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“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” – Mark Twain

Mine, too. Yes, it’s me. Back after a super long hiatus.

I have been writing. Daily, in fact. Five hundred words a day, nearly every day since mid-July (this vacation return spurred me on to make lots of life changes, most of which have been sticking — hooray!). Today was also day 100 of daily meditation. Now, granted, some of those days have not been my best meditations, but each day I sit for five minutes and do nothing but breathe. Though sometimes, like this morning, I looked out at the beautiful full moon from my spot on the sunporch, coffee in hand.

Once again our computer is back in business. Actually, it was not so much the computer as it was the Verizon connector-thingie that we call the hockey puck. Had to get a new one after several trips to the Verizon store. But now, here we are. Again, Hooray!

And I was able, once more, to read the blog I love and haven’t seen for so long. Alicia Paulson keeps us up to date on her life in Posie Gets Cozy, and it is my brain and soul candy. It really is. And I am going to copy here a wonderful poem she included in a recent post. I am an autumn baby and I love the season. The leaves, the colors, that snap in the air which we have had in the past couple weeks.

October’s Party (from a poem by George Cooper)

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came —
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly “hands around.”

My birthday was spent with friends and I got to wear a scarf, coat, and sweater which made me blissfully happy. We meant to sit outside on the rooftop bar called Up, but that particular day it never pulled out the 40s. In fact, after Ed and I walked out of yoga class at 10 a.m., it was beginning to snow! What a wonderful and unexpected birthday present. I like a sunny day and all, but I must confess that I loved that snowy/rainy, cold day. We had lunch at Village Inn (just having lunch anywhere but my classroom was a delight).

Someone asked, when I was handing round my invitations/flyers for the birthday event, if it was a special birthday. I said, yes, it was. It was the first birthday after losing 40 pounds. I’m still hovering in that general vicinity and have been for six weeks or so. I am still planning to lose the last 10, but am in a little struggle. However, still maintaining where I am for this amount of time gives me hope. And today I am feeling much better about it. That’s probably because, after a couple days at school of extreme stress and indulgence in some horrible chocolate that has been sitting in my file cabinet, I have decided the second I get there today, the rest of that temptation will find its way down to the lounge. Get behind me Hershey Satan!

So I am starting today feeling a little more refreshed and relaxed and ready to tackle things. Perhaps it was because I got to spend an hour or so picking up sticks in the front yard and tidying it up. Ed pokes fun at me (justifiably) because I seem to have this thing about picking up sticks. Oh, well. I’m good with it. I guess I’m a bit stick OCD. But the yard looks good. And we rearranged our garden shed on Sunday (we missed book club, which I enjoy, but our readings of late have seemed pretty off-the-charts-odd, so I’m not too sad – just miss the company). It looks so orderly I never want to do anything but stand and look in. As if that will ever last.

Oh, well. And a 3 1/2 day fall break coming this weekend (and a free flu shot!). Hot dog! Does it get any better?

Cheers!

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I’m On My Way!

On Tuesday, I began something new. I started a truly serious weight loss program. One that costs me lots of money, but that I am confident will work for me. It’s an investment in me. Medically-supervised with a once a week check-in and, for the near future, “food” that comes in an envelope or in bar form. I don’t have to even think or take time to cook. Right now, that’s kinda nice. And convenient. At this time of year, the less I have to think (be it about planning menus, shopping lists, or what to use from the pantry) the better. And that jump start is working.

This morning’s weigh-in tells me I am down 7.3 so far. Whoo hoo! I also know that I probably can’t expect this rapid loss to continue, though it would be cool. But holy cow!

I am learning to be more mindful. As I start my journey, I feel hungry a lot, and I recognize that (I literally think to myself, “I am hungry. This is what hunger feels like. And it’s okay to feel this way, because I am going to feel like this for a while.”).

I also was super hungry and very tired yesterday, making me plenty grumpy. I would get made at any and everything, it seemed. At one point, I just said to myself, “I am so mad.” Then I teased apart why I was mad, and realized it was because I was hungry and tired and frustrated by both of those things. I also realized this is just one stage in a long journey. And, somehow, that helped dissolve my anger. I love mindfulness! But that is also a work in progress. I think this is going to be a good way to use it to help myself improve and stay strong.

My dear Ed is also being very supportive. Last night, after some tears and a little yelling, he held me and said, “It will all be okay. You are doing great and sometimes you might need a hug.” Love him. We also realized that I’m probably going through the DTs, only for food and, primarily, for sugar.

