Vacation recap.

Thought of it as a perfect picture to start my vacation post!

Thought of it as perfect picture to start my vacation post

My husband Slava and I just went to Dominican Republic for some alone time, sunshine, beach and new adventures. DR is not a new vacation destination for me. Back in 2006 my friend Olga and I went on a crazy weekend together, literally spent 3 nights there and came back! Why would somebody fly out of the country to only spend 3 nights? The answer is my job and crazy schedules I work. We met her friends there, drank all day long and even took a trip on a pirate ship to some remote island. All in all it was crazy awesome, we laughed a whole lot and brought back bottles of rum and some questionable massage oil. Oh, and something called Mama Juana. Apparently, it is an aphrodisiac, but I don’t remember it living up to the hype.

This time my husband and I were going to meet his sister and DR is very Russian tourist friendly due to a simplified visa process. The trip didn’t work out for his sister, but did for us, so we went!

On Friday, January 4th we drove to Tulsa to spend the night to fly out bright and early in the morning. We stayed at one of the airport hotels with park-n-fly option to make our return as smooth as possible. Whole Foods hot bar dinner went very well with a bottle of Merlot and some truffle cheese that night, we even watched a movie in the room, some flick that had to do with a phone sex company and 2 girls being very successful at that. It was a legitimate, just out of theaters movie, nothing naughty, I promise!

Our flight to Punta Cana was very pleasant and before we knew it we were greeted by good looking Dominican girls wearing national costumes in the airport. My 2006 memories about the country included a shady taxi service and a quick drive through ruins and trash on the side of the road, but there have been a lot of improvement in the way things appeared and felt in 2013.

We arrived to Barcelo resort around 3 pm to our first surprise: our check in representative was Russian ! Just like that I felt back in my country as the guy wasn’t even trying to make us feel good or doing anything extra special, just half-ass doing his prescribed minimum. Typical customer service Russian style.

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Our chairs

With room keys in hand we entered this crazy world of summer in the middle of winter, and so much more. My day would start with a treadmill run at a very hot and humid hotel gym. Once I ventured out of the hotel and ran outside, but the running temperature wasn’t much better , plus running in proximity to bushes and jungle made me all anxious, so I stopped. After my run I would quickly shower, wake up my husband Slava and we would have a leisurely breakfast at one of the buffet style restaurants. Portion sizes were outrageous, and somehow I returned home weighing 1 pound less. May be running 3 miles and swimming 2 hours a day had something to do with it. After breakfast we would become beach bodies until 1 pm. The beach was beautiful, the water was borderline cold right when you enter, but after a few minutes of swimming it felt just fine. At noon I would take part in beach aerobics, a pretty vigorous session of jumping jacks, lunges and other challenging moves, good workout actually. Once done with that, I felt free to indulge in as many rum cokes as humanly possible. Then quick stop at the hotel room to shower and have a beer, then lunch. Yes, buffet style, leisurely, guilt inducing.

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Beach

After lunch we would go back to the beach for dance lessons, followed by swimming for an hour. Almost forgot! We had our siesta in the lobby bar every day, it was our favorite activity – have a post lunch drink and find comfort in one of those lounge chairs for a quick nap. We called them “petals” due to a peculiar shape and extreme comfort. Still remember psychedelic lobby bar music, so fun to just lay there hidden from sun rays, under breezy conditions, warm and relaxed. My husband said I snored a few times out of sheer relaxation. How embarrassing!

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Sunset. Instagrammed!

4 out of 7 dinners were at specialty restaurants. All I remember was thinking “these people don’t even come close to any chain restaurant in USA“. But we managed to eat well and ended up ordering a bottle of wine with each dinner out as Dominican wine is CRAP, impossible to drink even it was the last wine left on Earth after nuclear catastrophe. Drinks in general were pretty weak, but if you have 5 of them a day it works out pretty good!

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Feeling VERY relaxed

The weather was divine with only one rainy day, or should I say rainy hour? Slava and I spent the hour splashing each other and swimming. Before we knew it the sun popped out again and stayed for the rest of the day.

Once we walked on the beach into the sunset and reached a fairly wild jungle, took a million of pictures, but being outside the US makes me worry about weird things like kidnapping and organ harvesting, you know? I was glad when we reached our beautiful and safe hotel grounds :)

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Our last morning

We had a great time, however, comparing this vacation with our favorite Florida destination, Florida definitely wins! Pristine water and white sandy beaches of Destin, great times we had  feeling safe and at home, going anywhere with no fear, cooking our own food or going out to eat exactly what we wanted – that’s the best vacation in my book.

