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!

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.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Week 20--Trashy Walk--Tuesday "Wee-Early" Morning

Monday was busy; but I walked.  However, I did not do a trashy walk.  It was a personal training appointment, so it didn't feel quite right...besides, the neighborhood we workout in is cleaner than my kitchen, so it all balances itself out. It was a productive appointment, and in total, I racked up about 100 minutes of exercise today, counting the lunch break stroll in the parking lot with colleagues. 

Tomorrow I have a walk planned with an acquaintance in another awfully nice neighborhood, but I do plan to take a trash bag with me. 

All this walking has caused two things to surface in my mind.  One, I need to get fitted for a better pair of walking shoes.  I'm afraid my ol' reliable brand isn't cutting it any longer.  Secondly, I have to find a way to prevent heel spurs from ripping out the inside-rear fabric of my shoes.  Hmmm...perhaps the former will fix the latter?  I doubt it.  Due to this said heel spur and subsequent rubbed-raw skin, wanted to share with you a picture of the funniest band-aid I've ever seen:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Week 20--"Trashy Walk"--Sunday Afternoon

May 1st is National Trash Clean-Up Day.  Seeing as I love to take walks after work for both the benefit of my dogs and my health, I will have ample opportunities to meet this week's "Make a Difference" task.  Perhaps I should plan walks where I know there could be more opportunities to find rubbish...parks...parks with  playgrounds...and areas for cookouts.  Sweet.

Trashy Walk.  "Next time you take a walk to run an errand or just to relax, carry a little garbage bag with you.  And as you come upon bits of trash, instead of cursing the inconsideration of some of the people who share this planet, just pick it up and walk on.  Wouldn't it be cool if other people did this too?"

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Week 19--Read & Respond--Saturday Morning

I believe I can count two actions for Read & Respond week:  First, I responded to a request from a friend and fellow teacher to speak Friday to her biology class about my career and educate them about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.  It was fun and they asked good questions.  Thanks Ms. O!  Secondly, I read another blog I follow and responded with a comment.  The blog is about a mystery series of novels based on historical content about Jane Austen's life.  I love the series and cannot wait for the newest novel to come out this fall! 

Stephanie Barron, the author of both the novels and blog, writes each month and provides excellent historical details and a behind-the-scenes look at the research she gathered to write her novels.  Her fifth novel in the series, Jane and the Stillroom Maid, offers a mystery set in Derbyshire and revolves around the "stillroom maid."  Apparently, Jane Austen's sister, Cassandra, was the stillroom maid for the Austen's.  What is a stillroom maid you may ask?  Read about it here:  Stephanie Barron--The Jane Austen Mystery Series

Other matters of note this week:  my garden's first iris burst forth into bloom (see photo below) and my whippet, Gable, enjoyed his footsicle (video below).  What is a footsicle?  It's like a popsicle but for dogs.  It's  a frozen chicken foot.  It was a humid day and we had just finished a walk.  What can I say?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Week 19--Read & Respond--Wednesday Evening

Does reading a novel and responding to facebook posts count towards this week's task?  Probably not.  What about reading and responding to tens of e-mail messages throughout the day at the office?  No, I don't think so.  I'm still at a loss for something I could purposely set out to research, read and reply to.  Any ideas?

Today's morning began with trying to move a very large snapping turtle out of the yard so the dogs didn't get their snouts bit off.  It was in the middle of the road this morning, and so a kind neighbor assisted me in moving it back towards the lake.  The turtle had other plans.  It stubbornly turned towards the road and seemed determined to cross. 

I must admit, in all my years, I did not realize a turtle stood up to walk across the road.  I always pictured it moving low to the ground, like a "low-rider" pimp mobile.  I felt like I was watching some prehistoric kimodo-dragon like thing as the turtle stretched out its legs, hiked up its backside and up and walked across the road, intent to find the stream in which to lay its eggs.  Apparently, as my next-door neighbor informed me, it's been living in our lake for years. Ha! 

Here she is, first fighting not to go back to the lake, then turning around and doing her thing.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Week 19--Read & Respond--Tuesday Evening

Blek.  Today in one word; blek, blek, blek.  Argh! Ugh! Ahhhhhh!!!!

Not the best of days, but not the worst of days either...

It's always unnerving as a woman when more than two people in one day ask you if you feel okay because you look "tired" or in this particular case, I looked as I felt--in pain.  It was a bad pain day.  I have a chronic pain and joint instability condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. 

What does this have to do with this week's task?  After a long morning, and anticipating a longer afternoon awaiting a particular meeting, I walk to the printer and a colleague asks if I'm okay.  I say "Sorta. Not feeling too well today." She says, "Well, you look like you're in pain."  So I tell her, "Yes, I'm in pain, quite a bit today, more than normal.  By the way, I have a chronic pain condition, yadda, yadda, etc."  I promptly return to my office and send her the link to the national foundation for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.  It just so happens to be Awareness Month. 

