Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning


Favorite Things

2015 – a Doing Year. Oh and Crossfit.

This has been a really interesting year. It’s been full of learning for just about all of us in my house. Aiden finally tackled two-wheel bike riding and swimming. Avery rode ocean waves after being fearful for two days, and she got the hang of ice skating. Alexander did a colossal job developing a 32-unit condo building. And among other things, I discovered my inner child and started drawing with a new blog about menus. In this era when it’s so easy to be a passive consumer (we are that too), it’s fun to look back and see the DOING and the CREATING.

This year was also big for me physically. For the first time ever, I stuck with an exercise program diligently, and I did it without an end in mind. Of course I had goals, but in the past my goal (running a marathon or a ten-miler or a half-marathon) has also been an “end.” I would sign up, train, do the race and then stop running for weeks, sometimes months on end. Totally unsatisfying; not sustainable.

I started going to my gym – yes, Crossfit – July 2014 and I told myself I would just try it for six months. Six months came and went and I kept going. I wanted to be there, to do the work, to see results and push to keep getting better. This really was about the Means not the End. It’s a place where people know me first as Kylie, not as Mommy; not as Avery’s mom or Alex’s wife; not where our reason for knowing each other is work-related. The relationships start with you as an individual and branch out from there, rather than the reverse which I find is so common at this time of our lives. It’s a place where you have personal victories and it’s really exciting to see your friends and coaches hit their goals. There are moments of defeat as well. One day this year I just had to leave – mid-workout. Nobody does that. You never really feel compelled to stop but on this day I did. And then the best thing happened, people thoughtfully reached out, just to see if everything was ok. Nobody pushed, they just wanted to be sure everything was ok. (This is a good place to mention that the coaches – James, Maillard, Reggie, Mario, Lauren – are great. Like any business, the culture of a gym is a reflection of the values of leadership. Every day they care.)

I don’t know about you but I find this age trying at times in terms of friendships. People are scattered and busy. Often interactions don’t get past saying hello at morning school drop off. Whatever it is – a regular dinner club, a book group, a gym – finding a place where you get a bit beyond just “hello” is really really nice. I didn’t know how much I needed that.

It’s not all warm and fuzzy…exercising is also about numbers. I dig metrics and Crossfit is pretty trackable. I track my weight lifted each workout (weight * reps * sets). Here are my numbers for the year.

2015 Weight Lifted (lbs) YTD Average Average lbs per Day
January 26,265 26,265 876
February 22,030 24,148 816
March 14,620 20,972 487
April 23,495 21,603 810
May 31,010 23,484 1,034
June 45,140 27,093 1,557
July 26,885 27,064 896
August 31,525 27,621 1,051
September 28,065 27,671 968
October 40,355 28,939 1,345
November 34,408 29,436 1,186
December 39,962 30,313 1,332
TOTAL   363,760        


I’m pretty pleased with those figures. Three Hundred Sixty Three Thousand pounds. I have never felt better or more physically capable. I can get almost 100 pounds over my head. Each month I am able to do more and more. The work I am doing now will benefit me for years to come. I also did about 1200 burpees…they are just awful…which means I should do more of them in 2016. Always good to be able to get up from the floor.

Last thing to mention on this – a constant motivator on this has been my mother (not sure she knows this). My mom never worked out when we were kids now regularly goes to a trainer. She is in great shape and can take care of herself at age 73. She is always eager to listen when I call her with some Crossfit feat. What a nice thing – finding a new way to bond with your mom even at the ripe young age of 43 🙂

Happy Day

I am not a morning person.

That said, last night I went to sleep excited for today.  And today is basically a work day.  What a nice thing that is! 

But I still struggle in the morning.  So here is what eases the "open your eyes and get out of bed" pain:

  • Origins Matcha Lotion.  Zen and a spa day in a tube.
  • Downloading the NYTimes onto my Blackberry.  This is one of the benefits of not driving to work.  Being able to read the paper.
  • Walking Avery to school.  She is always super chatty and cute.  And has a lot to say about the tree leaves changing colors, about cars racing through the street and "not being nice" about what we gave her for lunch, about maybe getting sushi after school for dinner.
  • Of course seeing our newest addition, Mister Aiden, is a treat.  Sir Super Smiles.
  • Packing Avery's lunch the night before.  One less thing to do.
  • Picking out my outfit the night before. 
  • It goes without saying, but coffee is crucial.  I prefer mine iced, with cream (not skim – why would I add sour thing milk to my coffee??) and purchased pre-subway ride.
  • Playing "Lovely Day" by Bill Withers upon office arrival.

