Around the world in . . . as long as it takes

At a court hearing on Friday, November 9, 2012, I legally changed my name to the one I originally inherited from my father. It had been 36 years, two marriages and two divorces since I’ve had that name. Two questions have been asked of me, related to my name change:

Tomboy Tam in court

Tomboy Tam awaits the judge who will approve her petition for name change.

Why now?

I started thinking about returning to my original name as a new sense of self-identity emerged in the years during and following my second divorce, six years ago. My journey of self-discovery included exploring who I am aside from being a wife, mother, daughter, sister and employee. I assumed some of those roles without much conscious examination of how to perform the roles in the context of me, the individual. For most of my life, I defined “me” by who I was to other people and what they expected of me.

Today, I select and create my relationships and roles based on how well they complement who I am today and how they will grow with me as I continue to evolve. So the short answer is – I want my name to reflect the independently strong, self-centered individual I am today. (Why has the term “self-centered” come to have a negative connotation?!) From a self-centered place, I can receive and give love, friendship and value with integrity and joy.

Have I come full circle?

Someone recently used the term “full circle” to describe my return to my maiden name. However, just as Phileas Fogg returned to London a changed man after the high adventure and life experience of traveling Around the World in Eighty Days, I am not the same person with the same dreams, perceptions and expectations as I was 36 years ago. Thank goodness – because I don’t want to star in my own rendition of the film Groundhog Day!

Changing my name is a symbolic and tangible acknowledgement of who I am today – the result of my own thoughts, intentions and purpose, and all the people and experiences that have helped me evolve to this point. I am grateful for each and every one of them, as each is a thread in the beautiful fabric of my being: soft and strong; adventurous and thoughtful; resilient and vulnerable; resourceful and humble; enterprising and inviting; generously giving and abundantly receiving.

Food for thought:

  • What movie or book title best describes your journey to a positively self-centered way of being? 
  • Have you acknowledged life journey milestones with symbolic or tangible ceremonies or acts? 

Have a great day!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Dear employer: it’s time for your performance review!

It’s a good time for me to make a list of the things I want to receive from my employer or client. I am developing new communications consulting clients and simultaneously exploring a few select “permanent” employment opportunities. Such a list will help my new manager or client and me evaluate whether we are a good fit for each other. Here is my first draft.

What I want to receive from my employer and manager

Reward me with generous, competitive compensation that reflect the type, level and complexity of the work I do and the value I add. Even if the economic environment has impacted your compensation curve, be creative and involve me in negotiation to arrive at a compensation structure that meets both our needs.

Support my career development. Give me increasingly higher visibility projects and more responsibility. Suggest “extra-curricular” activities inside or outside the company that will help me develop. Support my professional association involvement and education. Keep your eyes open for possible advancement opportunities for me elsewhere in the company. Give me formal and informal feedback frequently – no surprises at annual review time! Ask my internal and external customers for input on my performance. Offer me earned raises, promotions and titles before I ask for them.

Walk the talk of trust and integrity. The company’s vision and values establish high standards for ethical behavior, business practices and respect for team members. Company leaders and managers walk the company talk. Believe that I will represent you and our group with integrity. Allow me to work without micromanagement. Give me the credit I deserve for my work, even when I’m not in the room. Recognize me formally and informally for small and large accomplishments.

Offer and expect flexibility – trust me to manage my time and deliverables honestly. Don’t require rigid start and stop times or hours. Support me working from home or other remote location when the job can be accomplished successfully from there.

Respect my personal time. In other words, don’t send me email messages at night and on weekends, as it establishes a culture of never disconnecting from work. Or at least don’t expect me to answer your messages at those times. Support me in taking all the paid time off that I’ve earned. Manage our workload such that work weeks that are more than 40-45 hours are the exception, not the rule.

Nurture a friendly, healthy, FUN culture by caring about my needs, at work and to some extent, my personal life. Communicate as early and as much as you can about company and leadership strategies and changes. Make an effort to ask me how my kids are doing, how I spent my vacation and what sports teams I cheer for. Encourage me to take a lunch break, work out and eat well by setting the model for that behavior. Connect me with my teammates and partners within and outside our group. Lead a little bit of goofing off and laughter to relieve stress, reset perspectives and improve productivity.

In my past experience, interview time or evaluation time is primarily about my skills, experience, scope of responsibilities and how well I performed them. Through my personal growth, I’ve learned that to be a truly outstanding employee, I have to be a happy one. And to be happy, I need my career to support my lifestyle, not the opposite.

  • What is (or will be) on your list of what you want to receive from your employer?
  • Can you see yourself talking to your manager or an interviewer about your list? Why or why not?
  • Do you think I’m crazy to have such a list, when so many people are still desperate for a job – any job? 

