm working out, so there are artists and songs on there that I wouldn't listen to if I wasn't trying to psyche myself up to run on a treadmill (or in a race). But even if I wouldn't normally listen, they all have a story as to how they ended up on the gym playlist, beyond having a great beat.

1. Beat It by Michael Jackson
I loved Michael Jackson during the Thriller years. What teenaged girl didn't? I had posters on my walls, listened to Thriller (and older albums) non-stop, and waited for his videos to be played on MTV. And to top it all off, I had a Michael Jackson birthday cake!

2. Won't Keep a Good Girl Down by Marie Wilson
A great girl power song! I actually heard this song on an episode on 7th Heaven and they shows the music featured in the episode at the end. This was before iTunes, so I went to the record store and they had to order the CD for me. It's still one of my favorites.

3. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by The Darkness
I was living in Baltimore when this song came out. I remember the first time I heard it, I was up at 98Rock to do a segment promoting the Museum. The producer was in love with the song and played for me between breaks. I instantly hated it the first time I heard it. And then, I heard it again and it grew on me. By the third time, I adored it.

4. Fat-Bottomed Girls by Queen
The ultimate "run your fat ass" keeps me motivated. Freddie Mercury needs no rationalization to be on anyone's iPod.

5. Livin' La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin
This song was huge when it came out. It was the summer I moved from Rochester to Baltimore, and I can remember hearing this on the radio all the time when I was making my drives for my interview, to apartment shop and finally to move down there.

6. Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake
When I worked out at the Wellness Clinic at IC, the rule with this song, if I was on a spinning bike was to stand through the whole damned song. And my trainer always made sure JT came on when she had me on a bike.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

I went home this weekend. And while I will probably always refer to Ithaca and Syracuse that way when I go to visit, I realized that it wasn't home anymore. I had crossed that line. I was driving from the mall to downtown, on the main road into town and was annoyed with traffic. I had forgotten how awful Route 13 was on a Saturday.

I cut through some neighborhoods and wound my way through little streets to get to the Commons where I was meeting Hope and Heather for lunch. Where once I saw charm, where once I felt the warm hug of home, of where I lived and belonged, I felt none of that. It was as if Ithaca and I had had a break up and we were at the stage in the relationship where we could be civil with each other, indifferent.

Heather is moving to North Carolina, so this was a farewell lunch, the end of a tradition for Hope, Heather and me. Viva was "our" place. When the College had the annual holiday lunch, we skipped the forced fun and chaos and headed downtown to enjoy being anti-social. When it was one of our birthdays, we headed down, just the three of us to celebrate. And when I moved to PA and would head "home" for a  visit, we met at Viva.

We always had the same thing. I'm not sure why they bothered looking at the menu on Saturday. Our orders are always the same. And we know how much each of us owes at the end, depending on if we got more than water to drink. And then over to Mayer's to buy three Lindor truffles -- dark for Hope, peanut butter for me, and mint or milk for Heather -- for dessert.

As I was driving through town, and even went I got a little teary-eyed and over-whelmed with emotion at the thought of Heather not being in Ithaca anymore, I didn't realize that I was making that break with the town. That happened the next day, back in Doylestown. That morning, when I was getting dressed for the gym, I pulled out the top pair of pants and top t-shirt from my drawer. I thought nothing more of it, other than they matched.

My t-shirt happened to be my "Ithaca is Gorges" one that Hope and Heather gave me as a going away present. As I was walking to the treadmills, a woman on the elliptical made a funny noise. There is no other way to explain it other than to say she exclaimed. And then, "I was in Ithaca yesterday."

I looked up at her. "So was I."

We made small talk. She and her husband were driving back from Buffalo and decided to go that way so they could eat at the Moosewood. I told her I had worked at the College.

"It's a beautiful little town. Would you ever go back?"

And this was the moment, the realization. I didn't even hesitate. I didn't even think about the answer. "No."

I didn't say it vehemently, but it was a solid answer. She was surprised. "Why not?"

"I like it here." And that was that. I enjoyed my time in Ithaca. Ithaca didn't do anything to me, but we grew apart. Or maybe it's more that we've outgrown each other. I live in Doylestown now. I like it here. This is home. And it's not just because I'm building a house here. Houses can be sold.

