Saturday, January 31, 2009

Holy Crap!

Facebook can sometimes be a very odd experience. Today one of the friends who I am linked to offered a friend suggestion. Way back when (many years ago) at my old company in NYC, "P" was the head of our customer technical support division. He had a reputation at the company for being eccentric and unpredictable and for driving the president (and primary owner) of the company completely, bat-shit crazy. He was one of those loose cannon types, I think. Not so much in a scary way, but more in the way of, well, you just didn't know what was going to come out of his mouth next. In the very first department that I worked at for the company, P liked to torment my boss and everyone who worked for him. I think P found it great sport. Years after he left the company, P and my facebook friend, Carolina (my good friend from Queens) and I went out for a very drunken lunch somewhere on Third Avenue in NYC and gossiped for hours. Anyway, I hadn't heard much more about him since then.

Until today. My facebook friend made the friend suggestion and then sent me a note and said, "turns out P lives in your town". What??? I live in this little town in New Hampshire, how could he possibly live here? Well, it turns out that she was right. He lives no farther than four miles from me. 4 miles!

So the next thing that I know, suddenly I'm getting messages on facebook from P about the two of us being neighbors. We exchange some particulars and gossip and now he wants me to meet him at a bar in town tomorrow. What?! This is sort of freaking me out, it is just too bizarre. One of the ironies is, he doesn't even really work up here. He has a company that he mostly runs out of his home and he travels down to NYC during the week from time-to-time. How he actually ended up in my town, of all towns, is a complete mystery, but he's here.

Holy-freaking-crap. I am so not good at this going-and-meeting-people-I-don't-know-very-well-at-bars thing. I just don't know what to do. Ack.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Stuffed Beyond Belief

I just got back from Boston where I had been to a Chinese New Year celebration dinner thingie. And I am now completely stuffed beyond belief, but everything was so GOOD! I just couldn't resist any of the food. Most of it was seafood, so I don't think anything was really too terrible to eat, although I know that I ate more rice than I needed to. Anyway, the most remarkable thing is that I got through the entire scary social encounter without a single cocktail. Let me repeat this. Me. Social encounter. Conversation. Interacting with people. NO ALCOHOL. This is highly unusual, I'm rather surprised that I managed to pull it off, frankly. But I did manage and lived to tell the tale. Imagine.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Power of Vitamins

I've been feeling rather ... puny the last couple of days. Not sick, really, but just kind of off. Really exhausted for no good reason, sort of heavy in the limbs, vague headache, very slight amount of nausea (just kind of a "blech" stomach feeling) all around I just don't feel 100%. Also, I have this small pain in my left leg. Not really an injury, hardly even really pain, but just this slightly weird feeling starting at the hip and running most of the way down (and not in the ITB) with the leg feeling slightly weak, like it could give out beneath me maybe, it's sort of hard to describe. I tend to be a little paranoid about running injuries though, so it's very possible that I'm just being a little sensitive. It's just so easy to go over-board with running and not back off soon enough when you need to (I've been there, trust me) that I tend to over-analyze any little twinge -- better a couple of days off from running than living with something that turns into a chronic issue for months or even years.

Anyway, I had a training appointment scheduled for today and I'm glad that I did because I probably would have talked myself out of working out, due to malaise. I arrived to the gym early so that I could run and quickly felt the issue with my leg (I had been feeling it while walking too, but it was more pronounced while running). I switched from my usual 3-5 minute running intervals to alternating 1 minute running with 1 minute walking, after one initial 2-minute running interval. The leg thing felt much better with the shorter intervals, so I decided to stick with that for this session. I kept the pace at a 10 min-mile to a 9:13 min-mile pace and did 2.25 miles. The leg didn't feel any worse after that and might even have felt a little bit better, so I think it probably is nothing.

I then started my training session. Today is the harder day at the moment (until he switches up what we're doing again) and includes these step-up repeats (with weights, of course) onto this very high stool. I really didn't know how that was going to go with the leg issue and the general feeling of ickiness. But I did okay and managed the entire training session without any real problem. So, maybe it's just me, maybe I'm just a little tired and/or fighting off something. The leg thing is probably just a little twinge that I was being really paranoid about. To shake it all off, I ran another mile on the treadmill at home for an even 3.25 for the day and I feel pretty good now.

On the way home from work, I decided to stop in at GNC and buy some vitamins -- Women's Ultra Mega Active. And I decided to also buy some fish oil capsules. (Can someone tell me what the Hell is the difference between fish oil and fish body??? So damn confusing!) I figure that since I'm watching the calories and am living a pretty active life that some vitamins could only help somewhat. Especially this time of year when I'm probably eating less fresh produce. I don't know if my feeling crappy at the moment could be helped by vitamins, but it probably couldn't hurt at least.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stoopid Dog!

So I'm working from home today because we're in the middle of a major snow storm. And Tig is whining at me because he wants to go out. Okay, fine. So I let him out the back slider and he just stands there in a snow drift looking at me. So then I wave my arms and chase him over to the stairs leading down to the yard where he stands peering down on the snow drifts that have obliterated the steps, creating just a snow mountain. He looks back at me waving my arms and back at the stairs just frozen in place. I'm standing there in pajama bottoms and slippers trying to shoo him on to no avail. Finally (after a huge sigh) I have to wade through the big drifts of snow in my pajama bottoms and slippers and literally push him down the mountain of snow into the yard. SHEESH! So now here I sit soaked with melting snow while he sleeps all curled up and warm on a blanket on the couch. Must be nice to be a dog.

The Many Mishaps of Sorrell over Cross-Country

I find the best videos from the posters on The Chronicle of the Horse forums. I had first seen this one a couple of weeks ago, but it continues to crack me up!

That naughty, naughty pony!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday Dressage Session

This is a dressage week. One might think that the non-jumping weeks would be the easier weeks, but not so, or at least in my opinion. I actually find the flat weeks to be more difficult. In dressage we’re usually working constantly on all those subtle nuances to get the correct carriage, the right stride length, the “perfect” cadence, the bending, the rounding, the list just goes on & on. So usually you’re really working every single step and every single moment of the session. At least if you’re working the way you should be anyway. Tonight Ann had me working very, very hard on getting Lulu round. Really hard. So hard that I think my arms and abs and back and even my hands and fingers are going to be sore tomorrow. A lot of it was very much almost a tug-of-war between Lulu & me. My holding her front end back, heavily restricting the movement, while constantly driving her forward and onto the bit, through her back and hind-quarters with my seat & legs. Every single step we had this push & pull going, with my pushing her on the bit, while holding the momentum in and also resisting her inclination to get heavy on the forehand. It was truly exhausting, but also deeply satisfying. It was about 15 degrees tonight and both of us were drenched in sweat when we were done. I think I sweated as much had I been out running in this temperature. And I was dressed with about the same amount of clothes and layers that I would have been had I been running too, turtleneck and light-weight half-zip fleece & breeches that are about the same fabric weight my running pants would be.

