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To My 18-Year-Old Self

December 4, 2014 Fun 1 Comment

Dear 18-Year-Old Molly,

Hey you! 18 years old! What a milestone! You are officially an adult, someone to be taken seriously. Are you ready for this responsibility? Probably not. You know little more about the world than you knew yesterday or even last year. None of that even matters, so don’t worry about it. You have your whole life ahead of you to worry! Don’t waste your precious youth on it.

A lot is going to happen in the next 22 years. Here are some things that you’ll learn along the way:

Don’t ever deny or down-play your small town Iowa upbringing. People will find you more interesting when you tell them that you graduated in a class of 34 people — most of whom were in your Kiddie Kollege class at age 4. Seek a community like the one you grew up with in Lenox and give your time and talents to it, no matter what size college/organization/city it is. The mechanics may be different, but in the end, the values are the same. Community matters.

You are learning right now to be careful what you wish for. As an 8th-grader in the girls locker room, all you wanted was something to fill your training bra so you could be like so many of your friends. Your wish was granted — and then some — by the time your Freshman year started. People look from your chest to your eyes and back again. These things can (and will) be remedied.

Speaking of wanting to be like so many of your friends: stop. It won’t serve you. Find your style. Find your rhythm. Find yourself. This is easier said than done.

The more you get to know people, the more you will realize you had a storybook childhood. You weren’t rich or spoiled by any means, but you also weren’t beaten or otherwise abused. You had food to eat, clean clothes to wear, school to attend, and loving family and friends. Assuming everyone’s life is like yours (or better), you will be shocked to find out how charmed yours really is. Don’t take it for granted.

Talk to people. Regardless of what you’re talking about, you’ll learn to gauge people. This is the important thing. You’ll find good people and bad, of course. Glom onto the good ones and learn from the bad. Curate a collection of people — friends, colleagues, hitmen — that you can count on. More importantly, be that someone to at least one other person.

Hold onto the relationships that matter. Some people will be in your life only for a short time, and that’s fine. It doesn’t mean they are less valuable. But there are other relationships that will endure and are worth fighting for, even when it seems easier to let go. Trust yourself to know which are which.

Related: allow yourself to fall totally in love as many times as it takes to find true love. The falling is the fun part and it’s worth doing more than once. Staying in love takes more work, though it doesn’t necessarily feel like work if you’re doing it right. Mending your own broken heart will teach you more about yourself than you can learn in any other way. It will also teach you empathy.

Be grateful for the strong, healthy body you have. Don’t start turning sideways in the mirror every time you get in/out of the shower, get dressed, go to the bathroom, or otherwise. Obsessing about what is (big boobs) or isn’t (flat stomach) there isn’t going to make either thing disappear. Apply the 80/20 rule by focusing on what’s good and committing to work on what you’d like to improve. Do not strive for perfection, as you’ll only be disappointed.

The best money you will ever spend will be to fix your smile. Even better than what you spend on your boobs. Adult orthodontia will come with a lot of negative side effects at the time, but in the end, it will absolutely be worth it. The lesson: don’t let short-term pitfalls get in the way of long-term goals.

If someone offers to teach you something, say yes. What you learn cannot be taken away from you. Take advantage of tuition reimbursement, training opportunities, internships, mentorships, seminars, webinars… All of it is valuable and you take it with you wherever you go. Teach yourself to apply everything you’ve learned along the way in the new scenarios you are faced with.

This one seems obvious, but I implore you to take it very literally: if you get knocked down (or hit by a truck while riding your bike), get back up. Keep getting back up until you can walk again. Then keep walking until you can run again. You are stronger than you think you are.

Be specific about what you want. This applies to every aspect of your life: family, career, partner, social. Don’t flounder about, waiting for what comes to you. Visualize what you want and figure out how to get it. You get one life, so be an active participant in it.

That’s about all I can tell you without giving too much away. It’s going to be a fun time! And the not-so-fun times? They’ll make for good stories.

Best of luck!

Love,
Your 40-year-old Self

P.S. Forty is just another F-word. It’s not so bad!

Daily sMiles

November 6, 2014 Fido, Fun No Comments

Miles gained an affinity for his Halloween costume when he found out where lions register on the food chain.

Look at the determination in his eyes! He is out to get his next prey: string cheese.

Miles’ affinity for the costume was a direct correlation to how many treats he was plied with when asked to wear it. We spent weeks wearing it around the house and playing fetch in the yard so that he’d grow comfortable wearing the mane and not insisting on pulling it off every time he stopped moving. It got to the point that he would get excited every time I showed it to him. Your classical conditioning shit is more than a theory, Pavlov!

