List 45: 10 year anniversary trip: Day 1

IMG_5016This trip was years in the making. I’ve been talking about swimming with whale sharks for  as long as I can remember. I always thought it was out of our price range to make this happen but I was also under the impression, for years, that you could only swim with them in Belize. Then I discovered that you can also swim with them off of Cancun. THAT we could make happen. First though I had to convince Nate to do the trip. He’s not a good traveler. Scratch that. He’s actually a great traveler but he has a LOT of anxiety leading up to a trip. Even a small local trip. He worries about things that I don’t even think about…like how we’re going to talk to people in the country we’re going to if we don’t speak the language fluently, what he’s going to eat, how much stuff is going to cost. I never worry about that type of stuff. It’s just not in my nature. My worry manifests itself in other ways. I talked and talked and talked about whale sharks though and finally I beat him down and he agreed. The only downside to seeing and swimming with these amazing creatures is that you have to go to Mexico in the dead of summer. The whale shark season is only from June through September. The best time is July and August. July and August…in Mexico. Here is where my anxiety kicks in…LOL. But we scheduled it for August. I only had to last 4.5 months after we booked…

Our day started at 2:15am. We had to be able to get up, get ready, and be in  San Jose by 4:30 am. We also had to drop the car off to long term parking. It could not have gone smoother. We flew from San Jose to Phx and then on to Cancun, Mexico. I had some anxiety about how to get from the airport to the ferry (only because I was unclear about where it was…not knowing where a location exactly is one of my anxieties…Nathan…not at all) but a shuttle was easy to find. The ferry ride to Isla Mujeres was easy, finding our apartment was easy. It was a perfect travel day and we had a wonderfully low key first evening. Our first impression of Isla Mujeres was positive. It’s small. There were quite a few tourist but many of the people there during the day come over from Cancun so by early evening many people have left leaving only those of us that are staying on the island. We loved our apartment (we went through Homeaway) and we took a quick walk around he city center side of the island (the island is only 4.5 miles long and a mile across). My only mistake was not bringing my list of places to eat with me from the apartment so we ate at a place that I hadn’t checked out first. It ended up being okay but we made sure to eat from the list the rest of the time. I got a margarita (that was just okay but it was still appreciated) but it did feel great to finally be on the island after hours of travel. And it was fun to people watch from our little table on the patio. Just based on our first experience on the island we knew this was going to be an a amazing trip. The laid back feeling and small town feel was right in line with what we were looking for. It only got more amazing too. I’ll post about our second day on the island soon:)




Muckfest 2015

worst photo ever of me…

My friend Courtney was inspired by the list that I make each year and for her 40th birthday, she made her own list.  One of the items on her list was  *Do a mud run* and so a few months ago she tried to corral a bunch of us to do it with her. I said “count me in” and then promptly forgot about it…

Fast forward to the end of September and she contacts me to find out if I’ve signed up for the race…oh crap. I’m the only one that ended up being able to do this mud run with her it so I sucked it up and  I signed up, despite the knee injury I was dealing with, for a 5K obstacle course mud run. Yes, you are reading that correctly…I was going to run an obstacle course in the mud. I hadn’t run anything since the 5K I did in January so I expected this to be tough.IMG_6460


So muddy. So gross.

I was definitely nervous that morning but after that initial nervousness I overcame some of my fear and had quite a good time. I didn’t push myself (afraid of my knee and hurting it worse) to do some of obstacles but Courtney did every single one. She was a rock star on this course. 17 obstacles and she did every single one. I was so proud of her. I would definitely do this obstacle course again but I’d probably try to train first this time. Going into this cold…with no training and a hurt knee was probably a bad idea (or so my body told me later when it could barely move…LOL) and I paid for it the next week when I went to Seattle with my sister. IMG_6463

This particular mud run was a fundraiser for MS. From their website:

About MuckFest® MS

MuckFest MS is the fun mud and obstacle 5K for everyone. If you can laugh, you can do it. No special training required. Have a blast on mountains of mud and 18+ outrageous obstacles that will spin, swing, and fling you and your teammates up, down, and sideways. The event is built for laughs, but we’re also on a serious mission: to support people living with multiple sclerosis and to bring us closer to a world free of MS. And you’ll feel great knowing that 100% of your team’s fundraising dollars support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

You can read more about it here


Exhilarated but exhausted!