It's more that I'm building a life.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


A do-over. That's what I need with this blog. I attended a social media breakfast meeting this morning. Most of what I heard was common sense and some things I already knew, but it energized me just the same. It made me want to get back to blogging, something I haven't done in a while. So here I am, back at the blog.

Growing up, there were two things about myself that I always knew.
  1. I would someday be a mom.
  2. I was fat.
Now that I'm 43, neither of those things is true. How did I get here?

A lot of hard work on both counts. I've accepted that I don't get to be a mother. In fact not only accepted that I don't get to, am to the point where I don't want to. I'm 43, halfway to 44. Diapers, formula, feedings in the middle of the night, lack of freedom to go to the gym after work -- no thanks. I've created a life without a baby.

And in that life, I've discovered the me I never knew I could be. It's more than the "book cover," but it is the book cover that impacts the inner me. In the last year, I've lost nearly 45 pounds. I've gone from a size 20 to a 12 (and sometimes, even a 10!). I get to shop in any store I want to. And that's a new mindset for me.

I went shopping the other night and instinctively headed to Kohls. And then I realized what I was doing, and passed on by. Banana Republic. New York and Company. Ann Taylor. I get to shop in those stores now. And I bought something in each of them. It was an amazing feeling.

I struggle with the nutrition still. I worry about gaining all the weight back in one week. I think that a few days of eating my feelings will somehow derail me completely. And then I remember the tools I've used over the past year -- not just physically but mentally -- and take a deep breath. I make healthy choices at the very next meal. I throw away anything that I've brought in the house that shouldn't be here. And I know my limits.

Some people can have sweets in the house and have one, and close the bag. Not me. If the package is open, I will continually go back for more. And so I don't even tempt myself. I don't have that stuff in the house. No cookies or candy.

In good weeks, when I feel strong with my nutrition, I might treat myself to a mini peppermint patty if I'm over in the academic building and visiting the dean with the candy bowl in his office. And sometimes I might pass it by completely. On Saturday mornings, after the gym, while I do my weekly grocery shopping, I get less than $1 worth of bulk candy at Wegmans...all different kinds. M&M's, Reece's pieces, caramel cremes, whatever I'm in the mood for. Just a few pieces of each. And it satisfies any craving I might have for sweet, salty, decadent.

In bad weeks, when I'm not feeling so strong, when I've been eating my feelings, when my hormones are raging, there's a little chocolate and then a little more, there's a daily Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry instead of a weekly one, there's popping candy in Dr. Ben's office one after the other, not even tasting them, just unwrapping and eating, unwrapping and eating. 

And that usually happens not just because of hormones, or not just because of stress, or not just because boys are particularly stupid that week -- it's usually a combination, a perfect storm of those factors and my week being not a regular week. A week of lots of lunch meetings, or having to work late -- in other words, a week where I'm not in control of my meals and not in my routine. And when that happens multiple days in a row, all hell breaks lose. Or so I think in that moment.

Thankfully...luckily...the last year has taught me awareness. And I am very aware of what's happening. And I'm aware of it enough be able to snap myself out of it. And I'm also very disciplined when it comes to working out. I will never go two days in a row without sweating. Even if it means getting up at 5:30 a.m. and running before work.

It means having all the right foods in the house, and none of the wrong. It means planning my food for the next day. And it means putting in an extra 10 or 15 minutes at the gym for a few nights. As I learn how to live in this body, I become less and less freaked out when I slip. I let myself enjoy the food I'm eating. And I tell myself -- whether I truly believe it or not -- that I can get a mulligan the very next day, and get myself back on track.

And...knock on wood...every day, I have.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I was once told that I am the perfect combination of girl-girl and tomboy. I think this picture captures that perfectly.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Five Kilometers...Three Point One Miles

I signed up for the Bucks County 5K series -- seven 5K's in four months. I also signed up for the brain cancer 5K in DC that I do every year. I figured that between them, I should be able to accomplish my goal to run a complete 5K.

With five of my eight spring 5Ks in the books, let's recap.

