Brass Tacks – a flurry of things to share

Hello Friends!

Well, as I settled in for this wintery wonderful 3 day weekend I knew I felt a familiar feeling – the anticipation of a long airplane flight, one of my favorite treats. I have always loved the long flights, the longer the better, for all that uninterrupted “me” time (guiltily says she with no kids, 2 easy cats and the most low maintenance hubby on earth). Yes, I love those flights and I always, always, always put way too many things in the “to do” bag (yes, KC & Lisa & Diane… you remember!). Totally unrealistically making lists of all the indulgent pass-times possible of a flight to Mumbai or Sydney: reading, writing, napping, movies, knitting, and a 100 other things that have been lingering on the to do list forever (not to mention the eating), that will surely feel like the most fun thing ever once buckled in for 14 hours. Alas, as with every one of those flights, for all the activities engaged, there were always more left wanting upon arrival. Sigh.

And here we are, coming in for our landing at the end of a wonderful 3 day weekend. Same feeling – both the good and the bittersweet. The most wonderful thing about this time is that we’ve just begun, at last, this much anticipated season of long flights (aka homebound-ish weekends). The unprogramed time may really have been one of the top 3 reasons I’ve been so excited about this move. As much as I loved the bustle of DC, it’s just so wonderful to not have 12 things scheduled every non-working hour. I know it’s still novel to me, but I gotta say, it’s pretty awesome.

So, on the list of “not quite done” is the blog each of the 3 days. Oh well. But, wait, here I am – 2 out of 3 ain’t too bad, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ So, as I race the clock to get to bed by 11 and I thought I’d dedicate this post to a flurry of tactical, practical things I’m trying in service of my New Year’s intentions shared in the last post. I’d so very much like to know what anyone reading this may think of any of my ideas.

Technical Note: To comment, I think you have to go ahead and sign up for a WordPress account (there’s a free app) and then follow this blog there. I promise it makes reading it lovely, format-wise, and you should be able to comment. If you are relying on the simple “sign up to get an email” feature that I rigged to let folks know when I’d written something, you’re stuck just emailing me your thoughts – which I warmly welcome!

Here goes, a few of the things I’m trying/doing this year in order to achieve my intentions:

  1. The Facebook Fast – this is something I’ve done a bunch of years (probably not last year), and I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s just signing off and NOT LOOKING, SCROLLING, CHECKING and worst of all COUNTING (likes, comments etc). Usually I un-install the app for a month, which makes this easier but now I have a role to play on the TRF facebook account so I’ve kept it on my phone and buried on page 4 of my apps (yes, I have a lot of apps, and yes, one of my goals is to prune!). Here’s the fine print – which some of you have noticed – I’m still posting, but not directly thru FB because that would be too tempting, and (hopefully) not as often as usual. Instead, I allow myself to indulge in small doses of insta scrolling and I only post on insta, which links to FB and Twitter. Somehow, for some reason, I think folks will still want to know what we’re up to… but the really liberating part is to post and then NOT CHECK to see who liked, loved or commented – because I think that’s the most insidious part of “the book”, it’s like looking in the mirror every 5 minutes. Gross! For what it’s worth one of my more annoying apps “Moment” which tracks my screen time, told me my screen time was down 5 hours last week. That sounds like 5 more hours to FOCUS on the things I’m trying to accomplish this year. Food for thought!

2. The Journal – since it is my BIG year, I thought it might be a good time to try the journal that every productivity approach known to man seems to recommend. From Tim Ferriss to Oprah, it seems like people find this helpful, so I’m giving it a shot. For my die-hard blog readers, I’m really hoping this will save you from hearing the day by day of my life (which I seem to be pouring into the journal) and hopefully by parking all of my jumble of ideas there, I’ll be a bit more organized about what I share here. It’s a work in progress, but I think it’s going to help me focus – because at least I’m doing it for 30 min minimum at a time and because I like having an escape hatch for the running dialogue/commentary in my head.

