50 Really Is Nifty! (And The Past Two Months)

Wow, it’s hard to believe that two months have gone by since my last post. Well, I guess it’s not really that hard to believe, because the last two months have been crazy. Not just because of the election, but for so many reasons on top of that, or should I say in conjunction with that. But what a crazy election. YOWZA! But first let’s back up a couple of months…

OCTOBER

October was a lovely autumn month. Except for the incessant “news” about the upcoming election, and the record rainfall in Seattle. Of course I was outside more than ever – running, running, running. And I loved it! And my dog loved it (most of the time.) But sometimes I was out there running in the rain (the pouring rain, not the Seattle misty rain) and the rain would come down so hard that it felt like there was a faucet attached to my face, as I watched the water pour off my nose while I ran. But I just kept running. Because I had to.

My running partner is not very excited about running in the pouring rain.

Besides running, I also did some web work at Nordstrom, worked on another web site for a dance company, and best of all, got started on my own Suzanne Harrison Home website/e-commerce site, that I am so excited about.

I also went to an incredibly inspiring talk hosted by Grace Bonney of Design Sponge, in support of her incredibly inspiring new book In the Company of Women. There was a panel of 4 women that she interviewed – all local entrepreneurs – and what they had to say not only made me feel so good about jumping out on my own, but made me so happy that these creative, smart, talented, and generous ladies were running successful businesses that only make our community better. I read a little bit of the book every night, and it warms my heart. I highly recommend it to anyone starting out on their own.

And then of course there was Halloween – on a Monday night, to my kids’ dismay – yet somehow they were still able to score over 9 pounds of candy, each, much to my dismay.

NOVEMBER

Then November came and I packed my bags and headed to South Carolina to stay with my parents and run that 1/2 marathon. My sister Nicki joined me there, and on Friday we met up with our friends Barb and Susie and headed to Savannah where (after Nicki ran over a raccoon and then got pulled over for speeding) we got our numbers for the run, checked into our hotel, walked around, shopped, ate dinner with more friends, and enjoyed the balmy weather and charming beauty of Savannah. I wasn’t nervous at all for the run, but still, for some reason I barely slept a wink that night.

Up at 5 a.m. we had breakfast and made our way to the starting line. The race started just as the sun was rising, and off we went running. And talking. Barb and I ran together (Susie and Nicki did a run/walk combo) and I’m not sure we stopped talking for the entire run. We ran through the historic district, then through “the hood”, through suburbia, and back into the city, past the many amazing bands (it was a Rock N’ Roll marathon) and past all of the people watching, cheering, handing out water, holding funny signs up (“You think your legs hurt, my arms are killing me!”), and high-fiving us along the way. The energy was the best! And before I knew it – some 2 hours and 19 minutes later – we were done. No problem! Wow, I guess it paid to stick to that training plan! I felt great.

That night, after a much needed nap, my mom, dad, sister and I headed over to Barb and Susie’s mom’s house for dinner. When we got there the house was filled with birthday decorations that said Happy 50th! Oh dear. This was for me. I was about to turn 50 and this was the beginning…

Barb and Susie’s family and mine go way way back, and so to be able to celebrate with them – my first 1/2 marathon and this milestone birthday – without our husbands or kids, just us, like in the old days, was about the best present I could have asked for. We drank wine, ate lasagne and cake, opened presents, and laughed and laughed. I’m sure I acquired several new laugh lines from that night. But what do I care? I’m 50!

All you need in the world is love and laughter. That’s all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other.

- August Wilson

I got to spend an entire week in South Carolina, with my parents, sister, and friends, which turned out to be an unintentional yet perfect birthday gift to myself. I flew back home on November 8th, full of feelings of gratitude and love and excitement. I couldn’t wait to see my family back in Seattle. I took an Uber home and had the nicest driver ever. He was from Ethiopia, just had a baby girl, and he was so excited and confident that we’d soon have our first female president. He was just so sweet. My kids were home when I got home, and I couldn’t stop hugging them. I missed them so much!