Race intervals....time 37:04

Race 2....intervals, but running more...time 36:25

Race 3...intervals, running more but still not the whole thing...time 36:22

Race 4...the second of three consecutive weekends, planned to walk it but couldn't stop myself, running but still with some walking...time 35:18

Race 5 in DC...I knew it was a completely flat course...I challenged myself to run the whole thing and to come in under 35:00. I not only ran the whole thing, but finished in 33:31!

My next goal is a 10K.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy birthday to me (10 days later)

I typically think of my birthday as the start of a new year. Am usually so over the holidays that I don't post about resolutions or fresh starts. This year was different. Because things are so different from a year ago, from 11 months ago, I enjoyed the holidays a little more than I usually do. And I posted some New Years resolutions on December 31.

I'm running more and more. And bettering my time (and how long I'm running) with each 5K. My race in DC in two weeks should be the one where I run the whole thing.

I'm about seven pounds away from my second goal. It'll be tight but I should be able to hit that by June 1. At the very least within a few pounds.

I bought my house. And ground breaking should happen sometime in May.

And I have 280 miles logged so far for the year. Not quite at the pace I need to be for 1,000 in 12 months, but I have so much fun adding each week's mileage up and seeing where I am. I'm setting monthly goals and hitting or exceeding them. I think it's the over-achiever in me.

And so my birthday was just my birthday. One of my dearest friends came down from Ithaca. We visited the model home so she could see where I'm going to live. We got spa pedicures. We went shopping at Ikea (that will be very dangerous to have so close when I move). We went to dinner and we ate frozen yogurt.

It was truly the perfect birthday.

And nice to think of it as just a celebration and not the start of one more year of trying to do something out of my control.

So happy 40th (for the 4th time) to me.

Saturday, March 16, 2013



Pink makes me happy.

I wasn't a pink little girl. I was a tomboy.

A never-wear-skirts-or-dresses, Yankees hat wearing tomboy. On the rare occasions I had to wear a dress, I wore shorts underneath.

Slowly in my teens, when I discovered boys as more than buddies, I slowly discovered pink.

In my 20s, pink started to enter my life.

In my early 30s, pink became my accessory.

In my late 30s, it became my attitude.

And now, in my 40s, it is my signature.

"I believe in pink," Audrey Hepburn famously said. "I believe that happiest girls are the prettiest girls."

NOT pretty girls are happy.

But happy girls are pretty.

That's what pink does to me. It makes me happy. And then, in turn, it makes me pretty.

I, like Audrey, believe in pink.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Property Virgin

One of my New Year's resolutions was to buy a house. I got my mortgage pre-approved, giving me a price range that would feel comfortable. I've been looking online since the fall, but really started looking for real after the holidays.

My real estate agent would send me listings, and I would drive through the neighborhoods, getting a feel for who lived there, what it was near, what the traffic was like, how it looked from the outside, etc. My first weekend, I drove by 24 houses, with the help of Pippa (my GPS with the British accent) and went into the model for new construction townhouses.

I was immediately in love. I wanted to stop looking. I could have everything on my wish list -- hardwood floors, gas fireplace, soaking tub, finished basement.

But my Doylestown big brother talked me down. "This is your first house. You can't jump at the first thing you like. You need to look more."

"But did I tell you about the tub?!" I said excitingly in his office. I think I might have even jumped up and down a little.

"Laurie.....Laurie....this is a big need to go slowly."

"And the hard wood floors....and the fireplace with the light switch." A little less excited, still a little jumping as I talked.

"Just look at all your options, that's all I'm saying."

And he was right. I needed to do my due diligence. That week, Linda and I went to two of the houses from my weekend neighborhood stalking. One was awful, even if it was in the neighborhood where Pink's grandmother lives. Possible Carey Hart sightings are not enough.

The other was a definite contender. The carpets looks good. It had hardwood floors. A finished basement. The walls would have needed to be painted, but unlike one of the open houses I stopped in the previous weekend, no wallpaper to scrape off.

And so went the next few weeks. Linda would email me a list by the end of the week. I would look at them online and then map out anything that looked promising. Sunday afternoons, after my work out, I would get in the car and drive all over, making notes. And then the following week, we'd see anything that was promising.

And then, as we were looking at a super cute townhouse. Colors on the wall -- all fun and appropriate. Hardwood floors on the first floor. Fireplace. But, not basement. No attic. Tight storage. I didn't want to like it as much as I did, but I knew I would outgrow it immediately. No place to put a treadmill. No place for a sewing/craft room.

