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Adventures

Adventures with Rosie: Getting Homeowner’s Insurance

I promised Rosie a new bed. Of course she picked out the most expensive one in the store.

I promised Rosie a new bed. Of course she picked out the most expensive one in the store.

In case anyone missed the memo, Rosie and I are moving. Don’t worry, we’re not leaving Phoenix, just getting a new place to call our own. And it’s a smaller place that better accommodates my aspiring minimalist lifestyle.

Part of the process of becoming a homeowner is buying homeowner’s insurance. I amused myself going through the questionnaire with my insurance agent to get a quote.

Do you have any pets?
Yes. I have a basset hound.

Has your dog ever bitten anyone?
I have a basset hound.

(In all fairness, my family had a basset when I was younger that would get violent when he got confused. We think he had hearing loss from a severe illness when he was a puppy. But come on – who has ever heard of a vicious basset hound? Grouchy yes. Vicious no.)

Does your home have a security system?
I have a basset hound.

Oh, I’m way too easily entertained by my dog. But who wouldn’t be?

 

Independents Week 2014 – Who’s In?

I’m excited for Independents Week next week (6/29 – 7/6) and I hope you are too. This is the week where you’re encouraged to spending your money locally. When you spend locally, more of your money stays in the community compared to when you shop at big box stores – a lot more. I participated last year and had an awesome time shopping at some of my favorite businesses in the valley and trying out some new ones too.

Independents Week is also Golden Coupon week. Members of Local First Arizona will be offering 20% discounts when you shop with a Golden Coupon. (See their site for details and limitations.) Over 260 businesses all over the state are participating. It’s a great reason to try a new place in your neighborhood.

Golden Coupon 2014

These are some of the places in metro Phoenix that I’m excited to see are participating. I’m sticking to Phoenix area places because, well, I live here.

  • Arizona Fun Services – where my partner-in-crime and I got our root suits
  • Bookman’s Entertainment Exchange
  • Brand X Custom T-shirts – makes all my custom t-shirts and running shirts
  • Changing Hands Bookstore
  • Nobel Beast – great pet supply shop
  • Practical Art on Central – I’ve never been here but it looks interesting
  • Phoenix Art Museum
  • Write Ons – where I get all my greeting cards
  • Zia Records

If you’re looking for a new place to eat, there are awesome restaurants that are accepting the Golden Coupon, including:

  • Duck and Decanter
  • Fez
  • Scramble
  • Sun Up Brewing
  • The Dhaba
  • The Refuge

Some of you might be asking, “How does being a minimalist comport with Independents Week?” To me, being a minimalist means I try to only buy things that add value to my life. I still need to buy things. I think Independents Week is a great reason to pop into places you wouldn’t ordinarily visit to get to know them. (It’s important to me to spend my money locally when I can.) These places might have things that would add value to my life – now or in the future. There’s no pressure to buy anything this week, but if I do, I get a nice discount.

If you do participate in the Local First Independents Week Golden Coupon program, you’re eligible to enter to win a staycation in Flagstaff. Why am I telling you that? Shop with the Golden Coupon but don’t enter the contest. You’ll be hurting my chances of winning.

Happy Independents Week! Who’s in?

Preventing Skin Cancer with Vanity

These are my friends - real photo from my medicine cabinet

These are my friends – real photo from my medicine cabinet

I had an appointment with my doctor a few weeks ago – nothing serious, just my annual exam and blood work. He took one look at my pasty pale skin and remarked that we didn’t need to have the discussion about the importance of sunblock.

He went on to share how when he talks to patients who aren’t as diligent about protecting themselves from the sun, he doesn’t tell them about the dangers of skin cancer. He said he tells them that the sun in aging them prematurely and making them look older than their true age.

Life lesson: Vanity works.

(BTW: I firmly believe that sunblock and moisturizer are why I can still pass as 22.)

Getting Out of Dodge with Rosie

I won a night at the Sedona Rouge during Independents Week last year. The gift certificate expired in July 2014 so I had to use-it-or-lose-it. They’re a dog-friendly hotel so I booked a room for Rosie and I during mid-week last week to get away from the heat for a few hours.