THE ELECTION

That night I was exhausted, and my ‘good to be home’ happiness was soon replaced with a sick feeling in my stomach, as election results were coming in and more and more states were going red. I passed out in bed early that night, and when I woke up the results were in. Now I was really really sad. I couldn’t believe it. And I couldn’t believe an election actually made me cry. A lot.

I took this photo at the Vera Project of a silk-screened poster that mimics the Tinder dating app.

What a weird day that was. I have never experienced a day like that, where an entire city seemed lost in fog of sadness. Kids were sad. People at the dog park were sad. People at the bus stops were sad. Grocery checkers where sad. Sad sad sad. And I was turning 50 soon, and had a big party planned for Saturday night, and I really needed to get out of this funk. So here’s what I did…

I thought about all of the amazing people I had just been interacting with in South Carolina and Georgia – two very red states. I never once thought about how these people voted – it never crossed my mind – but there they were, supporting us, cheering on the runners, handing out drinks. Then there’s the people I know and love that didn’t vote the way I did – and I still love them – we’re all just good people who want good lives. I thought about how good my life is, how much love and laughter there is in it, how lucky I am to be healthy and able to run 13+ miles. I know in my heart that my happiness and success is up to me much more than it is any politician.

And it’s okay for me to be sad. Because I am sad. I am so sad that a good man – a role model of a man – is leaving office, to be replaced by a man who is an example to my children of how not to behave. Who has taught them what the words ‘bigotry’ and ‘misogyny’ mean. But I refuse to give up hope, because I believe that there are too many good people in this country who care about creating a good future for us all, and that maybe this needed to happen, to make truly visible the work that needs to be done. I just hope that we’re all willing and brave enough to try to make things better, in whatever ways we can. Like I tell my kids: Always try to make things better, not worse.

You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have, because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.

-  Michelle Obama

So after I began to cheer up, I decided I did not have to cancel my party, and I could enjoy my birthday after all. And did I ever…

MY BIRTHDAY

On my actual birthday I had a fairly normal day, then went out to dinner with my fairly normal family and had the best time with my very most favorite people on the planet. Then the next day, two of my friends kidnapped me, which I thought would be just for a lunch date, but turned out to be for an afternoon of ferry rides, lunch, wine, labyrinth, museum, beer, pizza, kite flying, and getting in trouble for kite flying on the ferry. Again – so much laughter, and love for these amazing women in my life.

The next day was the day of my party, and in typical Todd and Suzanne fashion, we scrambled all day to get ready for it. We were expecting around 65 people, which seemed ridiculous considering the size of our house, but our thinking was, if anyone thinks it’s too crowded they can leave. So I made two huge batches of chili, cleared the furniture out of the back room, barked orders at the kids to help me vacuum and dust and decorate, while Todd cleaned up the deck, shopped, and got a fire pit set up. Our amazing DJ showed up at 5pm, and guests started showing up promptly at 5:30, so I threw on my party dress and some makeup, and we got that party started.

I have to say, it was a magical evening. The windy and rainy day turned into a perfectly beautiful night full of stars, with not just a full moon, but a SUPER MOON! Who gets a super moon on their 50th birthday? I do!! Between the DJ’s perfect music, and the lights flickering in the back yard, and the raging fire in the fire pit, and the kids running around with glow sticks, and the dog acting mellow and happy, and all of my amazing friends, not to mention the perfect party dress – I was in heaven. Literally. I danced the night away and felt so incredibly blessed for the life I have. My life at 50 is truly a gift, and I know how lucky I am for everything I have, and for the life I’ve led, and for the life ahead of me.

GIFTS

Speaking of gifts, I received so many thoughtful gifts, and I was so touched by people’s thoughtfulness and generosity. But one gift in particular really blew me away. A pillow that my sister Nicki made for me. A pillow you ask? Don’t you make tons of pillows Suzanne? Well, yes, I do, but not for myself, and not like this. Check it out:

Nicki emailed a bunch of my friends and asked them to send words that reminded them of me, then she somehow figured out how to get all of those words transferred onto a pillow with my name embroidered in the center. Isn’t it incredible? It makes me smile every day, and is a constant reminder of not only what great friends I have, but what a truly incredible sister I have. (Thanks Nicki, I love you with all my heart.)

