Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Thank you, and goodnight!

Hello, blog readers!

If you’ve been following our blog regularly, you’ve probably noticed a lack of new posts lately, and for that, we sincerely apologize. As seems to be the case so often, we’ve found that life is getting away from us and we cannot devote the time needed to maintain an interesting and entertaining blog, so this will be our last post. We’ve enjoyed sharing our insights with you and appreciate your comments and for following us on this journey.

Very best,

The “Our View From Here” team

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I Want to Ride My Bicycle

The bike park in front of the train station of...

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In the Pacific Northwest, March is crap shoot when it comes to weather. One day, it can be 60+ degrees and sunny, the next it’s snowing. March has long been my least favorite month of the year because it seems to just be a place holder as we wait for spring. There’s nothing going on in school that is anything but the mundane, we “Spring forward” and lose an hour of sleep, and even the official arrival of spring toward the end of the month has little to do with the change of the season. However, this March, in addition to getting itchy about my garden, I find a growing desire to pull out my bike and go for a ride.

This is a relatively new feeling for me. I bought my bike a couple of years ago but due to where I lived, never really had an opportunity to get out and ride it much. The nearest bike trail was a known danger zone in terms of assaults and even murders, and the next good trail was almost 20 miles away and a hassle to get to. So, the bike stayed in storage until my recent move. Now, I live just off a good riding trail (ironically, it the same as the first trail above, but in a much better area). I got my bike all ready and went for a five mile ride a couple of weeks ago. It was great. Biking definitely uses different muscles than running and I was a little sore the next day, but it felt good to get out there.

Now I have the urge to ride my bike to work. Several of my colleagues do this all year long. I went to a free class held my the REI Outdoor School this past week which discussed the basics of bike commuting – equipment, laws, what to expect. It was pretty useful. I’m going to a bike maintenance class soon so I can take care of basic problems when they arise. I’ve mapped out my trip – it’s only about six miles and mostly on trails. All that is left is a trial run on a weekend to time how long it will take and any problems that might come up.

Maybe I’m thinking about this because gas prices in my area are about $4.00 a gallon. I’ve looked at bus options, but there is no way to take less than three buses or to do it under 90 minutes. I may not do it every day – I do have to look somewhat professional at work and March and April rains can be drenching – but if I can even do it some of the time, then it could be a lot of fun as well as a good cross training activity.

May is Bike to Work month. Last year, my school had three teams participating in the local competition for number of miles biked in May. The Seattle area logged over 1 million commuter miles last year. Even our Mayor bikes to work. It’s nice living in such a bike friendly community with the number of bike lanes and trails expanding all the time. It’s no wonder that I want to ride my bicycle….

Or for those of you who prefer the 1980s…

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I am not a fashionable person. I am not in the know when it comes to designers and trends. I think I dress nicely, but I’m certainly not on the cutting edge of fashion. Accordingly, I tend not to notice to a great extent what other people are wearing. However, there are times when something so bizarre, or so hideous crosses my path that I can’t help but notice. At that point, my natural snarky tendencies come out and I have to share my findings. Here’s what I’ve been subjected to of late.

Leggings. I fully believe that only pre-pubescent girls or fit people engaged in physical activity at the time of wearing leggings can pull them off. For most people, it is just not attractive. I’m a firm believer in dressing your body type, not dressing to fit fashion. Wear what’s going to look good on you and don’t wear things just because they’re fashionable at the moment.

I would also like to point out that leggings are not pants, unless you’re a young girl. Accordingly, one should not wear leggings as pants. If you insist on wearing leggings, you need to have skirt, dress or long sweater that goes at least to your mid-thigh. Keep your parts covered, ladies, because most people aren’t going to want to see what you’re showing.

Jean shorts and black pantyhose. I was subjected to this ensemble twice on my 5 minute walk to work from the train this morning. What is this, 1987? I swear Debbie Gibson had that exact outfit on in one of her videos. Really, people? Fashion from the 80s wasn’t good the first time around. Why are we trying to revive it?!

Skirts? Long shirts? I don’t know what to call these….things….but I’ve seen people wear them (usually with leggings, please see above). It’s like they’re trying to be skirts but they got caught in the dryer to long and shrunk and now barely cover one’s nether regions. I’m not a prude. I’ve certainly worn, and still wear, my share of short skirts. But I make sure everything is covered at least! Please see above for my thoughts on proper skirt length to pair with leggings. Yuck people. Just yuck.

