Facts, figures and feelings


Valentine’s Day … an emotionally loaded, artificial holiday if there ever was one. I am, however, a huge fan of Love. The full-fat, non-saccharin kind.

With all the commercial reminders, today’s as good a day as any to focus on how we love each other, and also ourselves – because the two are very much connected. In fact, the way we love our own selves has everything to do with how we are able to love others.

As most of you know, Whitney Houston died this week. Her song, “The greatest love of all” was the first song I learned all the words to and still sing in the shower (happily and horribly off key).


I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I'll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
It’s easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

Whitney and I part ways at the part where she says self love is easy to achieve. It isn’t. It takes effort when many of us have to convince ourselves we’re worth making an effort for in the first place!

I part ways with the lovely and supremely talented Whitney in other ways as well, including area of talent and choice of mode of self destruction.

While I’ve never inhaled cocaine, allegedly or otherwise, I have ingested food that I know is bad for me, over and over again. And then there’s this extra 35 pounds I’ve been packing around for far too long. Except, now it’s 30. It feels like I’m walking in the shadow of how I could feel and look. I’d like to change that.

Since last year when I set a goal to lose 35 pounds by my 35th birthday, I’ve managed to lose get rid of 5 of them. I decided that one way to boost my esteem and take care of myself is to make this goal a priority (again) because I think doing that will increase my energy, productivity, health, sleep … good stuff.

So I bought a scale. It’s been over a year since I got rid of my old one. (You can read about that in this post called “Worthless.”) And I know it’s not in fashion to talk about losing weight because it’s supposed to be about how I feel. And overall wellness.

I get that. Totally. I am all about feelings. And wellness. However, I also get that for me, I need a number, a specific goal and then smaller goals to reach that target. I need accountability and a measurable outcome.


I got this idea from my friend Linsey. I’m always happy to find a new use for sticky notes. Here are 30 of them stuck to my mirror. For each pound lost, one comes down. (Note: if you try this at home make sure you use the correct side of your mirrored door, I ended up re-doing this).

And … because the number on the scale is just a number, a fact, a gauge … and because I was encouraged by Jenny Meyerson … here’s my number, for now:



I truly believe that my efforts toward this goal, and consequently achieving it, is an act of self love but also a way of loving my whole family because the better I feel, the better I can take care of them.

Here’s my column on rebuilding your sense of worth if you’d like to read it. It addresses the erosion of esteem I’ve found to be an issue for lots of moms like me: http://www.newsregister.com/article?articleTitle=rebuilding+your+sense+of+worth--1328124318--2570—hardy


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Shifting gears

start over

I’ve been in sort of a rut of overwhelm lately. I got sick for a couple weeks an started to wonder if I’d ever feel better. To my delight, I feel better than before. I feel like someone finally plugged me back in! I didn’t realize how depleted I was until now. I’m getting out of that rut by shifting gears into forward motion. It feels like the emotional equivalent of learning to drive a stick-shift.

I’ve started this post a dozen times because my mind is full of stuff I want to share. I suppose, then, that it makes sense to start with the apropos topic of “re-starting

It was on my mind because we’ve had a lot of endings, shifting and re-starting around here.

Matt being unemployed is, obviously, a huge ending, shift and opening for a new beginning. What that door leads to is starting to crystalize, but I’ll wait until we know more before I elaborate on that. (Remind me to post about the moment it became real that he wasn’t going back to his job and what that meant to mine).

Like an unexpected breeze, I’ve had doors swinging open while others are banging shut and it’s taken me awhile to process all that’s happened and what it means. The condensed version of my professional story is that the job I got a few months ago required me to work in all of my margins, meaning that very little else beyond the basics got done personally or professionally.

As any of you who’ve been on unemployment know, it’s a fraction of the income your household might need to run on. But you sure learn to manage—even thrive—on less which is a skill I’m sure will serve all of us forever. But, still – it’s a huge shift.

I immediately went into my “what can I do to fix this” mode and started exploring other avenues of income without taking anything else off my plate. Not surprisingly it wasn’t long before I totally lost my balance and wasn’t doing anything all that well. Love that!

Blessings in disguise are easier to recognize with the laser-vision of retrospect and mine came in the form of a job I loved doing coming to abrupt end. (Long personal story but it wasn’t anyone’s fault …shifting priorities meant the company lost funding for the project.)

