Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March Books

I can't believe my goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (ha, I ended up with 88 in 201777 in 2018 and 67 in 2019!) has morphed into this passion for books. As you can see, my reading has slowed a bit, but my love for books has not! In the past couple years I've added longer distance races (which means more time running/ training and less time reading), we've remodeled our condo (I think it legit took us six months to finish the whole thing... DIY seems to take twice as long {and cost twice as much} as you originally think it will), and I've added another part time job (which means I'm now working 40ish hours a week, cutting down on my reading time). Even still, I love getting my read on whenever I can.

Truth be told, I was never much of a reader when I was younger (CliffsNotes were my best friend when it came to books), but recently I fell in love. Although I may not read at the same speed as I previously did when I first caught the reading bug, I still want to keep the hobby going (and what better form of accountability than to post a list of the books I finished at the end of the month?!). I don't have any set number of books I am shooting to read this year, but hopefully a lack of goal doesn't mean a lack of books completed. So, without further ado, let's jump into everything I read in March!

  • The Little Book of Big Lies by Tina Lifford - I needed an audiobook to listen to on my walk to work and on my lunch break so I downloaded this one on my Hoopla app. I didn't know anything about it, but the title intrigued me, as did as the subtitle "A Journey into Inner Fitness". I would say this isn't your typical self-help sort of book (with a lot of empty platitudes or generalizations). The author uses very personal and specific stories to show the readers ways to break down the internal barriers often holding us back from the better life we could be living. There were many practical applications throughout the book. I really liked the idea of reshaping our dialog from words like "always" and "forever" to "up until now, and from this point forward". Simple changes like this allow for hope and possibility. I also appreciate that at the end of every chapter there's a recap including a restatement of the "lie", a self empowering truth and some "try this" advice. I would give it an 8 out of 10.   

  • Baking Me Crazy by Karla Sorensen - Sometimes you just need a little mindless fluff to take your mind off of things ;) and that's exactly what this book was. This was another book I listened to on my Hoopla app. I actually found it because I remembered liking Happy Trail that I listened to in January and looked to see if there were similar titles. This one was by a different author but the male's part was read by the same person so I thought I'd give it a listen. Although I was a little worried this book would be all about sex (as I'm sure you are aware, some of the adult romance novels tend to be focused on the act of getting it on), but thankfully this one wasn't too bad. Although the plot of most romance novels tends to be the same, the specifics kept me engaged (loved that they had a diverse character like Joss). It was funny, refreshing and pulled on your heart strings. I feel like it would be a great summer book to read on vacation or by the pool. I would give it a 7 out of 10.

  • Stud Muffin by Jiffy Kate - This was the second book in the Donner Bakery Series (Baking Me Crazy was the first), but these can all be read on their own. I like that some of the characters overlap but the stories all stand alone and are complete without the necessity of the other (especially because my Hoopla app doesn't have all five of the books available on audiobook). I enjoyed the first one so figured I'd grab the second one to listen to while walk commuting to work or cleaning the house. I'll be honest, this one was a little more focused on sex than the first and, at times, I was glad I was listening to the book with headphones in because I may have been a little embarrassed if folks around me knew exactly what I was listening to. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't X rated or anything, but it definitely wasn't the Young Adult romance books I'm used to reading either ;)  It was witty, emotional and pretty steamy. In the end I was pulling for both main characters, so I guess it did its job. Similar to the first book in the series, you aren't going to walk away with any earth shattering revelations, but it kept me entertained. I would give it a 7 out of 10.

  • Scroogenomics by Joel Waldfogel - If you didn't know, I got my bachelor's degree in Economics, so when I saw this title show up on my Hoopla app I was very interested in checking it out. This was a quick listen (less than 4 hours) and I didn't feel like you really needed a background in economics to understand what the author was saying because he seemed to explain it all quite thoroughly. I've gotta say, this book had me shaking my head YES the entire time. Joel's research shows how wasteful Christmas gift giving is (when you look at things like the return of investment, the economic waste created, etc). I'll let you listen (or read) it and won't spoil all of his findings for you, but let me say, this is what I've been screaming from the mountaintops for the last few years. I would much prefer my family and friends donate to charities in my honor than buy me a gift that I don't want/ need. I love that the practical takeaway at the end of the book was just that - donate! Obviously kids or close loved ones can be an exception, but for the most part this book holds true across the board. And, I'll be honest, this book probably took a lot of courage to write. Christmas is a HUGE money making business (especially in the United States), so to try and talk "against" it could get you a lot of flack. I would give it a 9 out of 10. 