And on a side note, please remember proper leg placement when sitting while wearing a skirt or dress. Knees and ankles together please! I cannot tell you how many women I’ve seen completely oblivious (I assume) to the fact that they’re giving everyone in front of them a show because they sit down as if they are wearing pants. Close ‘em up, ladies!

I feel much better for getting all of that off my chest. Though I’m sure it will be short-lived once I begin my commute tomorrow morning. Thank you for reading my fashion public service announcement.

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What’s with this weather?

English: Groundhog sculpture in Punxsutawney, ...

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At the end of a morning jog around Green Lake

Good ole’ Punxatawny Phil got it wrong. When the poor rodent was pulled from his hidey hole in Gobbler’s Knob last week, he said that there would be six more weeks of winter. I think Poor Phil forgot to look at the weather forecast because this has been anything but winter.

Here in Seattle, we’ve had exactly one week of winter. We had mild temperatures all the way through November and December. Finally, for one week in January we had cold and snow. It was enough to close schools for four days. Eight inches in most of the northern half of the country would be no big deal, but we had three issues: 1.) We don’t get snow often and especially not that amount all at once, so people don’t know how to handle it. 2.) It snowed, then iced, then snowed, then melted, then iced. It was ugly. 3.) We are the second hilliest city in the country (behind San Francisco) and it made for treacherous driving conditions. Some of our major downtown roads are hills that terminate at the Puget Sound! I enjoyed the time off – snuggling with my dog on the couch, drinking tea and cocoa, and getting my money’s worth out of my Netflix subscription.

But now? Not winter. It was 60 degrees here on Tuesday, and that followed a very spring like winter. I took my dog to Green Lake for a walk over the weekend and it was packed! We weaved our way around the lake, enjoying the sunshine and the sights. It was a gorgeous day and did not resemble winter in any way.

Not that I’m complaining. I work in one of the oldest schools in the city and the heat is less than reliable. I haven’t had to bundle up in my heaviest sweaters to get through the cold mornings. When running, I haven’t had to wear four layers to stay warm on the long morning runs.  Maybe it’s global warming, maybe it’s a natural fluctuation of temperatures, or maybe it’s just a a fluke. All I know is that I am ready for spring and an early one sounds great to me!

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Does anybody know what they want to be when they grow up?

Some recent conversations with friends have prompted me to wonder how many people truly love what they do. Not like, not manage, not deal with, but are truly passionate about the work they do and look forward to going to work most days. I like my job just fine and I learn a lot, but I can’t truthfully say it’s my life’s passion.

Life wasn’t supposed to be like this. Growing up, our parents, teachers and Sesame Street told us we could be whatever we wanted when we grew up. How many of you knew exactly what you wanted to be when you grew up? If you were like me, you always had a clear idea. It might have changed as often the weather, but if someone asked you, you knew you wanted to be a chef, or a dancer, or a nurse or whatever.  Where did that confidence go? Is it lost in the responsibility of needing to pay bills and keep a roof over our heads? Is our imagination and passion slowly being whittled down by the pressures of being an adult? It’s sad to me. I was always sure that I would never be one of those people who just tolerated their job because it paid the bills. I would be one of the ones leaping out of bed in the morning, eager to get to work and make a contribution to my chosen field. I don’t mind my work; it’s fine and given this economic climate, I’m grateful I have a job.  But I have to wonder on when I comprised on finding true happiness in my job. Maybe it’s just part of growing up.

Fortunately, I’m young yet and we live in an era where it’s expected that people make multiple career jumps. I have a great education and I’m gaining good skills that could be useful in almost any field. I have no plans on leaving my current job; like I said, I like it just fine. But I’m still hopeful that one day I’ll find a job that I’m truly passionate about, whatever that might be. In the meantime, I think I’ll go back to daydreaming and imagining my ideal job. That way, when it comes along, I’ll be ready for it.

I’m interested, kind readers, if any of you love your job. Are you doing what you thought you’d be doing when you were younger? If not, what’s your dream job?

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Powering Through the Doldrums

I have officially entered my winter doldrums. Work slows down to a crawl. Many of the outdoor activities I enjoy are not an option and the days are just so short. This past week made it worse because I came down with a head cold. About midway through the week in mid-head cold battle I decided I need to come up with a plan to power through this. So here, for everyone ,is my Winter Doldrums Blasting Plan. If you get mildly down maybe some of these will work for you.

