Sunday, December 15, 2013

Enforced focus

I have created this situation where whatever (pleasurable! awesome! fun!) thing I am doing, I feel like I should be doing something else. But, I am learning that I can only do one thing at a time effectively. On the one hand, I am grateful that I have so many opportunities and resources and friends. On the other hand, I should be knitting your Christmas hat. In reality, I am laying on the bed and the cat has settled on my back for a purring nap session. Which is also pretty cool. 

But seriously, it's one thing at a time. And some of these things don't need to be done. Stay on target. Listen to the universe (cat) and stay down. He's just going to snag your sweater if you defy him. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving FAIL

Well, my attempts to undermine the dominant turkey paradigm are crumbling as we speak.

I suppose it was kind of selfish of me to try to get out of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Although, it felt like self care at the time.

You see, last year my husband and I were struck by a sudden bout of food poisoning a few hours after the big feast. (Of course, we were at a social event at the time. Sudden onset projectile vomiting. Horrifying.) No, it wasn't due to the feast, but the food products involved don't quite seem appetizing yet.

This year as it turned out, my favorite guests would be traveling out of town. It seemed like a good time to try a new tradition. I visualized volunteering somewhere, then eating something simple (non-turkey based) with a small group of family at home.

But you can't just quit the holidays. People expect the usual. And my poor brother, who had done nothing wrong, didn't have an invite anywhere else. Volunteering is apparently pretty popular idea on Thanksgiving, and my top pick doesn't need me. More orphans wandered into view.

But I think I can still do it. I think I can take care of myself, take care of others, and not barf. This is not rocket science. It's THANKSGIVING. I am going to make some phone calls tomorrow, pick up a turkey breast (I already bought the brussels sprouts and and sweet potatoes), and punch my imaginary Martha Stewart in the face. If somebody wants pumpkin pie, they'll have to bring their own, because that makes me the queasiest to remember. But it could never be as bad as last year. If it's bad, it will be a 2013 kind of horrible.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SSCSC Fortnight 3: Do it for me, says you.

So, it's taking 2 weeks to do 7 things. That's okay. And you will notice a dearth of pictures, which I will blame on greedy Google, who wanted all the pictures on my phone automatically and as soon as they were taken, and I said no, and now I can't figure out how to share them on my own schedule.

But really, HOW DID IT GO? Did you try any self-care challenges (The SSCSC stands for something, you know - Selfish Self Care Selfie Challenge.)  Did you take yourself to lunch at the coffee shop and end up sitting next to some sort of weird evangelist, and need to hoist up an energy field to keep him from trying to save you? Did you maybe take the new outfit thing a little too far and buy 3 tops, 2 pairs of pants and a purse? Did you not only put your fork down, but on the advice of the Foodist, you starting counting your chews for a whole new OCD eating experience? Because, if you did, you might have been a little scared, but in the end, you might have learned something. And if it felt good, it could be a good new way to take care of yourself.

So, this is the last time I'm going to post challenges. The busy season begins soon. (You know. Holidays. Obligations. Nesting.) The days are shorter. Slow down, and pat yourself on the back. It's a gift for yourself that benefits others. That's what I keep telling myself.

1. Plan a girls night. Or a boys night.
Before it gets too busy, go out with your pals and get all the gossip. Or start some gossip, whatever floats your proverbial boat.

2. Read a trashy magazine.
I like a fashion mag, personally.

3. Rip out a page from said magazine and start a vision collage.
You know how sometimes an image just speaks to you and you don't know why yet? I'm going to paste mine on a piece of cardboard or something and see what happens. Perhaps I'll end up with Corgis wearing opal necklaces chewing on my batik bedding and dragging it through my pristine white subway tiled kitchen. Perhaps I'll get angry and burn it and accept my completely opposite life (an extremely respectful Siamese cat who does not wear jewelry, but enjoys floral bedding and cluttered tiny kitchens with folk art...). But I'm a visual learner, and I need to see the pictures.

4. Take a new exercise adventure.
I'm scoping out some Zumba classes.

5. Find a new lunch recipe.
Maybe a whole grain salad! Or super delicious soup.

6. Create some art about this lunch.
Could be a poem, drawing, photo, song, I don't know. Inspired by lunch! What could be more filling?

7. Pay a debt.
Doesn't need to be with money, either. You owe somebody something, somewhere. Pay it back.

So, that's it for now. Oh, I have a list of more challenges. And I am having fun with it, by myself. But it'd be more fun with you. Perhaps this old hat, treading water, nothing new in your world. I'd love to hear about your experiences, too. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Go to bed early

Now that the time has changed, it's no big deal. But here's me, in the bed at 8:40 pm on Halloween night. (With a book that I finished at 10:15, but never mind that). 

Sleep is so fantastic for every aspect of health. Why not treat yourself and GO TO BED ALREADY??

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

SSCSC Week Two (Selfish Self-Care Selfie Challenge, duh!)

So, how's your challenge going?
A) What challenge?
B) About as well as yours, I'm guessing, you slacking blogger.
C) I don't like to be too challenged. Leave me alone.
D) Maybe you should just start writing open letters, Liz. Seriously. It's all the rage.

Blurry selfie with cat

Yeah, so it's been 15 or 16 days. I didn't want to freak anyone out with a speedy pace. But really, how is it going?

A little explanation, I guess. In case you don't follow my blog (ah ahahahahahaha....), I was trying to challenge you to take of yourself. I challenge you out of love, of course. And because I need a self-love ass-kicking too. The basic concept is, do the challenge, take a picture, post it somewhere (maybe somewhere I can see it?). It IS challenging, as you may notice from my lack of pictures.

But a new day, a new piece of paper, we can start over when we make up our rules, which is always, do not delude yourself.

So, here's the new ones.

1. Sit at a coffee shop / bar / cafe, and people watch. See if you can change people's behavior with your energy.
Funny, I was just reminiscing about the fun of study hall staring in high school. Pretty consistently, I could make a random student touch their neck or hair or fidget just by staring at the back of their head or neck. It's like magic. (Jerk magic, granted, but it's what I've got.)

2. Put together a new outfit.
TAKE A PICTURE. Shouldn't be that hard. Doesn't have to be new stuff. I totally believe that clothes control energy and self-image, so make it a good one.

3. Put your fork down between bites.
This sounds easy, but you might find yourself uncomfortable. Try and figure out why you would shovel in food that you're not paying any attention to.

4. Go to bed early.
I love my bed. Wait, why I am still awake right now? Since I generally need to be awake sooner than I would like, or when I sleep in I hate myself for missing half the morning, the best way to get more rest / beauty sleep / sex is to GO TO BED EARLY. Seriously, your parents are over your bedtime "rebellion". Just go to bed. You're not missing anything.

5. Spa day.
It doesn't have to be fancy. Wash your face with the nice soap, use the eye cream, self foot massage, whatever. It's okay to do nice things FOR YOURSELF. Sometimes I shock myself with my own self-cruelty. Savage flossing, rushing through the routines, repeatedly buying or using products that don't actually please you in any way... what is the point?

6. Nature walk.
Okay, so it can't all be about ourselves. Go out there (wherever that is for YOU) and connect with nature. Woods, beach, mountain, desert, whatever you got.

7. Organize your desk or bookshelf.
I find I can't think when I see clutter. Fix your thinking place for better thinking.

The rules again: Take a picture. Post it (I am on Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, and Google+. Don't pretend you don't know me.) Comment. Feedback!

