Welcome to my blog about my journey through this book and it's challenges. It's a simple exercise, but it's good for me. I hope you enjoy the blips and slips and funny moments. You may even learn a thing or two too!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Week 52--Be Optimistic--Thursday (Wee Early) Morning

Optimism is like bicarbonate-loading before a sprint...excuse me?  Bicarbonates (think Tums) diffuse and buffer against the buildup of lactic acid (bi product of anaerobic metabolism). I see optimism as a buffer against the bullsh** of life.   I read an article this year which basically said that the defining characteristic of optimists is that they aren't always positive, but that they don't  stay negative for too long.  Essentially--keep moving, keep doing, keep trying and don't roll in the muck and mire of your own pessimism for too long. 

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles; it empties today of its strength."
-Mary Englebrecht
I grew up watching "old movies."  Here's a good one on optimism from South Pacific:  I'm just a "cockeyed optimist."  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Week 52--"Be Optimistic"

Be Optimistic:  " In the face of many good reasons and much evidence why not to be, be optimistic.  People around you will be suspicious and assume you've got the inside scoop on the winning lottery numbers, but try it anyway.  What's the worst that could happen?  You could be wrong and discover the apocalypse was scheduled for tomorrow after all.  But that's only more reason for being optimistic today."

I swear it wasn't rigged; Ronnie picked every card this year (with the exception of one swap due to extenuating circumstances).  How fitting is it that my journey of 52 weeks ends this week with the final card that reads, "Be Optimistic?"  It's wonderful.  Today is Christmas Day...Merry Christmas!  And so while finishing out this week recovering from Christmas, I am to be looking optimistic towards the future, towards 2012 specifically.  It will have so much in store, I know it.  I've already prepared another project for myself (because I liked this one so much) but you'll have to read about that next year. 

Let's recap on the past year (52 weeks' tasks to be exact) looks like an awful lot when you see them listed...but taking it one week (or day) at a time is not too bad ;)

Piggyback Errands                         
Quit Being Self-Defeating
Be Patient
I'm Sorry
Recharge Your Batteries
Be in Nature
Don't Walk Away Angry
Buy Recycled
The Next Generation
Examine a Prejudice
Gentle Driving
Cause and Effect
You Made a Difference
Low Media
Without Packaging
Stay Curious
Share Your Success
Read and Respond
Trashy Walk
Know Your Limits
Care for Water
Your Elders
Share Food
Cultural Mind Expansion
Share Humor
Make an Ideal World
Reuse as a State of Mind
Speak Up!
De-Stress Yourself
Buy Used
Shop Less
Stray Animals
Massage Me, Massage You
In Person
Car Rest
Meet the People
Conserve Energy
Homeless People are People
Support the Corner Store
Flowers for All
All About Paper
Grow Green
Nurture your Friendships
Quality of Life
Hurry Hurry Away
Show your Appreciation
Eat Clean
Know Thy Neighbors
Be Optimistic

Friday, December 23, 2011

Week 51--Help! Friday (Christmas Eve's Eve)

"Helping" takes on many forms; preparing food for a friend, cleaning a house, running errands, changing light bulbs, "winterizing" furniture, sharing wine (imbibing), grocery shopping, gift wrapping and laundry.  Yes, I've done all this in the past few days and will end up doing much more with family in town, family with babies and holiday parties :)

Here's some Beatles for you...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Week 51--Help!

Help!  "Take the time to help, whether it's a stranger who needs directions, a child who needs extra attention learning to read, or your persistently pesky aging neighbor who can't carry his own groceries to the third floor anymore.  Unless you are in the middle of delivering a baby, find the time to lend a hand, an ear, a moment."

It is perhaps fate that I should pick Help! this week since I didn't accomplish my task of "Knowing my Neighbor" last week.  I am disappointed in myself that I didn't make the time to buy the bottle of wine and go to the door of our new neighbor (down the road a bit, not directly next door...I'm not that lazy) and welcome her to the "hood."  I started wondering each day last week things such as, "Will she think me odd bringing her a welcome basket?  What if she doesn't like red wine?  white wine?  no wine?  We've only ever talked while I walk the dogs past her house..."  It's rather pathetic, I admit it.  I must do something about it...but I haven't yet decided. 

This brings me to this week; perhaps I can redeem myself.  Tonite I agreed to help a friend who decided she doesn't have enough time to do everything at home before her warm-weather vacation so she's asked me to stop by and go through a list of "To-Do's" for her house, of which I have agreed to assist quite willingly.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Week 50--Know thy Neighbors

Know thy Neighbors:  "Do you know the people who live near you?  Isn't it strange that you can live someplace for a while an not have met your neighbors?  The need to borrow a cup of sugar has somehow decreased over the years, so next time you see someone who lives near you, make a point of saying hi and introducing yourself.  Not only does this help create a community, but it sets a precedent, and you never know what circumstances might cause you to need each other."

This is a good week for this card because we have a new neighbor in the 'hood."  I walk by her house nearly every day to take the dogs for a walk and every time I think to myself, "I need to get her a welcome basket of cookies, wine, cheese or something."  So, that's on my to-do list this week. 

We have two immediate neighbors (immediate meaning on the same side of the street) and two across the street.  I find it amazing that when I finally do greet neighbors not our our street but in the neighborhood, they almost always have something to say about how my hair is different or what is going on with the dogs.  Which means that though they never have said "hello" or talked to me, they have been watching me from inside their home...which brings me to my favorite "nieghbors" movie:  The Burbs.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Week 49--Eat Clean

I did pretty well eating clean yesterday; my laundry list of food items: decaffeinated coffee (several cups throughout the day) an apple, two tangerines, fresh lean turkey (no bread) a few Sunchips (I told you I had to have my Sunchips) two sweet potatoes and wine.  Yes, the wine is pushing the "Eat Clean" line...but then again, French women drink wine...and they're not fat (or so the book says ;)

I've started off today with more decaf coffee (routines can be rewarding).  I will share an observation:  sweet potatoes are awesome, but they must be cooked well.  By well, I mean it took 1.5 hours baking to attain the perfect texture and softness.  They were huge potatoes but man, were they worth it.  I could feel my fiber and Vitamin count shoot to the sky when I had finished them.  Cooking tip:  wash off the potatoes, sit them on an aluminum foil lined pan in the middle of the oven and let them bake at 400.  No poking, slicing or basting required--just heat.  You know they are done when you can see the natural sugars oozing from the end and smell the slightest burning of the sugar.  Sweet.

Just an FYI:  the differences between a sweet potato and yam:  Sweet Potato vs. Yam
sweet potatoes yams recipes food receipts

Care of Wikipedia (of course) :) 

Besides simple starches, sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene (a vitamin A equivalent nutrient), vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Pink, yellow and green varieties are high in carotene, the precursor of vitamin A.
In 1992, the Center for Science in the Public Interest compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other vegetables. Considering fiber content, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium, the sweet potato ranked highest in nutritional value. According to these criteria, sweet potatoes earned 184 points, 100 points over the next on the list, the common potato.
Sweet potato varieties with dark orange flesh have more beta carotene than those with light-colored flesh, and their increased cultivation is being encouraged in Africa, where vitamin A deficiency is a serious health problem. Despite the name "sweet", it may be a beneficial food for diabetics, as preliminary studies on animals have revealed it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and to lower insulin resistance.[24]

Monday, December 5, 2011

Week 49--Eat Clean

Eat Clean:  " Of course you've absorbed all the information on having a no-fat, low-sodium, low-cholesterol and low-sugar diet, but are you doing it?  Or are you still addicted to processed foods?  Are you still eating prepackaged or fast food in your car two meals a day?  Can you replace some of the processed foods you eat with simpler, fresher, and rawer things?  What would you need to do to eat more healthfully? Are you willing to make those lifestyle changes?  Find out what the FDA suggested daily requirements are, and take a look at whether you are anywhere near the suggested amounts for vitamins and fat."

