I have a driveway and I need Botox. These things are sort of related.

It’s been a slow realization on my part that selling and buying homes isn’t nearly as much fun as it’s portrayed on HGTV or as sexy as it seems on Bravo.

It’s actually a pain in the ass, all the way around.

But the good news is that our house in Ohio is one step closer to being move-in ready because now we have a driveway. And steps to our front door. And a sidewalk in front of our drive.

The back yard still needs to be graded. I am so used to sloping yards I would never have noticed that the builder needed to replace dirt. It’s supposed to be flat here. I need to remember that.

Until that’s done, we can’t put a fence in. So if we move in before the fence is installed, my life will revolve around walking three dogs and picking up a lot of poop.

On the other side of the equation, we have reduced the price of our Roanoke house again, sending a signal to all potential homebuyers in our area that we are MOTIVATED sellers. As in, please make us a reasonable offer, please, oh please, oh please.

The entire conversation about reducing the price — conducted between our real estate agent and me, with me relaying it to Phil — happened while I was shopping at Kroger and not in some cute bistro in Manhattan or a beach side office with an ocean view or a park with blooming trees or any of those places I see on television.

It was in the peanut butter aisle, actually, as I searched for the particular flavor my daughter requested.

Remember when the only two choices in peanut butter were creamy and crunchy? I do. So I guess that makes me old.

Which is probably why 30 minutes before the real estate conversation happened in Kroger the 20-something manager of Metro Fitness in Delaware, Ohio, suggested that I might be interested in cardio classes they offer for older folks called Silver Sneakers.

OK, my neck could use a little work but I'm not ready to stunt double for Betty White.

Wait? Um, what?

Resisting the urge to yank the Ohio State ball cap off her head and feed it to her intravenously, I thought, damn, maybe I do need a root touch-up.  And Botox. And a referral to a good plastic surgeon.

Maybe all this wheeling and dealing on houses and worrying about pets and trying to hold it together to be a supportive partner to my husband have taken a toll on my face.

Maybe instead of looking hot and sexy like the agents/buyers/sellers I see on “Million Dollar Listing” I am turning into one of the “Golden Girls.”

Or maybe that gym manager is just a bitch whom I will NEVER see again because I wouldn’t join her shitty little gym if it were the only place to exercise in all of Ohio.

Let’s go with that last choice.

Last night I went to a Zumba class later at a studio near our apartment and found out the Zumba means something completely different in Ohio than it does in Virginia. Kind of like Bollywood meets hip-hop meets lets-kick-your-ass-and-call-it-fun.

But I hung in there with every step. Take that, gym wench.

Moving right along

We will probably get a closing date for the Ohio house by the end of this week, and it will probably be during the week of April 21.

If that works out, we can start the other wheels rolling toward the completion of this move. By the end of the month, fingers crossed, our family will be all back together in our new home.

I told Phil yesterday that the first night we fall asleep in our own bed in our new house, with all our pets with us, will be one of the sweetest moments of my life.

Moving is hard. Very hard. Much more difficult than I ever imagined. Sometimes it feels like we are running “The Amazing Race” with u-turns, detours, roadblocks and seemingly impossible challenges.

I’ve suspended the job search for a while. This move will require a lot of work, and I need to be the boss of this operation so my husband can concentrate on his new job.

Relocation has already been confusing and traumatic for our pets, so getting them acclimated to all living together again in a new house will require patience and supervision.

For example, since we’ve lived in this apartment, Thai has decided that it is perfectly acceptable to make himself at home on every surface, including the dining table and the kitchen counters. His attitude will need a serious adjustment in the new place.

I also need time to get to know Columbus and Delaware (the suburb where we will be living) and I need time to get myself back on track with regular exercise and clean, healthy eating.

I’ve consumed more stress-relieving chocolate in the last few weeks than I did in all of 2013.

They have shops here in Columbus called Le Chocoholique. I wandered into one in Easton Town Center — an open air mall that is sort of its own little city. All Le Chocoholique serves is gourmet chocolates, coffee, wine and cocktails. I texted Phil yesterday that I had found heaven, was never leaving and he could just forward my mail here.