We got to meet quite a few people with MS that were doing the course and they were such amazing role models. They were all kicking my ass at this obstacle course at least. And having so much fun doing it. They really were so amazing. I’m grateful that Courtney pushed me to do this event. Hopefully next year I will be in better shape for this event:)




List 44: do my first 5K AND run The Color Run (#13 and #14)

Before the mayhem started

Before the mayhem started

Two bucket list items done in one event!

Item 1: I’ve always wanted to run (aka jog) a 5K. This particular item has shown up on my yearly “bucket list” since I was 38 . I just thought I should try it, at least once. I’m not a runner though. In fact, I don’t even like running. It hurts my knees and right hip. My breasts already sag enough, they don’t need more help. Seriously. Even when I was younger the act of running never appealed to me. I wish it did. Nate ran a 5K years ago and that snowballed in to him training for the Big Sur marathon. And my friend Martha started with a 5K and now she runs all types of races, of all different distances,  all the time. It’s just too hard on my body. I already have to be careful of what shoes I wear and I have to make sure I stretch my feet often because my feet, I discovered last year, have issues. Or so my podiatrist says. They have some mechanical defects that make things like running a bad idea.  Despite their issues though I wanted to attempt at least one 5K in my lifetime.

Item 2: My interest in doing this particular 5K came about from seeing a friend of mine, Nicole and her Instagram photos. Those photos immediately made me want to participate in one of these fun runs. For me, if I’m going to go out and run… there better be fun involved because I… will never be a serious runner. Never. And this one was colorful and ended in a big party at the finish line. Who wouldn’t enjoy that kind of fun!

Scratching these items off my list,  in the past few years though, just wasn’t working out. Scheduling issues normally. We just never seemed to be available the weekends that a Color Run was happening. Or I found out about it too late and they were sold out for that run. Or they were happening during hot months in very hot areas and I don’t even like walking around in really hot weather let alone attempting to run in it. I felt like the universe was working against me. I thought “It’s not going to happen AGAIN this year”

Back in November 2014, I was planning our vacation to Arizona in January, and was still undecided what week we were going to be out there when on a whim I decided to check the Color Run website.  I couldn’t believe it. There was a run happening in Tempe during the same time period!  And just like that it all fell into place. Nate even agreed to run it with me! It was meant to be this year:)



We could not have asked for a better day to do this run. The weather in Arizona, in January, is amazing. It really is one of the best times to visit this area. This would probably not have been as popular inthe dead of summer. There were so many people participating in this race. It’s a popular race with young people (aka college kids). Just look at the wave of people behind me in the above photo. And we didn’t leave in one of the early waves. We’re probably in the 10th or 11th wave at this point (the line to the bathroom was ridiculous and the reason we weren’t in an earlier wave). “Runners” as far back as the eye can see. It was totally crazy!

 Even with my recent 50lb weight loss this was still tough on my knees and feet. I told Nate to go off and run it at his speed and we would catch up with each other at the finish line. Awesome husband that he is though, he finished and then turned around, found me and ran the final leg of it with me. He really is such a great guy. I’ve lucked out on so many level with him as a husband. And this race…it really does end in a big party. They hand you more color packets (you get colored corn starch thrown on you during the race) as you cross the finish line and this year they’d added a “sparkle” to the color lineup and so everyone starts throwing the colored cornstarch in the air on & on their friends and it’s just everywhere. It is crazy. Nate and I were finding glitter for weeks after this run, on everything. Even items we didn’t have with us on the trip.

