I am not a hoarder by any means, but I have "stuff." And I've been very creative in all of my apartments with challenging closet space to figure it all out. When I buy something, I don't want to have to be creative with storage.

And so as I stood in that dining room, trying to figure out how I could make it work, I looked at Linda and said, "let's just buy the new construction. I think I've seen enough to know."

And so this past Monday, Linda and I went up to the model home and I signed what seemed like 167 pieces of paper for a house to be built this summer and I will be able to move in towards the end of the summer. The builder representative would explain what each page was and I'd look at Linda, she'd nod and I would sign and initial. On and on.

I bought a house. A brand new house. And I get my hardwood floors.

And a gas fireplace (anyone who knows me knows I'm always cold and how much I will enjoy that in the colder months).

And a soaking tub. When I lived in Baltimore, I have a claw-foot tub and I used it at least four times a week. A regular bathtub won't do after having something that deep. It doesn't need to be extra long or extra wide, but it needs to be deep. And that's what I'm getting.

And a finished basement. For my treadmill. And for a craft room. I can set up the sewing machine and leave it set up.

I've been pinning all sorts of things on Pinterest the past few months. And this week I made an expandable file just for the house. Each section is a different room. For decorating ideas. For figuring out the lay-out in each room.

Wednesday, I meet with the mortgage company.

And next Monday, Linda and I are going to the showroom to pick out cabinets, flooring, counter tops, etc.

It's coming along. I bought a house. I'm a property virgin no more.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Resolution Update

Resolution 1 -- I will run a 5K.

Though it was on a treadmill, and I still want to do it outside, I did actually run the equivalent of a 5K last week.

Resolution 2 -- I will my hit goal weight (15 pounds past pre-baby weight) by June 1.

I am two pounds under pre-baby weight, well within sight of losing another 13 by early June.

Resolution 3 -- I will learn to maintain by the end of the year (because losing it is only half the battle).

Nothing I can do about this one. Yet.

Resolution 4 -- I will do my damnedest to run/walk 1,000 miles. That's going to be tough. I was about five miles short of merely 500 miles for 2012. But that's taking into account that I had stopped running, that I was dealing with a new job, a move, wrapping up the old job, plus all the misadventures that January brought. So we'll shoot for 1,000 and see how close I get.

I'm not on pace to hit 1,000 miles yet, but I'm hopeful that the summer will change that. Right now, I'm at 93 miles with the goal of hitting 125 by the end of February.

Resolution 5 -- and what I wouldn't be able to do if I was still in a house.

Mortgage pre-approved. Real estate agent lined up. Did some neighborhood drive-bys and some open houses today. It's all underway.

The Weight of Words

One of my bonus friends (those I found because of adoption or IF) shared a story on Facebook yesterday. She and her husband struggled with infertility for nearly a decade. We met when she had an IVF treatment in New York. That treatment worked, with triplets. Sadly, two of the triplets were lost in utero.

This was her post yesterday, on the anniversary of losing one of the babies:

Today (yes, today) we were walking into a small store with Seth in a stroller. We were followed closely behind by a mom and grandmother holding two twin babies. We stopped and my dear husband pushed the stroller to the side to awkwardly hold the door open for the women and their babies. Sensing that holding the door open was awkward with a large stroller, the grandmother said "You're lucky you don't have two babies."

The moral of this story: Know your audience before you act smugly regarding your blessings.

I can't tell you the things people have said to me that I literally had to stop myself from slapping them, or screaming at them, or even hanging up on them (because, yes, even in your circle of family and friends, people say the wrong things).

"You're so luck to not have kids [or a husband]."
"It must be nice to have the time to do that. I've got to make lunches for everyone and iron clothes."

Words can have weight. And impact. A year later. Decades later.

I am reminded of something said to me when I was 13. Long before IF came into my life, but right in the middle of my other life struggle -- my weight.

At nine, I was going to Kelly Lynn (which used to be a chain of all-women gyms). At 10, I was reading Richard Simmons and the Scardale Diet Book. At 11, I was eating tuna -- no mayo -- on a bed of lettuce. When I look at pictures of me from this time, I wasn't fat. I was solid. I felt fat. I thought I was fat. I was taught I was fat, because I wasn't skinny.