I’d been good for three whole days. But last night, I had my first slip. But, as slips go, I didn’t think it was too bad. Ed was having steak for supper, and it smelled soooo good. So I had him give me one bite. Only one. And it was protein. And I savored that one bite. I ate so mindfully you wouldn’t believe it. One bite was all. No more. But it was enough. This really made me realize that I need to think more about what I eat when I eat it. No more reading a book or watching tv while I eat. Just eating and paying attention to how good my food tastes, one bite at a time.

After being in touch with my counselor (not sure if that is the right term or not, but for lack of another title), she says that what I felt yesterday is totally normal, and that by day 4 or 5 my body will hit the ketosis point where it will tap into those nasty fat reserves to feed itself and I will be a happier camper.

Today, it’s day four, and I feel good. I’m still hungry, but the crankiness level has dropped dramatically, thank heavens. I also am staying out of the lounge, because the ice cream and treat day I thought was yesterday is actually today. Even though I think I could resist, it’s never good to court temptation. So here I am instead.

My weight loss so far is very helpful, and I am starting to feel different; better about myself already. I’ll take it, because I know that, the way my brain works, every day won’t be like this. So I have to take the good ones and put them in the bank for those days when I really struggle.

But I’m on my way. And I’m feeling good about it.

Cheers.

 

 

Heaven

Okay, so not the actual heaven. Just a day off school, which is pretty close. We had a snow day make up which we didn’t have to use, so here I am, reveling in the off-ness at my favorite coffee shop. My friend Brent just left for work and I have a little time before I leave to go to church to finish some plantings I started on Wednesday, so here I blog. (Note: I’m writing this at 7:30 or so, and we had our coffee date at 6:30. I know you think it’s crazy to get up so early on a day when I didn’t have to, but getting up early when I don’t have to be at school doesn’t feel like getting up early – it feels like getting up to enjoy the day off just a little more.)

Ah, what to do on a free day? Garden and yard work, of course. Especially since winter is FINALLY gone and spring does seem to be here for real now. No more snow although as crazy as the weather has been, I am actually crossing my fingers on this one). It’s been in the 60s and 70s. I have been to get plants three times and have potted up most of them. The rest will be nestled into their new spots after I get home. I have been happily on my hands and knees weeding the iris bed in the ditch a couple days this week, and I will happily do more of that later today. I have made the executive decision to plan absolutely nothing for the next three days (well, except for the volunteer work for a couple hours tomorrow that I promised last Sunday).

I will, however, relax on the deck later today, perhaps with a glass of wine or a G&T and survey our lovely yard. Ed retrieved my pickup (Old Yeller – the 1963 Chevy) from the farm and picked up a load of mulch and mulched the trees/hosta rings in the back yard yesterday. It looks lovely. There’s more to do, but the truck got a flat tire, so that’s on the agenda for today. We also need to get a new tire for the wheelbarrow.  Clearly the fun never stops at the Broders’ house.

But what about a nap, you say? Well, okay. If I must, I must. Especially if you insist. I imagine the cats will really need me to help them nap at some time today. They can be pretty insistent on the nap thing. And I am one tired puppy. I have kicked the working out into gear, with spin class on Mondays and body pump on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It feels good to get back into a more consistent workout routine, but right now I am pooped. But in a good way.

So, although this may be the most boring blog ever, I’m not going to worry about it. Part of this is just therapy for me. If you are reading this, thanks for reading, and I’ll see if I can’t get you something more interesting the next time. Maybe I’ll even get some pictures of the garden as it starts to pop. Not the front yard for a while, though. The basement people come in a couple weeks to straighten our foundation, so I don’t want to do a whole lot of work there yet. But at least we’ll have a good foundation. Which could be the start of a lot of more blogs, and maybe it will be. But not today. Today, I’m just going to enjoy heaven.

Cheers.

 

Happy Birthday, Butch

Today would have been my dad’s 77th birthday. I wanted to do something for him today, but I wasn’t quite sure what. My initial thought was to have friends over to toast him with the bottle of Maker’s Mark that my good friend Kelly gave me at his passing. But now the day is here and I am not sure what I am feeling.

Empty, I guess. Sad. A little lost and aimless.

So I decided to do something with some purpose and to take some action.

This morning I signed up for Auction College. In June, I will travel to beautiful Mason City, Iowa, and attend the World Wide College of Auctioneering, just like my dad did 35 years ago.