At one point during the session Ann mentioned something about Lulu always having a variety of riders (being a school horse) so that she can have some bad habits to overcome, or at the very least, stuff that some riders let her get away with. Anyway, she mentioned something about “some bad riders and some good riders” and I had to wonder if I was of the bad or the good variety. I guess I don’t want to think too hard about that.

So, it was very good lesson, very effective. I learned some stuff and maybe even remembered some stuff from my former riding life. And it also turned out to be a pretty good workout too, which is always a good bonus. I spent an extra half an hour at the barn walking Lulu in the ring to cool her out and dry her sweaty self. It was a pleasure really as I love to spend any kind of time with this horse, she’s such a sweetie and deserved all the carrots and apples and peppermints that I had in my pockets.

I'm Hungry!

I HATE being hungry! ARGH!!!

Stoopid #@%&*$! diet thingie. Sheesh.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jenny Craig is Pissing Me OFF!

Back in November I started to get into a funk because the scale no longer seemed to be trending down, no matter how well I watched what I ate and how much I exercised. My weight loss had been stalled since sometime in September. It didn’t seem to matter if I was spinning or running or riding, eating approximately 1200 calories a day on Jenny Craig or whatever, somehow my body had decided that it really, really liked being at the weight it was at, thank you very much. After months & months of non-stop weigh-loss the effort was stagnated there, still so far away from any kind of reasonable goal. I think I just became exhausted, overwhelmed and demoralized at that point. Added to that was my annual birthday/holiday depression, a dip in morale because of the dismal economy (and all the dire predictions), company layoffs and a heavy end-of-the-year work-load and I just needed a bit of a break. I never stopped Jenny Craig, and I never stopped working out. I just relaxed it all a bit. Had a few non-JC meals here & there, wasn’t so restrictive with alcohol and didn’t work out as much.

I got back on the program starting on January 5th. Became more regimented about the food, more consistent with the exercise, went back to the trainer (I had taken two weeks off from the strength training) and completely eliminated alcohol. I hoped that maybe my body had just needed a break back in the Fall. But so far this year my efforts have been pretty much unrewarded. I initially lost a couple of pounds and then I gained back a couple of pounds and now have lost one pound again. According to my scale. According to the JC scale apparently last week I had gained a pound and now this week I held steady. It is so unbelievably frustrating! I know it’s only a couple of weeks into my new resolve and that I really have to try and be patient, but it just seems like more of the same of what I was experiencing back in the Fall and I’m beginning to feel somewhat upset and worried.

Now, I like my Jenny Craig counselor. But I take everything she says with a grain of salt. I certainly know more about exercise than she does and I would guess that I even know more about general nutrition than she does too. She knows the JC diet plan specifically and can answer questions about that, but otherwise, it’s all kind of a lot of bullshit. I know this, and my expectations are low in that regard. She is great for weigh-ins and encouragement, but when she starts wanting to brain storm into reasons why my weight-loss is stalled, I want to scream. It just IS. I don’t want to analyze it with her or I’ll go crazy (if I get to the point where I need to start analyzing things, I’ll go to my DR). Anyway, she means well, so I try to be patient, but then she’ll pull out the old stock questions because she really doesn't know what else to say:

• What is motivating you to lose weight?
• How are you rewarding yourself?

I mean, I know it’s all Jenny Craig rhetoric, but could they be more trite? Again, I try to be patient and respond without being too caustic, but it sure is an effort, especially when I’m completely pissed off and frustrated.

So, I don’t know what the answer is yet. I’m not completely panicking yet, but I’m getting a little closer to that. I might have to go back to eating JC for lunch too or something. Not sure how I’m going to handle that since I got very sick of JC lunches very quickly (I think I stopped eating them about two months into my program). I’m still fine with the breakfasts & dinners though, go figure. Maybe I’m going to have to find some early morning spinning classes or perhaps I need to workout twice a day or something. I just don’t want this non-progress to affect my attitude like it finally did back in November. That’s the attitude that would cause me to give up the effort completely. ARGH! Just … argh.

Happy, Happy
(as Julia would say)

My painter is at my house as we speak starting the job that will transform my dreadful, battleship gray bathroom into a lovely (well, at the very least tolerable) warm, buttery space. It will be nice to be able to walk into my bathroom and not immediately be pissed off and horrified by the ugliness. Oh, and I did remember to take "before" pictures (they're still in my camera though) so once everything is finished, I may do the before-and-after thing.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another Note on Running

For most of last year I felt really, really self-conscious about running on the treadmills at the company gym. I think I probably would have felt self-conscious on any gym treadmill, but the fact that it is a gym at my company makes me feel slightly more exposed and so even more self-conscious. But for some reason I now no longer seem to care. At all. I'm not quite sure when this happened but apparently I'm totally over it, which is a very good thing.

The Plan: 3 Weeks In

I feel like I'm doing a little bit better, am a little more solid in my health/fitness/weight-loss plan now that I'm three weeks in. Frankly, the scale isn't budging all that much, but I'm not panicking about that yet. In the meantime, this past week I did manage to run three times, worked out with the trainer twice and stuck closely to my eating plan. Jenny Craig for breakfast & dinner, and have not gone crazy at lunch. I've also been pretty good about not nibbling in any way and have not had any alcohol at all since I started my 2009 plan. Most importantly, I feel more solid about everything. The workouts feel like more a part of my routine than something special that I am making myself do. I am also trying to push myself a little more with the running. What I mean is, I only allow myself walk breaks of one minute and for the most part make myself run a 10 minute-mile or faster -- running intervals are usually no shorter than 2 minutes (and are usually longer than that). This is one good thing about running on the treadmill, it's easier to be regimented. Still, I'm really only running 2-2.5 miles at a time, so I'm hoping that I'm going to be able to bump that up to at least 3 miles per session soon.

So, all-in-all I think I'm doing pretty well. More important to the actual activity is my attitude, I think. I am feeling very positive and very committed right now, and so I am pretty encouraged, at least at the moment (despite what the scale says).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Cluster

Ugh. So, I had a production install that I had to do on Thursday night. This is always a bit stressful as there are a lot of moving parts and steps in the process and there are a lot of people invested in this application. Thus it is a very visible project, which adds to my stress and worry when updating production. Anyway, I like to do the migration from the office because it’s a little bit easier from there and I worry about losing connections and whatever from home. It makes for a pretty long day (since the work has to happen after 5 PM) but my worry ends up being slightly less, so it’s worth the little bit of inconvenience.

Anyway, so I did all that I had to do after 5 PM as scheduled and it seemed to go relatively smoothly. Finally I was ready to start the services again by about 6 PM. I did so and then tried to get into the app online through the admin tool (to perform my very last step). Only the tool hung and I couldn’t get in. Repeated the process a couple of times with the same result. Tried to recycle the services but that didn’t work. Finally I did a hard kill and re-start and even THAT didn’t work. In a panic I noticed that one of my team members was online, so I pinged him and told him that I’m having some trouble. He said, oh no worries that he’s doing some work with the data warehouse with an engineer (Jim) on a partner team. Okay fine, but since he KNEW that I was going to be doing an installation during this time period, wouldn’t it have been nice if he had thought to contact me and say something like, “hey, I’m going to be working on some stuff, so don’t try to start services until I shoot you an email”. I mean, would that have been too much to ask?

