40 and Fired had a better ring to it than 39 and Layed Off--thus the title and impetus for a blog. I'm a freelance writer living in the mountains of Colorado with my husband, children and high maintenace pets. I'm over the whole turning 40 thing, so this is now more about my humorous/sarcastic take on life, excercise and our daily adventures.



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What's Wrong with Canned Soup?

Well over a year ago, I made the declaration we would no longer eat canned soup. Between lengthy ingredient lists containing soy, dairy, gluten and copious amounts of salt, I decided to unearth my domestic roots and sweat it out over a 5-gallon stock pot. I'm sure you can guess how long that experiment lasted. But, while I stopped making soup on a regular basis, I still refuse to buy it in a can. We've had no shortage of chili over the past twelve months, but chili isn't what I crave when my nose is dripping, my head's clogged beyond belief and it feels like an extended family of Irishmen is River Dancing on my chest.

Which is exactly how I felt today.

After awaking from a four-hour feverish nap, made worse upon discovering I had a 100lb dog spooning against me, all I wanted was soup. We literally live in the middle of nowhere, and there wasn't a can of soup to be found. And, sadly, the solution to my dilemma felt like an early Julia Childs episode, 'first you take a chicken....'. Which is exactly what I did.

The pot was soon full of organic chicken, organic veggies, parsley (which actually turned out to be cilantro-of course) from our meager container garden and rice--I wanted noodles, but figured this was already about a $20 bowl of soup, and wasn't about to add another $5 of gluten-free pasta to the mix.

And then, I dosed off again. I awoke to the smell of cinnamon. Seems in my feverish, famished state, I'd brilliantly put a cinnamon doughnut in the oven. Boy did it taste good. This is no time to examine the hypocrisy of keeping frozen pastries on hand, but not canned soup.

Once my steaming salvation was ready, I inhaled bowl after bowl, and it was worth the effort. Even better? When I mustered the energy to shuffle up the garage to put the left-overs in the freezer, I discovered soup. Lots and lots of frozen, homemade soup.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Isn't Yoga Rejuvenating?

When I first did yoga fifteen years ago, I recall peaceful music, gentle moves with kind corrections and a sense of relaxation. And I liked it.

But now it all seems so agro. Hot yoga, spin yoga and flow yoga to Lady Gaga. By the time I make it to the aptly named Corpse pose, I'm usually so relieved and exhausted, I fall sound asleep. I'd done Downward Facing Dog a few times, usually on the way to other poses, but it's been the base/rest pose for the last four classes I've attended. Call it what you want, but when my arms are shaking uncontrollably and sweat is dripping from my nose, I'm not relaxed.

The intentions I set for the class should be larger than me, but instead they've become desperate prayers to survive each class without hurting or embarrassing myself.

I have no shame in going to child's pose, for the entire class if necessary, but that's when the gentle corrections turn admonishing. "Rest until you catch your breath," quickly becomes, "you can rejoin the group at any time...how about now."

My last class, the one involving Lady Gaga, came complete with a teacher that counted how long you had to hold the pose, much like a new age aerobics class. Because that's restorative.

I've made a pledge to myself to attend class once a week. The past four weeks have been at four different studios. Sure, there are many types of yoga, and perhaps a bit of education would help. For now, I'll keep broadening my yoga experiences until I find the right fit.

Namaste.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Will There Be Interesting Snacks?

Running was proving difficult for me this spring. With another go at the Gore-tex TransRockies Run on the race calendar, long miles were a must. But an ever increasing list of injuries made me realize something had to change. Resting, different shoes and lots of cross training and strengthening had not made a difference--not true, I did have stomach muscles, but they were doing nothing to help my plantar fasciitis.

Which is how I ended up at a Chi Running camp, this past June. If Danny Dreyer and his crew couldn't fix me, then I was going to quit running forever. I know, real mature.

But fix me they did! They gave me the skills to achieve proper alignment, the first step to good running form, and a checklist of micro adjustments to make during any run, when twinges or niggles send their warning signal, "Hey you, just because you're tired, doesn't mean you can be sloppy!". Crazy but true, before the week of camp came to an end, my ITB problems and shin splints were gone. Within two weeks, even plantar fasciitis was no longer an issue. My first few steps every morning are still hesitant out of habit, but no more shooting heel pain!