That being said, the challengingest challenge last time for me was the dancing by myself. Oh, I did a lot of dancing. But it's not that fun to dance by yourself. I'll keep trying though.

It's all we can do?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Selfish Self Care Selfie Challenge (SSCSC)

I had so much fun doing the Sarah Jenks Live More Weigh Less Challenge that I decided to make my own and keep going. Indeed, selfishness is all the rage! Let's take care of ourselves before it's too late. And self portraits are so easy to take these days that it's the most obvious kind of of self-documentation we can do.

What are you signing up for? For what are you up signing? I can't imagine it will be more than 30 days. (Unless someone else wants to come up with challenges for a while.... mull that over.) Read the week's challenges. Take a picture of yourself performing each one. Post it on Instragram or Facebook or whatever it is the kids are doing these days, and put a comment on the blog so I can go look for it. If you're super smart, maybe you can even post it in the comments. I'm barely able to get picture posted on my own damn blog, for some reason, so I'll leave that to you geniuses.

First, a little about intent. I'm being a little ironic about the Selfish part of this challenge. It does feel selfish to take care of yourself sometimes, and which makes the whole concept of "Put on your own oxygen mask before you attempt to help other passengers" a necessary instruction. But you have to admit that sometimes it's true. When it feels like you can't change anything in the world, you can always change yourself.

My goal in helping myself is to build some accountability and respect (it seems when I ask myself WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?, it's frequently about respect). So you'll see a lot of challenges about food in here, because food / body / brain respect is toughie for some reason.

BLAH BLAH BLAH. What are the challenges, already?

1. Give someone a gift.
I stole this one from Sarah Jenks. It was the last challenge on her list, and I didn't get it done yet. Also, it's been in my work bag since July. But to get you over that "selfish" hump, be selfless and give it away first. Then get down.

2. Take care of your nails.
However you do that, because I know the dudes might not want red toenails. But I do. Or maybe sparkly silver....can I do plaid? Take a picture. Heck, you could put that mother on Pinterest and get a ton of shares!

3. Refuse food from a food pusher.
You know, that skinny Minnie at work with the donuts. The gross Hamburger Helper sample in the grocery store. Whatever gets pushed at you, that you don't want, you can say no.

4. Dance with yourself.
Make a choreography. Post it. (I don't expect anyone to do that.) But at least waltz around the kitchen with your toast.

5. Set the table (for a feast?).
Get some flowers, use a napkin. Take a picture. It helps you RESPECT the vittles.

6. Plan a meal.
Plan the next meal. Or a week of meals. Make sure you have the foods you like that make you feel like a superhero handy.

7. Plan a party.
It can be the smallest of soirees or a giant rave, I care not. I highly recommend implementing the plan (but don't forget to invite me!). I am also cheating, because I have a big party planned 7 days from now. So at least I'll have pictures.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

And then what?

I finally figured out how to find out what I want. It only took one life coach, the root cause analysis process, and the Spice Girls to get me there.

First, the Spice Girls. Because they're just the inane soundtrack. (Man, I don't remember them all being so skinny! Oh, the 90s.) They've got the right idea. But they don't ask the question quite enough. 

So, tell me what you want, what you really really want?

Root cause analysis is a technique used in healthcare performance improvement to find out why an error really occurred, i.e., the root cause. One of the steps is to ask "Why?" 5 times. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, that's a very specific number, but you can keep going. 

The first answer is flippant. But then you start to go down passageways, toward answers that aren't so obvious.

For example: Why did the nurse drop the baby?
Because she was distracted. 
Why was she distracted?
Because there was a lot of activity in the room at that moment, and the nurse was on overtime and exhausted.
Why was the nurse on overtime?
Staffing issues.
Why were there staffing issues?
Because the hospital had let quite a few staff go recently and had not replaced them.
Why were there layoffs at the hospital?.
Because the financials were not so good last quarter.

So. you can infer that a nurse dropped a baby because the financials were not good. Terrifying, really. If you kept going, you would end up so zoomed out (the big picture!) that there was nothing you could change at the local level. (Why? Because the American health care system is broken. Why? Because humans can be selfish and greedy and reluctant to change. Etc.)

So what does that mean to me? In my endless struggle to do stuff I want to do, as well as the stuff I have to do, it helps to know what it is you want. And sometimes, the first answer is flippant. So, my latest approach is to lay in bed and think of what I want out of this day. And then ask myself, and then what? Perhaps, 5 times. This, I stole from the life coach, Martha Beck. 

Does it work? Yes, I think it does. It gets you closer to the truth. And although that can be a little scary, it's also necessary. I also like that it's supported by techniques in other fields. (You know, references! Always important.) So I'm going to try it a little longer.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fashion Week - BOOM!

Because I read a lot of fashion blogs, I feel obligated to write something about the New York Fashion Week that just ended. Did I attend? Look through some images? Follow a designer?

Uh, no. I traditionally get my info from the magazines, which obviously do not have the immediacy of the internet (but do have the advantage of presenting the info at a more seasonally appropriate time). I know traditions make me an old lady. I know paper is super old-school.

My mother and use to pore through the catalogs and magazines on a regular basis when I was a child. I was the college student with a Vogue hidden in her notebook during the boring general ed lecture halls. I once subscribed to 5 different fashion magazines. I had a 2nd job just to all the spend money at TJ Maxx, in case some real designer clothing would actually end up there that was miraculously in my mid-western size and discount price range.

Sunday, I went to Target and since it was the first day the collection was out, and the display wasn't even entirely complete thereby alerting the college girls to its existence, I bought myself this Phillip Lim Target collection sweatshirt:
Jessica Alba at a Vogue party, in my sweatshirt. 

Although I've never had the means to participate in fashion, I've always tried to follow along. But I see a change in the terrain that scares me. It's the unholy combination of my age, new technologies, and cropped tops.

Yes, I said crop tops. Obviously, as a woman over 40, I would not be expected to do that. But I remember what it means (oh, the 90s had some mixed blessings), and I can't go through that again. It means that EVERY shirt will be too short, for a long time. And that means that we will be unable to slouch, or stand up straight, with a stray belly roll hanging out somewhere. It means that bottoms will be impossible to buy off the rack again, since we will need high-waisted things, which have to fit perfectly in so many more places than the low-waisted, which can just hang off your hips.

It means that I am old. I have seen this trend before.

It also means I can no longer follow the trends. I have to know what I like, and wear it well. I have to grow up and be a stylish person, as a opposed to a fashion person. Ouch.

And because David McRaney and I have perfected the mind meld (or perhaps because I'm reading his book right now and coincidence), he posted this awesome video emphasizing my point here. Or, I'm emphasizing his. Whatever.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

This new toy is gonna CHANGE MY LIFE!

I got a wristband fitness tracker. I'm not going to tell you the name because no one's paying me for this (and I'm not asking them to, but that's another topic). But I can tell after 20 days IT'S GONNA CHANGE MY LIFE.

In case you don't work with a bunch of obsessed workout-aholics like I do, there are some fancy-pants pedometers out that you can use to track sleep, steps taken, calories in, etc. on some lovely apps and / or internet dashboards, by merely wearing a cyborg-ish bracelet. I love an "arm party", and I've lost more pedometers from my pants waistband than I care to calculate. This seems like the perfect solution.

The first week, I just did what I regularly do, while wearing my new technology bracelet. Apparently, there is not much stepping in dance class, and even though I take 2 hour-long classes a week ordinarily, my regular level of activity registered as half of the shining goal of 10,000 steps per day. Ouch. I'm a slug. (Although, compared to some acquaintances, perhaps a hyper slug.)