And speaking of sisters, I need to mention one more gift from my friend Kathy, who was the best friend at work anyone could hope for. Oh my god, we have been through so much together over the years. She made me this:

Not only is this a beautiful tribute to my sister Maureen, who I miss so much, but is a firm reminder of what’s important every single day. Ironically (or not) I had no shoes to match my dress on the night of my party, and so I flitted and danced around in my bare feet – in the house, on the dance floor, and on the cold wet grass outside, and it felt fantastic. I couldn’t have loved where my feet were any more than on that night – at home, surrounded by friends and family, under the perfect full moon, dancing into my 50s.

Who is the luckiest 50 year old in the world? I am!

Thanks Todd for supporting me 150% in all of my birthday escapades! xoxo

Okay, well, that just about covers it! I think I’ve more than made up for the two months of blog silence. That was like five blog posts in one! Whew! If you’ve read this far, thank you, I know it was a lot of words, but I didn’t want to leave anything out. Like this card that the kids made for me:

Ok, this really is the end of the post. xo

Fear & Training for a Half Marathon

So, I’m training for a 1/2 marathon. Seriously.

My sister Nicki and I, and two of our friends who are like our sisters, all signed up for the Rock N’ Roll marathon in Savannah on November 5th. Why? I can’t remember exactly. I guess after my sister Maureen passed away, the four of us appreciated, more than ever, the amazing bond we’ve had since we were kids, and we wanted to come together to do something fun and challenging to support that bond.

I signed up for the run months ago. That was the easy part. Then in August I had to actually start training. Now I’m about 1/2 way through my training, and I have to say, it is HARD. For me. A non-runner. (I’m an exerciser but NOT a runner.) The funny thing is, it’s not the running part that’s hard. It’s getting myself to run that’s hard. And if it weren’t for this 1/2 marathon, there’s no way in hell I’d be running this much or this far.

I have to add though, it’s also awesome. Because it’s hard. Because I’m not a runner. Because I’m actually doing it. Because we’re having beautiful fall weather and I live in a beautiful place. But mostly because it’s so inspiring. It’s good for my brain, and makes me think so much about my life and aspirations.

How so? Well, forgive me if you are a runner and have already been through the revelation of how running is a metaphor for your life. But it’s new to me, and it’s inspiring the heck out of me.

Here’s what I’ve discovered about running:

  • Signing up and committing to a 1/2 marathon, especially with other people, makes me accountable and driven.
  • Training takes up a lot of time, and finding time can be hard, but I always make the time because I have to. Because I’m committed.
  • Running is mental. I’m going to run as far as I decide to run. Which ends up being as far as my training plan tells me.
  • My plan starts with a distance that is doable, then incrementally increases my distance.
  • The hardest part is starting. The second hardest part is the first mile. The third hardest is going up those hills, and in my case, the stairs.
  • The best part is when I hit my stride. Actually, the best part is when I’m done. The second best part is hitting my stride.
  • When I’m done running I am sweaty and tired, but happy. A beer tastes really really good. And I sleep well.
  • Now that I’m up to 6 miles, the 3 miles I started with seems easy.

There’s a saying I love, that is: Have faith in the timing of you life, and I think it’s pretty interesting that I’ve signed up for this half marathon at this time in my life – at the same time that I’ve decided to launch Suzanne Harrison Home – an endeavor, I’m realizing, that is actually very scary for me. Wouldn’t it be easier if I stuck to web development? But I really want to do it. It makes me happy and it’s important to me. But it’s scary.