Then no one signed up for my journaling class which I barely had the time to promote and was probably starting at the wrong time of year. Given that I had little time to promote it … it would’ve been crazy stressful to fold into my life. No matter how much I wanted to! I’m taking all my planning, notes an ideas with me for a future online class and until then will use my blog to continue developing that dream into reality.

As I’ve alluded to, this hasn’t been the happiest year of my married life. Which has evolved from a near-ending into a re-starting of sorts. It’s kind of awesome and takes it’s own level of energy to maintain.

Then of course there’s the job I signed up for 4 years ago, being the kind of stay-at-home mom I wanted to be for my boys. I’ve been here before, my priorities out of whack, knowing I needed to find balance because they are among my top priorities.

There is a time I would’ve said they are THE priority. But four years into my mothering gig I’ve learned that’s not true.

I can’t make them a priority before my own self. This is not, as some interpret it, permission to hide behind “self care” as an excuse to ignore my responsibilities. It is rather, the essential truth that if I am not nourished, invigorated by exercise, rested and creatively engaged in something of my very own I can not be the kind of mom I want to be.

And that leads me to the re-starting I did last weekend. (Holy long verbal detour!) Between my two computer crashes this year, I lost a significant part of my novel-in-progress. Between that and all that’s gone on, I’ve been scared to re-start writing it. Really, really scared. So I pretended I didn’t care. But besides my love of family, I love writing. I don’t just want to write my books. I truly believe I need to. And when not actively in pursuit of that dream it’s like I’m out of alignment.

So I started. Back to slow and steady. And solid effort.

One last thing … before I can do any of that well, I have some demons to deal with. In my heart, in my brain, at the gym and my pantry. More on that another day. I mention it only because, for whatever reason, it’s coming to a head and also needs my attention. It’s okay, it’s a good thing.

And it’s time.

Alight then, longest post ever, right? I’ll save the details of my pajama project for another post.

Gym Confessions

  • I’ve been hiding in the locker room writing on the cement benches after my workouts because I wasn’t sure if it was okay to leave my kids in the daycare if I wasn’t working out. (Because, God forbid I get in “trouble.”) The confession: I think I’ll keep doing it anyway because it’s quiet and I don’t care about looking “weird.”

  • I always weigh in right after my work out so that even if the number hasn’t changed I’m feeling good. The Confession: I always start at my highest weight nine weeks ago (pregnancies aside) so I keep focused on the long-term gains loss instead of hyper-focusing on whether or not I’ve lost a fraction of a pound in 22 hours.

  • I’m really at the gym for the shower and a few off-mama-duty moments to write. My goal is to work out enough to “deserve” a shower and I always have some work-related thing I’m mentally dealing, kind of like when people go to sleep with a question on their mind intending to wake up with the answer. I never work out without my water bottle and mini-Moleskine. Until yesterday when I ended up writing on my hands, the back of Prevention magazine and on two subscription card inserts. I never cut my hair so short that I can't stick my pen in ponytail - the notes have to be transcribed stat since they are barely legible when I'm toward the middle to end of the EFX/treadmill work outs. The Confession: I lost my notebook. Searched the house and car for it and nearly passed out when I saw it on Norm’s desk at the gym. Ohhh, damn. I opened it to a random page and read:

“Was he your boyfriend?”

“Oh, no we were just friends. I didn’t even sleep with him or anything.”

Except there weren’t quotation marks because I know this is a conversation between my characters. Norm, however, doesn’t.

  • I work out in the gym’s geriatric ward because the people are nicer and I feel comfortable practicing my running. They work out to Tony Bennett and don’t like my music. It’s their room. So I use my iPod and listen to my more modern music. The Confession: this includes the soundtrack to Top Gun, New Kids on the Block, Julio Iglesias, and St. Elmo’s Fire. I used to listen to Eminem until I realized listening to misogynistic music because “I like the beat” is like reading Hustler “for the articles.”
  • Going to the gym has become a habit in the nine weeks I’ve been going four times a week. The Confession: I love it.

Suffering is optional

Happy Friday, friends and random haters who Google me … truth be told these last few weeks have given me an opportunity to practice being aware of my participation in my own suffering. More importantly, I’m learning to change long-standing habits (approval-seeking, sugar addiction, expecting my body to take care of me without returning the favor, over-thinking things beyond my control, etc.) It sounds like a lot, but it’s connected. And simple once I realized the root was all in my brain and how I think about a thing. I’ve known that for years. Putting it into practice on a consistent basis, especially when things don’t appear to be going well, is another thing entirely.

