Thursday, December 29, 2011

Getting ready for NYE

Today I'm posting the link to Goop's newsletter. It's an awesome one. Today's newsletter topic is hangover prevention strategies and cures. Brought to you by no one other than the fabulous Gweneth Paltrow.

There's various supplements you can try. If your New Year's celebration is anything like mine this will be helpful. Now, I'm not the type of gal that goes clubbing or bar-hopping but to me NYE is the reward for working hard all year. We always sleep over a friend's house and it's a potluck appetizer and dessert extravaganza. There will be that buffalo chicken dip and wings. There will be ribs. There will be various desserts (whoopie pies, hopefully).

It's strange. Despite the fact that I travel for work and all of that I typically am only hungover 1x/year (New Year's Day). Perhaps it is because I stay hydrated? I don't actually take aspirin or other pain relievers (I only have one liver and two kidneys and well, Advil harms your kidneys and Tylenol harms your liver (when drinking heavily while taking the pills). So I'm not sure what it is. Whatever it is, I'm grateful. I also eat a lot when we have a dinner party or attend a party, so it could be that.

Either way, take care this New Years. And sleep over a friend's instead of driving. The mayor of Boston issued a warning that he's making sure the cops arrest anyone caught drinking and driving this year. If there were snow I would also suggest rolling in the snow after a hot tub soak. That's tradition in Scandinavia and also in the Hilltowns of Western MA in my personal experience. It's good for the soul.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Reverb11, Day 28: Marketing

Marketing. How did you market yourself in 2011? Did you do something new such as attend a networking event? Did you attend a trade show for your industry? How do you brand and market your skills?

Today when I got into work after a very long holiday weekend there was a box waiting for me. It was a wrapped box of cookies. It was not sent to my whole team or company but just to me. It was from one of our best partners who I work with pretty much daily. The ribbon to the cookie box has their name on it (nice touch to spend the extra). Our office overflows with gifts this time of year...but hardly any are personalized. My employer gave a fuzzy blanket with our logo on it to employees and partners this year. It's worth personalizing the gift I think.

As for how I marketed myself personally in 2011, I did the best to take on jobs outside of my small department. I figured that if I did not I would let those skills go a bit stale. We hired a fancy social media firm out of Boston (for lots of $$$$) and that went horribly wrong. We paid them a ton and they just did not 'get' our target market. They did what an intern or someone right out of college could do. They kept making mistakes (putting the wrong date for events and conferences, targeting the wrong part of our market) over and over again.

Luckily we've since signed on with another firm and moved a lot of the tasks in-house. Thank goodness. My volunteering for these tasks outside of my daily responsibilities helped with my review. I feared they would make me look bad because it was not what I really was hired to do.

I'd love to hear from you. How did you market yourself or your business in 2011 that was different than the other years. I had to be a bit of a squeaky wheel to be involved in a separate project. It was worth it in the end.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Reverb11: Day 27, Relief

Relief. I feel a major sense of relief now that the holidays are over. I finished my holiday shopping by December 5 and all of the gifts were a big hit (and everything fit thank goodness--I hate returns).

The retailers in the US start pushing Christmas in September. Outside of Nordstrom (they proudly say they take one holiday at a time and give their employees Thanksgiving off and decorate the day after) I can't think of another retailer that waits until the actual holiday season. Taking one holiday at a time is something I  believe in, and anytime I went to the mall prior to Thanksgiving all of the Christmas decor actually freaked me out a little. It made me nervous and anxious. It also gave me a mild headache--Christmas music in November? Ridiculous.

I took today off to recover from Christmas (and our two days away from home). We went to Drumlin Farm this morning to check out barns and chicken coops. We're hopefully getting chickens (for eggs) in 2012. The barn would be for the tractor in Maine--we would not build it here. Currently we're keeping the tractor in the garage which means the Jeep cannot fit. The barn would not become a reality until 2013 or so, but at $2 a chicken--why not?

Back to the topic at hand. Relief. What were you relieved about in 2011? Did you lose that pesky weight (I know I did, and it was not easy)? Did you also get relieved when 12/26 hit because it meant your local radio station is now playing its normal programming? I sure did.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Reverb11: Day 24: Love

Some say that animals cannot feel love outside of humankind. If that's true it would mean that when my co-worker's cat passed away recently her other cat did not really feel heartbroken (after 12 years). That would mean that the cat now left alone in her house was not actually feeling emotions. Pet owners often talk about the unconditional love they receive from their pets.