So I started to "step it up". Literally. (HA HA HA HA HA HA). Bike riding downtown? Minor impact (also, not steps, obviously, but I hoped that it would count for something). Lots of meaningless trips to the printer or around the house? Not cutting it.

And it's so lovely when you meet the goals. You get a congratulatory email. The dashboard turns to smiley faces. The bracelet purrs. These are not metaphors.

So this week I went for intentional, long or short walks, just to get steps on the record. Smiley emails! Purring! Totally worth it. Plus, cleaning the house seems to add to the count nicely as well. So not only will the bracelet make me fit and happy, it's going to keep my house cleaner and the laundry on target? I'M IN LOVE.

It's all so much better than my green-ish smoothie attempt to change my life this morning. Because I can't do just one thing, you know, I joined Sarah Jenks' Live More Weigh Less Challenge too. I love the idea - fake it 'til you make it is my way of life, baby. She's a twitter taggin' taskmaster of self-promotion, but hey, I could use the tough love. So I'm doing her daily challenges, and posting pictures to Instagram, and perhaps if I lose all sense of propriety, Facebook.

And, by the coincidence of calendars and moons, it is the beginning of school, September and Rosh Hashanah. Time to start anew, yes! So let's do it. Let's start over. I'm going to change some habits.

  • September - 10,000 steps per day OR 5,000 steps plus 30 minutes of another logged activity = a X on the kitten calendar. 

  • Try to keep up with Sarah Jenks. 

Post a comment if you want to race fitness trackers. Or know which one I am enamored with. I think they're all pretty similar though.....

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Sometimes, you gotta listen to yourself.

Giant ragweed growing in the yard. That can't be helping.

Things I would like to do today: bike show, mow lawn, organize something, party, bake a delicious treat for the party or make some fantastic vegetable dish, brew some tea, do my nails (fingers AND toes), read a magazine or 3, buy some peaches and blueberries before they're all gone, go on a long walk, practice some dancing, update my itunes so I can move beyond the 3 albums I bought in desperation, wash the dishes, begin the laundry, buy Kleenex and pick up prescription, go for a car ride to the beach for the sunset.

Things I will actually do today: shower, go to the party with a bag of chips, stay later than is advisable, buy some Kleenex.

Why are these lists so different? Why can't I just stay home and nap? I would rather do everything on the longer list than the shorter one, that's why. I like to be busy. No shame in that game.

But I feel like crap. Sniffles, crusty eyes, itchy itchy itchy. Dr. Liz diagnoses herself with allergies and a cold on top of that snot sundae, but is powerless to fix it or make it better except in the old fashioned way of naps and drinking lots of soothing water and tea. My Body agrees.

Party Liz is not a compliant patient, however, and still wants to do all this stuff, and try to look pretty doing it. Party Liz wants to, duh, party! Party Liz is slightly alarmed that Body Liz doesn't think being around other people will help, because sometimes it does. Body Liz is adamant - need more rest. Dr. Liz scolds, you'll just spread illness that way. Stay home.

So I guess Negotiator Liz needs to step in and tell the Body Liz that we'll get our rest, and reassure Party Liz that we'll do some of these things, but not all, and thank Dr. Liz for the diagnosis.

See? I would make a great diplomat. You just gotta listen.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer bucket list

In the summer, I become an even more unreliable blogger. I would like to say it's because I'm too busy doing summer, but sometimes it's because I'm just too busy. So I've been working on the summer bucket list so I don't waste too many opportunities to be there:

1. Read a book in a hammock. Jules asked me the most important question ("Do you have a hammock?") and the answer is yes. I do.

2. Every Sunday at the beach. Luckily, I consider summer over on September 21.

3. Wear the white cardigan, the circle skirt, the espadrilles, all the loose flowy things. T shirt and shorts are boring.

4. Eat all the peaches, right now.

5. Although I deleted the candy crushing monetizing phone game from my life, I did enjoy that time on the porch with the kitty after work. Reinstituting, before it's too cold to porch.

6. Have a summer BBQ.

I guess that makes August's project, enjoy August. So here we go!

What else am I missing?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Grief Stages

I just read yesterday somewhere (it was apparently the Wall Street Journal - what have I become?) that grief processing takes 2 years, no less but possibly more, no matter what. I did the math, and yep, that seems about right.

You see, in 2009 it all blew apart. The job I thought I would be able to leverage forever was "eliminated" by my big box employer. I smashed my camera, stared at the sky, accepted underemployment, and got cancer. Just last summer, I stopped shaking my fist at the building every time I drove by. Now I realize, I feel at home in the vicinity again, instead of like some unworthy interloper who had been cast out of the temple and was about to get caught bringing flower offerings to the vengeful idols.

But, out of the rubble we built new structures. I sure wouldn't wish it on anyone else (well, I do still have ONE revenge fantasy, but let's not focus on that right now) but it turned out okay. Maybe even better than okay. I no longer wish it had never happened. It's completely neutral.

That being said, I do find it interesting that losing my job was more traumatic for me than cancer. Granted, I had "easy" cancer (in fact, I read somewhere else today that it might have been advisable to have used the watchful waiting approach instead of the removal of my little thyroid gland, but now I have nuclear melt-down super powers, right?). But my image of myself as a productive member of society with a respectable job was more important to me than (the image of) my own health. Ridiculous.

So what is it about our "careers" that we are so attached to? Is it because we feel that we have built something, that all of our success is entirely due to our efforts and skills and personality? I can see that, but there's this other evidence that it's dumb luck and timing and privilege and we don't really control it much at all.

I like money. I mean, who doesn't? But I'm starting to discover the edges of what is and is not important to me. When I see those "in power" unable to see the lies they live and enforce, it makes me a little nervous. How am I participating in their delusions? Do I go through the motions, or I do perform real service?

So, I guess this is the internal ramblings of my work existential crisis. What does it all mean? Did we just show up to collect some checks? Or are we going to DO something? How can I willfully offer my whole heart and intellect, knowing that it can be thrown away on a whim?

But that's what I have to do. I have to give it my all, always. I guess the good news is, it will only take 2 years to recover.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Big Talker

How's the media diet going, Liz? Well, just so you know, I think I've crushed more candy than ever since I declared war on mindless entertainment. I then rambled on and on about it at a house show, instead of paying close attention to the band like a real music fan would have and asked friends IN PERSON if I could send them stupid game requests. So basically, whatever I proclaim, you can assume I'm struggling with it in the other corner of the room.

(I have avoided those darn housewives, which allowed me to sound somewhat knowledgeable in a Sunday discussion about movies. I'm proud of myself. Pat me.)

So, sometimes I fail. As long as I continue to struggle, I have to consider it progress, or else I may quit trying. I don't want to fight the riptide either, but rest assured my natural laziness makes it more like floating on pool noodles and doggie paddling to the ladder when drinks need refills.

Or, as Martha Beck says, play until rest, rest until you feel like playing again.

This is resting. 
(Which reminds me to point out, I do read other bloggers. My two favorites right now are the Propaganda Professor and You Are Not So Smart. Although I'm pretty sure this just points to more confirmation bias, I just thought you should know it's not all woo woo in between my ears. )

So, I've re-stated my July resolutions, and wasted another evening. Knitting. Made a frittata out of the veggies. Blogged. Tried to reserve a hotel (unsuccessfully, I might add) for this long weekend's vacation. I listened to Speedy Ortiz on NPR (???) because they're playing at the house show I can't go to (and probably wouldn't have anyway - it turns out, hot, packed basements with only one rickety and blocked exit make my heart race and not for the excitement of seeing awesome bands, so enough with that brief flirtation with youth recaptured). Why do I have to remind myself this is okay? What did I want to accomplish with this piece of time?

