Sweating with the Oldies

jeans_don't_fitMy birthday was last week. I’m forty-five years old, which doesn’t seem at all possible, but alas, the numbers don’t lie. Nor do I, actually. I’d so much rather someone know how old I am and say, “Wow, you look great for such an old broad” than lie about my age and have people think, “Damn…she looks rough for twenty-eight!” As much as I’d like to deny that I’m officially middle-aged, anyone who can multiply by two is aware of the undeniable truth. It’s unlikely, but if I do live past ninety, I probably won’t even realize that I’ve scored some bonus time.

This birthday also makes me just one year away from forty-six, the age my mom was when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Again, I’m not going to lie…that scares the shit out of me. Not to worry, I’m extremely conscientious about keeping up with my yearly doctors’ exams. I’ve been getting mammograms since I was twenty-six which means I’ve had my tit in a wringer nineteen times already. Squish! The good news is that, after having two kids and breastfeeding for a total of two years, my breasts are no longer very dense and hard to read on mammograms. See? Even droopy boobs can be a blessing in disguise. (I’ve been uncharacteristically optimistic lately. It’s kind of freaking me out.)

Instead of sitting around living in fear, though, I am dedicating the next year to eating right and getting back into tip-top shape. So, to kick off the year, Ad Man and I are just starting a cleanse. We actually had great results with the same cleanse about two years ago. It’s pretty hardcore. By the end of the six week program, we will have eliminated sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, gluten and most dairy from our diet. At the same time, we will add green smoothies for breakfast (a habit we had for about a year and a half before slacking off), meditation, nightly stretches, more sleep and, for me, more weight training and yoga. I tried to get Ad Man to do yoga with me once, but it wasn’t pretty. He prefers to run, go cycling or do kettlebell and I prefer him to do anything it takes to keep him sane.

I don’t want you to think that I’m going all preachy-preachy Gwyneth Paltrow on you. That’s not at all my intention. I’m just going to need all the support I can get, especially as I wean myself off my beloved sugar and caffeine and I know you, my dear readers, will keep me honest. In exchange, I’ll keep you posted on my progress. (I promise, there will be no horrifying “before” pictures of me in a workout bra and bike shorts.) If you want to join me, however, I’d greatly welcome the company! The cleanse we’re following is from the book Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again by Frank Lipman, M.D., which is a really informative read even if you’re not doing the cleanse.

So, let me know if you want to jump on the Operation Hot Bod bandwagon with me. I assure you, there will be no weigh-ins or public shaming. I actually haven’t stepped on a scale in years. I’d rather judge my progress by how my clothes feel and how my arms are looking in a sleeveless top. My goal is to deflate the old muffin top a bit and I swear, I will do my damnedest to hold off floppy “bingo arms” for as long as humanly possible. Living in Atlanta is actually good motivation for getting fit since, when it’s 90 degrees out with 90% humidity, I prefer to wear as little clothing as I can without scaring the neighbors. So, really, I’m doing this for them. You’re welcome, neighbors.

Over-educated, Under-employed Mom Seeks Career Counseling

help_wanted_lgOK, here is the blog post in which you, dear readers, get to play career counselors and solve all my problems.  (Thanks, in advance.)  I am going to tell you all the diverse things that float my boat and you, in turn, will tell me what my next job should be.  Ready to play?

First, a quick outline of my experience for new readers: I am an entertainment lawyer who represented film studios and talent agencies.  When I was not busy being verbally abused by one particular partner at my firm, I spent my time writing briefs, going to depositions, making court appearances, trying to be cool when walking around film studio lots and crying in the file room.  Highlight: Cher once borrowed my bathroom key.

My other main role was as a TV, film and video producer.  I developed numerous television commercials and video projects for one particular client, a scandal-ridden, major mortgage lending company.  One of my strengths was remembering which make-up artist the CEO prefered (hint: the hot one with big boobs).  This former CEO has been referred to by CNN as one of the “Ten Most Wanted Culprits” of the 2008 financial collapse in the United States.  Top ten, baby!