The dog is waiting for them (eagerly jumping out of his skin) each day they arrive home from work. If Maximus did not *feel* any emotions why would he carefully place a toy the last place he saw us (floor mat by the front door) so that we would see it when we got home. Thanks for sharing, little buddy.

If Chimpanzees did not feel emotion and love why are they so attached to their young and heartbroken when a friend passes away? Why do dogs in kennels end up getting depressed if their emotions are not actually real?

During 2011 how did you receive love? Did you put up a barrier and close yourself off? Or did you make new friendships and strengthen the ones that you have. Did you walk with your dog in the woods and see the light and laughter in their eyes? Too all creatures great and small, Merry Christmas. On this Christmas Eve I can't think of a place I'd rather be than reading on my sofa with a cat warming my feet.

(me and Maximus, and my running shoes). :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reverb11, Day 22: Dream

On this, the first day of winter I dare you to dream.

Not too big. Not too ridiculous. Just big enough.

Does your dream involve hiking with a llama (thinking of you, Western MA peeps)? Does your dream involve sleeping under the stars (wear bug spray--I've done it). Is your dream to rescue or foster a dog or cat from a shelter (foster programs are wonderful if you are able and willing to do it).

For me I have plenty of sunshine in my office (major plus, I may never go back to a cubicle farm). I get to spend enough time outdoors to not go stir-crazy in winter. I volunteer and give back. I may not run races or be raising children but I dream of mostly peace and quiet. Time in the woods with my snowshoes. Time to read and look out the window at my lovely neighborhood. Time to travel and have someone else pay for it (thank you, employer).

Mostly, these days I dream about rest and relaxation. Yoga. Now there's a dream I can stand behind. Yesterday I was so stressed out running errands during lunch. Downtown Westborough was a mad house. I nearly got run over twice from people too busy to *look*. I shrugged with dismay at the 15 cars waiting in line at the drive-thru instead of getting off their lazy asses to go in to Panera Bread. (burn two calories on the way in to get the giant bagel? Nah. I think I'll sit in line). Then I got to Zumba. I felt better. I forgot about the holiday madness.

Dare to dream.

Cute. I haz sunshine.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reverb11, Day 21: Local

Happy last day of Autumn!

What is a local treat that you enjoy? Yesterday at work my COO explained that she still had yet to try maple cotton candy. That treat can be found at the Red Bucket Sugar Shack in Worthington, MA if you're interested. I also believe it's at the Big E in the Vermont building.

We also made a joke about doing shots of maple syrup (I tried to explain about Super Troopers but no one understood). March is a lovely time of year because if the conditions are right the maple syrup season begins. There's nothing better than standing in the steam of the boiler with the faint syrup smell all around you. A table waits for you and your family (a picnic table to be exact) along with a delicious breakfast. This to me celebrates the end of winter and the very start of spring (there's still usually snow on the ground).

In other parts of the US people really do not enjoy the maple products. Its' the fake corn syrup stuff or nothing. I can't even imagine baking apple crisp without maple syrup. My husband even puts the real stuff on his 1/2 a pink grapefruit.

In 2006 we went to Alaska for the first time. On the way back we spent a day in Victoria B.C. Canada. While there we discovered this maple caramel that was very tasty. It used to be a product you could buy on Amazon (we checked) but since then (even during subsequent trips to Canada) we have been unable to locate this caramel. It's sold in this little gift shop in Victoria...and wherever else it's found remains a mystery. I'll be checking this June while in the Atlantic Provinces.

Is there a local treat that really reminds you of home? It could even be pimento cheese in Kentucky if that's your thing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Making a New Year's Resolution

Last year's was easy. Not easy to do, but easy to make. I posted about that earlier this month (it was 'to ski').

For 2012 I could have one of the following resolutions:
1. to maintain my weight, continue to log food and workouts via MyFitnessPal.
2. To do a great job mentoring my new mentee (to be assigned in February).
3. To do great things at the new schools I'm working with (Buffalo, Columbia, Virginia Commonwealth).