I would honestly say I try to eat clean anyway, as I'm not a fan of too many processed goods.  I can't take too many sweets...but I love Sunchips!  At least they are whole-grain.  It's likely Providence that this week I'm to be more mindful as I'm teaching a nutrition class Wednesday.  I will make an attempt to each as much "fresh" food as can reasonably be had this week. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Week 48--Monday

A simple e-mail can go a long way to make a person's day a smidge brighter.  I sent a "Thank you, I appreciate your work" e-mail today to a colleague I don't know really well, but someone who is making an effort at our office to improve employee morale.  This employee replied and said, "Thank you, it's good to know someone appreciates my work."  Twenty seconds to type a few sentences and hit "SEND" and a day is brightened.  I need to do this more really is the little things that count. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Week 48--Show Your Appreciation

Show Your Appreciation:  " Show appreciation to someone who has helped you personally or professionally.  From a verbal acknowledgement to sending a card or even flowers, the ability to acknowledge someone else's generosity or kindness is a real gift and will, hopefully, encourage others to continue to be generous in spirit as well."

In this season, and specifically this past weekend, I was able to show my appreciation of my husband.  I told him today that I am thankful for his patience, consistency, and perspective.  Just today he told me (because he could tell I was feeling down) that if he could, he would take away from me the negative feelings that were on my mind so that I did not have to feel afflicted.  He said he could tell there was a tug-of-war within me and he wished he could make it stop...but knew that he could only be there to support me.  I teared up and hugged him even tighter; for this genuine expression of love, I am thankful and appreciative. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Week 47--Hurry, Hurry Away

Hurry, Hurry Away:  "  If you can wait a moment longer, let a rushed and obviously stressed-out person go ahead of you in the check-out line at the grocery store, the post office, or the bank.  Your kindness might just be what it takes to allow that harried person to take a much-needed deep breath."

Let's hope I'm the one helping today and not the harried one.  Grocery store and errands on the list today...before the in-laws show up for the holiday.  Cheers!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Week 46--Baby Sit--Saturday Morning

I'm amazed at being awake so early on a less a Saturday morning after watching three energetic "tweens" the night before.  Emma, Cassie and Maggie were my guests last night for a few hours while their parents are off for a romantic weekend on the town.  I've never seen my brother-in-law so excited--he loads the girls "stuff" in the back of my car and shouts, "OK, we're off!  Have fun!" and literally jogs back to the car as my sister says, "Take care of my loves."  Then they speed off in search of friends, food, beer and a rock concert to start off their weekend.  It's amazing the number of items kids bring with them:  luggage (roller luggage), sleeping bag, pillow, stuffed animal, coat, hat, purse...multiple that by three...WOW.  I know this to be true from experience and family--kids require a lot of energy...That's why I don't have any yet...I remember now :)

We had a fun time; the girls said they had a fun time.  How could you not?  We shopped a bit at their favorite store --Half Price Books (intellectuals, my nieces--love it) and then picked up a pizza, baked it at home, watched a movie, and ate freshly baked cookies.  I made sure to load them up on caffeine and sugar before handing them over to my sister for the rest of the weekend. Ha :)

Next babysitting date: TBD :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week 46--Baby Sit

Baby Sit:  "Offer to baby-sit for your friend's new baby.  Not for the extra pocket money, but for the pleasure of spending time with a screaming baby and giving a new parent a reprieve.  Even the best-tempered and patient parent can occasionally feel on the edge of insanity after too many nights of interrupted sleep.  Give your friend a break and volunteer  to watch the baby for a couple of hours.  If changing diapers just isn't your thing, offer to run some errands, or arrange for a masseuse to make a house call instead."

My friend does have a new baby, but I don't know yet if I will be assisting in the sitting department since her new little girl is already sleeping 6 hours straight.  We will, however, be watching my three nieces this coming Friday night.  It's a sleepover at Aunt Livi's and we are preparing.  Cookies, pizza, playtime somewhere and crafts.  I'm ready, ready as we'll ever be for two DINKs :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Week 45--Quality of Life

Quality of Life: "What can you do that would improve the quality of your life right now?  Think of the things you keep postponing because you are waiting for more money, a different apartment, a new job, or because of some other excuse.  Are these the real obstacles?  What are you waiting for?  Focus on one thing that would make you happy and write out a plan that includes a budget and time frame to help you realize it."

P.S. (11/13/11)  For immediate gratification on Quality of Life, I purchased a new pair of brown boots.  After two re-sole-ings, I had finally worn holes in "old reliable" that could not be repaired.  I also purchased this fabulous cloche :)  As for a long-term quality of life, we are saving for a new floor upstairs and perhaps a remodeling in a few years.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week 44--"Nurture Your Friendships"

Nurture Your Friendships:  "  Spending time with good friends is one of the best ways to spend a life.  Think of some ways you can be a better friend to the friends you have.  If you already have great friendships, let your friends know in some creative way how much you appreciate them.  Don't take your friends for granted.  If there are any sore spots you haven't resolved within a relationship, think about what it might take to heal them."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Week 43--Grow Green

Grow Green:  "Where in your life can you plant something?  Bond with your neighbors at a nearby community garden, or join in on a city beautification day that would allow you to get dirt under your nails.  Of course, if you have your own garden, plant the most beautiful flowers and plants that you can manage to take care of (sunflowers are really easy)--a garden is a gift both to yourself and the insects, birds, and neighbors around you.  If you feel really ambitious, try planting some edibles, such as lettuce, tomatoes, or strawberries." home gardens are in need of some fall-time cleanup and preparation for winter.  I should do that this week before the freeze sets in.  I've noticed I haven't been as adamant about gardening since I had elbow surgery...I think it's the loss of grip strength.  I'm now thinking about what I can plant and do that allows me to "do" less throughout the year.  I've always been a perennial gardener...but that requires some hefty and all-out maintenance at peak times of the year.  However, I don't want to buy repeated annuals and re-plant.  I'll have to ponder my direction and get back with you on this one...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weeks 41 & 42

Week 41:  "Flowers for All:  Buy a big bouquet of flowers and give a flower to each person who looks like they could use it throughout the day.  Even if this is a bit flower-childish for your non-nonsense image, try it anyway.  This inexplicable departure from your regular image can only endear you to those around you.  You'll probably make a few people smile, even if they are suspicious."

I didn't purchase flowers last week, but I did take chocolate-covered peanut butter filled pretzel bites to work.  I passed these out on Friday morning; who can resist chocolaty goodness (that is, of course, unless you are allergic to peanuts)?  I believe I assisted Trader Joe's by creating repeat customers.

Week 42:  " All About Paper:  Most landfill is paper.  Notice how much paper you consume in a day.  There the morning newspaper, the Kleenex in the car, the 20 extra copies of the memo you accidentally made, the good mail and the junk mail, the four extra napkins that came with your sandwich, the paper bad the groceries came in, and the paper towel you mopped up the spilled coffee with.  How many of these paper products were necessary, and how many of them could you have recycled?  How can you cut down on the paper products you use?"

I use more paper than necessary probably because I like to write on real paper, not "computer screen" paper, and I like to drink multiple coffees, hence more paper cones used in the drip machine.  I hoard fast-food napkins in case I have a spill in my car, and I print the chapters of books that are now electronic because I like to make notes on them.  But, I do recycle...I even walk to the other side of the building to put papers in the shredding bin. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oh my, the last post was on September 19th!

