#35 UPDATE – Write letter to nemesis, burn it, move on.

On New Year’s Eve 2018, I took my letters written on wish paper, stepped outside our friend gathering place in Rockport, MA, and said goodbye to the overly negative feelings and resentment I’ve been carrying with me (in one case for 30 plus years). I ended up writing three letters. Three people from different phases of my life who I never confronted in person. I’m a bit disappointed in myself for that, but confrontation is not my thing, especially confrontation that leaves me vulnerable. The letters took on their own shape. I worked hard to focus the writing on 1) how the person made me feel, 2) why I thought they exhibited that behavior towards me or others, 3) why I didn’t like it and 4) a compliment and well wish for their happiness.

Going through this writing process helped much more than I thought it would. Sitting down and articulating my thoughts on paper, I was able to identify the specific things that were bothering me (when you have a nemesis, all things become bothersome about them). In doing this, it became very apparent that their behaviors just brought out the bottom of the barrel insecurities or emotions that I already had – they just pushed them to the surface exposing them – over and over. The letters became a personal list of my Golden Rules ( “Do to others what you want them to do to you.”). I would NOT create cliques, I would NOT demand of others and not contribute, I would NOT act better than everybody else, I would NOT take out my problems on others and I would NOT gain power but lose morals.

I did not want to go into a new (calendar) year with this old baggage. Lighting the wish paper letters on New Year’s was rather symbolic. I was with family and friends, on the ocean, a bit intoxicated (which I think helped me get over my fear of lighting open flames). I believe the timing of letting go has helped me re-center and focus my thoughts if they revert to old thoughts – the commitment to release the thoughts became a mini-resolution. I can picture myself in the cold and wind, trying to get the papers lit. Getting frustrated when the wind would pick up and blow out the flame. Then exhilarated when it lit, floating away over the sea, gone forever. Symbolic AF. And cheaper than therapy. I can also hear my husband trying to snap the photo saying “Why are you doing this again?” And that makes me laugh, in a good way.

To close, an unsolicited endorsement of Flying Wish Paper. After buying for myself, I have bought for many others as gifts (baby showers, milestone birthdays) and always get the same reaction: “How cool!”. With lots of different designs, you can customize a gift add-on for the occasion.



Main Photo: Rockport, MA @ Eden Pines Inn. The view from their back deck is incredible. You can see the Twin Lights on Thatcher Island shining in the distance, the ocean between. 


#24: Dermatologist

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” – Helen Keller

 Helen. You had it right my friend. And getting my skin checked, along with all the other things that a person has to get checked as we get older (including all the boxes on my list), can be intimidating and scary. All those insurance risk tables start to become a bit more real, the “likelihood” age ranges come into view, and self-care becomes much more important to ensure longevity.

It seems that most stories published about cancer treatment start with “It was just a regular check-up…”, and that was why I have been putting off going to the dermatologist. Fear that my pale, freckly skin, would show an anomaly. I’m rational enough to understand that knowing is better than not knowing, but I’m also rational enough to understand that ignorance is bliss. Sometimes.

Time to be an adult. So adulting I did. When I wrote the list, I took some easy steps to check off items. Knowing that the dermatologist typically backs up about 4-5 months for appointments I got one booked for October of 2017. And went. And have since lived to write about it. My dermatologist is great. Works quickly, checking and chatting. If she pauses to look at a mark more closely, she will be consistently talking to put my mind at ease. And for the most part the checkup went smoothly.

She did pause on a mark on my back that she had noted in her files a few years ago. She said she was going to pull in another doctor to validate what she saw – that it was nothing to worry about, something to watch. The other doctor came in, and with very little fanfare said “you’re right”, and walked out. That was the only minorly upsetting part about this appointment. And now that it is marked, I will start to go back every 6 months for evaluation.

And every 6 months I will put my fear in check, and get checked out. Because knowing that if anything happens to my skin, I’ll be doing something about it within months of it coming to the surface, not years. And that is going to help me sleep better between now and then.


#7. UPDATE – Palm Reading or Tarot Card

“Divination is the quest to understand more about the past, present, and future. In other words, Tarot readings are an attempt to understand ourselves better and discover how we might live better in the future.” ― Theresa Cheung, Teen Tarot: What the Cards Reveal About You and Your Future

Me: “Are you picking me up for dinner tonight?”

