And for folks who do not know... I moved. Can you believe it!!??? No longer a Washingtonian -- but you can now have a piece of the magic yourself as I am renting my amazing condo!!

kitchen

TWO BEDROOM

TWO BATH

OFF STREET, RESERVED PARKING

PET FRIENDLY

LAUNDRY IN UNIT

GREAT COMMUNITY

$1850 A MONTH

Bike share and buses on corner, 1 mile or less to pool, grocery, farmers markets, book stores, coffee, three metro stations (yep - you can get downtown easily WITHOUT the red or orange lines!)

Where else can you find that deal??? Oh, and if you really love it I will sign you up -- and pay for -- compost service!

I'm settling into North Carolina just fine -- already registered to vote!!

 

 

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Someone asked me yesterday where I saw myself in five years, specifically what my five year goals were for my professional life.

I couldn't answer. And it's not because I am not driven and don't set goals. I do, but I do it a bit differently. I used to set hard goals -- get this promotion by XX date, buy a house by XX date, etc. etc. And it worked. Sort of. Except I was always stressed because I couldn't hit my goals and always felt I was letting myself down.

Because, hey guess what, I can't control the future! I have no idea what challenges and amazing gifts the universe is going to present. So not only was I setting goals that I might not be able to reach but even worse I was putting on blinders to goals and opportunities that were right in front of me, but not inline with what I had on my agenda.

24453082So, inspired ideas by Elisabeth Gilbert's Big Magic, I put in place a new way of thinking -- listen to where my curiosity is and follow it. Trust it. Put my energy into what my mind and body and spirit are wondering about and it will lead my life to where it is supposed to go.

I also started to boil down my goals -- and I wish I could find the article that taught me how to do this -- by simply stating three to five I MUST statements. Sit back and think what really, really, really MUST happen in my life. And use those statements to drive my life when I have conflicts and to re-center me.

Currently my I MUST statements:

  1. I MUST stay healthy
  2. I MUST spend time with my significant other
  3. I MUST have professional excitement, stimulation, and fun!
  4. I MUST pay off my debt

... probably should add I MUST write more!

Before I write this, let me state clearly that I am not one of those Secret believers who think that if you BELIEVE hard enough in something it will come true. Like if I THINK I really really really really want money, a check will just appear in the mailbox.

Sorry folks, you just aren't that powerful.

That said, there ARE some things we can control. Reading yet another self-help/productivity book right now titled HOW TO HAVE A GOOD DAYHarness the Power of Behavior Science to Transform Your Working Life and while it is saying a lot of the usual things you hear all the time, it is backing it up with pretty sound brain science, which is always exciting for me.

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One of the best tips so far? Take advantage of the subconscious (and usually negative) power of confirmation bias - the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions - to set your AIM, ATTITUDE, AND ATTENTION every day. It only takes a few moments each morning, and immediately tunes your brain into automatically seeing certain things during your day.

For example, instead of my attitude being "why are these people so ignorant?" -- which leads me to see all day long all the evidence of exactly how everyone around me is so ignorant -- I tried saying to myself "what a gift it is that people come to me for help solving problems - I am going to pay attention to all the ways I can help people today."

Sounds a bit corny, I know -- but it actually works. Try it.

If you are interested -- here is more right from the book. The author, Caroline Webb, has a lot of other really great tips.. and if you get the audio version she reads it and has a very sophisticated accent that makes you feel civilized.

I am wondering how my aim today, SHINE MF SHINE, is going to play out. I have a feeling, not quite as well.

There are two kinds of people in the world -- those who figure shit out...

And those that stopped reading this already because they are waiting for someone to explain the concept to them.Capture

If there is one thing I learned in Ironman training it's that crazy, insane, unpredictable things are going to happen to you every day that you weren't expecting. And if they aren't happening, you aren't pushing hard enough.

When these things happen, there is just one thing to do -- figure it the f**k out.

And the more you practice figuring things the f**k out for yourself and existing in this unknown and digging yourself out, the more prepared you are for the next time you have to figure something the f**k out.

Please stop waiting for someone else to solve your problems or teach you how to solve them. It's your job. It's our jobs. Be responsible, be curious, be fearless, make crazy mistakes, push, challenge yourself, laugh, experiment, research, make friends, lose friends, but please, please, please ... figure it the f**k out.

