2015 resolutions revisited

Time to recap my 2015 resolutions before 2016 arrives! Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!

Resolution #1: Decide whether to train for a full marathon
I’m going to count this one as a win even though it required little to no effort on my part. After getting hurt during the Disney World Half Marathon in January I decided to postpone my full marathon attempt for another year. It took me almost two months of rest to recover and get back to running again, but it was worth it. I’m glad I didn’t commit to marathon training this year because it allowed me to participate in quite a whole bunch of fall races that I otherwise would have had to skip. (I’m working on another post about that. My fall race schedule was insane!) Luckily I’ve been healthy for a majority of the year, and as of right now I am eagerly anticipating signing up for the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2017. It will be the day before my 38th birthday so it seems like the perfect time to tackle such an ambitious feat. Registration opens in April and I’m nervous, but excited too! I’ve already put my marathon training plan on my calendar (purchased in Alaska this summer) that I’ll hang on the wall in my cubicle in 2016. It’s going to be a crazy year!

Resolution #2: Less screen time
If you’d asked me about this one halfway through the year I would have called it a win, but after that I started slipping back into old habits. Earlier this year I was turning off the television when I started getting ready for bed, but work/life/running stress caused me to go back to watching mindless TV at night. I know it has a negative impact on my sleep quality, but I just like the noise. With this in mind I want to try using a radio app like Pandora or iHeartRadio with a sleep timer on it instead. Also, I want to go back to turning off the television when I start getting ready for bed in favor of listening to podcasts or radio instead. I put blue light filters on my laptop and iPads at the beginning of the year because I was worried that my evening screen time was detrimental to my sleep, and I think it did help. However, I know that turning off all of the visual stimulation at night will be even more beneficial. Let’s just hope I can stick with it this time!

Resolution #3: Wear a bikini
An unequivocal win! When I went to Hawaii in June there was no way I was going to leave without donning a bathing suit and swimming in the Pacific Ocean. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it since I’d put on a few pounds while I was recovering from my knee injury in the spring, but I still packed a bikini (newly purchased, of course, to replace the old suits I hadn’t worn in years) in my suitcase and I was determined to wear it. Not just to fulfill some silly New Year’s resolution, but also to prove that how I perceive my body won’t stop me from having as much fun as possible. I want to get the most out of life, no matter what the number on the scale happens to be at any given time. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be healthy (and slim, if I’m honest), but that I refuse to allow my weight or my measurements to dictate my happiness. I’m 36 years old and finally starting to make this distinction! I still have a long way to go, but wearing a bikini this summer in Maui was the first step. And what better place than the incredible beachfront mansion with a private pool where my friends and I stayed? That’s a vacation I’ll not soon forget.

Resolution #4: Blog about events in a timely manner
I’m not quite sure which category to put this one in. It’s a win in the sense that there are only a couple of major events from 2015 that I haven’t written about yet, but the “timely manner” part of the resolution points towards failure instead. I still haven’t posted about my amazing trip to Alaska! (Hopefully I can get that done before I have to go back to work on Monday. It’s going to take a lot of effort on my part to not squander what remains of my free time during this holiday break.) Looking back, 2015 was an unbelievable year for me (which is obvious looking at my photo albums from races, vacations, and holidays), but I haven’t done it justice in writing. It’s a shame. Luckily January is historically my most productive month as far as blogging is concerned, so maybe I’ll be caught up on my recaps before 2016 is too old. I can’t promise that I’ll be any more prompt with my documentation of my life in the coming year, but as always, I’ll certainly try.