So anyway, in the meantime the other guy (Jim) pings me and asks me how the migration went. I tell him that it was okay and that I’m just waiting on Team Member. Jim says that Team Member has been driving him crazy (they’ve been on IM and the phone for a while, I gather). Jim starts a chat with the three of us and then we’re just waiting, waiting, waiting. It’s going on 7 PM at this stage so finally I ask if anyone has an idea how long it’s going to take because I want to know whether I should run home (at this point I’m going on 11 hours in this cube). Team Member says that he doesn’t like to throw out time predictions as these things can be unpredictable (now THAT is helpful). And then he says, “If you have to go home, then GO”. Well, GEEZ, that’s easy for him to say, he's already sitting at home! (And has been all day).

So I run home, boot back up, log back in and ping both Team Member and Jim to let them know that I’m back online. Apparently nothing has happened yet so I’m pretty glad I made the decision to go home. About this time Jim starts telling me more about how Team Member is making him crazy, talking to him on speaker phone with all hell breaking loose and complete chaos going on in the background at his house so much so that Jim literally has to yell and neither can hear each other. He also says that Team Member was really weird, like, “loopy”. I ask him, “In what way? Do you mean like having cocktails or something?” and he says, yes seriously, it does seem like that, or something like that. So. Freaking. Weird.

Finally Team Member tells me that he’s done and that the services are running. I try the admin tool again and Jim the front-end, but neither of us can get in (still). I ping Team Member back, but by now he’s just completely MIA, must have just walked away without waiting to see that everything was okay. He was so cryptic and vague the whole time that this doesn’t surprise me – it makes me crazy when people don’t communicate clearly! Anyway, luckily once I do a hard kill and restart, everything seems to sort itself out, uh about three hours after I started this whole thing. What a nightmare. But at least I was able to close the loop and Jim ended up happy in the end.

Oh and the last part was that the customer told me that they wouldn’t be validating the install until after 10:30 PM that night. I had involved the off-shore team just in case but, worried, I monitored email until midnight and then woke up throughout the night to check, finally getting up around 5:30 AM to send an email out looking for status. Well. I never got the final validation from them until 3 PM or so on Friday! By then I was a wreck.

Was I ever happy to see the end to this work week. It must have been the longest short week ever.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jumping Night: Wednesday

I wanted to write about this before too much time went by because I want to remember. I think it’s helpful for me to write about my riding lessons sometimes as it helps me to remember the details and helps me absorb some of what I've learned. Might not be too interesting for people to read about, but it does help me.

So I wrote about Tuesday night with Ann. Wednesday night was riding with Kelly. I had never met Kelly before, so I really didn’t know what to expect from her at all. Well, like Ann, I found her session very effective and insightful. Her style was to really zero in and individualize the lesson, spending blocks of time on each person in the class, particularly after each jump course. Her style was to talk you through somewhat while jumping, but then to do a very thorough debriefing once your course was finished. First she would ask what you thought about it, what you felt had worked and hadn’t worked. And then she would follow with what she felt worked and didn’t work. A jump course always seems to go by in such a blur that I found this deconstruction pretty helpful. She was also very complimentary of me and of Lulu and I together, so I was pretty encouraged after all that.

A comment on Lulu too … I felt like we came together very, very nicely on Wednesday. We managed to ride very steady, no mad rushing, a few big spots here and there, but nothing crazy. Even her pacing through the combination (two fences that were set up as an in-and-out – jump in, and then it’s two or three strides and you jump out) was almost perfect by the time we were done. Combinations have been tricky for us most times, so I was very happy with that. Kelly was also very complimentary about my position over all, felt that I was pretty much always correct, never got in Lulu’s way and even the couple of times Lulu jumped big (and early) that I never let it get me flustered or that my position suffered much because of it. She was very excited because I (apparently) managed a perfect automatic release a couple of times. So I ended the lesson on a pretty great note and very happy with Lulu and our continued progress. Of course all this individual attention for each student in class made for a long lesson, but I didn’t mind because I felt like I got a lot out of it.

One last note: there is an older teenager (Alex) who has been in some of my lessons from time to time since September. She was riding with me again on Wednesday. She is a very super bubbly and enthusiastic kid and it’s very hard not to catch onto her mood. Anyway, so after our lesson she told me that Lulu and I are her new very favorite “couple” (horse & rider combo). Too funny – cracked me up!

So, overall it was a great week of riding. I was supposed to ride (free ride) tonight, but I was just so damn tired after very little sleep for most of the week and then practically NO sleep last night that I felt so lousy and just couldn’t do it. One of these days I vow that I’m going to get myself down to the barn on a Friday night!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Little Bit Excited

I had my painter by the other day to take a look at my two upstairs bathrooms so that he could do an estimate for me. I had been putting off doing anything about these rooms because I really want to renovate. But that would requite tile work and new cabinetry and counter-tops and fixtures and whatever. Which means a bunch of money. So I've been putting off the bathrooms until I had the money to do all that. Yet, this year I had said that I wasn't going to do any unnecessary home improvement projects. However, I think I just finally got really sick of looking at these horrible bathrooms, particularly my personal one, so I decided to compromise and at least paint. So, I gave the painter the green light and he's going to start on Monday! They'll look like completely different rooms after he gets done with them -- especially the master bath that is currently covered from ceiling to floor in battleship gray paint, with two walls in silver-gray wallpaper (you just gotta wonder what the people who did this were thinking). Anyway, If I remember, I'll take some before and after pictures. It's amazing how a small home facelift can also lift one's spirits a bit.


Oh I forgot to add: Last night when I arrived at the barn and was walking down the aisle, Lulu actually nickered at me! She recognized me and was happy to see me. This had happened once before out in the pasture, but at the time I thought it might have been because she was alone out there, was a little lonely and missing her pasture buddies and was looking for some company. Anyway, it warmed my little heart -- it's the simple things in life.

Another Jumping Night

Last night was my first (riding) training session since Alison left for her hiatus. Ann is basically Alison’s 2nd in command and I’ve known her pretty much since the day I started at Apple Tree, however she had never trained me before. In the early Fall when I was still riding late Friday afternoons, I had a couple (Steve & Jennifer) in my lesson. Over the course of the months I’ve become pretty friendly with them. Since the schedule has been changed up for Winter, Steve has ended up in my Tuesday night lesson, but Jennifer rides on another day. Anyway, last night before our session I was asking Steve what Ann is like to ride with and he said, “She’s tough. She made Jennifer cry once.” ACCCCCCKKKKKKKK! Of course you have to understand that this is coming from the guy who once told me that he imagined my life is much like a “Mary Tyler Moore” episode, so there it is.