I'm heartily ashamed that I've missed two weeks in a row, and no, I cannot use the excuse of being "too busy" since we have have demands on our time.  I chalk it up to sheer laziness--I have had the last two week's cards sitting next to the laptop each day.  And each day I look at them and think, "I'll get to that after I do this or that first."  And you know what, I don't "get to it."  So, I've finally "gotten to it" and here are these past two week's tasks:

Week 39:  Homeless People are People:  "It is depressing to walk by homeless people every day on the same corner and avert your eyes or just five them some change.  When you feel up to it, find out their names, and next time you pass them, say "Hi."  Although it doesn't solve the larger problem of homelessness, showing respect by recognizing individuals as people who have names is better than just thinking of them as a faceless group--the homeless.  Taking this small step may lead you to see something else you can do to help."

Week 40:  Support the Corner Store:  "If you like that idiosyncratic shop on the corner of your block, then support it by shopping there and telling others about it.  Chains and discount warehouses are taking a toll on the smaller merchants.  If you want the store to survive, then take your business there as much as possible, and let the show owner know what you would buy if the shop carried it.  After all, if the neighborhood doesn't support the local shops, who will?

I did buy my coffee at this little place around the corner this morning.  They have eccentric flavors and the best brownies.  The nice thing?  I realized I earned my final "stamp" so I could earn a free coffee for my next visit.  A pleasant surprise...I guess it pays to keep your punch cards and visit your local coffeehouse every now and then.  I know where I'm getting my coffee tomorrow :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week 38 "Conserve Energy"

Conserve Energy:  " Think of creative ways to conserve energy on all levels.  Many utility companies offer free audits.  Conserve electrical energy by not overusing appliances or leaving things running when you don't need them.  Conserve gas by not jumping in the car every time you have a whim for a single items from the grocery store.  Conserve your friends' energy by not calling to recount every day's mundane minutiae (gory details, however, are OK ).  Conserve your own energy by not overreacting to all of life's bumps and blips and not taking them too personally."

I have been remiss in updating this blog the past few weeks for reasons that are not worth sharing.  However, I did conserve energy yesterday by lighting candles for warmth and light. But this morning, I left on several lights.  It's really a habit, this trying to conserve energy thing...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Week 37--"Meet the People"

Meet the People:  "Call your City Council and go to the next meeting.  And if you don't care for city politics, how about a neighborhood group or professional organization that interests you?  Find a group that you can relate to, contribute to, and benefit from.  Get comfortable with some group somewhere, because it is often through the strength of a group that changes are made and community is built."

I'm thinking that because I don't like politics (though I recognize their necessity) that I will go to that new church I've been thinking about for weeks...and I plan to go to a fair this week with a friend who needs company.  I volunteered at the art museum yesterday for the arts fair and that was fun! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Week 36--"Car Rest"--Monday Evening

Happy Labor Day!  This week's task:  "Car Rest:  Designate a day each week to leave your car at home.  Try hopping public transportation or hitching a ride with friends to give yourself, your car, and the environment a break.  Allow yourself to move to your destination in a slightly slower fashion, and think of all the reading, exercising, or catching up with a friend you can do instead of sitting along in traffic."

Well, this week it cannot be Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday...perhaps Friday or Saturday?  Oooo...this will be interesting.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Week 35--"In Person"--Tuesday Morning

This week's card reads, "In Person:  Surprise a client, a friend, an associated, or your partner by using the old-fashioned method of communication:  Show up in person and hand-deliver a message.  Yes, of course your time is extremely valuable, but every once in a while show your face; give your e-mail, voice mail, fax machine, cellular phone, and your express mail carrier a rest."

I already have a plan to surprise some former colleagues tomorrow for lunch, or at least a brief "Hello" if they are not free for some grub.  When was the last time you wrote a letter by hand?  Or, better yet, when was the last time you stopped by a friend's house to make a call and took some cookies or wine?  I have a new neighbor, a Southern transplant, and she has been so kind as to call me in the last month a couple times and ask if I'd like to come over and chat.  I'm not used to that, but it's a nice feeling.  She called just last evening to let me know I could bring over the dogs to run in their yard this week if it fits the schedule. Looks as though I will be making a house call today or tomorrow.  Simple acts of kindness can often make such a difference...isn't that what this year is about?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Week 34--"Massage Me, Massage You"--Tuesday Morning

So I did get a massage yesterday for my birthday.  It wasn't as relaxing as I imagined, probably because my body was so tight the therapist cautioned that she didn't want to overdue working out the gristly knots and cause me pain.  It was, at times, relaxing, but also painful--but the good pain--the pain you have to endure to get to the long-lasting relief.  It probably would have helped if it hadn't been a year since my last massage.  Once over I decided to join the monthly program to receive one massage a month at a discounted rate.  Time to take care of my body.  I will say I was impressed with the cleanliness and peaceful air of the massage therapy spa.  It's also very close, very close indeed--in case I need an emergency massage!

It's never a good sign (as a woman) when your husband compares your latest fashion purchase  to a "dream catcher."  Luckily I didn't purchase a skirt or a crocheted top; I wanted to try out a cute headband (one that I thought was tasteful, but apparently not) with a 1920's vibe.  It was a slim satin-covered headband with a few chestnut-colored feathers positioned just so it cupped your head when you wore it.  The look I was shooting for was one of ambiguity.  It wasn't supposed to look like a dream catcher on my head. 

With my short hair and lots of layers on top, I was able to make it look as though, instead of sitting on my head, the decorations were "intertwined" with my hair.  However, the dream catcher analogy combined with the beginnings of a headache convinced me to return said hair accessory and abandon the idea.  It really was a classy accessory...just not something one would wear daily.  Bummer.  What really sealed the deal, however, is when I turned around, (a look of seeking approval in my eyes) wearing my coquettish headband and Ronnie smiles then begins to sing the theme song from Disney's Pocahontas, "I look once more, just around the river bend..."  'Nuff said. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Week 34--"Massage Me, Massage You"--Monday Morning

Today is my birthday; I don't feel any different this year than last, with perhaps the feeling that my body is slowly deteriorating at a cellular level--you know: crow's feet, achy joints, and puffy morning eyes.  But I'm not upset about it; it's the cycle of life. I bet this sounds rather depressing but it's not intended that way, it's merely a verbal reflection of the feelings of the moment--transitory and fleeting...

I'm going to like this week's task:  Massage Me, Massage You:  "Learn how to give and receive a massage.  Adult education programs often teach massage classes, or check out bulletin boards at holistic health-oriented stores and centers.  Knowing how to give a good massage is a real gift, and receiving one is pretty close to achieving a state of nirvana.  It's amazing how healing a little touch can be."

I own a massage table; I use it sometimes for private clients when I'm personal training.  It's useful for both massaging sore muscles but good for stretching post workout.  With my educational background in exercise science, I would say I'm pretty good at massage--however, I would like to learn the "official" massage strokes for the different types of massage--Swedish, Deep tissue, etc. 

I checked out a few massage technique books at the store, and most of that is what I already do.  I bet the best education is hands on--no pun intended.  There's a massage school downtown, and I checked into it as a way to enhance my professional credentials but it is more expensive than anticipated and its probably not a good idea for me to be a full-time massage therapist having had four surgeries on my right arm.  I would need massage after work!

I will say that knowing how to give good massages makes you the most sought after person at a family gathering.  Suddenly everyone wants a shoulder massage after dinner so they can relax because "no one else is good at it."  That makes me feel good.  I think I will treat myself to a massage today for my birthday...I bet I haven't had one in over a year!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Week 33--"Stray Animals"--Saturday Evening

We don't have stray animals in our neighborhood, or so at least to my knowledge.  It's not a problem we've ever had, really.  And so because of that, I did not take a stray to have it spayed or neutered.  However, I did take our newest whippet to be neutered not too long ago.

