Monday, February 28, 2011

Day 5 - Sunday

Surprisingly, physically, I feel great!  I expected to be pretty sore and tired but really - just stiff when I sit too long - I am ready for another adventure.

We started out with a lazy morning... coffee on the porch - one of our favorite things to do at home, too!  The sky was heavy with clouds.. and, every so often, there are tremendous 30-second BURSTS of showers.  After the showers, the world is freshly greened... the flowers just a shade brighter... and the birds and butterflies more aggressive in seeking the new moisture before it evaporates.  I tried to catch a hummingbird with my camera but they were just too fast!

Plans for the day never quite materialized.  We sat on the porch most of the day, chatting back and forth between long stretches reading.   It was a super time to recharge and dream about and plan for the future.  We are so busy in normal life!  There doesn't seem to be enough time to connect with each other... even when we try to schedule it in!

 It is kind of fun to just sit and watch the world.... at one point, a large iguana crawled out of a palm tree and sauntered lazily across the road.  You don't see THAT every day.

This trip has been more than an opportunity for me to participate in a race.  For my son, it was re-creating the trip we took down here a couple of years ago - the first time I participated in the 8 TUFF Mile race.  But more importantly, for me and my husband, it was a chance to re-connect... to relive that honeymoon we took down here in the Caribbean 20 years ago!   What a blessing to return in our 20th year of marriage!

This trip has been an emotional whirlwind with the family death in the middle of it.  Knowing we can't be at the viewing tonight or the funeral tomorrow is really hard.  At the same time, I feel incredibly blessed knowing that my children have gathered 'round... together... to take care of each other.

I think that THIS is a part of my vacation that I need to take home with me... a day here and there.. to sit on the porch and dream with my husband :-) and to remember - no matter what the maelstrom whirling around us - we are blessed!

Tomorrow, we have one more opportunity to visit with my cousins and then will head back home to our little world on Tuesday.  I am more than ready!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 4 RACE Day

 Oh my, it's early!  But the roosters are still crowing.... and I got up before my guys so I could have a few minutes of reflection.

Well,, that is not exactly true... I don't sleep well the night before events.  I am always too anxious.. worrying about being late.. and, as you read earlier, I am usually nervous about the START!  I PLAN to walk this time so I am not too worried about my time.... BUT I know me... and I DO compete against ME... so I am not sure how calm I really am :-)  This is the first time I have ever repeated a race... I did it once before in 2 hours 38 minutes...
The moon was out as we gathered for the start.  I loved watching Cruz Bay Harbor wake up!

Race start is at 7:15am.... my son will be a water person at one of the 11 stations.. this race is a HUGE event on the island.  All the local business have stations... 1000 runners from all over the world come for the day.  A serious BOOST to this little island's economy!

Beautiful weather... start delayed a little becasue the Coast Guard did a flyover salute... and they were late.   So the start like everything else here was "island time" .. so about 7:30 am, we began.

I was placed closer to the front than I like because I know I am walking!  Excited runners and joggers swarmed around me as we started.  I jogged a little simply because of the numbers of people!  UNTIL the first hill....  I went back to plan.... and walked past many who couldn't run any more.

The first hill after start through the center of town

I just kept moving...  the first two miles were grueling... there is no other word.  Working your way up the first mountain, there is a LOT of self-talk.... why on earth are you doing this?  Are you crazy? .. and things like that.  It is comforting to have some events behind you so you can have other things to add to the self-conversation... like.. just keep moving.. and'll be better around the next curve...  And sometimes it is :-)  At Mile 2, I had been walking for 35 minutes... not a great pace - but all sharply uphill so I felt okay about it.

I spent much of the time during the race thinking about my kids and family in the states, preparing for funeral services and taking care of each other.  I may not be able to help them, but I could certainly PRAY for them throughout my day. 

The terrain evened out a little after Mile 3.. but that was just a teaser for the second mountain!  But it was a good chance to catch my breath.  Most participants used this time for a little jogging... but I was more interested in the steady pace and breathing!  Lots of shady sections and 11 water stations gave the participants a chance to cool off and keep going.

And so it went for a bit... alternating chugging uphill and stretching out a bit on the flattish sections.   The halfway point was in a bit of a dip... just after that was the sign for the highest elevation - 999 feet.  Island tradition is to jump as high as you can at that point to hit 1000 feet :-)  I had the energy to do that too.... and kept moving.

Mile 5 was a bit tougher for me.. I even stopped to take the photo of the road markings.  The roads are so narrow and resources so limited here.. that they paint the race mile markers on the road :-)  Somehow the mile markers were closer together after the first two :-)  Not really, but apparently I hit my stride after that!  My son was at a water station at the top of Bordeaux Mountain and it was a SMILE for me and a burst of energy after I saw him.

Mile 6, for me, felt GOOD!  I started jogging a bit after that.  Of course, more of the road was downhill... so steep that you jogged whether you wanted to or not!  Just keep moving was my mantra!  And I wanted to make sure I had the energy to run at the very end to cross the finish line.

But then at Mile 7, the bottom falls out.  My legs started cramping!  I slowed my pace a little and tried to work out the cramps while I kept walking.  This is the part where I had to dig really deep, think of my kids and all they had to do, and keep pushing through.  Under a mile and a half left at this point.  There is no quitting!  Some things you have to see through to the end.

At this point, serious athletes are passing me going in the OTHER direction back to town.  God bless them.. this is a tough course just ONE time.

Mile8!  Sweet!  Just before the last water station... Okay... I KNOW I can finish now...  just a tenth of mile, they say.   I had to laugh though.... a bit further down the road.... AFTER the water station... was ANOTHER 8 painted on the road :-)  Who knows?  But I do know I am closer to the end than the beginning.... and THIS part is downhill... so I keep going!

And I see a crowd of people by the side of the road!  I prepare to turn in there.... but NO... that is not the finish line.  Apparently I am not the first to make that assumption because the whole group is pointing further down the road :-)

And there it is.. the place to turn in to the ball field and the place where I stow my camera and prepare to sprint to the end where my husband and VICTORY await :-)

My time was 2:08:40 with an average pace of I DID beat ME :-) which is exactly what I hoped to do :-)

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My cousins, both in their 70s, placed first in their age categories.  This was their 10th
 8TUFF and they were hoping for this honor!  Lots of satisfaction all around :-)

The rest of the day passed quietly.. no surprise there... lunch out... naps at the condo.. and the awards ceremony at 4pm.  I LOVED seeing my cousins on the podium.. I am so proud of all they have accomplished!

thanks for reading!  Race reports can be pretty dull if you don't race :-)  I'll be back tomorrow with a few more island adventures...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Will the REAL athlete please line up? (Race morning Day 4)

It happens every time!

The runners line up at the start of the race.  I slink to the back of the pack.  I try to make myself look invisible.  I hunch over just waiting.....  waiting for someone to come over and pull me out of the line.  Waiting for somebody to shout.. "Hey YOU!  Yes... YOU, Fat Girl!  What are you doing here?  This is a race for athletes.. not old, fat people!

Never mind that I'm not fat any more.  Never mind that I have NEVER met ANYONE who behaved that way.  Never mind that runners are, on the whole, fantastic people.  It's my nightmare... my 50 years of programming... and I will keep racing until that nightmare goes away.

I missed all that athletic stuff when I was a kid.  I didn't even like going outside.... I didn't play sports.. nothing, nada.  Every year, I failed the President's physical fitness test.  My peers were running around doing things and I was holed up somewhere with my nose in a book eating cheetos.

I tried as an adult, I really did.  I worried about being overweight.  I had a short fling with aerobics after child #2.  Of course, then along came child #3 :-)  I tried jogging and ended up with foot surgery.  And I kept getting bigger.  And then children #4 & 5...  I was busy being mom.  No more time to even worry about it... just go with it!  Then I spent my time driving people to athletic events!  I was team mom to everybody :-)

Eventually I did lose weight .. and, in an effort to keep the weight off, have become an athlete.  Really!   I started out with a short half mile walk.  That was as far as I could go.  But I committed to do it every day.  Soon, it was 3/4 of a mile.... and then a mile.