I think I did as much as I could with the level of energy I had been given. I'm hugging myself.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Paying Attention

The next step for me is to be more discerning with "spending" of time and attention. See, it's not really free, which is why the language uses a lot of money words around it. We "pay" attention and know that "time is money".

Ideally, I'd like to walk the fine line between strict budgeting and free spending. I think I'm pretty good at this with music. I don't try to shut myself out of any type of music, but I also try to avoid music I already know I don't like. And say I hear a super-catchy pop song, when I generally try to avoid pop. I just give in and enjoy it.

But where the money / attention analogy falls apart is that you can't really use up all the attention. There's more available, well, continuously. This is why I don't want to be stingy. Just a little more discerning, I suppose.

Maybe it's more like dieting. If you've "spent" your time / attention on something unworthy, you will end up _______________. The words that fill that blank are the most terrifying attributes - stupid, alone, fat, lame, boring. When I try to modify the tragedy and fill in the blank with less dire outcomes, I can't think of any. Empty is just as scary as stupid. Isolated is not much better than alone. Bloated  is the worst part of fat?

So, yes, it's important to use your attention wisely. It makes your whole world. This is why there must be no more candy-crushing phone games, the Real Housewives must be evicted from my house, the trashy magazines must go.

But back to the dieting analogy again - is it so bad to enjoy a bit of candy on rare occasion? No. It's not. Put the whips away and stop flogging yourself. Maybe you can be focused in one arena, moderate in others, and not care about one at all.

So, it's almost July - is this the project? Spend your time wisely? Okay. Let's do it.

Focus on: media
Moderate on: home and housework
Let it take care of itself: social life

I'm going to have to think about what this means in action. Let me know if you've had any success in this type of endeavor. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tribal Freakout!

I am back from Tribal Revolution (midwestern dance edition) and full of inspiration. I am going to wear 10 scarves at once. I'm going to hand stitch my own costumes, made from fabric I dyed myself (that part isn't entirely hype - I do intend to try that this summer). I'm going to add yoga to my practice and dance every day. EVERY DAY.

This post title is a tribute to the choreography I tried (and tried and tried) to learn from Rachel Brice. But I'm starting at the end again. Just play this music and read on.

So, Thursday night I arrived in beautiful Wheeling (ugh) after 5 hours on the highway. Not because Wheeling is 5 hours from my home, but because I have poor timing and don't believe in rush hour. Kat, my hotel roommate and hometown troupe mate, had wine in the room, so I called Jimmy Johns for some room service, to get ready to roll for Friday morning to learn about costuming from Mira Betz.

Yeah, Mira Betz!! I took the most notes there. We all brought costumes we had made which she then used as examples, and was kind enough to let us touch some of hers. This sounds silly, or perhaps overly worshipful, but I assure you I am a hands-on learner and needed to touch examples to understand. We also observed while she pointed the issues and fit of a regular base bra, on a participant willing to take off her shirt and be observed by 30 women who wanted to learn about bra fit. Biggest take-away: costumes are not meant to be comfortable.

(Underlying lesson throughout the gathering was that we're all beautiful. I know, woo woo, but it's an important lesson. All kinds of bellies were out. I still like a nice long t-shirt, though.) Mira's point was more along the lines of, make your stuff look its best, and you don't need to hang a bunch of fabric and metal on it unless you want to, or it means something to you.

Kami Liddle is my new favorite dancer. I know, I'm late to the game (as usual). I took 2 workshops from her, and found her to be charming and helpful. Can I layer 3 moves at once? Uh, not yet. But I'm going to be dancing every day (see above!) so it could totally happen. She pointed out that not every audience can comprehend or appreciate too many moves at once. I think I am most in love with her hand movements.

And again with the Rachel Brice! I took 2 workshops from her as well. I even worked up the nerve to ask her about my low back grinding sensations when I do a Maya. (She said she has the same thing, and that maybe it's because I'm holding it too flat. Yep. I'm going to try that.) I LOVE LOVE LOVE Rachel because she has the music. I wrote down everything I could, and still my notes puzzle me. I clearly heard "Turkish Freakout" as a suggestion and Two Fingers, "Fools Rhythm". Rachel also tried to tell us we were just like her, but she practices A LOT. I think that's true, she practices a lot more than I do, but I don't see myself approaching her level anytime soon. Dancer namaste, I am not falling for that one.

Donna Mejia was last year's mind blower, and her workshop this year was fantastic as well. I love how stern she is with us, and that she thanks us for lowering our shoulders, or invites us to take steps across the floor. I know that doesn't sound stern, but there's a real authority emanating from her. And she has got a great playlist, too. Last year I took a picture of her playlist from her laptop, but I fear that picture was lost with the technology thefts of my last 6 months.

Shows! The Participant Showcase was a wild ride, as always. Many, many troupes. Lots of beige costuming. At least 20 swords. Move. Hold. Next move. Faux dreads. We're not ready.

But Carrie was amazing! Carrie was my first tribal teacher, and I have always loved her dancing. Sparkly, elegant costume and I always enjoy watching her face as she dances.

The Gala Show was super amazing, despite being unable to see anyone's feet because I was so far back in the hall. I am having trouble even trying to describe it. Highlights were Kami Liddle and Mira Betz for me, and I loved watching the flamenco numbers.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have taken a workshop from Tempest, and a dance workshop from Mira Betz. I would have bought some dance capris and even more jewelry and costume items. I would have avoided the Dan Ryan. I would have had dinner in Chicago on Thursday night. I would have pulled up my tank top and showed my belly. I would have taken more pictures. But I hope that's what I can do next year.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Why do I do this? Why do I endanger my reputation and propriety and expose my belly literally to scrutiny? Well, mostly for the amusement of locals but it runs a little deeper than that. Check out these pictures from the Greek Festival this weekend.

Makeup is fun, maybe. Nicolina tried to help me and showed me what a nice cat eye could do. I even consulted my hair team for a plan (they came up with rollers and setting gel). So, it should have been a piece of cake, right?

Nicolina's job, in the car.

My job, with curlers. Hmm.
Tools: happiness candle, falsies, glue.

The 2nd try went better, the following night. 
Sparkles! So, the make up is on. Gotta get the costume bits together. The most exciting costume this year was for our Tribal Corps group. Lace pants, faux leather vest. Feathers. Tons of jewelry. It was also the only costume that exposed my poor scarred belly, so I wore the belly cover this year, which I have not always done. I know it's kind of cheating, and it doesn't make you look any thinner. But it made me more comfortable, which meant I was more expressive in my dancing. 

And that's really why I do this, to express myself. I love that there's a group of women that want to express themselves this way with me. It's really about sisterhood, and learning more about different cultures, and appreciating independence. 

Full sparkle, pin-up mode. 

Culture: We were performing at a Greek festival, put on by a local Greek restaurant chain. Usually the intent is to do more Greek music numbers (although I have also performed a Bollywood inspired routine and a flamenco skirt dance in previous years). This town has a relatively prominent Greek community, which is pretty cool. So I do consider it an honor to perform there. And I learned something new - it is good luck to begin a dance with your right foot. I also had a fantastic vegetarian platter with olives and hummus and grape leaves and spanakopita. Maybe twice.

