Progress. One stroke at a time.

photo credit orah - sxc
photo credit orah – sxc

Sometimes you set out to do something with a specific goal in mind. And sometimes, the actual results are surprising.

Several years ago, I was in the best shape of my life. I was strong. Thin, but not too thin. I went to the gym at least 5 times a week. And I felt great.

And then, I started having some weakness and pain in my left arm and shoulder. But I was busy and in denial and I did nothing. Well, nothing except exactly what I’d been doing. And then, one day it was worse. I’m sure it was getting worse all along, but it seemed that all of a sudden, it was a real problem. A real problem – as in I couldn’t fold sheets anymore. I couldn’t pass a dish at the table. I couldn’t do a lot of things.

And so, I finally went to my primary care doc. And she was alarmed by the muscle atrophy in my shoulder. My doc never is alarmed. And I found this alarming. After a myriad of tests and specialists, it was clear that I had some major cervical disc damage. So I started going to physical therapy and I worked and wished. And yes, I wished that it would get better, but I also wished I could go back and deal with this earlier. But too late for that.

And then, in 2011, I had the surgery.

Basically, it sucked. It was harder than I expected. I was depressed. And I was never going to be the same. But, life got back to normal. Kind of.

I got back to the gym as soon as I was allowed. Twice a week.

And I did my stretches (still do). But my life was markedly less active. I was just less comfortable than I wanted to be and couldn’t find my way to just push it. I wouldn’t say I became a potato, but I would say that I became a homebody. I guess that’s a nice way of saying I became a potato.

Time goes so fast. It’s not as if I realized I’d been doing so little for so long. I thought about all the active things I wanted to do. But I just didn’t do them. (And meantime, I wondered why my neck still was stiff and I was still uncomfortable. Hmmmmm.)

I looked at all the class schedules for the village and for the community college. I thought about yoga and thought about biking (I even got my bike tuned up) and thought about all sorts of things. And then, one day I saw there was a summer swimming class for stroke improvement and endurance at the community college.

I’m sure I wouldn’t have really signed up, except I said it out loud. In front of my teens. And at that point, I was sort of committed. Know what I mean? And so, I actually did sign up.

I was petrified. I hadn’t done any real swimming since my mid-twenties. And that is a heck of a long time ago. Like half my life ago. But I sucked it up. And I went.

I’m on week 3. Class is twice a week. And a couple of things have happened so far. First of all, my swimming has improved a ton. I’ve gone nearly 3 miles since I started (combined, not each class) and my stroke is so much better. Every class, I’ve gone farther than the time before. And I’ve gone to swim on my own outside of class, too. I know, crazy. But the other thing that has happened is that I’ve met these amazing women. It’s not a big class. There are maybe 8 of us. And we all came in at different skill levels and with different motivations, I’m sure. But I look forward to seeing everyone. And I quietly cheer on the classmates who have really pushed it and are doing great (you know who you are!) and I’m excited for the young woman who’d doing her first tri in 2 weeks and I’m worried about the woman who’s dad is in hospice and you know what? It is so much easier to drag my butt there because I feel like we’re all in this together.

I expected to be on this journey alone. But I’m not alone.

And you know what else is unexpected? I feel good. I feel energized. I want to do more. I’m walking more and getting out more and walking away from my computer more and I finally feel like I’m getting better – as in back to me.

And I’m really proud of myself.

Who know’s what’s next? If you could see my search data (and we all know that someone does!) you’d know that I did a search for beginner triathlons today. Is that my goal? Probably not, unless I plan to walk the run. But, I feel like my options are opening up.

And it’s incredible.

Tick. Tock.

photo credit
photo credit

I would not call myself a procrastinator. But some projects are just hard to start. Once I get my head around this, I know I’ll be super productive.

But meantime, I learned some new ways to tie a scarf and did you see they’re featuring a funny shopping bag at Fab today?

50 lessons and 50 blessings.

What is it about big milestones that make us want to make lists?

I was planning to write about 50 lessons I’ve learned over the years and tell you about 50 blessings in my life.

I’m sure I’ve learned more than 50 things and I can assure you I have more than 50 wonderful things and people in my life.

Instead, I’m going to go all minimalist here.

I’m grateful for all the people who have taught me anything – good or bad.
I’m grateful for the people who love me. And for the people I love. I think there’s a lot of overlap there.
I’m grateful for knowledge. And for being told I’m wrong so I can try harder.
I’m over the moon grateful for my sons. And my husband.
And for the ones who’ve stuck by me no matter what.

I’m thankful for the 9am phone calls. I’m thankful for the peace in my home.
I’m thankful for my work, which I love. And the clients who trust me.

It never occurred to me that I’d be 50 one day.

Crazy, I know.

But here I am.

And I’m grateful for where I’ve been and I can’t wait to see where I go.


Spring is here.

And I finally decided to get my email life under control.

This may not seem like a big deal to you. But, let me put it in context.

Over the past 16 years, I’ve worked on accounts from ag to consumer packaged goods to tech to retail. And everything in between. Part of my job was to stay on top of those industries. So I subscribed to the key publications and newsletters for each. Rarely did I unsubscribe when the project were finished. It was all just so darn interesting and I loved keeping up on it.

And then there’s shopping. I don’t like to shop. But online? Much better! I’ve been an avid online shopper for many, many years. And each time I buy from someone new, they start sending discounts. Wouldn’t want to miss those, right?

And then there’s industry information. Research, search, and all the tech that goes with that.

And blogs. It seemed more certain I’d see the updates if I subscribed to my favorite (50 or more?) blogs.

Then there’s all the nonprofits. If I gave a donation or was interested in their work, add those on.