3. Yoga at Home – I’ve mentioned to a bunch of you that one of the bigger changes for me in our new life is giving up the “in studio” approach to yoga, which has been such a beloved part of my old life in Alexandria at Pure Prana. It’s a new scene, and I have a great basement and it’s really quite wonderful to not have to rush to go to yoga, but to know I can start whenever I’m ready – for free! So, the two programs I’m using so far are:

  • Free on YouTube: Yoga with Adriene (and Benji). I really like her, the classes are pretty short, but I love her voice, her approach and the spiritual element she includes with the physical practice. I honestly look forward to taking her classes, and I’ve probably taken a dozen or so to date.
  • Purchased due to a FB promo: Yoga Burn. Yes, I did it, I got sucked into one of those ads, I listened to the whole video, and I went for it – I bought the CDs for the 12 week program and I’m going to go for it. 3 days a week, 45 min a session, designed to trip, tone, lighten and strengthen… all things on my list for 2019. I’d love to have a buddy join me, and I have an extra CD, so let me know!
  • And, once it’s warm (April?), I’ll be back to my trusty Couch Potato to 10K App, but also planning to try the running meditations on Headspace, which I hear are great!

4. Meditation – I’ve been pretty dedicated to Headspace since we moved, doing 10 min every AM. I’m going to try to extend to 15 min on the weekends. I’m also replaying one of the Oprah + Deepak Chopra series I purchased last year called Manifesting Grace through Gratitude. It’s awesome, and even thought I always fall asleep when Deepak is speaking, I’m finding it a great way to go to sleep.

5. Scheduling – trying something new to work with the winter schedule. I am quite intent in my belief that like the earth, the plants, the stars and the weather, we each are impacted by the seasons and the length of days. I believe it’s just unnecessarily exhausting to fight this with a commitment to the same schedule every day, all year long. I’m a fan of seasonal schedules, but I must admit that the winter here is hard to resist, combined with my much easier AM schedule (9am start time and no commuting = easy to rationalize sleeping in, many days). So, this month I’m trying a 3/2 plan – 3 days a week (MWF), I’m getting up early and heading into work by 8:15/8:30 (8 is actually the goal) and 2 days a week, I’m enjoying the more relaxed schedule to get in by 9 – this is the day to go for a walk, when I rally or have a call scheduled with my friend Rebecca. I’m also trying to go to be earlier, heading upstairs by 10… knowing my bedtime prep process, and my nightime “to dos” always take a while to complete.

OK, I’m drooping, and I’m sure this isn’t exactly the most riveting read – but I’m glad to share a few things I’ve found helpful so far this year as I work toward: FOCUS + Strong & Lean + DeCluttered (more on that tomorrow). More to share, another day!

Two final notes:

  1. After” photos of the snow below. I think we got about 18+ inches, it looks like more once the roads are cleared and driveway shoveled. It is beautiful, and now it is CHILLY which means the snow will stay. Yay! More expected on Wed & Thurs.
  2. A MUST WATCH TV PROGRAM really, seriously, absolutely AWESOME PBS show “Equus – the Story of the Horse”. Whole episode is available online, it aired on Wednesday 1/16. If you love horses, you will love this. If you know someone who loves horses, or are interested in why I, and so many people who know horses, love horses – you will find this fascinating. It is simply amazingly well done. I can’t recommend enough and I think you’ll find some insight into our love affair with horses, racing and the whole crazy world of horses in this beautifully produced first episode. I can’t wait for next week!

OK, that’s it for now. Signing off from 2 degrees!


Jan 21, 2019 – after the snow
Sunshine on the snow
Good morning – here’s a forecast to make you pull the covers over your head. Thankful for a holiday!
Just had to share… love this!

And now… laissez le New Year rouler!

โ€œNothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.โ€

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hello Friends!

My, what a whirlwind these first few weeks of 2019 have been! And throughout it all, I’ve been brewing & stewing about my Big Plans for a Big Year ahead… with nary a moment to write any of this down in the blog. But, at last, here I am. Really and truly, oh so ready for this New Year to begin – with intention. Much like each of my beloved yoga classes, I find myself taking a few incredibly transformational deep breaths and setting an intention for the practice, in this case the practice of writing. I suppose there’s an awful lot of value in starting each new activity and each new day with this same approach. Let’s write that down to repeat & remember-

A humble suggestion, to properly begin any meaningful endeavor:

