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Now that I’m finally coming up for air after a week of celebrating, I wanted to make sure to capture just how special my birthday was this year.  I’ve written before about how my parents always made my birthday like my own private holiday, and this year was no exception.

The birthday festivities started on Monday, with a dinner at my friend Tinkerbell’s house.  She made really delicious food and gave me a “fun in the sun” gift bag filled with lots of goodies that I’m going to enjoy using all summer long.

Next up was a birthday dinner with my parents and sister on Wednesday night.  We went to an Italian restaurant that we enjoy, and had great food.  Afterward we went back to my parents’ house where I opened presents.  They were all really generous, and bought me everything I’d wanted from my Amazon wishlist, including a new  blender, a beautiful ring, a pretty turquoise and silver necklace, and car wash certificates, to name a few. I know just how lucky I am to have this family.

Thursday, my actual birthday, was one of the best days of recent memory.  I woke up, enjoyed a quiet cup of coffee, perused social media and saw all of the fun birthday wishes, and took Sofi on a long walk.  All leading up to spending the day with RDC3.  That’s what I was most looking forward to because I knew we were going to have an amazing time, as we always do when he and I are together.  No matter what we do, I always have the best time with him because he makes everything so special.  And is there really anything better than spending time with someone you’re crazy about?

For so long, I wanted to share my life with someone, and now that I have this amazing man in my life, it makes all the years that I was alone worth it.  He is definitely worth the wait, and I’m so grateful that fate stepped in and put him in my life.  As independent as I am, I have to admit that I’m a person who enjoys being part of a couple.  But not just with anyone – it takes a very special someone to spark this in me and RDC3 definitely has.  I don’t want to gush, but the relationship we’re forging is really more than I could have ever dreamed of.

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Our day started with him surprising me with a bag from Chanel.  I wasn’t expecting any sort of present from him because he’d just taken me to the opera (that post will be coming soon) the week before, and I’d told him that that was more than enough of a birthday present.  So when he presented me with a beautifully decorated gift bag from Chanel, which he’d gone up to SF to buy at their boutique so that they would wrap it with all the trimmings, I was floored.  He bought me a beautiful bottle of Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, which has a light, fresh fragrance that is sure to become my new signature scent.  Every time I wear it, I’ll definitely think of him and how thoughtful he is to go out of his way to buy this for me.  Not just the expense of the present, which is significant, but the fact that he went all the way to SF to buy it at the boutique so that they’d wrap it up in such pretty packaging.  He definitely knows how to make me feel special.  The card that he wrote which accompanied the gift is something I’ll also treasure.  RDC3 always claims that he’s not great with words, but the things he wrote in that card definitely made my heart smile.

After the gift, we were on our way to Half Moon Bay, at my request.  There’s a beach right near El Grenada called Pillar Point that has to be my very favorite place on earth.  It has huge boulders that reach all the way out to the middle of the ocean, and lots of fishermen and surfers go there.  Not too many tourists, although it’s right by an RV park.  I discovered it by accident about 20 years ago, and ever since, it’s held a really special place in my heart.  Whenever I was having a bad day and just needed to clear my head, I’d drive there with my notebook and write about whatever was going on. I loved hearing the crash of the waves and seeing the inevitable fog roll in and realize how small my problems were in comparison to the immensity of the ocean.  The ocean is such a source of comfort and power for me, and I love spending time at this place, just thinking about life.  I hadn’t been since losing my weight, and I’d never taken someone special there before, so it meant a lot that we were going there together.

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Climbing the rocks is always a bit daunting for me, but I found that it was quite a bit easier for me this time around than ever before.  Just another example of how much my weight loss has positively impacted my life.  RDC3 and I found  the perfect spot, and we each took to our own rocks to take in the scene.  I really liked that we were able to be there together, but each enjoy it in our own separate ways.

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After a time, I asked RDC3 to join me on my rock so that we could sit there quietly and take everything in together.  Sitting on the rock with him, sharing with him how special it was for me to have him there with me in that moment and in my life in general meant so much. He told me something incredibly touching (which I’m going to keep between the two of us), and again my heart swelled with happiness.  I got a bit teary eyed thinking about how lucky I am to have this amazing person in my life.

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View through the sun roof as we were driving on Hwy 1

View through the sun roof as we were driving on Hwy 1

Next up we were driving up Highway 1, on our way to SF to the Cliff House for dinner.  I’d never been, although I’d passed by it many times while I lived in San Fran.  RDC3’s father used to take him there to celebrate special occasions, so the restaurant had a lot of sentimental value for him, making it all the more meaningful that he wanted to bring me there for my birthday.  RDC3 had requested a window table, which is the only way to go at this restaurant.  The views are breathtaking!