I was just taking walks though.  I didn't FEEL like an athlete until after I read a book by John Bingham.. The Courage to Start.     (Check him out    Reading that book coincided with a local 10K race.  The funny thing is that I didn't even know how far 10K was :-)  But in an insane moment, I decided that I had nothing to lose by trying.  I signed up.

It was a crazy moment... and it took every bit of nerve I had to do this.  And I might have skipped out except that a friend decided to do it with me.  I promised to hook up with him at the race - so I had to go.  I love the way that little every day events conspire to bring you to a whole new place in life.

At any rate, it was a small race at a military base.  You may know this already - but I didn't... 10K is a little more than 6 miles.  Well.... there were runners returning when I hit Mile Marker #1.  Oh my.... I kept going.  Mostly walking.. I don't run much.   Everybody... and I mean everybody except my friend.... passed me eventually.  My poor friend hadn't even walked in a long time and decided to catch a ride with the people at the end of the race (the ones wishing I was moving faster!)

Long story short....  it took my an hour and 24 minutes to complete... but I DID complete it!  And, in a strange twist, I arrived in time to hear my name called.  Dead last in the race but 2nd place for my AGE..  What a hoot!   I was hooked!

That was my first race... and the ONLY time I won anything.  But I have had a lot of fun and discovered that I LIKE to train for endurance races... even walking :-)

What would you like to try if you knew you couldn't fail?

Friday Day 3

It is surreal to sit here looking at this view with all the mixed emotions and confusion swirling around.

Original plans for the day?  First a change of rooms because someone else had already booked this condo for the weekend.... and then an afternoon of snorkelling and a visit to the Tektite Project museum.

But first, a mad scramble contacting our children back in the states who will be representing us at the funeral.  It is a strange thing to switch places with our children and have THEM be the ones handling the responsibilities at home while we are the ones out of town.

We moved our belongings early and realized that because of the phone issue.. we needed to stay at the condo and wait for family members to contact us.   So began a day of  waiting. 

Well.... until we went to look for lunch!  We walked to Mongoose Junction thinking to try a different cafe but between the sandwich shop which only took cash and the fancy restaurants ($30 per entree), we had no luck.   So, we walked some more!

Finally ducked into a little mini-mart kind of place to get a drink to carry with us because we were more thirsty than ANYthing at this point :-)  Walked a bit more... found lots of little places to shop in - but this wasn't a shopping expedition!  And then we saw it...JJs Texas Coast Cafe... didn't have a clue what we were walking into - but we all agreed that either burger fare or mexican would be just fine :-)  And was it ever!  Honest to goodness.... the best salsa I have ever tasted :-)  As it turns out, it was homemade - and so were their chips and tortillas,,, no WONDER it was so good.  Not exactly Caribbean food... but a very satisfactory lunch for us (we are a bunch to whom Mexican food is a comfort food!)

And then a hike back to the condo via the market to pick up more water and drinks.  So much for my RESTing my legs before the race in the morning!

We had been frantically emailing and checking prices and so on.  The ONLY way to get us home early would cost an additional several thousand dollars and several plane changes in various airports across the United States.... AND we would not be able to travel together.  So, in all honesty, it is not feasible for us to go back early.

We are so incredible blessed!  I have a dear friend who has offered to watch the dogs for as long as needed... and my adult kids at home have banded together to take care of whatever needed to be done.  I wish things were different.  I wish I could be where I am supposed to be.

But if you believe in a master plan, then you believe that everything happens for a reason.  We will go on with our plans.. because there is simply nothing else rational to do!  And we will allow those at home to take care of each other and take our part when we get back.

And tomorrow.... I have 8 TUFF miles to do in honor of my friends and family!
Check it

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 2

At dinner last night, my cousins and I had made arrangements that they would come around 10am to pick me up for a day of rigorous hiking!   My husband and son (who think I am crazy) opted out of this and planned to find a quiet beach somewhere to hang out. All beaches on the island are public so they were going to walk to a nearby resort and check out their beach.

One of the things I really wanted to do was to see some ruins of the old sugar plantations here on St. John.  My cousins chose Reef Bay trail... a trail with pretty rough terrain which included an old sugar mill where cane was ground, sugar made and rum distilled and also some rocks with ancient carved petroglyphs. Two hours hiking in... mostly downhill including a side half mile to see the rock carvings.  Lots of stops to take photos and read the plaques telling about plants and history.

The day was gorgeous... a bit cloudy which kept it from being too hot!  We ate a picnic lunch perched on rocks near the petroglyphs.   Another mile or so to check out the sugar mill ruins and then a beautiful white sandy beach appeared beyond the forest vegetation.

We spent about 20 minutes there... a quick dip and a few minutes to dry out in the sun and we were back on our way out.

It only took us ONE hour to hike back out.... surprising all of us since it was pretty much all UPhill to get back to the car.  But I can definitely say that I got my exercise in today!

We stopped for dinner supplies on the way back to the condo.  My men were there when we arrived back.... and had some really bad news.

We had a death in the family this morning.  It is a hard thing...but not a surprise.. my husband's relative has been on hospice care since the end of December.  But now my poor husband has to figure out how to handle what's next.

And what is next is this:  arrangements have all been made.  The family has been waiting.  It is not realistic for them to wait for us.  Nor, as it turns out, does it appear to be realistic for us to return in time.

His family knows that we are away.  We've checked flights out.. but even with additional fees to change reservations, there simply are not enough seats for all of us on tomorrow's flight... and, because of the race on Saturday... the flights are booked solid for Saturday and Sunday.  Our original reservation was for Tuesday afternoon.  Even once we get home, we must transport our dogs to a friend's house and then travel 5 hours by car.  We have a dilemma as to what to do.

Well.. not much of a dilemma... so far, there is not much we CAN do..   but it is hard to be here and not able to go back like we need to.  Tomorrow we will find a landline and  talk with relatives to find out what the funeral arrangements will be... and we have our own original plans for tomorrow's activities.  I'm not sure how to proceed right now.

So it looks right now like we are STUCK in paradise!  What a mess!

What would you do?  How would you handle this?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 1

Okay, it's official.  Either daybreak is an all-day occurrence.. or roosters DO crow all day.  My experience with roosters is limited but they surely crow all day here... incessant rooster crowing is the background sound :-)

I am up at 5.... wanting to use the quiet hours to think and write.  Posting photos has become problematic.  The internet is very slow.. so bear with me, friends!  The internet comes back around 9am... weird from my experience.. usually I find that internet service is faster when no one is awake!  At any rate, I do what I need to do.... and my people are all still asleep!

We can't get hold of my cousin - the cell phones won't work!  Oh no.. what to do!  I know that she wants to help us plan our trip but I was not able to get hold of her last night. The phone keeps dropping the call.   I sent an email to her since the call to her cell phone wouldn't go through.  At 9:30 this morning.. a voice mail arrived... from LAST NIGHT!  Yikes!  I wish I had her land line number!

I sent another email with the number of the condo phone... my guys were moving in SLOW MOTION today... so I deserted them and went to the pool to read and sun bathe.  Eventually my cousin got my email and called the condo phone...   

We decided we would meet for dinner and talk about plans for the upcoming days.

So then my husband, son and I went for a walk to find some lunch.  We headed down to Mongoose Junction - about a mile... and ate at the Sun Dog Cafe.  What fun!  To sit and people watch :-)  I did try some ahi tuna that my husband got in a salad (okay to try - no way to order!) and I ordered a jerk chicken taco that was fine,, but not a repeat.  BUT the important part was the TRY :-)

I won't go into the RUM drinks we tried :-)  Unless you ask!  I did get a recipe for one that was awesome... but only if you like Baileys and Kahlua. It was good enough to be illegal :-)

We walked back to the condo and arrived shortly before my cousins.  I say walk - but this is HIKING!

The gang started cooking while the other took me to get my race packet...well.... race NUMBER, I'm not sure I would call it a packet!

During dinner we enjoyed each others' company and solved all the problems of the world while we watched the sun go down over St Thomas... and decided that tomorrow would be a hike at Reef Bay including a dip and a picnic lunch for me.  My men will be left to their own devices to discover something to share with me later :-)  But I will get my hike and island history :-)

I hope you are making the most of your own adventures...  more later!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

To the Islands!

We were up and out of the house by 4:30.... yikes!  But it was an easy leave-taking.