Or I could just make another fitness-related one and just say that I need to get an old pair of skates refurbished and sell my old ones.

Anyone interested in buying my size 9 women's figure skates (white, padded inside, standard blades)? 

Reverb11, Days 17-20

I was offline for a few days so I'm typing up my list of prompts in case any of you want to respond to them:

Dec 17. Economy
Day 18. Extreme (I was originally going to post about Extreme Couponing--not that I do it, but it's an odd 40 hour/week habit)
Day 19. Helpful

Here's today: Dec 20: Age

A colleague recently told me that after 40 Birthdays stop being a big deal and stop really being fun. I can't imagine even thinking that--no matter my age. Life's too short to not celebrate your day.

How did you look at age and aging in 2011? How are you looking ahead to 2012 and the age you are going to be? Well, I'm turning 35 in less than a month. I'm one of the rare women that does not hate when people ask me my age. I always answer honestly. I take great care of my skin (always have), have some good genetics going on (thank you, Mom), and I'm seriously not afraid to get older. I'd like to think I'm aging gracefully.

"I like to think I have a little grace. Not as much as Jackie O.. ... "Grace isn't something you can pick up at the market."-Seinfeld episode 

I know that women are obsessed with aging. I mean, look at Demi Moore spending a reported $60,000/year just on fillers and injections for her face. I've seen women that (when asked) have been told "you don't look your age." I remember one woman responding to this by saying: "well, I do go to the gym pretty much daily." Is it stress that ages us? Or is it environment? I spend a lot of time outdoors (but always with a hat/sunscreen/hiding under a tree). 

And no, come January 18th I'm not going to shout out "It's my 21st Birthday...again!!!"

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reverb11, Day 16: Technology

What sort of technology changed your life in 2011? Was it something that changed the way you work or the way you play?

For me, much of 2011 was filled with poor technology. My database at work does the job, but has been known to produce errors and is not really a 2011 database. It's custom for the work that I do but it's clunky and very manual.

Bad technology aside (before I leave this blog for a while and go deal with my bear of a database), there was great technology in 2011. My trusty iPhone and MacBook both continue to improve both my work and home life. The MacBook has been in my life since 2009 and changes the way I travel for work (no more lugging around a bulky Compaq--although that computer got me through grad school so I can't complain).

My Cannon DSLR camera continues to outperform any other camera I've ever owned. My Iceland photos (thank you Tyler as well--because I think you enjoy it as much as I do) amazed colleagues, friends, and family. I'm looking forward to taking that camera to Canada in 2012.

As for new technology in my life...well we got a new TiVo and we now have our old TiVo in the bedroom. So we continue to watch less commercials and enjoy our favorite films and shows. Now we can grab a show from one TiVo to the next. VoIP phones continue to be a lifesaver at work. Since my voice mails get e-mailed to me when I'm on the road I can't imagine surviving without a VoIP phone in my office. That also means that I keep all messages so that if someone wrongly accuses me of something I have proof by just forwarding them the voice mail (only happened once this year thank goodness!).

My nook continues to be fantastic when I travel for work as well. I still read and buy regular books...but there's something so handy about spending a week flying to different cities and never running out of reading material.

I'd love to hear from you about the technology that is making a difference in your life. Hopefully it's something less headache-inducing than a custom built database that looks like it's from the early 90s (yes, it's black and yellow).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Reverb11, Day 15: Procrastinate

That's right. Too funny that weeks ago when I made my Reverb word list this word ended up on today.

I have yet to do my Christmas cards. I have yet to bake the breads for my co-workers. The holiday shopping has been done for weeks (so that I did not hold off on).

So...the word is perfect for me today because co-workers are leaving for vacation and I did not get their bread made. The cards I'll do this weekend (see, I'm procrastinating with that right there).

I'm a great procrastinator. Sometimes things happen quickly. This year I drove around with a busted (but patched radiator) to not only save $ but to also see how long I could go around like that. I drove with a busted AC and just started to sweat part-way home each night after work (this was mid-summer). In the end, we sold that Jeep in August after adding up all the repair costs (she was about to turn 10...our Audi turned 10 and it was one thing after the other so we learned that lesson well).