Speaking of our newest whippet, here he is eating one of his favorite treats: apples!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Week 33--"Stray Animals"--Sunday Morning

Stray Animals:  " Cruelty to animals can partly be prevented by taking responsibility for strays around your neighborhood.  Better than just feeding them is to catch them or have them caught, and , if possible, pay for them to be sprayed or neutered--that way, they have a better change of being adopted into a real home."

This reminds me of Bob Barker's mantra:  "Remember, have your pet spayed or neutered!"  We don't have many stays in our neighborhood at all; I will have to think about what I can do this week to meet this challenge.  I did have my new pet neutered a few weeks ago at a nice clinic. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Week 32--Spend Less--Saturday Morning

Ah, yes, disappointment has a catalytic way of causing you to spend more money than necessary.  Take last evening--my sister and I had planned to attend a "Summer Nights" movie at the art museum.  It was a beautiful evening--we were so excited to watch To Catch a Thief on the big screen, sitting on the lush lawn of the amphitheatre terraces on a glorious Friday night.  However, apparently we should have purchased tickets beforehand because it was sold out when we arrived--Bummer!

So what were we to do?  My husband was probably asleep as he had a rough work week, her husband had a friend coming over to play Call of Duty and we were all dressed up (not literally) with no where to go.  What did we decide upon?  After much marinating on the topic, we ended up getting Starbucks and shopping at Wal-Mart for necessities we didn't buy during the weekly shop.  What a juxtaposition...from the IMA movie to Wal-Mart perusing. 

And let me tell you, perusing Wal-Mart at 9pm on a Friday night was just about as interesting as watching a drama.  Oh the people, the myriad of people going about their business.  We encountered lots of mom's lugging their children along, trying to keep a lid on the screaming and crying; an employee (who had such a mundane expression on his face) was pulling a loading cart with a wheel that squeaked, nay, moaned this high pitched shrill every couple seconds and he was unaffected.  You could hear it several aisles over and it was like nails on a chalkboard. 

We were approached by what I guessed as a European man who looked like he was transplanted from a Motley Crue video with quite the salt-and-pepper wavy mullet.  My sis and I were contemplating with animated verbal fluency which dark chocolate bars to buy and weighing the calorie options when this man looked at me and said, "Accent?" 
I must have looked totally confused (because he had an accent) but I said, "No, I'm from here." 
"No, where are you from, you have an accent?" 
"Oh, you're from here." 
"Yes, yes I am." 
Odd, very odd encounter...

At the end of our Wal-Mart journey, I exited the store with three photo mats and a $5 movie.  My sister left with cooking oil and a canary yellow chip-and-dip bowl that was on clearance.  So much for spending less yesterday.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Week 32--Spend Less--Friday Afternoon

I was worried (not seriously, of course) that I was going to have to break my streak of spending less money this week because I had a scheduled lunch with a friend I had completely forgotten about.  It was a new place and likely to be way more than I typically spend on lunch in a normal week.  However, in calling to confirm our lunch, we mutually decided we had lots of work left to do and errands to run, and so we re-scheduled our lunch.  Whew!  I almost shot the whole week with one measly salad and drink!

This week's tally of unnecessary expenditures amounts to about $1.08--and that was for a cinnamon biscuit I purchased in the drive through because I felt the need to buy something in addition to using my "free coffee" coupon.  Yes, I realize in buying said biscuit I defeated the purpose of the coupon, but the biscuit sounded yummy and I didn't eat a full breakfast.  See how I justified that? ;)

You know, one thing I've learned about this week's challenge is that if I don't go browse the store or buy something unnecessary (which can happen after a stressful day sitting at a desk), it leaves a lot of time to clean out and organize what I already own.  I see how this works:  spend less on items you don't need, realize what items you already have, and know that you have to spend less in the future.  Here are some tips to spend less money by DumbLittleMan (love the name)

I've been in a super re-organize mode the last couple of weeks which has turned out to be a good thing.  I'm one of those people who feel much more settled when I accomplish the 'nagging' chores that aren't absolutely necessary but make me feel a sense of satisfaction when completed.  And here is said list of these items:  take magazines and cans to recycling center, use the $10 for 10 items dry cleaning coupon I have (next week, of course), re-fold and organize the linen closet, finish my Goodwill gathering and file behemoth stack of papers sitting on the office desk. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Week 32--Spend Less--Wednesday Morning

Three days into the week and I haven't been to a retail, grocery or pharmacy, or even a "store."  Not even online...despite receiving two excellent coupons.  One for for an extra 40% off sale prices and the other for 25% off and free shipping on any item. Of course, this week's goal is to spend less, especially on items unnecessary.  Any clothing at this point in the history of my wardrobe is not necessary.  However, there are some really cute items out for fall--I can't promise I won't use that 25% deal next week though ;)

I have brown-bagged my lunch the last couple days and, as expected, feel better about my eating.  Brown bagging lunch not only saves on the food bill, but require you to plan and "think" about what you're going to eat.  It's a good exercise all round.

Finally, there is a new obstacle in my path to spending more than I should...literally.  Road crews just started work on the main road outside the house that leads to two important intersections to get anywhere.  I am not upset, however, because we have desperately needed re-paving of the road.  So, it's one more reason not to be tempted to visit the store and use that coupon ;)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Week 32--"Spend Less"--Sunday Morning

Shop Less:  "Keep track of (or just notice) all the things you consume in a day.  Did you really need all of them?  What needs were you trying to fill through your purchases that perhaps could be met in another way?  If you must shop, perhaps you could buy blankets or food to donate to a homeless shelter.  Periodically, sort through your stuff and lighten your load by donating all those things you no longer need to a good cause."

It's probably a good things that this week's challenge to make a difference came after last week's "Buy Used."  Because I bought last week.  So, I will be reigning in the shopping this week.  Right off the bat I can think of a few things I don't need to buy--morning coffees at the 'Bucks, lunch ( I can brown bag it instead) and any vending machine cravings mid-afternoon.

And today, I plan to start my Goodwill hunting and gathering within my home.  Last week was spent cleaning carpets, changing up furniture and re-arranging wall hangings.  Looks like my desire to clean out will continue this week.

For what can you shop less?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Week 31--Thursday Evening--"Buy Used"

Haven't really purchased anything used this week...though I did find some killer boots for a great price--they will be perfect when I bust them out this fall and winter.  They are boots with fur, yes, that's correct, like the song--but not really those kinds of boots with fur.  They are comfy suede boots with a ring of fur-ish material at the top. The best part about them?  My toes won't fall asleep from being in too high of a heel. Sweet.

I did, however, recycle a bracelet and used pieces of it to create earrings to match an outfit.  Perhaps I can count that as "buying used."  Besides, I will get several pairs of earrings out of the one bracelet.  That saves me from buying a new pair of earrings!

Lastly, I had to share this picture. Since I posted a picture of Captain America, AKA Chris Evans, I was informed that I had to check out the actor who portrays Thor--also a nice specimen of man meat.  What do you think? 
Chris hemsworth shirtless Thor Movie

Monday, August 1, 2011

Week 31--Monday Evening--"Buy Used"

Didn't buy anything today; wait, yes I did--some items at Wal-Mart that aren't good to buy used--pillows, wet wipes and coffee creamer.  These would all be rather nasty if purchased used.

I did, however, bid on an item on eBay.  My favorite pair of black peep-toe pumps by Sofft are dying.  I've had the heels replaced twice and now the ball of the foot is finally wearing down.  I'm sad because they don't make that style any longer, but I found a replacement pair that I think will work just fine.  Are they used?  Actually, no, but they are the price of a used pair ;)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week 31--"Buy Used"--Sunday Evening

Buy Used.  "The best way to cut down on packaging and consumerism is to buy used.  Look in the classifieds, and check out yard sales the next time you need to make a big purchase (or even a little one).  Not only are you recycling and extending the life of a still-usable item, but you won't have to throw out all the packaging that new things come in.  And you'll be saving money, too."