So I’m going to take the 1/2 marathon approach:

  • I’m committing to a big goal of creating pillows and stuff I’m proud of, a great Etsy site, a great e-commerce site and blog, and selling wholesale.
  • I’m making time to do the work. I’m committed.
  • Even though it’s daunting, I just need to get started! Up until now, it’s like I’ve just been exercising, but now I need to step it up and really run with it.
  • I’m creating a plan with incremental steps for achieving my goal, starting with what’s doable.
  • I know it’s going to be hard. Especially at the beginning. But eventually I’ll hit my stride. Sure there’ll be some hills and stairs, but I’ll make it in the end. I hope.
  • If I work hard and stick to the plan, eventually I’ll reach my goal, and when I look back at where I started I’ll think That was the easy part!

Sorry if that was super corny! It’s just that I haven’t been very good at allowing myself the time to work on Suzanne Harrison Home. What I’ve been good at is psyching myself out of it – convincing myself that there’s no way I could ever make money doing this, spending my time working on other “more important” things, contemplating full time employment and steady paychecks.

But in my head, and every time I go running, I think about Suzanne Harrison Home, the stuff I want to make, how I want to my web-site to look, and how I’ll set up a studio for myself some day. Ugh, I keep wavering between thinking it’s just a dream and thinking it’s totally achievable!

But maybe it’ll be like my six mile run the other day. I intended to go first thing in the morning, and finally got my butt running at around 2pm. I ran for a couple of miles, then a black cat ran in front of me, I tripped, fell into the road and got a bloody cut on my hand and knee, got back up, and kept running. I ran through my neighborhood, through town, past the marina, along the beach, through the woods, up many many flights or stairs, and then finally back home. And it felt great. It made me feel like Suzanne Harrison Home was really possible.

This weekend I have to run seven miles, and I’m dreading it. I think I’ll probably take a similar run and figure out how to add another mile through my neighborhood. I’m sure I’ll procrastinate and wait until the last minute on Sunday to do it. But I will do it. Because I have to. Because it’s the next step. Because I want to achieve my goal, and I know it will feel great in the end.

Here are some photos from my training…

My training buddies:

Running past the Marina: 

Stairs, a lovely trail, stairs, and more stairs:

I’m still not completely convinced I can do this, but there are a heck of a lot of people on this planet who have run much much further, so the odds are good. But something I don’t understand is why most runners don’t say “hi” to each other when they cross paths. Walkers almost always do. Hmmm. Curious…

Doctor’s Orders

Just last week, when I was at the delightful Ace Hotel in Palm Springs heading towards the pool for the day, I stopped to pick up a towel, a nice big glass of cold water with a slice of lemon, and a magazine.  Sadly they had no fashion magazines or trashy celebrity tabloids available, so I grabbed Wired Magazine which always has something interesting in it to read.

As I was perusing the magazine, very distracted by the scene at the pool, kind of taking note of the cool new smart devices that can be worn like a watch, I stopped short when I came to an article entitled:  “Steve Jobs’ Doctor Wants to Teach You the Formula for Long Life.”  It wasn’t the title that got my attention, it was the picture – so simple and straight-forward.  I loved it.  Especially since I believe in it completely.  (Or almost completely, as I don’t really know what statins are and I don’t take baby asprin.)

So I snapped a picture of it so I could share it on my blog.  Check it out:

Doctor's Orders

Isn’t it cool?  I think it’s cool because it’s really about making sensible choices every day, and none of the choices are bad or difficult or need to be expensive – except for having kids or a dog I suppose.  But I love my coffee in the morning, and my glass of wine with dinner, and salmon is about the most delicious thing in the world to eat, as are fresh fruits and veggies, especially if they’re harvested out of your own garden.  For me that is how I like to take my vitamins – not through pills or juicing which, for the record, I’m not at all against.  They seem to make a lot of people fee great.

Read the full article here if you like, which includes a couple of videos too.  After reading the article I thought, hmmm, I think I would like to have a Fitbit.  Which is funny, because it’s one of those smart devices you wear on arm to track your daily activity, also covered in the magazine.  And I have two of Dr. Agus’s books on hold at the library.  Oh, and see what I mean about the distractions by the pool at the Ace?

poolside distractions

It’s easy to get distracted sitting by the pool at the Ace Hotel.  (Imagine a dj playing groovy tunes too.)