Let me tell you what I mean by “not going well.”

In summary: we’ve spent a small fortune on doctor’s copays, pharmacy copays and prescriptions and vet bills. We’re all on one kind of antibiotic or another and very, very slowly recovering. Matt and I both have pink eye in both eyes and have had to cancel plans we’ve been looking forward to like a camping trip at the beach and a writing day for me. It’s disappointing, but that’s life. Trying to find the gift in those disappointments is our challenge.

I think the gift is this: time for reflection and incentive to do better. Nothing like having the whole family down for the count to serve as a kick in the ass to make the changes you’ve been meaning to make.

Right before I got sick, I’d been thinking about my role in my own suffering, how I contribute to it by dwelling on things, not letting go, saying “yes” when I mean “no,” saying “no” when I’d like to say “yes!” I’d made a personal decscion about something I’d been struggling with for the last 7 months and as that was happening several friends suggested I read this book by Laura Munson: This is not the story you think it is – I’m working on a review of it to share but for now, both the book and the experience of reading it at the time in my life that I was reading it was deeply moving, and life-changing.

Another book, also recommended by a friend, called Skinny Bitch made an irreversible impact on both Matt and myself. I can’t recommend this book to anyone unless they’re ready to seriously overhaul their current lifestyle … but more on all that later.

For now – some fun Friday inspiration:

one of my favorite artists, Susan Branch recently started a blog – I love it and think some of you might, too.

A fellow writer-mama, yoga-teacher friend of mine started something called “Breathing Space” where she delivers doses of serenity and balance to your inbox. Check it out and share if it moves you.

{Wellness Journey – Week One}


Week One page

My goal is … Wellness.

Even though it’s not intended to be a self-paced course that’s how I’m approaching my Wellness Journey class. I figure this is a life long goal anyhow but this class is putting some creativity and purpose behind my goals and I’m grateful for that.

Here is my page from week one, it was fun to learn something new as this is my first all digital scrapbook page. The teacher, Lisa Cohen, created the template so really all I did was drop my picture and text in there – you wouldn’t believe how long it took me to figure that out though!

I can’t believe it’s already been three weeks – of course, I can’t weigh myself to know if I’ve made progress other than to tell you that I’m feeling much better – which I suppose is the whole point!

Sam working out with me

{These are Sam’s weights, he has since graduated to two LEGOS in each hand}.

So there’s that. I’m also incorporating more exercise into my days and hate it far less than I thought I would. I’m not exactly “gargling my heart” per Jillian Michaels but am “Shredding” along none the less.

I decided to focus more on the active wellness part class and making sustainable changes rather than losing myself in the sedentary portions of the class like participating in the chat board and staying current on the scrapbook part of the class – I treat those as rewards for time spent working out! Better than food – who knew?

Originally I’d set a goal to lose 35 pounds by my 35th birthday. That’s not going to happen. So instead I plan to embrace, and continue, the journey and focus on the Wellness aspect and keeping living toward the healthiest version of myself I can create.

Speaking of my birthday – how’s this for a cool gift: Grocery Outlet is slated for opening on my birthday!

I want my scale back



Photo from The Graphics Fairy

So I’m on deadline with a column that’s really two, or three, columns- I guess I have a lot to say about this subject of clutter … being an expert at amassing it and all. This is the first year since 1998 that “Organize Everything” isn’t on my list of resolutions.

Not, of course, because I’ve achieved that ambitious goal but because I’m farther on my way than I have been in the past- by spending the better part of last year breaking that down into smaller goals – one drawer at a time. One shelf, one file, you get the idea. Despite the distance to go, I am happy to see measurable progress. Less piles, more clear surfaces, less chaos. Good stuff.

Speaking of measuring progress: I want my scale back. I didn’t know I was so Bridget Jones about it but since three days ago I’ve been not weighing myself and it’s an effort. Like,  I briefly considered swinging by the vet’s to hop on theirs. I asked Amy this morning:

“So what am I supposed to do, just go by how I feel? That’s ridiculous.”

Clearly I’m at the bottom of a steep learning curve. I feel a little lost without the number. I’m not sure exactly what, but know that says a lot about me. I’m learning that being aware of something is the first step to doing it differently so even though I want my scale back, broken and all, I am glad I got rid of it.

In other news, I have a little pit in my stomach because my Baby on Board column runs today and I have no idea how it will come across. I finished it at 2 a.m. on the day it was due and submitted it without Matt’s editing it. He often edits the “edginess” of me out with subtle encouragement like: “Babe, do you really want to come across so bitchy?” Or the more direct: “You can’t print this.”