Anyway, the reality of the lesson was that I found Ann very insightful and very effective. I also have the added benefit with her that she knows Lulu really, REALLY well as she did a lot of the initial schooling and training on her when she was first acquired by the barn. So it was a jumping night. The last jumping night I had had, I had almost fallen off. Seriously, I was hanging by a thread, but managed to stay on by sheer will mostly. Luckily Lulu had stood still enough that I was able to hoist myself back into the saddle somehow, the alternative would have been falling on top of a jump, which probably would have hurt somewhat. Anyway so, even though that night I had continued on to jump a bunch, I was slightly nervous last night. Not scared really, just a little edgy. So, last night ended up going very well. Lulu has this thing of getting very speedy and strung-out while jumping, we’ve had many a jumping round that I have felt was slightly out of control. I mean, not flat-out, bit-in-the-teeth out of control, but much faster than necessary and fast enough where I have become a little bit more of a passenger than anyone ever should be on a horse around a jump course. So I’ve been working on keeping Lulu slow and balanced and quiet over fences. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes not so much, but it’s always in my mind while jumping her and is something very specific that I’m trying to improve.

So Ann was pretty committed last night to working on this with me. Constantly reminding me to balance Lulu, slow her down, quiet my body, lift her up and get her off her forehand (as she tends to get very heavy on the forehand, particularly in corners and on landing over fences). She was very active in keeping a conversation with me as I performed each jump course, and with immediate feedback directly after and I found it pretty helpful. By the end of the session I really felt that we were getting somewhere. And now tonight I have another lesson (with a different trainer) so I’ll get to try it all out again and see if some of the stuff Ann helped me with has stuck with me. If not, there will always be more lessons, it’s always going to be a work in progress, after all. Still, I feel pretty good about our experience overall, I feel like I am making progress. Sometimes pretty slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"What a Cluster!!!"

ARGH! This is so frustrating. So, I have a really, really common name. It really has become the bane of my existence, I swear. So there was another person at my company who shared my exact, same name. So, from the very beginning, and I'm talking before I was even actually hired, this has been a huge pain in the ASS. In order to submit my application so that I could be hired, I had to open an online account with the company career center. Only the application wouldn't allow me to open the account because it said that I already worked there. Only I didn't, SHE did. ARGH! So I knew from the very beginning that this was going to be a problem. My email address had to be qualified with my middle initial, which meant that I was forever getting her emails, IMs, meeting invites, mail, BlackBerry invoices, phone calls, you name it (and she was forever receiving mine).

This was all enough of a big pain in the ass, but then she left the company in November. Well. Three days after that, my BlackBerry was turned off. After calling tech support the following week and sorting it out, turns out that they thought MY BlackBerry was HERS. So mine got shut off. Got that turned back on. And then over the months I've received emails and demands with spreadsheets asking for information about applications or databases I had never heard of, with my name designated as the application "expert". Each time I've been like, "WTF???" And of course most of these applications sounded just familiar enough that I wasn't 100% sure at first that it wasn't something of mine, which meant each time it was something that I had to spend time investigating a bit. But each and every time it was something for the former employee. Someone searching for info on something and looking for someone with my name (who also used to work for IT) and just assuming I must be the right person.

And now the latest kicker was this past Thursday. Suddenly my BlackBerry stopped loading email. Again. Dead all weekend, I tested the IM service and the phone this morning and everything was gone. W. T. F. So I called tech support again and they told me that I seemed to no longer have a BB account and that I was going to have to call the service provider. Called Sprint/Nextel and ended up on the phone with them for about an hour with the end result that they couldn't help me either. Although, they WERE able to tell me the "new" account name associated with my phone number (someone in Retirement and Investment Services, not even remotely related to my group). So, finally I found an internal "Mobile Support Group", called them and it turns out they WERE the right people to talk to. Even still, they had me on the phone for a half an hour or so while they unsnarled the problem. And of course they also had to go back to Sprint/Nextel to get the account sorted out. So basically, what they figured happened is that the old account got deleted, the other person's BB was even with a different service provider (Verizon), but then someone eye-balling the list of people who should have been cut off, saw my name and deleted it in a panic. Or something. SHEESH!!! As Julia would say, "WHAT A CLUSTER!!!" GAH! What next?

Monday, January 19, 2009


So, I was at my Jenny Craig appointment this afternoon and my phone started ringing. I went running for it, managed to get it in time and it was Rowena from the other barn I was riding at back in the Fall. Yikes! I told her that I would have to call her back and so I started to freak out about what I was going to say. In case you didn't read about it, or don't remember my posts, I had started with Rowena's barn when I first started riding again back in September. I rode with her for a couple of weeks and then decided to give another barn a try. For a while I rode at both places. Typically I would ride with Ro on Saturdays where, more often than not, we would do something fun like a trail ride and I rode with Alison on Fridays where we would do real dressage or jumping work. Then I decided to do the half lease on Lulu with the second barn, I started getting more serious about my riding goals and so I pretty much committed myself to Apple Tree (the second barn). In the meantime, I kind of fell off the face of the Earth for Ro. I never told her that I was riding at the other barn (I had told Alison about the first barn however) I just stopped coming by without saying anything, which was kind of crappy on my part really.

Anyway, so I really felt terrible about it, but chicken too. Ro and her husband Elliot were so wonderfully nice to me. I mean, Ro even let me ride a time or two without my having to pay her anything. She was very complementary about my supposed skills and felt that I was going to be very good for their barn. So I called her back once I was back on the road. She was so sweet, wanted to know how I was, if I was okay, did I still have my job (she had heard about the layoffs, I'm sure). She didn't ask if I was riding anywhere else or question me about why I had disappeared (which I was grateful for) but just went on to say that I should come by sometime, that I should come see the "girls" (her other adult riders who are a very friendly and social group). She also said that the next party they have, that I should think about coming. She is so freaking NICE!

I made the decision about where I was going to ride because I truly think that Apple Tree is going to make me a much better rider. They are immersed in the discipline of riding that I most want to follow and they have horses that are appropriate for my abilities and my goals. Ro's place was a blast. More casual, there is the opportunity for fun and for lots of trail riding, but I didn't feel in the end that I was going to be able to pursue my goals nearly as well there. I think if I wanted to have a horse and go out on a trail and just screw around on the weekends, it would be the perfect place. But I'm right now a little more ambitious than that, even if I never, ever end up competing. So I made my decision and I feel good about it, haven't regretted it for a second. Apple Tree has turned out to be everything I had hoped that it would be and then some, but I still do feel badly about blowing off Ro. I wish I had unlimited time and funds so that I could ride at both places, but that, of course, really isn't very realistic in real life (at least in my real life). Still, I am very glad that she reached out and called me. I feel a little better (although still guilty and a little shitty) about everything.