At this same company, I also produced a feature-length documentary about homelessness in Los Angeles which won a couple film-festival awards and played at Cannes.  Highlights included staging and filming a one-man theater performance that was then incorporated into the documentary, filming in Skid Row, LA while 8 months pregnant, trying to find a dress to fit my postpartum body for the Beverly Hills Film Festival awards dinner and managing not to spring a breast milk leak during the lengthy ceremony.

I’ve documented my various strengths and skills here previously, but I also have a number of interests that could point me toward potential career paths.  Art, design and architecture are three of my greatest loves.  I can often be found shopping for furniture and homes that I can’t afford and renovating and decorating houses in my mind.  I watch how-to videos on YouTube in an effort to determine whether I can tear out the refinished (spray-painted), formerly pink tile in the bathrooms of our 50s modern house myself or if I should put it off for 6 more years.

dead_plantsI enjoy gardening, but after numerous attempts to grow a verdant oasis in the backyard of my Atlanta home, I’ve officially given up!  Everything wilts in the hellish summer heat here and, on the occasions that I actually had a few lush raised garden beds growing, flooding from the nearby creek swiftly wiped them out like a magazine squashing a fly.  I now have two dying basil plants and one dying rosemary plant on my porch.  I call them topiaries and hope the neighbors don’t get too close.

I love fashion and, while I’m generally in my not-at-all-fashionable mom uniform, I do try a little harder on the weekends.  I am quite adept at reading fashion blogs and magazines and firmly believe the day the September issue of Vogue arrives in my mailbox should be declared a national holiday.

I’m also interested in (OK, somewhat obsessed with) perfumes.  My friends think it’s insane that I can read scent reviews and peruse perfume discussion boards for hours and Ad Man is less than thrilled with the amount of money I spend on samples every month.  This infatuation grew organically from my crazy strong sense of smell.  This talent was a bit of a burden when I was pregnant and got within 50 feet of anyone eating anything, but it has proved helpful when it comes to wine tasting, perfume sniffing and identifying that thing that stinks in the refrigerator.

I love to cook, at least on weekends when I don’t have homework to supervise and kids begging for snacks.  I even started a Facebook group called Vegetarian Mamas.  I don’t think I’d like to cook for a living though because, generally, cooks have to either get up early or stay up late.  I’m really more of a middle-of-the-day kind of gal.  Oh, and I have a freaky aversion to smelling like food.  It’s most likely a nose thing again.

A few other things you might find helpful when choosing a career for me…I have recently started this blog and discovered that I enjoy writing.  I am a certified kettlebell instructor. Kettlebells are those weights that look like cannonballs with handles.  You know the ones I mean.  No?  Well, you’re not the only one.  I am a skilled negotiator as long as the parties involved in the conflict are under the age of 10.  I plan parties and vacations like a boss.  And, I’m really, really good at Pinterest.

So, what should I do?  Take the Georgia bar (I’m licensed only in California) and try to claw my way back into some sort of legal career?  Find someone to pay me to use their money to make obscure documentaries?  Become a personal shopper?  Be a perfumista and start my own company?  Try rooting for truffles with my bionic snout?  Remain a kept woman and thank my lucky stars?  The possibilities are wide open.

The possibilities would be infinite though if all the over-educated, under-employed moms who wanted to work could band together to build something great.  In the 7 years that I have been a stay-at-home mom, I’ve met some extremely educated women who have set aside their careers to raise children.  All are as creative and hardworking as those who have chosen to, or have had no choice but to, remain in the job market.  I constantly find myself searching for a solution for funneling that huge pool of intelligence, ambition, creativity and dedication into some incredible project.