And recently, the morning is all about flowers.  I walk through what little remains of the flower district on my way to work.  The un-vased flowers are all bound together in heaping bundles of like colors, contained in brown paper.  And they are just gorgeous.  Take a look at the pic below.

Still not a morning person, but not a grump.  How do you start your day?  What are a few of your favorite things?



Three Cheers for the Bota Box

Sometimes it's nice to give credit where credit is due.   In my house, we drink a lot of wine.  We cook with a lot of wine.  Therefore, we generally have a lot of wine around.  My husband knows more about this subject than I do – we like to divide and conquer our areas of expertise…makes for good balance in a relationship. 

The only problem is, wine can be really expensive.  So in times like this, we look for bargains.  In general, the concept of "Bargain Wine" gives me a hangover just thinking about it.  Plonk = Headache.

But not always.  Enter, Bota Wines.  No, this is not a sponsored post (see beginning – I like to give credit where credit is due).  We bought a box of Bota Chardonnary not too long ago and it's not half bad.  It's actually, pretty darn nice for an everyday wine for drinking/cooking (btw, I would NEVER cook with a wine that I found undrinkable.  You are asking for trouble if you do this).  So thought I would share our discovery.  At $26 a box, you are bound to be happy and feel pretty smart.  Just don't tell.

And if you are reading this and find yourself horrified at the thought of boxed wine, screw you because you are obviously a TOTAL ELITIST snob don't take my word for it, read what Chow has to say.  Happy vino!

I just LOVE a well executed consumer product.  Send me some of your favorites.


Just A Little Sanskrit

Saw this today:

“To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction”

Followed up by reading this:

Click on this link and read…

Made a whole lot of sense.  Something to keep in mind as you travel through this wild and precious life.  That last phrase, the one about this wild and precious life, that is not mine.  It's from Mary Oliver.  Read the whole thing here.

Lots to think about with these two links today. 

A Few of My Favorite Things…

Every so often I like to feel a little good about myself (don't lie, you do too).  I do lots of things to accomplish that goal…so after I finish rolling in caps and gowns from years past, staring at photos of my daughter, admiring my hot husband, reading brilliant essays on ladybugs composed when I was six (ok, seven) and being glad that I have yet to succumb to Botox (putting off the inevitable), I put on my wedding dress and..oops, anyway…I re-read this blog to see what the hell I am all about and what's been on my mind. 

There are several things on this blog that I re-read and say "WHAT the ?" to myself, and others that I read and say "Oh yeah, ok, yeah…" or "Damn, that was pretty good."  It's easy to forget what you've been thinking about over a few months…or at least, easy for me, so that is why I write.  As I re-read, these are the posts that stood out, for a variety of reasons.  

Selecting a VC
Interviewing Skills
The Hamptons
Hopes and Dreams for my daughter
Gorillas on the subway, of course
Maternity Leave
More Reasons I love to cook
Perhaps the funniest email I have ever read
Dear God, what the! !?@?!!

A Favorite Poem

I especially love the last line.  Keep that in mind…your one wild and precious life.