He wore it to the office and to a party on Halloween and made many people very happy. Even dog-haters couldn’t help but grin. The little girls who live across the street came running out in their pajamas screaming, “YOU TURNED HIM INTO A LION!” That’s right. Miles the Friendly Lion.

Or, if you are interested, make me an offer on him being your Cowardly Lion for next year’s Wizard of Oz group costume.

Looks Are Deceiving

October 23, 2014 Fear, Fun No Comments

“I don’t want to do this. I HATE a free-fall.”
“It will be fine. It isn’t a free-fall. It’s a swing.”
“No. Look. These people free-fall and then it catches at the bottom and they start swinging. I hate the free-fall. You just look at the ground until your line catches. No.”

This has been the dialogue between me and Greg for the last two years regarding the Xtreme Skyflyer at Great America. We are lucky guests of GoPro for the launch of their new cameras (this year, the Hero4). I was so relieved last year that we chose not to wait in the 45 minute line to do this crazy free-fall “ride.” This year, we were basically bored with the other rides (you can ride Flight Deck and Gold Striker only so many times) and were willing to stand in line as long as we had full drinks.

My stomach was clenching the whole time. Greg was fine. It’s fun! It’s not as bad as you think it is! 

We fiiiinnnnnaaaallllyyyy got to the place where they suit you up. Greg and I looked at each other with a slight lack of confidence when he couldn’t get his suit on correctly and the twenty-something worker used gestures instead of words to help. Then we got to the loading area. More instructions, including, “Put your hands on your harness and don’t touch anything else.” Then they put tension on the cord holding us so we were suspended in the air, face down. Instinctively, Greg reached out to hold the barriers around us.

First rule in whatever-the-fuck-this-is? FOLLOW THE RULES. They are about to drop us from 153 feet at 60 mph. Do as these twenty-somethings say! Hands on your harness, not the barrier!

It was our turn. I’m nervous. I had been nervous for two years. I need to pee. I disclaim that I might pee during the fall.

They start hoisting us up. And up. And up. And up. It’s SO. FUCKING. HIGH. By now, it’s also dark. Other than the “splat zone” below you and the roar of the Gold Striker coaster nearby, there’s nothing.

Over the loud speaker: BETA: 3-2-1- GO!

Greg pulls the ripcord and we — you guessed it — FREE-FUCKING-FALL 153 feet until the cable catches and then we start swinging.

I did not pee my pants. I also did not ever let go of the full nelson elbow-hold I had on Greg. He did not seem to want to let go of me either, so we were good there.

We got done with the ride (~2 minutes of “fun” for 40 minutes of waiting in line) and walked out of there. Assessing what just happened, we were talking over each other with the following:

Greg: That was WAY worse than I expected.
Molly: That was WAY better than I expected.

I couldn’t believe it! For me, the worst was them pulling us up to SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS on the cable. Falling was scary for sure! But since the catch wasn’t so jarring, the experience exceeded my expectations. Maybe it was that my anticipation of the free-fall-into-the-catch was going to be much more abrupt. Maybe it was that I had enjoyed a number of glasses of wine before going on this ride. The world may never know.

The real surprise was that Greg’s experience was so much worse than his expectation. Greg said he HATED the free-fall, looking down onto one spot on the ground at such a high rate of speed with no tension on the cord. For whatever reason (??), he did not think there was going to be a free-fall at all.

So, what I’m trying to say is: I was right.

Because it’s 90 degrees in October

October 13, 2014 Family, Fear, Fun No Comments

We have had summer-like weather here for the last two weeks. Actually, with temps in the 80s and 90s, it has been even hotter than our typical summer. Truth be told, as much as I love hot weather, I am ready for the season change. And by that I mean I’m tired of my summer clothes and am ready to pull out the skinny jeans and boots.

Hot weather is best enjoyed on a boat with a cold beverage in-hand. Better yet, find someone to tow you behind the boat so you can enjoy the cool water in the hot air. That’s exactly what we did in Okoboji in August!

My niece and her friend are — how can I say this without making them sound like pansy-asses? — not thrill seekers. They loathe things that go fast or are unpredictable. It was with much trepidation that they got onto the huge two-person tube and saw Greg getting behind the wheel of the boat to drive. Muah-ha-ha-ha-ha! Their fear was warranted. 

Turnabout is fair play, obviously, so Greg willingly jumped in to take his turn on the big tube. It being a two-person ride, all eyes were on me to join him. I wasn’t planning to get in the water that day, so much so that I was not wearing a bathing suit. I wouldn’t let that ruin everyone’s good time, so I yanked off my shirt and jumped in with my shorts and bra on — all in the name of fun and spontaneity!