The most excitement was driving onto the airport complex where the traffic patterns have been changed (improved?) once again :-) Finding the long-term parking and our terminal was the first (yet predictable) challenge.

The long faces I was expecting on my trip were all present... though perhaps the hour of day had something to do with it.  Our flight took off at 6:45 and my own traveling companions flinched at my terminal "early morningness".  I managed to stifle some of my exuberance and contented myself with a smile.  It's hard to hang around with someone who makes 'happy' a choice :-)  I think this choice gives me more energy for the most part - which I like... (and other people do in fact find it annoying)

I spent my flying time alternating between my print copies of  St John Off the Beaten Track and St John by Foot and by Car... and my e-reader copy of the Forever Queen.. (all titles on my Reading List page).  I got my e-reader for Christmas and am still learning to use it... something soothing about actually physically turning pages.. but I think I can adjust :-)

Arriving in St Thomas, we had a harrowing (exciting :-) taxi ride to the ferry.  And then the ferry ride to the island of St John.  I read that the island of St John is 20 square miles... which didn't mean a lot to me until I read further... compare that to the 30-square mile Dallas-Fort Worth airport!  

We had a lovely surprise at the ferry.. my cousin was able to come meet us!  We will meet up on Wednesday morning and head out for some fun!  Another short taxi ride and we settled happily in our mountain condo.  My most vivid impression was floral profusion, tiny winding streets (designed, I think, for mountain goats - not vehicles!), and the incessant crowing of roosters :-)  We were settled by 5 and quickly headed out to the market to get some food for the duration.
sunset from the porch... I always did love porches :-)

So.... having done the reading... I set some small goals for myself.

First, I will take LOTS of photos!  It's fun - and, though I can't really see them when I take them, that makes it all the more important to take LOTS.. so I can throw them away when they are not good!

Second, there are two ACTIVE things I really want to do: hike and snorkel.

I am not a strong swimmer so it is a little bit scary.  But I tried to snorkel one time before and it is like being inside a National Geographic special!  The first time I put my face in the water, I couldn't breathe!  But that was because my brain and body had a disconnect :-)  The tube was right there - all I had to do was breathe THROUGH it.. but my body said... YOU are underwater, you can't breathe!  My brain had to kick in and remember what the TUBE was for!  THIS time I will do better :-)

I found a snorkel TRAIL in Cinnamon Bay.  I have absolutely NO clue how that will work but it sounds like something I want to figure out.

There are a lot of hiking trails on the island because of its size.  Driving is best left to the locals, I think... not only do they drive on the left side of the road, the size of the main roads reminds me of personal driveways!  It's enough of a challenge to WALK along the roads :-)

Anyway... hiking... much of St John is National Park.. so there is a lot discover.... from pre-Columbian petroglyphs to abandoned sugar and rum plantations.  I will find history to stoke my imagination!  I want to LEARN.

NUMBER 3 goal: FOOD!  I am a culinary scaredy-cat.  Not so this trip... I want to try local cuisine.. I am sure I will balk if insects of lizards come my way.... but I am eager to try some local produce and FISH (my regular readers will remember that fish is my nemesis).  But I will take some steps to change that.

And 4: I want to check out some local artists and find ONE special hand crafted item to take back as a souvenir.. 

 My son wants to snorkel and shop.. but is not interested in the hiking.  My cousins are already preparing for a day of snorkeling and a day of hiking.  My husband is looking forward to relaxing on the porch while we go off adventuring.  And then there is the race on Saturday...

will keep you posted as I go along the way :-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

So here we go :-)

It's a day for traveling.  2 hours, a layover, and then almost 4 hours.... a LONG day......braving airports and all the attendant possible mishaps that this involves.  I find that the best way to handle traveling is to prepare the best I can... and go.. and just relax!  It's a situation where I can do absolutely nothing except DEAL WITH IT :-)

I am always feel surprised at the people who get so very angry at the delays and hassles and rules when traveling.  I wonder what they think anyone can truly DO about their frustrations.

And I find it sad that so many people allow their MOODS to get the better of them.   God bless the people who work at airports... they must have very thick skin!

This is one of situations where you really have two choices.... take a deep breath and SMILE... or make everyone around you miserable.

There are always things that go wrong... forgetting something, setting off an alarm, getting bonked on the head by an impatient traveler trying to get a bag out of an overhead compartment.  We've ALL got airport and plane stories!

And then, let's be realistic, WHO on earth is comfortable either in an airport seat OR a plane seat?  Does anyone really fit into those seats?  We in my family are not large people... but we are TALL people.. and there is not a lot of leg room :-)  And food?  Overpriced in the airport and nonexistent on the plane... Well, we bring our own and are prepared to purchase drinks.

The reality is that EVERYONE is tired and cranky at the end of a flight... so, knowing that up front, why are people so surprised or even outraged when a plane is late or the cabin is cold?

I am ready though...  sandwiches and travel snacks are packed..  IDs at the ready... I have my e-reader with a new novel on it and a skein of yarn and hook to work on a scarf along the way. (I also have a short list of exercises that I will do while traveling - easy strength exercises that take little time or space)

And I have travel books about St John to read.. to make decisions about what we'll see and do and learn some history of this tiny island.  We are planning to hike some ruins of an old sugar plantation, take a submarine ride & visit an aquarium.  We are hoping for an opportunity to snorkel and I will definitely be basking a little on the sand!  And then, of course, the race on Saturday..  You can find out all about that at

Our hotel is supposed to have internet capability so my plan is to keep you updated on our adventures this week!  Will check back in as soon as I can :-)  We're OFF to see how the travelers in America are doing today :-)

BTW, I AM on topic for this blog - this trip does in fact have to do with several New Year's resolutions  - DEBT REDUCTION (we've saved for this for trip for 2 years and it is PAID FOR :-) and TRAIN FOR and PARTICIPATE in several races in 2011.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Empty Nest Vacation Prep :-)

I wake this morning with a knot in the pit of my stomach.

Tomorrow  my husband, my teen son and I are leaving home for a week.

I feel the CRUSH of things undone, of half-finished projects, of all the 'home base' things that WILL happen (and I will miss) and of all the things that MIGHT happen that I have not prepared for.  I already feel the anxiety of things I FORGOT and I do not even know what they are:-)

This was such an unusual preparation for me.  No little kids to pack extra things for... no major worries about entertaining or feeding little ones... somebody staying at home to take care of pets and house and mail..... honestly I'm sitting here thinking I could really just hop on the plane with my crochet hook, yarn, book (and mastercard).. and it would be okay.   What an amazing thought!

After years of packing an entire caravan of extra clothing, games, books and food... and feeling responsible for everyone's well-being and happiness...  it's not my problem any more.  I am left a little empty.. because all that time and worry no longer exists and I feel a hole of sadness.   The old patterns of worry and anxiety are still with me.  But my logical mind says.... "SO WHAT?" to most of my concerns.  My logical mind has been exercising a lot lately... what if I forget a toothbrush, a pair of pants, a snack?   SO WHAT?   There will be no toddler screaming for the favorite toy, there will be no child's tantrum for THE snack that must be available, no pre-teen worry about a missing name brand hair product.  SO WHAT if I forget something?

I am used to the excitement and hassle and DRAMA or being responsible for everyone.  I spent years following after, waiting for, depending on all the people in my life.  HAPPY years, mind you... these are absolutely NOT complaints.  I have loved my life as MOM.  This is a change in my life.... an opportunity to grow... nothing more and certainly nothing less.  My youngest children are now throwing off the 'mantle of MOM'... pushing me away as they must do in order to fly on their own.

My challenge now is to be responsible for me.  I wish I had spent a little more time on it earlier in life but am grateful for the opportunity to do it now :-)  I am excited to go to new places and try new experiences and not worry about 'what happens if something happens to mom'. 

My husband laughed when he read some of my blogs... he loves me dearly but neither agrees with nor understands the feelings I have.. particularly the feelings of loss when my workload has changed so dramatically.   I remind him gently that since he is not a middle-aged woman, I don't expect him to understand.  No gender bias here, I promise... in our relationship, I am the one who chose to be and is most suited for the role of caretaker of home and hearth.  I am not sure that he would be able to weather the intense changes of focus that my chosen role demands.