John even noticed my stride was different. His exact comment was somewhere along the lines of, "I wouldn't exactly call it pretty, but you look like you can keep it up forever." And this was when he saw me at mile 15 of a 17 mile training run.

I'm still slow and far from perfect, but this new direction is good. I even smile when I run, a welcome change to my former grimace, alluding to dark, pain-induced desires to push people off their bikes and drop kick small woodland creatures.

So you can imagine my excitement for the free Chi Running workshop offered in Carbondale tonight. One of the teachers from NC will even be speaking. Time for a little review and form polish.

Now the question is who's going--ahh, the endless summer shuffle of wants and responsibilities. John has decided not to go in order to cut some new trails at the house. Which means the girls may stay or go. Adair is pretty sure she'll go--final decision hinges on whether she gets to operate any trail clearing equipment or just clears debris. I know the answer, so she'll be coming with me.

After thinking about it a bit, Taylor wanted to know the time, length and format of the event. She then asked, "Will there be interesting snacks?". Ugh! Explaining that the focus was running and that we could eat before, after and even bring our own snacks for during wasn't enough. Considering the child requested pad thai for breakfast, no standard cocktail fare will prove interesting. Thankfully Harry Potter does. Taylor will be right here, reading.

And yes, I'm going to jump back into writing weekly updates, hopefully, after a two month and three week unplanned hiatus--it's my blog after all. I am sorry, but life, deadlines and I'm not sure what else, have been conspiring against me. Next time, maybe I should have some interesting snacks to help me bridge the chaos.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Would a Princess Have a Dead Dog in her Bathroom?

Before we get to the question at hand, yes I realize it's been an entire month since I made a posting. I apologize and know that I have wracked myself with guilt-although that didn't accomplish much. It's been a month full of deadlines, a road trip, a work trip and endless snow. Trying to do better is all I can promise because, while I would like the snow to give it a rest, it appears deadlines, road trips and work trips are continuing to fill up the calendar.

The royal wedding got me dreaming about being a princess. Mind you, there are some rather substantial road blocks. I'm married, am American, have no royal lineage and never did anything to market myself to available princes. And the idea of kissing other people's babies, popping out my own babies who would be counting the days to my demise so they could rule the country and being on constant alert not to have the paparazzi catch me picking my nose are not top on my list of career ambitions.

But the upsides are rather intoxicating: a staff, fat bank account, exotic trips....maybe I could learn to wave like a queen.

So why the dead dog question? During the Pattillo household spring cleaning day today, I happened to dust our bathroom and noticed a pretty box on the shelf. It took me a moment to remember the box held the ashes of a much-loved, but dead, pet. And poor Harley has been sitting on the shelf, watching over our daily grooming habits, for almost two years. We have plans to spread his ashes and even a place in the yard. However, the time never seems right. What a downer to darken a bright, family day with, "okay, who's ready to go spread some ashes?"

Logistics also come into play. We have to do it during the brief window without snow on the ground, and, considering how infrequently I dust, a season can pass without me noticing Harley on the shelf.

He'll find a final resting spot eventually. And I suppose it would be no more unusual for a princess to have a dead dog in her bathroom than it is for me to have one. In fact, I'll ask the first princess I meet.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Break in the Routine

A very convincing argument can be made regarding our daily life being like a vacation. And on many days, I would agree.

Not the days when its snowing sideways and there are snowdrifts to be shoveled. Or any day involving cleaning the house, brushing dingle berries off a dog or simultaneous deadlines and school commitments. Fresh tracks on a powder day, having Mushroom Rock trail to myself or counting wildflower varieties in the upper meadow are fodder for ad campaigns. Living where others want to vacation has its upsides...and downsides too, notably having to earn a living and buy a house in such a popular market. Aspen home prices have been in the news as of late. Sure, the cheapest, stand-alone dwelling in town is a single-wide trailer priced at $599,000--but the papers aren't mentioning it used to be listed at twice the price!