Sedona Rouge

Sedona Rouge – Sedona, AZ

At first I was thinking, “Why am I doing this? We’re not even going to be gone for 24 hours. There’s so much I could be getting done if I just stay here instead of packing up the pup and me, driving 2 hours to Sedona, just to drive back the next day.” I’m so glad I ignore this voice in my head. We had an awesome time and it provided a much needed break from the daily grind.

The staff was so nice to Rosie and me. Rosie is an experienced traveler and I packed her box of bowls, food, and toys plus her bedding. Her stuff took up a lot more room in the trunk than my overnight bag and backpack. I thought it was very sweet when we got to our room and saw that the staff had put out dog bowls and a bed for Rosie.

Dog Bed and Bowls

Sorry About the Poor Quality

I could tell they’re used to having canine guests that are smaller than Miss Rosie and evidenced by the size of the dog bed. But that didn’t stop her from using it.

Rosie on the Dog Bed Nex t to her Real Bed

Rosie on the Dog Bed Next to her Regular Bed

Rosie and I had a great time at the Sedona Rouge. We took a self-guided tour through the Column Garden and the pool area. All the guests who saw her gushed over her. I spent most of this trip reading Jason SurfrApp’s book, Creativity for Sale. It’s hard to make reading a priority at home. I found a comfortable seat in the courtyard, looped Rosie leash through one of the legs of the chair, and enjoyed Jason’s book while a gentle breeze blew through my hair. It’s a really good book – my brain is buzzing with ideas about my future professional endeavors. I really wish I didn’t need sleep or work/life balance so I could spend more time working on them.

Rosie in the Column Garden

Rosie in the Column Garden

In the evening, I trooped to the pool area to do some writing before taking a soak in the hot tub. I do a 2-day personal/professional retreat every December, and this trip gave me a chance to check in on how things are going so far this year. Rosie snuggled up in the chaise next to mine.  She was so cute but it was too dark to get a picture so we had to recreate the shot the next morning.

Poolside Rosie

Poolside Rosie

We spent less than 24 hours in Sedona. The next morning we got up early, got a walk for her, a run for me, and breakfast for both of us before heading back to Phoenix. Even though it was a short trip, it was a good reminder of how important it is to occasionally get away to reflect and recharge.

I really enjoyed my time up north. I’ve been thinking about my next book and this trip made me consider the possibility of taking a month away just to write instead of working writing into my daily routine as I’ve done with my other books . . . definitely something to think about.

Ruth & Rosie – 2 Years and Counting

Rosie and I have officially been together for two years. In some ways it feels like longer and in some ways it feels like I just got her from the Arizona Basset Hound Rescue.

Rosie's First Thanksgiving - November 2013

Rosie’s First Thanksgiving – November 2013

My life is completely changed because of her. If you want to get to know your neighbors, get a dog and take a walk every day. Rosie and I have walked over 1,000 miles together and I know way more people in my neighborhood as a result. We only skip a day if she’s sick, the weather’s really bad, or she’s at the kennel. I think it’s so cute that some people only know me as “Rosie’s Mom.”

We had a lot of adventures this last year. One that wasn’t so fun was valley fever. I was tickled to learn that the doggy pharmacy delivers but not the human one. Thank goodness I figured out early on that she’ll eat anything off a spoon with peanut butter on it. Shoving those pills down her throat was not fun for either of us. We recently got the good news that her titer is staying low without outside intervention.

Rosie’s always gone to work with me, so when I decided to get an official office space, one of my requirements was that Rosie had to be able to come to work. Thankfully we found a great space that we share with a handful of other lawyers. They’re so cute when they pop by my office to say hi to me, when really they’re there to pet Rosie. I had to get a baby gate to make sure she stays contained which is hilarious given how un-maternal I am; and yet, now I own and can operate a baby gate. My clients love her.