I Feel MUCH Better Now

I just had a really lazy weekend that I spent mostly lying around doing a whole lot of nothing (which is sometimes the nicest break you can give yourself) but I was feeling like quite a slug and mad at myself for ignoring some of my more important and immediate goals. So, I just ran on the treadmill for about thirty minutes. It was nothing very impressive, in fact, for some reason I found it harder on my treadmill than I've been finding similar runs on the treadmill at the gym at work. I wonder why that is? Anyway, at least I got something done, so I really do feel much better now. I always know that I'm going to feel this way after a workout, one would think I would be more motivated to actually feel it (and thus more motivated to work out), but it just doesn't seem to work out that way. Unfortunately.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

3-Year Anniversary

This weekend represents the anniversary of my move up to New Hampshire. Three years ago I left my office at my former company, where I had worked for 16 years. I said goodbye to NYC and moved into a corporate apartment up here in New Hampshire. I started work at New Company on Tuesday, just three days after leaving NYC and Old Company. January is a rough time of year to transition to living here and my transition was made even tougher because I didn't have a car, or even a license at the time! I was also right away thrown into a high-pressure project for a difficult customer at New Company, where a lot of responsibility and weight of the work was immediately on my shoulders. The first half year here was pretty stressful and tough, but I came through it all okay and never, even for a second, regretted my decision.

I'd say that my first two years here were really transitional for me. In many ways I felt pretty settled in immediately, and in others, well, I think sub-consciously it was a little harder on me than I was willing to admit. It translated to my gaining a bunch of weight during the first two years, weight that I really couldn't afford to gain. But after those two transitional years, I really felt like things started to settle more comfortably for me. I finally came off that first, high-pressure project and my job has been allowed to move forward. I took control and lost the weight that I had gained, and then some and started putting down roots that make me truly feel like this is where I belong.

In many ways these past three years have flown by, but I also sort of feel like I've been here forever. I look back on my NYC years very fondly, and sometimes a little wistfully. I'll never, ever regret living there, that experience is so much a part of who I am now. But I can never see myself going back to live there either. I am so happy that I was able to have that experience and now I have been so, SO happy that I was given such an excellent opportunity to move on whole-heartedly to a place that I love.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Two Weeks In

I’ve been working my 2009 renewed plan for about two weeks now and am making some progress, I think. I’ve lost about 2.5 lbs, have not had any alcohol (since no social occasions have come up), have been working out with the trainer again, running, riding and sticking to Jenny Craig. I feel like things are generally going pretty well, but I think that I could be doing better with the working out/running. I am committed to two workouts with the trainer per week and so far I’ve stuck with that, but I feel like I should be doing more cardio-wise (preferably running) during the week. I’m much better than I was during the month of December though, so it is definitely an improvement. Riding has been going well in general, but with the extreme cold we’ve been experiencing lately, I’m having a lot of trouble motivating myself to go down to the barn for my free-ride times. It’s just not all that appealing when it’s this cold. Additionally, I want to look into maybe joining the “Y” or something, but wanted to wait until the first rush of the resolution people had fallen off the wagon and the gyms aren’t so crazy & busy.

Work has been a little busier than expected, but not the crazy-busy that I was experiencing for the latter part of 2008. So actually it’s been the perfect scenario for re-introducing working out into my routine. I’m busy enough that I have to plan for my workouts and add it to my schedule, but not so crazy busy that a workout is impossible. Actually, I find that I do a little better getting my workout in when my day is somewhat structured.

Anyway, in general I feel relatively pleased with how it’s going so far. I think I can improve a lot (and I’ll work on that), but I am moving forward and keeping very mindful of my goals everyday. Most importantly, I am feeling very positive and enthusiastic, which is a big turn-around from the way I was feeling in November and December.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Brother Stuff

Surprisingly, I had an email back from my brother last night. Totally unexpected. Anyway, it was very nice note where he thanked my for my offer, but stated that he was going to pass, at least for now. So, basically thanks, but no thanks. I think he's expecting one flooring job to come through (I guess it's not a done deal yet) that will carry him for a few weeks and has a hope that perhaps he'll be able to squeak by if he and his business partner can get the odd flooring job here & there every month. He doesn't sound too confident that it'll happen, but he hopes for it anyway. Ideally, I believe that he wants to remain in Charlotte, but is considering that he may end up having to relocate eventually, if things don't improve where he is. But he says that if he does leave, that he will probably be headed farther south. I knew that his coming up the New Hampshire was a big long-shot, so I can't say that I'm too surprised. Still, it might have been a good experience for both of us. Oh well, at least I offered and at least he responded -- just that alone is HUGE for him! We had a nice email exchange and it feels good to at least have communicated some. I hope he reaches out to me if he needs anything.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Dressage Night

It's nights like these that I am thankful that I've signed on for two riding training sessions a week, because if I was scheduled for a "free" ride (no training, just a ride on my own) I'm sure that there is no way on Earth that I would have gone tonight. It was about ten degrees and dropping fast, no way I wanted to schlepp down to the cold barn, drag the poor horse out of her stall, go through everything to groom and tack up and then ride in an ice cold arena if I didn't have to. No way, no how. But I did have a training session scheduled (and paid for) so I did manage to drag myself down to the cold barn and deal with all the frigidness. And I was glad that I did (as I knew I would be). Of course the irony is that we each had to complete a dressage test -- I thought that I had dodged the dressage bullet by not attending the dressage clinic and critic ride hosted by the barn this past weekend. But no, Alison had other plans. Curses. Well, Lulu and I did okay, I think. Not fantastic, but not terrible. Most importantly, we got the left lead canter on the first try (something that we struggle with). Most of our transitions were pretty good, except that we did break one canter too early. We probably didn't bend into our corners or around the circles enough, I'm sure our circles were misshapen and wobbly and I know that our diagonals weren't very straight, but she was listening to me, listening to my aids and was mostly on the bit and pretty much as round as she gets. And I'm very, very happy about her trot to canter transitions (we've been working on that).

Anyway, I have to stop being such a baby about the stuff that I'm so afraid that I'm going to suck at. I mean, what am I so afraid of, that someone is going to laugh at me? Actually, I think what I'm most worried about is my own disappointment with myself. I can be so hard on myself, I have to learn to relax a little bit, go with the flow, live a little and not be so afraid to make mistakes.

Alison leaves for South Carolina on Friday. I'll see her in March when I go down for the Adult Camp. But otherwise I won't be riding with her until she comes back to New Hampshire sometime in April. In the meantime I'll be riding with a couple of the other trainers at the barn. I'm going to miss Alison, but now I have motivation to work really hard and improve (as well as improving my overall fitness and, hopefully, losing weight) so that she can be really impressed with my progress when she comes back.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Random Thought ...

I'm wondering if it was perhaps a mistake to be linked to my personal trainer through facebook. Oh well, it's too late now!

Home & Family

I'm trying to decide whether to put my house on the market. I mentioned in a previous post about a cottage I went to see in a neighboring town. I really, really loved the house and I especially love the location and so have been thinking very hard about whether it may be possible to buy it. Of course the biggest variable is whether I can sell MY house. It's such a crummy market (which of course is a big reason why buying the house is even a possibility) that I really have had no confidence in whether it's even worth trying. I had the realtor out anyway. She looked around and then did a market analysis, checked out the comps and came back last night to go over everything with me. So, apparently some places nearby have sold over the past four months or so for some pretty decent amounts. It surprised me a bit. Of course it's all a crap-shoot, but I honestly wasn't expecting the news to be that good. I just assumed that the expected sale price would be so low that I wouldn't even want to consider it. So now I have some hard decisions to make. Do I really want to go through all this and so soon again (I only just moved about two years ago). It's a lovely little cottage. I just love the town and the specific location, the house is charming and it would be so wonderful to have some extra property! Being down the road from wooded trails for running would be unbelievably fantastic and being so close to the riding barn would be a dream come true. But ... GAH! I am exhausted and overwhelmed just thinking about it all. Anyway, so the realtor left her research with me. Now it's time to think about it and decide what I want to do.