Friend: “Yes, be there around 7.”

Me: “Have any extra time? I’ve got this thing I need to check off my list. Bring $35 cash, and pick me up at 5:30.”

Friend: “Cool.”

And so it went. While preparing for a friend dinner out at a local eatery, I booked us an appointment for a “basic tarot” card reading at a place I found locally via Google. $35 cash for a reading of approximately 30-45 minutes each. On our way I discovered my friend had never had a reading done, but was excited to try. And I was ready to check this item off my list by my deadline of Halloween.

Overall, I tried to be very practical in my approach to the reading – I had no major questions or issues I needed solving. Putting this item on my list was to overcome the fear of hearing things that I didn’t want to hear – health, child or marriage prophecies – . Even if it is all “garbage” as another friend described Tarot, hearing anyone talk about your life and what may (or may not) happen can be intimidating.

The Reading

I went first. My girlfriend waited outside on the steps per Tatum’s request. I was ushered into the dining room in her well-kept house. With the neon sign in her front window indicating “Tarot Readings”, I wasn’t sure what to expect (which seems pretty shallow of me now that I write this down officially). She explained the different services available – I opted for Basic Tarot versus Egyptian Tarot. And she gathered her deck of cards. I was to shuffle by way of sliding cards between my hands, NOT “thumb shuffling” or bending the cards, and clearing my mind of thoughts while doing so. I cut the deck in front of me, and then placed my right hand over one pile. This is the pile she read from.

She placed a number of cards out on the table and just went for it. It should be noted I gave her no information about myself prior to this (age, marital status – but I was wearing my wedding ring, where I loved, children, health, etc.). My husband reminded me that providing an email address and phone # via her online form is as good as giving her all my details, and after Googling my email address realized that he was right – Linkedin, Facebook public photo – some good quality insight. However, my friend did not provide anything and got some interesting results.

Tatum had a pleasant demeanor but was direct. She asked only for yes/no responses to indicate she was on the right path, getting the “right” information, and made lots of statements regarding all different aspects of my life and those close to me. When she appeared stalled with the first cards she laid down, she placed another layer of cards down on top of the first, and kept reading until all the card had been laid out.

Once she was finished, about 10-15 minutes later, she looked up and said, “Now, what questions do you have?”. My mind was blank. In order to remember everything for this blog post and to see if everything she said would come true, I worked backwards and repeated back to her the themes I heard. Only some of those I’ll share here. I also wanted to confirm my understanding of the reading. For example, if the cards say something is “so”, do I still get choice? Do I have a say? The answer: “We have a choice in everything.” Here’s the big BUT –  BUT, some of these events will happen – we have a choice how to respond, or how to make the most of it. Hmmmm. Ok.

Key Themes

  1. Career – In the next year I will have a new career. New title, new location but undetermined if a new company. My communication and management skills will be needed for this new job. I will always work. I like having a career, it is important to me. I will retire, but then my career will continue in a different way – likely I will work for myself. I take great care with decisions, big or small.
  2. Health – I will have a long healthy life. She sees me living into my 80s. However, there is something wrong with my stomach and my thyroid. I need to get those checked. I also need to drink more water, move (walk) to improve digestion, and carbohydrates are my favorite, but don’t agree with my body.
  3. House – We are not meant to stay in the same house or same area. We will move in the next six years.
  4. Vacation – Two vacations in the next year, one may be just 1-3 days, but they are needed for rejuvenation and connection.

There was more. But the above is enough for a glimpse at the broad strokes she drew, with small details thrown in. I’m glad that I went, and curious more about the art of Tarot. Not enough to learn to read them myself, but this experience did draw out the memory of the spirit guide from my first reading and I’d like to dig into that. After the reading I also, more thoroughly, enjoyed the podcast “By the Book” when they read Past Lives Future Healing by Sylvia Brown. Note: would highly recommend this podcast.