Sisterhood: The other culture I'm always trying to figure out is femininity. My brother did not teach me how to do cute things with my hair, or which underwear to wear with thin tight pants, or what is too much or too little to share. That's what I am trying to learn from everyone, really. I've rationalized the dancing in these semi-ridiculous costumes as important because women in other cultures can't dress or dance this way without losing everything. It's my backwards feminist stance - I shall present myself as an object and then dare you to treat me as such. I know that a lot of people don't get it. I don't fully fall for that one myself.

But I'm going to keep doing it, and pretty much because I can. I'm going to dance so that more women can dance. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New projects, old projects

In my work, there's a concept (that I never say out loud to them, lest they find it to woo woo) called kaizen. It's the Japanese manufacturing performance improvement concept of constant, tiny adjustments. Or something like that. It's also, as far as I can figure, the meaning of life.

I don't really hide the woo woo very well. I do try to refrain from yelling KAIZEN at meaningful intervals, but I think you only have to glance at me to see the woo woo. Or, you know, a quick google search. Because here is the list of tiny adjustments I'm working on, and some updates to the old projects.

I'm working on self-acceptance, based on this Martha Beck article in Oprah. WOOOOO. Yep, I just typed that out. I mashed it into the Happiness Project checklist, and every day I update my status of self-acceptance, love, value and esteem. Good lord, that sounds crazy, but I swear to you it's very useful, calming and effective. I've been at it two months. It's like an economy journal, in that I only have to write 4 words if I want.

I have been eating lots and lots of fiber, on the advice of Full Plate Living. After flaming out in the workplace weigh loss challenge, (the team leader emailed out our totals - I was the last on the list, at 3.2 lbs or something), I decided to do something for myself, and do it my way.

It kind of started with The Sugar Experiment. The experiment was going quite well. I moved the candy out of my desk, put fruit in my own plain yogurt, actually measured the maple syrup for my oatmeal. But it wasn't magic. I needed to add more oomph to my plan.

Enter the Full Plate Living plan. It's so simple - add fiber to your meals, eat what you like. And it's not like "add fiber powder" - it's real, whole foods. Just last week I figured out a key piece - fiber in itself is good, but fiber suspended in water (you know, like oatmeal, fruit, soup, etc.) is best. I look forward to slowly shrinking.

I'm done with the apple cider vinegar, and now I'm brewing kombucha. Ironically, the last batch, when mixed with apple juice, tastes exactly like apple cider vinegar. Go figure.

I do find it incredibly amusing to brew (aka, ferment) this tea. There's a crazy mother on my counter! I love the word symbiotic anyway, and the brewing is all done through the SCOBY (symbiotic combination of bacteria and yeast).

And if you're looking for results, I have stopped taking the acid reflux medicine. Woo hoo!

What are you up to?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

She aint heavy, she's my mother

If you want to tie up all my neuroses, struggles, issues, and pathos into one tassel, it's probably my mother. I am sure most women feel the something like this to varying degrees. A lot of the things I do, I do for my mom, just as there are things I don't do, because of my mom.

(When I initially posted, I forgot to note that my mother died when I was 21 years old. She had multiple myeloma, which is not a kind cancer like mine, and because I was young and somewhat immature, things were not said before it was too late.)

For example: Belly dancing is for my mom. Actually, probably all dancing is for my mother. She was a very private, hidden-in-her body person. I feel her body-horror like a wall of flames, and walk through it. My childhood obsession with ballerinas she could not feed into. You're not built like a ballerina, she told me (although she denied that she meant I was too heavy). And she was right, I am not built like a ballerina.

Which is why it felt so rebellious 4 years ago to sign up for a belly dance class. And that class was fun! Grown women, risking ridicule (for trying something new) and shame (of not being good enough) but earning sparkles and grace instead, dancing together. As I continued with Joette at the West Michigan School of Middle Eastern Dance, group performance opportunities became available. What would Mom think? Oh well, here goes!

I dance because Mom could not, did not, but would have loved seeing me do it. Oh sure, she would have fretted about whether it was proper, or if it would damage my professional prospects, or if good girls use spray glitter. But I think she would have been thrilled to see me conquer fears she could not.

I've been a mess all day because it's Mother's Day. Lots of feeling sorry for myself, moping, posted a pathetic status update, went to the mall and the grocery store for some "retail therapy". I suppose it worked because what I eventually came to realize is that I don't have to do things to shock or impress my mother any more. I can do it for myself. And so I must.

P.S. Mom, that means I can also get a tattoo (something I don't do because of my mom). I don't have any ideas right now, but remember it doesn't mean that I don't love you. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

How to get a bikini body:

Put a bikini on your body.

I vaguely remember reading something like this on Jezebel, but when I search, I can't find it. I really want to give the creator credit, because it's brilliant, and true, and I've been thinking about these things a lot lately. I most recently read it as a photo clip of a facebook status of "someone" called Inner Subversion, and reposted by Photos of a Rabid Feminist. So, thanks, ladies. You've found a way to make me a million dollars.

It's MY bikini body plan. This million dollar value I will foolishly share with you for free. It's mostly a list of things you should NOT do, based on my own personal experience. And boy, do I have experience! As an (1) American (2) female (3) living in the Midwest who has read (4) 30 years of women's magazines containing (5) psuedo-scientific nutrition articles, I am unsingularly qualified to lead you on the path to the beach. So, before we chicken out and put our t-shirts back on, let's get started!

1. Do not join the workplace weight loss challenge. Your coworkers will lose weight differently than you, and you should not try to compete with them, even if there's a lot of money involved and you think you can win. (This was not my experience, actually. I did join, but I kind of secretly already knew that I am the slowest loser in the world and this was not my race to "win".)

But otherwise, kind of an awful experience. I've never been one to worship / fear the scale. It's a measurement, but only one and one of many, plus an invisible one to boot. Although the challenge was being run by the hospital, there was a great variety in the ability of the staff performing the weigh in to project shame. Who needs more shame in their life?

It seemed fun at first to be surrounded by "supportive" co-workers. But as those who lost a lot became the "experts", those who weren't doing as well (that would be me) lost the "support". Support came to mean peer pressure. In the end, I can't control the scale. The low-hanging fruit has already been sliced and mixed into my oatmeal. I quit drinking soda pop, diet and regular, at least 4 years ago. I might have lost the same pound 5 times during the last 8 weeks, which at least counted for my team because the point system didn't punish for gains, just rewarded for losses. So, the same on the scale, battered and bruised and smarter otherwise. Never again.

2. Do not follow someone else's plan. Counter-intuitive! And that means you can ignore this advice, if it doesn't work for you. But I am a rebel, and I'll never ever be understood. Or something like that.

Or maybe I'm more of a mash-up artist. I like to use the Nerd Fitness approach, with some Martha Beck Four Day Win, while pretending I'm as cute as Sarah Jenks. But here is the key - the only plan I paid money to use is the Martha Beck book, which I just happened to find at Goodwill. (Try the library! Rebellion is free!)

I really think I am the expert on how my own body works. But I'm not a doctor, or a psychic, or a behavioral psychologist, or even a new-age health guru. And being an expert in my own body took time (aging, whatever) and experimentation. It did not take cold hard cash, soft furry bills, or invisible credit card charges.

3. Do not look at pictures for inspiration. Or at least not THOSE pictures.

Now, this could take some cash, but you should go to a belly dance show instead. Because I am going to guess that what freaks you out about the bikini is your belly. I don't personally know any humans who   will confess to loving their belly. But all bellies (just like all babies!) are lovable.