Week 30--Sunday Early Morning

I tried to de-stress; really.  I took the day off Thursday, did a little shoe shopping, spent some quality time with my sister as it was her birthday and tried to relax despite running errands and working for an hour that night.  Found some cute sandals at the mall while shopping and wore them for about four hours before the "strappy-ness" of them caused two blisters to erupt on my poor toes.  It wasn't because they were the wrong size, it was simply the placement of the straps.  So, the sandals ended up being a no-go.  But they were so cute...

Friday was just another day, but we did end up going to the movies that evening, which we haven't done in a loooong time.  Captain America offered some good eye candy in the form of Chris Evans and left you wanting to know what happens next as "Steve Rogers" awakens in the 21st century.  It looks like Captain America did some push-ups just before filming this scene.
Saturday we celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary in low-key style; I took a nap, took a bike ride and chillaxed.  Aside from taking a two week vacation to really relax, last week was good.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Week 30--Wednesday Afternoon--"De-Stress"

How did I "de-stress" yesterday after work?  I hand washed my car in the drive way just like we did when I was a kid.  I don't like to pay for car washes, I think it's a waste of money if you make the time and spend the energy to wash it yourself.  Besides, as my mother would say, "Washing your car yourself makes you appreciate it more." 

It's been blazing hot here in Indiana this summer, and so it was rather refreshing to just take some time, no hurry or appointments or music in my ears...just washing the car.  I even used an old rag and wonderfully fresh smelling Orange-Glo cleaner.  The dogs milled around me, then decided it was too hot and went into the garage.  They even decided to take a drink from the leaky hose nozzle! I do admit, however, that waxing the car is an entirely different story; it requires patience...and a lot of elbox grease.

Today during my lunch break I decided to take a short walk...and boy was it short!  A dress shirt in the middle of summer outside is like being wrapped in a hot blanket.  Tonight's plan to relax and de-stress:  pedicure (myself, of course ;) and Bud Light.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Week 30--Monday Evening

I don't relax easily; I'm kinda like my dogs when they haven't had a walk for a while...I pace, I keep busy, I organize.  What does that mean?  I have always felt that my brain never stops; I'm always thinking.  Why does this matter?  It matters because it makes relaxing difficult.  Don't get me wrong, I want to relax, but I almost feel guilty for doing so.  Guilt should only be felt if you've done something wrong, right?  It sure isn't wrong to rest; I just need to practice it more often, I think.

Speaking of random things I've thought about today relating to this week's about this:  If you had $40 bucks, (and guys, this is mostly girl stuff, but think creatively) and you had to choose between a mani/pedi or a shopping trip, which would you choose?  Here's how I think this through...

If I get a mani/pedi, it feels wonderful!  There is no re-creating the relaxation experienced at a clean salon with a skilled technician.  They delicately cut your nails and cuticles, use hot stones to massage essential oils into dry, crusty, calloused feet, and paint that fabulous glossy color on your toes that only comes on new cars and shiny red wagons.  However, the experience, in the long run, is brief.  It's an hour of bliss and then, like a new car, your pedicure depreciates the moment you walk out the door.  Most of the time, you're wearing sandals or flip-flops because it's summer, so your feet get dirty sooner and there's a higher chance of "denting" your paint job. 

If, however, you spend your $40 on bargain shopping (for the quality items, of course) and you find perhaps, a cute pair of fabric pumps on clearance and a late-season skirt that you could wear several times over, is the $40 better spent?  You'll have items you can re-use and therefore, cost less per use (if you normally think about cost per unit ;)

I almost always choose the shopping because I love the fun and fashion of clothing.  Besides, I can do my own mani/pedis...but alas, there is not quite as much relaxation in doing your own grooming.  However, I can drink beer while I paint my toes :)

So, which would you choose?

Soft hands, feet and pretty toes (Googling "manicured toes" get you some interesting images...but I digress)

Or a cute outfit? (not a plaid person, but the skirt is cute.)
Petal skirt

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 30--"De-Stress Yourself"--Sunday Evening

De-Stress Yourself; "Sometimes the best way to take care of the world is to be sure you are taking care of yourself.  You are an environmental hazard walking around as a stressed-out time bomb.  Learn to recognize your own signs of being overly stressed, and so something about it before it seeps out while driving, at work, or at home.  Although it's great to be oriented toward caring for others, it is essential that you know when to make yourself a priority."

This week's task comes on the heels of a stressful week--it can be stressful in the moment of "speaking up." However, speaking up can be cathartic if done in an assertive manner, professionally and respectfully.

I need to plan some ways to de-stress this week.  Any ideas?  Pedicure, massage, shoe shopping...hey, how about two weeks to myself with a few good novels at this place watching these sunrises?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Week 29--Speak Up!--Wednesday Evening

Just have to devote a line to my 100th post!

Speaking up at work can be difficult, requiring tactical maneuvers and timing.  Speaking up with family can only be accomplished through prayer...before, during and after gatherings.  Don't get me wrong, I love my family and its members dearly; however, the best aspects about having a large family can also be the most difficult aspects of being part of a large family. 

It's important, as I've tried to move to the forefront of my consciousness this week, to be assertive and say what you have to say, honestly and frankly...or  concede to the consequence of silent suffering.  A friend said to me today, "Create your own opportunities or wait for one to open up; those are your choices."

Say what you need to say, when you need to say it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Week 29--Speak Up!--Monday Late Night

Time to speak up; that's what I'm supposed to do this week, isn't it?  By the way, I like what Oswald Chambers said about justice: "Never look for justice, but never cease to give it."  So while I am challenged to speak up! about injustices this week, or speak up and speak my mind, I won't be disappointed if I don't see justice or experience it throughout my day. 

I finished reading a book this morning (Jesus Did It Anyway by Dr. Kent Keith) and the title of the final chapter was...drum roll please... Making A Difference.  How apropos.  I'd like to share some of the selections from this chapter that made a difference to me:

"We have all that we need (to be deeply happy)--the resources, the teachings, the gift of grace, and daily encouragement.  It is up to us to take these gifts and live our faith.  It is up to us to do something."

"God has given us each many gifts.  We are on this planet to use our gifts."

"How do you serve others?  How do you make a difference?  Here are five ideas to keep in mind."

1.  Be the real you.  You have to be the authentic you. 
2.  Don't worry about making a difference in terms of power, wealth and fame. 
3.  The difference you are called to make may be right in front of you.  If you see a need, right in front of you, take action.  Do what you can.
4.  You may make a difference that you did not plan to make.  God may take you by surprise.
5.  Remember that little things make a difference.  You can change another person's life by doing something that is simple and loving.  The impact can be amazing.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week 29--Speak Up!--Sunday Afternoon

"Speak Up!":  Next time you witness an injustice to someone, read something that infuriates you, or experience something that pisses you off, speak up.  Express yourself through direct verbal confrontation (of the Ghandhian nonviolent genre, of course), or write a letter directly to the source.  How will the other part ever know what they did if you don't communicate?  And where were you planning to redirect that pent-up anger, anyway?"

Yes readers, that's right...the phrase, "that pisses you off" are the author's words.  Make me feel a bit more normal that a woman who wrote a book about making a difference used this phrase.  The challenge for me this week is not to speak up, but to do so in a Ghandhian manner. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Week 28--Saturday Afternoon

An update on re-using the paper coffee cup:  It did NOT last.  After the second day, the seam had absorbed quite a bit of coffee and since I put creamer in my coffee I was leery of the dairy-sitting-out-something-growing-issue (even if I rinsed out the cup).  The seam started to look black and I suspected some growth or the cure for cancer, perhaps, so I tossed the cup.  I now see the reason why those sturdy-looking paper cups are tossed after single use--not willing to take that risk ;)

Week 28--Saturday Morning

This final week's post for "Re-use as a State of Mind" is inspired by celebrity fashion faux-pas from this past week.  I can't help myself...they are the ones who wear it in public for all to see...