Image result for auctioneer

I’m a little nervous about all this. I’m afraid I won’t be able to talk fast enough or that I’ll think too much, thus preventing me from talking fast enough. But, as I am learning in my study of myself (and my reading of You Are a Badass), I have to just do it.

Most of the time, I am hesitant. I overthink and worry and stand at the edge of the diving board, having made it all the way up the ladder, and I look down and get dizzy. “What ifs” ping around in my head like popcorn in a skillet. At some point, I have to make the decision to take that step and have faith that the water will be there when I jump. Maybe I’ll make a great splash, maybe I’ll bellyflop, but until I step off that board, I’ll just fret and get myself worked into a knot and I’ll never know.

This will be a big step, but I have to embrace this and run with it. I know that when I leave teaching, whenever that is, I want to, will have to, do something else. And last year, when Ed and I went to a huge five-day auction in Morning Sun, Iowa, (it’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there), I was excited and invigorated. They ran three rings all day every day. I had never been to a sale that big, ever. I talked to the women at the sign in table. I talked about my dad who had been an auctioneer for over 30 years and how I had been his clerk for much of that time.

“Maybe I ought to become an auctioneer myself,” I said. To which one of the gals responded, “Women auctioneers are big right now.” Hmmmm. Interesting.

I think know I’ve got the Moxie and the chutzpah to do this. Now I just need to harness that energy and make it happen. So step up and get your bidding numbers. When I start calling (or “crying” as the lingo goes), you want to be ready.

Happy Birthday, Pa. I hope I make you proud.

Cheers.

The Early Bird; or Slowing Down

Winter. Ugh. It makes me sleepy all the time, or so it seems. Last night, after school and body pump class (and dishes and a shower and organizing for my Wednesday), I couldn’t even stay awake to finish the NYT Crossword. I left Ed to finish it on his own and collapsed into bed. Neither did I toss or turn for too long once I snuggled down under the fluffy layers of quilt and comforter. And if the cat tried to wake me up during the night, I missed that, too.

So, early to bed. Next? Early to rise.

After 9 hours or so, I was up at 4:15-ish. I made myself stay in my cocoon until 4:30, though. But now here I am, 5:41 and typing away with nothing left on the docket but my meditation time on my lovely porch. Ahhh.

I found a new meditation timer for my phone, so I will sit silently for five minutes until the little gong gongs me out of it. I’m not back to yoga yet, but am trying to make sure I fit in my daily meditation practice because I know, and according to my newest read, You Are a Badass (see cover below), it will help me to calm down and slow down. I first picked the book up in Target because I thought the title was funny. I randomly picked a spot and started to read. Hmmm. Interesting. Then I picked another spot. Quirky. Interesting. After I picked a third and a fourth spot, I figured I might as well buy the book. You know. Why not?

Image result for You Are A Badass

So, in combination with my new therapist and a couple other books I have been reading to try to get my head (and eventually my body) into better shape, this book has been phenomenal. Do you ever read (or hear or see) something that just clicks with where your life is at the moment? Coincidence or fate or kismet or whatever you want to call it. That’s how this is feeling right now. I once read that there really is no such thing as coincidence but when you are focusing in on something, your perception changes and you start to see it everywhere. I read this, but then my therapist said it and I think that’s what’s going on here. I don’t care. Whatever it is, it’s helping.

Image result for the things you can see only when you slow down

Something else that’s helping is a lovely little book called The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down. Written by a Korean Buddhist monk (and, seriously, who else could have written such a concise, simple, thought-provoking, and lovely book?), I read this in small doses so I can ponder and savor. If you want a little snippet, check out this YouTube link to Haemin Sunim, who teaches at a small college in Massachusetts. Or if you would like a bigger slice of Zen, check this NPR story done last year. Apparently the book came out last year and I am a little late to the party, but I really love it. When I went to Barnes and Noble in November, they had two copies. I bought them both. One I gave to a friend for Christmas, though I suspect I may buy and give away more copies. It’s that kind of book.

So, my juxtaposition/trifecta include my therapist, an in-your-face and face-the-music kind of author, and a Buddhist monk. Huh. Sounds like the start of a bar joke, doesn’t it? But, you have to admit, that it is totally me. And I am confident it will result in a better me. Happy New Me, everyone! And don’t forget: the early bird gets the best books! (not a fan of worms, here)

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.

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!