Rosie Snoozin' at the Office - March 2014

Rosie Snoozin’ at the Office – March 2014

Rosie’s become quite the car traveler, complete with her own car harness and back seat cover. We went on a big road trip last year, but I don’t think that will become the norm for us. We try to hit the dog park at least once a week. It’s adorable watching her try to keep up with the big dogs. If they’re running in a circle, she’ll take the inside track. And man can she bark. I have one of the loudest dogs at the dog park.

Rosie Watching "Dog TV" - November 2013

Rosie Watching “Dog TV” – November 2013

Did I mention my dog is a ninja? She wears four tags on her collar so she typically jingles when she walks, but if there’s something she wants – like to get on the couch or to snag a bite of something at the edge of the table, she can jump up without making a sound. When you see the evidence of her wrongdoing and look at her accusingly, she gives you this look that says, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

I love my baby girl. At six, sometimes I think she’s starting to show her age, but that’s hard to tell given how mellow bassets are in general. She definitely lets me know she can still run and frolic with the best of them . . . when she feels like it.

Getting Back on the Horse…err, I mean Bike

I love riding my bike. I love that when I’m biking or running the rest of the world just disappears. It’s just me and the road and the wind in my face. I love the feeling of my muscles propelling me down the road. If you haven’t tried them, the Phoenix canals are an awesome place to work out. They’re well-maintained and you can go for miles without having to worry about being hit by cars.

With my leg injuries last year, I was doing all my cardio on my bike. I was riding 13 miles, 3 times a week, and doing an extra long 18-mile ride on the weekend. I was riding so much I was ready to get a pair of padded-butt shorts and starting to look for a 50 or 100-mile charity bike ride to inspire me to up my training.

And then the accident happened.

Day After my Bike Accident - Look Where my Head Crashed into my Helmet

Day After my Bike Accident – Look Where my Head Crashed into my Helmet

I tracked my friend while he was doing his first half Ironman and I felt so lazy in comparison vegging at home. So I suited up and headed out for a 13-mile ride. It was a gorgeous sunny October afternoon. I was still tired from Ignite Phoenix a few days before and a full Saturday of events but it felt good to feel my quad muscles working beneath me. I was about 2 miles from getting back home when I headed through an underpass. A skateboarder was ahead of me, right in the middle of the path so I couldn’t safely pass him. I went to ring my bell to alert him of my presence and somehow my hand slipped over it. I was on the downward ramp and picking up speed so I slammed on my brakes to avoid colliding with him.

The good news is my brakes work great. My bike stopped on a dime.
The bad news is I didn’t.

I went over my handlebars and I slammed into the ground, my legs tangled up in my bike frame. My helmet protected my head, but the fall rattled it pretty hard. The skateboarder heard me crash and came back to see if I was OK. I sat up and did a quick head-to-toe injury check – both knees were scraped up along with both wrists and my left elbow.

Singing at Christmas Service - Check out my Elbow Scars

Singing at Christmas Service – Check out my Elbow Scars

I walked home, threw away my ripped shirt, and took a shower and gently scrubbed the dirt out of my wounds. I wasn’t sure I didn’t have a concussion or a broken elbow so I rested without pain meds until the next day. I slathered my wounds with antibiotic ointment for weeks until they healed, and now I’m left with scars on my wrists and elbows that vary in color from light pink to dark purple depending on how cold I am. I hate my scars.

Since the accident, I’ve barely ridden my bike. I have ridden along the canal but now I slow down on the underpass ramps instead of flying under the streets. I told myself I wasn’t riding because it was cold in the winter, but now that excuse is gone. I think part of me is still really nervous about riding. I’d never had a bad accident like that before. The only thing that comes close is getting hurt in gymnastics but they have you back out working your skills again as soon as it’s safe. With this, there’s no coach telling me have to do it and encouraging me every step of the way.

Last week I shared my list of cool stuff I want to do this spring. I think I need to add “regularly riding my bike” to the list. It will be a nice supplement to my new running regimen. And I still think I’d like to do some type of charity bike ride so if anyone knows of one in the Phoenix area, perhaps in the fall, please let me know!