  • Take a deep breath or two – let go of what you are carrying & be present.
  • Set an intention and or dedication
  • Repeat a meaningful mantra (or inspirational song)
  • Drink a glass of water
  • Begin, with enthusiasm (remember “Jingle all the way, because no one likes a half-assed Jingler”) ๐Ÿ™‚

The Deep Breath: I’m sitting here so very happily on a Saturday afternoon in my upstairs perch, in my comfy slippers, Louisville Flea Market Leggins’ and favorite fuzzy hoody from Paris, with a cup of tea, my infuser bubbling and the Piano Guys in the background. The house is battened, the supplies are in place, and we are ready for our First Big Snow of 2019… and really, our first of our new lives here in NY. Having come up here solo in March last year, I was here for a few good snows (14 inches was the most, I think), but once Bobby arrived in April the snow dwindled. Today, sometime this afternoon, Winter is Coming. Yay! Yay! Yay!

Weather Update: Here’s our “before” photo (a dusting each of the past couple days… ) taken this AM on the way to 5 Points for final supplies.

Saturday Jan 19, 2019 (11am)

Deep breaths taken, it’s time for that intention/ dedication. Because I always choose both when given a choice, I’m going to set one intention and also make a dedication. Perhaps something I’ll continue going forward.

Intention: To be focused, not scattered, and to convey more than a running online diary of activities and to endeavor to share some thought of theme that I’ve found helpful (and would love to discuss with anyone reading, if only I could get the comments section of this blog to work – one day!).

Dedication: This post is dedicated to these dear individuals who are very much in my mind today: Teresa G, Cathy R, Kim C, Lisa W, my auntie Sue and my dear first mentor, Jan Scott. You are each beloved to me, you have each given much to me over many years, and I am sending my strength, cheer and gratitude to you with this post.

Mantra: Stumbled across the quote above this week, and simply don’t know where it’s been all my life. It is definitely one of those “this is me” lines, that I completely connect with – and I’m so very glad Mr. Emerson is the man who coined it to make it sound profound.

Begin: Let’s just get this out there: I turn 50 this year. Gulp! It sure sounded like a bigger number when I was 12, 22, 32… and less so at 42, and of course, now that I’m right on top of it… it certainly doesn’t feel like as big deal as it sounds. Meanwhile, I’m really and truly super excited about it. It just feels like such a milestone – and quite honestly, it feels like the beginning of Chapter 2. And I’m so ready!! Bring it on!

“To whom much is given, much is expected” (attribution is questionable, claimed in some form by many). This quote has been my personal motto for as long as I can remember…. and honestly, it’s somewhat haunted me, driven me and tormented me because I have such an acute appreciation for how much I’ve been given, through no special merit – and entirely through the good fortune of my birth, my parents, my family, my lucky stars and my life events to date. This sense of being given much, has left me feeling that I simply MUST do something great… and that to come short would be to squander all the gifts that I have been so generously given over my many years on earth.

So now, this year – 2019 – the year I hit my half-century mark, I feel like I’ve arrived in the place (Physically, Professionally, Emotionally) to Do Something Great. As my very dear and amazing friend Dr. Ana (fabulous acupuncturist and healer at the Heavenly Bodies Clinic in Arlington, VA) says… I’ve arrived in my “ideal scene”. For any of you who’ve read this little website of rambles from the early days of 2018, the process of arriving here was certainly an “all hands” exercise – the plans, the extraction, the communication, the “leap”, the pursuit, the prayers… and then, the start, the settling, the learning, the meeting people, and the occasional bought of blues and the many, amazing signs of validation that we were meant to be here. Phew!

2018 was a biggie… but at the end of that journey, we find ourselves at the very beginning of a new one. The “what happens next” is upon us – and I am just bursting with excitement to dive in.

And so, my New Years intentions are all wrapped up – quite selfishly – in how to make the most of all I’ve been given, and all the obstacles I’ve cleared, to GET ON WITH IT and start making the world a much, much better place as impactfully as I possibly can. In sum, this is my year to stop becoming (although I know we are always a work in progress), and to simply start manifesting. Who’s with me?

In an effort to not exhaust any of my patient readers, I’m going to wind this missive down shortly -with the intention of writing a bit more each day of this 3 Day Snow Weekend, to share a few more of my thoughts and get in a bit of a pattern of writing for the month ahead.