I'm really good at putting off things until the next day (laundry, dishes) and saving work tasks until day's end (difficult client calls). Tasks I enjoy doing (planning a trip for work or for fun) get done right away. It's fun to find the best deal and start to plan a trip. For our Iceland trip this past September I planned it all by January 16, 2011. By doing so I took advantage of a 50% off hotel rate special that was in early January. I booked the hotels, planned the route, and put the trip aside (waited on buying the airfare).

This coming June my family will be heading to Canada. The Canada book is already on the coffee table with pages folded down. So give me a task like trip-planning and I'm all over it.

What was it during 2011 that you put off doing? Was it looking for a new job or losing that pesky 10 lbs? Was it researching colleges with your teenager (because the longer you put it off the crazy price tag goes down, right?) Or was it just little I mentioned above.

This is my book:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reverb11: Day 14, Lucky

Well I picked the prompt 'lucky' for the 14th because it's my lucky number. It's my husband's lucky number too (awww).

How were you lucky in 2011?

My first thought was that I was lucky to have been employed the entire year. Then I realized that was partially luck but a good part of it was hard work. I have to keep reminding myself to not take my job for granted. I think of luck of a different nature. I escaped the year without any major illness or mishaps.

I did not have the kind of gambling luck. I spent several days at Mohegan Sun and just was not in the gambling mood (I was there for work). My husband went to Vegas this year (also for work) and did not find himself lucky in the casino either.

So yeah, back to the career. I'm still outside of my comfort zone working in a field that is not the original career path I was on prior to the economy taking a deep nose dive. I am lucky to have a stable job and have good working conditions (my own office) and good hours. Most days though I feel like an outsider. Today my boss reminded me: "you can't ask for xyz because you've really only been here a year and a half." (2 years come April 2012, but who is counting). I've worked hard to get to this point. I now have 53 hours of continuing education to complete before July 2013.

Is it luck that got me to this point? Or is it settling? Either way, I'm comfortable with the choices that I made. I have a lot to look forward to in 2012. I'll be assigned a new undergraduate student at Babson College to mentor starting in February. I'll be her mentor all the way until she graduates. Things like that (that I could not do if I had not completed grad school) really are what I feel most lucky about. I feel lucky to give back to my community and at the end of the day that's what helps me sleep well at night.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reverb11: Day 13, Scared

December 13: Scared.

Have you ever noticed how hotels do not have a 13th floor (not sure about apartment buildings and office buildings, but I think it's the same).

What was it that occurred in 2011 that had you scared? Is there something scary about 2012 that you are dreading?

There were a lot of new things in 2011 (or old things turned new again in the case of skiing, kayaking--other things I've already mentioned in my Reverb). I would say in 2011 I got used to the ghetto of Philadelphia. I mean the really bad boarded up, crack deals going down on the corner part of Philadelphia. Why were you in the rough section of Philly? you may ask. Well, as it turns out Temple University Dental School is so far into the depths of bad Philly that you can't even get a cab to come pick you up.

Temple U started letting us vendors valet our cars so this took away the "OHMYGOD my rental car got stolen" fear. And I just get out of there as fast as I came in. See, I can't fly with pepper spray and I certainly can't fly with a knife. So...valet parking is my instant solution.

If you are EVER thinking about sending your kid to Dental school don't get fooled and think the rest of Temple University is 'kinda in a rough spot' and that perhaps the Dental school is in a safer part of Philly. It's not. Now, the kids I work with from Temple Dental are wonderful. However, the boarded up buildings that surround the school and the drive by shooting that went through the clinic doors last year scare the crap out of me. That is all. Send your kid to UPenn and sleep a little better at night.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Reverb11: Days 11 & 12

Day 11: Tradition

How is tradition important in your life? Holidays, special times, can be any kind of tradition.

As the year comes to a close I'm thinking about new traditions that have come about in the past few years. 4th of July in Maine with friends and family. Two years in a row with 4th of July in Shapleigh. Much of it spent sitting by the water with loved ones. Beer in a cooler, home cooked meals, s'mores, campfires, boating, fireworks.