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We decided on a great bottle of red, which I completely loved, as you can tell.

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This is a really expensive restaurant; definitely something for special occasions.  The menu is limited, but the food is truly delicious.  I ordered the lamb chops and RDC3 got the duck. We thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, the food, and the entire experience.

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After dinner, I wanted to walk along Ocean Beach.  It was so hauntingly beautiful that I just couldn’t resist going in.  Whenever I’m by the ocean, I always have to at least dip my feet into the water, but this night I was feeling so happy, that I waded out a bit further, even though I had my jeans on and it was freezing outside.  Oddly enough, the water was fairly warm (for an SF ocean), so I started getting a bit more daring. 

 

Even I didn’t expect a huge wave to crash up and hit my jeans all the way up to my thighs!  RDC3 looked like he wasn’t quite sure what to do with this crazy girl who was completely soaked, yet laughing at it all.  In that moment I was just so grateful and happy.

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I can honestly say that this has been the best birthday I’ve had in the past 20 years, maybe ever.  It has everything to do with the people in my life making me feel so loved and cherished.  I am so blessed to have all of these people in my life, and I will never forget July 2, 2015.  It was a day to remember forever.

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bilbl_superOn Sunday, June 14th my sister, 3 friends, and I got up super early and drove up to San Francisco’s Presidio area to participate in the inaugural Mermaid Series Tour de San Francisco bike ride.  I was so excited to take part in this ride because I’ve participated in Mermaid Series events a few times in the past, and appreciated how organized and fun they are. Plus, I love riding my bike, and who better to do it with than my sister and my 3 BFFs?  Not to mention, I’ve never ridden my bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, so that would be exciting, too.

We’d signed up for the 7-mile ride, choosing the more conservative mileage since this was our first attempt.  I kept thinking we should’ve signed up for the 13-miler, but once I saw the hills involved in that leg of the ride, I’m so glad we stuck with the shorter distance.

Since it was 6:30am when we left my house, the ride up to the City was smooth and easy.  Hardly any other crazies on the road at that time of the morning on a Sunday.  We even found a primo parking area, which made the start of the race really nice.

Of course we had to stop and take some pre-race photos to capture the moment.

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Geared up and ready to ride!

Geared up and ready to ride!

It was a foggy morning, which is usual at Crissy Field in the morning, but it was the perfect temperature for the bike ride.  As we made our approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, we all took photos to capture the beauty all around us.

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As we turned that corner, we realized what they meant by a “medium-sized hill.”  I guess the Mermaid Series is all about the art of understatement, because the hill was quite steep.  I rode it almost all the way to the top, but eventually had to get off my bike and walk.  One of my goals for next year’s ride (because my friends and I all plan on doing this ride again next year) is to make it up the hill all the way without getting off to walk.

Once we hit a really scenic area right before we’d get on the Bridge, we all stopped to take photos again.

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I love this pic of my sister and me and our

I love this pic of my sister and me and our “dueling” bikes.

Now it was time to get on the Bridge and ride. The wind was blowing, the fog was rolling, the cars were speeding by, and other bikers kept saying, “on your left,” but despite these obstacles, I was truly awed at the fact that I was riding my bike on this magnificent bridge.  There really is nothing else like it anywhere.

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The journey toward Sausalito was tough – my legs were pumping and we were fighting the elements, including that brutal wind, which offered a ton of resistance.  There was also a very steady incline the entire time.  All of this didn’t phase me, though, because if I have one thing going for me with these big thighs it’s that they’re strong and powerful.

We made it to the Sausalito side and found another opportunity to take a water break and snap a few more photos.

My sis and I, happy that we made it across.

My sis and I

When one of your friends is 6 feet tall and you're only 5'3

When one of your friends is 6 feet tall and you’re only 5’3″, taking a selfie is tough business.

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Luckily, we found two nice sisters who were willing to take a proper group photo for us. I love this photo so much, and have made it my cover photo on FB.

Inspired that we’d made it halfway across the Bridge, we knew heading back to the end would be much easier. Not only was the wind on our side this way, but we also had a steady decline on the way back, too.  I had my bike on the highest gear and my had on the break almost the entire way back.  The only harrowing part was the cross traffic of bikers, and the “expert” riders who were also trying to pass in a very narrow space.  Since this wasn’t a race, but just a ride, I’m not sure what the need was to pass with so little room.  Not to mention that most of these people weren’t even taking part in the ride.  I guess people like speed.  I’m not one to talk – I’m highly competitive and prefer going as fast as possible, most of the time.