I like roller coasters and enjoy a controlled adrenaline rush like a haunted house, but I will admit I was scared. I think what scared me most was that a 12-year-old was behind the wheel of the boat and she was out to get Greg. She knew it would take a lot to scare that adrenaline junkie and she was going to find his edge.

Mission accomplished.

We would be giggling along and everything would be scary-in-a-fun-way until she would make a very big turn at top speed (30+ mph), sending us out of the wake of the boat. The giggling would go from fun to HOLYFUCKWE’REGOINGTODIE in one ha-haAAAAAAAAAGH!

Thankfully Greg was calculating physics in his head amidst all the fun. More than one time, I’d be giggling/shitting my pants and he’d call out, “I’m going to kill you!” Which wasn’t to say that he was revealing his long-term plans for our relationship. He was being literal. Lauren was sending us over the wake (and out of the tube) in the direction that Greg and the tube would be hurtling over me. Applying the particular law of physics that mass * acceleration = force means that he could literally kill me. Now that’s just family fun right there!

Using all of his might and limbs, Greg was able to get himself out of his side of the tube every time Lauren did this and we were uninjured. Seriously, there’s nothing this man can’t fix or (in this case) prevent!

The most surprising thing of all was when Lauren wanted to get back in the tube to ride with me — under the condition that her mother do the driving. Smart girl! I coaxed her into going a little faster than she was originally comfortable with, and she found that faster is better than slower. It makes for a much smoother ride!

We gave Mendy the thumbs-up, which she took to mean “GO FASTER!” (Which was my plan all along!!!)

Shit got real. And fast. AIRBORNE!

Lauren quickly changed her tune on the merits of going fast. The next time Mendy started accelerating, Lauren was very clear about her thoughts. Check out that scowl!

All in all, it was a super fun ending to a great visit to Okoboji, and one none of us will quickly forget!

3×5 – summer edition

September 25, 2014 Family, Friends, Fun 1 Comment

It was a summer full of sun and fun and friends and booze and snacks and work and play and everything that is good in the world. If only it would rain here in California, life would be perfect.

I’m a bad blogger in that I don’t update very often and I do not take a picture of every moment/meal/highlight/lowlight of my life. There’s a song on John Mayer’s first album called 3×5 and I often find myself singing that song to myself when I should have/could have/would have taken a picture of something…but just couldn’t be bothered to. It not only helps me not feel guilty about what I could be sharing, but it helps me to become more present in the moment myself.

didn’t have a camera by my side this time
hoping I would see the world through both my eyes
maybe I’ll tell you all about it when I’m
in the mood to lose my way with words

I’m not so much in the mood to lose my way with words, but I’ll give you a glimpse of the fantastic summer we’ve had in the few pics that were captured. People elsewhere look at summer as ending on Labor Day. September is when the weather gets really nice here (admittedly, it has been 75 and sunny every day for months…). More adventures to come!

MAY
We spent Memorial Weekend in Tahoe. The highlight of the weekend was hooking up with Sarah and her family. I got to meet baby London for the first time! I also got to ride my first motorized cooler, which was as awesome as both my and Sterling’s expressions indicate. (pardon the quality of these pics, they were obviously impromptu snapshots)

JUNE
We celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary with a pub crawl down B Street in San Mateo. Walking distance from home, THANK GOODNESS.

JULY
We spent the long 4th of July weekend in Tahoe and the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. Mountain biking, hiking/running, swimming, drinking, and disconnecting from technology. It was fantastic.

A week later, I was off to Dallas for the J.Hilburn Annual Conference.

AUGUST
We completed a Midwest tour that involved a lot of driving, a lot of Tank 7, and seeing a lot of important people. Lake Okoboji was a highlight.

Once again, we spent Labor Day in Tahoe and the Lakes Basin, where I mountain biked 4 out of 5 days. I can honestly say I’m getting better at this sport!

The fifth day of the trip included a hilly 6 mile run with a beautiful reward at the top:

And a reward at the bottom:

A fun summer indeed!

 

Lately (6 months of it)

Do you guys realize it’s May? Sorry I dropped off the earth for the first almost-half of the year. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Not Training for Anything! 
This is probably the most exciting thing I have going on: I’m NOT racing Wildflower this weekend! The crew that usually attends/races is not doing it this year and we were not gung-ho to go ourselves because the drought California is enduring has forced the race organizers to change the event. The water capacity is at a mere 5% of normal. While I do not miss the sufferfest, I definitely miss these people!