Destin :)

Destin :)

I am very thankful for being able to just take off and go to far away lands. We did enjoy our trip and there are many reasons for it. I think the most important one is – my husband and I have fun together no matter where we go!

Crazy face

Crazy face

See ya later!

Liza

How I became a runner

I am asked this question a lot. People who know me also KNOW there is no way I would enjoy running or anything related to it. Yet, I have been a runner for 1 year and 8 months and still seem happy to indulge in this activity solidly 4-6 times a week. 

It all started with me being lazy. Yes, I am not kidding. I was thinking about activity that would involve the least amount of effort to “get to it”. Like to play tennis you have to buy a racket, cute little skirt, cute little top, cute little ball, etc. With running basically you have to put something on and go out for a run (at least in the early, pre-Garmin and what ever else is cool stages). That part I liked. What I didn’t like about running is the running part. I knew for a fact that every time I run I feel out of breath immediately and want to stop and never be a runner again. Also I knew thousands, even millions of people run successfully for longer than 30 sec and seem to do OK with that. A couple of ladies at work claimed to be runners and looked pretty normal to me, some of them were even a little overweight! That was encouraging and exciting at the same time. I downloaded a couch to 5K program to my IPhone, the next morning I told my mom we are going for a run and that’s how it started. 

The main idea behind any program that teaches you to start running is to go through manageable work outs that increase in intensity as you move along. It also incorporates rest periods to recover and repair your muscles and joints. Previously I would decide to go for a run and just fun FAST for as long as I can. Needless to say I couldn’t run for longer than 1 min. With C25K the workout was 30 min long from the very beginning and seemed almost easy to do with all the run-walk periods that were measured just perfectly. The length of this program is 9 weeks. When you graduate you will be able to run non-stop for 30 min, pretty close to 5K distance-wise.

The answer to the question in the beginning of this entry is this: I became a runner with the help of C25K program as thousands of other runners did. The idea of going slowly never crossed my mind. Now I know slow takes you far, it takes you to a few half-marathons and I am sure a marathon one day! 

My own happiness tips

Here is what works for me.

1. Don’t fight the nature of your hair. If it is curly, leave it alone.

2. Open and sort mail on the spot.

3. Answer e-mails the moment you open them.

4. Track your spending and so be it.

5. Pay yourself first. Everyone has heard about it, but easier said than done.

6. Be modest. Be frugal. Frugal is good.

7. Have 3 pairs of shoes and wear them! Take the rest of your shoe wardrobe to a Goodwill store.

8. Have 30 bottles of perfume. That is about right.

9. Wear simple clothes and very few simple jewelry pieces. That takes sweating over an outfit out of the question!

10. Eat healthy. Work out. Don’t skip more than 2 days in a row.

11. Don’t drink alcohol in the morning, even if you work a night shift :)

12. Meet your friends regularly.

13. Talk to your daughter about what is important to HER.

14. Listen to your husband’s stories without interrupting.

15. Come up with new funny words and write them down.

16. Maintain online journal.

17. Read your friends’ online journals and Facebook statuses to keep up to date.

18. Thank your mother for everything.

19. Call your grandmother at least once a month.

20. Cook your own food.

21. Have a cat to love. Take his pictures at least 3 times a day.

22. Travel with family. Experiences are more important than Stuff.

23. Work hard and help others.

24. Meditate.

25. Be in LOVE.

New purpose

I am turning this blog into a personal journal. Lately, there has been a lot on my mind and I really need to channel it through somewhere somehow. My writing skills leave more to be desired, my photos are non-existent, yet I like reading posts about my family and me, so I will continue with this project. Last time I wrote was in July. Have  I had many changes in my life since then? Not really. The same job, the same husband (lol), the same life. Midlife crisis is getting the best out of me. Long gone is a carefree person I used to be… Now I am pre-occupied with mainly 2 things – college choice for my daughter and making my life less complicated. We applied to University of Pennsylvania for an early decision, which means if on December 12th we find out they accepted my beautiful, bright child, that’s where she will spend  the next 4-5 years. It also means  I will have to cough up a serious amount of tuition money and my life promises to never be the same!

I am planning to un-complicate and de-clutter my life as much as possible. Number one on the agenda was to resign the medical director job and just be a doctor. The best decision I have EVER made :) It is like a ton of bricks being lifted off my shoulders. So. Much. Better!