Lady Gaga re-using the "ribbon" nozzle on the icing tool to decorate her dress.  She also used a bolt of lace from Jo-Ann Fabric and tried a Spanish-inspired wedding veiled look from about a century ago.

Fergie dons some sort of cardigan--but I'm not sure.  It looks more like an old curtain to me. Sorry Fergie, this is not your best ensemble...

Dana Delaney (I really don't know who that is) sports what looks to be the tail of a furry animal.  Garfield?  Tigger?  A lemur?  It's unknown, but what I want to know is why? 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Week 28--Friday Afternoon

"Reuse as a State of Mind." 

Use #101 for a regular rubber band:  waist extender.  This (photo below) is what happens when they make jean waists that fit when you stand, but cut you in half when you sit.  I have to thank my Mom for this remedy; it is such a versatile remedy because you can single or double loop the rubber band depending on how much lunch you ate :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Week 28--Monday Afternoon

There is no option but to drink cold beer; below is the wording from the weather channel for our city.  Notice the highlighted portions...Whoa! is all I have to say about going outside today.  I've changed into home clothes and started on my second beer.  The only way this can get any better is to finish off the evening with ice cream--mint chocolate chip to be specific ;)

I used my "re-usable" lunch bag today--zebra striped with pink handles and plan to recycle those beer cans.  I'm not sure the paper coffee cup will last all week.  It looks might sad already...I'll post a pic mid-week and we'll see how she fairs...stay cool!

FairTonightTomorrowTomorrow Night
Isolated T-StormsIsolated T-StormsIsolated T-Storms
Fair Dangerous heat index. Outdoor exposure should be limited. Isolated T-StormsIsolated T-StormsIsolated T-Storms
Feels Like: 112° LowHighLow
Past 24-hr:
Precip: 0 in
Snow: 0 in
Chance of Rain:
Chance of Rain:
Chance of Rain:
From SSW at 9mph
W at 11 mph
NNW at 10 mph
N at 8 mph
Through 11pm: Partly cloudy with temperatures slowly falling to near 82F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Week 28--"Reuse as a State of Mind"--Sunday Afternoon

Reuse as a State of Mind:  "Pretend that nothing you use can be thrown away.  What are all the alternative uses you can think of for what you formerly, casually considered 'garbage'?  All plastic containers can be reused; plastic bags can be washed and reused; wide-neck jars can be used to store food; wrapping paper can be reused.  And what things can you set aside to be used for kids' projects? (Even if you don't have kids, preschools might need 400 yogurt containers).  Get used to reuse.

Honestly, I think I do this pretty well; spending my childhood with seven siblings in a small house and learning to be "creative" with resources has prepared me to reuse and find new uses for many things.  However, I'm sure I can do better.  To start this week off, I will reuse my morning coffee cup.  A good friend of mine owns an espresso machine and has her own supply of paper coffee cups.  When I visit her, she gives me an espresso "for the road."  The cups are sturdy and I hate to throw them away.  So, I will keep this one clean after each use and reuse for the morning drive.  Let's see if it can withstand two-three morning cups of "Hot Joe" for a week...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Week 27--Tuesday Afternoon

I admit, I don't feel like I can do much about this week's task to Make an Ideal World.  It's far too overwhelming for me to think about.   Ideal may be in the eye of the beholder.  What I find ideal in my world may conflict with what a Russian spy finds to be an ideal world.  A politician will certainly describe an ideal world differently than a miner or advertising agent, don't you think?  Or, do you think that when it really comes down to the heart of the matter, most people want to live in the same conditions?  If so, what are those conditions? Peace?  Prosperity?  Perhaps we should ask Sir Thomas More what his ideal society looks like...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Week 27--"Make an Ideal World"

Make an Ideal World:  "What does an ideal world look like to you?  Make a list of all the things you would want in such a world.  Take a look at your list and pick one items that is particularly compelling.  What could you do now to make that one ideal aspect one step closer to reality?  Are there any non-profits that are already working toward that ideal?  See what you can do alone, or , better yet, with others to work toward actualizing that ideal."

I can look at this week's task a couple ways:  One, I can list ideals for the entire world and humankind in general.  Or, I could list characteristics of an ideal world--within my sphere.  Let's try a bit of both for today.

What does my ideal (for all mankind) world look like?
  • Clean drinking water for everyone
  • Elimination of hunger
  • Elimination of evil
  • Elimination of disease
What does my ideal (my sphere) world look like?
  • Retirement spent doing what I love
  • Extra tall cabinets and sinks
  • A huge kitchen
  • Sunny days
  • Waking to the sound of the tide
  • Pain free body

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Week 26--Share Humor--Saturday Morning

This is the 90th post!  Whoa, I didn't think I'd get here back in the bitter cold of January.  However, the day is young and much to do so I'll tell this week's final humorous story for your reading pleasure.

Sometime while dating my husband, we visited his parents for the weekend.  They lived at the time in an older home they had refurbished.  I really liked the bathroom because it had high ceilings, built-in wall cabinets and intricate tiled floors.  His mom is from the South, and decorates with lots of floral motifs.  The bathroom at this time had white walls, greenish painted cabinets and a tub decorated with a double shower curtain.  It was a montage of pink, red, green and white flowers.  Personally, it wasn't my style but to each her own.  The shower curtain had a valence as well--so it was essentially a curtain across a shower and tub, and a heavy curtain at that.

We had a pretty full day and plans for the evening.  It was my turn to clean up. So I'm in the shower and I realize the water is super soft.  I grew up in southeastern Indiana with hard water--soap never lathered.  It more or less slid on and water rinsed it off.  I'm standing under the water, with child-like amazement that the water is so soft.  So soft, in fact, that the blasted bar of soap is slipping all over the place and out of my hands.  I go to retrieve the bar of soap; as I stand up, I lose my balance slightly and with such a slippery tub floor (and no mat--bad decision in hindsight) I start to sway.  And there, in my in-laws-to-be bathroom, reached the tipping point and fell--backwards--out of the tub. 

Loosing my footing and balance (thanks due to zero friction) I fall backwards over the tub.  In a blaze of fury and desperate last-minute hope, I reach for the shower curtain and pull the entire ensemble down around me. I landed on the cold tile floor, swaddled in the hideous floral curtain.  Thank the Lord I missed the sink with my head, but only narrowly.  My horror would have been ten times worse had I hit my head, passed out and  been at the mercy of the local fire department finding me unconscious on the floor--wet and naked.  What a story they would have had!!  I'm sure had I been observed,  it would have been like watching a train wreck.  It happened so quickly; one minute I'm deep in thought of the water's softness, the next minute I am on the floor, naked as the day I was born, on my back, half covered in slippy soap and tangled in the floral shower curtain from hell.

I had never felt so ambushed, so silly, so embarrassed and so child-like in my life.  It was completely out of my control.  I come to my senses after the crashing of both me and the shower curtain ensemble and the water is still running. Within five seconds I hear my husband's mom at the door, "Honey, are you all right?"  Then five seconds later, hysterical laughter is heard as I tell her, still lying on the floor and through the door what happened.  She laughs to this day about that incident.  My husband-to-be was more sensitive and truly concerned, but had a rueful smile about his mouth the whole time.  I refused to let anyone in to assist me.  I even left the water running, put back the shower curtain and finished my shower...pride and bum slightly wounded.