So, I’ll be holding my breath till it runs, I’m uneasy enough about it that I haven’t even read the draft I submitted knowing it was too late to change it. Next time, I’ll write it earlier. I mean the time after this next one!

Silva lining

Thought you might like to see my picture of the day taken this morning when I found Sam zipped in Jake’s crib. What you can’t see in this picture is the sound of their laughter. 


I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to share those with you because I know most people don’t want a daily play-by-play of our life. But for fellow Project Lifers and my mother, I’d like to find a happy medium.

Meanwhile … Have you heard of the Silva Method? For most it’ll sound like mental voodoo but I think it’s kind of like meeting God in my heart. I have only just started this week but am already a little surprised at what has opened up for me. In its most elementary explanation: it’s a matter of mental programming. It is the easiest thing I’ve ever done and I hope to have more to share about it later. For now, a small example: Forever I’ve told anyone who’ll listen that I simply can not figure out where to work fitness into my life. So I kept picturing things exactly as they are now and they stayed … the same. With two little kids and a husband with long hours working fitness in meant walking late at night, swimming during our family dinners or before the kids woke up but they range between 5 and 7:30 a.m.

Finding a window when they were both happy enough on their own for me to squeeze in a workout and shower seemed impossible, until I stopped thinking of it that way.

Yesterday I worked out during Jake’s afternoon nap, with Sam by my side and occasionally on top of me. Today, Sam was up at 5 a.m. and we had an early morning workout before Jake woke up. I couldn’t get Day 2 of the Shred on my On Demand so I scrolled through my options, most of which contained the word “booty” or, my favorite, “work your boa.” I picked some random lady who had a circuit style work out sans boas and poles.

Maybe it was the early hour, but she was too perky. Otherwise okay, but really, too perky.  She kept saying “This is great! You feel great!”

Again maybe it was the early hour that made me argumentative but I yelled back at her: “No! It does not feel great. It feels jiggly and awkward, plus I have to pee. None of that feels great.”

What did  feel great though was getting that knocked off my list first thing! And the last two days it was easy for me to fit a good workout in. Super easy. What was different? I’d spent just a few moments using the Silva method to affirm that it was, in fact, easy for me to workout during the day. Kinda cool.

This post brought to you by:


Jake’s wonderful nap time and Sam’s new train table Matt built for Santa.

Worthless (the scale, not me)



I am sweating post workout as I write this. (I wiped my hands off). Can I just tell you that is the first time I’ve done that? Sweat during a workout since the summer my friend Amy assumed the role of personal trainer. (Warning: do not try that at home unless your friend has super thick skin. I hated her a little bit some of those times. But I was also super grateful).

Don’t worry, we’re still friends. And despite many starts and stops, she’s remained extremely supportive of my efforts in the eating and exercising department. In fact, I ditched my scale last night. She took it home. We joked that she wouldn’t tell me where it was so I didn’t come looking for it – I truly had no idea I was that attached. I’m not about to make a mixed tape dedicated to my scale or anything but maybe I’ll write a poem or something. Or just blog post.

I’d call it: Worthless – because it was. I had it in the kitchen to remember to give it to her. We all took turns stepping on it, because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Everyone but me had gained random amounts of weight, the heavier they were, the more off it was. It turns out, this whole time I’ve been using that stupid scale as a measure of my success (or not) and frankly, as a gauge for what kind of day I was going to have, and it wasn’t even accurate. Proving, once again, that this whole thing is in my head.

And my thighs, yes, but it’s mental more than anything – which most of you know – but calling myself on that and finding ways to work through it is where I’m at right now.

While I’m hard on myself in a lot of ways, I tend to go pretty easy on myself during workouts – when I do them. Reeeeeeeeeeeeealy easy. Hence, the no sweating. Ever. Even when I was playing tennis in high school I found ways to get out of running. The dumbest of which was ducking into the bushes to smoke while my teammates ran laps. I know, I was super cool.

Today I decided it was time. I’m reading this life-changing book by Ganeen Roth (more later) and getting stronger in some other ways but it was time to lace up my shoes and get moving in the direction of my goal.

