A bit about me at 50

By | Posted September 1, 2020

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Today is my 50th birthday.  I wrote a long post about myself already on IG, but being me, I had more to say.

This isn’t how I wanted to celebrate my birthday.  At all.

Lance and I do trips not presents, so I don’t even have that to look forward to today.

I managed to run though and that was incredible.  Okay, incredible is a bit much, but it was really good.  I then spent about 90 minutes sitting in the back of my car listening to my top 40 birthday mix.  It was kind of nice.  Honestly, I didn’t even want to go home.

This is such a Nikki thing, writing 50 things about myself.  In no particular order, here are 50 things about me or that I think or like or have learned or whatever.

  • My name is Nicole Villegas Zierlein, but I was born Denise Nicole Villegas, began going by Nikki by the time I was 5 until I met Lance.  Now I mostly go by Nicole, but love when new people call me Nikki.
  • I love talking.  I mean, love it.  I would choose talking in person or over the phone over texting any day of the week.  I’ve always been like this.  Ask any ex -boyfriend how long I would keep them on the phone.
  • I’m a hugger.  The worst part of this pandemic is not being able to hug everyone. I grew up hugging people way before it became a thing and I miss it so much.
  • I became a runner 7 years ago. It’s wild how much I love running.  I’ve always been a group exercise class person, but running is what I want to do.  I love being alone and in my own head.  I daydream, listen to music though lately it’s been all podcasts for me.  I relish that time and when I’m injured, I get manic.
  • Yoga- if I’m surprised by how much I love running, my love for Yoga was even more of a surprise. How could something so calm without music or me sweating count as a workout? Honestly, I am not very good at it, which I’m not supposed to say, but I don’t care. I am not flexible, I can’t do half the poses, but I love it. And so does Mari. Nothing was more fun than when she was able to join me in class. I especially love the end of class when I just allow my mind to go blank.
  • I remember the first five months of yoga. I spent most of shavasana making grocery lists or running through what I needed to get done that week. And then, I was finally able to let go and just relax and not think of anything. That was the benefit of yoga I needed in my life. And honestly, if I could teach Mari one thing, it would be to let her mind just stop.
  • Travel is where it’s at for me.  Any kind of trip makes me happy, renews me. Every time we spend money on something big, my only thought is that that money could go to trips.  It doesn’t matter what kind of trip it is-solo, with other couples or with my family. Lance and I are lucky because my mom watches the kids whenever we ask, (except for that one time she broke her tibia!) I love our trips. I love running in NYC and Chicago, going to mass in Chicago, time with friends, good food.  I love sharing experiences with my kids. I would travel nonstop if that were an option.
  • My favorite thing I’ve ever done was traveling by myself across Europe. I’ve done it twice and my only regret was not doing it a third time. I love looking back at pictures and thinking of all the people I met and experiences I had.
  • I will always be obsessed about my weight.  I wish this wasn’t true, but it is what it is. I can’t imagine a time where I don’t want to lose five pounds.  Thankfully, I keep this to myself, so my kids don’t deal with my shit and get messed up because of their mom.
  • I’m Catholic. I pray and depend on the prayers of others. I love being Catholic, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have issues with the church at times. Or rather the people who make up the church.  I go to confession because I need it.  I love the Saints. It’s not always easy being Catholic, but I can’t imagine not being Catholic either.
  • I love studying other religions. One of my greatest gifts is my friend Sana who is Muslim.  We share about our faith like two kids sharing secrets. She’s the Muslim me, and I’m the Catholic her. When we learned about Islam this year, Sana gave us more information than any book we could read. Mari loves her faith.
  • I used to visit my grandparents on my own once I left for college.  There is no excuse for not seeing or calling grandparents.
  • It’s so important to spend time outside.  I’m not saying we need to go camping. I don’t think I could ever do that.  I’m just talking about being outside in the fresh air. People always comment about how much our kids play. And they do. Sure, they would play video games as long as we allowed it, but they also love to read and just be outside. They bike, play basketball, make up games etc. And me, I just want to be outside walking the block, hiking in beautiful locations, (how I wish Houston had somewhere cool to hike!) and of course, run. I’m typing outside now.  Even in this heat and humidity, I’m outside because I think the fresh air is so important.
  • The best thing I’ve ever done for my kids- reading to them and taking a real interest in their books. I’ve been reading to my kids since before they could sit up. I have a home library that is pretty big and thorough. Recently, lots of people talked about making sure your kids were reading multicultural books.  I had so many of the middle grade novels that were suggested.  I’ve taken the time to find the good books.  I still read aloud to my kids.  Mason reads a book and hands it to me to read. He gets frustrated because I don’t read as fast as him. I also don’t let my kids read way beyond their age.  I have readers, but I don’t let them read Harry Potter before 4th grade.  It’s just me, most people don’t do that, but the books get tense.  I’m actually getting ready to start my final round with Harry Potter and we will be reading the entire series aloud.  I think.