It's kind of interesting that as we are only a few days from Christmas and I'm thinking about summer holidays. I think it is because everyone this time of year is so busy, so rushed, and so frantic. In early July the biggest concern is "do we have enough wood for the fire?", "Where's the beer cooler?", and "I'm going out on the kayak...I'll be back by dinner."

What sort of traditions entered your life the past few years that you intend to keep? It could be that you got married and you're adopting a spouse's family traditions. It could be that you  had a child and you're creating traditions of your own.

Day 12: Unique

What was it about 2011 that was unique? Is there something that you are doing in 2012 that will be unique?

In 2011 we went back to Iceland on vacation. We hiked in Europe's Largest National Park. We saw a glacial lagoon for the first time (icebergs floating out to sea). We ate things we've never eaten before (reindeer meat pie). I enjoy traveling off the beaten path--almost like Anthony Bourdain without the camera crew. Even when I travel for work I try to find new places to eat and explore in my down time.

In 2012 I hope to add some unique adventures to trips that are already planned. We're going to Canada in June on a family vacation and I'll be exploring cities I've never been to (Quebec City, Halifax). I'm also heading to Minnesota in February for a work conference but I think it'll be too cold to really enjoy/explore. This year I went to Buffalo for the first time for work. Next time I'm hoping to check out some of the wineries on the lakes and perhaps arrange a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright house that is near to the city.

I'd love to hear from you about both traditions and unique aspects of this year and next.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Reverb11, Day 10: Cookies

Yes, that's right. I'm Reverb-ing about cookies.

Today I'm making Fresh Ginger Cookies

Looking back on 2011 there were some stand-out cookies and baked goods. To go along with Christmas dinner I'm making a meyer lemon cake that is made with olive oil and Greek yogurt (yes, a healthy cake that does not look or taste healthy).

I also noticed a trend this year of people eating 'breakfast cookies'. The cookies I am speaking with are made with dozens of ingredients I can't pronounce and are loaded with fake sugar. "But look, they have vitamins!" I know that many breakfast cereals are the equivalent of giving your child a plate of cookies and milk. However, I can't even imagine sending my kid off to school (not that I'm a parent) with a 'breakfast cookie' in their bag.

It's real cookies all the way in this house. Many made with just a few ingredients we have on hand (such as the above cookies).

What tasty treat did you bake in 2011? Even from a mix counts (we really enjoy the Trader Joe's bread mixes in our house). Is there a traditional cookie you bake every holiday season?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reverb11: Days 8 & 9

Today is two in one because I was in a continuing education class all day yesterday.

Day 8: Difficult.

What was it about 2011 that was difficult? What did you learn from this experience?

For me in 2011 I obtained the last license I needed in order to do my job (legally). I studied for more than 1 year and got the last license in July of 2011. Just when I thought I was done with tests and studying when I finished grad school in December 2009, in 2010 I found myself back in the classroom with books in my hand.

That piece of paper from the state of MA meant that my boss now calls me his colleague. It means I'm legal to write and sell property & casualty insurance for my clients. I'm glad it's over because now as long as I keep my CE classes going my license will renew every 3 years.

Day 9, Strong. Today, December 9 is my Dad's birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad! I'm proud of you for talking about retirement in a year and having already lined up a retirement job after a very rewarding career you'll be on to a second one during retirement.

How did you feel strong in 2011? Was there something that really makes it so you can face 2012? For me, it's yoga. During this year I read the book 'My Life in 23 Yoga Poses' and I highly recommend the book (even if you don't do yoga). It's really a humorous life for those of us that live in the suburbs of a city, in a city, or just in place surrounded by Yuppie Moms (I mean this in the most affectionate of ways). Now I'm not what you would call a Yoga person. I take Centergy at my gym and I like that the music, pace, and teacher, take it a far way from chanting and sweating in a hot room.

In 2011 I cashed in a Groupon and started doing some hot yoga classes on the side. I knew people in my neighborhood did hot yoga and always said good things. I hate the heat (read: my favorite vacation spot is ICELAND). It turns out, the hot yoga (despite giving me a bit of heat rash) is actually wonderful. Like the instructor says: you suffer through 90 minutes of yoga or you suffer with bad health for 90 years.