I am done.  I am packed.  The knot is settling out and I will go about this last day as I do all Mondays only with less cooking and cleaning!  I have my lucky clothes for the race next Saturday, my bathing suit, sunscreen, and, of course, since most of my readers know me... you KNOW I have books, yarn and crochet hooks.... so I am good as long as the yarn lasts :-)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Love your neighbor as yourself (warning: religious content!)

We read the verses over and over..... and know many of them by heart.

But do we REALLY think about them?

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself"

Okay you say... no problem.  I give to the poor.  I volunteer.  I take care of LOTS of people, both in my home and outside of it.

I am sure that most of the people who read this are like me.  OF COURSE, we love our neighbors!  Doesn't that mean that we love and care for all those (okay MOST of those) who come across our paths?

 But how seriously do we LISTEN to the last half of the verse?

The part that says "AS YOURSELF"...

I submit to you that I think most of us 'love our neighbors BETTER than ourselves'. 

Honestly, seriously....  do you treat yourSELF lovingly?  God's greatest gift to you personally... your very own unique SELF..... do you fully appreciate and care for the gift?

Are you your own best friend?  Do you support and encourage yourself?  Or do you beat yourself unmercifully for things you do or do not do?

Do you berate yourself?  Or are you are your own mentor.... recognizing the failings we all have, devising strategies to correct and encouraging yourSELF to do better?

Do you take care of your physical self?  Do you make sure you get proper nutrition and/or exercise?  Or do you let bad behaviors get the better of the situation and treat your body poorly... actually PREVENTING your body from being the magnificent creation God intended it to be?

Do you spend your time bemoaning your inadequacies?  Or do you even know your great qualities? 

 That quirky sense of humor, that green thumb, that sense of knowing when others hurt, whatever.... and encourage and grow those gifts?  Each of your qualities is a gift from God to help you be the best YOU possible.  You are a unique combination of qualities and characteristics specially designed to take a place in this world.

I am not talking about being selfish here... though as you learn to care for yourself, sometimes it FEELS selfish.  But that is more because we have spent so much time putting ourselves DOWN that we don't recognize fairness when it comes to US.  And, if that is the case, how can we be sure that we are truly being fair and caring to OTHERS?

I'd like to say that if you really want to be loving to others, you need to learn how to be loving towards yourself.  You need to appreciate and respect yourSELF.

You are a special being created for right here, right now!  You have a special responsibility to nurture and care for and, yes, LOVE yourself.  Sometimes we are lucky enough to have people in our lives who will look out for and care for us... sometimes we are not. 

But in any case, the bottom line responsibility for the care and feeding of you...... is, well, YOU! 

What will you do today to create the positive nurturing life you need (and God has planned for you)?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Gift of Saturdays

This Saturday, for me and my household, is one of the sweet quiet kind.  The kind of day when you roll over one extra time before getting up to greet the sun.... the kind of day that stretches out in front of you offering lots of opportunities... the kind of day where you can mosey and meander and choose how to spend it.

Of course I have PLENTY of things to keep me occupied.  There is a 4 mile training walk waiting for me, lots of packing to do with all the attendant last minute housecleaning & food preparation chores, and paperwork to get off my desk so that vacation can be just that and lists of other chores that need to be handled.  But the sun is shining and the day ahead beckons to me.
The temptation is to either buzz around like a maniac.. and have my Saturday pass by in a haze of anxiety and 'busy'-ness... or to STALL..  do neither my chores NOR have fun... and my Saturday will still pass me by...  Too many days slip away with no real memory of how they passed!

So my challenge is to THINK where I want to be on Saturday night!  How can I BEST spend this gift of a day so that I feel tremendous this evening?  How can I move purposefully through this day and get the most out of it?

Me - being me - I want it all!  I want to sit back this evening knowing that I got the things done that will bother me the most (if they do not get accomplished)  AND I want to sit back and smile because I did some things that simply please me :-) 

I will do both - get things done and have some fun!  I will be a good steward of time and make sure that this gift of a day doesn't slip away from me

So I'm off to sweep some floors, put dinner in the crockpot and then do my walk in the beautiful sunshine :-)

What will you do today?  How will you best use this gift of a Saturday?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday.... upcoming vacation

Is it Friday already?

I am not sure where the week went.

Our calendar this weekend is fairly clear except for Sunday morning.   I am looking forward to our being able to putz around and enjoy!

On MY agenda is preparing for a family vacation next week... so the food prep will consist of using up what's perishable, planning for our house /pet sitter and choosing travel food, then also basic household jobs that need to be taken care of, early spring yard maintenance, my weekly needlework morning on Saturday and my training miles for the race next weekend,..... not to mention checking the family clothes and supplies needed for a trip (and dividing them in half!)

And then, OF COURSE, all the paperwork and jobs that are WEIGHING on me to get done BEFORE we leave - many of which will keep nicely until we get back!  But those decisions will be made this weekend, for Monday is already full and will have last minute things added to it :-)

My vacation preparation falls in line with my resolutions so I get to write about it :-)  As you probably figured out by now, I am a person who LOVES multi-tasking.  Anything that can serve more than one purpose is a WIN with me.  That goes for vacations too!  So.. what are we doing?

We are joining my cousins at their home for the annual 8TUFFMILES race on the island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands. This should be enough all by itself, shouldn't it?  Yes, I know... it should. 

But my life is full of 'SHOULDs' and 'NEED TOs' and 'DON'T HAVE TIME FORs'.  I have to work at making FUN possible.  It is hard for me to remember that FUN is GOOD FOR ME :-)

So I thought I'd share how that will work for this particular trip.

 First and foremost, re-connecting with some of my favorite relatives is always a bonus!  No matter where they live, prioritizing any chance you can re-connect with family or friends is important.  Kind of a family reunion in paradise. 

Second, the race.  Yes, resolution #11.... train for and participate in several races in 2011.  The 8TUFFMILE event is just that... eight TOUGH miles.  The course runs from sea level to 1000 feet up and back down again.... heartbreakingly beautiful!  I did it a couple of years ago and have wanted to repeat the experience ever since.  This year my goal is to ENJOY the event.. I'll take my camera and lots of photos along the way so don't expect any speed records from me :-)

Third, enjoying new experiences with my family.  From whatever confusion at the airport to the new restaurants and jungle hikes, it is always fun to see the world through the eyes of people you love.  Your experience is multiplied.

And fourth, for me personally, is a sense of achievement.  Resolution #9 Debt reduction progress.  I have wanted to go back to St John for this race but economics has not allowed it.  We've been preparing for this for a few years, and while our finances are still not where we want them, we saved for this purpose and will not go into further debt doing it.  It's REWARD time.  As the money manager in our family, it feels GOOD to be able to do this.  This is what the work is FOR!

I'll save the feelings of GUILT for anticipating and having a good time for another day :-)

So tell me, what is on the agenda for YOUR weekend?  Have you thought about a chance to get away and have fun with your family this year?


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Resolution #1 FOOD as MEDICINE part 1

      So I visited a naturopathic doctor.  I entered a calm tranquil place with that new age music that scares me to death.  The last time I did that, I ended up boiling curry powder to get bad vibes out of my house.  I was desperate so I did it.. but I'm not sure if it worked or if I felt so dumb doing it that I got over myself :-)  I don't mean to poke fun at people's beliefs.. I certainly do not have all the answers and I do not believe that modern medical practices have them all either.  But I am essentially a fairly practical person.. so for something to work for me, it needs to make sense.

            I had a wonderful visit and learned a LOT about nutrition and using food as a healing tool rather than pharmaceuticals.  I still have a few supplements but not many and very specific ones.

             First of all, it is important to note that thinking about the 'Food as Medicine' approach to wellness is not the same as thinking about Food Allergies.  If I eat something I was advised to avoid, it doesn't mean that I will have an immediate negative reaction.  What it means is that what I am eating is not nourishing or helping me.  My body is not processing it well and the food may well be adding to my ill health by stressing my body.