I was speaking to my father on the phone last night and he was telling me that my brother is experiencing some pretty hard times. My brother basically went off to college in South Carolina years ago, flunked out after a semester or two and never came back. At this stage he might as well have been born somewhere in the South, forget that we all grew up in New Jersey! Anyway, I don't talk to my brother at all really, mostly because he is pretty much the World's worst communicator. I can email him, send him birthday cards & checks, Christmas presents, whatever 'til I'm blue in the face and I'll never get any kind of a response from him. I don't dislike him. I don't hate him. In person we get along fine, he just doesn't do email or phone calls or whatever. I think he's also a bit like me, just sort of adrift from having a family. Really has made his friends more his family than his biological one.

Anyway, so he lives in Charlotte, NC where the economy is apparently particularly bad. Charlotte is one of those places that grew up very quickly, real estate sky-rocketed over the course of a few years, companies & banks have big corporate centers there that did a lot of growing and hiring over a short period of time. Anyway, I guess it's all crashing now. My brother had a floor refinishing business with a friend and the business has completely dried up. He's scrambling to get a job, but apparently McDonald's isn't even hiring (well, I guess he interviewed at McD's, but hasn't heard yet). Things are pretty bad. So I thought overnight about it and it occurred to me that maybe he would come up here, at least for a couple of weeks. I have some stuff (painting some rooms, fixing some stuff, hanging some stuff, whatever) that I need to have done around the house and I would rather pay him than some stranger, if he's willing. It also might give him the opportunity to check out New Hampshire, who knows? Maybe he wouldn't mind relocating here, if he could find a job. It's got to be better than what he's experiencing where he is anyway. Well, it's just a thought. I'm going to email him about it tomorrow. Of course, being the World's Worst Communicator, I'm sure he'll never respond, but it's worth a shot anyway.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Braving the Scale

Well, I did it, I braved the scale this morning (which was one of my immediate goals for 2009). I was frankly terrified because I hadn’t stepped on since, oh, about the beginning of November. I had been depressed then because the scale was not budging at all, even though I was sticking to the Jenny Craig eating plan and was exercising a lot. And then my birthday hit, not to mention big layoffs at my company (which happened ON my birthday) and then the usual holiday doldrums and festivities. The longer I went without getting on the scale, the more scared of it I became. Well, I had a Jenny Craig appointment scheduled for today and I knew that I couldn’t put off weighing in there any longer (already my counselor was lying for me), so I stepped on it this morning. I just didn’t want there to be any huge, unpleasant surprises at JC later in the day.

The results are … up 5 lbs (since the beginning of November).

I am actually pretty happy (not to mention, surprised) with that. All this kvetching about it and the dreading of the big weigh-in and it really isn’t all that bad. Now at least I feel like I can move forward from here.

I have such mixed feelings about the scale. On the one hand, it makes me crazy and depressed and it causes me to really hate myself to watch the numbers so vigilantly. On the other hand, if I stay away from it, it is so, so easy for me to put myself in denial, do the whole, “I’ll worry about it tomorrow, I’ll start tomorrow” thing. So, it’s a necessary evil for me, I think. It’s just too easy for me to fall apart otherwise. But it sure is a fine-line between obsessing with numbers and completely hating myself and keeping myself in reasonable check. Ugh.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

(New) Things I Love

Mario Badescu’sOlive Eye Cream”. I’ve tried a bunch of their eye creams, both through samples I’ve gotten or ordered and products that I’ve purchased and this is the winner out of all the ones I’ve tried. My skin is quite sensitive and I seem to have this chronic allergic issue with the skin around my eyes. From time to time it gets very irritated, red, puffy, flakey and itchy. When that happens it is a real struggle to get the flare-up to calm down. I’ve had it take MONTHS. I find, however, if I do stick to wholesome products and am diligent about using them, that this helps quite a bit. I had a flare-up in December and nothing helped and soothed my irritated skin like the Olive Eye Cream did. I am now a big fan.
LLBean Weather Finder. I finally broke down and bought one of these things. I don’t know why I resisted for so many years, it’s not as if they’re expensive or anything. Now I know exactly what the temperature is both outside and in at every moment. Additionally I know if the pressure is rising or falling and there is a little icon that indicates whether it’s clear or raining/snowing. Awesome.
Eddie Bauer flannel pajama bottoms. Usually I'm a yoga pant kind of girl, but I decided to buy a pair of these pajama bottoms a few weeks ago because they were on sale. Well. Ever since they arrived, when I’m hanging around at home, you won’t catch me out of them!
Mossimo sweaters from Target. These are thin, soft acrylic-blend sweaters that I found at Target. They’re pretty cheap (about $15) and very comfortable. Because they’re so cheap, I think nothing of wearing them for riding, they’re perfect for that. They’re also washable. So on a chilly night for riding, I can wear a long-sleeve t-shirt, a Mossimo sweater and a fleece zip-up vest and it’s PERFECT. And because the sweaters are pretty cheap and also washable, I don’t mind too much if they get dirty or a little wrecked at the barn. The Mossimo long-sleeve t-shirts are great in this regard too. They’re thin, so perfect for layering, they’re nice and long, so they come down over my butt and they’re cheap (like $4 or $5) so it’s easy to have a bunch of them and I don’t get too upset if one gets ruined.
Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde. I bought a jar of this about a month ago and loved it so much, I had been rationing it out to try and make it last. It’s light, not too spicy (but perfect when combined with a spicier salsa) and has a nice tangy lime-y flavor. I finally made it back to TJ’s and stocked up on four more jars.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Massage is Good

Boy, do I love a good massage. Is there anything that seems like more of a decadent, pampering indulgence? I can’t think of one off-hand. It feels like such an indulgence to me that I almost feel guilty when I have one (and I’ve been scheduling one a month for the past few months or so). I am struggling with this feeling of worth, trying to allow myself to think and feel that I am worth stuff like massages. Intellectually I tell myself that it is a “wellness” issue. It helps to keep the blood flowing, works through the stiffness and the kinks and any scar tissue, etc. This becomes especially important as one gets older and things don’t bounce back and recover as quickly. It’s also very important as one tries to be physically active, or become more active. I can tell myself all this and I do believe it, but that emotional thing, truly feeling like I deserve this, well that is a big hurdle for me and one that I still have trouble getting over.