Resolution #5: Visit more states
This last resolution is definitely a win, but to a lesser extent than I original planned. There were a few obstacles that prevented me from adding more color to my “states visited” map in 2015. First of all, I only travelled to DC for work once this year. I wanted to take a side trip to Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont when I was on the East Coast, but I just didn’t have the time required for such a venture during my business trip in July. I did have the opportunity to take a quick jaunt (more like a three-hour drive with all the traffic) to New Jersey on the last day of that trip, but it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped it would be. It was still progress, though. Also, I was supposed to meet my family in Oregon in May, but fluid work obligations made that impossible. Maybe I’ll be able to visit California’s neighbor to the north sometime in 2016. On a positive note, the crowning glory of 2015 was our family vacation to Alaska in August. Denali National Park is such a breathtaking place and I loved every minute that we got to spend there. It was an absolutely incredible experience. More on that when I finally get around to writing a post about the trip. So as of the end of this year I’ve visited 35 of 50 states. Not bad when you think about it, but I still have 30% of the country to go. It’s a good thing I already have plans for 2016!

Christmas television

The first paragraph of this post was written while waiting to board my flight to Tallahassee on December 22nd, but my in-flight seating arrangements were so uncomfortable I never finished it during the many hours I spent on the plane. (Instead I read a book and watched Star Wars movies on my iPad.) And of course I was far too busy to crack open my laptop at all while I was in Florida for Christmas. Too many entertaining things to do instead! But now that I’m back home it’s time to start blogging again. 2016 will be here in a few days!

I have about a dozen different Christmas TV shows and movies on my DVR right now. I’d like to blame that backlog on the hectic nature of the holiday season, but the truth is that I’ve spent the majority of my screen time this month binge watching other things instead! A lot of shows have big winter finales in December and I wanted to catch up on all of my favorite series in time to see the mid-season finales before leaving town for Christmas. I have priorities, after all. (I didn’t say they were good priorities!) “Arrow” and “Once Upon A Time” were great, “Agents of SHIELD” was pretty good, and “Doctor Who” is always my main priority. So despite missing the initial airings of perennial Christmas specials I still watched a lot of TV while saving the seasonal content for future consumption. I plan to watch it when I get back from Florida next week. After all, the holidays aren’t over until I have to go back to work, and this year that isn’t until January 4th! As I walked out of my house on my way to the airport this morning I took one final look at my pretty little Christmas tree. It won’t be long before I’ll be putting it away for another year, and I’m going to need some uplifting programming to accompany that least favorite of all holiday activities.

Now that Christmas is over and I’m back in California with six glorious days before I have to go drag myself to work again, it’s time to start making a dent in the many hours of holiday television that are taking up space on my DVR. So far today I’ve watched quite a few Christmas episodes of “The Simpsons, “Family Guy,” and “Teen Titans Go!” It’s a lovely way to spend a cold Los Angeles day (at least compared to Florida right now) while I’m trying to unpack my suitcase and readjust to Pacific Time. I can’t say I’ve accomplished much else today, but at least I’ve free up DVR space for all of the spring premieres that are coming in January. Hooray! On second thought, maybe I should make a New Year’s Resolution to watch less TV instead. We’ll see!

Beach Cities Challenge 2015

“So I missed out on getting a Long Beach race medal this year, but I’m not really all that upset about it. I’m already planning to do the Beach Cities Challenge next year, which means three half marathons in 2015 – Huntington Beach in February, Orange County in May, and Long Beach in October. It might take a bit longer, but I’ll get that medal eventually!
10/17/14 webpage post

So I got my Beach Cities Challenge medal in October, but I must admit that I didn’t really earn it. In February I was injured for the Surf City half marathon so it was a miserable experience. I did complete the race, but I was slow and in a lot of pain. I walked the last 5 miles due to my knee problems, which was really frustrating. Luckily after a couple of months of recuperation I was able to get back to running regularly again. However, when the OC half marathon rolled around in May I just wasn’t ready for it (and I didn’t want to overdo it before the Tinkerbell half marathon a week later – priorities!), so one of my co-workers ran it with my bib. He finished it a full hour faster than I would have! I felt a little guilty taking credit for a race that I didn’t run, but the registration would have gone to waste otherwise. I swear that I’ll cross the finish line legitimately one of these years (2016 is still up in the air), but for the sake of the Beach Cities Challenge I checked the box for 2015.