And share your findings with others. Loudly and proudly. Even if others don't want you to. They just don't like that you know the answer and they don't and that you were brave enough to jump off the cliff and fly and they were still standing on the edge evaluating how it would fit into their master plan.

Thanks.

 

 

Grieving sucks. It is really difficult. I miss Meg, I don't have the energy to be there for my friends, my brain is still only about 75%, I lose things, and my training schedule is all over the place. I am trying to practice self care and be patient with myself, knowing that the only person I can truly control is me.

At the same time, there are a few simple tips I want to share with everyone (including the future me who will be helping others go through this same thing) on how to help us grieving folks.

The general theme is perfectly stated by an Op-Ed in the LA Times by Susan Silk and Barry Goldman which was shared to me by a high school friend who just suffered a sudden loss in his family - Comfort IN, dump OUT.

Here is the diagram:

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Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, "Life is unfair" and "Why me?" That's the one payoff for being in the center ring.

Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

Expanding on this idea, here are some personal notes to further expand on how this principle applies to me directly.

1.) This is not a good time for a professional criticism, especially feedback not about about the quality of my work, but rather about your perception of how I work and communicate. It's just not a good time. I am not open to receiving feedback, everything feels personal, and I don't have the energy to apply any feedback that I find applicable. I am not at my professional best right now and I know it. Pointing it out only reinforces my feelings of failure right now and the only reactions I can muster are anger, resentment, and detachment.

2.) It's okay to acknowledge the death. I want you to. Meg died. It's reality. Pretending it never happened and ignoring it actually hurts me worse, because it feels like you don't understand the impact it is having on my life right now.

3.) Please don't offer support if you can't back it up. Sounds harsh. I know, but I would rather have someone just say "I am sorry" and move on than offer dinner when he can't provide it, tell me it's okay to call her whenever when it really isn't, express that it is okay to take all the time and space I need, when there is no back up for my being absent. It is great during this time to be able to rely on people. And thankfully I have a lot of those people, so please don't feel like you have to be one if you can't. I get it. Trust me. I can't really be there for anyone right now either. It's okay.

4.) Please don't make this about you. It isn't. Related to the above, I get it if you are busy with a 10k or date night or have a long drive and that's why you can't make it to the memorial service or whatever. All legitimate reasons. But there's no need to share them with me right now, because my mind is skewed right now thinking that nothing is more important than Meg and her family and everything else is just an excuse I don't need to hear about. It's not fair, I know. It's temporary. I promise soon I will be able to care again about what's going on in your life, but right now please avoid making this about you.

5.) I know I am going to be okay, and I know it is okay, but sometimes I feel like crap and that's okay too. Please don't call me grumpy or moody or tell me to cheer up. In my sad moments I can't do that and pointing out to me that you want me to do it when I can't just makes me feel worse. I just lost a very close friend who was like a sister to me. I have a right to feel like shit every now and then. (refer to #1 regarding failure and criticism)

6.) Don't know what to say or how to act? Just ask. When in doubt, say what you would want to hear if you were in my shoes. A simple acknowledgement of my situation is perfect. Even after all I have just said about the things that piss me off right now, it is still better to say the wrong thing than to say nothing at all. Consider the "kvetching order" illustrated above and make your best effort.

I am getting better. My brain is coming back, I am not as unmotivated and depressed, and I am starting to be able to support my friends and family again. Please know I am writing this not out of anger at anyone who has "broken the rules", but rather in an effort to help others help me (and other people who are grieving), and also to remind the future me who is in the reverse situation how to best support those I love when they are struggling.

Thanks as always for reading.

 

 

My friend Meg Rowe had very specific instructions for her service. There was NOT to be a funeral. People were to wear yellow (for Sarcoma awareness) or Green & Blue for NF awareness.

I decided to just throw it all together in one giant awesome party dress mess:

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And that's the glorious Greta Michaelsen in the blue pants, my long lost soulmate in glitter. Oh! Why am I always smiling like I am about to eat a big piece of pie??

I am still very much in the processing stage of all the emotions from the service last Saturday, but I have had some requests for me to post the words I said during it. Please forgive any typos and such, I am still too emotional to re-read any of it so am just doing a mass cut-and-paste job.

I have a lot to say on grieving and mourning and will continue to post that as best I can.

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Hello and thank you all for coming today.