This post is being written after the occurance. The tarot card reading was checked off the list on October 21. As an update on November 9, it should be noted that:

  1. Career – I have a new job. As of last week I’ll be moving, within my current company, to a newly created role with new responsibilities.
  2. Health – When I was in the reading, I was having stomach pains. I had been for about 2 weeks following a trip to the UK. I have completed many Whole30’s before – removing food that can trigger inflammation or spikes in blood sugar essentially – and was thinking it was time to start another. Her comments ensured that I followed through and I started my 6th or 7th Whole30 2 days later. I am more open to living a lifestyle of Whole30-esque eating because I know how good I feel. I have also noted ‘thyroid’ on my list to ask my doctor at my next physical.
  3. House – In late October my husband and I started planning some renovations/updates to our house. Tatum’s comments helped frame for me the question of “will this investment be worth it if we ever move?”. Not that we have a plan to move, but thinking of that as a possibility – what work will ensure pay off if the house was sold?
  4. Vacation – No major updates here except that I know our entire family needs one. Time to focus on this planning and prepare for some fun excursions.


#14. UPDATE: November Project

“Are you good?” – November Project Leader

“FUCK YEAH!” – November Project Tribe

4:15am wake up. Workout clothes, head lamp, water bottle, bandana*, gym gear, work clothes and work back all laid out made the AM a grab and go kind of experience. The November Project is crowdsourcing fitness and accountability group with a crazy loyal following and a global presence. Their story can be read in their own words here, and the specific workout I did was the Stadium – climbing the stairs of the iconic Harvard Stadium. Over, and over, and over again.

In order to accomplish this feat of fitness and knowing my need for accountability (especially if I’m waking up at 4:15am), I enlisted a colleague who I knew had done it before. Peter became a willing accomplice from the start, and we quickly set a time and day to meet. Given I was already getting up, I sent out a note to a few more colleagues to see if anyone would bite – and Sherri did. Funny thing about human nature, when you tell someone “I don’t want to do this alone.”, it is likely that they have had that feeling too, and likely that they want to join in. With a major storm pushing out our original intended meeting date (note: the hard core November Project Tribe still showed up storm and all), we landed (Coincidentally? Universe sending a sign?) at the stadium on Wednesday, November 1 – November Project’s 6th Anniversary, and the day they were celebrating Halloween. “We’re celebrating BOTH Halloween + Yearbook Photos (Talk to me about an adventure)!!!  This year’s theme is Multiples.  Be creative. Get weird.  Partner up.  Use your noggin. Then we’ll photograph your noggin.  BUT most importantly #justdressup.”

*Peter, incredibly dialed into social media, has been searching the world for the best coffee. With his famous Instagram hashtag #nbcoffeebandit, he features beautiful latte art and NB’s fantastic footwear in each of his shots. What better (read: easy to execute the day before) costume then, that NB Coffee Bandits.

And so it began. The Tribe lines up along the base of the stadium stairs in Section 36. The Tribe leaders get us fired up – “Are you good?” and a resounding “FUCK YEAH!” from the Tribe. And the workout is called > today’s challenge was the Seven Boroughs of New York. We each had to think at which level of speed we’d be climbing today – Borough 1 = Fastest, Borough 7 – Slowest. Personal choice on what speed you’d be working at, and the then Tribe split up. Each borough was dedicated 5 sections of stadium to climb and descend (the descent is important here – almost as painful as the climb towards the end). Up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, across (back to beginning section), down…and so on.

It was dark. I had left the above mentioned headlamp in the car. Who wants to be the over-prepared kid on their first day? I don’t think I needed it until I fell off the bottom step because I didn’t see it. Umpgh. And the darkness made the experience surreal. Stars above, tapping of feet, muffled chatter of Tribe members talking and grunting up and down. Shout out to Matthew who was incredibly friendly and introduced himself. We chatted for a few sections – he loves going to November Project because it works with his schedule, some of his friends usually go, and it is a great (free) workout. Cheers from the other boroughs, which I couldn’t see, reminded me how many people were actually there. Doing this. In the darkness and cold. It was so cool. I mean fitness geeky cool.

We paused briefly when our borough was called for “Yearbook Photos”. Given it was November Project’s 6th Anniversary, Yearbook Photos are taken of individual Tribe members for posterity. And we are now officially in the book. Now we must show up again.

I didn’t count how many sections or steps I did. I completely underestimated how big the steps were. 15 inches tall and 30 inches wide. That is a freaking long stride. My focus attempt was on the seat #s. Follow lucky # 11 up. I snagged this cool shot (while still moving!) as a fellow climber was going up with their headlamp.


How was it? Awesome. Meeting up with colleagues and making memories outside the office. Being held accountable. Going at my own pace. Taking photos and meeting strangers doing the same hard thing. I loved it all.