Imagine falling out of this tub with this shower curtain raining down upon you...except this has doors and a green curtain, but use your imagination...:)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Week 26--Share Humor--Friday Night

I'm sorry to say I didn't have much humor to share from the last two days, though the beginning of the week was full of funny moments.  Since I have no humorous stories to share, I'll share an observation.

Why, when most human beings are in a hurry, do people at the grocery store, (leaving the store) have to walk slowly back to their cars and take the longest route possible?  I don't get it.  If you walk out at a 90 degree angle from the door entrance, across the main thoroughfare to the lot, it's quick and efficient--and--you're less likely to be road kill or someone's winning points in the game of hit and run. 

Why, oh why, then, do most of the people (at least the ones at our nearest Kroger) lolligag around and take their sweet time to make a line as oblique as possible and take as long as possible to walk back to their cars?  Yes, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  However, if you walk most of that line in the middle of the road, it's not safe.  Doesn't the possibility of being hit by oncoming traffic bother them?  Apparently not. They might as well be this guy...

Photo courtesy of a fellow blogger: Nuggets of Gold

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Week 26--Share Humor--Thursday Morning

     "It was painful; I'd rather have a root canal."  He moaned as he sat down in the chair, exhausted from what apparently was a grueling corporate dinner, which he doesn't often attend.    
     "It was that bad?"  she asked, laughing aloud as she watched the pained expressions come and go across his face.  "What made it so bad?"
     With a deep sign of exhaustion, "I was the only man at a table of women, few near my age; to make it worse, most of the night was spent listening to drinking war stories from a couple of the women--and they weren't funny at all.  One woman was from the west coast with these huge sunglasses on like she was trying to look like a celebrity.  She was so loud.  We could have easily left an hour before we did.  I felt bad for the servers."
     "I'm sorry babe; however, it can be typical of corporate dinners  What did you do the whole time?"
     Now his expressions became noticeably more animated. "I can't believe what they charge for a chicken sandwich and a side of fruit!  I got one strawberry, one blueberry, three pieces of pineapple and a couple grapes.  It was horrible.  This is why I don't eat out!  What a ripoff!  I spent most of the night listening to loud women tell their vain stories.  At some point, I thought, 'How could I get out of this?  Could I fake a heart attack?'"
     She laughed and gave him a hug with a rueful smile.  "Welcome to the wonderful world of corporate dinners."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Week 26--Share Humor--Wednesday Morning

"Women have no relief from the pressure to be skinny and look perfect.  It's depressing."
"Yeah, but that's not reality.  Women should be curvy and eat food."
"I know, but it's hard when all you see are images of perfection on TV and in magazines."
"Yes, but do you want to eat tapeworms to get that perfection?  Last time I checked, tapeworms were not on the food pyramid.  Bread is on the pyramid, but not tapeworms."

This was last night's encouraging speech courtesy of my husband.  He prefers I actually eat hamburgers and ice cream with him...instead of worms.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Week 26--Share Humor--Tuesday

This funny "female issues" conversation is courtesy of a good friend who shall remain nameless...

"I should not have worn this top, I forgot how low is it--not good for jogging in public.  Besides, there's no lining or padding." 
"What?  You're fine.  I don't even worry about being self-conscious anymore."
"Really?  Not me, I'm sad to say."
"Sure.  Why, the other day I was doing yard work--lifting, bending and digging.  I was scraping mud off of the shovel, cleaning equipment and working really hard.  My yard clothes are old, loose and comfortable and I was just doing my work. It was several minutes before I realized that one boob was hanging out of my shirt."

Commence hysterical laughter...:):)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Week 26--Share Humor--Monday Morning

     "We're going to play a final ballad for everyone, you've been a great crowd, thank it is, Body & Soul."  So concludes the musician for the evening's Jazz in the Park concert.
     As the music begins to filter through the air, heavy with saxophone, the crowd is lulled into peaceful reminisces of teenage crushes and bygone loves.  It's a beautiful evening, finally warm and sunny after a nondescript, cloudy day.  The wind is light and warm, and the crowd full--full of leisure with full picnic baskets and their fare, children at play in the grassy knolls and adults sipping leisurely on glasses of Pinot Grigio. 
     "This song reminds me of a slow dance in a 1940's nightclub" she says, reminded of movies such as Casablanca.  "I should be wearing pumps and a dancing dress, while patrons smoke fancy cigars and drink gin and tonics.  Should we stand up and dance in the aisle?" she says with a tinge of playful bantering in her voice.
     Seated close to her, she gently leans her head on the strong shoulder of her husband.  Without missing a beat, he says, "This song reminds me of the Weather Channel; it's Doppler music.  You know, the music they play in the background when the Doppler Radar is on the screen."

Talk about killing the mood! So funny, so true, and so my husband. Such was one of the several humorous conversations my husband and I had last evening at the jazz concert venue below:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Week 26--"Share Humor"

So this week I'm to share humor versus woe:  "Instead of exchanging an endless supply of complaints about the world with friends and colleagues around you, collect jokes and silly stories you've heard or read, and shift the tone of these gripe sessions.  Wouldn't you rather hear a funny story than another tale of mundane woe?" 

"Half way there", "half-baked", "half-n-half", Week 26 has arrived in this 52 Ways to Make a Difference in 2011 journey.  If I say, "I can't believe it," or "It goes by so quickly," or "Crazy!," or "It's here already?"   I'd sound typical and like everyone else; however, I am half through the year and the journey. 

Let's take a few lines of text to review the past 26 weekly tasks, starting with the first:

Piggyback Errands
Quit Being Self-Defeating
Be Patient
I'm Sorry
Recharge Your Batteries
Be in Nature
Don't Walk Away Angry
Buy Recycled
The Next Generation
Examine a Prejudice
Gentle Driving
Cause and Effect
You Made a Difference
Low Media
Without Packaging
Stay Curious
Share Your Success
Read and Respond
Trashy Walk
Know Your Limits
Care for Water
Your Elders
Share Food
Cultural Mind Expansion
Share Humor

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Week 25--Cultural Mind Expansion--Wednesday Evening

So I picked up our new whippet, Ransom (see picture), in Valpariso, from a Canadian with the lightest blue eyes I have ever seen.  Ransom is from Calgary, Alberta and his whippet parents are from New Zealand and England, if I remember correctly.  So although I have yet to travel outside the continental USA, I have a whippet this is quite "global."

My second cultural expansion exposure occurred at the Macy's shoe department.  Leave it to shoes on sale to bring together a melting pot of ladies.  As I browsed the size 10 sale rack, a group of three what I believe were Muslim ladies were intermingled and speaking Arabic so effortlessly.  The only word I could make out was "McNuggets."  Hilarious!  Here are three women and a baby obviously not native Americans and one was on her cell phone ordering chicken mcnuggets!  Priceless. 

What I noticed first about these women is that all three were covered head to toe with the exception of their faces.  They did not give me the time of day at all; I smiled at one woman as she was only a foot or two away from me ( as I reached for the Gucci heel) and she looked at me and didn't crack a smile.  I find that odd; it would be uncouth of me not to acknowledge another human being if they were within my bubble.  The other thing I noticed right off the bat is that what lacked in displaying arm skin or their hair they made up for in dressing in very colorful tops and wearing several bejeweled items. It was quite pretty, actually, and very different than what I'm used to in my upbringing.  Appreciation for different ways to skin a cat, it seems, is the goal of this week's task.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week 25--"Cultural Mind Expansion"

Cultural Mind Expansion:  "You can take advantage of the wide variety of cultures living in this country to learn more about cultural differences and similarities--without having to travel thousands of miles.  Spend some time with an acquaintance who grew up in another country and compare your experiences.  Are his/her attitudes and values very different from yours?  Or take an adventure to parts of town that tend to be ethnically focused, like Chinatown, Japantown, or an East Indian neighborhood.  Observe mundane things such as whether parents discipline their children in public, whether make friends touch each other, and what sorts of things are sold in the grocery store.  Culturally expand your mind as often as you can."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Week 24--Saturday Evening--Share Food

This past week I shared food with my co-workers and my hubby shared his wonderful chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies with his friend whose wife just had their third child.  I don't think--no, make that I know I did not turn on the stove or the oven all week.  So what food did I share?  I shared a bag of M & M Pretzel candies--and oh did they hit the spot!  It was a nice end of the week pick me up for me and the my office mates.  It also helps that everyone in the office that day was female, and when I showed up with the bag of candies, each person's reaction was the same, "Yes!  Oh, chocolate, I love chocolate, I need chocolate!" 