I want to continue the theme of gratitude and take a moment to thank Meg for all that she has given me. When Meg was first diagnosed, I began training for triathlons. Even to this day, I am not sure why. I couldn’t swim across a pool nor run more than about five minutes. Two weeks before Meg’s last surgery, I completed an Ironman. I say that here not for you to recognize my strength (or insanity), but to recognize Meg’s strength. She kept up on my training and encouraged me through the hard times -- because every time I wanted to give up, all I had to think about was her. If she would fight, I would fight. I could not have done it without her. We found strength in each other’s struggle -- along with some really cold weather in our underwear, a perfectly good airplane that for some reason we thought we should jump out of, milkshakes, pizza, movies, headshaving, hilarity, friendship, love, and family. Meg, of all your gifts to me over the past 30+ years, by far the greatest is your family -- our family. Retsy, DadRowe, Michael, Brian, Alrie, and Mary, I love you and look forward to many more moments of pasta, wine, hummus, cream soda, chips and laughter together.

Meg and I shared a healthy appreciation for saying whatever we wanted to say, especially if we found it funny, even when it might not  have been completely appropriate. I can’t even remember the number of times we cracked ourselves up in the waiting areas of Johns Hopkins. It is for that reason that I didn’t write this until quite late, because I have been frozen in fear that I was going to say the wrong thing, or forget something, or somehow forget to share with you the most amazing things about Meg.

Fortunately for me, she took care of that too, by providing me with the perfect words for this occasion… this is also from her Caring Bridge journal:

‘’I don't necessarily believe that God "gave" me cancer or that cancer was His plan for my life. But I do whole-heartedly believe Romans 8:28 "ALL things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose."

Not just *some* things or just the good things, but ALL things work together for good. So, even going through this … battle with cancer, good can come out of it. I've gotten to meet so many amazing people who have become some of my dearest friends, on Facebook in the NF, sarcoma, and other support groups, on my medical team at Hopkins, through the local cancer support group, and through other situations. Without MPNST, I wouldn't know any of them. I've also gotten to reconnect with childhood friends I otherwise probably wouldn't have been able to. Because of MPNST I've gotten to travel to NYC, Vegas, and Hawaii, and I've gotten to do cool things like skydiving and paragliding. I've gotten to run around Baltimore in my undies to support NF research and have raised thousands of dollars in doing so. I've also learned that I'm not as much of a wuss as I thought I was

What's most important to me is that I want God to be glorified through my situation and that He will continue to use me and to use my battle with MPNST to encourage and inspire others. If that happens, and it helps someone else get through their own battles, then all of this will have been worth it.’

*********************

Finally, I would like to share two brief quotes with you that are helping me through all of this, one from a favorite write of mine, and one from one of Meg’s.

Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

“When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.”

Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

“There will be moments when you have to be a grown-up. Those moments are tricks. Do not fall for them.”  

Meg my friend, I am NOT going to use this moment to say good-bye, because you have never been more present in my life than you are now.

I don't even know where to begin, so like with everything else in my life where I am clueless, I will just jump in feet first and run as fast as I can until I hit something, or someone. This will not be a typical race report. It will eventually talk about yesterday's Cupid Under Run (Hun) in Baltimore. I promise. Here's even a pic to prove it.

#W00TW00T
#W00TW00T

But that might not happen right away. May not even happen today, in this post. I think this will take a few posts. I have a lot to say. And I am going to do this however I want.

My BFF Meg Rowe died on February 2, 2016 after beating back Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) brought on by type 1 Neurofibromatosis (NF1). Phew. That's a mouthful, right?  I still can't get the words behind MPNST correct. Always forget the 'peripheral' part. But that's okay, because all those words are the last words I would ever use to describe my friend to anyone.

I have known Meg since I was 10 years old. We lost touch for a few years during high school and college (remember, this was PRE social media) and about a year before she was diagnosed with the cancer our lives intersected again. Funny how the universe works things out like that.

Meg was hilarious about her cancer. She named her tumors. One of her brain tumors was Davy Jones, because he was creepy and disgusting.

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After Morrissey cancelled his concert which we were to attend, she named one of her other tumors after him because of his tendency to disappear so quickly and easily. Moz-shirt

I remember that day, because I had taken Meg up to Johns Hopkins for one of her scans, or biopsies, or chemo treatments, or blood work -- I could never keep up. Meg always knew exactly what procedure was happening, how it worked, who was doing it, why they were doing it, possible outcomes, the names and doses of all her meds -- I can't even tell you when my next dentist appointment it and one time I completely skipped an appointment with my Psychiatrist. Totally forgot. Good sign?