I got away from most of the “traffic” so that I could take a few more action shots and a quick video.

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The entire time I was riding to the finish line, I just kept thinking about how happy I was to share this experience with these awesome ladies.  And about how far I’d come – at my heaviest weight I might have been able to make the 7-miles, but I know I would’ve been so much slower and very sore for days afterward.  And I would have been ultra concerned with how my big butt looked on that cruiser.  I can honestly say this thought didn’t even cross my mind once during the ride.  I know I still have a big booty, but I’m proud of it, and all of my curves.  Doing these kinds of events always solidifies for me how much I’ve accomplished in my weight loss and fitness goals.

Once we hit the finish line, which we crossed as a 5-pack, we triumphed over our achievement.  You can’t miss those huge smiles on our faces at a job well done.

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I cannot say enough about what a great time we had on this ride.  It was scenic, challenging, and so much fun.  If you have the chance to do a Mermaid Series race, ride, or swim, I highly recommend it.  My sister, friends, and I all said we’re looking forward to making this an annual adventure. Can’t wait!

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Summer_Sun1_000002It’s finally summer vacation!!!

I want to apologize for disappearing from the blog without any warning.  It wasn’t my intention, but life just got so hectic there at the end.  The end of this school year seemed especially busy for some reason.  But it all turned out fantastically well, and I’m so happy to be enjoying Day 2 of summer vacation. I have so much to update that I almost don’t know where to start.  I guess I’ll do a bit of a weekend update, and then take it from there.

Friday was my last teacher workday, which is always a nice, easy way to end the school year.  I was out of there by noon, and then spent the next several hours vegging out on the couch.  My sister and I went to go see The Fault in Our Stars, which I really enjoyed.  I loved the book, and the movie did a great job with staying true to it.  The actor playing Augustus Waters was phenomenal.  It was a great way to kick off the summer.

Saturday was all about sprucing up my yards.  My dad came over at 9am, and he and I worked until 3:30, stopping only briefly at 2pm to eat a quick lunch.

We started off transplanting groundcover from the backyard to the front.  This plant grows prodigiously, so I thought it would be a great way to thin out the backyard groundcover and fill in some spaces in my front yard.  It worked really well, and once it settles in and takes root, it will look great.  I’m not sure if it shows up, but this plant has tiny hot pink flowers that bloom during the summer. (That bush in the middle of the photo was already there – I’d purchased those back in April to replace two diseased bushes that I’d had the gardeners remove.  Even though I’m a renter, I don’t mind purchasing this kind of thing to make the house look good, because I get a lot of enjoyment out of a pretty yard. Plus, I can dig the bushes up if I ever move).

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Next, my dad and I headed to OSH to buy hoses, sprayers, planters, spliters, potting soil, etc.  You can see the soaker hose (black hose) in the photo above.  $153 later, we had plenty of essentials. Once the groundcover grows a bit more it will hide the hose, which will look better.  The soaker hose is cool because you can turn it on and leave it for 10 minutes and it slowly waters the groundcover.  After OSH, we headed to Summerwinds, the best nursery in our area.  I bought lots of full sun annuals and flowers for the hanging pots I’d bought on a whim at OSH ($77).  Before we headed home we realized we had nothing to hang the pots I’d bought, so we made a quick pit stop in Ace to buy chain, light bulbs (a few bulbs had blown out that I needed my dad’s help to reach), and some hooks to hang the pots ($35).  Whew! My summer garden was going to look beautiful, but it was expensive, at $265!  Much of that expense was the planters and hoses/sprayers, all of which I can keep, so it doesn’t make me feel quite as bad.  Plus, I consider this a gift to myself every summer, because I’ll spend my entire vacation (and beyond) enjoying the way my yards look.

When we got back, it was time to get to planting.  Sofi absolutely loved that my dad and I were in the backyard, playing in the dirt.  LOL. We started with the terra cotta planter, because that was going in the front yard, and I wanted it to look perfect.  The inspiration for all of this planting were these pots that my parents surprised me with when I got back from Hawaii:

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My mom had found the planters when she was out shopping, and from there it became a family affair.  My dad found the cement tiles to anchor them to, my niece picked out the Martha Washington geraniums, and my dad planted them.  When I got home and saw them, I was so happy!  I knew I needed to fill in the dirt (with the groundcover from the backyard), and move my huge terra cotta planter from the back to the front.