I’ll conclude this post with a somewhat belated sharing of my 2019 New Years Intentions, and then a quick update on the Maven, for those inquiring minds eager to know how he’s doing.

New Year 2019: The Magpie’s Intentions

  • Improve my focus – learn/ re-learn to spend quality time on one task at a time in order to do it well, enjoy it and fully experience it.
  • Get stronger & leaner – dedicate serious effort to my physical body, to prepare it for the heavier lifting of the years ahead, the inevitable challenges that await me, and – let’s face it, to make sure I really like the way I look on my birthday!
  • Reduce time/focus/energy-sapping clutter – while the move helped us do this with our “things”, there’s still (always) more to do. Moreover, my specific focus for this year is going to be on digital clutter which I find to the be enemy of intention #1.

Not that any of these are remotely original, but perhaps precisely because they aren’t, I’ll plan to share my progress toward “becoming my best me” along these lines over the days ahead. Happy to share things that may help me get there, and setbacks encountered. Stay tuned for a little ramble about the “accountability partner” process that my dear friend E and I are going to start on Sunday – setting goals and checking in once a week to keep each other on track… toward Great Things!

Final Note: The Maven (and his broken wings). It’s been a slow start to 2019 for the dear Maven… we’re really looking at Feb 1st as his New Year’s day, as he gradually comes back into the world of the functional. After the “limbo” of waiting for surgery from 12/24 to 1/3, we found the surgery was more of a setback than a step forward – and much more difficult and painful for him than we’d anticipated. It’s taken a lot out of him, and he’s been exhausted by the post-op recovery. On a brighter note, this past Monday was a very positive milestone, as his splint and stitches were removed and the surgeon took a follow up X-ray which indicated that things are healing well with the plate & screws holding the bone in place. Equally importantly, Bobby is finding great joy in having both arms – especially his dominant arm – back… even if he can’t do much with it. Much to our shared chagrin, he drove back from the Train Station on Wednesday after dropping off his mom who had stayed here while I was in NoLa. And then, as a wonderful treat, he rallied for Friday Night Date night at 9 Mile East Farm @ Saratoga Apple last night. Our first in a really, really long time – and we brought home enough Momofuku-style pork & kimchi to eat our way through the winter! See photo below – yum! Next step, he’s to start physical therapy on Monday (we’ll see what the weather holds)… which should help alot too, at least toward feeling like we’re making progress back toward normal.

Last word, from the Maven himself (Thursday night) “I realize there is really one big lesson I’ve taken from this whole experience. As simple as it is, I really have learned to appreciate being healthy and how important it is to be physically well.” I’m so proud of him. These are words we all need to take to heart – to encourage him, and one another, to do what we need to do to take care of our bodies – for ourselves, and for those around us.

Closing Quote: “Dedication is remembering what you really want.” – unknown

That’s all for now – until the snow!



Momofuku Style Pork Shoulder at 9 Mile East @ Saratoga Apple – Jan 2019

HNY – catching up (before we get started)

Hello Friends!

Well, let’s just start with some “news you can use” before I start my New Year’s ramble.

First, the 4am experiment was not a success. It started off well, as I enjoyed a productive 1.5 or so hours emptying my busy brain of a bunch of thoughts, and then I did find it easier to go back to bed and sleep for a while. However, when it came time to get up… ugh. Best description is like having a hangover all day, without any of the fun the night before. It was a short-term fix to crazy brain, but not a winning strategy for the future. Not saying I won’t do it again, but only on a weekend – it would be a killer on a weekday. Sigh.

Second, inquiring minds want to know “how do you break both elbows”?  Quite simply (in my opinion), by having really strong wrists. So, here’s the whole story as I understand it (I wasn’t there). My mom volunteered the Maven to play tennis on Sunday before Christmas in San Diego with a few of her friends, who play from 7am to 8am every Sunday. As he got up and got ready at 6:30 on Sunday AM, I’d like to record to reflect that I specifically said “honey, you do NOT have to do this”. But, off he went, and I believe he did so because really & truly he has been looking forward to playing tennis again in our new world – with more time and many courts and lots of options for clubs. In his mind, I’m pretty sure this was meant to be an easy warm up with a few older guys, to lead into his return to tennis in 2019. Oh well! He returned home at just about exactly 8am that AM looking fine, but a little bewildered. He said, “it went well for about 30 min til I fell”… as he gingerly showed me both arms (no scrapes) and calmed into bed, telling me that the worst part was driving home… when he turned on our street he screamed out loud. So sad!