Anyway...

I remember that day because I drove up to Baltimore to pick her up from Hopkins, go to dinner and then go to the show. On the way to the hospital, I got word that the show was postponed. For two weeks. Meg's amazing Oncologist (Dr. Christian Meyer, M.D., M.S. Ph.D.) had previously scheduled her chemo around the concert so she could go, and now there would be a conflict. But he said she could attend if she wore a mask. I told Meg I would wear a mask too.

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Instead of seeing Morrissey, we ate diner food at the Lost City Diner (they have vegan milkshakes there -- not good -- soooo GOOD!!!). Go eat there. It's a trip. The decor is amazing Bmore retro sci-fi Bmovie John Waters style.

o

In the car on the way home, Meg was glued to her phone as always. She has almost 5,000 facebook friends and really does know who each and everyone was. One time we both posted "I like cheese" on her facebook page just to see if people would respond. I think it got like 32 likes. We posted the same picture once and I received about 30 likes ... she got 300+.  Her phone told her Morrissey had cancelled the show and the whole tour.

I wish I could find the post on facebook from Meg on the Morrissey post. She basically said, "You cancelled your show because you have a cold? I have cancer and was going to go after a chemo treatment and wear a mask. Suck it up buttercup."

She had a gift for words. Never one to shy away from expressing herself.

...that was June 2014. Yeah, this is going to take a while...

In the meantime, the summary of Cupid Run Baltimore yesterday was kinda this...

More to come. Promise. This is really helping. Thanks for reading and being there for me. Happy Valentine's Day. Love a lot today. Everyone. Don't be shy.

I love self-help books. I do. I love them. I try to justify it by saying I love management or neuroscience or life design or Buddhist or psychology books -- but really, deep down, it's a love of books that help me.

This wouldn't be a problem if I could simply focus on one self-help book at a time, or even one type of self-help book at a time. Problem is, I seem to get myself into multiple, disparate books at the same time.

For example, I am re-reading Dale Carnegie's famous How to Win Friends and Influence People -- and loving it and getting so many usable tips from it. Every day I dig in a bit more and work on putting the lesson into place at work. BUT at the same time, one of my ALL TIME favorites is Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking and I cannot recommend this book enough, specifically to anyone who works on the public side of a technology company and wants to learn how to deal with us nerdy, quiet, sometimes seemingly intense/rude/demanding product managers and programmers.

These two books could not be more opposite. In fact, Cain's entire book is pretty much a critique of the shift from viewing success via someone's Character to her Personality -- a shift brought on thanks to Dale Carnegie. Instead of evaluating people based on character traits such as effort, honor, morals, and integrity, we all get judged on extroverted characteristics like forcefulness, energy, attractiveness, dominance, and of course the ability to produce meaningless PowerPoint slides and talk forever about them using big words and jargon (okay, I threw in that last one, but I think it works in this list.).

As an extreme Introvert (the rare, female INTJ to be exact), I naturally despise the extroverted workplace -- open-syngergistic workspaces, 'keeping you in the loop' meetings', being evaluated on big splash instead of those behind the scenes tiny victories no one ever sees that really keep any business running.

Just writing about the extroverted workplace gives me a headache.

However, the fact that I am QUIET is exactly why I need TO WIN FRIENDS. It's like the magic decoder ring to the secret world of the Purple Personality People! Show
genuine interest in people, be a good listener, be sympathetic, avoid arguments (oh, come on I love them!), admit when you are wrong, praise the slightest improvement (oh no, not KUDOS!), smile, make the other person feel important, appeal to nobler motives... we introverts can do this. I can do this. [Hey thanks Aaron W for this great mind map of Carnegie's principles]

Dale Carnegie's methods do not describe how I am naturally, but isn't that the whole point of a self help book? Read it, use some of it sometimes and throw the rest away. I am a postmodern girl in a postmodern world. I can be both Cain and Carnegie, Quiet and Winning Friends.

Just because I am a Jay-Z fan, doesn't mean I can't appreciate some Linkin Park too.

I read this book years ago. When I first got out of college and was headed into the workforce. It was the 90s. I was young. I didn't need more than $20k salary to survive and back then the fact I knew how to use a computer and could type well was enough to get me a job within the first week after graduation.

