Category Archives: new beginnings

Get Happy!

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to use the library more and spend less (I have a hard time saying “spend less on books” because that seems like blasphemy to me, but I do need to remember that while my husband built me a beautiful wall bookcase, it does have only so much room).  This resolution is always harder for me when my Bas Bleu catalog comes in the mail. It is full of wonderful new books, coffee mugs, cat items – in short, it’s as though someone had me in mind when they created it. It’s also like they truly understand my weaknesses and are ready to capitalize on them. Those curs!

Anyhow, I circled the books I would love to buy. Then, I wrote down the titles and looked for them at the library. While not all were there, many were, including my current favorite, The Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World’s Happiest People.

Image result for The LIttle Book of Lykke

After learning I’m about 1/5 Scandinavian, a book on happiness written by the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark should not be a big stretch. But that aside, it’s a really interesting and fun book to read.

My reading over breakfast this morning talked about a movement in Japan called shinrin-yoku, which translates as “forest bathing.” The idea is not just to hike around and get in the exercise, but to pay closer attention to the world that is the forest. Check out the leaves, the trees, the birds, the critters; the sights and sounds of the world around you. This concept has been studied and Japanese researchers have concluded that it boosts immunity. Researchers in the UK finds it also helps boost one’s mental immunity,  raising mood and self esteem. I could have told them that! But hooray for woodsy hikes, right?

While my friend Deb and I were going to hike over Christmas break, the sub-zero temps put an end to that idea. But, I am still going to hold her to that hike. And maybe we can practice a little shinrin-yoku! I want to generate those positive feelings, or, as the author of the book, Meik Wiking, calls them “outdoorphins” (this is my new favorite term!), and a hike with a dear friend would be just the ticket.

So, pull on your hiking boots and wrap yourself in your favorite scarf and get out into the woods, even in January. It can only do you good! Outdoorphins, people!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a full moon and owl spotting hike to sign up for with the Quad Cities Women’s Outdoor Club!

Cheers.

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Happy New Year (ish – that’s the best I can give when it’s -20 outside; we won’t discuss wind chill)

Okay, boys and girls, the word of the day for January 1, 2018 is: flexibility!

Image result for gumby                                 (Anybody remember this guy? I was so flexible today, I was him!)

Yes, flexibility. Not in the yoga sense, though that is a valid guess. No, in the “it’s too cold for me to start my year outdoors with a hike so instead I will clean house like a maniac” sense

The old me would have felt guilty for skipping the hike I signed up for with the Quad Cities Women’s Outdoors Club (QCWOC). I really wanted to start the year off right with a bracing hike in the park. But looking at the thermometer on the front porch and listening to the windchill report from the National Weather Service, I knew it made more sense for me to stay indoors.

Besides, I went back to my first body pump class in about three months yesterday morning, and yesterday afternoon I tried hot yoga. That means as the day went on, I made a lot of funny noises whenever I had to bend, stoop, or squat down to dust under the bed. “Oow! Ouch! Argh!” and that sort of thing. But in a good way.

So rather than mope around about how I missed the hike, I decided it was time to check some January cleaning chores off the list. Part of my organization for the year involved creating a system to make sure I clean everything more regularly. To that end, I’ve got a recipe box my mom gave me and have labelled the dividers with each month with that month’s tasks written on recipe cards. When each month rolls around and I complete the tasks on that month’s card, I am writing the date on the back. So today my ceiling fans are dusted and the dust bunnies under the beds cowered in fear until I wiped them out. A little too OCD? Not so much. I feel better having a system. I am a list-maker, and this is the ultimate list for cleaning.

And then there was the bread making. When it’s cold outside, nothing makes the kitchen feel warmer, or smell better, than baking bread. Plus I got to do that kneading, which I actually enjoy. And it helps me think (and did not involve having to bend or stretch muscles that were sore). Even though the loaves did not turn out all that well, they were still fine because, as we have already learned, I am Gumby. Flexibility, ladies and gents. That is part of what this new year is about.

Cheers!

Image result for baked bread Wish my bread had turned out like this. Instead, it looked a little wonky and not photo-worthy. Maybe next time.

Starting Over; Time for “All In”

Image result for cartoon edge of diving board

After how many months of not writing (at least not here; occasionally elsewhere), with the new year approaching (thankfully – 2017 has been a lousy year; lots of loss, lots of heartbreak), I want to start with a clean slate and a renewed spirit to make sure that I post on a regular basis. Not just to make sure I write something, although that is certainly one aspect, but to help myself stick to a plan and commitment to follow through.