My understanding of the fall is as follows – he was playing doubles, close to the net, and he saw a ball coming that he new his partner wasn’t going to get – so he made a sort of dive for it to his left (he’s left handed). At that point, who knows… he didn’t have proper tennis shoes on, they may have given out or slipped, he may have tripped, but whatever happened, his feet went out from under him and he “free-fell” to land directly on both hands, more or less straight-armed… at PRECISELY the right/wrong angle. His left went down hardest and first, and then he rolled on to his left shoulder. Apparently the guys thought he’d hurt his shoulder. But, rather than breaking both wrists or landing on him head, he squarely jammed both arms… and yes, he fractured BOTH elbows. Ouch.

The left was the worse of the two, certainly in terms of pain… and ultimately in terms of the break. After coming home with this sad story, he took a nap (probably in shock) and despite the hopes that it would just “feel better” we went to lunch with friends, and then, directly afterward to Urgent Care for x-rays. The poor doctor felt really badly saying “Merry Christmas – you broke them both”. One much worse than the other, even to our inexperienced eyes. They gave him two splints, but only immobilized the left… which continued to be super painful, until today.

We were stuck in the Xmas limbo Sunday – Tuesday, when our primary care was closed, but called to put in the call for a referral request on Monday. They assured us we’d get a call on Wed AM. In fact, we called them on Wed before they called us, and they got us an appt with an ortho here in Saratoga on Friday. We managed through Christmas, called off Santa Anita, and then had a pretty smooth (but long) trip home on Thursday the 27th.

Saw the Dr on Friday the 28th, who took new x-rays and confirmed the diagnosis – 2 fractures, one much worse than the other (but not a messy break, just a distinct fracture of the radial head). He recommended surgery to fix the left, since it’s the Maven’s dominant arm and he still has hopes of a more active, sporty lifestyle .. golf, tennis etc. He scheduled us for surgery on Thursday (pretty quick turn around!) 1/3… today!

So, after about 10 long days of “limbo” – suffering with one really, really sore dominant arm… and making do with the limited motion of the right arm, today was our day to start the road to recovery.

The good news is that the surgery went well. I had a great chat with the surgeon after he finished, and he clearly couldn’t have been more happy with how things unfolded and the stability of the repair (a plate and screws to reattach the fragment to the bone). Bobby came through it all well, only bothered by the nerve block which made his entire arm feel “dead” utterly numb… and pretty freaky, but as we soon would learn, way better than the alternative. He had a peaceful afternoon on the couch, watching Swingers while I made phone calls. Then, I headed out to pick up pizza and his pain meds to have them on hand when – very suddenly- the nerve block expired at 5pm.. projected for 8-10pm. As I was waiting in the CVS I received an SOS… to tell me that the pain had come rushing in like a lion. So much for the warning signals… he felt some tingling, but had not idea the wave of pain would crash upon him so fast. Poor thing! It’s been rough sledding since then (writing at 9pm).

I dashed home as fast as I could with pain pills and pizza, and started the meds at 6pm to a very, very sad man. He can take 2 every 4 hours… and we have about 1 hour & 2o minutes to go. It’s been a difficult few hours. Chasing the pain is no fun at all. Hopeful well get him on the road to feeling better in time for bedtime. Good luck & good thoughts, very welcome!

So, that’s the story for now. As a happy silver lining to his tough couple weeks and really tough day, the news of his winning a crazy football contest went “live” today. So, here’s that fun tidbit: Weir wins inaugural Sportsline Super Contest

Sorry for the reversion back to an “online diary” approach, to share with friends far & wide. I actually started a real journal this year, so I’m hopeful that will help me be more focused… and allow the blog to be a place to capture (slightly more interesting) thoughts and observations more than “blow by blow” of our not-that-exciting-but-very-happy lives.

Big year ahead (hint… starts with a 5)!!