The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Life Lessons and Cooking and Eating

Two of my great passions are cooking and eating.  I started really cooking in business school and have since tried many many recipes, bought many cookbooks, and fed lots of friends.  Cooking is more than just a meal for me, it’s therapy, creativity and pleasure.  I got to thinking about this the other day and realized, it’s even more than that.  If I were a teacher, I might teach other life lessons through cooking and eating.  Enough with learning life lessons the hard way, learn a few the tasty way!  Here are some examples:

  • The beauty of simplicity – roast a chicken.  Roasting a chicken can be a complicated affair, but I find the best way is to pop a washed and dried, salt and peppered chicken into a 400 degree oven for about an hour and let it go.  No need to mess with it, no basting.  Simply delicious.
  • Things do not need to be expensive to be great – make potato and leak soup
  • But luxury has its place – enjoy a glass of champagne and a blini with caviar
  • Even things that don’t appear great have potential if you just give them a little TLC – roast cauliflower tossed in olive oil, salt and peppered, at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Prepare to be excited about cauliflower.
  • Witness patience as a virtue – make risotto.
  • Understand that some things take care of themselves and we don’t need to control everything – tackle an Osso Bucco recipe.  Do very little, let it work it’s magic and enjoy the fruits of your lack of labor.
  • Less is more – eat a tomato or ear of corn in season
  • Good things come in small packages – eat a fresh raw oyster
  • Attention to detail – bake just about anything.  Baking requires exact measurements to be successful.
  • Creativity – unlike baking, cooking requires that you taste and test and sometimes come up with substitute ingredients. 
  • Appreciate what you have  – make pasta puttanesca…most of the ingredients should already be in your pantry (at least mine)
  • Flexibility and respect – like Creativity, cook anything.  Even if you have made a recipe a hundred times, you need to be aware that every ingredient is unique, as is every oven and every burner. 
  • Be a team player, but be clear about roles and responsibilities – cook with your spouse.  My husband loves to cook just as I do, but we have very different approaches.  We work well in the kitchen together because we have learned that one of us needs to be the stated Chef, and the other, the Sous Chef.  Clearly stated roles and objectives are key.
  • Be in the now – cook pasta.  Overcooked pasta is disgusting.
  • Everything is better with bacon – what a fun lesson!  Add bacon to just about anything and learn this – add it to salad, a sandwich, on top of a meatloaf, your Saturday morning french toast, even chocolate (weird but true).
  • Don’t take everything so seriously – if all else fails (like your recipe), order pizza and open a bottle of wine.  Your family or guests will still be happy.

Not Your Mother’s Hot Chocolate

I have on occasion listed favorite things on this blog.  Tonight is no exception.  When in doubt, on a chilly night, try this hot chocolate.  And apparently you can make pot de creme from it as well. 


Yes, I think I have a new obsession.  Chocolate in a mug.  Delish.

Life Balance…A New Unreality Show

I have been thinking a lot about life balance lately.  I have come to a conclusion…it’s not possible.  Don’t call me negative!  I am a realist.  I mean come on…roll the "life balance" movie tape please…

You have a big career where you run things and do really really well; you eat dinner with your family five times a week at 6PM (where of course you make dinner…from scratch).  You maintain an active social life where you see friends and are a regular consumer of culture; you read all the latest and greatest books, keep up on pop culture, take four weeks of vacation, have sex with your significant other (OFTEN), sleep eight full cozy hours a night, work out three to five times a week and pay bills/run errands/get laundry done etc. etc. etc. 

I mean, come on.  And I am an embracer of chaos, but that type of existence seems just out of reach.  So I have two new ideas…you CAN have it all, just not all at once.  Yes, we might die tomorrow, but let’s think positive…assuming you don’t, there are different times in your life when you focus on different elements of your life while others go on the backburner.  It’s about choosing which pot is on which burner.  Not easy decisions.  But reality – tradeoffs.

Next, I read something recently and darn it cannot remember where (probably Oprah magazine, which I always feel guilty buying but which I ALWAYS enjoy).  The article said that while seeking balance, look to presence for your answer.  What does this mean?  It means be where you are…as much as possible.  When at work, focus on work.  Leave your kids and family at home.  Focus on your job.  Be in it.  When at home, leave your work at work.  Be at the table with your kids.  Listen to what they say.  Have a conversation with your significant other where you are fully present.  Balance through presence. 

You may be saying "Not possible!  I always multi-task and that is how I get through my day."  Well, more and more research suggests that we are way less effective at every task when we multi-task. 

I am a big believer in presence, living in the present, being in the now.  It’s not easy, and I am in no way good at it, but I aspire to it.  And I love the idea "Balance Through Presence".  So there we go.  My soapbox for the day.

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