As a result, I quickly discarded the book. I had enough friends. And actually I felt like I had too many friends. And who wants to influence people? That sounds creepy and hokey and salesy and so not who I am.

Twenty years later I am re-discovering this book. Actually it feels like I am discovering it for the very first time! Mr. Dale Carnegie was definitely ahead of his time.

any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain - and most fools do.

As you probably know, I am a bit obsessed with self-help/leadership/management books. Particularly anything with tips on how to be more effective, joyful, innovative, intelligent, and mentally healthy.

So each morning, or perhaps every other as needed, I am going to focus myself on one of the principles in this book. I invite others to join me as well. Get the book, read a few pages, dwell on it, try to apply it. The suggestions are simple, but not easy.

For today:

principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation

See --  not easy. Mr. Carnegie stresses the difference between appreciation and flattery. Appreciation is sincere. Flattery is not. Avoid flattery. Flattery is telling someone what they already know about themselves.

Again, simple, but not easy.

Today I am going to focus on listening and looking, identifying those gifts that the people around me have and express my appreciation.

I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again

(Dale Carnegie had this saying posted on his mirror as a reminder every day)

Today. This moment. This interaction. It will never happen again. I have only one chance to learn it's lesson and express my thanks.

When I was training for Ironman I kept my reading focused on books that would inspire me and provide me with tips on improving my performance.

I have a few friends racing Ironman Maryland, as well as other endurance races, so this list is for you!

I am limiting it to five books here in part 1, and then will do another five in part 2, but trust me, there are others -- my initial list for this post was 30+ books!! So if you don't find what you like here, let me know and I am sure I can recommend something else.

In no particular order:

How Bad Do You Want It?: Mastering the Psychology of Mind Over MuscleHow Bad Do You Want It? Mastering the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle. Matt Fitzgerald. ISBN 1937715418

Okay, so this book came out AFTER I did the Ironman and I did not read it until a few weeks ago, but holy schmoly it is amazing and a must read. It covers new topics in sports psychobiology, but does it in a unique way of combining real-world narratives of athletes and the science behind them. My new favorite book that I want to give to all my athletic friends.

Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, & the Greatest Race Ever RunIron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, & the Greatest Race Ever Run. Matt Fitzgerald, Bob Babbitt. ISBN 1934030775

Because apparently one can never have too much Matt Fitzgerald. Seriously, if you are an endurance athlete of any kind and you haven't read him -- start. Smart, accessible, funny, compelling, informed, just all around good stuff. Of course this one is a little different from many of his other books as it isn't how to, it's the compelling story of the 1989 Ironman World Championship. I don't want to spoil it if you don't know the story, but if you are looking for a story that will keep you motivated, this is a great one.

Faster, Higher, Stronger: How Sports Science Is Creating a New Generation of Superathletes—and What We Can Learn from ThemFaster, Higher, Stronger: How Sports Science Is Creating a New Generation of Superathletes—and What We Can Learn from Them. Mark McClusky. ISBN 1594631530

This book is not one of those books filled with so-called hacks that will make you a better athlete with less effort or worse eating habits. Much like How Bad Do You Want It?, this one combines real stories about athletes and the science behind their experiences, making it an informative and entertaining read. I bought this one for my coach I loved it so much.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin OlympicsThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Daniel James Brown. ISBN 067002581X

What is there to be said about this book that hasn't already been said? At the end of a day of long training when you don't want to read any more about triathlon or running or cycling or swimming, and you want to be entertained and relax but you want to still keep your head in the game, pick this one up. It's also a great reminder that your fitness is not dependent on fancy, expensive garmins and race wheels (okay, so there are some fancy racing shells in this story, but you will see what I mean when you read this).

The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human PerformanceThe Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance. Steven Kotler. ISBN 1477800832

This book spends most of its pages deconstructing Extreme sports and not necessarily endurance sports. It is based on the now fairly well-accepted theory of Flow as first presented by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (and yes, I totally cut and pasted his name -- thanks google for the spelling!), so there are many great ideas that are applicable to Ironman and pushing your limits. I especially appreciated the experimental nature of the athletes profiled in this book, because too often we easily accept what is "the best" training methodology... when what is best not only is unique to the individual, but unique to that moment with that individual.

Plus, it introduced me to the 2012 Felix Baumgartner Space Jump. You want someone testing the limits?? This is crazy.