The Long Beach half marathon is the only one of the three races that I really ran this year. I was finally healthy and back in some semblance of shape, but that weekend in October was so hot that it wasn’t pleasant. The half marathon was scheduled to start at 7:30 AM, but the weather forecast was so bleak that the participants were given the option of starting at 6 AM with the full marathoners. That was really helpful because we were able to get quite a few miles behind us before the sun really started beating down. Actually, I felt pretty good until about the halfway point. But about three miles in the middle of the course are on a beach path with absolutely no shade, so that’s where the heat really started taking its toll. Before then I was maintaining a decent pace, but I slowed down significantly after mile 7. Believe it or not, I finished the race with a respectable time (for me), so I can only imagine how much better it would have been in cooler weather. If I can fit next year’s race into my marathon training plan (yikes!) I might try it again to see if I can improve on my performance. After the half marathon was complete I collected my Beach Cities Challenge medal. It’s hanging in my cubical at work, along with all my other 2015 race medals, partially for bragging rights, and partially as a reminder that I want 2016 to be different. I probably won’t complete the Beach Cities Challenge in 2016 (skipping the OC half marathon seems likely), but some other year I’ll earn it without cutting any corners.

Potluck Day 2015

Our annual holiday potluck at work was on Tuesday, and it was incredible, as usual. I look forward to the potluck all year, but unfortunately this particular incarnation fell on a very busy day. I had an important meeting at 1:30 PM that afternoon so I had to dress up for work. At 5 AM I rolled out of bed, threw on a dress and cardigan (and my favorite Christmas pin), and dragged all of the necessary items for the potluck to work. I needed to get there by 6 AM to start the Crockpot hot chocolate so that it would be ready for breakfast. My first batch, at least. I used the same recipe as last year because so many people loved it. Until breakfast started I prepared for my afternoon meeting, stirring the hot chocolate every 30 minutes. Do you really need to ask what I had for breakfast at the potluck? Scones, of course! I anticipate those little slices of heaven all year, and they never disappoint. This year was no different. I limited myself to two scones that morning because I wanted to have an appetite at lunchtime, but I hoarded quite a few others for future consumption (dessert, snacks, and breakfast the next day). By 9:30 AM it was obvious that I needed to start a second batch of hot chocolate. Some of my co-workers are serious hot chocolate vultures! Luckily I anticipated this and brought enough ingredients to make another batch that would be ready for lunch.

Lunch started at 11:30 AM. Unfortunately I had to grab a plate of food and eat it at my desk because I was still scrambling to get ready for my meeting. While poring over my charts I feasted on a delicious combination of chicken salad, meatballs, and manicotti. My co-workers are amazing cooks. I made a batch of chili to share, and this time I combined last year’s bacon chili recipe and this year’s Cincinnati style chili recipe. I didn’t get to taste it myself, but it sure smelled good when it was cooking. I got some good feedback too, but one person told me he liked the regular bacon chili better. I’ll remember that for the chili cook-off next year. My afternoon meeting was really difficult because I was sleepy after stuffing myself silly all day. And being the last presenter at the end of 2.5 hours wasn’t ideal either, but I got through it and everyone seemed happy at the conclusion. Personally, I was thrilled to go home after 11 hours at work and put on some comfortable clothes! I didn’t get to relax too much, though, because I was meeting a friend at the movies that night. For the last two years I’ve been going to Rifftrax’s Christmas show by myself so I was excited when my friend expressed interest in joining me this year. And we had so much fun. This year’s movie was “Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny” which practically asks to be made fun of. I haven’t laughed that much in a long time. Rifftrax has definitely become one of my holiday traditions. So after the potluck, the meeting, and the movie I had a very long Tuesday, but it was worth it. I love the holidays!

