Gratuitous Year-End Review

Gather round, folks, it’s time for me to summarize the highlights of the year!

I think I’ve grown more this year than I have in a decade!  My forties may be my time!


Okay, I’m going to be superficial and say that seeing  Hamilton was one of my biggest highlights.  I’m still amazed that Mike and I were able to see Hamilton at all, nevermind having third-row seats!  Hamilton got me through some challenging times; I am thankful we were able to make the trek to Broadway to see it.  While we were waiting for the play to begin, we were able to go to the top of the Empire State Building.  Mike and I thought it would be a brilliant idea to avoid the elevator lines and take the stairs from the 82 to 88th-floor observation decks; we quickly learned that was a terrible idea!


Becoming a runner was my most significant achievement of the year!  I can’t say enough good things about  Beginning Runner Group.  Their support throughout the process of running a 5K was the key to my success!  If it weren’t for this program, I would still be saying, “Someday, I’ll teach myself how to run.”  Wednesday night, I finally conquered the giant, seemingly endless hill on Rochambeau, accomplishing my last running goal of the year! Next year, I am signed up for not one, but two half-marathons.  While I have no interest in ever completing a full marathon, I am nervous and excited to meet these goals next year!

Making great friends and finding my people was one of my favorite parts of 2017.  Here, I wrote about being very lonely after Liam was born.  It took me a while as a mother to find great friends.  I now have a wonderful, supportive group of friends who encourage me, laugh with me, and push me to better myself.


Thankful for friends who embrace silliness!


Seven has been my favorite age!  I love everything, well,  most things about having a seven-year-old!  Sometimes, it seems he ages a year in a week.  Other times, I see glimpses of my baby boy hiding in this ginormous kid.  Liam is kind, thoughtful, and curious.  I love this journey, but look forward to seeing the adult he grows up to be.

How did he grow so much in one year?

I should admit that, in spite of all of my working out, I only lost a half pound this year.  However, I lost ten inches, proving that the scale is not always the best way to measure progress.  While I hope to tone up a bit next year and lose a bit of my tummy, in this post, I was able to finally realize that working out is not just about losing fat and trying to cancel out food consumed.  More than anything, I am looking forward to getting stronger and faster next year!.

Liam is thriving at school!  We were so happy with his daycare center that we kept him there through kindergarten. Last year, we started him in a new school for first grade.  He was so nervous about learning a new building and making new friends.  While I didn’t tell him, I had the same fears!  We both had to learn new policies and politics and make new friends.   I am happy to report that lightning struck twice!  Liam loves school, his teachers, and his new friends.  He loves staying at their after-school program and participating in after-school activities.  In addition to Liam making great friends, Mike and I managed to befriend a great group of people! We are truly blessed to be part of a school that makes you feel like a family!



Guilty Pleasures, I Mean Running Motivations

One of the hardest parts of running was going out solo.  I loved BRG for the camaraderie, chatter, and support.  Being a bit competitive, I also needed to know that I would keep up with the others.  Knowing that we were going to do our first fifteen-minute interval as a group made me make sure I was ready to do it in with the group.  When I am in weight training classes, I have to be able to use heavier weights.  (I know that no one else cares; this is totally a me issue.)

Running on my own each Saturday was a mental challenge.  When I first ventured out, I would run around the blocks near my house, creating an escape plan if I tired or wimped out and needed to head home.  Within a few weeks, I was making myself commit to a three-mile loop.  First starting out, it was hard to be alone with my thoughts:

     “What made you think you were a runner?”

    “Can you feel your belly jiggling when you run?  Why bother doing this?”

    “You’ve tried to be a runner in the past and failed.  What makes this time different?”

Once I got going, I was okay and managed to find a more positive thought process.

   “I’m going to do a full three miles, even if I need to go past the entrance and backtrack before I leave.”

     “I’m going to do three miles in 38 minutes.”

At some point during my run, I think something out of my mind: “I should train for a half marathon. You could totally do it!

There are two things that help me change my negative thoughts while running: cheesy music and Pokemon Go.  Yes, I did mean to write that.  I consider myself a bit of a music snob; Mike jokes that I only like bands that no one else knows.  I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I can definitely hold my own in a conversation about most music genres.  When I am running lately, I usually listen to one of the following:

Cheesy 90’s pop music  (think Brittney, NSYNC, and the Backstreet Boys)

Obscene 90’s gangsta rap

They get me through my runs.  The heart wants what the heart runs.  Hamilton gets into the mix a lot, but I’ve been listening to it for so long now that I need new tunes.  Hamilton is still my go-to for motivation.  As I run down a busy street listening to my cheesy pop music, I pay even closer attention to others around me, fearful that I will be hit by car listening to “Backstreet’s Back,” revealing my secret to the outside world.