Thanks for your feedback!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 5, and finale of leg 1, 2012-2013 winter motorcycle adventure

We were awake and on the hotel shuttle well before sunrise this morning to catch Delta’s 7 a.m. flight back to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Good-bye 90 degrees, hello . . . oh! Sunny and 50 degrees was a kind transition back to the real world! Thank you, Mother Nature!

Sorry to have left 90 degrees back in Arizona

My sweetheart (SH) was off and running to work and I sat down at my computer to check flights for the next leg of our winter motorcycle adventure in a couple of months. The plan is that every 6 to 8 weeks throughout the winter we will fly to the city where our bikes are stored and ride over a long weekend to another warm city, gradually bringing the bikes back to Minnesota by the end of April or early May, weather being the key determining factor to the timeline and route. I am SO excited to explore some more beautiful new (to me!) territory in this great country!

I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for my partner in adventure and life. SH and I partner so well on the planning and the execution of our adventures. We collaborate on ideas for where, when and how to travel; he does most of the route planning and hotel booking, I usually book the flights, if they are part of the itinerary. We get feedback from each other before making final arrangements.

We are also very compatible travel companions; we’ve often traveled up to 10 days together, 24/7, with barely a sharp word between us.  I really think the principles in my October 17 post, One must be great before Two can be better, provide the basis for our easygoing interaction with each other. And we have both “been around the block” a few times, and have sincerely and authentically applied our learnings to our personal growth and to our selection of a partner. AND, quite frankly, we are past the point in life when we let so many stressors impact our relationship – kids, finances, career demands, competing values, interests and ideas. I think we both gave up the overpowering need to be RIGHT a long time ago, too! Even though life can be crazy, and we still have stressors (granted, being awake with a teething baby all night is not one of them!) we make time with each other a priority.

Another great adventure! Here, I’m with one of my sisters in the Bahamas a couple of years ago.

I am also grateful for the other great travel companions in my life — I’ve had really fun times with sisters, brothers and girlfriends. I’m entertaining a few ideas for adventures with them in the coming year as well. In fact, I’m thinking of creating some Tomboy Sisterhood adventure travel events for like-minded women!

  • Do you have any great travel companions? If so, where have you gone and what have you done on those trips? 
  • What hasn’t worked well, when traveling with them?
  • Where would you like to go in the future with a girlfriend or group of friends? 

I’m off to dream about fun and adventure! You?

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 4, leg 1, 2012-2013 winter motorcycle adventure

One of the really cool things about riding a motorcycle on the back roads of America is seeing the awesome landscapes of this beautiful country. Another cool thing is that the flow of my thoughts are often as much of a rush as the wind on my face! One of those thoughts today was about why I enjoy riding. Learning to ride and continuing to develop my riding skills keeps me pushing against the edges of my comfort zone.

The benefits of expanding my comfort zone related to motorcycling shows up in other areas of my life. The confidence, excitement and competencies I’ve gained spill over to my career, relationships and other activities I attempt and ultimately master. Even the set-backs are learning experiences that help me grow. I like being a little bit of a pioneer, carving out my unique personality, accomplishments and contribution to this world. My grandmother and Georgia O’Keeffe are just two of the many women who I admire for their modeling of the “can-do, even if many others wouldn’t attempt this” attitude I aspire to.

My sweetheart (SH) and I started today with a quick breakfast at the hotel in Lake Havasu City, before rolling down the highway in bright sunshine and crisp air at 59 degrees. We stopped in for coffee at the Early Bird Cafe in Parker, AZ. The landscape in this area is other-worldly, with very sharp mountains (hence the nearby city named Needles, CA) and desolate desert flat land leading right up to the peaks. The region has it’s own lonely sort of beauty, but I can’t imagine living in one of the sun-bleached trailers that are so common along the highway, with nothing but brown sand and a few cactus breaking the monotony of the geography.

We had lunch at the Gold Nugget in Wickenburg, AZ, which is a cute, busy town with lots of restaurants and shops. Couldn’t resist having a mocha for dessert at the Bedoian’s Bakery & Bistro while we checked emails and reviewed the map for the final stretch of our journey. The landscape in this area has a little more vegetation and even some farmland, including an orchard we saw along the highway.

We hit Phoenix / Tempe about 2:30, dropped off our bags at the Best Western and headed over to Public Storage where SH had arranged for storage of our bikes until Leg 2 of our winter adventure. Our route today included: 95 South to 72 East to 60 East and 74 East, which were all secondary highways before hitting freeways for the last several miles –  17 South, then East on I-10. Lots of sun and the temp broke 90 degrees again today.