I started a week or two ago with a new therapist. I’ve been struggling for a long time with lots of issues (not sure now is the time or here is the place to open up those cans of worms, so just trust me on this one), and finding the right therapist is a lot like dating: it takes a few times together to determine if there is the right chemistry and fit. So, in the interest of better mental health, leading, hopefully, to a better me, I have taken the plunge again.

We are taking a different approach this time, which I am optimistic about. Plus I have been reading a couple of books that seem to mesh well with how we are talking about things, so, again, feeling some hope.

I think Ed is on board with me a bit more this time, which is very helpful. So now I am using the remainder of my break as planning time and thinking time and reading time. Not sure just what I’ll be tackling here, but steady as she goes.

Writing has traditionally been a way for me to help address the things with which I struggle. But in the past year or two I feel I’ve let it slide. Not sure if it’s because I don’t want to tackle things or if things have tackled me to the point that I just didn’t care. But now I know I have to care and I have to write. Writing will be one of the things to save me. I know it is just one of many things, but it is going to be a big piece for me, because, even though I haven’t been doing much of it or enough of it the past two years, I consider myself a writer. Writing is who I am and who I want to be. So don’t you think it’s about time I really went all in? Me, too. So let’s go! Pick up your pens or sit at the keyboard or the typewriter (you weapon, your choice).

I am also excited because there is a new coffeeshop much closer to my neck of the woods (it’s in the Harrison Hilltop area – The Brewed Book). I am planning to check it out in the next couple of days. A bookstore and coffeeshop. Now if they have a little chocolate that would be helpful. And cats. But I won’t get greedy. According to the article I read, it’s not a fancy-ass coffeeshop, which is fine by me. Just a plain cup of joe is fine. As long as there is somewhere to sit and read or talk and books to look at, I’m good.

So, now it’s time for me to go all in. Part of my problem is that I go part way and then pull back. Therefore, the theme for 2018 is All In! Wish me luck, because I am at the top of the ladder and am now approaching the edge of the diving board.

Image result for cartoon edge of diving board

Oh, and did I mention that going to auction school is on the agenda?

 

A Walk in the Woods

Yesterday I took a hike in my favorite park, Wildcat Den near Muscatine. I cut my hiking boots on that park. I grew up with it and love it, from Fat Man’s Squeeze to the Grist Mill. Despite being a particularly beautiful day, I didn’t run into many hikers But that’s okay. I was on a thinking mission, and think I did.

Every September, there is a 5K through the park. The year of my divorce, I won first place in my age group, much to my shock and surprise. Since then, I have dreamt of doing that again. But the year of the big D I lost 20 pounds or so (starting from a lower number than where I am now, sad to say), so I think all the working out I was doing at that point had a lot to do with my win.

So, now that I have been thinking a lot about re-making myself, I am setting a goal for that race again. Not necessarily to win my age group, though that would be awesome. Rather, to at least place (which means in the top three). So, to that end, my new goals are to hike the park twice a week, following the race route. After I lose ten pounds, which I know is possible, then I will start running the route twice a week. I must set my goal and work to achieve it.

And there is the problem for me lately. I really wish, wish being the operative word, I could lose the weight I need to lose with no work. That’s the difference between a wish and reality. In reality, it’s actually hard work to lose weight. At least it is for me, and probably for anybody else who has more than five pounds to lose. So I have to stop being lazy and start making short term goals to hit the long term.

The long term? I’m not sure I want to actually write it down in public like this, but I suppose I ought to in order to make myself more accountable. My overall goal would be to lose between 40 and 50 pounds. I don’t usually tell that to people out loud, because then I hear all kinds of prattle like, “Oh, you don’t need to lose that much,” or “You don’t have that to lose,” Indeed, kind reader, I do. I know where I used to be and haven’t seen that number for a long, long time. And now, if I want to get close to that number again, I have to be strong. I have to be steady. I have to work hard every single day, with as few slips as possible. There will be slips. I know this. I would be naive to think otherwise.

But I know that I have to not just work on my body, but my brain, too. I find it hard to look in the mirror sometimes. But I especially find it hard to look at myself in photos. That is why I never take “selfies” aside from the fact that I find selfies annoying and childish. But I imagine if I got closer to “the number” I might consider it. But I have to work on being kinder to myself and liking myself, or all of this will be for naught. I can’t keep hating on myself and be able to reach my goal.

So, I will physically work hard. I will plan and organize my food. I will continue to practice meditation and yoga to help keep me mindful. And I will continue to work with my therapist so I can redirect my anger and frustrations into more productive channels.