Will I do it again? Ugh (first thought). FUCK YEAH! (second thought). Committed to showing up at a minimum of each first Wednesday in November. Climbing the stairs is convenient for work, but not my home life, so weekly participation is unlikely. BUT, I will go back.

What was the coolest part? Just as we were walking in, I saw two kids going up the steps. KIDS about the same age as mine. All I could think was, “Well that is fucking bad ass.” Get your kid out of bed, show them this super cool fitness culture, and maybe they get some exercise. Or maybe that isn’t the point. Maybe the point is that if you committed to doing something, you show up. Kids and all.


#7 – Palm Reading or Tarot Card

“Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.” – Charles F. Kettering

You may wonder why a quote from a famous engineer and inventor preceeds a post about palm reading and tarot cards. I do too. But having had my palms and tarot cards read in the past, I know an open mind is how you need to approach either of these experiences.

Note that I wrote “open mind”, not “sense of belief”. Unless you are Wican or roaming soul looking for something to believe in, having your palm or cards read can provide you with possibilities – things that you would never expect to happen, different ways to approach problems or see opportunities where they aren’t obvious.

When my husband and I first started dating we went with another couple to have our tarot cards read by a credible reader. She worked in a holistic wellness collaborative owned by a friend’s aunt. The collaborative included massage, yoga, reflexology, and tarot. We did our reading separately. I sat down, and met the reader’s inquiring eyes with as much deadpan as possible. I kept thinking “I’m not going to give her anything!”. As we went for entertainment purposes, I wasn’t necessarily looking for a specific answer to my life’s questions. That made it fun, and not fatalistic. What followed in the reading was a fascinating discussion about her approach to tarot. Our spirit guides can give insight into our lives, or as said by Tarot Pug, “Spirit guides have a purpose to help you stay on track with your soul’s purpose in your current life.” Fascinating, right? This world is hard enough to manage solo, knowing there is a specific spirit guide out there to guide is comforting. At this time in the post I should note that I do not practice any religion formally. Raised agnostic,  I have attended Catholic church services for most of my life for holidays, however was never baptized into any particular religion. Back to my reading. She talked a lot about who my spirit guide was. She was Irish, she lived on the coast of Ireland, and was surrounded by horses.


That was it. I don’t remember any else specific about the reading, just this insight into my spirit guide. I have traveled to Ireland many times, lived there for a short stint in 2002. It has always felt like home. Always. A strange sense that I was supposed to be there. But I could never reconcile this feeling. I’m 1/8 Irish via my father’s mother, and while I have freckles, I’m not overly Irish looking. And yet I’ve never had that feeling of belonging, of home, anywhere else I’ve traveled.

Point of the story is, that without going through that tarot experience, my sense of belonging would continue to remain untethered. And despite spirit guides and all they represent being ethereal and difficult to wrap your head around, it works for me.

Approaching a milestone birthday is a great excuse to get another dose of interesting perspective. I’ve been hesitant to experience palm/tarot since I had my girls. That the cards would foresee something awful happening. Then I saddled up and said “Stop being so ridiculous! It is all about perspective.”

Given the approach of All Hallows’ Eve (which has roots in Celtic history), I am setting myself a deadline of completing this checklist item by 10/31/17. I think the mystery of the season will add to the experience. To see how it all went down, read this post.



#14: Try 10 Different Fitness Classes

“Always trying new things is always more fun, and it can be scary, but its always more fun in the end.” – Jim Krasinski

Instagram is an incredible tool. Beautiful photos and hysterical memes have a platform for reaching millions of people. Current events and entertainment news has your tiny screen instead of your television screen. It is a powerful medium that has served many purposes since its inception. One of those purposes is to make me entirely freaked out / scared / petrified / (insert appropriate synonym here) of trying, what appear to be, crazy difficult fitness classes.

I am fit. I can run, I can play tennis, I can swim – but can I lift my whole body weight from a seated position to an inverted position on just my forearms? Can I tap into my naturally competitive personality to push my legs faster than ever before to win a bike race? What about sitting, moving slowing, but sweating profusely without passing out? That sounds just as hard.