2014-06-08 06.59.22I love the way the terra cotta planter turned out! I found this great ficus ivy for the front, which will eventually hang down. I knew I wanted big blooms, and when my dad found those large zinnias, I knew they would be perfect.  I can’t wait for it to fill in.

I hated the hose I had in the front yard, because it was really inflexible and always kinked up.  The hose holder was also falling off the wall, so it was time to replace all of that, especially since we were buying the soaker hose and splitter anyway.

I had no idea you could even put a splitter on a hose.  My dad knows so many tricks!

I had no idea you could even put a splitter on a hose. My dad knows so many tricks!

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I love the black scroll work on this hose holder, and I really like that the hose blends into the background. They only had a 50-foot hose in this color, so I have way more hose than I need. My dad said we could cut the hose to make it the length I want, so that’ll be a mini project for another day.

Now the front looks really good:

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The only thing I want to add are some small solar lights, because I think they’ll look really nice and add the perfect bit of twinkle.

Now it was time to tackle all the pots for the backyard.  If money was no object, all of the my planters in the back would be terra cotta, too, but since I have other things I want to buy this summer, I’m using these plastic planters that mimic terra cotta.  They look sort of cheap, but they’re okay for now.  Eventually I’ll replace them. I think the backyard looks really happy now:

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These sun-loving annuals are bright and happy, and I love the mix of colors.  They go well with my roses and my hydrangeas, which are looking so pretty:

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I’d had this New Guinea impatien in one of the other pots, but moved it to this great watering can planter in a shady spot of the garden. We had a couple flowers left over, so I planted them in with my mint plant.

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The impulse purchase yesterday were these hanging pots. My sister has a couple of hanging pots in her back patio, and I really like the way they looked.  And then when we were at OSH yesterday, I saw these planters, and fell in love.  They were pricey, at $17.99 each, but I knew I was going to splurge on them, because they’d add so much to my patio.  I absolutely love the way they turned out, and can’t wait for them to grow and start falling over the edges of the pots.

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All in all, it was a long, tiring day, but very worth it for the end product.  I definitely want to have lots of people over this summer, so that everyone can enjoy the beauty of this garden.

Sunday my plan is to go on a 2- or 3-mile walk with my mom this morning at 8:30, and then spend the rest of the day cleaning the house.  It is in desperate need of a major cleaning.  I’m talking top to bottom and every room in between.  I let it go over the past month, and I want to start out the summer with a clean house.  One thing I love about summertime is that once the house is clean, I can tackle cleaning it a bit at a time – bathrooms one day, floors another, dusting a different day.  Once it’s spotless, keeping up with it isn’t a big deal, and insures that the house always looks immaculate.  My reward for all the hard work in store today is going to be a bit of a binge watch of Orange is the New Black.  I’ve watched the first episode of Season 2 already, but I love watching a bunch of them in a row, so that’s the plan for later this evening.

All in all, I’m starting summer in wonderful way – beautifying the house and gardens.

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I have a bunch of blog posts swirling in my head, so get ready for an onslaught of writing from me over the next few days:

  • getting back on track with my food & exercise routine
  • PopSugar MustHave Box reveal/review
  • 20-mile bike ride adventure
  • Diamond Head hike adventure (yes, two months later!)
  • Graduation NSV
  • Bottle Rock music festival discoveries
  • Bella in T.O.Y.land music mix
  • weekly workout plan
  • weigh-in update

 

 

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There have been a ton of things going on in my life this past week, and I’m way overdue to catch up on all of it on this blog.

2ed2d0252edacb00a145f73730352f96 First and foremost, for all the moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day.  I hope you spend the day doing the things you love with the people who make all your hard work worthwhile.

Speaking of Mother’s Day, my adorable niece set up a beautiful breakfast in bed for my sister this morning.  She and my mom got all the food, plates, napkins, cup, tea, etc.  I kept it hidden at my house for the week, and then this morning she came over to get it all.  She cooked everything, even using a melon baller to make the fruit salad (inside the Have a Royal Day plate).  It was her idea to add the fresh chives to the eggs.

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10252147_10152010991760426_2137854927835195283_n My younger niece made my sister an adorable mug – her teacher had the students draw a picture and then transferred the drawings onto the mug. I know this is going to be a keepsake for years to come!

My nieces are so sweet and thoughtful – all the hard work and sacrifices that my sister has put in as a single mom really have paid off. These girls are just the best!