But even endless snow, blue skies and a sweet apres scene (literally--would you like marshmallows or whipped cream with your hot chocolate?) get stale come spring. Which is why I've spent the last week kicking back in flip-flops, riding a beach cruiser and taking afternoon naps in Cedar Key, FL. Grandparents live here, weather is sunny and warm, there's plenty of fresh seafood being hauled from the local waters and it's a welcome change of pace.

Tomorrow, temps in both places are supposed to be 70 degrees and sunny. And many folks in Colorado are already riding their beach cruisers and wearing flip-flops. At our mountain top abode we've gotten two feet of snow this week. So for now, I'll sleep with the door open and be lulled by the sounds of surf on the beach. Come Sunday, spring skiing at Snowmass will be a perfect ending to our relaxing island routine.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's Not My Homework

College graduation was so long ago, it no longer feels real. Many, such as my husband, were inspired to continue on for higher learning. Me? Not really. Sure, I love to learn, read and 'expand my mind' as much or more than the next person. But the thought of tedious applications, dry lectures, endless homework, test rooms silent except for nervous throat clearing....no thanks.

Thus, the rigors of 4th and 6th grade are even more foreign to my aging mind. Plus, I've already learned and forgotten that information once, why revisit it?

Well because my daughters are certain I could research and write their papers on magnetism, roseate spoonbills or Guatemala in a fraction of the time it will take them. No doubt, but it's their turn to learn the process.

I'm not asking them to get straight A's or make the honor roll. Hell, they attend a Waldorf school which doesn't even have grades. But without a common measurement standard, success becomes vague. So what makes my kids successful?

Being the person your classmates and teachers can count on to stay outside and work on a quinzee hut until it's finished. Standing up, against the group, to offer support for a perceived wrong/slight/injustice. Accepting every bit of extra work offered because its fun. Looking at a challenge in their own unique way and working with classmates to find a solution.

Their plenitude of admirable traits makes the occasional shortcoming all the more difficult to bear. But, the girls will write their own papers, awkward sentences and all, and grow from accomplishing the task. Sure, I'll help here and there. One day I might even tell them about my atrocious spelling and comma confusion. Well, maybe not. At least they aren't asking for my help with math!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Family Divided

When we moved to Colorado nine years ago, we had plenty of sound reasons for uprooting our children and saying goodbye to my east coast hometown. Fresh air, quality of life, leaving behind immediate reminders of 9/11 and the realization that life is fleeting.

The Eastern Shore of Maryland has many wonderful attributes, but big mountain skiing is not on the list, or even in the state. And we wanted to ski. As an end cap to a dream that began ten years prior, we once again found ourselves driving cross country to Colorado, but this time with two kids and two dogs in tow.

We arrived in town after the slopes had closed for the day, so it took a whole 12 hours before we were able to get our then three-year old on skis. Adair was non-plussed. But we knew our children would soon love skiing as much as we did.

Adair began lessons when she was four. To our dismay, they were nothing more than a duty she tearfully endured. Around the age of eight, she actually started to enjoy skiing, by ten she switched to telemark and now we have to hustle to keep up with her.

Taylor showed great promise - at first. As a saintly instructor pried Adair from my leg, Taylor would walk into class, deposit her gear in a cubby and help herself to the assortment of morning snacks. The payoff came during the glorious year when they both loved skiing. And then, just as Adair was gaining confidence on the slopes, Taylor decided she hated skiing, snowboarders, hot chocolate and everything associated with the sport.

Our rationalization to her protestations was that, when you live in the Rocky Mountains, skiing is a fact of life. Plus we would be remiss in our parenting if she didn't learn the basics. We agreed she could stop upon passing level 7. More years of tearful drop-offs ensued, and many a day ended with one of us carrying Taylor down a slope, to the base.

She progressed to a level six by the end of last year, yet regressed to a level four this season. We were on the brink of waving a white flag, when Taylor said she wanted to learn to snowboard. Sliding on snow and being happy is our goal. But John, Adair and I telemark--all of us. Of course she wants to snowboard.

Lessons begin tomorrow. While Taylor snowboards, the rest of us will skin up Buttermilk--Adair's first time. If snowboarding truly makes Taylor happy, then it's a beautiful thing. John even volunteered to take up snowboarding to keep her company. I didn't. Maybe freeing the heel doesn't always free the mind. But as long as I see a post-lesson smile, we can be a family divided.