Because of the above I have probably missed out on some of the most fun ways to train or get fit(ter). Right now there are awesome things happening with small and big studio fitness, with passionate business owners and instructors who have made a business out of a lifestyle – or maybe it is the other way around. I decided to add “Try 10 Different Fitness Classes” to my list to ensure I didn’t miss out on another year of fun, challenging opportunities. My list of targeted classes/studios is below and living just north of Boston means that these are all readily available to me. Since I created the list and posting to Facebook I also have some willing accomplices to join me. If I can, I’ll also get their feedback on the class and would they recommend it. THIS ISN’T MEANT TO BE ADVERTISING! It is meant to give perspectives on classes that can be intimidating for some (blushing).

Here goes:

  1. Orangetheory Fitness
  2. SweatFixx
  3. Flywheel
  4. Soul Cycle
    • Complete! 9/13/17, Soul Cycle Back Bay with Portia B.
    • Recap: Soul Cycle has their sh*t together. I met my colleague at the downtown Boston, Back Bay, studio for a 7am* class, and the bright white and yellow studio greeted me almost as well as their incredibly friendly staff. I paid $20 for the “first class offer” and was given cycling shoes and a tour straight off the bat. Free lockers to store my stuff, and into the studio. It was jammed. In a good way. Lots of Soul Cyclers were ready to move. Another friendly staffer fit me for my bike and off we went. The instructor, Mandy, was incredibly/ high energy. Music was on point, and Soul Cycle lived up to its “party on a bike” mantra. Lights on, lights off – mostly rode out of the saddle, and while I couldn’t hear instructions 100% of the time, I did not hear “turn up the resistance” an awful lot which many spin classes espouse. Fast, fun and soulful with an end of class introspection. Would I recommend? YES. Would I go again? YES. I would consider this a fun way to experience a city I’m traveling to. The price per class is going to keep me out of being a regular, but love that it was a convenient way to connect with an out of town colleague, get a workout in before work, and feel like I’m fairly cool with my workout choices.


*Street parking in Boston is free between 8pm – 8am at meters. No parking lot fee for me!

  1. Bikram Yoga

THIS is why I’m a little scared: “Bikram Yoga can be practiced under the guidance of a certified Bikram Yoga Teacher at one of the affiliated Bikram Yoga Studios. These studios are built in such a way that you always get the proper heating which help you pracice your postures optimally. Bikram calls these studios “Torture Chambers”.”

  1. Core Power Yoga
  2. Barre
  3. TRX
  4. November Project
    • Complete! 11/1/2017 – see post here.
  5. SkyFit SkyZone

I will continue to update this blog post with the recaps and photos once complete. I love scheduling time to do these with people who I may not see every day. It is a great excuse to get together, have some fun and makes the entire experience less intimidating too.


#35 – Write letter to nemesis, burn it, move on.

“The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.” – Eldridge Cleaver

Everyone has a story of someone who has wronged you – intentionally or unintentionally. Or even the person who you feel is out to get you. Or perhaps more in line with the Herman Hesse quote, “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”

Yeah. That.

Going into a new, albeit arbitrary, stage of life, I feel no compulsion to carry with me the weights of the last few decades. There is enough hate in this world, and I work so hard to preserve feelings of love, that I need to let go of my ill will for a few select others that most likely don’t know about my feelings (and never will). I do not claim to know these people well enough to know why they behave the way they do. And therefore should not claim to know why they would try to make me feel the way that I do. Perhaps it isn’t them. Its me.

I did hear about this amazing thing called wish paper recently. A light type of paper that you write on, twist together, light and watch it float away – brilliant and so appropriate. For this item on my check list I’ve bought some from Amazon with hearts, the irony. I’ll post photos and a recap after I’ve checked the item off the list.

The upside for all readers is that if you are reading this, you likely won’t have a letter written about you. Here’s to letting things go…


#38 – Kayak (more) (with different people)

“Yeah, down by the river

Down by the banks of the river Charles

(Aw, that’s what’s happenin’ baby)

That’s where you’ll find me

Along with lovers, muggers, and thieves

(Aw, but they’re cool people).” – Dirty Water, The Standells

I was recently at a baby shower. The hosts requested that each guest write down some advice for the new parents. Brilliant idea. Why read 10 different books when you can read 25 practical, “worked for me”, snippets from friends who have your best interest in mind? As our small group debated what would be the best advice, one dad wrote down, “When in doubt, put them in water.” Brilliant again.