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Yesterday I was all set to do the Willow Glen 5K with Tinkerbell, which was a fun run in support of one of our local elementary schools.  I woke up early, got dressed, and was about to make a cup of coffee when I decided to open a package.  I tried using scissors, but couldn’t cut through the tough plastic.  So I grabbed a knife, thinking, “I better be careful, this could be dangerous,” and at that exact moment, I gauged my hand right by the thumb pad.  It was really deep cut, and the blood started spurting out immediately.  I’m not good (to put it mildly) when I see my own blood, and I started feeling really light-headed and faint.  I ran over to my sister’s house next door, screaming that I’d cut myself and I needed help. I was already feeling like I was going to faint, when my sister went into calm-in-a-crisis mode.  She washed the cut, laid me down on the bathroom floor, and didn’t panic even when I started convulsing on the floor.  My body was going into shock, and I almost fainted.  My sister just said, “Bella, stay with me! Keep your eyes open, open your eyes!” And  then she bandaged my hand.  She called my dad to come and take me to the minor injury unit at Kaiser.

We had to wait about 30-45 minutes because the minor injury section hadn’t opened yet. I was in a lot of pain and was feeling really faint.  When they finally took me to the back and took my blood pressure, it was really low. So low that the nurse took it twice, just to make sure. When all was said and done, I needed 3 stitches.  The wound was deep, and I’d punctured the muscle, which was  what was causing me all the pain.

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This morning I’m not in very much pain at all, but my hand is super swollen. I don’t know if it’s coming across in the photo, but my left hand is a lot bigger.

20140511-100104.jpgI can get the stitches out on Thursday, and I can’t wait.

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On the work front, my principal asked me to be the English Department Chair next year.  I was really flattered by her vote of confidence in me and my leadership abilities, but I was very hesitant to accept.  I have four preps, meaning four different classes that I teach – English 3 honors, AVID, yearbook, and journalism.  All of them take a lot of time to prep and plan for, and the honors classes give me a ton of grading.  To top that off, I update our school’s website, which takes time each and everyday.  The department chair position adds lots of meetings, both at our school and at the district office. Plus all the time organizing everything for the department itself.  But leading people and organizing things are two of my strongest abilities, so it does seem like a great fit.  And my department could really use some positive leadership, so I accepted the position.  I had my choice to take a stipend or to get a second prep period, meaning I’d only teach four classes, instead of five.  Since the stipend isn’t anywhere near 20% of my salary (which would be the equivalent of giving up one class), I decided to go for the 2nd prep.  I asked if I could give up one of the honors classes I teach, since the grading takes me more time than prepping for the AVID class (which would have been the only other class I would have even considered giving up). My principal said that would be fine with her, so I’m all set. I’m actually really excited about this new opportunity.  Both for what it means to my department and for my professionally. I’m only obligated to serve as department chair for one year, but my principal did say she’d like to see me doing it for at least 3-5 years. which is very flattering.

And I am also really looking forward to the fact that I’ll have one 1st-period prep  and one last-period prep.  Meaning that on A Days I’ll be able to leave early and on B Days I’ll be able to come late.  Except when I have meetings or other department obligations, which will happen about 6-8 days of the month. Which makes me very excited about my workouts – I really want to start working out first thing in the morning, and on B Days I’ll be able to get up at the same time I do now and still get in a whole workout.  And on the A Days if I haven’t woken up early and worked out in the morning, I can get in an early afternoon workout, as I’ve been doing this year.

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I’ve tried some new fitness classes at the gym, but I’ll write about those in a separate post.

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As you guys know, I’ve been loving the ToneItUp‘s workouts since mid-January.  I’ve done them 5 days a week, every week since I began, only missing while I was on vacation in Hawaii.  (If you haven’t checked them out, I highly recommend you do.  It’s completely free, and they have a fun community, full of supportive, motivating people who cheer on every workout you post about).

They’re about to launch their new #bikiniseries this coming Monday, which will run for 8 weeks, until the official start of summer.  Karena and Katrina put so much into the daily workouts they design, and the best part is, the whole thing is free.  All you need to do is sign up for the #bikiniseries and you’ll get reminder emails, weekly workouts, fun giveaways, yummy recipes, contests, etc.

I like the approach that Tone It Up takes toward living a healthy lifestyle.  Not only do they include workouts and nutrition, but they also concentrate on mindset.  Take yesterday’s challenge, for example:

The challenge asked participants to create their own summer must-do list.  Beyond workouts and eating right, what were things that we wanted to make sure to fit in this summer? I loved this! Any time I can make a list and get creative with my summer plans, I’m all for it!  As a teacher, lots of people ask me, what do you do all summer long?  My answer is always the same – anything I want to!  :)  This summer, I really want to concentrate on enjoying each and every day.  I didn’t include all of my plans on my list, but I did include most of the things I’m hoping to do:

 

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The photo I used is one that was taken for me by a Danish tourist while I was riding my bike at Kailua Beach on Oahu.  She worried that I would be upset that so much of it was in the shadows, but I assured her that I actually liked the way it turned out.  It was the perfect photo to use for this assignment because it has an artsy feel right off the bat.  I like the way I’m in silhouette with the bike, but the ocean and the beach are in the bright sun in the background.

I thought I’d elaborate a bit on each of these summer plans…

Mid-morning swims: One of my favorite parts of summer is being able to swim at the pool at my parents’ townhouse complex.  More often than not, if I get there by 10:30 or 11, I have the entire place to myself, and I’m free to swim laps to my heart’s content.  Sometimes my dad and I meet there and swim together, and it’s a nice way for us to connect with each other as we update each other on the latest family happenings while we’re drying off in the sun.  It’s also a great time for me to be alone with my thoughts and just let go of all worries and stress.  Swimming really soothes me, and I can’t wait to start my almost-daily swims.

Daily doses of laughter: Whether it’s retelling a funny story, joking with my nieces, or watching Sofi do something goofy, I want to appreciate all the little moments of laughter that are part of my daily life this summer.  Laughter is good for the soul and the spirit, and I want to make sure I’m enjoying it all the time.

Hawaii-themed party: Since I had such a fun time in Hawaii, I figured it would be fun to have a party with a Hawaiian theme.  I’m still deciding if I’ll combine it with a Silpada party that I’m planning to have, or if it will be more of a traditional party.  Either way, I have plenty of fun outfits to choose from.

Coffee chats: I live really close to Starbucks (doesn’t everyone?!), so close in fact, that I can walk there with ease.  It’s become a habit with three or four of my friends that we meet up there and catch up about all that’s going on in our lives.  It’s the perfect place to get together because I can get a calorie-free passion iced tea, or a caffeine kick with an iced cinnamon dolce misto.  As far as I’m concerned, coffee is the perfect drink any time of day, so it fits well with a more carefree summer schedule.

SF (and SJ) Giants games: I love supporting my Giants, and plan to go to as many games as I can afford to this summer.  One that I know I’ll go to is the Italian Night at the Giants, where a really large group of family and friends all get together.  It’s so much fun!  The tickets at AT&T Park are expensive, so lately my friends and I have been opting to go to the SJ Giants games.  Not only are they ridiculously inexpensive (less than $10 per game), but they’re a lot of fun.  Very family-friendly, with lots of activities for the kids to participate in between innings.  My friend Di and I are even signing up to do the Giant 5K, which gets us into the game the evening of the race.  I’m actually going to an SJ Giants game this Friday with my sister and nieces, which will be tons of fun.  Bring on the baseball!!

Going on dates!: I’m actually really looking forward to this one.  Assuming of  course there are men to go on dates with.  I was only on Match.com for about 2 months back in November/December, and I have to say, I was pretty underwhelmed.  I got lots of winks, emails, and nudges, but when it came time for the guys to just make the move and ask for my number so we could move it to the next level of texting/talking on the phone and then hopefully soon afterward meeting up, they never pulled the trigger.  Even when I directly said, “here’s my number, I’d love to figure out a time for us to meet up for coffee or something.”  They disappeared quick.  I’m not one to go into a long and drawn out relationship online via email, or text, for that matter.  If you’re interested, you think I’m cute, you want to get to know me better, then let’s do that – let’s meet up and see if we hit it off.  Because we can have all the chemistry in the world online, we won’t know if we’re really going to be attracted to each other until we meet up.  I’m hoping that this time of year will be easier to connect than it was around the holidays.  One of the major takeaways I had from my trip to Hawaii was that I’m really ready to be in a relationship, even a more casual one.  Hopefully I have a bit of romance in store this summer.

Leash-free beach trips: Last summer I had a blast taking Sofi to a lesser-known beach where she could run off leash.  We have the best time when we go – she loves running along the shore, but is afraid to get too close to the water, so I don’t have to worry much about the waves taking her.  We both get in a great walk, we get some sunshine, and I get to read and relax.  What could be better?  Besides just that particular dog-friendly beach, I also hope to hit the other local beaches often this summer.

Long walks w/ Sofi: I take Sofi on walks almost every single day, but in the summer it’s so nice to be able to wake up and take a nice, long walk before the temperature heats up too much.  I love exploring all the different streets around my neighborhood with Sofi.  She loves when I find new places for our walks, so that’s definitely on my to-do summer list.