I will re-make myself into the person I really want to become!

Huh! All of that revelation from a 50 minute walk in the woods. Thanks, Mother Nature!

Speechless

This morning, part of my crazy day began when I read a copy of a reference letter a friend wrote for me for a job I am applying for. She is a former school board president and I had her son in my class about a million years ago. We are, as we both agree, kindred spirits. To that end, we get together for lunch or coffee sometimes, but not nearly often enough for either of us, I daresay, being kindred and all.

And her letter today left me speechless. Part of me was thinking, when I wasn’t crying, who is this person she is writing about? This shining pillar of a person who loves kids and who is good at what she does and really should get that English position at the high school, thank you very much. Speechless, except when I replied to her e-mail, between spots where I told her I was weepy with gratitude and stunned by her view of me, I said the principal would probably read that letter and hire me without the trouble of an interview. Yes, her letter was that wonderful.

Which makes me think about how I view myself. I have never been one to brag. I don’t like to do that, particularly. I know I’m smart. I consider myself nice enough looking (there are days when I think I am pretty, but then there are plenty of those other days). And that’s about where it begins and ends, unless I’m having one of those down days, where I get angry at nothing and anything. Where I have no patience with myself. Where I yell at myself and tell me that I’m so stupid. I know these are all falsehoods. But that’s where my head goes sometimes. Actually more times than I really like. Which is to say “never ” – I never really like it to go there, but go it does.

And then I read this letter. (sniff, sniff)

I told her that I struggle with how I view myself, which is true. I spend a lot of my internal time second-guessing myself, doubting I am good enough, and I tend to put other people’s thoughts into my head (“Oh, good grief, what is she thinking? She’s so stupid.” “Why is she wearing that?”). I have to remember, as I read somewhere, “Other people’s thoughts are none of your business.” True, so true. And yet…

And then there is this lovely, wonderful letter.

So, I think what I need to do is print out this letter from my dear friend and read it every morning when I get up, just to look in a different kind of mirror that I never knew was there. Or maybe didn’t want to think was there. I like this mirror, mirror. I guess in Snow White the mirror does reveal the truth. But I never knew which mirror to look in to see the real me, or at least the me my friend sees, which I would like to hope is the real me.

Illness and Perspective

So, I think all the stresses of the past several weeks have finally taken their toll. Yesterday I came down with something. Not sure what it is. I don’t get bronchitis or sinus infections really now, thanks to my CPap machine. No this was something different. A twisting in my gut that would not let up.

Today Ed has been dosing me with Pepto, which seems to help. I thought I was curing myself this week with a Facebook and a national news (mostly) blackout. But here I am, sick all the same. Ten hours of sleep on Friday night and on Saturday night. Feels like all I want to do is sleep. But I suppose that is okay. If my body wants sleep, I will sleep.

I have been trying to shift my perspective, though. Focus on things I can change. With the help of my Daily Stoic book, which gives me something to consider each morning, my new sun lamp (15 minutes every morning to give me a little shot of what the sky has not been giving us over the past 3 months or so — how is it possible for the world to stay so completely and unendingly grey for so long?), and my new therapist, I am slowly trying to make some changes.

Depression is such a lousy pit. Combine that with SAD and fear that the world is going to end, and that makes a bitter cocktail. So, I decided to try to make some lemonade from all those lousy lemons. Right now I’m doing some squeezing. Soon I hope to add some sugar. But being sick makes it hard to pull myself up. So, I guess I just have to let it all go for a few days.

The ubiquitous “they” say that February is the worst month (I think it far crueler than April, Eliot be damned). I don’t want to believe this, because if I haven’t yet seen the worst, how much worse can it get? So, today I’ll just turn on the heating pad, make another cup of tea, read my book, journal a bit, and pray that I start to feel better, at least physically. Because, from my perspective, that’s at least one place to start.

Back to the Blog

It has been far, far too long since I have posted. So I have decided it’s time to get back to work at writing. For the past year, I’ve been doing less writing and more crawling into my own shell, which is not good for me. All stress and no play makes me a dull person, at least in my own mind, which is what has been guiding me the past year. So now it’s time to stop all that dullard nonsense and start getting down to business. And now it begins.

I will pledge to post at least once a week for the foreseeable future. I’d like to say for the next year, but a year seems like a long time. So I’ll hedge, which is what I’m really good at. Hedge; don’t commit.

Okay, so nix on the hedging. Here goes: I will post on my blog at least once a week for the next year. End of discussion. By every Sunday evening, there will be some word from me here. If there isn’t, feel free to send a search party.

Love you!