     This is a difficult concept.  It is a pro-active approach to health and wellness... kind of like when you exercise... you can't always SEE or FEEL the benefit of one exercise session.   So I can't SEE or FEEL the benefits of the foods I am avoiding... but the I have to say that the collective effect has been fantastic

       I was advised to try to follow the 'Eat for your blood type' diet.... for me, I am Blood Type O.  More information is available on

       The main diet for me is, simply put, that of a primitive hunter / gatherer.  If I can hunt it or pick it, my system gets optimum nutrition.   My protein should come from 'quality animal sources'.   Recommended meats... buffalo (really?), turkey, wild game, cold-water fish & lamb.   Lots of vegetables.... cooked and raw.... nuts and eggs...

       NO wheat, corn or barley.  Wow!  That knocks out all breads and tortillas. (or so I thought).

       I also have allergies... autoimmune tendencies... which also aggravate my eye problems.. so... for me -  NO 'cow' or soy products - that is dairy OR beef  (avoiding beef was okay for the most part but my protein requirements had been managed with whey protein, yogurts and cheeses)  Yikes!   Now my protein needed to come from 'quality animal sources'... but not beef :-(

     And then there is the 'eliminate all processed sugars and chemicals' part....  yikes.... forget fat free... sugar free.. and almost ANYthing processed..

     And my all-day coffee habit would have to go..

             Talk about changes!!   I thought I WAS eating healthy.  I don't care much for meat and don't know how to cook it.  I have spent most of my adult life moving closer and closer to a vegetarian diet with the exception of meat that is already prepared or of the 'boneless, skinless' frozen variety.   I despise fish.  I do not live near a major city.... my grocery stores (each a minimum of 40 minutes away) do not carry much in the way of organic produce or wheat free products....certainly free range meat or eggs is not available....  I had no idea even how to shop!

  And so began a series of fun and 'not-so-fun' shopping / eating adventures!

  Right at first I bought snacks!  Basically junk food that was wheat and dairy free.  Of course, junk is junk so that wasn't helpful.  I tried to be positive.. but I was clueless.  My weight loss plan that had been so successful.... well - all those 'go to' foods were GONE!  All that fat-free, sugar-free yogurt and cheese... the power bars.... the whey protein smoothies..  Back to the drawing board for new tools!

  I have to tell you... as hard as I work to remain positive and accept a challenge... I FREAKED!  I did check out every grocery store within a 50 mile radius and discovered what each carried that I could eat.

    I DID find out that there are specific brands of bread that use SPROUTED wheats & grains... no flour.. that were just fine for me.  Thank goodness!  My favorite is the Ezekiel brand.  I have not only found bread, but also English muffins, pita bread, raisin bread & tortillas sold in the freezer section.  WHEW!

    I found a lot of the right things.... but I also worried about gaining weight again..  And I did .... but that was really due to a late night binge habit that got worse from the WORRY about gaining weight.  It's a terrible thing to watch yourself do.... emerging from an empty bag of chips with no memory of what happened.  My own fault, of course.. but that realization didn't really help solve the problem!

  Within 2 weeks - because of a 5-pound weight gain and my own concerns about eating behaviors coming to a head... I was back in my doctor's office for more hand-holding..  I'll write another post to finish the story next Thursday.....

    Btw, I did try a bison meat loaf but it was horrible.  It doesn't help that I don't like cooking much... I am going to have to try again - so maybe I should ask you if any of YOU have good recipes for buffalo.  Or lamb... I bought some ground lamb too but the bison experience was so bad, I'm still scared to try it!



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sick... or NOT sick, that is the question..

    sick.. or not sick - 

     Don't you hate waking up with a bit of a scratchy throat.... and your first thought upon waking is.... am I gonna get sick?  Is this just a little early morning STUFF...or is it FOR REAL this time?

   So you go along your day..... feeling achey maybe (or do you?).. wondering when the really bad stuff is going to hit.   An extra cup of hot tea, some Vitamin C.... can you ward it off?

    It occurred to me that we spend WAY too much time worrying about what MIGHT happen and not enough time just taking care of today.   The world we live in is full of scary possibilities... where we need to sanitize, sanitize, sanitize.... eat right..... exercise.... how much is enough?  How much is too much?  And why do we need to hyper-focus on it?

I believe in positive thinking.  I tend to go along believing I won't get sick.  And for the most part, that is true.  But I am also a realist.  I have the usual things.... I AM over 50, mind you.  MOST days start out a little gingerly while the new day and I get acquainted.  I kind of see that as all my body parts saying good morning :-)

I do try to take care of myself and listen to what my body has to say.  Where is the line between listening to my body (and noticing the little cough) and worrying about what happens next?  I am not sure.. but I HAVE learned a few things along the way:

Worrying about things does not help me.  Ignoring my body is not usually a good idea.  A cough is a symptom.  Period.  That said, it is a symptom of many things, most as innocuous as clearing out a little overnight accumulation of mucus.  A cup of hot tea will help by adding liquid to my body to help it do its job.  (Coffee, by the way, will take liquid away... so while it FEELS good to have the hot liquid, you will keep drinking it to no avail in the long run).

Usually, for me, this is the end of the story, though.  Worrying about what comes next.. WITHOUT MORE SYMPTOMS... is not only useless, but damaging.

Worrying and preparing are NOT the same things.   Noticing and treating symptoms is NOT worrying. It's smart.  Worrying about and treating symptoms that have not happened?  That's a waste of time and energy.

Worry causes me unhappiness.  Unhappiness stops my progress toward being the best me I want to be.  When I worry, I neglect to do things that help me.  I am paralyzed with fear.  I choose NOT to let fear run my life.

Worrying about things makes them happen sooner.  I can't prove this scientifically but I believe that what you spend most of your time thinking about is exactly what will happen to you eventually.  This is one of the primary reasons that I dream of clean and clear spaces in my home.  This is one of the reasons that I am almost ALWAYS in a good mood... it's a decision I make every day.

As my positive self, I remind myself constantly... NO WORRIES!  Things will happen or they will not.  And I will deal with life accordingly.  AND I will succeed.

My realist side believes it is natural to worry.  More so as you get older, mostly because you have seen that many more bad things happen.  But the truth is that you have also seen that many more miracles.... are you noticing THOSE?  Looking at both sides keeps you in balance.

All that said, another cup of tea with honey in it can't hurt :-)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hello, my name is...

Kay.. and I confess...  it is February 15 and I still have a few lingering Christmas things lying around.  My family decorates later than most people (mid-December) and our decorations come down later too (mid-January).    But now it is mid-February and I have not decorated either with my January snowmen OR Valentine stuff.  I'll think about St. Patrick's Day and Easter later.  I do a purge of decorations every year so there isn't a lot to worry with.   EXCEPT Christmas!

If you are an organizing guru or a neat freak, you might want to stop right here.  I can't help you.. I can only provide you with entertainment.  If you are little bit messy... or paralyzed by indecision when it comes to STUFF.... maybe I can help... or at least give you a little understanding :-)  We still NEED to get ourselves in hand somehow.. and keep moving forward!

Anyway, I had good intentions.  Almost everything Christmas is put away except the things I either LOVE or have issues with... so today, I tackle those!  It's decision time.

First, I'll deal with the lights on the house.   Actually I LOVE having little white twinkle lights on my house.  I have a big porch and really enjoy having those lights in the summer.  So those will stay.  Also, packed in accessible storage are the extra replacement strands.  It will be important that my family knows where they are too, because my beloved husband and I have absolutely opposite ideas of what logical storage means.  If we don't agree, neither of us will ever find them when they are needed!  That said, I am dealing with it today... and if he does not see twinkle light storage as his Tuesday priority, then I will have to make a note to have that discussion later.  I am packing them away!

  Those are the porch lights on the back of the house.  We left a few strands all intertwined with pine garland on the front of the house.  It looked great in the snow.... but our snow is gone.  We still talk about the lights though and whether or not to keep them all year.   My decision today is to remove the garland and the lights.  Once the garland comes out, the light strings will be loose and sloppy.  I will put the light strands with the other accessible ones so that we can re-string them easily if that is the family choice.

There are a few candles that still need to finish burning and some themed pump hand soap to use up.  Does anybody else have trouble getting that stuff used up DURING a season?  The candles that are nearly finished can stay.  I'll commit to burning them.  (Note: the ones I didn't LOVE have already been tossed!)

There is still one container in my extra room waiting for the last few items.

Well... that is the easy part...  now comes the serious procrastination.  