From my early parenting days, this advice would have been welcome during the days full of fussiness, discomfort or boredom. And those are just words to describe me as a parent, not even the wee ones. Babies are created, and subsequently live in a water-like environment for 9+ months. They are used to that feel – the slosh, and splash, the experience and sounds of water. And for those bigger than 6 months, discovering toys and bubbles is a lot of fun and a great distraction.

That single piece of parenting advice inspired “Kayak (more) (with different people)”. Getting out onto (note: onto, not into) a body of water inspires movement, but in a calm and peaceful way. There typically isn’t a race or challenge being accomplished. There is just kayaking. And being in a kayak doesn’t have to be a solo activity like swimming can be. I have found on a few occasions that going out in a tandem kayak with my oldest daughter gets us talking about different things than what we’d discuss at the dinner table or even on a walk. Perhaps because we aren’t face to face, perhaps because we are looking at different things from our everyday, or better yet perhaps because we are looking at things we see every day, but from a different ANGLE.

Being on the same level with the water brings me a lot of peace. There are sounds on a river or lake that are tremendous distractions from nagging thoughts. There are lots of other beings on the water that bring about perspective as to how big the world is – dragonflies, fish, ducks, geese, herons and water spiders. Their world is all around you. Their world does not include the gridlock of 93 South into Boston on a Monday morning. Ah. Peace.

I don’t own a kayak myself. I don’t think I’d benefit from owning one as the first thing I’d see is the hassle of buying a roof rack, paddles, a wet bag, and then finding time to use it enough for a ROI. However, I’m lucky enough to live in New England where there are plenty of great places to kayak, and kayak outfitters who rent by the hour or day, and provide excursions, life vests and instruction. Kayaking is a great group activity, and easy enough to do – no special fitness level or gear – just an interest to get a bit closer to nature.

Kayak Adventure 1: Ipswich River, Foote Brothers Canoe & Kayak Rental / I spent an interesting hour with my oldest daughter on the Ipswich River this summer. Interesting in that it was incredibly peaceful, and that completely freaked her out. We’ve been kayaking before in an open pond, but to her kayaking along a fairly tight portion of the river, and not seeing any other humans for stretches, made it a very lonely experience. She saw a beaver dam, and thought said beaver would tip us over. While this type of kayak environment didn’t work for her, I’d recommend Foote Brothers and an Ipswich River adventure to anyone. It is a beautiful paddle.

Kayak Adventure 2: Charles River, Paddle Boston / As you can see from the list item title “with different people” is critical. Conversations while paddling (you can’t exit the boat, you have a common goal of moving forward, and no easy access to your smart phone for distraction), and hopefully the cold beverage following, is fun with lots of different types of people. I had the pleasure on August 14 to enjoy a post-work paddle with an old colleague. She had been kayaking once before, but spent most of her time running the paths around the Charles River. Paddle Boston’s outpost along Boston’s Soldier Field Roa in Brighton made it easy enough to park and paddle, and not once did I feel like we were floating between busy sections of Boston roadway at rush hour. We paddled up river for about 45 minutes without really noticing the time, only recognizing the distance paddled by the bridges that crisscross the river at increments. The conversation made only sweeter by the refreshing beer at the local afterwards.

Remaining Kayak Adventures: Open Sea Kayak, Kayak Outside of MA, Kayak with Youngest


#19 – Escape the Room

“Man is a gaming animal. He must be always trying to get the better in something or other.” – Charles Lamb

For as long as I can remember I have been part of a team. As a Brownie, playing soccer, softball, our neighborhood summer evening “Man Hunt” games, and the never-ending team based projects in college. As an adult we get to be part of teams in the workplace, or perhaps within the volunteer world, but that dig-in, come-together, work-it-out teamwork opportunities aren’t as prevalent (or perhaps not as satisfying). No one really enjoys trust falls, or the team building games that were cutting edge when I started in the workforce, anymore. However, experiences like Escape the Room lend themselves to fun, engagement, activity, learning and did I say fun?

Escape the Room is a concept in which you and a few friends, or strangers, gather in a space, are presented with a challenge a-la-Jason Bourne. You need to work together to solve the problems, that eventually lead to your getting out of the room. I’m certain there may be some savants who could get out of the room as fast as they can solve a Rubik’s Cube…but that isn’t the point. There are the pressures of time – 60 minutes, but luckily the only thing to be shattered if you don’t get out of the room is your pride.