Step 1: Be even more diligent about going to the gym. It’s true. A good workout really makes you feel better. For me it makes me feel better and makes my back happy. If I get caught up in the doldrums no only do I feel like a slug for not working out but my back gets cranky. So happy back + energized me = doldrum fighter.

Step 2: Keep the apartment sparkling. I can always tell how my mood is by the state of my apartment. When I get down in the dumps my apartment starts looking like a dump and drags me down more. This has become even more important after this morning, when I found mouse droppings in the kitchen. :-/ As soon as I’m done with this post that place is going to shine like the top of the Chrysler building. I always feel mentally better when my living space is in tidy order.

Step 3: Eat food that’s good for me. This time of year I always slip into eating junk for or bad for me comfort food. When you eat food that’s healthy you don’t feel as sluggish. At least that’s what they say. But it’s true. When I eat crappy junk food I enjoy it at the time but then become a lump afterward. This then snowballs and affects all the other items on the list.

Step 4: Let the sun in. Day’s are shorter. On the days when I am actually in my apartment I need to open the blinds and let what sun there is come in. A dreary apartment will just make me feel dreary. Speaking of…I’ll be right back…ah much better.

Step 5: Make plans to get out of the apartment. I always feel better when I get to see my friends. Between regular work and getting to the gym after, that doesn’t leave much time during the week. I need to make sure I plan out my weekends. I always feel better when I get to see friends and have fun. The less time I spend sitting on the couch watching TV the better. Even if I can’t see them, maybe at least try to call some of my nearest and dearest more.

Step 6: Crank up the peppy music. If you can’t tell from all the songs I tack on to my posts I love music. A good upbeat song can go a long way for improving my mood. I need to throw together some upbeat mixes to play in the apartment or the car to help keep my mood up once I get it there.

So that’s my list. I feel better already. If you get a little down this time of year maybe some of these things will help get you through the next few months. I’ll leave you with a peppy song to get you moving (this is definitely going in the mix).

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Changing Things Up

We’re glad to be back blogging, but we don’t want to burn out again. So, we’ve decided to change things a little bit. Look for one post a week for now, coming out on Friday mornings. We want to keep this going, but were struggling to keep up with the weekly posting schedule. This way, we’ll each only be posting every five weeks. Look for Isabel’s post coming this Friday. Thanks for your continued readership!


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Being Resolute

First, it feels good to be writing again. While I agree we all needed a break, but I’m glad we’re back at it.

Looking over the past year, I think I did pretty well achieving what I’d set out for myself. My first goal was to move out into my own place. I had planned to do this around February or March, but due to some minor (but costly) medical tests, that was delayed until October. I moved to north Seattle, cutting my commute time to about a quarter of what it was. There’s a nice area to take Toby out to and it’s a lot more convenient to everything.

My second goal was to expand my social circle. Strictly speaking, I achieved this as well, but not as much as I had hoped. I made more friends at work and have gone out with them on occasion. I have stayed in touch with some of my friends in my grad program as well. Finally, I met some great folks in the running group I joined in August. I would have liked to have done more though. Maybe 2012 will be different.

My third goal – improve my health – was a great success. I joined Weight Watchers in January. I’d had success with WW before, so I hoped it would work well this time. Between January and June, I lost 20 lbs. More importantly, I kept it off (except for a couple pounds that jumped back on around the holidays – I blame my Italian in-laws for that one!) In March or April, I began running. This is something that I’d always wanted to do, but never had the stick-to-it-ness needed. I joined a group of colleagues in a weekly run. Over the summer, I started up with the Seattle Green Lake Running Group and found myself running on Saturday mornings. I even did two races – the 10K Dawg Dash to support University of Washington Scholarships in October and the Seattle Half Marathon just after Thanksgiving. While I didn’t do as well in the half marathon as I would like, I finished and now I’m hooked. I’ve alread signed up for a second one and am seriously considering two others in the coming year. So, I feel that 2011 was a very successful year.

Unlike my fellow bloggers, I feel that it is very important to list my goals here. This keeps me accountable. Had I not written my goals in this blog last year, I don’t know if I would have been so successful in achieving them.

I have two running goals. The first is to PR in a half-marathon this year. If I’m healthy, this shouldn’t be too hard. I hurt my knee five miles into the race and hobbled along the rest of the way. Ideally, I would like to break 2 hours, 30 minutes, but anything shorter that the 2:55 I did would make me happy. The second is to run a total of 500 miles for the year, which is an average of about 10 miles a week (taking into consideration recovery time after races.) Last year, I ran a little over 200 miles, but my training was very inconsistent and I took long breaks. I’m hoping having this goal will help me stick to my training schedule.