This year we received a live wreath.  We haven't had live things in years because I used to have a lot of trouble with asthma.... so we hung this beautiful wreath outside on the front door.  In late January, I moved it inside because it was still pretty and I liked looking at it.   Also, I wanted to save the crafty things on the wreath.  I'm not sure why... I used to save everything crafty as a matter of course... but now I ask the question.  Anyway, I haven't gotten around to either removing the items OR making a decision... so today, the items come off and the wreath goes.  They will go in one zip-type storage bag and in the box!  Wreath AND craft indecision handled FOR TODAY.

Then, the WORST.... two sets of items that belonged to my mother.  (We won't talk about the one entire container of her Christmas things that I do not use).

First is a set of 3 straw camels.  They are okay... but I would never have bought them.  They are different sizes... and one is pretty large.  She used to put them on a set of glass shelves in a picture window.  I need to mention two things here.... my mother died almost 15 years ago.  She was my best friend and I still struggle with her death.  AND, after her death, my family bought her house from her estate.  So not only do I have the camels, I have the home she displayed them in.

That said, we do not have the either the glass shelves or the same window.  We have had a hurricane since then and a LOT of things changed.  The camels have spent many years stuffed in the back of a closet.  I have cleaned the closet out many times but left the camels for some reason.   Anyway, this year, they made it out of the closet and into a storage container.  Not a good answer, I know... but I feel like I made some little progress by getting them that far :-)  Simply seeing them and touching them is almost more than I can bear.  I will re-double my commitment to handle my own clutter and try to save my children as much of this kind of pain as possible!  If any of my family reads this far, let me know if you want those stupid camels.. I would love to hand them over (even if you toss them.. just don't tell me!)

Next is 2 little wooden reindeer.  I am ready to get rid of those but have a hard time just tossing things.  You know, because they are STILL GOOD.  But I have no clue who they would be GOOD FOR... I just know it's not me!  They will go in my give away bag AND out of my house!

Finally, the container that has been waiting for these last items.  This particular container will stay near the front of my storage closet.  I plan to pull it out in the summer and look again.  It will be easier to make intelligent decisions about Christmas decorating when I'm not wrapped in the sentimental Christmas feelings.  I think perhaps a nice sweltering 90+ degree day...

So tell me.... if you read this far..  what do you have still hanging around?

And if you are the neat freak who read this far.... good for you!  I have to ask.... where is YOUR trouble spot (because I KNOW you have one!) 

And, before you say anything about Santa.... he lives on my mantel all year.  He doesn't qualify as a Christmas decoration.  He makes me smile all the time... so he stays... I don't care what the season is :-)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mondays and New Beginnings!

I love Mondays!

I'm not sure if it is my contrary nature.... or if I really love Mondays :-)   But Mondays, to me, are new beginnings!  The week starts off with a clean slate and my To Do list is emerging and ready to have items checked off!

The laundry is started for my daily load, I'm enjoying a cup of tea and am prepared to tackle my office work.   The dog will start barking within 30 minutes and we will get a half mile stroll.... and then back to whatever life decides to throw my way.

I remember a time when I used to despise Mondays because it was "back to the grind".  Somewhere along the line I had an attitude shift and decided that new beginnings were worth ENJOYING :-)

Maybe it was the way I thought of beginning and ending my week?  Weekdays are full of anxiety and busy-ness.  We are - all of us - ON THE GO!  It's never-ending... and then the weekend comes..  In theory, weekends are slow, fun family times.  In reality, they are often worse than the weeks!  We expect to do so much 'catch-up work' AND enjoy friends and family?  Not so much :-)  We start Monday's exhausted!

Try this.... your week starts clean and new on Monday morning :-)  Anything you didn't do last week gets re-prioritized according to importance.  If it's important, schedule it in... if it gets shuffled off for another week, it might be time to re-consider its importance to you!

Your week ends on Friday.   Hmm.... how is that possible?  There is so much to do...  It is possible because you can re-frame your weekend expectations.  Make having FUN with your family a weekend priority.

Of course, there is still plenty to be done over the weekend... but do the things that will make your life easier!  I don't care for cooking but I cook 2 or 3 meals over the weekend... it makes me happy to have the food ready and decisions made during the week.  In this case, cooking makes me happy (did I say that?)

DO the things you can't or don't want to reschedule for the week ahead.

Weekends become about doing things that make your life easier or things that make you happy :-)  And when your mind can be in that space, FUN with your family and friends becomes possible!

Somehow.... 'back to the grind' on Mondays becomes a little more exciting with some rest and fun behind you!

What do YOU do to make your Mondays more exciting?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Helpful Habits

           When things get crazy... the only thing that saves my resolutions... are HABITS!  You read a lot about forming habits... some say they are hard to form.. some say they are easy... some say they can't do it.  I read that it takes 21 days to create a habit.... I'm not so sure about that...  sometimes I think it takes a LOT longer.  I have been working on my nutritional habits for years and am just now realizing that some of my chosen behaviors have BECOME habits when I wasn't looking. 

      Have you ever thought about how to create a habit?   I found that the easiest way to do it is to be very specific about the habits I already have!  And yes - you have them....  we are creatures of habit.

   If you don't believe me, try this experiment... think about your morning.  Make a list of each thing you do when you get out of bed in the morning.    Think about it ... does this list ever vary?  If it does.... WHY did it vary?  Was it your choice or was it outside circumstance?  I bet it wasn't you.   Most of the time, we are pretty mindless in our behaviors.  We fall into certain routines.... and this is fantastic!  It allows us to function and to put our brains to use in other areas.  So the key here - is to create behaviors that you do not have to think about.. that will further your personal goals.

   Follow yourself around and notice 'clusters' of behaviors.  Things you do at the same time.. like maybe flossing and brushing your teeth.  It is easier to remember to do one when you are already doing the other.  I already wipe out the sink after I brush my teeth... so that is a good time to add....wiping the counter.

  Small persistent actions that lead you toward your goals.  MY goal of a neat house that I don't have to think about....  I need habits to make that happen.

  So what kinds of habits will help me keep my resolutions?

1.  Food habits.... my page of FOOD RULES lists some of my acquired habits and ones I am working on.  Never be at the mercy of society.... always carry a nutritious snack with me!  Always eat breakfast keeps my energy up...   Eating in combination makes sure I get my fruits and veggies

2.  Movement habits...  regularly scheduled exercise classes.. people are waiting for you to show up.. you are less likely to miss them.   Scheduled events like races are good for me... I won't do them without training because I worry about injury.  That keeps me regularly checking my training schedule and coming back the next day if I miss a workout.

3.  Debt reduction habits...  NOT going into stores...  Constantly asking myself if we really NEED an item or just want it...  Using 1 -2 weeks monthly as "use up" weeks.

4.  House maintenance habits...   This is an area of constant need for improvement.... but I work on little things that can become habits.  It helps to designate certain days or times to do certain things.... I have lists of daily, weekly, monthly & quarterly tasks... I do a load of laundry every day

5.  Evaluation & Review Habits... I make sure that EVERY DAY at some point, I review what I have done that day & what is missing from my resolution progress.  I SCHEDULE what I plan to do next.

What kind of habits do you already have that can be put to work for you?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Plans..... WHAT plans?

Wow - do you ever find that you plot and plan and strategize..... and then life happens?   My weekend took an unexpected turn (probably BECAUSE I had things all carefully planned out :-)  God has a way of reminding me who is in charge!

  Last night my teen-aged son came down HARD with a cold!  We went to the Winter Ball because he couldn't stand NOT going... but he didn't dance much.  I had a hint then that he was REALLY feeling bad.  We came home and he went to bed.

I woke a little earlier this morning than usual...nerves for today's martial arts testing I am sure.  I went ahead and got up and got several things done, including 1.5 miles of the 7 miles I had on the schedule for today & a pot of chili going in the crockpot.  Then, I went to wake up my son....  oh, poor thing.... he really feels awful.  He feels so bad that he didn't feel that he would be able to test for his next belt.

So.... instead of being a totally crammed weekend, my morning turned out to be FREE!

What got to me though... was simply this:  I didn't know how to respond!  If you remember a few days ago, I was debating whether or not I wanted to test for my own next belt level....  I did consider going ahead without him... but rejected that pretty quickly.  I feel better hanging around and being there for him - even if I can't do much.  Martial arts is HIS love.... and this is a sad thing for him.  For me, it isn't that important.  I chose to go ahead with it merely because I have earned it and I deserve it..... two things that I don't take into consideration enough!