But that was the time. It was the late '70s and early '80s. Calories, diets, fattening -- those terms were thrown around with exotic abandon. Jane Fonda, with her fancy hair and leg warmers, capitalized on this new sudden obsession with weight loss. I remember her workout album (yes album) with the moves charted out on the cover.

How I hated working out. Not because I was lazy. But for the same reason that I hate working out in front of a mirror or taking an exercise class to this day. I felt/feel clumsy. Unathletic. Fat.

My weight has been my issue my whole life. (I only got a reprieve from it when I tried to get pregnant or adopt. But even then it was an issue, gaining 43 pounds on the hormones.) And the topic of family conversation. My sister would call from the other side of the country each week and always ask, "how's your diet?"

But it wasn't Kelly Lynn. Or Jane Fonda. Or Richard Simmons. Or Dr. Scarsdale. Or the weekly questions from Alaska about my diet.

It was my niece's third or fourth birthday party. I went for a second piece of cake and my brother said, "do you really need that?"

In front of everyone. I was mortified And hurt. This was the brother I loved the most. The brother who was never cranky with me. The brother who never lost his patience with me. The brother who took me places. 

After the party, my parents tried to talk to me about it. I don't remember anything about the conversation, except the line from my usually quiet father, the 15 words that still haunt me to this day. "Do you know how proud of you your brother would be if you lost weight?"

What I heard -- your brother doesn't love you because you're fat. 


I am full of advice to my friends with daughters, especially if their daughters happen to be a little chubby. There is so much more awareness of eating disorders, girl power, making them feel smart instead of pretty, being healthy as opposed to being skinny. But I tell the cautionary tale about words having weight.

I told this story to my sister-in-law a few weeks ago. "Do you know how devastated your brother would be if he knew how he hurt you?"

My SIL struggles with her weight and my brother loves her unconditionally. There are no comments, no pushing her to diet, no snide remarks. I guess you could say he has evolved from that 21-year-old all those years ago.

And I've finally evolved too. I love to work out, though not in a class and not in front of a mirror. Even now when I lift, I turn sideways from the mirror. I eat healthy. Yes, I count calories but this is no longer a diet, this is my new way of life.

And slowly I'm starting to lose the fat girl inside of me. Slowly I'm starting to believe I'm worthy, that my brother -- and any man -- will love me no matter what. And it's not because I'm losing weight, it's because slowly, I'm losing the weight of those words.


So the moral of the story, know your audience. Choose your words carefully. Because that carefree, fabulous, single girl you envy because she has time to workout six days a week is aching to be a mother. That beautiful family with the almost one-year-old still mourns the loss of their two other babies. That 13-year-old girl will take -- as gospel -- the things she hears from the most important men in her life at the time, and project them onto every future relationship.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A year ago tomorrow I became a mom.

And three days later, it was taken away from me.

A lot of happened in a year, good and bad, high and low. But ultimately what happened for me is that I got to re-invent my life.

I believe in fate, but I also believe that you have to make the right decision or choose the right path to be where you're supposed to end up. And so I was given the opportunity by one of my favorite people in the world to think about life outside of Ithaca. And every move after that as been because of me.

I used to think I was strong because of what I dealt with and went through while I was trying to have a baby. I wasn't. Not really. I made a decision and just stayed on that course. That was actually the easy thing to do.

The hard thing....the strong thing...was to give up. To move on. To rebuild.

A year later, I have a job that I love, that I am challenged at, that makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes, but where I see that I'm making a difference.

My friends who were important to me in Ithaca are still important to me -- 200 miles haven't made a difference.

I hope that Takesha did the unselfish thing and found a new home for Cooper (or Tristan as she was calling him). Plain and simple, she was incapable of taking care of him financially. And I hope that decision gave her the opportunity to re-envision her life. That she's pulled her shit together and that Brooklyn is happy and secure and has a better mother today than she did a year ago.

I know I'll never know if any of that happened for sure, but on the occasional times I think about him, those are the only thoughts that can make me not think about him all the time. Because I may have only been his mother for three days, but in those three days, I imagined his whole amazing life.

I couldn't let tomorrow go by without thinking of him.