  • The Andy Cohen Diaries by Andy Cohen - We have a few "free" libraries around where we walk Walt, so I am always checking out to see what sort of books they have. Every once in a while something will catch my eye and I'll grab it and stick it in my "for later" pile. Well, when COVID-19 hit, I got laid off from work and figured it was the best time to tackle the stack of books. This was one of the first ones I grabbed. It is literally a year long of diary entries from Andy Cohen on what he did every day. I wouldn't say it was thought provoking, but it was pretty entertaining to see how "famous people" spend their time. I used to enjoy watching all of the "Real Housewives" shows, so I knew some of the players in the book, but others I was clueless on ;) I don't think I would have actually checked this one out of a library (since I'm not really interested in that "world" any longer), but it did take my mind off the craziness going on around us. I would give it a 7 out of 10. 

And, yes, since our HOA chained our pool closed I took to
reading in the sun in front of our garage ;) 

With that, March has come to a close. My reading may not be going gang-busters like it has in the past, but I hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my library wait list!

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read and would recommend to others. Check it out!

What was the best book you read this year?

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Workout Recap - Week 13

Sunday, March 22nd – 3 mile run with the hubby

Monday, March 23rd – 10.5 mile run, Foam Rolled and Stretched 

Tuesday, March 24th – 30 minutes of Yoga

Wednesday, March 25th – 13.1 mile run, Foam Rolled and Stretched

Thursday, March 26th – 150 minutes on the stationary bike, Foam Rolled and Stretched

Friday, March 27th  6 mile run, Foam Rolled and Stretched

Saturday, March 28th – 17.4 mile run, Foam Rolled and Stretched

For some reason I got in my head that I wanted to hit 50 miles this week, which is why my Saturday run was 17.4 (a random distance for sure, but I tallied my miles before I left and it helped me hit the 50 mark). I have been doing all of my runs from the house, which can get a little old (because I don't have a ton of awesome routes right out the front door), but I'm excited to try and find different directions to run (hopefully not all uphill...). Besides adding my foam rolling and stretching back into my schedule, I have also been doing a core challenge and 30 burpees a day! I've been extremely thankful for the Peloton app with their stretching, strength training and meditation sessions! I'm hoping to not only come out of this COVID outbreak healthy and happy, but maybe a little stronger physically, mentally and emotionally as well!

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, March 27, 2020

Friday Favorites

You would think now that I have less to "officially" do after being laid off that time would drag on, but I guess I have had quite a bit of things to catch up on because this week still flew by. I have definitely been keeping myself busy with cleaning, writing pen pal letters, getting workouts in, reading, etc... and, I've gotta be honest, I don't hate it. I mean, the bank account obviously isn't loving the lack of income, but I'm praying this time of home seclusion the country (and world) is observing (or SHOULD BE observing) is reminding us of how little we actually need and what is truly important. Okay, okay, I'll get off my COVID19 soapbox for a bit and get on with what you all came here for - my list of favorite finds. (PS Most of these things are great no matter the time of year, but specifically for while we are under the "stay at home" order.)

Peloton App

I know, I know, I'm late to the Peloton game (#RealTalk - I'm not planning on getting a Peloton bike or treadmill, unless one magically appears at my doorstep from a fitness fairy), but I finally downloaded the app last week. I was asking on social media if folks had suggestions of core challenges and a few friends mentioned Peloton had a 4-week one and they were offering a 90-day free trial of their app (no credit card required). I snagged it and have been using it now for a week, and I've gotta say, I am super appreciative of it. I have been doing the core challenge (5 times a week), mediation before bed (every night), stretching classes (trying to do them daily, but if I don't take an official class I am still trying to add stretching back into my nightly routing), etc. I know a ton of us runners often say we need to add more strength training or stretching into our routines but are too busy... well, now we aren't, so why not start today?!