But I was aggravated that things changed.  Which is kind of funny since I wasn't really invested in the weekend's events in the first place!

It struck me as funny - but so predictable... that we don't like change!  Even GOOD change... even change that brings us what we want!  We are such contrary creatures that I had to shake my head at my own responses.

Fortunately, I was able to chuckle at myself and regroup pretty quickly.  I did  go ahead with my 7 miles..... and got into my usual Saturday morning crafting.  I worked on the infamous quilt panel and have finished up a few of the crochet projects.  I have cleaned out one of the garden beds and will get more of the week's house maintenance out of the way.  I will get some paperwork handled and even have time to plan some fun with my guys.  But I am grateful for the opportunity to laugh at myself!

How is YOUR weekend going?  How fast did things change at YOUR house?


Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday weekend plans

Ahhh.... the weekend!  

Weekends are supposed to be times to fill with family and FUN!

Why are we seduced into filling our weekends with chores?

       I am as guilty as everyone else.... I am looking at my To Do list this morning with an eye to what I can finish up over the weekend.... what I need to do to further my goals.  But the most important thing that I consider for a weekend is Spending Time with the people I love!  But I feel such a CRUSH of chores and time constraints!

So.... how to get everything done?

#1.  What are the events on the schedule for the weekend?   Which are MY events and which are events where my support is needed?

          So, for me, I must attend:  a Winter Ball for my teen boys tonight, (leave around 6:30pm and return around 11pm),  Martial Arts testing on Saturday morning (leave home around 7:30am and return sometime in the afternoon), church & Sunday School (Sunday morning - leave home around 8:30am and return around 1:30pm) and a seminar for my teen guys Sunday night (leave 5pm & return around 10pm)

      LONG weekend and a lot of travel.  We live pretty far out so that is part of our reality.  Anyway - much of the weekend is going to be sucked up with events away from home - BUT that is FIRST on the schedule!

#2.  What are the things on my personal schedule that can't be moved?
       Honestly, the thing that will be the hardest to find time for is a 7 mile training walk.   I need to do it though - I have an 8 mile race coming up in 2 weeks.  This training distance is important because I am important.

#3.  What are the things that I usually do over the weekend?  Where can they fit (or do they have to be done?)
         Let's see... Saturday mornings are usually allocated to my training distance and to handwork.  I use Saturdays' handwork time to finish up crochet projects from the week and to work on some quilting projects.  Over the weekend, I assess personal chores (from my resolutions, around the house, business and personal paperwork, ministry projects) and make my lists for the week & see what is needed to prepare to do them.

        Over the course of the weekend, I usually cook some food for the week ahead and gather my information for a grocery trip too.. (usually I make a soup, a casserole and plan a basic dinner - meat entree, starch & veggies)

  If the weather is nice I try to do at least one thing in the yard to get some fresh air and a jump on spring!

    Oh yeah... Valentines Day is Monday... what am I going to do to share the LOVE?

   And then there are the ongoing house chores and projects....  never-ending!

  This weekend will be a challenge!  How do I get it all done?

   Well.... I probably won't :-)  BUT here is what I WILL do...

                 FIRST I will commit to getting my sleep and packing food so that my body will be taken care of during this marathon weekend! 

               SECOND, I will remember all weekend long that my primary mission is to take care of the people I love!  No whining!  I want to be a positive role model and lead my family to happiness!

               THIRD.... I will be thinking about it TODAY (not tomorrow)   I will make a list of everything I think needs to be done.

                    Here are my criteria for scheduling:
                           A) Which things can not be changed?
                                     For example, outside events..... (the only question here is "Do I have to go to them?")
                           B) Which things can double up?
                                       For example: preparing next week's food while I prepare Saturday night dinner

                            C)  Which things can I do RIGHT NOW?
                                       For example, locating my sympathy cards that need to be written or paying some bills.   Be ready to do things when the window of time opens up.

                            D) Which things can I PUT OFF? 
                                     For example, while our sheets need to be changed and washed... I can do it Monday or Tuesday.  Another day won't kill anybody

                For me, I will go to my family events.  I need to go to all of them for reasons of family support and/or personal interest.   They CAN NOT be changed.

               I will probably NOT be the driver.. and am blessed to be able to do things in the car without getting sick - so I will DOUBLE UP and crochet in the car.  (I won't finish things up - but I WILL move forward on bigger projects.. like a scarf or a prayer shawl)

                 I will wear my pedometer when I go to the martial arts testing tomorrow and use the steps I rack up toward my 7 mile distance.  Then I will plan on doing the balance on the treadmill when I get home (and catch up on some recorded television!)  DOUBLE UP and RE-ALLOCATE.

                TODAY, (RIGHT NOW) before I leave for an afternoon meeting, I will check out our food collection and make decisions about what to cook for next week.   I will finish up a few of the crochet projects that need stitching or fringe.  I will find the 3 sympathy cards that I need to send and locate the addresses. (BE READY)
       And the sheets are waiting (PUT OFF) .. and if the weather is nice, I will clean out one garden bed..  Still not sure about Valentines Day..  I got all the cards mailed yesterday (gold star for me and resolution #2) and have purchased cards for the family I live with... but need to cook up some FUN for Monday :-)


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Resolution Number 1 - weight vs health! Back Story Part 1

 Note:  It occurred to me that the reasons WHY I chose the resolutions that I have chosen for this year might be an appropriate topic for conversation..  I am going to choose Thursdays as days to be thoughtful and thankful!  I will tell the history of my resolutions on Thursdays!

1.      Weight, weight, weight!  Maintain loss and lose a little more.  Tighten and tone…. Develop a daily regimen to stay fit for life!  Learn to eat like a thin healthy person.

     Sound familiar???  I think that weight loss has been a New Year's WISH for most of my life.

  In 2007, I lost 60 pounds!  Yep, a HUGE accomplishment.....  I never even knew it was possible :-)  The story of the loss - yes, it was a quick healthy loss - is for another day.  The story of learning who this new person active person was is also for another day...

  For now I will talk about today :-)  From where I am sitting now... 3-1/2 years later...  I have maintained approximately 45 pounds of that loss.  I am used to the way I look now and recognize the woman in the mirror.  I participate in several exercise classes which help keep me active... martial arts twice weekly, a line dancing group meeting twice weekly, and 5 dance classes - ballet, clogging, Christian lyrical ballet, and Irish soft and hard shoe.   I also do a good bit of walking training on occasion in preparation for an annual Breast Cancer 3Day Walk and worry / work on strength exercises for my upper body.

  I am chasing the illusive lower weight I think I ought to weigh.. STILL!  My logical brain has chosen a number and body shape and still wants it.  Last summer, I dropped 20 pounds in a couple of months.  No big deal... just be serious and stop eating so much.  I felt like I was handling things in a healthy way.  BUT my energy level plummeted.  My hair started falling out.  I was as depressed as I usually am in the middle of January.   Yikes!

  I went to the doctor for my annual check-up and had lots of tests run.... all the usual PLUS thyroid (for the hair) and Vitamin D levels ( for the depression).  I waited anxiously for the results for 2 weeks.  When the call came, the nurse blithely informed me that all my levels were normal except my cholesterol.  It was too high and the doctor wanted me on mes to bring it down.  Well..... I am not opposed completely to drug therapies.  I think there is a time and place for them.  But since this was the very first time that cholesterol has been mentioned as an issue for me, I declined quickly.  I was given 3 months to turn it around by diet and exercise.

   Well.. now I was REALLY depressed... no energy, hair falling out... I forgot to mention above that I had been struggling with issues with my eyes for several months already.. (diagnosed with dry eye syndrome and in constant eye pain).... really bad attitude and now.... my cholesterol was too high.   My feeling was, that I had been handed another symptom..... not THE problem.  I also need to mention that I am two years past menopause... so some of this may be age-related as well.... but still needs a resolution so I can go on with the life I have built for myself.