I’m Having Fun This Spring – Who’s In?

One of the challenges of being a business owner is your days are unstructured except for the structure you impose on them yourself. And since there’s always something that needs to get done in the business, it’s easy to get trapped behind my laptop for hours on end, even on the weekend. I realized that I need to schedule in some fun so I get a much needed re-charge at time and enjoy all that the Phoenix area has to offer.

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams - used with permission

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams – used with permission

I’ve decided that I’m going to have more fun this spring and make an effort to get out to more events. Here’s what’s on my to-do list this spring.

I also want to learn to do some new things this year. I think I’ll sign up for some lessons this spring.

  • Skateboarding – I have a feeling that I might be good at this.
  • Golf – I want to learn how to hit a golf ball so I can go to the driving range without making a fool of myself.
  • Trapeze – Santa got me two trapeze lessons. This is going to be awesome!

There’s one more thing I really want to do this spring – take a day trip to Jerome. I’ve heard it’s a charming place. I think it would be fun to go up there for lunch and to wander around the shops for a few hours.

So that’s what’s on my fun to-do list for the next few months. If there’s anything you want to do with me, let me know!

I Want to be an Amtrak Writer in Residence

Writers all over the U.S. are excited that Amtrak is offering people the opportunity to be a writer in residence. Jessica Gross was the first writer in residence and she rode and wrote from New York to Chicago and back again. What a great 39-hour adventure! I love the idea of getting on the train and going head-down into a project with the gentle rumbling of the train beneath you and the world zipping by out the window.

AZ Diamondbacks Game, Phoenix AZ - June 2010

AZ Diamondbacks Game, Phoenix AZ – June 2010

If I was chosen to do this, I think I’d want to travel from Tucson to New Orleans and back again. It would be a little over 70 hours total on the train. Because it’s such a long trip, I think I’d like to stay in New Orleans for a day or two to recharge my batteries, evaluate where I am in my writing process, and strategize what I wanted to crank out on the return trip. I’ve never been to New Orleans, so I’d want to find a place to take a handstand picture and maybe visit Storyland or Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop – the oldest bar in the U.S. I don’t drink but it would be fun to visit as I’m sure plenty of other writers have spent many hours there to rest and recharge while working on a project.

I’ve been a writer and a blogger for over four years and I love it. Every so often I find a project that I just can’t work on at home – I’m too easily distracted by chores or anything that’s not my writing. Sometimes when that happens, I banish myself from the house until my work gets done. I’ll go to a coffee shop or a library with the expectation that I’m there to work and I can’t leave until my work gets done. I turn off the internet and put my phone where I can’t see it or hear it and get to work. That’s usually enough to force me to put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard and crank out what I need to get done – usually faster than I anticipated.

Amtrak 353 by jpmueller99 from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Amtrak 353 by jpmueller99 from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I’ve been toying with doing some memoir work for years. I have a basic outline of what I’d want to include and the format for each chapter but it’s been a challenge to find the time and creative space to sit down and let the ideas flow. I would need big blocks of time to sit write without distractions, where I can sit in quiet contemplation, where I could lock into my zone and let my fingers fly over my keyboard. I’d love to be an Amtrak writer in residence to work on this project.

So Amtrak, if you’re serious about offering other people the chance to be a writer in residence, I hope you’ll pick me.

Funny Signs at the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon

I had to miss running in the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona race this year due to leg injuries, but on the flip side, I had an awesome time cheering marathoners on with funny signs during the race.  I teamed up with Jeff and Dannie Moriarty for some serious fun near Mile 13.

We arrived at our spot a bit before the first marathoners would be running by so I gleefully took my sidewalk chalk to the marker at Mile 13 and wrote the following on the street.

Rock n Roll AZ Street ChalkIf You Did…

The Half…

You’d Be Done…

By Now!

Finish Strong

Oh I amuse myself! I chatted with a racer the next day and she said she when she saw my note she thought whoever wrote it was “pure evil.”