I was thrilled to get two items off my list accomplished on this trip. 44 items doesn’t sound like a ton but you’d be surprised at how much your regular, everyday life gets in the way of accomplishing things (even easy items).  And this is exactly the kind of items I want to accomplish. One that takes me out of my comfort zone and makes me try something I’ve been scared to attempt before. Looking forward to even more adventures this year. Jen

List 45

I was totally a slacker and never updated this blog with how I was doing on my list 44. I actually got almost half the items done this time! As I’ve mentioned before, I normally only get about 10 items done out the of the 40+ things on the list but this year I really worked hard to get as many done as I could. The list keeps getting bigger each year which means I have to motivate myself more and more to get shit done:) I will be posting about some of the stuff I did over the next few weeks but in the meantime I turned 45 so…time for this year’s list.

1. volunteer at local animal shelter

2. stay in a Fernwood adventure tent one night

3. learn to surf

4. take a 2nd annual sister trip with Kristy (we’re thinking Austin)

5. try standup paddleboarding

6. make my first quilt

7. attend a roller derby game*

8. take a 10 year anniversary trip to Mexico (Isla Mujeres to be exact)- This trip is already booked!!

9. make homemade carnitas

10. learn letterpress (San Francisco Center for the Book has classes)

11. bake a rainbow cake

12. get my hair colored- FINALLY

13. join a book club (or start one possibly…)

14. send out one handwritten letter/note each month*

15. eat at Burma Superstar in San Francisco*

16. read “The Life-Changing Art of Tidying up” and purge the house (already have the book,just need to read it and put it to work)

17. go to the shooting range/learn to shoot a gun

18. eat a burrito from the Mission District SF

19. Take a class at MPC

20. swim with whale sharks

21. visit the turtle farm on Isla Mujeres

22. see the ruins and do the cliff walk at Punta Sur on Isla Mujeres

23. hike Wilder Ranch

24. see the monarchs at Natural Bridges Park

25. go on a backpacking (overnight) trip with Nate

26. get together with Nate’s parents at least once a month

27. go body boarding in Southern California

28. spend a weekend exploring Golden Gate Park, SF (deYoung, tulips, buffalo, ride bikes)

29. have breakfast at Deetjen’s in Big Sur*

30. organize my necklaces finally

31. host a Cinco de Mayo party

32. participate in “Dance for the Rescue” again

33. learn conversational Spanish

34. prepare a 5 course dinner for friends

35. visit the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles

36. see Tulum Ruins in Cancun

37. Hike Griffith Park in Los Angeles

38. camp at Limekiln State Park

39. take dance lessons with Nate

40. make Jay’s buffalo wings*

41. plan a bonfire on Carmel Beach*

42. visit the The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)*

43. zipline into the ocean

44. have a breakfast pizza at the Big Sur Bakery*

45. visit Mercer caverns in Murphy, CA.

*- This means they have shown up on a list before and I still have not done it. Most of these are from List 44.

I’m excited this year because I have some fun trips planned. We’ve already booked the flight and hotel to Isla Mujeres/Cancun area and now I just have to get through the next 3 months which seems sooo far away. I know it’s not though so I’m in planning mode BIG TIME. I also have a friend that made a “40 things in my 40th year” list and I’m hoping to do some of her items/goals with her. So this year, my 45th, is looking to be a fun adventurous one. I’m ALL in this year.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all” – Helen Keller




List 44: Go whale watching (#36)

IMG_2225I’ve lived in California for almost 21 years. I know, I know…I’ve lived in California, on the coast, for HOW long and I’ve never been whale watching. Yep. That would be accurate. For the first few years as a California resident I was a single mom and I can tell you,  if I had $100 extra dollars, it wasn’t going to be spent on whale watching. It just wasn’t something that was feasible at that time since things like food and shelter seemed more important. I don’t really have an excuse for the other 15+ years though other than it just never happened. Nate and I have talked about going for years and then never followed through. This has been on my list for the past couple years and still, I hadn’t made it happen. I think my fear of seasickness might have influenced this decision. I couldn’t be sure that I wouldn’t get seasick and there is nothing I like less than throwing up. It’s just the worst. And after a rough time on a friend’s sailboat in February I really was worried about heading out for hours on a boat.