WILDFLOWER 2010

(PSA: look at your water consumption and cut back where possible! We put in a fake lawn several years ago, installed an on-demand water heater last year, saving greywater for plants, switched to a low-flow shower head, and installed a pee/poo flusher option on the toilet).

I don’t have any races on the calendar, though I *may* do Bay to Breakers for fun with friends next weekend. Greg might do Vineman Monte Rio, if there’s enough water in the Russian River… I just can’t be bothered to swim/bike/run all at once right now. I haven’t swum since the Santa Barbara Tri!

Still Staying Active
While I am not following a specific training plan, I’m not loafing either. My goal this year is different: look good and feel confident in a bathing suit/naked. You can shake your head all your want; I don’t care how trivial it sounds to anyone else. Body image is something I struggle with and I decided to make it a goal for myself. This goal requires an an entirely different approach to diet and exercise than training for endurance events. Most of my workouts are 30 minutes or less and involve high intensity intervals. My diet includes minimal carbs and much smaller portions than when I was training 20 hours per week. I have not given up wine, obviously.

I also find reasons to walk/run more places. I got the new Garmin Vivofit activity tracker and it is a great excuse to take a walk around the block after a couple of hours of computer work and walk downtown to pick up those last minute groceries. I find myself purposely pulling into the parking spot farthest away and incorporating walks into my social time with friends.

Daily sMiles
Now that I’m not training and/or exhausted all the time, I spend a lot of quality active time with Miles. We run/hike/swim at Water Dog Park in Belmont a couple of times a week, which is fantastic except for the poison oak he gets into. Greg and I are both very allergic and itchy spots pop up on us all the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tahoe

It was far from an epic winter in Tahoe, but we turned the few times there into fun times. We celebrated Keith’s 50th birthday in March and I learned time and again that working from The Van is very productive.

 

 

Girlfriend Getaways
My local girlfriends did our annual getaway to Murphys this year. We drank a bunch of wine, met new friends, excelled at Cards Against Humanity, and had a wonderful weekend in the Sierra Foothills.

My family and I successfully completed the 9th Annual Sisters Trip in March, this time with a beautifully-appointed rental home in Aptos. More laughter, drinking, walks on the beach, and life-changing conversations. I’m so glad we set aside the time and money for this trip each year.

Which one is not like the others?

We have some fun stuff planned as summer nears. I won’t let six months go by without posting again!

Miles is TWO!

November 8, 2013 Fido No Comments

Miles is TWO! 

So far, he hasn’t forgotten his commands and still answers quickly (and correctly) when asked whosagoodboy? I realize it’s all suspect. Now that he’s a teenager, he should start to be more defiant.

But I have hope. Greg can be counted on to dish up a little ice cream after dinner every night and Miles really enjoys sharing that with him. So he’ll put up with our plebian commands to come/sit/stay just for that luxury.

With enough ice cream, he could rule the world. This one has big plans. You wait and see.

Best Weekend EVER

November 7, 2013 Fun No Comments

10 years ago today, I flew from Kansas City to San Francisco and spent a weekend with someone I only knew through a friend and a month of email exchanges.

That was the first of many weekends that changed my life.

Nice to meet you, Greg. I think this is the start of something good.

Mandatory Happy Hour

October 4, 2013 Fido, Fun No Comments

Greg sent an IM to me this afternoon, saying he would be attending a mandatory happy hour at work at 4 PM. I quipped that “mandatory happy” is an oxymoron. He agreed, adding that he would die in traffic on the way home.

“It has been nice knowing you. Thanks for The Van. Miles and I will think of you fondly while we live in it, down by the river.”

All Miles heard was “mandatory happy hour.”

Daily sMiles

October 2, 2013 Fido, Friends 1 Comment

Miles and his brother Tater were reunited after 12+ months of not seeing each other.

Miles on the left

They seemed to remember each other and played as though they had never been separated. So many of the same likes/preferences and mannerisms, so many similar expressions. And they can both fit 2+ tennis balls in their mouths!

Miles in front

You can see that Tater’s hair is longer and he is a bit taller than Miles, though Miles is more “filled out” than Tater.

They are both smart dogs who have responded well to training. They are both very affectionate with humans and other animals, though Tater is more submissive than Miles is. He displayed typical submissive behavior of licking Miles’ mouth and ears and deferring to Miles initiating play.

It’s so hard to believe these ~75 pound dogs were 1/10th of that when we met them:

Miles on the left

Just for fun, here are a few more pictures of them playing. A couple of these include Caryn’s other dog, Rutzie. The way she was playing that day, no one would guess that sweet girl is going to be 11 next month!