If you go to the belly dance show, you may see that flat bellies are boring. Ribs are depressing. Even women who spend all of their time focusing on their "abs" do not have "abs" like that. And when you do achieve the belly that will get you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, you may only have that belly for a day or a year. Bellies change. Which is amazing!

My favorite, Mardi Love:

4. Don't worry about bikinis and the beach. There's a million kind of swimsuits.

Seriously, if it got me in Lake Michigan on a beautiful summer afternoon, I would wear a 1920 bathing costume. I find that once I get to the beach, I have forgotten about what I look like. Sand, sun, waves is what it's all about. Maybe some cherries in the cooler, La Croix sparkling water (I think lime would be good with the cherries!), People magazine or a good paperback. Don't let the umbrella blow away. I'm there already.

Am I going to wear a bikini on the beach? Not this year. I have scars I'm trying to protect from sunlight. Doctor's orders!

I am signed up to wear the equivalent of a bikini top in public while dancing at the Greek Festival this year, so you can't say that I'm truly chickening out.

So really, it boils down to this: To get a bikini body, put a bikini on your body. Can it get any simpler?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

5 things I'm having trouble putting into words

1. I really thought I would be able to more expressive with the right tools. But you still have to have the thoughts in your head, I suppose! I'm not Seth Godin, darn it. I don't feel like all my thoughts are simplistic, and yet, I can't seem to go on and on and on and maintain even my own attention. Are we losing the ability to read anything longer than 5 points? Or is it just that I can't think of anything more layered than 5?

2. Empathy exercises, right here. Seriously, I love this idea. Can I offer free memberships at the Empathy Gym?

3. Workouts. The plan is dancing 3 times a week, some push ups sometimes, lots of walks and short runs. Only fun stuff. I hope to bring a similar approach to eating, because it's been my experience that forcing things and struggle only make things worse.

4. The Community. My fantastic group of ladies was discussing the concept of the Community. (Well, it might have started with gossip, but it ended up with goodness.) We have responsibilities to ourselves to help when we see a member of the Community in trouble. I'm not really sure what all the guidelines are yet, but that's the kind of place I want to live.

5. In the spirit of taking it easy and avoiding struggle, I am DONE with the Real Housewives. You probably didn't know I was into it, and I was in denial that I was paying that attention to it. I thought I was just mindlessly killing some time. But even televised, staged drama is too much for me these days. Less mindless, less killing time. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Be kind, everyone.

The Boston Marathon bombs have only made it more clear to me - empathy is the most human  impulse. I had a entire screed written about the Real Housewives, but it seems petty now.

It's not that I want to feel empathy for the bomber, whoever that turns out to be. I'm more startled by the reactions of people I see every day. I walked away from a co-worker discussion about the torture methods they would like to use on the suspect. Sadly, they were discussing a certain rumored suspect that has not been charged.

It's not that I'm Pollyanna (well, except that sometimes I am) but I just don't see the point in fantasizing about torture. Of anyone. That's also why I don't get capital punishment, or "closure".

I can't speak with any authority that the good ones outnumber the bad ones, or helpers, or anything reassuring. I can only resolve to see another point of view and listen. I hope that we'll remember to be gentle with each other, and remember that we are all one. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Real cancer

See, it is a real cancer. Roger Ebert's illness began with the thyroid, spread to the salivary glands, jaw reconstruction, the loss of his voice, etc.

Just this week, I had a follow up appointment with my endocrinologist, which felt kind of anticlimactic because there was no need to drive to Grand Rapids for some neck palpitation and bloodwork, and yet that's what they scheduled for me. I still bought my annual Anthropologie treat, a red/blue micro striped jacket with a pleated peplum and awesome yellow seam tape on the inside.

I love what Ebert said about technology. That just 20 years earlier, cancer would have really silenced him, but now there are technologies that can allow communication and expression to continue. And that's so amazing and encouraging.

So that's what we'll keep doing. All of us. I am also encouraged by the concept of having a point of view and supporting its even when "everyone" disagrees. Someone posted a clip of his review of Blue Velvet. If you're "cool", you're supposed to love this movie. Honestly, I haven't seen that movie since I was maybe 20 years old, so I can't really say if the current me would love it or not. But Roger gave it a thumbs down because it humiliated Isabella Rossellini for comic effect. Although that is obviously arguable, I LOVE that. (I vaguely remember agreeing with Gene Siskel more frequently, which is kind of interesting in retrospect also.)

But, it's Saturday. I am not yet dressed. No one will be bringing home groceries for me. I won't lean back in a precarious office chair, watching a tiny television with my dad in a filthy "den", noting the movies I will never see because they won't play in a smallish college town like this. Everything is different and the same.

The technology means I am typing with my finger on a tiny screen. I still won't see any movies on a big screen in this town, only if I remember to watch them on some other device. Some sort of opinion collation website will inform "everyone" as to what movie to consider "good". My chairs are more comfortable these days, and I clean more frequently. And it goes on. As it must.

Friday, March 22, 2013

5 signs that things are turning around

1. So the loss of my notebooks means that I got to start a new one. I purchased a lovely pink Leuchtturm1917 notebook. Instead of "catching up" the imaginary future reader on all the recent tribulations, I wrote about the desired future. And that has made all the difference.

2. The bucket on Gull Road has been disappeared. There has been a food service style white plastic bucket in the gutter at Gull Road and Harrison since December or January. I observed it every day on my way home from work every day. It had been moved to the park for a while, but yesterday it had either blown or been moved back to the gutter. Today, gone.

3. Yes, I could have picked up the bucket myself. It's just one of those things you don't fully realize until it's over. The bucket was a symbol of the status quo? I was never good at symbolism.

4. Spring is coming.

5. The 5th sign is that I am enjoying the optimistic viewpoint, maybe more than I should. But who wants Gloomy Gus at the party? We kicked that guy out. We will go forward, with flower wreaths. Or whatever we can find.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

5 things on my mind

1. Do we even need laptops anymore? So many devices in the world ... It seems like one of them should suffice. But it's never quite enough.

2. And it's ALL about enough. Enough food. Enough love. Enough stuff.

3. Enough is a really weird word. Enuff. Trough. And yet, stuff, huff.

4. How to stop? Weaning. I'm trying that approach for the sugar problem, anyway. Replace sugar with protein. It's just not fair, realistic or reasonable to take away a major pleasure source and then flog yourself for missing it, which is my usual approach. Protein will not adequately replace my nice wallet or love and friendship, so we'll just have to keep searching for that one. (By the way, credit for this idea is again due to Martha Beck. I have no original ideas.)

5. But without stuff, you can start over. Literally, buy a new notebook. Moving on.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Somewhere there's a burglar (I like to picture the McDonald's Hamburglar, because it makes me laugh, thinking of the horrible Sexy Hamburglar costume we drew for a Halloween giggle) with all my notebooks. I say notebooks as if one of them were not actually a diary. There was also the poetry I wrote in November, un edited and therefore suspected to be awful. They were stashed in my purse.

In my briefcase were the checklists from all my monthly projects as well. I had just set up the March projects. They were to take the time to set a daily intention (almost meditation), write the intention down, dance every day, and wish a happy Facebook birthday every day.

And speaking of dance, my laptop contained my homework for my online dance class with John Doyle. It was just a goofy practice dance to "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince, taken with the webcam.

Any of these items, in the wrong hands, is the end of______? I can't worry about respectability, because here I am putting it all out here anyway. I dance even goofier in real life on a monthly basis. Why does it make me so sad? Is it because it is not released under my control?