Coloring Pages

I love that companies are putting together free coloring pages for kids and adults alike to use while we are all staying at home. First up are a few awesome designs from Do Good Be Kind. These are more of the intricate, adult type coloring pages I've been seeing lately. Next are the Keep Nature Wild coloring pages that just hit their site. The designs are some of my faves they have released, so I'm stoked they are in coloring format (there are more available than I included, those were just my top picks).  I also recently just saw that the University of Michigan Alumni Association also has some coloring pages available. And you can't forget about the coloring book that one of my favorite inspirational illustrators from Instagram (@PositivelyPresent) released! Now if only we had a printer and colored pencils for me to use.

Do Good Be Kind

Keep Nature Wild

University of Michigan Alumni Association

Positively Present

Online Drawing Classes

You may know this already, but the hubby went to college for art (he went to the School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan, while I went to the School of Literature, Science and the Arts). He's quite the creative guy (it'll take you all of about point zero three seconds to realize that if you ever have the opportunity to talk to him). I saw on Facebook that an illustrator of children's books was putting some drawing classes online for the kids stuck at home during the coronavirus and I figured the hubby and I could take them too. The classes are only about 10 minutes long (obviously you can pause them if you need more time on any of the steps) and they are pretty fun. After we finished the first one we got some suggestions from YouTube on other classes to take (like "How To Draw Pizza Steve") that we might need to try too!

Dropps Laundry Detergent Pods

The hubby and I are trying to cut down on our plastic consumption. We have been looking into refill stores that we can get things like hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, etc. Well, we were looking into these options and then COVID-19 hit, so those plans were put on a brief hold. Thankfully I had ordered some Dropps Laundry Pods to demo while we were finding the best refill shop near us. We have only been using the Dropps for a week or so, but so far, so good. They are a zero waste, green cleaning solution that uses eco-responsible packaging, no unnecessary fillers or dyes, plus FREE carbon neutral shipping. We haven't tried any of the other products, but they do offer dishwasher pods, laundry booster pods, etc. Individuals and families can take simple steps to replace everyday products that are both eco-responsible and economical - which, if multiplied across a multitude of individuals and families, can have a measurable impact on the planet. We're in this together - let's do our part to reduce our intake of single-use plastic, recycle when possible and support companies that offer eco-responsible alternatives.


What are you loving lately?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Workout Recap - Week 12

Sunday, March 15th – Rest Day

Monday, March 16th – McDot 50K 

Tuesday, March 17th – Rest Day

Wednesday, March 18th – 4.1 mile run

Thursday, March 19th – 120 minutes on the stationary bike

Friday, March 20th  5 mile run with the hubby

Saturday, March 21st – 10.10 mile run

Wow, this week has been crazy... and not just because my 50K this past weekend was cancelled and I opted to run a solo 31 miles around town on Monday instead... This whole "shelter at home" order has got California (and the country) going a bit stir crazy, but I am so thankful that outdoor activities for exercise are still permitted. Let's just say that although I am now currently not training for anything (all of my races in March and April have already been canceled), I am definitely going to be leaning on running for my mental health now more than ever. PS While running yesterday I was reminded that the only face-to-face interaction some people may have right now is the "hello" or wave you may offer while out running... so please be kind and spread sunshine to everyone you see (while obviously abiding by the social distancing protocol).

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, March 20, 2020


At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to share this post. I feel like there is enough depressing, scary and sad news circulating these days and I didn't want to add to it (especially because I try my darnedest to be a bright light to those around me), but this is real life (which some of you are interested in ;)) so eventually I decided to hit "publish".

I'll be honest, up until Wednesday everything seemed to be "business as usual" over in the McDot world. The hubby had been working from home for a few days, but he had been doing freelance design for about a year before he started with adidas, so it wasn't so completely out of the norm for us. I was still working my normal hours at the running store (we had cancelled all of our events and fun runs, but the store itself was still open for business with our normal hours). Don't get me wrong, we were cleaning and sanitizing like mad as soon as any customers came in and left, but for the most part COVID-19 wasn't personally impacting my life (other than being slightly anxious about only having three rolls of toilet paper in the house and not being able to buy any during my recent weekly grocery trip). Well, all of that quickly changed...