I stopped training and just started running. I threw away all of my “fat” clothes. I stopped obsessing about computer and phone. I started calling people and stopped hiding behind voice mail and text messages. I went to a gay club :)

 

 

 

 

 

What makes me happy

It’s little things in life, right?

As I grow older, I no longer make huge plans or pursue ambitious goals. For so many years it has been about next week, next month, next year –  something exciting was going to happen, I felt I was living somebody else’s life.

These days I still make plans and have To-Do lists, but try to pause and think and be present today and now.

My job is important. My family is also very important. It used to be while checking e-mail and tried to have a conversation with my husband and missed half of what he was saying. Now e-mail gets checked 2-3 times a day and most of the time I  can repeat every little detail of our family conversations because I pay attention!

Yesterday I made it to our local Farmers Market after work. 12 night-time hours at a busy hospital is no joke, and often I can’t wait to drive myself home and go to bed. Well, I drove myself to a cute little market instead, ran into my friends Marina and Igor, we chatted for a minute, caught up on something unimportantly-important :).

Sunshine in my face, breeze in my hair, heavy bags of fresh fruits and veggies, my mom greeting me at the door, totally surprised I didn’t bail out at the last moment.

Then I had a naughty thought of adding a little Irish Mist into my morning cup of tea. What’s a night shift girl to do when she needs a Happy Hour?!

Irish Mist was the best idea ever. It put me to sleep for solid 8 hours. Ahh, exactly what I needed.

Last night at work was fabulous. Of course, I will pay for it tonight, but I did enjoy a few hours of peace and quiet in my call room which almost never happens.

Morning coffee and bagel at Panera Bread. Loved the smell of freshly baked breads and pastries. At home a decision was made to bake pumpkin muffins, somehow my trip to Panera made me think of Thanksgiving and I all of a sudden started craving pumpkin, allspice, cinnamon and color yellow :)

Facebook updated, blog post written, I am sleepy now.

Good night!

Life is wonderful :)

What I ate today

Hey,

I thought it would be important to document what I ate today :)

Breakfast:

Nonexistent. Due to my circadian rhythms gone crazy. Went to bed at 4:30 am, woke up at 11:51 am. Watermelon galore!

Lunch. 3 pm. Beet Borscht, cooked by my friend Marina. 2 slices of rye bread, Earth Balance and some very awesome Salty Greek Cheese. More watermelon. 3 peaches from Farmers Market.

Dinner. Blue Tortilla Chips with Amy’s salsa. Homemade quesadilla with beans, onions and cheese. SIERRA NEVADA!!!! My new fav beer. Almost forgot – $6.99/bottle Mad Housewife Chardonnay, 1 glass, while making dinner. Husband had Julia Child’s Beef and Onions braised in beer plus mashed potatoes.

Snack: 1 “no bake coconut & chocolate chip cookie dough ball” from http://www.loveveggiesandyoga.com.

Workout: floated in my pool, only 3rd time this season, such a waste of pool!

Good Night!

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A random thought

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Not too long ago one of my hospitalized patients said he needed a different primary care doctor when he is discharged. His current doctor is one of the best in the community and yet, something just didn’t work out. And what didn’t work out was the doctor’s health. He recently had a coronary bypass surgery and the patient simply said “how can I trust him with my health if he can’t even help himself?” I had absolutely nothing to say in response.

I started thinking about our responsibilities as health care workers and how our behavior and even physical appearance affects the patients. How much trust do you have in a physician who is overweight and who tells you to lose weight to feel better? What if your doctor has heart disease and requires an open heart surgery? What do patients think of nurses who return from smoking breaks with cigarette smell on their clothes? How do they feel going to a restaurant and seeing their home health nurse drinking excessively?

One patient told me the call light response was slow in our hospital because it takes longer for an overweight nurse to walk to his room.

Patients are smart to figure out double standards and immediately your credibility goes down. As a part of healthcare team we have to strive not only for superior training, but also look and feel up to par. If we are in a position of advising sick people what to do, we have to be pretty darn perfect ourselves. That means no smoking breaks and no donuts at the nursing station :) Interestingly enough, there is research showing that doctors who have normal weight are more likely to give weight reduction counseling than their overweight peers. This means our practice patterns are affected by our weight! This is serious stuff.

Today I was aimlessly surfing blogs and found a video on time management. The presenter was morbidly obese and I couldn’t help, but wonder – if he is so good at giving lectures on how to manage time, why doesn’t he manage to squeeze some exercise in?! Anyway, the presentation was very good, but I do have a strange feeling about my own feelings during it. And by the way, I don’t think I used to pay attention to such things a year ago.

The End.