#tbt – My old passport

Today I started the process of changing my name on my passport so that I will be prepared for my cruise to the Bahamas in February. (I probably should have sent it in before now, but as usual hindsight is 20/20.) So I pulled my old passport out of a box this evening and flipped through it. I’ve had three passports in my life (check out some of the stamps from my old passports here), and I got the latest one back in 2008 before I went to New Zealand with my ex-husband for Christmas. I’d renewed my passport for our honeymoon in 2007 when my last name was still Gleason, but a year later I needed a new one with my married name on it. It’s a shame this passport was only used to leave the country once. (I’ve used it for several trips within the United States when I accidentally booked plane tickets under my married name…after I reverted back to my maiden name last year. Oops.) Not that New Zealand is anything other than a sensational destination, but I’d like to see more of the world! The good news is that the new passport that I’m applying for now will be used to visit the Bahamas in just over two months. I can’t wait!

#BringBackMST3K

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. When I was in college I used to get up early on Saturdays and watch the new episodes on the Sci-Fi Channel (now called SyFy) while my sorority sisters were sleeping off their hangovers. (This was when we had only two communal cable-equipped TVs in the house. The demand for screen time was basically nonexistent on weekend mornings.) I was so disappointed when MST3K was cancelled in 1999, but the reruns kept me laughing every weekend through graduation. The good news is that these days just about every episode is available on YouTube. There’s even a website that will tell you exactly where to find all of them – MST3K A Day. It certainly saves me a lot of money on DVDs! Not that I need to watch any more television than I already do, but sometimes only an episode of Mystery Science Theater is just what the doctor ordered.

On November 10th Joel Hodgson started a Kickstarter campaign called Bring Back MST3K. I discovered it a few days later and immediately made a small pledge. I had no idea if the project would get any traction, but I was willing to help out if there was any chance to get new episodes. Then on Thanksgiving as I was binge watching Mystery Science Theater online during the Turkey Day Marathon I saw just how popular the campaign was becoming. So many people love the show and want to see it return. So I decided that this year my Christmas present to myself was going to be contributing to the Bring Back MST3K Kickstarter. I increased my pledge quite a bit because what could be a better gift than new episodes of one of my favorite TV shows? Luckily a lot of other people felt the same way because as of the deadline last night the campaign raised more than enough money to fund 14 new episodes! It turned out to be more than $6 million. Wow! I’ll have to wait until sometime next year for Santa to deliver this particular present, but it will be worth the wait.

Love Actually

It’s no secret that I love Christmas movies. While putting up my Christmas tree (and all of the rest of my holiday decorations – more on that another time) after Thanksgiving I watched “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Meet Me in St. Louis” (a movie for all seasons, but works for Christmas), and “White Christmas.” All excellent choices. Along with all of the old classics, there’s a slightly more contemporary movie that everyone seems to love this time of year – “Love Actually.” It shows up on my list of recommended movies every time I open up Netflix to binge watch old episodes of “Once Upon A Time,” “X-Files,” or “Call the Midwife.” (Eclectic, right? I’m nothing if not multi-faceted!) “Love Actually” used to be one of my favorites too, but due to certain parallels with my own life I just can’t watch it any more. Back in 2010 my ex-husband had an affair. Back then I alluded to difficult times in my webpage posts, but I never said anything concrete about it to avoid completely publicizing my personal struggles. Even now I won’t go into details because it wouldn’t be constructive, but it was an event that changed me forever. More than five years have passed since then, but I still can’t handle the cheating storyline in “Love Actually.” Watching Emma Thompson cry silently to the tune of “Both Sides Now” makes my heart ache like it did back in 2010 when I was hurting more than I ever though possible. Even as the memories are getting dimmer with time, I still don’t like reliving those miserable days. So for the sake of my own sanity I stick to happier holiday fare like “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Muppet’s Christmas Carol,” and “A Christmas Story.” Revisiting the past usually isn’t beneficial, but sometimes it helps to look back and see how far I’ve come since that dark time. These days life is good, and this year Christmas is going to be amazing!

“I have to consider how to best make myself happy and also give myself the best chance of a positive outcome in the future. So bear with me because one way or another my life is going to completely change in 2010. It’s hard to imagine now, but the thought of laughing and smiling sincerely is what’s keeping me going. I have to believe that something better is waiting for me out there. What it is I have no idea, but just knowing about it existence is comforting. I know I’ll get there eventually and that’s a good thought.”
05/01/10 webpage post