Back to Minnesota tomorrow!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 3, Leg 1, winter 2012-2013 motorcycle adventure

Another great day of adventure, although it’s hard to remember this is the first leg of a winter adventure, given the temps we’ve been enjoying in California and Arizona! My sweetheart (SH) and I stopped at our favorite Starbucks in Redondo Beach for a latte, and then I had my favorite huevos quesadilla (with corn tortillas substituted for flour to convert to gluten-free) at one of our “usual” spots when we go to visit Uncle Walter — Redondo Beach Cafe. We got a bit of a late start, due to some challenges filling tires with air and the tanks with gas, but nevertheless, we headed east on the 91 freeway at about 9:50 a.m., enjoying the 73 degree temperature.

Our path included: 60 east to I-10 to 62 North, lunch in 29 Palms, CA. Then Adobe Road north to Route 66 to Needles, then I-10 to AZ 95 South to Lake Havasu City. Love the history of old Route 66, and it’s a little sad to see all the abandoned businesses and towns along that route. This is truly desert country!

The temperature got to 92 degrees at one point (hot for us, cooler for the locals!) I had a reunion with my cousin Dave, whom I haven’t seen in – I’m guessing – 30 years, at dinner in Lake Havasu City.

We put about 340 miles today – between the heat and the distance, I’m tired, but it’s a satisfied tired! I’m reflecting on the desolation of the desert landscape, wondering about who lives in the middle of nowhere in this at-times inhospitable climate and environment, and why they are here. How do they make their living? What are the relationships between far-flung neighbors? I saw one sign that said “Next services 90 miles.” WOW, that is remote, even for this North Dakota-born girl!

Until tomorrow,

Tomboy Tam

Day 2, Leg 1, Winter 2012-2012 motorcycle adventure

A truly beautiful day in LA – from an delightful morning with the beautiful daughter of dear friends at the Coffee Bean on Figueroa and Exposition to an inspiring afternoon at Uncle Walter’s 103rd birthday party in Torrance to a sunset ride and walk with my sweetheart in Palos Verdes and Redondo Beach. Oh, and the weather was great too!

I have a lot to be grateful for!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 1, leg 1 of our winter 2012-2013 Motorcycle Adventure

Exactly two years ago this month I passed the exam on a Suzuki 250 to get my first-ever motorcycle license at the age of 52. I had ridden with my sweetheart (SH) on his bike for 2 years, and before that I can remember being on a motorcycle only once before in my life. Although I do remember riding my uncle’s “mini bike” a few times when I was a kid. I bought a 1989 Yamaha Virago 750 and rode about it about 2,000 miles last summer.

Today, I rode my Honda ST1300 on the LA freeway (OMG!) to begin what will be a multi-leg winter motorcycle adventure. I’ve ridden this bike, which I bought earlier this year, about 6,000 miles so far this summer. I NEVER dreamed I would take on THIS new interest and live the adventures SH and I have enjoyed the past few years. Yet, here I am – loving it!

We shipped our two motorcycles to Los Angeles on a division of Allied Van Lines a couple weeks ago. Today we flew to Ontario, CA, via Denver, on United Airlines. Once in Ontario, we took the Supershuttle to the warehouse where the bikes were waiting for us. We mounted up and headed to Torrance, CA, on the 91 Freeway. After a quick lunch at Panera, we stopped in to visit SH’s Uncle Walter. We plan to attend this witty, delightful 103-year-old’s birthday party tomorrow. But first, we’ll drive Walter’s car to LA to have coffee and enjoy a visit with the daughter (who is a senior at USC) of dear friends in the Twin Cities (Minnesota).

Tune in again tomorrow for Day 2, Leg 1 report, and some details about where we go from here!  I’d love to hear from you!

  • What are the grandest adventures you have enjoyed?
  • What do you dream of doing?

Have a great weekend!

Love, Tomboy Tam

All gain, no pain – diary of a mid-life Celiac diagnosis

I never saw it coming – the significant weight gain in the months after I stopped eating gluten (products with wheat, barley and rye ingredients or contamination). So while the pain and life-changing symptoms of Celiac disease subsided, my relief was marred by a swift transition out of my jeans and into sweat pants!

The dietician I consulted following my Celiac diagnosis said that weight gain is common after Celiacs ditch gluten.  Primarily because once the small intestine recovers from the damage caused by gluten, it starts absorbing the food instead of . . . well, you can imagine “instead of!”

In other words, I had become accustomed to eating larger quantities than a healthy body should need in order to maintain or lose weight, as I had been. The “significant” part of the gain was active denial. I was eating healthy foods! I had given up bread, pasta, most desserts and my favorite German comfort foods! I had recently started working out regularly! I couldn’t be gaining weight – it’s not fair! Maybe my personal and family history of thyroid issues caused it!