I'd love to hear from you. What made you strong in 2011 and what sort of challenge did you face this year.
(26 Bikram Yoga poses):

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reverb11: Day 7, Seasonal

Seasonal. This prompt immediately makes me think of February. That's when the garden catalogs start to come in the mail. My favorite one from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is really quite special. They have the largest heirloom seed collection in the world. The business was started by a young guy (I think he was in his teens when he started saving and trading seeds). Now he's married with a young daughter and really making an impact on the seed growing world. They recently bought a seed company in Connecticut. In California they bought an old bank in Petaluma (click the link to see the photo--very cool) and turned it into a seed store.

Baker Creek's catalog each year is coffee table worthy. It's beautiful. It has opened my mind (and my garden) to really strange things. Round cucumbers? Small baby cucumbers that look like mini watermelons (1" long)? Oh yeah, they have that. And more.

I try to eat as seasonally as possible and visit farm stands and farmer's markets. We do canning and some years are better than others. This year we made refrigerator pickles and dilly beans. Sadly, we did not make any tomato sauce. If anyone has a good recipe for tomato sauce that cans well please do share. :)

What was seasonal about your 2011? Do you also eagerly await the first seed catalog (we start our seeds indoors in March). Do you have a favorite farm stand? I'd love to hear what was seasonal about your year: it could even be some sort of seasonal tradition like apple picking, making snowmen, or chopping wood (I helped stack wood this year).
(Photo source:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reverb 11: Day 6, Unique

I'm taking a break between client calls to type this in and it's a welcome break. My voice is a little raspy today (my husband has a nasty cold so I'm fighting it off on my end). It's just such a relief sometimes to type instead of talk.

Today's Reverb is the word unique. What was it about 2011 that makes it a unique year for you? Were there any experiences or people you met that changed your life?

I meet literally hundreds of new people in a year. I travel to conferences and trade shows for work so I shake a lot of hands (back to those pesky germs...). I was flying out of Pittsburgh this October trying to get home to Boston during a snow storm. (Yes, I said October and snowstorm in the same sentence. Those of you that live in the Northeast know what I'm talking about). I met this older guy (he was in his late 80s). He was waiting for a plane to NY and was eventually flying on to India for his final trip of his life. He called it his "last Hurrah." It turns out he was a professor back in the day and was quite brilliant. He was reading the paper and offered it to me when he was finished. He had a lot to say about politics and universal health care.

It turns out he was staying with friends in India. The guy in India got quite wealthy from this man helping him get his start in a business many years ago. He loves India as it turns out, and he was very excited about his trip because he was staying there a whole month. I'm not sure why this was his last trip (although I can picture someone in their late 80s having a rough time with two days of travel to get there). Maybe he was dying although he seemed pretty robust when I met him. It was clear to me that the man was quite brilliant. He was waiting in the Boston flight's terminal because his NY flight was delayed and he was not sure if he was leaving Pittsburgh that night. I luckily made it home 2 hours late (and landed in the snow without a winter jacket--that was fun since we had to go down the steps like it was the 1960s or something).

This man (I never got his name) really made me think. I talk to a lot of random people in airports (shout out to the wine bar in the Philly airport) but to meet someone taking their LAST trip just gives me chills. He for some reason knew he did not have a lot of time left and he was going to see his friend for a final goodbye.

I'd love to hear about someone unique you met in 2011 or a unique experience that really left a mark on your soul.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Reverb11, Day 5: Delicious

Delicious. What was delicious about 2011? Was there a new food you tried?

I finally bought a Crock Pot large enough to make dinner in. We were given a small round one as a gift years ago. I saved up my spare change, went to CoinStar, and got an gift card. I used that gift card to buy a Crock Pot.

I used it a few times and I must say I picked a winner. Some of the Crock Pots online have reviews saying that the food gets burned or dried out because the Low is not really Low or something. I have not made a single non-delicious meal with this appliance. Unlike the 'set it and forget it' rotisserie (gifted to us as a wedding shower gift by my husband's grandfather) it does not require a crazy amount of cleaning.  Ron Popeil was a master in his time (read about him in 'What the Dog Saw' by Malcolm Gladwell).

Set it and forget it aside...what was delicious about your 2011? Did you go to a restaurant that really stands out from the others? Did you master the art of bread, fudge, pie, or pot roast? I'd love to hear from you.