   Soo... I added supplements... I already took Black Cohosh, Calcium, B Complex, D and sometimes C.   So I added Omega 3s.... fish oil.. because I HATE fish... okay, I'll rephrase.... I haven't LEARNED TO LIKE fish yet :-)   The problem with fish oil is that I burp it back so that was nasty.. sorry if that is too much information.  Of course, everyone I talked to has their favorite remedy for that.. including some digestive enzymes that I added to my collection.  But the remedies were like all the advice for how to peel a hardboiled egg easily... sometimes they worked.. sometimes they didn't....  but never was anything consistent.

    So... I was taking all these daily supplements and trying to eat healthily.... eating every few hours.... protein at every sitting... and my eye specialist prescribes an antibiotic to take twice daily for several months.  I understood that it needed to be taken on an empty stomach...... not sure about that because I promptly got very nauseous and ended up losing the pill!    So then I read the instructions and find out that it might make me nauseous (go figure), so to eat with a light meal.... BUT not within 2 full hours of any vitamins or protein.   Okay, so now I have supplements morning and night..... and an antibiotic with a meal morning and night.. but not within 2 hours of the supplements.   Wow - this scheduling is awful...

    About a week later, I lost my lunch.... and had enough!  I scheduled an appointment with a naturopathic doctor and put myself in her hands to try and use food as medicine.  So... here is where things change up for me.....  my food ideas / habits which worked so well for my weight losses go out the window.

    Next week, I will outline what I learned and what I was asked to try.  Where are you on the health / weight loss journey?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Habits Saved Me :-)

oh wow!
Life has been full lately and I feel like the wheels have come off the wagon!

I have missed scheduled exercise classes!
I have eaten out (and NOT salads!)
The house?  Well.. the less said, the better...
Debt reduction - no time to be in stores - so some progress there but I am not sure I get credit for it!
Declutter?   yeah... well.... no
Crocheting and reading? Okay well they are both relaxing and things I do when I am waiting for other people so I am making progress there.
Special projects?  spiritual reading, quilting & photos....  no way..

I have been running nonstop lately doing all the things that life throws at me!

Who can think of resolutions when they are fighting fires?

     This brings home the importance of habits... now that I am taking a little breather (because the rest of the household is ASLEEP!).. I can take a minute and think about the wheels that did NOT come off the wagon!


    Each day I packed food to take with me....while I may have eaten non-nutritive things while I was out... I DID have healthy choices with me and made more healthy choices because of that.

    Each day I thought of movement I COULD do... so kept the idea alive and did more than I might have.  (I took walks with my granddaughter and did pushups off the kitchen counter).  Also on Saturday when I was home, I went straight to my training schedule for my 6 mile walk...

    When I did go into a store, I picked up only what was absolutely needed (because we had run out).  I have decided not to make purchases I haven't thought about.  I created menus & freezer /pantry lists on Saturday so we had meals thought out.

    I still am working on 2 simple kitchen and bathroom cleaning habits.... hit or miss but still did them twice last week.

    I pulled my stationery bag (a zip-type plastic bag with birthday list, address book, stamps, labels, a few blank cards and a few birthday cards) and took it with me.  I actually did manage to dash off a birthday card & a couple of valentines.

   I chose easy crochet projects to take with me... things that required lots of time to do but not much thinking.

  And, of course, I carry a book with me & my notebook with daily lists & notes.

HABITS saved me! 

Which habits? 

    ***All that "choosing to carry with me".... that is an evening preparation habit.  The time in the evening after dinner clean-up is done when I ask myself... What is going on tomorrow?  What will I need?

  *** Having specific habits to work on... this gives me a narrow area of focus.  If I do these certain things, I am good.  In some ways, it limits the amount of guilt I can heap on myself :-)

    *** Self-evaluation habit ... this is a RE-FRAME of the old 'let's list all the things I did wrong' habit.  I recognize what went wrong..... and make myself do two more things: list what I did RIGHT AND list how I can make tomorrow better.

  *** Make myself and my resolutions a priority...  how this helps is that I take responsibility for myself.  I have good healthy food choices in my house.  I have a schedule for training and movement.  I do NOT blame others or life circumstances for my failure.  Actually I do not recognize failure.  As long as I am moving forward in any way... I am succeeding.... so EACH and EVERY day can be rescued :-)  (thank goodness one of my goals is reading!)

  Oops.... time's up.... the dog is barking for her morning walk.... the family is starting to wake up.... I'm off to another day of running.... now where did that mop go?

Tell me what habits you are working on..... how does your day go when circumstances change?  What do you do to rescue it?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Charity begins at home

  Isaiah 58
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

      This was one of the readings we listened to last Sunday and it hit home HARD!  I mean, my resolutions... to tithe..   okay, well that takes care of some of the poor... bringing food donations takes care of some of the hungry.... my crocheting will take care of clothing some of the naked..  but the people I live with?

   What does that mean?  I mean... they have clothes and food...  they have more books and toys than they know what to do with...  I think what resonates with me is that I am WONDERFUL with the rest of the world..... yet I am not offering my best efforts to the blessed beloved ones I live with.

  It is scary to think that this is true.. but I am old with many children and can definitely remember MANY times that I was fair and lenient with others.... yet harsh and demanding with my own... yet also insisting on my family's understanding when I extended so much to others.  I never realized that I tried so hard to remember everyone..... yet forgot the people closest to me!

  I sit here now with a resolution to send cards to friends and family..... yet have failed utterly with the people whose lives are entwined with mine.  Not that I have forgotten their birthdays.... but I do not get presents wrapped.... often skip the cards... and am not sure that I make them feel as special as they really are.
But I
   It's still a good resolution.  The extended family needs to know that they are special to me.  Because they are... they really are, even if I don't know them well.  But I need to extend myself further....  I need to make sure that I act in a loving manner to those who share my home.

    Those who live with me need to FEEL my love and respect for them.... it is left for another day to come up with some concrete ways to show that love.  It is sufficient for today to recognize that I have not given them enough of what they deserve for putting up with me!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Evaluation Day!

Resolutions + February pledges:

Health & Fitness     

1.     1.  Develop a daily regimen to stay fit for life!  Learn to eat like a thin healthy person.

   A) EAT - am doing a lot better!  Some simple rules & habits are getting me through.  I think my weight is beginning to stabilize.

   B) MOVE:
 Feb pledge:
      A* Continue health/fitness eating and moving projects (1)
               *Martial Arts class Monday
               *Dance class on Tuesday
               * Babysitting on Wed, Thu, Fri... and the wheels came off the wagon!  A change in schedule can derail the best of plans.   Due to babysitting, I missed martial arts on Wed and my dance classes on Thursday.  Friday I did some pushups to continue the arms work - so am working to keep going!
              *Race training on Saturday... 6 endurance miles. Sore hamstrings at the end - but done nonetheless!
       B* Develop/begin a regular core/arm strength routine (1)
              *Copied an arm program from JJ Virgin's 6 Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy to use for a strength routine
              *Pushups on Friday; total gym pullups on Saturday


              2..   Financial betterment - reduce debt, reduce consumer spending, increase savings, increase giving, property improvement

              3. Life simplification: Organize, unclutter, streamline, purge!  

 Continue progress with reducing spending / saving (2)
               * Did a regular grocery trip on Monday
               * Life's schedule change eliminated any random errands - which saved money!
               *Created menus for next week using items on hand so that the grocery trip can be smaller. 
               *Began working on a basic pantry list for stock-up items to reduce spending on items we may not use.
               *Reviewed January data and discovered that I have OVERgiven and UNDERsaved..  Shhhhh.. don't tell my church leaders but I have to adjust this month and bring it back into line!
                My goals are:  5% church donation
                                     5% other charity donation
                                   10% money market savings
         with an ultimate goal of another 10% toward short-term savings (for large expenses)

Re-commit to daily house maintenance habits and decluttering projects (3)
             *  Got back on track this weekend..... specifically the 2 house maintenance habits I want to create in the kitchen and bathroom

Finish hat/scarf to niece/nephew project (5 girls / 4 boys) (6)
               * 3/9 almost finished.  2 more started

Get baby gifts planned and started (6)
            * 2 planned, have yarn for 1
Continue with birthday card project - add 2 sympathy cards (4)
            * bought valentines / birthday card to mail next week / no sympathy cards out yet
Open photo container and start looking at/sorting hard copy photos (9)
                * Nope

How are you doing?