So it went for 21 months, 30 pounds and a few half-hearted attempts to get the situation under control.

About six weeks ago, I finally tackled head-on the current reality of how my body is wired. I chose to make my wellness a priority to ensure my physical condition can keep up with the active lifestyle I enjoy so much. I intend to be an active, adventurous 100-year-old tomboy! That will only be possible if I am an active, adventurous and healthy 53-year-old.

It’s not rocket science. My renewed commitment to wellness includes an app, food, exercise and support:

MyFitnessPal.com – a free but priceless online and mobile app that tracks calories, exercise and nutritional information. In my opinion, its features and usability are better than a well-know membership program I subscribed to for several months.

Nutrition – in addition to strictly eliminating gluten, I eat very little processed food, choose organic whenever possible and maintain a balance of veggies, protein, fruit and carbs, in about that order of quantities (also tracked by MyFitnessPal). I also consult with Dr. Tom at Spicer Wellness on a regimen of natural supplements that has helped rebalance my body’s systems and give my metabolism a good swift kick-start. And I cook and bake more of my meals myself, so I know exactly what I’m eating and can enjoy the occasional treat.

Exercise – I’ve committed to working out at least 30 minutes, five times a week. Some days it’s a half hour walk or dancing in my living room. At least once a week it’s 30 minutes of Krank Cycle and 60 minutes of Reformer Pilates at Revolution Cycle and Fitness. I work out because it supports my lifestyle, not because I love working out. However, I do like how it makes me feel – strong, in control of my body, sexy and proud that I am in the best physical condition of my adult life.

Support – several of my family members share our wellness successes and challenges and cheer each other on through an email chain. MyFitnessPal also has a social media feature that allows me to add friends, get updates on their progress and comment on them. And my sweetheart consistently supports and participates in my menu and workout choices.

Gaining perspective, not pounds

When I approached my fitness program from the perspective of what I want to GAIN (active lifestyle and feeling good) instead of what I want to LOSE  (extra pounds, tight clothing, etc.) I became much more positive and started thinking about what I could do, instead of what I could not. Seems like such a simple shift in mindset wouldn’t matter much, but the jeans I wore yesterday tell a different story!  I’ll soon be saying “Good-bye sweat pants!”

  • What activities or lifestyle benefits have you gained (or do you want to gain) from wellness priorities?
  • What tips and tools can you share for supporting your wellness program?

I’ve got some tomboy fun to plan and a suitcase to pack – catch you later!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Dialing up the fun factor

I am seriously committed to incorporating fun into my daily life. Every week, I have at least one fun event planned with friends and/or family members, and bigger adventures are on my calendar almost every month. I love how much fun I have! On a scale of 0 – 10, with 10 being the most fun you can imagine, I’d say my average annual fun factor has been an 8 or 9 for the past three years. I’m reserving “10” for those years when I do the once-in-a-lifetime adventures that are on my list!

There was a long period in my life when my fun factor hovered between 2 and 5. My “reasons” for infrequent fun were many. I was too busy; I didn’t have enough time or money; I didn’t have anyone to do things with; I was waiting for my husband to return from working out of town or to be interested in the fun that appealed to me; I couldn’t leave my kids; I was overwhelmed by the amount of work at the office and at home; I would do that “someday.”  Need I go on? Are you convinced – as I was – that I was a helpless victim of a dull, stressful life fraught with the absence of fun?

Notice the word that started every reason above – I.  Today, I hereby proclaim that the only one keeping me from having the fun I wanted was – you guessed it – me! Over the coming weeks, I’ll share with you my evolution into the adventurous, fun-filled tomboy life that I currently lead. And as soon as I figure out how to post a photo gallery on a blog page, I’ll share an album of images that document that evolution.

Here’s a huge hint about my upcoming adventure that starts this weekend and will continue throughout the winter. Yes, I said WINTER.

In the meantime, I’m going to tease you a little bit by telling you that I’m starting an exciting adventure this weekend in Los Angeles, Calif. Part of the fun will be blogging about it every step of the way, so you can join me in the adventure! Now be honest:

  • What is your average annual fun factor rating (0 – 10) for the past 12 months?
  • What do you do (or dream of doing) for fun?
  • If your fun factor is less than 8, what are your reasons for not having a higher fun factor?

I challenge you to have at least five minutes of fun – right now! Seriously, even if it’s five minutes of writing a list of the fun things you want to do, it will put a smile on your face, start the adrenalin flowing and next thing you know, your fun factor is already ticking up!

Love, Tomboy Tam