My household based goal is to work on purging a lot of the stuff I have and don’t need. When I moved from NYC, I took a lot of stuff that I thought I needed. Turns out, after four years in storage, I realize that I don’t need a lot of it. Also, with my Kindle, a lot of the books I have I don’t really need anymore. So the Goodwill and Half Price Books will be my friends this year as I try to pare down the stuff I have accumulated.

Finally, I want to be more social. I know this is the same as last year, but I don’t feel I did a great job at it. I’ve started branching out and moving closer to the city has helped.  I’ve made friends through running and I would like to get involved in some other activities that can only help.

Here’s hoping that 2012 will be as productive as 2011 was for me!

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Thank you and Goodbye, 2011. Welcome, 2012!

Happy New Year!

Overall, 2011 was a pretty good year for me. My biggest accomplishment was getting a new job. I’ve been in my new position for just over three months and it’s been a huge learning process. I suppose that’s to be expected with any new job though. I don’t know yet that this work will be my life’s passion, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get a lot out of it, which suits me just fine right now.

In retrospect, 2011 was filled with a lot of fun events. It was a great year for diving. I improved significantly and am much more confident in my abilities now. I had a phenomenal trip to NC where I was able to explore WWII ship wrecks and swim with sharks. It was an amazing experience and I’m eagerly anticipating this year’s NC trip. A month later, I had a wonderfully relaxing vacation in SC with my husband, the first since our honeymoon in 2009. I also got to visit friends in Boston, Philly, DC and NH, had a camping trip with friends in June and attended a multi-location wedding celebration in NC and OH for a very good friend. It’s these experiences and the associated memories that come to mind when reflecting on 2011, not all the muck and difficulties that would come up and stress me out throughout the year. I’m pretty pleased with that realization.

I have big hopes for 2012. As per my usual practice, I’m not really focused on making resolutions. But I am trying to be aware of what I can change in my life to make it even better than last year.

I wish all of you a wonderful 2012. May it be filled with happiness, health, love and ice cream.

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2011: Reflection on a Year of Big Changes

2011 was a year fraught with changes for me. I started the year being freshly laid off and looking for a new job. I found a job, moved to a new state and, to put it mildly, its been an eye opening year. It’s been fraught with unexpected joys like root canals and dental crowns and meeting a wide array of new people. I’ve gotten the chance to spend more time with friends I rarely got to see and miss seeing friends and people who used to be there everyday.

I suppose that’s normal in every year. People will come in and out of your life. Friends will get married or have children. I suppose this is all part of being a grown up. I’ve had more than one day where I’ve longed for those days I couldn’t wait to be all grown up. I don’t know what I was in such a hurry for. In all fairness to that young kid this is not at all what she had in mind when she grew up.

I’d like to say moving worked out wonderfully and my job is fantastic and that every decision was the right one . Sadly that’s not the case. I supposed that’s part of being an adult too, making a decision and dealing with the consequences if it turns out it wasn’t the right one for you. I was hoping to find exactly what I need right out of the gate this year but that didn’t happen. That’s ok though. One thing I’ve learned from this year is that if this isn’t right its ok. It isn’t permanent(A mantra I’ve had to repeat on the really bad days). I can go back to the drawing board and find the place that’s right for me.

Overall it’s been a very educational year and a big test of my character. I’ve been reminded that I have many wonderful and supportive friends that are there for me when things get tricky. This year might not have turned out exactly as I planned but it’s taught me a lot about who I am and how much learning and growing I still need to do. I’ll stumble through until I get an epiphany showing me exactly what I should do but as  I muddle through that I know my friends and family will help me while I try to figure it out.

Much like Isabella, I’ve made some resolutions. Most of them pertain to getting my life where I want it. I’m not going to share them here, also like Isabella, I like to keep them private. I don’t even plan on writing them down. They are just going to remain deposited in my mind. Some are big far reaching goals and some are small baby steps to a happier me. One resolution I will share, I am going to create a bucket list. I’ve spent a lot of this year focused on just my job. A bucket list will help me focus on all the other things I want that have nothing to do with my job.

This past year might not have been the best but hopefully way down the road I’ll look back on it as a big turning point in my life or maybe just as the year I got my first root canal.

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