Pokemon Go?  Ugh, this one is embarrassing.  We take a lot of walks as a family.  When Outtie was with us, we took two twenty minute walks daily.  We go hiking and do a fair amount of Geo-caching.  When I finally gave in to the Pokemon Go craze, Mike and I instantly became competitive.  Playing while running provides a distraction.  I can hatch an egg and try to catch new Pokemon.  I am embarrassed admitting that the game gets me through runs, but it totally does.

BGR often reminds us, “If you run, you are a runner.”  I guess I can add, “Even if you do embarrassing things while running, you are a runner.”

My Hamilton Experience

After months of recommendations, I finally checked out the Hamilton soundtrack.  I remember the first time I listened to it during April vacation, waiting for our basement furniture to be delivered.  Even though it was background music as I completed a bunch of other tasks, I kept stopping to check the names of songs and listen to lyrics more closely.  Before long, I was listening to Hamilton while jogging on the treadmill, slowing my pace (even more than usual) to repeat verses or to look up the authenticity of facts.  (It turns out the Martha Washington did name a cat after him!)   I continued to listen to Hamilton during my “runs,” pushing myself to maintain pace for an entire song.

Fast forward a few months.  I decided to work as a facilitator for a week in California, teaching a new cohort a learning platform my school adopted the previous school year.  I was nervous for numerous reasons.  I was going to be away from my family and on the other side of the country by myself.  I was nervous about teaching other teachers.  (Impostor syndrome was alive and well that week.)  Each night, after teaching a group of teachers and administrators all day, I would head over to the walking path across the street from my hotel and try my best to run.  Hamilton was my soundtrack.  Each night, while setting goals to run to certain landmarks, I memorized the lyrics to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play.  While I should’ve taken this time to explore San Francisco and neighboring Burlingame, I instead spent my evenings walking along the bay and watching airplanes.  (My favorite path here overlooks Narragansett Bay and is about a mile from the airport.  Yes, I flew 3,000 miles to do exactly what I do at home.)

Hamilton represented a time in which I truly stepped out of my comfort zone, both personally and professionally.  When I hear certain lyrics, I can remember exactly where I was on the running path when I understood them for the first time.  I remember singing the lyrics loudly, not caring who heard me because I was far away from everyone I knew.

The following spring, I joined the Beginner’s Running Group.  Again, I was out of my comfort zone.  By this time, the Hamilton Mixtape was released.  I listened to it throughout my training, taking solace during those first four-minute intervals that
“I only had to run through one song.”  Looking back, I can see my progress.  As someone who can run for three miles without stopping, I love remembering when four minutes intimidated me.  I listened to the Mixtape during the final 5k and met my goal time.

Again, Hamilton got me through a time in which I stepped out of my comfort zone.  It got me through two times in my life in which I was struggling to do something to better myself.  With my husband’s blessing, I jumped at the opportunity to purchase tickets. (It was a lot of money to spend without at least a heads up.) I had tickets to a matinee almost a year away.  We reserved train tickets to make it easier to get to the city without worrying about traffic and parking.

The day finally arrived!  We had to be at the train station before seven.  Because we had a few hours before the show, we visited the Empire State Building.  My husband had never been to the top.  It was fun to be touristy.  The view from the top was amazing!

Finally, it was time for the show.  We had to wait outside in the drizzling rain while I worried that something would go wrong.  Did I mention we had third-row seats?  The tickets gods were truly watching over me!  The show was better than I could have imagined.  Usually at a show, either a theatrical or concert show, I wish for the moment for the show to me a memory.  Hamilton was different; it flew by and I was so sad when it was over.

For the past week, my husband and I will stop conversations for random Hamilton observations:”Aaron Burr started off a little stiff, but I warmed up to him.”

“Aaron Burr started off a little stiff, but I warmed up to him.”

“I liked this George Washington better than the original.  He played it darker.”

“Did you notice that Lafayette lost his French accent a few times when he was rapping?  It must be so difficult to do both characters.”

“It’s funny that Hamilton had a beard here.  The play mentions that he couldn’t grow facial hair.”

“One of the ensemble players kept staring me down while dancing.  It took a few times before I realized I was his driste.”

These interruptions are completely acceptable in any conversation.

It was a long, but amazing day.  I still can’t believe I was able to watch this play that has been the soundtrack to me changing my life in many ways.  This past year reminds me that I can change things that need to be changed.  For anything major to change, I need to step outside of my comfort zone.  I need to take risks and challenge myself.