  • Speaking of reading, the absolute best middle grade series is The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place.  I would have to hide the books from Mason and Alec so they didn’t read ahead. That didn’t always work, but they always came to listen anyway.  Mason would say the best series is The Penderwicks, but I haven’t finished that yet, so maybe I’m wrong.
  • I have read so many middle grade books, that I wasn’t reading that much for myself. Like maybe two or three a year that were just for me. I’m finally back at it with 9 books over the last few months. I’m slow but loving it.
  • It’s worth paying a ton of money for certain things.  Hamilton, National Championship Games, World Series, etc.  I’m not saying miss a house payment for them, I’m just saying those were worth every single penny.
  • Sugar beats alcohol every single time.  I did a whole30 for Lent once so I didn’t drink or have sugar for 46 days.  It was miserable.  But what I missed the most?  Sugar.  I thought about sugar every single day.  Before I turned 50, I didn’t drink for 31 days and mostly cut out sugar, though not entirely.  It was so easy to stop the alcohol compared to sugar.  I am addicted, and I’m fine.  Except I gain weight which takes me back to my weight obsession.
  • I love puzzles.  I used to like doing it with the kids, but they would get bored.  During the pandemic it’s been me and my mom and it’s been a blast.
  • My deserted island food is either eggs or potatoes because you can cook them so many ways.
  • I can say you won’t see me with my hand on my hip in pictures.  Just never going to happen. I don’t know how that got started, but I refuse to contribute.
  • Sometimes no matter how much we want it, it doesn’t work out.
  • You should try to see things from another point of view. It might make you rethink things.
  • It is never too late to say you’re sorry. It won’t change what happened, but at least you did.
  • Listen. How many arguments could I have prevented if only I listened.
  • Learn to bite your tongue. I think the older I get, the better I am. I don’t always need to say what I’m thinking.
  • Politics. I generally only speak politics with people who have similar leanings.  Nobody really agrees with everything I think. I’m a pro-life democrat. There aren’t many of us. But what I’ve finally realized is that I don’t have to keep my mouth shut.  I don’t have to be shitty, but I don’t have to let others railroad me with their opinions.
  • I voted for Hillary.  Not as a lesser of two evils, but as someone who I thought would have done a good job.
  • My hero is Bryan Stevenson. My kids and I toured the Equal Justice Initiative law offices.  I always tell this story because I was just so proud of them.
  • I don’t get rattled in emergencies whether its a broken arm, blood, lost keys, I’m cool as a cucumber.  Now I do get rattled when my kids leave their stuff out.
  • I’m sort of Pollyanna about things.  I generally assume things will work out, except when it comes to something that prevents me from running. Then I worry nonstop. It’s really not my personality to just assume things will work out, but I guess I’ve learned that freaking out just doesn’t help.
  • Nothing competes with my family. I love them so much it hurts when they hurt. Do they drive me batty sometimes, of course, but I love them with everything in me.
  • Losing babies to miscarriage fucking sucks. I’ve lost five babies and by number five, I was done. I didn’t want to get pregnant again, I was mad at God. The third miscarriage was awful because it was during the National Championship game and we were at the Rose Bowl.  I had to tell Lance we were losing our baby, again, during the third quarter. I still think of them. They were girls. And I’ve given them to Mason. They are his special Saints waiting for him.
  • I think having family traditions is so important.  We have so many that are special to us- we always read the same book first during Advent. We eat out on Christmas Eve. We go to mass on Christmas Day before opening gifts. And those are just Christmas traditions.  I think it gives us a sense of family, and I hope my kids have traditions with their own families one day.
  • Facebook sucks.  Probably all social media sucks, but FB the most. When I started this blog years ago, I said I couldn’t get onboard with FB.  I did finally join, but I rarely post. Now IG, I generally love,  but at the same time, I wish I had never joined.
  • Road trips are the best. I have so much fun with my kids on the road. Generally, it’s me and my mom taking them somewhere, but I’ve taken them to Nashville and Atlanta alone. We have so much fun- we sing, we listen to books on tape, play games.  It’s my favorite thing ever.  My best road trip story is getting a flat tire three times on the way to DC over three days.  We had to replace the tire EACH TIME! It was crazy.
  • I love food. And became obsessed with the French Laundry during Law School. And finally a few years ago, we went.  It did not disappoint.  Its not my favorite Michelin star, but it was everything I dreamed of. Grace in Chicago (or rather formerly) takes the top spot as my favorite.  So far.