(the great Ron Popeil, RIP)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Reverb11, Day 4: Learn

2011 was another year that I was not in grad school (finished in 2009) so I enjoyed being part of my book club once again at Newtonville Books. My promise to myself when I graduated was to re-join book club and start reading for fun again.

Years ago I learned that everything is in balance if I'm reading each week. I also enjoy reading magazines (particularly when I travel for work) and I also read the Boston Globe (on actual paper!) each work day since my office gets delivery. If I'm taking time to read each day even for a little while it is a nice break from staring at the computer all day.

It's strange though--I have not been to my library for a while. I guess it is because I'm not around on weekends all that often. I was thinking about getting a library card at our town in Maine. There's something special about small town libraries. They are a dying breed in this economy, sadly.

In book club we're already into 2012. We're reading The Tiger's Wife for our January meeting. What book in 2011 made you not only learn but really think? For me it was 11/22/63. Stephen King's latest and one of the Top 10 Best Books of 2011 (New York Times). I highly recommend reading it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Reverb11, Day 3: Solitidue

Solitude. For me that involves the wilderness. This year for our lakehouse renters we purchased kayaks. I'd kayaked a few times before but certainly never had the confidence to go out on my own. It turns out the hardest part is getting into the kayak.

I learned during the summer from my friend Sandra (one weekend in August it was her first time kayaking) that the best time to go out on the lake is the morning. The lake is calm and there are no jet skis or crazy speedboats showing off. We decided one Sunday morning to take the kayaks out before breakfast. It's strange, I'm not a morning person during the work week but take me into the woods and suddenly getting out and doing something involving nature in the morning (versus being in an office) and I'm all over it.

We went to a part of the lake I'd never been since the water was high enough. There were lily pads and various ducks. Since we were in kayaks we could navigate the shallow water. To me this is the perfect illustration of solitude: getting outside before the rest of the world is up. There are no waves. There are no bugs to bite you. Trying something new is never easy (like kayaking) but now that I've got a kayak I can't imagine life without one.

What did you do in 2011 that allowed you to enjoy the solitude? Did you enjoy stargazing around a campfire or hiking in the woods? Did you enjoy an early morning kayaking adventure with a friend that allowed you to take in the scenery and the quiet morning like I did? I'd love to hear from you.

(Me hiking in Eastern Iceland, September 2011)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Reverb11: Day 2, Brave

This past year I can't think of a single person in my life braver than both of my parents. My Mom's breast cancer treatments and surgery came to an end this year after more than a year. 2010 was a much harsher year than 2011, but 2011 had it's rough spots for the family and those close to my Mom.

We just had a wonderful family Thanksgiving. Everyone at the table toasted to good health. Keeping this Reverb short so I don't cry at work.

Who in your life has been brave in 2011? It could even be yourself for that matter. Here's to a healthy 2012!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reverb #11 (Day 1: Fresh)

This year the folks that brought you Reverb are no longer doing it on their own. They have asked bloggers to continue the tradition by doing their own Reverb.

Here's some examples of other Reverbs. It started today, December 1 and will go every day in December.

Some days you might have your own thoughts to add or your own response to the Reverb. I'd love to hear from you. And...we're off:

Reverb 11: Day 1, Fresh

In 2011 what was it in your life that seemed fresh and new? Was it picking up an old hobby or talent? Maybe it was taking a class in a topic that interested you. Perhaps a new job, or a new family member born to your family. For me I started cross country skiing again in 2011. As many of you in New England remember we had quite the winter.

There were weeks and weeks on end where my work closed down 1 day that week due to snow. I made the most of it. I had a simple New Year's Resolution for 2012: to ski. My parents made this goal possible. They got me new skis for Christmas and new boots for my birthday. I fell in love with skiing at Broadmoor in South Natick, MA. The combination of woods, fields, and quiet trails were wonderful.

In 2011 my goal was also to get back to my 2008 weight. This took 9 months of hard work but I was able to do it (and yes, there's an app for that--that's what worked for me). I'd like to think that my FRESH approach to a New Year's resolution is what helped. I picked up an old sport--something I had not done in years.

What was FRESH in your 2011? I'd love to hear from you.