IMG_2270Then for my birthday this year a friend of mine, Courtney, surprised me with the gift of a whale watching trip. While I was excited that this was finally going to happen I was still thinking “oh crap. I’m going out on a boat…”

IMG_2295It was an amazing experience though. This is not to say that I wasn’t nauseous during the 4 hour trip out into the bay… I was nauseous for days after the trip, but I didn’t get sick which is all that mattered to me. Seeing whales like this, out in the ocean, is really an amazing experience. We saw about a dozen different humpback whales and hundreds of Risso’s dolphins and at the end of the trip we saw a gigantic sun fish (which was one of my favorite part of the whole trip!) The guide told us they had seen numerous pods of Orchas the day before so it was a bit disappointing not to have seen any on this trip. Unfortunately, on whale watching trips,  you are at the mercy of the whales and whether they decide to show up that day. Orcas just weren’t feeling it this day. Maybe they will be out there on my next whale watching adventure:)

IMG_2198 I am so thankful that Courtney gave me the push to finally do this!

Courtney and I used to be roommates back in the old days. When both our daughters were sweet & little (Alex was 5 and her daughter was 2 & now they are both just moody, cranky teenagers.) We recently re-connected through Facebook and it’s been awesome hanging out with her again. We both went through some really rough years and I really appreciate having a friend who knew me back in those days. I was kind of a mess back then and Courtney had her own issues and we’ve come so far from those days that it feels right hanging out now. We both probably could have been a big help to each other all those years ago but being the self centered younger women that we were we had to help ourselves before we could help others. It’s feels amazing to be in a completely different place now and to be spending time with her.

We finished the day off with lunch at The Whole Enchilada which, despite my nausea and rubbery sea legs, was the perfect ending to this adventure.

Felt good to check another thing off my list:)




List 44: See the Golden Gate Bridge from Battery Spencer (#33)

IMG_8581The first time I saw this bridge I was smitten. That was 18 years ago at least. And all these years later she still takes my breath away every time  I catch site of her. I’ve seen her from every possible side now. From Baker beach, from Land’s End, from Chrissy Field and from the visitor center. This was the first time seeing her from this angle and I think this may be my favorite. A few years ago I actually walked across her during an impromptu trip to the city (another one of those “life list” items completed) and despite my absolute fear of heights I made it all the way across. And back again.

I headed up to the viewpoint by myself while Nate parked the car. I wanted the extra time this would afford me to just stand and take in the view without worrying about Nate or if he was having a good time. After 13 years we travel well together, he the driver and me the navigator + planner, but there are always going to be letdowns and stress involved with traveling and this was one of those days. Initially I’d planned for us to bike the Marin Headlands area and take in the views but upon reading through stories and reviews of the ride the night before, I came to the conclusion that there was no way my foot or I was going to be able to handle the hills. So heading into the day we were both already disappointed. I consider myself a pretty healthy person but this injury has sidelined me quite a bit this year. It’s healing but I’m still only about 35-40% better and the wrong move could take it back to zero again. So I appreciated this few minutes to myself to allow some quiet reflection on the day and how it was not going according to my plan. And for a few minutes I did forget my disappointment with the day. I stopped worrying about Nate and the 2+ hour car drive home and my stupid foot injury and I just took in the view. You could see everything. The city, The Cliff House over in Lands End Park, Alcatraz, Sausalito waterfront. The bay had cleared up from earlier and you could now see a 180 degree view of all of San Francisco and the bay. And it was breathtaking. And no matter what Nate was feeling, I was suddenly okay with how the day had unfolded because this is what I came for. This had been my only real goal of the day and I was there. It’s good I had this extra time because Nate arrived, took a photo with his phone and then said “you ready to go”.  Shaking my head at him I said “sure” and onward we went.