Wednesday my co-worker and I got a call from our store manager, letting us know they were cutting hours while things worked themselves out. It netted out to only lowering my hours by about 6 hours a week (three of my 10am - 7pm shifts would be changed to 12pm - 7pm shifts - not a big deal and it would give me more time in the morning to run ;)). We all knew changes like this were on the horizon, we just weren't sure when they'd roll out and how much impact they'd have.

Just in case you didn't know, I have LOVED working at my local running store!

Thursday was the first day with my new hours. Things in the store hadn't been as slow as one might assume with everything going on. We landed on the reasoning being that since gyms and studios were closed, people were really only "left with" walking and running as forms of exercise so everyone was stocking up on their running shoes and attire.


Before I went to bed on Thursday, I received an email notification saying my administrative rights for the store's Facebook page had been revoked (I help with their social media as well as working as a sales associate in the store). I took a screenshot and texted it to the hubby (who had gone to watch a movie at a friend's house before the "shelter in place" order was released) with a "Hmmmm...". I hoped it was an accident, but knew deep down something was coming.


As I briefly mentioned, Thursday evening the governor of California issued a statewide order for all residents to ‘stay at home’ amid the coronavirus outbreak. The order is in place until further notice. Essential services (such as pharmacies, grocery stores, takeout and delivery restaurants, and banks) will stay open. {California estimates that more than half of the state — 25.5 million people — will get the new coronavirus over the next eight weeks. “We believe the virus will impact about 56% of California’s population... We believe with a 20% hospitalization rate, that’s about 19,543 people that would need to be hospitalized – above the existing capacity of our system.” California is the third hardest hit state in the US, behind Washington and New York.} I knew that meant the store would close temporarily, but assumed that when I woke up on Friday we'd probably have an email from our manager (or maybe the owners) letting us know that once the order was lifted that life (and business) would go back to normal... Good thing I'm not a betting girl, because boy, was I wrong.


Friday morning came and I saw my phone light up with a call from the store. I figured it would be the store manager (who was supposed to be working from open until close), letting us know that they would be abiding by the governor's mandate. I was a bit shocked when she said that she was at the store to hang a sign saying the store was CLOSED... like closed, closed. She said that she hated that it came down to this (don't we all?!) and after the dust settles and IF they are able to re-open they'd love to have me back, but for now she'd recommend I file for unemployment as soon as possible.


Now let me mention that I had talked to her a few days earlier and told her I was well aware of the saying "last hired, first fired" so if they needed to lay folks off, I absolutely understood the nature of the business and would harbor no ill-will or hard feelings. She thanked me for the offer but said that I was too important to her and the store to let that happen. I wrapped up the conversation by saying I was selfishly super happy to hear that, but if it came down to it, which I prayed it didn't, I would absolutely understand and she should not worry about having to address it if push came to shove...

Well, push came to shove...

As of Friday morning I became officially laid-off (along with the rest of my coworkers). I jumped on the unemployment site and filed for benefits (in my 35 years I have never once had to do this - I have always left a job on my own terms). I realize I've paid into the program for the past 20+ years, but it still felt a little strange having to submit a claim to take advantage of the benefits. I won't know for a couple weeks if my claim is approved (and I'm sure with everything going on right now it may be delayed even longer than normal), but for now I will hold my head high without feeling shame or guilt for having to submit a claim - even though those seemed to be the first emotions I felt when I hit the submit button (I'm obviously not alone, I saw an article that said unemployment claims hit 80,000 IN ONE DAY earlier this week in California alone!).


Again, I am hoping that once we can get a handle on the coronavirus that the economy will be able to bounce back, but how long that will take (and if some of the family-owned and operated businesses will still be around at that point) is anyone's guess. I will say that I am staying positive and hopeful, knowing we will come out okay on the other side.


With that saying, I did want to urge each of us to do our best to not only stay healthy, happy, safe and sane during these uncertain and somewhat scary times, but also to continue to support our local mom-and-pop shops whenever and however possible! We're in this together so let's do what we can to help one another get through this as best as we can!


Are you currently under "house arrest"?