It doesn't matter. It has been done. And I am going to keep doing it. If I stop now, the Hamburglar will have won.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Here we go again.

Someone walked in my (unlocked, apparently) back door last night and walked out with my laptop and purse. I was home, upstairs, probably asleep with the cat. Richard was in the basement smoking cigars and heard the footsteps but thought it was the cat or old house noises.

I am completely blank about what the universe wants from me. Less internet thoughts? Should I guard my things closer or give them away? I have always believed the answer was to give it away. But I wanted to do it my way, safely.

I am mostly chilled by the loss of my little notebooks. My lists... My unfettered feelings. A month of unedited poetry. All gone.

So I am out there somewhere, and also here. Take what you need but not more! I will try to do the same.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Sugar Experiment

So, I "gave up" sugar for "Lent". Meaning, I'd read a lot of interviews about the sugar epidemic with Robert Lustig, MD, and I wanted to see if it was even possible to avoid added sugar.

Of course it's possible. Am I the one to do it? Am I up to the challenges and pitfalls and mis-steps? Of course, I can mis-step with the best of them.

Since it was Fat Tuesday at the time, I created a Lent experiment. Avoid sugar until Easter. This includes finding foods without sugar or at least with sugar third or lower on the list of ingredients. So, read ingredients.

The first discovery was that my delicious morning granola was no longer acceptable. I fed most of it to Richard. (More proof of what a great wife I am, by the way. Give the sugary cereal to your diabetic husband. Brilliant.)

I just THIS EVENING realized (by reading the bag) that the plain, salty mini-pretzels I was scarfing yesterday do not meet the requirement. Lame, Snyder's. Just plain lame.

In order to prevent myself from going bonkers, I did build some cheating in my experiment. I can have a nice sweet, cookie or drink on any holiday that is printed on a calendar, Richard's upcoming birthday, and the first day of my period. It worked out to about once a week (President's Day, Valentine's Day, my really short menstrual cycle, ad nauseum) it was allowed. It does cause one to choose a little more carefully when there's only one opportunity for a treat every 7 days, although I already can't remember what I did on Sunday that burned up a cheat day....

But overall, it's kind of depressing even though I'm doing pretty well. I can't seem to kick the Greek yogurt. So handy. I bought plain ones with the intention of adding fresh fruit or jam, but it's not really fresh fruit season, and I need a second container for jam, which therefore removes the convenience. So, yeah, I'm cheating there, too. Chobani is at least real sugar, not some crazy corn syrup.

The candy at work can be kind of a struggle. The ironic part is that I'm the one that brings the candy to the co-workers. It started as a painfully obvious behavioral rat-training style reward to encourage them to perform tricks for me (you know, wash their hands, clean the medical equipment, complete the online training modules). Now they just sort of demand it when they're having a "bad day" or whatever, and I would join right in and have some with them. I at least moved the candy container out of the drawer right next to my chair to the wall cupboard across the room. Much more deliberation must take place before I reveal an inane Dove fortune in a moment of stress. And some of them know about my project, so there's social pressure not to indulge. It's working, though!

In other ways, it's not really that much of a struggle. We get lazy. We get fat. If you pay a little attention, all the information is right there. But I think it's depressing because it's so prevalent, and I don't think many people understand how much sugar is in EVERYTHING. (See the mini-pretzels on top of the fridge.)

Of course, as an American female, the real badge of success will be how much weight I can lose in 6 weeks. I'm not really sure there's going to be a miracle here. I'll be happy to gain some knowledge and awareness.

So, what's your sweet secret? And who wants cookies on Sunday?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Prisoner of Mommywars

While hosting some friends in my home two weeks ago, I was informed by two ladies in attendance that's it's easy for me to do all this "stuff" because I don't have small children. I can't really disagree, although I haven't really ever considered it easy. And I'm not sure which stuff was the giveaway sign of my leisure - painted fingernails, vacuumed floor, opening the box from the bakery that contained a cake?

But as it happens, I did pay a price for children. I didn't have any. And it's because I noticed way back in college that American society was structured such that you could either do things, or have kids. I decided to attempt to do things. And I'm still failing at that.

I don't really remember what things I wanted to do. Something about writing? Travel? Living in Chicago? (I am quite certain it had nothing to do with my nails.)

Oh sure, I did my 25% in raising my stepdaughter. There were times when we missed social events (1994-1998?) and went on different trips than we would have without a daughter, but no, it's not like taking full responsibility for the conception, delivery, development, of a human being. It's realizing that you're the facilitator of communication between two parties that could clearly communicate without you.

But I gave up the idea of a child for a "career", and we all know where that ended up. I am a little bitter about corporate bait-and-switch, the do-what-we-say-and-you'll-succeed lies. (As usual with the shenanigans of the universe, it lead to the job I have now, which is perfect, so I guess I can't even complain about that.)

It's not like I have (or ever had) a burning desire for a child, so I guess I shouldn't pout. It's ended up exactly like it had to, and it's fine. I could do more. And it's not to show up the moms of the world. It's to fulfill my own destiny. Which I am pretty sure is NOT to watch six hours of Real Housewives a week, so there's something to work on.

There's really two solutions to this problem. One, we all need to step up and really support mothers. I have no idea how to do that. Go, moms! Do the stuff I'm not doing.

And I've got to do the stuff I'm not doing, too. I think that it's really the same stuff. So, let's not draw a division line. Let's just do stuff. Stuff we want to do. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I'm FLYing again!

You know, I've never claimed to have invented any of these systems. I just adapt what I find. And one my earliest gurus was the dorky, square, hopelessly lame Flylady.

Who is the Flylady? Well, in the world of Hints from Heloise and Good Housekeeping, she's an icon. In fact, she's a little purple icon with a black curvy Betty Rubble bob and a fishing pole who loves acronyms. She's got a whole online world, that sends instructions about how to keep your own world tidy and organized.

If I sound passive aggressive in my praise, let me apologize. I truly love Marla (the Flylady's real name). I've got the emails in my Yahoo account from 2004 to prove it. I tried so hard to be consistent at home keeping. My goal was to follow the system exactly, but it never quite fit for me. Maybe there were too many testimonials from Stay At Home Moms, or women that wanted to host church gatherings, or others completely caught up in the American consumer nightmare, and that's never how I pictured myself, or could even have imagined myself ever wanting to be. I could not taste the reward, and therefore the recipe made no sense.

But I'm back at it, and it's different this time. Having seen how Gretchen Rubin pays respect, and Apartment Therapy uses her ideas, I was able to look at it in a new way. Babysteps, Jump In Where You Are, Finally Loving Yourself (FLYing!) - these are all (pretty self-explanatory) concepts I kept in my heart, even after the rest of the systems fell apart. 

Oddly, it restarted recently by realizing that I was wasting weekends by sleeping too late. Next, while recovering from surgery, I realized I was completely ruining Sunday with the endless laundry that sometimes stretched until Tuesday before all of the clothing had returned from the basement. And, by some miracle of timing, Flylady started using Constant Contact, which put the emails back in my Yahoo account, at just the right time. 

So last week, I followed most of the Zone Cleaning missions, and did a load of laundry about every other day. It was a miracle. My kitchen is clean. My laundry will never be done, but it will also not be an overwhelming mountain of fabric and stair climbing ever again. And it's not that hard to do, but it makes such a difference. 

Big ups to you, Flylady. (That's dorky, hopelessly lame, faux-hip hop lingo for "Thank you".) I look forward to a HURP (House Under Reconstruction Processes). Yeah, that doesn't spell a real word because that's another skill I don't have. Fly on and inspire us all, my purple friend. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February's projects have nothing to do with a sack of bile.