2 down, 42 more to go:)

List 44

Dahlia from List 43Every year leading up to my birthday I make a list,  like a small bucket list, of things I want to accomplish that year. It usually includes personal goals, travel, places to eat and the such. The  list is made from items on my big life list and then other small goals from other lists I’ve made.  I like lists and I like having goals, this is how I operate best. Truthfully though I never even get half of the list done. For example, for List 43 I did 9.5 of my goals. 9.5!! And this was one of my better years. I have a couple of years where I didn’t do anything on the list. Often the goals were too big. Often times I would forget about the list until I only had 2 months to get everything done. I tend to put lots of travel goals on the list but for a couple of years we struggled financially and so they just weren’t possible. Two of the items on list 43 were goals I’ve included on every  list since List 38. I did them this year though and they were probably the most satisfying for the simple reason that I FINALLY did them!


I tried to be smarter about this year’s list. I started making the list in January so that I could give my goals a little more thought. ( Trying to plan 7 trips in a 12 month period when you only have 3 weeks vacation a year is one way of not getting anything on a list done). The one I’m about to post is actually the 5 or 6th version. Also, I was suppose to post this on my birthday as the first post on my new blog.  Only 10 days late!

P.S. I have also already done 2 of the goals on my list and it’s only 11 days in…woohoo…go me!

1. Treat myself to an afternoon at a spa
2. Do a beer tour Fort Bragg to Petaluma (the idea came from this article in Sunset magazine)
3. host an Ugly Sweater Xmas party
4. attend the 2015  Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco
5. have a big 10 year anniversary party
6. go to a roller derby game
7. do a #100 mile challenge (100 miles walked in 6 months)
8. go to the Moss Landing Antique Fair in July
9. take a weekend trip to San Diego
10. bike the boardwalk in San Diego
11. throw an 80’s themed party
12. plan a bonfire on Carmel Beach
13. do my first 5K
14. participate in a Color Run
15. Visit Buellton
16. make a piece of art for our house
17. do the movie/dinner night that Montrio’s and the Osio holds each Tuesday
18. officially change name
19. visit the San Francisco MOMA ( I chose this right as they were closing for renovations but I still have a year so we’ll see if it gets done in time)
20. get to my goal weight
21. Hike Mount Sutro in SF (specifically the south ridge trail & historic trail)
22. Visit Point Reyes Lighthouse
23. Hike in Montana de Oro State Park in SLO
24. Breakfast at Deetjen’s
25. spend a weekend in Los Angeles (3 day)
26. see a drive-in movie at Sunset Drive-In (SLO)
27. read 50 books
28. have a breakfast pizza at the Big Sur Bakery in Big Sur
29. eat at The Hart and the Hunter in LA
30. do 12 things (1 each month) off my Pinterest account (recipe, art project, decorating idea, etc.)
31. Camp at Pinnacles National Park
32. go kayaking with Nate again
33. see Golden Gate Bridge at the Battery Spencer View in Marin Headlands
34. bike ride along the American River Parkway in Sacramento
35. have a drink on the Delta King in Sacramento
36. go whale watching
37. camp at Big Basin in Santa Cruz
38. learn to weave (wall weavings)
39. visit the rooftop bar at the new ACE hotel in LA
40. eat at Dona Thomas for brunch in Oakland
41. get a new dining room sideboard
42. do wine tour of Santa Cruz Mountains
43. make cinnamon rolls from scratch
44. make buffalo wings (a friend of mine’s recipe in particular)

Looking forward to tackling the list this year. Some of them are already in the works to happen so I have high hopes for this year:)

What are some of your goals for the next year?