  • I need silence. It doesn’t happen much, but I crave it.  It’s probably why I like to run. I would love to travel alone again one day.  Not for long, but I truly loved it.
  • Kids grow way too fast. I know people hate when older moms say it, but fuck, it’s true.  I remember being the mom who always had kids with her. Now it’s just Mari and me and that’s only because I homeschool her. I was just telling the kids that Alec has two years left.  How did it happen?
  • I love the baby stage to age four. Which sucks because I don’t have any kids that age anymore!
  • Teaching my kids to read was the best thing ever. I lost my patience once.  It was so traumatic to me that I still remember it.  It doesn’t mean that I never lost my patience with my kids again, just not over reading.
  • I think it’s really important to stand up for what you believe in. I hope we are teaching the kids to do the same.
  • I don’t think you can be pro-life and for the death penalty.  Period.
  • I can’t handle mess. It truly stresses me out.  I don’t mind mess at someone else’s house, just my own. I need things to be organized and in their place. I wish it didn’t stress me out, but everyone who lives with me knows it. So really, they should just pick up their shit.
  • I hate outdoor concerts.  That said, I am dying to see a show at Red Rocks…(please let this happen next summer.) As much as I was spouting off about being outside and how wonderful fresh air is, I can’t think of much that I would like less than seeing a concert or all day show outside.
  • If you knew me just 20 years ago, you would have never seen me homeschooling. But once I read about it, thanks to blogs, I became obsessed.  I read all I could on it and was dying to homeschool.  Then Alec got into TH Rogers. And Lance decided he should go. It’s a GT school that is so not a big deal. They do nothing innovative, and it drives me crazy.  I have liked four maybe five teachers the entire time we’ve been there. In fact, I pretty much hate it.  I have made some good friends though, and for that I’m grateful. It’s also been the longest standing argument between me and Lance. Finally, when it was time for Mari to go to school, Lance let me homeschool.  There are ups and downs, but overall, I love it.  We learn together and read pretty much all day. I don’t know how long we’ll keep doing it, but I hope we never stop. As for Rogers, I’ve got two more years left and we are done.
  • I’ve never had a housekeeper.  Even after my c-sections.  I have always kept my own house clean.
  • My favorite chore is dusting.  Least favorite is mopping and cleaning the bathtub.
  • My first car was a 280ZX  It was blue and silver.  Man, I loved that car so much.
  • My favorite job ever was as a teaching assistant at Rosedale. I had been subbing in Austin and was called to sub for a special ed school.  I only worked there one year but it changed my life.
  • I’ve never had a cavity.
  • I love listening to music especially old music.
  • Leave the past where it belongs.
  • I still write in journals and have all my old journals.  I rarely read them, but when I do, it can be super depressing. And hopefully, when I die, my kids just throw them away.
  • I love my parents. My mom does everything for us. I can’t imagine how we would survive without her. And my dad supports me always. He is my cheerleader and the most generous person I know. And I have the best brother in the world. He’s a great brother and the best son.  I pray my sons are like him when they are older. I remember years ago we used to talk daily when we both commuted to work. I miss those days.
  • I really wish I was a better mother.
  • Letting go of something I desperately wanted to take a chance with Lance was really hard.  It was also the smartest and best thing I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t have this life had I not taken that chance.
  • Finding things to be grateful every day changes my attitude.
  • Main thing I’ve learned…never plan a trip for your kid’s birthday. It will come back to bite you in the ass.  Somehow we planned a trip leaving on Mason’s birthday.  He told us he was fine.  We had a party, he got great presents, was allowed to skip school.  And then our flight was cancelled, the one with the lay down seats, we missed dinner at Crenn.  We got charged $600/couple for missing that dinner, our car was broken into and all my shit was stolen, including my planner which is my life, we had to miss another planned Michelin Star dinner, AND Texas lost their game.  NEVER EVER leave on your kid’s birthday.
  • My guilty tv pleasure is 90210. Guilty movies are Grease 2 and The Cutting Edge. I love Star Wars.  My favorite movie scene is from Boogie Nights at the end of the movie in the drug dealer’s house. And my all time favorite song is Somebody’s Baby with Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around and Divorce Song coming in close after.
  • When I die, all my friends are going to get together and see who knew what. Only two know where the bodies are buried and they know who they are.

I may have gone over 50. I guess this turned out to be facts about me. I wasn’t trying to be narcissistic though it looks that way. I was trying to think of my life-what I like, have learned and experienced.

This took me forever to write. I need to add that I did indeed get a present for my birthday. A travel bag for the trips we’ll take someday. AND my favorite song from Rhett Miller sung especially for me.

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