Of course, I also get email from friends, family, and clients. (I did not unsubscribe from these, by the way!)

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you I dumped more than a thousand newsletters and sites. Some, I am bringing in as RSS feeds now. But just the ones I love. Or need. Or am afraid to live without.

Now, that I’m the self-appointed expert in newsletter unsubscribe processes, I’d like to share a bit of what I learned for you folks out there with newsletters.

Only about half of unsubscribe links were truly one click unsubscribes. I love those people. Click. Done. But what about the others?

Some big fails:

Enter your email address (which one? why are you aggravating me?) Big issue. Almost 30% of newsletters required this. If you have one email address, I suppose it’s no big deal. This is not the case for me. This pushed my buttons.

Log in. Okay, as if I know the password. So now, I have to choose ‘forgot password’ and wait. Click on that. Then, unsubscribe. This tested my patience big time. I’m guessing that almost 20% of the newsletters required this much action.

And the worst offenders? The ones that said it’d take effect in 7-10 days. And frankly, even that wasn’t true. I had to try multiple times for quite a few. QUITE a few. And for some, such as Dominos, I had to tweet them to get me off the list after multiple attempts. And even THAT didn’t work. Shame!

But I persisted. And I’ve removed all traces of some of my old email addresses (remember @home? and I used to be @comcast and still get those, too). I also took the time to move my personal email back to gmail (from my biz account) and move my biz stuff from gmail. And voila!

I have a totally revamped email system. (Don’t even get me started on my folder system. It’s pretty intense. And I’m not letting that go for now.)

While I used to get 1000+ emails a day, I now get fewer than 100.

So if you send me an email, odds are greatly increased that I’ll see it!

I was thinking.

So that’s me thinking.

Well, actually, that’s me playing with my iPhone.

I’ve often heard that it’s the traits we like least in ourselves that we’re most critical of in others. And that said, I’ve been putting off writing this post. I suppose that’s because other things just seemed to be more important. Or rather, I just couldn’t get this to the top of the pile.

I’ve been procrastinating lately.

Not the regular stuff. I’m not missing deadlines at work. The laundry is clean and sometimes folded before the creases are so permanent that I need to consider using the dreaded iron. I do have some Swash in case of emergency.

The kids’ tests and midterm reports are signed on time. The house is moderately clean. Clean enough.

But I haven’t gotten to two important things. First, I promised myself I’d take time and start painting again. And second, I want to think, plan, strategize for business. How is it that these keep getting shoved to the bottom of the pile?

I’ll ponder that tomorrow. Tonight, I’ll put my feet up and do nothing. And while that sounds like procrastination, it’s not. It’s a choice to turn off and relax with my crew.

What R U Doing Online?

I’m now on Twitter for work-related tweets. And I’m on I.M. with my team all day long. We have a great project management site that takes some care and feeding. And I’m on Facebook – selectively. And of course, like so many of you, I have hundreds of emails a day.

Trouble is…

There’s not much time to get my work done.

Okay, I’m exaggerating. But seriously.

We’re all trying out a slew of tools. We’re trying to collaborate. Really we are.

I’m having a great time and learning lots of new stuff every day. And meeting tons of new people. And making great connections. Probably even building a foundation for new business opportunities.

But I’m exhausted.

I’ve read every single article about managing and compartmentalizing technology. I get it. I do. I know what I should do.

But it’s so darn exciting and mind-expanding and exciting.

What’s a girl to do?

How do you calculate the area of a circle?

I’ve been sitting here in complete and utter agony for over an hour now watching one of my charming boys do his math homework. It’s 12 questions. Just 12. Each shows the radius of a circle. He needs to find the area. No calculators.

I remembered how to do it. In fact, he knows how also. Simply multiply the radius by pi and square the result. No big deal. Except that when you write it out, it takes time. And patience. And accuracy. Oh, and writing neatly enough that when you go to add the columns, you know what the numbers were.

He’s been at it for a long time now. I did one to see how long it would take me. I don’t do a lot of multiplication these days without a calculator or computer. It took me about 1.5 minutes. Multiply that by the 12 problems and that’s 18 minutes. Add a little slop time and let’s say it should be able to be done in 1/2 hour.

I’d be more annoyed with him for lolly-gagging on this. But, I remember.

I hated doing math homework. I’d moan and groan and stall. I’d think of everything else I could do first. And then I’d sit crying with my homework unfinished — crying because I was so tired by that point that I’d never get it done.

I did get through it. And so will the kid. I hated math in school. I never thought I was good at it. My brother would help me sometimes. He was extremely patient. But still, I’d cry in frustration. Not a pretty picture. You might wonder why he’d offer to help the next time. But he always did. Thanks for that bro.

I thought I was a failure at math and yet, I placed out of all my required math in college. Clearly, I didn’t suck that badly. Maybe it was a lack of confidence.

And now, much of my work involves numbers. I do statistical analyses and stuff like that (stuff is the technical term for it) on a regular basis. Funny.

So I’m sitting here listening to the kid moan and groan and I know what’s coming down the pike. I’m not looking forward to it.

But all this procrastination brings me to some self-reflecting….

I’m working on a presentation. I might have mentioned it? Right. The same one. I cleaned my office. I filed. I put it off as long as I could. But now, it’s almost finished! Yeah… WAIT A SECOND!

That’s not how you find the area of a circle. Not at all. Oh my! It’s been almost 2 hours and it’s all wrong. All wrong. How to tell him?

It’s the radius squared TIMES pi!

So he’s a little teary now. But I explained that this is much easier than the other way. (As if that’s a consolation at this point.)

He’s on the third problem. This is going fast. Now.

I supposed this will teach him not to ask me for help with his math homework.

(And here I was thinking I really didn’t suck at math.)