I had a wonderful massage this morning and it was especially satisfying because I had had two tough workouts with my trainer this week and had also done some interval running sessions on my own (not to mention having ridden three times, including one almost fall from my horse). So, there were many parts of my body that were quite sore & tight. My massage therapist commented that my neck was particularly bad -- as were my hamstrings, and (I think) quads. So I was very happy to have had the massage to loosen up all these areas, aid in recovery from the week’s activity and ready everything for more work for the coming week. I just wish that I didn’t feel so guilty about it, I really need to believe in my heart that I deserve this. I guess it comes down to that whole “self-love” thing, everything seems to come back to that.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Observations from a Day

• Walking from the garage to work in a blowy snow flurry, woman ahead of me is attempting to use an umbrella, even though the little bit of snow that is actually in the air is flying sideways.
• Coming into the building at work, another woman ahead of me in tippy-tappy heels stops at the card reader and just looks behind at me expectantly. After a beat, I swipe MY card and she goes waltzing in without having said one word to me. (I mutter under my breath, “You’re welcome”.)
• People who like to make you feel self-conscious about not arriving to work at 7 AM like they do must be stopped.
• After a disagreement yesterday with an engineer over what was REALLY wrong with a customer’s application, it turns out that I was RIGHT. (Gotta love that).
• Blow hard, self-congratulatory, meeting hijack guy makes me feel surly and defensive in every meeting I attend with him.
• Again there is a string of unoccupied treadmills at the gym, yet someone decides that the one right next to the one that I’m currently using is the perfect choice.
• 2 PM is a great time to go to the company gym, especially in January.
• Running 2 miles of intervals right before my personal training session makes the workout tougher, but I feel great about it afterwards anyway.
• It amazes me how many women stop in the Ladies Room on their way out the door for the day for extensive make-up touching up.
• Dogs are crazed lunatics when left for 10 hours and will drive you insane when you get home and want to try and relax. (Luckily that doesn’t happen too often).
• I'm starting to wish that I hadn't made the "no alcohol" rule, goal, resolution, whatever because a nice, big, cold glass of chardonnay sure would hit the spot right about now.
• Thankful for being able to work from home on Friday!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Scared to Dressage

I mentioned the other day about the adult camp my riding trainer hosts down in South Carolina in March. Today I bought the airline tickets, so I am now committed to going. I am both excited and a little nervous, but I think overall it should be a really good time and I should get a lot out of it, hopefully coming home a better rider. As I wrote the other day, I really want to also use the scheduled trip as a target date for some initial fitness goals. I think it's just close enough to keep me motivated and far enough away that I should be able to make some progress by then.

This weekend the barn is hosting a dressage clinic with some fancy, impressive dressage rider, trainer, whatever. The clinic is on Saturday and then it will be followed by a critique ride on Sunday. Alison was asking me today if I was going to do the clinic and I said, "no, I really don't feel ready for that". I still feel somewhat self-conscious and not yet up to intense dressage scrutiny. I know that I've made a lot of progress, I'm doing much better, but still, I feel ... not ready. Or probably it's more the self-conscious thing. I want to feel like I'm further along so that I can benefit more from the fine-tuning that I would hopefully get out of a clinic like that. Rather, right now I feel like I'm still a little bit all over the place and flailing to just get smooth-ish transitions and a decent frame and true bending and, uh, the left lead canter consistently. Alison insisted that I am more than ready for this clinic and that there will be less experienced riders attending. I guess you can call it my own insecurities, but I'm still going to pass. I don't know why I'm feeling so fragile about it, but I do. Weird.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Your Best Life

Okay, so I was watching Oprah yesterday. The show on Monday was the kick-off for her “Your Best Life” week that had been advertised for the last few weeks or so and also was meant to tie into the theme subject for the January issue of her “O” Magazine. So the show was mostly confession time for Oprah, about how she has fallen off of the weight-loss, fitness, eating right (whatever) wagon. She owned up to it and discussed how she got to where she is and what she is going to do about it. Her fitness & eating plan was interesting enough to me, but what was far more interesting and more cathartic, was the discussion of why she overeats and what this issue really says about her life. For someone who has fought a life-long battle with weight and with food, I can completely relate. Food really IS a drug of choice and people who chronically struggle with significant weight really ARE compensating for something in their lives that is out of whack. In its essence, it comes down to loving yourself, but what is that really? I’ve heard that phrase bandied about my whole life and I STILL to this day do not really know what that feels like, what it really is, or how one goes about actually accomplishing true self-love. I can say that I have self-respect. I think that I can appreciate some of my abilities and stronger points, as well as recognize my short-comings, but I think self-love is far deeper than these things, something that I don’t really have a true concept of, something that I suspect many other people perhaps struggle with as well.

Oprah talked yesterday about taking the time to take care of yourself and about finding the right balance in your life. I have known this and talked about this for years. I wholly agree that this is essential for having a fulfilled life. But, unlike Oprah, I generally have no trouble finding time for myself. Childfree by choice, I am not a workaholic and manage to fit in massages, pedicures, facials, hair appointments and plenty of reading and movie or TV time. I really have no problem pampering myself consistently. I usually work a respectable 40-45 hours a week, so that’s not the issue. Things like horseback riding, which is something that I love that I am doing for myself, is a good example of how I treat myself to things that inspire me and that feed my soul. No, I don’t think these are my issues. I think my issues come more from troubles with finding intimacy in life (and I’m not necessarily talking about romance here) and from varying degrees of self-loathing, both of which I feel are related.

Certainly growing up in an non-affectionate, undemonstrative family and being the introvert that I am, I tend to be very introspective and don’t know a lot about how to achieve intimacy on most levels. The fact that my sister has had such successful intimate relationships (in particular, with her husband and children, of course) amazes me. But the differences here, I think, is because she is more of an extroverted type. She always knew how to get what she needed from external sources, I never had that ability. Anyway, I don’t really know what the answer or the solution is. I can be aware of this general lack in my life, but I don’t really know how to “fix” it. I know that I am missing some necessary element to achieve balance and self-love, but I don’t really know how to change what is at this stage really a part of my character and personality. I guess I’m just defective then, I don’t know. I DO know, however, as I struggle with my issues of self-loathing, with the lack of real intimacy in my life, that my weight will continue to reflect that. I see it as a life-long struggle with no real or easy solution. I suppose some awareness is part of the formula for addressing these “broken” parts of my life. So maybe that’s all it will ever be, I will recognize what it is and continue to struggle with it on a daily basis. Kind of like an alcoholic (and I really don’t think there is much difference there).

One thing I DO know however, is that once I move beyond thinking about how I look or how much I actually weigh and think of my body more in terms of health and fitness and even from the point of view of athletic training, that I tend to do better, get less hung up on the self-loathing thing, feel better and ultimately tend to end up more successful and overall happier with my efforts and myself, as well as just happier in general.

So, I liked the show, it made me think about a lot of things. It’s going to keep me thinking about a lot of things. Like .. oh I don’t know, that maybe I need therapy or something.

Some statements that jumped out at me from the show:

• It’s about what you are REALLY hungry for.
• A doctor told Oprah that, with a thyroid condition, you have to learn to “embrace hunger”. (uh, no).
• Bob Geene (said): He has a theory that Oprah never really learned how to be happy, she just learned “survival tools”. (That rung a bell for me).
• Are you meeting all your needs? If you’re not, food becomes more attractive as a way of comforting yourself.
• Harmony with your life, loving yourself is a life-long journey.
• Your overweight self is not craving food, it’s craving love.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Three Confused Pugs (courtesy of Yahoo!)