Since I’ve been splitting time between a small Columbus apartment and a staged Roanoke house, there has been a lot of restaurant meals. While I have tried to make good choices, I know the only reason I can still fit into my jeans is that I can only consume small portions of all this rich food. Score one for the bariatric surgery decision.

I am staying very active, which might be another reason why my weight has not soared. I am constantly on-the-go and I haven’t totally forsaken exercise. I bought a Groupon that gets me ten classes at an exercise studio close to our apartment. Doing Body Pump yesterday felt very good and I am looking forward to Zumba tonight.

Still, I can’t wait to not live in a staged house or a tiny apartment so I can get back to cooking healthy meals, making my own juices and feeling more in control of my food choices. And I am looking forward to finding a fitness center close to our new house so I can get back to a regular exercise routine.

There are so many great things happening, I am not going to let a few speed bumps get me down. And after the cat learns to stay off the counters and the dogs are used to their new backyard, the right career opportunity will come along.

And I am going to need a job, because did I mention Easton? Nordstrom, a first-class Macy’s, and every boutique store a shopaholic could imagine? Then there is The Container Store. It sells every type of organization tool and/or storage container imaginable. I am about to have a whole new house to organize.

Screw Disney World, Easton Town Center is the happiest place on earth. And with too much time on my hands and no extra money in my pocket, living here could be dangerously expensive.

Face first in the dirt

I had an epiphany today. It happened just a few minutes after I spit grass and mud out of my mouth.

Since I knew the year is Barack Obama and the president is 2014, I did not have a concussion. And since I was of sound mind, I figured my epiphany was a good one.

I was walking Stormy through a field by our temporary Columbus apartment this morning, wearing my workout clothes because I planned to visit the fitness center as soon as the mutt did his business. But instead of lifting his leg at his favorite tree, he spotted something moving in a nearby bush.

That’s when he bolted and I, being a good pet parent, clenched the leash with all my might. And that’s when he pulled me off my feet and I ended up face-first in the muddy grass.

It took a few seconds to accept the fact that my dog was now dragging me through a swamp, and my face was taking the brunt of the abuse.


I may have actually screamed that and not just thought it, but I can’t be sure.

That wasn’t the epiphany, by the way.

When my beloved dog with the strength of a Mack truck finally stopped dragging all 150 pounds of me, I rolled over. I caught the breath he knocked out of me with his face hovering over mine. Still holding the leash, I spit out the sod and, with just enough tears to wet my face, wiped off some of the mud.

That’s when I looked up at the gray, Columbus sky and thought, “Whatever.”

That was the epiphany.

I’ve been in Columbus since last Thursday. I have kept my phone glued to me waiting for a call or email for a job interview. Specifically, I wanted to hear back from a job interviewed for over the phone on Wednesday before I left. I thought that phone chat when well, so I was really hopeful for an actual interview.

It was at a college. I packed a dark red dress with black trim — the school colors — to wear when and if I did get the call.

While walking through a mall yesterday afternoon I got the email that I would not be invited for an in-person interview for that job.

I’ve also not heard a peep from any of the other jobs I’ve applied for via email and online.

So when I was laying there, covered in filth because my 65-pound dog is stronger than me despite all my Body Pump classes, I just accepted the fact that I have no control of certain parts of my life right now.


I am in a new state and I am officially unemployed with no real prospects. And I can clearly cross dog-walking off my list of possible career choices. So, whatever.

Things are just going to happen as they happen and as much as I’d like to think I am strong, sometimes I am just going to get knocked down.

And I just have to lay there until the dragging stops and hold onto the leash as tightly as I can.

I guess that was the real epiphany. As long as I hold on to the leash (metaphor for the family that I love), I can handle getting my face rubbed in the mud.

I will get up. I will brush off the dirt. I will even finish walking the dog. And then go back to the apartment and launder my clothes and after showering off the mud, I will get dressed and return to the scene of my humiliation and search for my glasses that I didn’t realize had been knocked off my face.

Come on Columbus, throw it all at me. I can take it. I am as tough as a mutt and determined to chase whatever I think needs chasing.

And I will never let go of the leash.

Half of my heart

Look at that sweet face!

Phil left for Columbus on Sunday. He took Stormy with him so I won’t have to wrangle three dogs for house showings and work and all the other things I will do to keep myself busy while half of my heart is residing in Ohio and I am still in Virginia.

So I am goal setting and staying focused on the tasks at hand:

  • Help hire a replacement for me at Saint Francis.
  • Train this awesome replacement. 
  • Get to the gym at least every other day.
  • Eat healthy and stop drinking empty calories to drown my emotions.
  • Keep the house immaculate for showings.
  • Keep my greyhound girls happy and calm during all this transition.
  • Keep myself happy and calm during all this transition.
  • Continue to apply for jobs in Columbus and pray that I hear back from one in particular that I want to so badly my heart would dance if they would call.
  • See as many friends as possible while I am a single girl in Roanoke.
  • Stay positive and focused on all the good things that will be coming our way soon.
It’s a long list, but I am a taskmaster and I work best with to-do lists.

Food, drink and exercise

As I have said many times before, my relationship with food is complicated.

I love food. It loves me so much it wants to hang all over my hips and thighs. It loved me so much I had to have part of my stomach amputated so I could control how much food I put in my body.

And that’s been great. I am at goal weight and maintaining.

But not losing any more. Which is OK. I guess.

The problem is that, with all the stress and hassle of this move, I haven’t been eating as healthy as I should.

I spent a lot of time eating and drinking my way around Roanoke as a farewell tour for the food blog I was writing for roanoke.com. Click this link right here for the final entry, scroll for the others.

It was foodapoolza, believe me.

Then we traveled to Columbus and OMG THERE’S AMAZING PLACES TO EAT THERE!

I kind of fell in love with a place called The Wine Bistro. If the name doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, check out this Spice Up Your Life flight of red wines:

The one in front? Best zinfandel I've ever tasted.

And the food is amazing. Flatbreads and salads and this wild mushroom bruschetta, which is basically bread, mushroom, and cheese, which is as close to a perfect dish as my heart can imagine:

Unbelievably delicious.

I never finish any of the food there, so I always have a couple of meals of whatever I order. And it’s quality ingredients. And yes, I am rationalizing. I could make better choices and I could certainly skip the wine (SIGH.)

I’ve noticed really how much I can drink even with a tiny tummy. It’s a little scary because those liquid calories can add up fast.

Wouldn’t be a HUGE deal if I was still working out like I was before. But I am not because there’s no time. And that’s really almost not an excuse. I do get to the gym a few times a week, like a reasonable person. But to eat and drink like I have been, I need to get back to superhero workouts.

Something’s gotta give or I am not going to be able to wear my skinny jeans anymore.

Fingers crossed that the Roanoke house sells soon, we get moved to Columbus, we get settled in, I find a great job and we all get back to a normal routine.

That’s a long list.

Uncrossing my fingers and making myself a cocktail now.

The new digs

So we bought a house in Delaware, Ohio (which isn’t confusing AT ALL.) We also still own a house in Roanoke. And for a while, we have an apartment in Columbus.

Putting an address on anything these days is a challenge.

Here’s the exterior of the new digs. I can call it “digs” because there’s a lot of things that still need digging.

Like a fence for our dogs.

And a driveway.

And sod and landscaping.

And eventually a patio.

Interior of the house is turn-key ready. Exterior needs a little more love.

I think we will really like it. It’s in a new neighborhood that has sidewalks. SIDEWALKS! And we will be in walking distance of a park. And a dog park. And other stuff.

And there’s a gym and a fancy Kroger Marketplace store about three miles away.

And there’s a wonderful mall and lots of great restaurants within a 15-minute drive.


And then there’s this kitchen:


And the morning room:

 And the master bedroom:

Now someone just has to buy our house in Roanoke. Looking for all the good real estate vibes you can spare.


Roller coasters are abused as a metaphor for life changes. Totally cliche.

That said, it’s the best way I can describe what these last few weeks have been like.

We’ve wanted to get back to the Midwest and closer to family for a while. We’ve looked into a couple of opportunities that didn’t pan out. So I can equate that with waiting in a long line, pouring sweat and peering ahead, trying to guess how much longer it would take before it would be our turn.

Finally, we’re at the head of the line. And we jump right in, all excited and braced in our seats.

Then the click-clack-click-clack of the wheels churn, and the pace is slow at first. Then you feel the climb, and the heart rate increases as you are pulling away from terra firma — the known, the safe, the comfort.


The train is climbing, and you can’t see over the top of the hill. You sort of know what’s coming and that it will happen fast, but you really don’t know when to anticipate the plunges, the swerves, the tight turns and the blasts through dark tunnels.


We have traveled to our new city. My husband and I got a very warm welcome at his new office. Everyone seems great. The city is vibrant and fun. We’ve settled into a nice little apartment as our transitional home until we make the BIG MOVE.

Hands in the air, anticipation builds.

We found a house. A great deal. Offer we couldn’t refuse and it didn’t involve a bloody horsehead.

Top of the first hill on the ride, the vista is nothing but blue skies.

Then the plummet –exhilarating and scary. Reality hits like harsh wind right in the face, so hard you can’t emit a scream.

We need to sell the house we love in Virginia. I need to find a job in Ohio. We come back to our Roanoke and get a rush of emotion of how much we’ve made this house our home.

And then there’s the people. Sometimes while you are just standing around, living your life, doing what you do, you don’t really appreciate how many great people come into your world. There was a beautiful reception yesterday at my husband’s soon-to-be-former office where we were both touched by the kindness of our friends.

And now you have to say goodbye to them. Not forever, but it will never be the same.

When does this plummet bottom out? When do we ascend the next hill? What twists are coming?

Click-clack-click-clack — WHOOSH.

So much to look forward to. So much we will miss. Sometimes too much. And while this crazy roller coaster train of transition is rushing along its curvy, twisty, high-low path, it feels like it will last forever.

But it will stop. We will ride it out. And we will make a new place our home. And eventually, we it will realize it was a brief ride.

One that I hope I never have to get in line for again.

Fun fact: Ohio is famous for roller coasters.

Another fun fact: My husband and I both HATE roller coasters.

The good, the bad, the new adventure

My family is relocating from Roanoke, Virginia to Columbus, Ohio.

This is a good thing. It’s a transfer with my husband’s job that will get us back to the Midwest, much closer to family and friends.

But it means leaving friends here in Southwest Virginia.

It also means giving up my food column and blog for The Roanoke Times and leaving my part-time gig at Saint Francis Service Dogs, an amazing organization that enables miracles to happen between people and dogs. And my husband had leave the board of the Jefferson Center, a wonderful non-profit that builds skills and confidence and nurtures phenomenal talent in kids through music.

All that? Sucks.

But? House hunting in a new city is exciting.

However, packing and moving the four-bedroom-two-car garage-finished basement house that we’ve called home for the last nine years and that I love dearly? That’s my definition of living hell.

Yes, my husband’s company will pay packers to box up all of our stuff (DEAR GOD HOW DO WE HAVE SO MUCH STUFF?!?!?) and move it 350 miles to our new home.

But first, we need to declutter, organize and store all of our personal items so our house looks more inviting to potential buyers.

All those hours I’ve wasted invested watching HGTV are finally going to pay off.

I feel like I am running on a wheel of emotions: Happy, sad, excited, tired, energized, overwhelmed. I yelled at my husband last night over a roll of packing tape.

My doctor was kind enough to up my daily dosage of Klonopin.

I am going to miss that doctor.

Inch by inch

Today is the one-year anniversary of using MyFitnessPal to track food and exercise. Phil and I both started on the same day, and we have logged in every day (and almost every bite and sip) since then.

We started the whole process of improving our health and fitness in January of 2013, but it was during a visit to the nutritionist in February that I discovered this app. It’s easy to use and really helps me track calories, both in and out, and also keeps me accountable for my choices.

Since this feels like a milestone day, I pulled out the sheet where our trainer recorded my measurements in January of 2013. Then I got out my tape measure and took today’s inch counts.

The next step required math. Despite my years in accounting, I really hate math. But I put my years of accounting to good use: I made a spreadsheet.

I’ve lost 39.5 inches in 13 months.

It’s actually more than that, because we didn’t measure my calves or my chest last January. I know I’ve lost inches in both those places because of A. smaller band size in bras and B. I can now buy knee-high boots, which never zipped up over my calves before, and they are down a couple inches since I bought the first pair of boots.

So, let’s add another 9 inches to that. More math. Jeez! Good thing I have mad skills in Excel.

I think that’s 48.5 inches in a year.

I am still fluffy, but just not as much as I was a year ago.

Didn’t sign up for this

One of the things I love about my fitness center is that all the instructors and staff treat everyone with respect. It doesn’t matter what shape you are, it’s assumed that everyone is there to improve his or her health and enjoy the experience.

Until last night.

After 55 minutes of shaking my money-maker in Zumba, I darted over to the adjoining studio for my favorite strength-building class, Power Sculpt. This class does a little cardio, a lot of work with hand weights and resistance bands, and my much-needed ab crunches.

The instructors rotate, which is great because you get a different experience from what each instructor brings to the class and it keeps the format fresh. Last night we had an instructor I had never met before. Seen her around the gym, but I had never taken one of her classes.

Things started out great. She had lots of energy and was keeping the mood light.

Then she asked me — the lady in black — for my name.

“Nona,” I said. She repeated it a couple of times. No bigs, it’s an unusual name and the music is really loud.

She then proceeded to tell me my stance wasn’t wide enough for my plie squats. OK. I have a strained muscle in my left glute right now, so I was trying to take it easy with squats, but not wanting to explain my injured butt to her at that moment, I just widened my stance.

After we moved on to the dumbbell portion of the program, she gleefully called me by name to tell me I needed to adjust my arm for a tricep exercise. OK. I want to improve my arms, so I made the adjustment.

Later, we were doing seated rows with the resistance band. She made a point of coming over to show me I hadn’t wrapped the band around my shoes properly. Neither had a few other class members, whom she ignored, but she was sure to point out that I was doing it wrong.

Then we moved on another row set where we crossed the band across our lap for more resistance. I hadn’t notice the change because I was feeling all stabby at that point. But I sure noticed it when she called me out for doing it wrong. Again.

At that point, the bubbly instructor had become all those mean kids in school and all those sadistic gym teachers who were happy to announce to the world that I wasn’t good enough, strong enough or fast enough to do anything physical. I felt all those insecurities surge back. I felt inept, out-of-place and foolish.

I was angry and humiliated. I wanted to walk out.

But I stayed, because this was my workout, and although I was cussing mad, I am not a quitter.

I was, however, in no mood to stay for yoga. I grabbed my mats to exit the studio as all the other yoga students were filing in. The sculpt instructor noticed me with my mats in hand and asked me if I was staying for yoga.

“Not after this buzzkill class,” I snapped.

She waited for me outside the studio and asked me if I enjoyed her class. Really? I told her no. I don’t like being singled out for critique. I told her that may motivate some people, but it has the opposite effect on me.

She apologized. She said she didn’t mean to make me feel bad. She asked me to give her another chance. I absolutely believe she was sincere.

She had no idea the long battle I’ve had with myself over my physical fitness. She was clueless about how much being the object of criticism in a room full of people, almost all healthier and fitter than me, stings my psyche. Her words, while perhaps well intentioned, were thoughtless and hurtful.

So the point of this long, rambling entry is this: Unless someone is in dire risk of injury, save the technical advice about exercise for a private moment.

Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow me on Twitter!