Thank goodness for the cocoa bean!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Week 24--"Share Food"--Sunday Morning

Share Food.  "  Next time you make your family's 18-bean soup recipe for 40 people, don't divide the recipe by ten, as you usually do, but make the whole thing.  Invite friends, neighbors, and your neighbor's friends over to share a meal with you.  Or bring it to them.  Are there any homeless people in your neighborhood?  Bring them some, too.  Think about whom else you could feed whenever your turn the stove on."

This week's challenge may be difficult for me because I can't remember the last time I turned on the stove!  I rarely cook. My husband; however, enjoys cooking.  My neighbors are leaving for the lake today and quite honestly, I'm not in an altruistic mood.  Looks like I'll have to drop this mood quickly if I want to accomplish this week's Make a Difference task...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Week 23--"Your Elders"--Monday Evening

Your Elders:  "Spend some time with an older person.  Is there someone you know whose life experiences would make an interesting oral history project?  Do you know someone who is no longer as able-bodied as you, who would appreciate your company to help run an errand or do a life-improving task?  Enrich your life by sharing it with people from a range of generations."

Yesterday was my first LifeGroup; what is a LifeGroup?  LifeGroups are local small groups of fellow church attendees who happen to live in the same vicinity.  It's a way to continue the week's message in a less formal environment--one to encourage sharing, time of prayer and discussion.  I very much enjoyed my first visit, albeit I am the youngest of the group. 

What I like about our group so far is that there are four couples, ranging in ages from 30 to 60+.  Last night's discussion was lively and pertinent to our experiences right now.  I noticed that as the evening wore on, stories were told, and emotions shared, that the eldest couple in our group was so calm, so nonchalant, so patient. When they contributed to the conversation, they were met with anticipatory ears.  Their words rang true and were spoken with the quiet strength that can only come from living life.  Their example made an impression upon me and I only hope that I can learn to better listen and patiently take in life as I saw them do last evening.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Week 22--Tuesday Evening

I love water, especially when it is 90 degrees out with just about the same humidity.  I know I take clean drinking water for granted; I think about it every time I drink deeply of our easily accessible tap water.  I try to drink tap water when I can, it's what I grew up drinking.  Bottled water often seems like a waste of plastic to me. 

I attended a benefit concert this past April; the benefit was for The Thirst Project. It was a great cause and a great concert--Jon McLaughlin's concerts are always great!  You can read about the The Thirst Project Benefit Concert here. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Week 22--"Care for Water"--Memorial Day Monday

Oh the weekend...why am I up at 4:30 am on this Memorial Day holiday?  Blek.  ANYway, yesterday started Week 22 of 52--time is flying by...

Care for Water.  "Think of all the ways you enjoy water in a day, from taking a nice hot shower to walking around a lake or sipping water with a meal.  Are there ways you can help to conserve water?  Any leaky faucets that need new washers?  How about participating in an organized stream or beach clean-up?  You wouldn't, of course, be pouring any toxic things into your street gutters, now would you?  And there are certainly plenty of ways to reduce you water use at home, like watering plants at the end of the day, not leaving the shower water running while you talk on the phone, and not running loads of laundry that are only half full."

We live on a small, natural, stinky-in-the summer lake; I love our lake, despite it's smell in the heat of July and August.  It provides a multitude of facades, ranging from the still, bleak, wintry pool of gray to a shimmering, lively, lake of summer teeming with waterfowl.  It's amazing how many colors one lake can appear depending on the weather.  At this point in our economy and housing market, the view of Mrs. Misty Lake is likely keeping our home's value "afloat."

Even as I write, you can hear our resident toad croaking away.  Below are a few photos of our lake, as you can see, she has quite a way with color...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Week 21--Know Your Limits--Wednesday Night

We are preparing for the impending swath of  thunderstorms that will soon sweep across central Indiana.  Until then, I have a few things to write about Socrates' aphorism, "Know thyself."  How about, "Know thy limits."?  Doesn't have quite the ring to it, don't you think? 

Day four was fraught with learning some family-tinged emotional limits.  No need to worry--I am not going to turn this entry into an outpouring of my childhood related moments of angst.  However, today's events shined the bright, sometimes harsh light of reality on the facade of family drama--and how I deal with it.  Today's emotions included feeling: helpless, helpful, needed, annoyed, ambivalent, angry, sad, loved, happy, grateful and humbled.  Wine was most definitely on the dinner menu.

Did I gain insight into my emotional limits?  Yes, yes I did.  I also heartily expressed (in an attempted assertive means) to share with a close family member that I had reached my limits.  It went over better than I expected...and why?  Because I truly was not angry with this person, I was tired, sad, exhausted, and needed time to reflect--I could no longer listen and take in the words that were causing me pain and irritation.  Thankfully there was mutual understanding and we "took five" and parted well.   

I would never want to go into battle with my own family members as one might think of the word "battle"; however, over the years I have learned (not always easily) that battling to maintain your boundries is not only positive in the long run, it's vital to living well and loving others.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Week 21--Know Your Limits--Tuesday Evening

Had to leave work today; thankfully it was quittin' time because I had reached my limits.  Enough said on that subject.  I actually thought to myself, "I'm done; if I stay any longer, I will be of no use to anyone or myself.  I have reached my 'fed up with this stress' limit."  It was quite freeing, actually.  I did not allow myself to feel guilty or angry or stressed-out any longer.  I chose to acknowledge my limits, all circumstances considered and it was a positive, assertive choice for my well-being. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Week 21--"Know Your Limits"--Monday Morning

I must take a few lines to reflect; I did not pick up one piece of trash on a walk last week.  It wasn't because I did not walk--there was no trash to be collected!  The neighborhoods in which I walked were impeccably cleaned--a good thing.  But I did pick up some debris from my front yard--typical after the weekly trash pickup.  Oh the irony...

Sunday marked the beginning of Week 21--as expected, "I can't believe it's almost June" came out of my mouth last week, but here we are!  Week 21's task:

Know Your Limits.  "Know your limits, from knowing how much sleep you need, how much alcohol you can drink before feeling sick, how many projects you can handle at once, and how much downtime you need between events, to knowing how much change you are capable of making at any given time.  Don't push yourself beyond the comfort zone, or the sanity zone.  Keeping yourself in balance by knowing your limits is a big contribution toward keeping the world at large in balance.  Just think what might happen is everybody were as self-aware."

Whether good or bad or indifferent, I tend to go past my limits on a regular basis.  I know this, and yet I still do it.  My husband said to me yesterday, "don't feel bad for saying 'No' to people.  If you don't say it, you'll be helpful to no one."  He is right; he's said this a couple times in the last few weeks.  So I cancelled my attendance at a meeting last evening because I was exhausted from a busy weekend of intense yard work, amongst other things.  I felt bad for cancelling, but I must go on.  Goodness knows most people don't care about it as much as I do.

On a cheekier note, I do know how much alcohol I can imbibe before feeling awfully awful :)  I also need about 8 to 9 hours of sleep daily to function somewhat coherently.