I think the correct word may be sac. Anyways, cholecystectomy (fancy term for gallbladder removal) recovery is easy as pie. Although, I haven't really tried to eat pie yet... we are re-exploring foods. So far, eggs, avocado, pizza, and potatoes au gratin are all good (you know, all the important food groups). The secret seems to be moderation. Damn. Another thing I already knew.

So, to keep the wheel turning, it is time to implement the February projects. I usually like to use 3 projects, but I expanded to four, because it's one more than eleven, or actually less than eleven, which is what I would like to tackle given unlimited attention, time and money. But four seems nice. My family unit of origin. A box. A square. Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

One: Read a romance. I am in the middle of 1Q84, but I am sure I'll finish it soon (or, rather, that my electronic loan from the library will end and my e-reader will automatically return it for me, thereby ending my experience). You know, for February. Something inspiring, so that I can believe in love for 300 pages. Suggestions are welcome.

Two: Plan and pack lunches for Richard and I. Frankly, this one kind of makes me angry. I shouldn't have to create lunch for a grown man. But if I am making myself a lunch, it's not that much harder to make two. I will also benefit from the organization it will require. We'll see how it goes.

Three: De-clutter. I need to let go of some things. Some of them are actual objects, and some are ideas. I want to spend 15 minutes every day letting go of something. It should be challenging, because I am already avoiding the task by blogging instead of clearing out the guest room for a guest next weekend.

Four: Love. I want to confess my love to someone every day. Besides Mr. Awesome the cat, of course.
I'm trying not to be too literal here, but I failed yesterday, and today's not looking good either. I'm thinking it could be an offhand comment, or a nice note on the social network, or something like that, but maybe that's too nebulous?  I want to spread the love, but without a knife, you know? Because where is the shame in someone knowing how much you like them?

The checklist will remain essential, as December and January have proven. I was excellent in December at documentation, but January kind of slid off the road, if you follow snow analogies. I blame it on surgery, although there was nothing on that list that would have conflicted with my recovery (reading, sleeping, daily exercise?). But I've got four-wheel drive, so we're digging out of the ditch and moving on.

So, let me know if you've got a good romance I should read, or you want some crappy craft supplies, or you need some love. February = fantastic, because we shall make it so. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Don't let the door hit you

I am 24 hours post gallbladder removal surgery. Not feeling too bad. The cat is sleeping my left shoulder, as he does. Oddly, my right shoulder hurt the most yesterday. Apparently the gas they use in laparoscopic procedures is really hard on the phrenic nerve in your diaphragm, which for some reason results in pain in the right shoulder. Pain is crazy that way. It's called referred pain, and I love that they don't really know the mechanism that makes it work.

Having worked in health care most of my adult life, I always enjoy seeing how organizations handle the situations. To make it even more fascinating, I happened to have the surgery at my former employer's surgical suites. I was slightly alarmed that no less than 3 providers failed to ask me the "safety" questions in an appropriate setting (meaning, they all asked me if I felt safe going home in front of my husband, who would have presumably been the reason I didn't feel safe, if in fact I didn't). All the hand washing was appropriate. Yes, my brain is now broken, and I can't not look for it.

I was also impressed with their pre-op preparations. I took two showers with CHG (Hibiclens) soap before I entered the hospital, and then had to wipe down with more anti-bacterial wipes when I changed into "our matching pajamas", as my surgeon calls them. The nurse explained that it was based on a study (evidence-based! hot health care buzzwords!) that showed that it greatly reduced surgical site infections. I'm all for that, since the belly button can certainly gather some yuck. Plus, I love that she explained why it was necessary, which it seems like no one wants to take the time to do, and it's really important to the patient.

So, today I'm going to go for a walk, and take a shower, and maybe try to eat dinner with friends. In an analogy I've been working on but not yet perfected, it feels like the moody, violent roommate that no one likes has moved out of my abdomen apartment building. It's a bright day-future. We can re-arrange the furniture the way we like, and keep it a little cleaner. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Upon losing yet another organ...

So, after 2 months of off-and-on agony, my gallbladder surgery will finally take place tomorrow. Will I miss that jerk bag? Well, time will tell, I suppose. (Someone just posted on my facebook to "Eat an egg now!").

I do find it interesting that sacrificing organs that were provided in the human design is "no big deal" to medicine today. I did joke with my surgeon that he could take anything else "extra" he found in there. (He didn't find that amusing.) With that thought in mind, I initially resisted the idea. Why give up a perfectly useful sac just because it randomly makes you want to die?

But 4 more attacks later, I came around. Please! Take it out, preferably today (tomorrow should suffice, however). I also, through the magic of social networks, was reassured by the legions of my friends who had no regrets. This was nice to counter-balance two relatives who were against it.

I do believe that the outcome will be based on my attitude. Really, it is okay that I may not be able to eat a typical American diet with impunity. It is the stupidest way to eat in the world. I would much rather eat foods that are good for me, and this will be enforced by my own gut.

And we're back to listening to your gut. But I can do that! I have no other choice at this point. I'm still kind of scared, but it will be all right. If it's important, it will be hard. I can do it. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

I'm no different than anyone else.

In case you're more results oriented than wandering oriented, you could just read this post at Lifehacker about changing your habits, and avoid all my self-induced dramatic warbling. I may not be original, but I try to be entertaining?

And just to keep it in the Gawker family, according to Jezebel, my search/find/rescue mission is at minimum meaningless.

I'm going to watch some videos, change my clothes and go to dinner with friends. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dr. Phil's Apple Cider Vinegar Cure

Here I am, sipping my delicious cocktail of apple cider vinegar and water. Why am I doing this? Well, because I am fool for the googles and gallbladders. Why aren't you doing it?

It did occur to me that it could be because I am a sucker. Straight up fool, naive faith-following simpleton who believes whatever she is told. There are elements of truth to this. (I do steer my life with the idea that if I can read the instructions, I can probably do any given task, although I've been proven wrong many times.) Who would believe that you can treat gallbladder attacks with apple cider vinegar? (I'll give you the answer quickly - someone who is having one within reach of the laptop.)

I would also like to point some fingers at Dr. Phil. I guess should have been a little more discerning, but I vowed to read as many books as possible in January. I didn't say they were all going to be brilliant. I do need a little perspective on this relationship crap. And damn if Dr. Phil doesn't have some good points... albeit, none of them are about apple cider vinegar. So if I can accept new information from Dr. Phil, then what else can I do?

Placebos are cool with me, too. Why not try the least harmful approach before the most harmful? I probably consume more vinegar in my salads. It's good for the local economy too, what with the apples and all. Although I don't really believe (oops, this makes placebos harder to implement) that I'm going to cure all of my health issues AND end up with a glowing complexion to boot, I wouldn't be sad if that happened, either.

But the real reason I'm trying is because I think want to be part scientist. I'm the fun scientist, messing with your household foods and celebrities. I take what I like, and leave the rest (I mean, isolate the contributing factors) to see what will work. AND I'm my own guinea pig, so there's no risk to you.

So here we go. 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 1 glass of water, preferably before dinner, once a day.   When gallbladders attack (which they have been recently..... jerks), we put it in organic apple juice. Dr. Phil I only trust as far as I can throw him and as long as he doesn't start rambling about Jesus, but so far he's been pretty good. What's the worst that can happen? I will move on to dandelion supplements and Eckert Tolle?