The reason I put this type of activity on my list to complete this year is because like some other great ideas for team building (Drink & Hunt coming to mind – pub crawl, team trivia and scavenger hunt combined!), they may be considered “fad” and not be around in perpetuity. I want to ensure I experience it.

The beautiful thing about #19, is my husband has already paved part of the way to experiencing this. A gift certificate for 4 people to Escape the Room. I can’t wait. More to come following the inevitable escape of the room.


#3 – Clean Up 401k

“I planned each charted course, Each careful step along the byway, And more, much more than this, I did it my way…” Frank Sinatra, My Way

Administration of life is (sometimes) as important as living the life itself. The reason being is that when you are actually done living, it shouldn’t be someone else’s responsibility to clean up your stuff. I’m a firm believer in this given how much I dislike people talking about me (praising me is 1000% ok), or hearing disparaging remarks about someone else when I know that they could have prevented. I can picture it – after the grief that is – “Why the hell didn’t Ashley just close that 20 year old Hotmail account?” or “I thought she updated her Spotify account not to auto-renew?” or “I need her password, what was her favorite kind of dog?”.

When I prepared this list, I thought about the ways I could make things easier, and clean-up activities that I should have been doing throughout my life. The irony of “Clean up 401k” is that I was in fact just moving money from a 401k of the mutual fund firm where I worked for a few years. I worked there…a mutual fund company!…and it took 11 years at a new company and this list to finally close that account and roll the investments into my current 401k. I won’t discuss the benefits of a 401k here, there are many, and they aren’t relevant to this post, but I will write that while I thought “rolling over” a 401k was arduous and required lots of paperwork, I was surprised at how easy it was to move the investment value from one holding company to another. I didn’t get fancy with a Roth or other tax-deferred investment option, I simply moved the money management from my old employee plan, to my current. The value of this is two-fold. 1, any investment decision I make is applied to all my investments – go big on Growth, or invest more conservatively with a Fixed Income fund; money in one place means one decision, one update and done. 2, I only have to remember to update beneficiary information in one place, and leave information for my family about one investment portfolio. This leaves it nice and clean.

Let’s break down what I did.

Step 1:  Have at hand your old and current investment information – 401k provider and their customer service #s. I was asked what my current balance was on my old account to qualify it was in fact me calling.

Step 2: Call current plan provider. Explain you want to roll money into the account. (They subsequently called the transfer hotline at my old provider and managed all details on the phone, with me validating my wishes, in about 10 minutes.)

Step 3*: Not always needed, but my old account was in my maiden name. I had to provide to my current plan a copy of my marriage certificate so that they could put on file and accept the funds. Note: If you are married and have changed your name, having this document in an easy to find place is a good thing. My Marriott Rewards is also in my maiden name, and I can’t change without this certificate.

VOILA! About 7 days after the phone call, I received email confirmation that the funds were transferred. BONUS: upon logging in to my current plan provider to confirm the funds had moved, I discovered my beneficiary information was not entered. Filled that out, and now the original intent of this item on my list is 100% complete.

While writing this blog post, I had to pause and attend a funeral. It was for a dear friend’s grandmother, affectionately nicknamed “Wing Ding”. She was 92. Well loved, and surrounded by family, friends and fans alike, she will be buried in her favorite outfit, a New York Yankees sweatshirt (a die-hard New York Yankees fan – hard to come by, and hardly tolerated in Massachusetts). Her service was formally informal. Hosted in the funeral home, those who gathered for the wake were able to stay and attend the short service. It wasn’t the simplicity of the service, the beautiful eulogy from one of her fans, but rather the musical tribute to the New York fan at the end that struck me as just plain awesome. Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, a frequent hit on the juke box in the bar she tended. Sitting in the back of the room with a bird’s eye view, I could see everyone taking the song, and Wing Ding, in. There were tears, but an overwhelming amount of smiles, and those half-smiles where you are remembering something funny, but know it’s inappropriate to laugh. A few hums here, a few words there, and the back part of the room was officially singing. Frank Sinatra. At a funeral. It was awesome. She was awesome. The words of the song are awesome. Life your life your way (and clean up your 401k). Rest in peace, Wing Ding.