If each of us brought our job and life experience, talent and desire to the table, we would be unstoppable.  So maybe instead of just trying to map out a plan for my career, we should take more of a big-picture view and become career counselors for the group of us former professional women turned full-time moms.  So, what do you think?  Should it be a corporation, a think tank, a revolution?  Let’s shoot high.  You’ll get bonus points for creativity.  What should we make or build?  How do we grab our portion of the profits?  What can we change for the better?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Bless Your Heart

Biggie and Smalls, my 7 and 5 year-old daughters, have been back in school for a few days and I’m starting to feel like I’ve got this shit down. This is what I’ve accomplished before 7:40 am today:

  • Out of bed at 6:15 am, a time formerly reserved for early flights to somewhere fun
  • Fed two children breakfast
  • Negotiated mutually agreeable solution to sock drama
  • Children dressed
  • Successfully got kids on bus
  • Made all beds
  • Straightened house
  • Dishes in dishwasher
  • Checked email and Facebook
  • Read NYTimes.com (or at least the parts I don’t have to pay for)
  • Checked eBay for mid-century furniture
  • Checked weather report
Urban Dictionary definition,
“Bless your heart:”

1.  This is a term used by the people of the southern United States particularly near the Gulf of Mexico to express to someone that they are an idiot without saying such harsh words.

2.  “You are an idiot but I like you and care about you so I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”

I’m trying not to pull a muscle as I pat myself on the back.  I know, I know…right now, working moms reading this are shaking their heads and muttering, “Aw, bless her heart.”

On his way out the door Ad Man gently asks, “Are you going to yoga this morning?” and urges me to “get out of the house today.” Apparently, despite the strides I believe I’ve made, I’m still giving off that “unhinged” vibe.

So, I sit down and start compiling a list of the things I’ve been promising myself I’d do when I had both kids in school full-time.  Here’s just a portion of what’s becoming quite an extensive list (I’m nothing without a list):

  1. Learn to bake something more complex than cookies and cakes
  2. Learn French
  3. Paint our bedroom (We’ve had color swatches painted on the walls since I bought a new, not-perfectly-matching rug over 2 years ago.)
  4. Figure out landscaping for front yard (The circa-1954 landscaping just isn’t looking as appealing or modern as it could. Wonder why.)
  5. Therapy/career counseling
  6. Be more informed about new music
  7. Sell stuff on eBay
  8. Go camping (or, better yet, glamping)
  9. Start following Lakers basketball again?
  10. Start drawing/painting again
  11. Take a sewing class
  12. Try rock climbing (why not?)
  13. Read classics I’m embarrassed I never read in high school (e.g., Any Shakespeare. Any at all.)
  14. Learn Final Cut Pro
  15. Take the Georgia bar? (This is another blog post–or two or twelve–in itself.)

no_knead_bread

I have already made some progress on Goal #1. The day after the girls started school, I managed to bake a loaf of, by all accounts, beautiful and delicious no-knead (baby steps) bread (please refer to defense exhibit 1, left). You know the one, right?  The recipe has been making the rounds online for weeks.

french_lesson_yale

So, I move on to #2 and start researching online French lessons. I find a French immersion program developed by Yale University. Perfect.  I mean, really, what am I going to do, hold out for Harvard? I load up the first “lesson” which is, essentially, a video of Mireille and Robert greeting each other with an oh-so-Euro double cheek kiss and inquiring after each others’ families, or at least that’s all I can decipher with the limited French I’ve gleaned from reading perfume bottles and fashion magazines.  Unfortunately, Yale has apparently not felt it necessary to update its French video library since approximately 1987 (I’m guessing by the “new wave” clothes and asymmetrical haircuts).  In fact, I’m so distracted by the ‘80s style (Isn’t it bad enough that I have to live with photographic evidence that I was a perpetrator of the same fashion crimes?) that I really can’t follow the storyline.  I decide to try something else.

I complete the process of signing up for a free (non-immersion) online French class through Carnegie Mellon.  Before jumping in, however, I read the introduction, including this warning, like a good, first-born, rule follower…

Who should study French Online?
The French Online course shares certain characteristics with many online or distance-delivered courses, and as a result may not be appropriate for all students.  Here are a couple of thoughts on what you might need to succeed. You should be a self-starter. In spite of our best efforts to furnish opportunities for communication in these courses, you will have substantially reduced human contact during your studies.”

Great.  Just what I need…even more reduced human contact.  I sigh, and check the clock only to see that the girls will be getting off the bus in less than an hour.  So, I decide to watch HGTV and save my first French lesson for another day. Despite Ad Man’s admonition, I never actually left the house that day, but to be fair, I did get a flash flood warning on my cellphone.  And what are warnings for but to heed?

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