But how? When? I’m beat when the kids go to bed – and Sam wakes up between 5:30 and 8 a.m. So … I did it during Jake’s nap and had him grab a couple Legos to use as weights and we did Jillian Michael’s 30 day Shred, day 1 together. Mostly together. I had a little additional weight to lift during my ab work. The little guy is so worn out he’s doing something I haven’t seen in a while: sitting still. Yes, in front of the television. Unlike most moms, I actually want my kid, for the love of God, to sit still and watch TV long enough for me to catch my breath. People say television’s a babysitter like it’s a bad thing. Whatever. I’m kind of a hybrid parent that way, merging the extreme parent prototypes into what makes sense for me—and them. But I digress.

This is the quote I’m taking away from today’s workout:

“It’s a 20 minute work out, you don’t get a rest.” Errr…I’d just been thinking about taking a little break when I heard her bark  say this

ps this post gratefully brought to you by PBS’ Dinosaur Train



Ringing in the New Year

Goodbye 2010 .. for the first time in as long as I can remember I don’t have a long list of things to improve about myself and my life because I finally get that isn’t how it works. I’ve learned so much this year about what does, and doesn’t, work for me that I’m going into this new year with excitement, joy and a sense of calm I barely recognize. I wish you that as well: calm no matter the chaos and a slow, steady journey in the direction of your dreams.

Fun fact about me: New Years is my most favorite holiday. Not because of how we celebrate outwardly but because of what happens in my head and heart. For as long as I’ve had journals, back when I called them “diaries” and they had locks I pretended could protect my privacy, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the past year and making resolutions for the year to come. These days I have a little less time for quiet reflection but am learning how to make room for myself in my own life. If you’ve never done it, it’s hard to imagine how you can lose yourself but I think it happens all the time. There is joy in the re-discovering. And hope.

It’d become tradition for me to flip through old journals and read over my old lists of resolutions. Guess what? They’re the same. Every. Single.Year.

I have a written record of an other-wise intelligent human being doing the exact same thing every year and eagerly anticipating different results.

So not this year, friends. The start of this year finds me exploring some different ways to tweak things to make my life work better for me. One of the things is super simple: finding awe in the ordinary moments that actually make up our lives. I’m doing this by starting my Project 365 book and committing to sticking to it all year long. Even if it’s 365 post-its. More about this project later.

The Wellness Journey class, excuse the pun, isn’t going quite as well. I’m still stoked about it but I’ve got some kind of road block about starting the fitness part of the class which is the first step. Actually, it’s the second step. I seem to also have issues with the first step which is this: get rid of your scale.

But how will I know my worth in the morning? Just kidding. Kind of. I get why one might suggest getting rid of it. But I’m so used to using that very tool as a measure of my progress, or lack there of. I am, sorry to say, rather attached to that stupid scale. Which I didn’t realize until this week. How dumb is that?! Also, I’m attached to negative self-talk. Insert smiley face here.

So that’s that. I signed up for it and trust the instructor’s experience so I will get rid of the damn thing. Just not today.

I love all the Top 10 round ups at the end of the year and am working on one of my own to share soon. In the meantime, here are a couple sites I’ve enjoyed and think you might, too.




Wellness Journey: intro



Funny story – in addition to the normal life/work stuff, I haven’t finished my December Daily (day 15 and counting), I’m starting Project 365 this weekend, but I still  went ahead and signed up for a class advertised like this:

“This class will be a personal trainer, a nutrition counselor, wellness and lifestyle advisor, and scrapbooking inspiration ALL wrapped into ONE.”

I am so there!

I know it sounds like a lot. Too much, even. But I need this. One of the things I loved most about the December Daily project was the community created, even temporarily, of people participating in the same thing. Also, even more importantly, it’s been wonderful working on something that is creative in a way that isn’t work (even though I love, love, love writing) and isn’t about the care and feeding of my family (even though I love, love, love all of them!)

I signed up for this almost the instant I saw the offer in my inbox. I’ve never done anything like this before but I just knew this was the thing for me.As an added “sign” I noticed the class runs for 8 weeks, ending 2 days before my 35th birthday. My initial goal 3 months ago was to try to lose 35 pounds by my birthday. I’m less attached to that number as much as I am eager to start moving steadily in that direction.

A couple days after signing up for the class I found out about the hernias. I thought about canceling. I thought about doing it half-assed just to collect the materials and “try harder later.” Instead, with the class starting in 2 days, I’ve decided to go all in. I won’t be doing sit ups or lifting much but there’s still a lot that I can do. And my primary focus will be overall wellness. I am so stoked about this. I’m sharing with you now in case any of you might consider joining me? Find out more here: