Yes, I have been Shaking It Up on Thursdays, and other days too…..

I know it has been awhile. I have taken a bit of a sabbatical I suppose. It is pretty hard to top the last post that Denise wrote. So now I am back to more mundane shaking-it-up topics. What have I done since I last posted? A couple of weeks ago I decided to go an entire week with not wearing a fleece vest to work. It was actually really difficult. My favorite outfit is still an Eddie Bauer waffle shirt (Henley) and a fleece vest. It is the quintessential middle aged Wisconsin woman look. And now I really know why. It just doesn’t get any more comfortable than that. Comfortable and cozy. I did make it through the whole week, but it was pretty tough.

shirt pic

The quintessential winter apparel. 

I also got my hair cut a couple of weeks ago. All of the non-gray hair is officially gone. I wanted to schedule that haircut on a Thursday, but unfortunately that could not be arranged. So that happened on a Tuesday instead.

hairpic 5

This is the last of the non-gray hair. 



And this week? I actually did something very different from my routine today. I totally shifted around my early morning routine. Generally I go exercise first thing in the morning, get cleaned up, stop at the grocery store for my salad, and then go to work. The catch was that today I played accordion at work. It is was way too cold to leave the accordion in the car while exercising, and I didn’t really want to bring it inside and leave it at a desk somewhere. So instead I exercised, came home to get cleaned up, grabbed food from the fridge instead of going to the grocery store, and then went to work — with my accordion. And I still got to work on time!

And what else did I do this Thursday for Shake It Up Thursday?  I wrote this blog!!



Danger: Selfies While Running (Guest Post)

It started as a joke.

“I think I’ll shake things up tomorrow,” I told my mother on Tuesday evening. “I’m going to run around the Arboretum… in the OPPOSITE direction of my usual route.”

My reason for doing so was actually pure logistics. On my typical route, when I emerge from the UW Arboretum on the east end of Lake Wingra and pass the Vilas Zoo, there’s a massive wind tunnel that gets particularly nasty on cold days. This Tuesday, the air was so cold and the wind so strong that my nose dripped with snot, which the wind pushed back up my nose into my head, giving me a swimmer’s headache.

So the next day, I decided to get the best of the wind tunnel, running with the wind at my back instead of up my nose.

However, because I unthinkingly uttered the words “shake things up,” an idea sparked in my dear mother’s brain.

“You should write a guest post for ‘Shake it Up Thursday!’”

“No, thank you.”

But she continued to inveigle me the rest of the evening, so I eventually relented. So here I am, logging my honorary shake-it-up Wednesday for the entirety of the world wide web, at least the portion that reads this blog, which Google Analytics suggests consists of me and my mother’s dog. (Kidding, mom).

It began this morning with a notification. The Google Photo app alerted me that I was running out of storage space; I would need to either pay for more storage or free up space by deleting unwanted photos. I chose the latter, which, on a lazy holiday morning, gave me a grand excuse to lay supine in bed and stare at my phone for an hour or so.

As I was scrolling and mass-deleting (far too many photos of the same exact sunset and plants that were surely more interesting at the time), I came across… this:



And then, still scrolling, these:


Let me explain.

I started taking running selfies when I was going through a difficult time. For one, this was around two years after my college boyfriend died and I was struggling to move on. But that’s just the most sympathy-inducing cause for my distress. I was also struggling with the banal responsibilities and anxieties that come with simply living, taking care of your own life, maintaining friendships, trying to find your place in the world, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Struggles everyone deals with at some point or another; struggles that aren’t as pitied as grief.

Regardless, I was feeling very down about myself. I wanted a turnaround. I wanted to feel more comfortable in my own skin — even during the lows. Especially during the lows. It’s easy to feel good about yourself when you have a banging hair day and you’re wearing a sweet dress that brings compliments from strangers and a unicorn leaps down from the sky to offer you a lift to work. It’s harder when you’re feeling dejected and lonely and staring in the mirror at a pillow-squished face, ragged from sleep.

Running has always been a great healer for me. It has served as an escape, a salve, a struggle, a victory. An obliviator of hangovers (most of the time). An opportunity to explore a new area and discover the cracks in the map of my own home. A mental oasis perfectly primed for pondering. A laxative. An endorphin rush. A sweat-cleanse. Often it’s the only way I can truly get out of my head.


Me to me: Stop it, brain!!!

So why the running selfies? I wanted to embrace the lows. I wanted to embrace the makeup-less, sweaty, red-faced, messy-haired version of me — often the happiest version of me — and memorialize it. To transform this chaotic, unfiltered self into a foundation strong enough to hold up everything else.

Thus began this project. I would snap a selfie when I felt a moment of elation, like running hard to the top of a hill or turning around to see a sunrise. Or I would take a pic when I felt like stopping but pushed myself to keep going. Or when I simply remembered that I was running, I was there, I got out of bed, I got out of my head.


It wasn’t very pretty (and you should see some of the photos that didn’t make it into this post). But it felt good, even when everything else felt bad.

Somewhere along the way from then to now, I stopped taking running selfies. I forgot.

I’m pretty sure that’s a good sign. Life has improved many ways. It’s still a struggle at times, but I think (I hope) I’ve learned how to deal with it better.

Today, for my REAL shake it up, I remember. You’re welcome, mom.


Trying not to trip over long grasses in the Arboretum today. Warning: please selfie safely.

PS: Here’s what it looked like with the wind at my back on my reverse-route:


The new Mohawk.




Still Shaking It Up

I haven’t written in a few weeks. I am still shaking things up on Thursdays, and it turns out that others are doing the same. My friend at work, Karla, has been wearing skirts on Thursdays. So I decided to wear a skirt this week, and it turns out that she did not!! Oh well, maybe next week.

I did try going back to doing things using my non-dominant arm. I am pretty left-handed, and I have been trying to do more right handed. I now have become a right handed stapler! And believe it or not, I do a good amount of stapling during the day.    🙂


I wish I had a pink stapler!

So keep trying to find things to do differently on Thursdays. It is good for the brain!


Shake It Up Thursday on a larger scale….

I realized that I have incorporated many new things into my routine as a result of Shake It Up Thursday. Last Thursday I played the accordion at work, which has very nicely become part of my usual routine. I now play my accordion every third Thursday prior to dinner, and I have even been put on the activities schedule!!

I decided that I really need to be doing more — not just to shake things up on a personal level, but to speak up and have my voice be heard. So today for the first time, I contacted one of my state senators to state my opinion on an upcoming vote. You can say that this senator is going to vote a certain way regardless of my input, so why bother sending an email. But if I just comment to those around me, I really have not done anything beneficial.



Shaking It Up by Having A New Routine

So you may remember that I have started to play the accordion — it has sort of taken over my life, but I am OK with that. I do still find time to sew, so life is good…..

A number of weeks ago I needed to bring my accordion into work, because you can’t leave an accordion in a car. It will get too hot, and it isn’t good for the instrument. So I had mentioned to someone in the activities department at work that I was going to have my instrument, and she set me up as actual entertainment! My first gig!!

Since I am having lessons every third Thursday — well you can see where I am going with this…..  I have since played a second time at work on a Thursday. I have my list of songs that are good for singing along, and I do take requests! I actually got a few requests for next time – On Wisconsin and The Yellow Rose of Texas.

So this Thursday will be my next accordion mini-concert, as my publicist (!) refers to my 15 minute concert.

So on other topics, a friend at work decided to Shake It Up last Thursday by wearing a skirt and top to work! It is fun that this impacts others as well. And I did put different toppings on my salad this past Thursday.

Remember to continue to Shake It Up!!




Shake It Up by going back to the usual

So what’s new? I continue to try to do different things on Thursdays – some weeks are more successful than others.

So this Thursday I decided to do things that have been part of my routine in the past, but that I haven’t done in awhile — for example writing my blogpost!!  I started the day by going for a run. That is not terribly out of the ordinary, but I did take Sunny for a short walk after I got back home.

I decided to eat strictly plant based today – also something that I have not done as much lately. No meat, no dairy, no eggs. LOTS of vegetables and other yummy foods.

What else was different?  I actually spent the evening sewing. My accordion practicing has taken over my sewing time, so it was nice to spend the evening working on a sewing project. I am making a fanny pack; however, waist pack sounds much more sophisticated.   🙂



Work in progress.


Have a great day!!



Shake It Up by Playing the Accordion

I haven’t posted in awhile. Turns out I have more followers, which I find a bit intimidating, but so be it. As they say, Just do it. Oh wait, that is probably a different blog……

So if you really want to Shake It Up, go for the gusto! I started accordion lessons, and I purchased a beautiful black Titano accordion. This has become more than just a Thursday thing, since I am practicing about an hour everyday.

So why the accordion? I have always been drawn to accordion music. My grandfather had one in his basement — my brother and I are not sure why he had one. I think someone left it in the taxi he drove back in the 60’s. Nobody really played it, but it was there. As an adult I have managed to find accordion players wherever I travel. My not-very-musical ear is somehow drawn to the sound of the instrument.

My midlife crisis purchase was a sewing machine, and now for my this landmark birthday it is an accordion. At any rate, it is cheaper than a Porsche!

So what did I do this past Thursday? I tried to keep things light at work. I told a few jokes that at least I thought were funny. Just generally had a nice pleasant day. And of course, at the end of the day I practiced my accordion!!!




My beautiful accordion!