Reading: I’m not off to the best start so far this year in terms of my reading goal on Goodreads, but I did get quite a bit of reading time in when I was on vacation in Hawaii.  My goal for the summer is to fit in at least an hour a day of reading time.  I enjoy reading so much, and I want to make it a priority during the time of year when I have so few responsibilities pulling my focus from the things I enjoy.

Riding roller coasters: This is a huge one for me! It will definitely be its own blog post when it happens because it will be a major NSV.  I love going on roller coasters – the wilder and faster the better.  I haven’t been on one in I can’t even remember how long because of the time that I got on one and almost had to get off because the safety bar wasn’t going to close.  I pleaded with the kid running the ride to let me stay on it, and he did.  After that I only got bigger and knew that roller coaster were way out of reach.  I didn’t ever want to risk the embarrassment of being asked to get off before I was able to ride the ride.  So, this summer I plan on going to Great America and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk to ride as many roller coasters as I can.  Can’t wait!!

Family BBQs: I love grilling any day of the week, but getting together with my family and friends and sharing a meal as easy as BBQing is something really look forward to.  Sometimes it’s as simple as bringing my meat over to their house for an impromptu BBQ; other times it’s a more planned affair, like for Father’s Day or 4th of July.  Either way, I can’t wait to fire up the grill and get cooking!

Cocktails: Summertime is a great time to relax and let go a bit.  While I usually only drink on special occasions because the alcohol has empty calories, there is something to be said for enjoying a nice glass of white wine or a Swirl (local peeps will know what time talking about) with friends. Any afternoon or evening becomes more of a celebration when you add a cocktail.

Bike rides: I love riding my cruiser around, and now that more of my friends have bikes, too, I hope to get out and go on rides all summer long.  Half Moon Bay, Morgan Hill, and everywhere in between.  I love the freedom I feel when I’m riding my bike, the sun shining on my face, the wind in my hair.  There’s nothing in the world like it.

Backyard lounging: I have this great Adirondack chair that I bought a few years ago that’s nicely weathered now.  I adore sitting in it and enjoying the peace and serenity of my backyard.  Looking at the garden and seeing the flowers and trees.  Watching Sofi cavorting in the grass.  Reading, listening to music, or just trying to keep cool on a warm night.  Sounds perfect to me.

There are a lot more things I could add to my list, but I’ll save those up until I have enough to create an entirely new one.  This was such a fun exercise, and I’m really glad the Tone It Up girls gave this assignment.  It put me in a great mood and gave me some inspiration to get through these last weeks of my school year.

Now that you’ve read my list of how I’m going to create my summer, I’d like to challenge you to write your own list.  Either in the comments or by joining the TIU challenge.  Post a pic on Instagram with your list.  Tweet about it.  Write your own blog post.  It was a fun activity that really put me in the mindset to enjoy myself this summer, and I can’t wait to read about your plans.

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c3959dd8e615028a696c196daabc7017I wish that I didn’t have this story to share, but it so affected me this week that I think I have to tell it.

I think I mentioned a while ago that ever since surgery, my naturally curly hair had turned really wild and frizzy (frizzier than usual), and I really couldn’t do anything with it. So, I decided to treat myself to a keratin hair treatment with my mom’s stylist, J. It was pricey – $300, but the smoothing lasts 4 months the first time, and then 6 months at at time with subsequent treatments. J only uses formaldehyde-free keratin, which is actually good for the hair because it adds luster and protein, takes out the frizz, and completely smooths the hair out. It would leave my hair much less curly, but I liked that it wouldn’t make it stick straight. I had the treatment done on December 13th, and absolutely love the results:

Don't mind the no-makeup look - I blew out my hair at night before bed.

Don’t mind the no-makeup look – I blew out my hair at night before bed.

The only thing about the hair was that by the next day, it looked a lot flatter/less full than I would’ve liked:

2013-12-26 15.53.30 It also needed to get a bit cleaned up in the back (see the photo above), as well as a bit darker on the color. It had a bit more red in it than I would’ve liked. So I headed to my usual stylist, D, whom I’ve been going to for a few years. I told D that I wanted it to be a bit fuller somehow, and she suggested some layers, to which I said, “sure.” I did tell her that I want to let it grow so that it’s at least to my shoulders, or maybe a bit past. She started cutting A LOT off the top of my hair, and while I was a bit concerned, I didn’t worry too much, because I’m not a stylist, and I assumed D knew what she was doing. Then she started using a curling iron to add some volume to the top, and then added some curls to the sides, which was strange. I didn’t love the result of the styling she did, but I didn’t think too much of it, paid her, and left.