So although I did not read and respond to an editor of a paper or journal, I responded to a colleague with a link to educate her about a condition I live with every moment of every day.  In the spirit of sharing, below is the link to the
Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation and a link explaining the condition I have.  Thankfully, I have the least life-threatening of the six subtypes of EDS. 

Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation

EDS--Hypermobile Type Definition

Monday, May 9, 2011

Week 19--"Read & Respond"--Monday Evening

I called my husband from work today to ask him to pick a card for this, our 19th week into the challenge, because I forgot to do it yesterday!  He, of course, was wonderful and reminded me he had picked a card as I sat down, exhausted from the day, to check e-mail tonite.

Read and Respond.  "Stay tuned to what's going on in the world (and in the many subcultures of the world that interest you) through newsletters, periodicals, newspapers, and all that other printed matters, and now online matter.  But don't just consume all this gray matter with your gray matter, respond!  Consuming pounds (or megabytes) of print can be pacifying to the point of inertia, so try to keep the fine line between highly stimulating and overwhelming in check.  And write back through letters to the editors, letters directly to journalists, and maybe even through writing your own article on a topic of interest.  Your own gray matter matters and deserves to be in print."

I used to love reading the Shelbyville News, our daily newspaper from my hometown.  It's almost unheard of seeing a newspaper rolled up lying in the front door anymore these days.  Now that I think of it, I can't remember seeing a rolled-up newspaper...mostly I see them laying flay as a pancake in the shelves next to the Starbucks checkout line.  I think I delivered newspapers as a kid for a fleeting moment until my Mom realized it would be way too much added stress to the family routine.  I thank her for that decision!

Not sure what I will do yet this week to "read & respond"...until then, here's the link to the Shelbvyille  The Shelbyville News

Friday, May 6, 2011

Week 18--Share Your Success--Friday Afternoon

I planned to make a list of "successes" early this week to fulfill part of this task.  However, I did not get that accomplished. Let's get down to it now...

Successes this week:
  1. I exercised four days this week, yesterday alone I walked six miles!
  2. I slept through the night a couple nights this week. 
  3. I was assigned my second class to teach at the collegiate level.
  4. I received two positive recommendations from the last class I taught--no negative ones!
  5. I washed the dogs bedding--there's lots, so that's a success!
  6. I am volunteering for the first time tomorrow morning at church
  7. I have prepared and made a list of to-do errands tomorrow morning after church so I can make one trip and not waste gas!
  8. I ended the work week having accomplished several "ad hoc" requests.
  9. I finally finished that book I wrote about a couple weeks ago, One Thousand White Women...incredibly depressing ending--rather tragic, actually. 
  10. Purchased new sewing needles and repaired something that had been sitting on the dining table for days.  Now I need to repair the hold in the sweater before it grows...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Week 18--Share Your Success--Sunday Evening

Share Your Success.  "It seems common to share all of life's disappointments large and small, 'cause life's like that, yet it seems less socially acceptable to share our successes.  There must be a way to share and celebrate tiny (no cavities!) and large (Nobel prize?)successes with friends and family, without having it be an egomaniacal event.  Use your successes as opportunities to give credit and share the glory with your whole support team, from your dog to your best friend, along with all your sometimes annoying but supportive family members in-between."

Upon first reading this upcoming week's directive, I honestly thought, "this will be hard."  How sad is that?  If you asked me what I needed to improve upon, I would easily be able to rattle off several areas of shortage.  So why is it tough to make a mental list of successes? accomplishments? talents? skills?

This book was written several years ago, likely before the era of reality TV and self-made stars who are celebrated simply because they are wealthy socialite children, or they've shared intimate videos with the world, or they make fools of themselves in front of millions with poorly chosen behaviors.   I disagree with the author that people don't celebrate success in today's culture because it's less socially acceptable. 

It appears to me today's society encourages people to pat themselves on the back without doing much, or behaving well to have earned it.  I'm not saying it's negative to be confident, proactive, tenacious or fearless.  I'm only suggesting that what we see and hear about in our culture appears to praise and reward those who demonstrate often senseless, and tactless behavior--at least from what evening TV clips provide.

What about celebrating success on a daily basis for:  maintaining a healthy body weight?  Not undergoing plastic surgery to enhance or reduce a body part?  Eating what you want simply because it tastes good and was carefully prepared by a food artist?  Being a size 12 and being comfortable?  Laughing?  snorting?  creating?  making an effort?  being kind ?  helping someone out simply because they need it and not because it will bring you attention?  walking?  riding your bike?  spending time with a neighbor who needs you to listen?  listening and not offering your opinion?  enjoying the quiet moments?  laughing your heart out, joyfully?