Now, I’m someone who actually likes being insulted when I run. Don’t ask me why, I just like it. My shirt from last year’s race said, “Masochist” across the front and “Run Bitch” on the back. I figured I’m not the only one who finds this endearing and helpful so I continued the “Run Bitch” tradition with one of my signs. Some people laughed said they liked it. The best reaction was, “How did you know my name is Bitch?”

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, Used with Permission

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, Used with Permission

I held this sign for most of the race until we started seeing more and more racers who were walking. I didn’t want them to think I thought less of them for not running the full route so I switched to my other sign.

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, Used with Permission

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, Used with Permission

Dannie had an awesome Breaking Bad inspired sign for the race. I told her to hold onto it for next because if I run the full marathon, I’d want to see that.

Dannie Sign

Jeff had the best sign of the race.

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, Used with Permission

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, Used with Permission

The reactions ranged from shock, to laughter, to “holy shit,” to racers and spectators stopping to taking photos – even two police officers took photos. I liked his Zombie sign too, but nothing could top Jeff with his pants around his ankles.

Jeff zombie sign

One thing I learned this year was that if you put your name on your shirt – like the original Mouseketeers – people will cheer for you by name. I thought I was hanging up my running shoes after last year’s race, but now that rehab is going well, I’m thinking I’ll be back on the course next year. I may have to get another custom running shirt for the occasion.

If you thought our signs were funny, you should check out Jeff’s Harassing Marathon Runners Flickr album that includes all his signs from this year’s and last year’s races.

The Undeniable Plans for 2014

I recently asked my readers what they wanted me to write about and someone suggested I share my 2014 plans. That gave me reason to pause, because in 2012 I was focused on getting the law firm off the ground and last year I spent the beginning of 2013 getting ready to speak at SXSW. This year I don’t have a big event or activity taking up all my time. I think I get to just live for year. But of course I have plans for how I’d like to spend my time.

My legs after  a session of ASTYM.

My legs after a session of ASTYM.

1. Get Healthy. Years of gymnastics and running has resulted in a buildup of scar tissue in my lower legs. I finished my last half marathon with so much pain that I thought I had three stress fractures. Instead of training for the 2014 race, I’m in physical therapy. They’re breaking up the scar tissue with ASTYM and dry needling, building up my strength, and working on my running posture. They said I should be good to go to run a 10K in March.

2. Separate Work from my Personal Life.  Carter Law Firm got a brick and mortar office in December 2013. To go along with that, I want to work on keeping work at the office and not work once I’m home for the day. This includes not working on the weekends and getting all my blogs written during the week. (When I was writing books last year I’d work on the books during the week and blogs on the weekend.) I got used to working all the time and it’s time make more time for fun.

More Adventures = More Handstands

More Adventures = More Handstands

3. Go on More Adventures.  Going to law school really got me out of the habit of having a life on the weekend and it’s too easy to fill the weekend with work stuff, so this year I want to make it a point to do more new things during my down time. There are so many wonderful places and events in Arizona I’ve never experienced. I’ll be using Roadside America and community calendars for inspiration but I’ll be starting the year by doing the Polar Plunge in Tempe. And I definitely want to see Bisbee this year and take advantage of the night in Sedona I won during Indie Week.

4. Continue to be a Minimalist.  I made a huge donation run to Goodwill a few weeks ago. My backseat and trunk were packed with stuff I don’t use anymore. Since then, I’ve already started the next pile of stuff to be donated. I will continue to be mindful of what I do and don’t use and periodically do a sweep of the house to get rid of things that don’t add value to my life. Next year will also start with the reversal of all my closet hangers. Every garment will have to earn its right to stay in my wardrobe again.

5. Release my Next Book.  The American Bar Association is publishing my next book – The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers. It’s expected to be released in February 2014. I’m excited for it to be released and I hope it will open more doors for me to do more professional speaking.

Those are basically my plans on top my standard events, activities, and goals of having fun and being productive. I hope your 2013 is winding down on a high note and that you have an awesome year in 2014. I’ll keep you in the loop about my adventures.