I had plans to meet up with a friend I haven’t seen since high school, so as soon as I got home, I jumped in the shower, re-washed my hair and started blowing it out again. I was horrified with what I saw next (and I actually can’t believe I’m posting these online):

Can you say, Long Island Medium? I think the look on my face says it all.

Can you say, Long Island Medium? I think the look on my face says it all. These pictures don’t look as bad as it was in real life.

I don’t know what the hell D was thinking, but this was horrible. I was completely crushed. I felt terrible. Seeing my hair like this brought me back to those feelings of ugliness I had when I was 315 pounds. Those feelings of not having anything to wear, of hating the way I looked. I haven’t felt that way in so long. I’ve actually be so happy with the way my hair was looking, because unlike with curly hair where I never know from day to day what it’s going to look like, with the straight style, I knew it always looked nice. Until now. This completely destroyed my self esteem and I was really depressed Thursday evening and most of Friday. I cancelled on my friend (who was so understanding), and changed plans with another friend so that we could stay in instead of heading out on Friday night.

I made the decision Thursday night that I wasn’t going to D ever again. My family was trying to convince me to tell her how upset I was, but I told them that I didn’t see the point. I didn’t want her anywhere near my hair, and without letting her have the chance to fix it, there was really no point in getting into it with her. I’m not one to shy away from confrontation, not that there would’ve been anything like that going on, but it was just so awkward to bring this up to her. So we’re done.

I spent most of Saturday praying that my hair would grow fast, because I seriously didn’t know what I was going to do for the next month or two.  All of that money wasted on a keratin treatment that wouldn’t show because of this f***ed up haircut.

Curly it was a bit better, but not much.

Curly it was a bit better, but not much. It was flatter on one side than the other, making the curls on one side really flat.

Then Saturday morning I got a call from J’s salon, telling me my mom had scheduled and paid for an appointment with J for Saturday afternoon.  How sweet of her!  I wasn’t sure what J was going to be able to do, but I loved her professionalism with the keratin treatment, and had always heard nothing but great things about her from my mom.  I knew J was a perfectionist, and wouldn’t stop until she got the cut/color/treatment just right. She was my hair 911.

As we were going over the haircut, J pointed out how uneven it was.  It was shorter on one side, had been cut into on the other, and had even been texturized, which is something that should never be done to my hair.  Not only that, but J said that there was no weight line, which my hair needs, so that it holds its shape at the bottom.  She wanted to make a few snips here and there, and I told her, “I have complete trust in you, J, and besides, it really can only get better from here.”  She spent so long making sure each strand was just right, and then explained what she was doing as she went.  Completely the opposite of the chop job D did on me.  I left the salon feeling hopeful, and looking forward to my next appointment with J in 6 weeks.  (That quote at the beginning of this post is SO true – and J is definitely that hard-to-find hairdresser).

I am thrilled with what J was able to do with the mess I brought to her salon.

I am thrilled with what J was able to do with the mess I brought to her salon. The smile is back!

You might read this post and think that I’m so vapid and superficial for letting something like hair affect me so much. I’d respond that hair is one of the first things people see – it’s something I wear every single day.  My hair has gone through a lot lately, what with it getting thinner, and losing so much of it for 3 months after WLS.  Now that it’s finally growing back, getting thicker, and looking good smoothed out after the keratin treatment, I feel better about myself.  It goes along with the new person I’ve become through my weight loss.  My confidence is one of my best traits, and I’m so thankful to have it back.

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reverb13-blog-button Throughout the month of December, I’ll be participating in #reverb13: Reverb is a way to reflect on the past year and project into the next year with a prompt a day for 31 days.  December is the perfect time to reflect on 2013 and start to create intentions for 2014.

Day 27: Laugh
Pee your pants funny | What was the funniest thing that happened this year?  Was it funny when it happened?  Or was it one of those things you laughed about later?

When I think of this prompt, no specific event comes to mind, but when I look back at 2013, there were lots of small moments filled with smile and laughter.

  • Sofi does things on a daily basis that make me chuckle to myself
  • My nieces are full of life and they constantly make me giggle
  • My family and I get along so well with each other, and we’ve been through so much.  We can die laughing recalling an old story.
  • My students are hilarious and I love how often they make me laugh out loud.
  • My friends and I are constantly cracking each other up.

I’m so lucky to have laughter in my life all the time.

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