More about Goals

So, I'm thinking that I am going to go to the "Adult Camp" that my riding barn hosts in Aiken, South Carolina at the end of March. The camp is a great opportunity to ride everyday, they'll go to various cross-country courses in the area for jumping sessions, there will be some intense instruction and the opportunity to really dig deeper into the eventing world overall. Additionally, it's also a great opportunity to get to know some of the other adults at the barn and generally have fun doing something active, something I love. Anyway, so I'm thinking that this trip might be a great target for the first phase of my 2009 fitness plan. It gives me a good two and a half months, so if I work hard, I could show up at camp weighing 10-15 lbs less and being much more fit. It sure would be great to be able to gallop around a cross-country course without having to gasp for breath the entire way. It kind of takes some of the fun out of it, and you also have to wonder how effective you really are as a rider, if you can't even make it around without feeling like you're going to pass out. So, I think that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to concentrate on that target date. It gives me something really concrete to work towards, something that will be of immediate benefit, beyond just looking better or fitting better into my riding pants. Yes, I think this is a good goal, I'm a little excited now.

Friday, January 02, 2009

2009: Goals

I’ve been thinking about goals for 2009. I don’t always clearly define these each year, nor do I always publish them, but I feel like 2008 was a pretty good year for me and so I would like to try and exploit that momentum somewhat, nail down some specific objectives and concentrate on actually making them happen.

It seems like every year I have this vague sort of idea: lose weight and try harder at work. Sometimes I have a little bit of success at this, sometimes I don’t, but it all feels so hit or miss by this method. I’m going to try to be more concrete and specific and so I want to come up with a plan for how these objectives can be hit.


As I wrote in my 2008 Year Review, last year was a successful and pivotal year for me at work. It would be tempting to relax a little bit and enjoy that, but I really do think that I am somewhat at a critical turning point in my career. As my role and path becomes defined, I have to be an active participant in who I am going to be as a professional. I need to be more proactive, more organized, more committed and more enthusiastic. I need to be more involved in strategic work and more integral to the over-all direction of my group. Now how to accomplish all that, I haven’t really figured out yet, but I’m working on it.


I’m pretty good about saving some money every month, but for 2009 I want to be a little more aggressive about that. I’m still trying to figure out what the specific goal is going to be and I probably won’t publish the specific monthly or annual number, but just suffice to say, it’ll be more than it’s been.


I admit it, I’m an introvert and can be a bit of a social hermit. I am never more comfortable and at peace than when I’m home with the dogs and a bunch of good books and maybe some movies on the TV. I enjoy socializing, but I also find it very draining and I can be a little socially awkward, so I really tend to dread the effort. Still, I usually end most parties or social encounters happy that I went, taking away good memories. So in 2009 I want to make more of an effort socially. Come out of my cocoon more often, accept more invitations, be willing to move out of my comfort zone a little bit.

Health, Fitness & Weight

Ugh. Here I need to get back on that wagon. I’ve had a bit of a vacation with my little birthday/holiday pity party. But now that is all over and it’s time to get back to work. I never stopped going to Jenny Craig, and that has probably been a huge element to my not completely falling apart in this area, but it’s time to get serious again. So, here are my plans (I may need to fine-tune as I move forward, but this is what I’m thinking for right now):

• Re-commit to Jenny Craig. Be more careful with lunch (I don’t eat JC for lunch). Continue to use JC meals for breakfast & dinner.
• Get back on the scale (both at home and at JC).
• Start eating fruit mid-morning at work again.
• Alcohol for social occasions only.
• Continue 2x/week personal training sessions.
• Pick up the running again – run a minimum of 3x a week through March.
• Plan to bump up mileage and/or the number of running sessions per week after March (hopefully the snow will start to be on the wane by then and I’ll be able to use some trails).
• Weather, snow & salt permitting, walk dogs on significant walk (or run) – minimum 2 miles, 2-3x per week.
• Look into a “Y” membership, or re-up with the Spinning studio.
• Ride 4x a week (includes 2 training sessions/lessons per week).

I think if I can do all that and be consistent and steady about it, my weight should more or less take care of itself, at least to a certain point. I may not be a size 4 and the perfect weight for my height, but I should be in a reasonable place, I think. If I decide that I want to go further, then some fine-tuning will most likely have to happen, but I’ll worry about that and decide when I get there. I’d say from where I’m sitting now, I would like to lose probably another 40 lbs. I think I would be happy and healthy there, I might not be over the moon with happiness with my size, but that’s where the fine-tuning would maybe come in.


I’m still trying to figure out my riding goals. This is very important to me, but as I am still in the mode of learning to ride again and don’t know where my skills and abilities are really going to put me down the road, it’s hard to have too specific goals because I don’t really know what I’m going to be capable of. Additionally, with riding, since it is a partnership with a horse, some of my goals at some point would have to be reliant on having a suitable horse for attaining them, so there is a whole other financial (not to mention time) component there that may or may not be doable.

With all that said, for this year, I would like to continue to work hard through the Winter and Spring, and feel that I could possibly compete in an entry level (Beginner Novice level) event/horse trial. Whether or not I actually DO compete at this stage is less important, but I would like to feel like I COULD, that I am ready to start. So, basically that comes down to schooling BN level. I think that’s pretty doable. I think right now I could handle the jumping portion without being at all afraid or too overwhelmed. I don’t think that I would feel comfortable competing today, just because I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself, but I feel like I could get around okay at least. So by late Spring I would like to feel much more competent and confident, that I could easily compete at that level and feel proud to do so. I think that’s reasonable.

By Fall, I think I would like to feel like I’m ready to school Novice (the next level up). Once I feel that I’m schooling that level, I think I’ll be pretty close to where I was ability-wise when I was riding twenty-two years ago. I think I was schooling Training a bit, but never competed above Novice in eventing (in those days it was called, “Pre-Training”). I think I was jumping 3’6” hunters and equitation, but I’m concentrating on eventing now. Once I get to a point where I’m schooling pretty consistently Novice, and am thinking of competition, it may be time to consider buying a horse. I don’t know what the economy, the state of my job or my financial situation will be then, so I don’t know if that will be possible, or if it will be possible to buy a horse suitable for competition. But at least I should have a better idea by then of what I’m going to be capable of and can work towards positioning myself for horse ownership.

Anyway, all that is a long time off at this stage. Right now I’m concentrating on riding 4x a week and having my two lessons during the week. Additionally, I want to be more fit for riding! This ties into the “Health, Fitness & Weight” section, but I should not be all out of breath after cantering around the ring a bunch of times, or after doing a 1-minute jump course. I need to improve my cardio as well as reduce my weight, in order to be a better rider.

So these are the goals that are the most important to me right now in my life and so will be what I’m concentrating on for the year. They should remain pretty fluid and adjustable as I move forward, so I want to always think I’m keeping my expectations realistic.