Thursday, July 2, 2015

My rather public shame

 We moved from a condo in the Chicago suburbs to a house in Kentucky 10 years ago. This is the first house I've lived in since I was 5 years old, and I love my house.

 It's a fine size - big enough to house a family of 4 (with the addition of a family member or two here and there,) but small enough to clean (when I feel like it.) It is mostly brick, which is nice, and the shutters are green, and we all know that green is my favorite color. We haven't done a whole lot to the house, and there are definitely some bits of maintenance that really should be done, but all in all, I love my house. And my favorite part is the yard. We have a 1/2 acre, mostly flat (which is unusual in the Ohio River valley,) and I would rather be outside mowing the lawn or doing other outside-y things than cleaning inside. Unfortunately, I have some problems.

Here it is, my not so secret shame. Considering that it is in front of my house, it can't be much of a secret. I am a mess when it comes to time management and landscaping - hence, the jungle of my front yard. Let's add the fact that I tend to kill things - I prune over-enthusiastically, or I plant a bizarre assortment of things, or I just ignore everything, which is what has happened over the past 2 years.
This was a Bradford pear tree planted by the builder. Yes, you'll see that it was planted approximately 2 feet from the house. Bradford pears grow to upwards of 26 feet tall, with a large canopy, so our pear spent most of it's life with the back half pruned off to keep it from rubbing destructively against the gutters. Bradford pears also tend to be structurally weak, since their canopies are too large to be supported by their trunks, and they grow so quickly.

Last September, a freak storm tore down 1/3 of the tree. We had wanted to get rid of it for years and never bothered, so Mother Nature took care of it for us. My brother-in-law came over and took down the rest of the tree using his chainsaw, and carted off the wood, which was lovely. Do you know what happens when you cut down a Bradford pear without taking out the stump? It doesn't freaking die, oh no. It just starts shooting off all these little baby branches. So, I guess dealing with the stump of my nemesis, the old pear, is #1 issue with my front garden area.
Then there is the fact that I never prune the holly bushes, or any of the other bushes, for that matter. They grow like crazy, and grow together, and it's all crazy. There used to be 4 holly bushes, I appear to have killed 2 of them, I don't know how. Last year I pruned most of the burning bushes, but I couldn't reach the top, and I asked my husband to do the rest, and he never did, and I never got around to finishing them, and now they are these insanely overgrown, monster shrubs. And the weeds. Good Lord, the weeds. It's gotten to the point that I think nothing short of a flame thrower will deal with the weeds.
When I was staying home with the kids, I was still not a fantastic landscaper, but it didn't look like an Amazonian jungle. I kept it "sort of" in check, although I still always managed to kill things. But now - I've been back to work for years, and I still haven't figured out time management. Admittedly, I do read books, and I do like to go out from time to time, but I can't seem to figure out how to finish much more than dishes and laundry.
All this is to say, I have let this get out of hand, and now it is so overwhelming. I'd like to take out the stump (and all its pesky babies,) Put in something appropriately sized, get all the weeds cleaned up, trim the shrubs to a manageable level, and make everything lovely.  I'm not sure how to do that, or how not to kill everything, or how to find the time to do it, or what to plant, although the people who lived there before had some carpet phlox that I absolutely loved, when I weeded enough to let it grow. My neighbors have been awfully patient with me, but they can't love living near this insanity.
Sigh.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Back to life, Back to reality...

I have pretty much taken the last month off. I did not trip up, mess up, oopsy-daisy. I did not miss a step and fall face-first into a vat of ice cream, as delicious as that sounds. I, quite frankly, completely sabotaged all my months of hard work and ate crap and stopped working out. 

Sabotage. Undermining a cause. I have undermined my own cause - that of my health - over and over. And I know I am not alone. How many of you have a goal you have worked toward - months of energy and planning and buttloads of hard work - and then, for one reason or another, taken time away and completely undone all of that work? And for what?

Last week, Boot Camp Guru texted a bunch of us, asking what we felt was our biggest struggle this summer. She was donating a quarter to a local charity for every answer. I really pondered that particular query - I really could only come up with one answer, and that answer was laziness. Sheer, unadulterated, laziness. We are discouraged from using that word as a reason - you're not lazy, the laziness is just a symptom of depression, or exhaustion, or some deep down emotion you must explore. But what if laziness really is the answer? I've felt pretty freaking good over the past year, emotionally - depression is not the answer here. Sure I'm tired at 4:30 AM, who the heck isn't? But exhausted? No. I didn't feel like getting out of bed and working out - after finishing the Pig in May, I felt I needed a break. Taking a couple of days off would have been fine, but not the next two months. I didn't feel like taking the time to prepare my food for the week, cooking healthy foods. I wanted to sit up and watch television with my husband every night instead of going to bed early so I could wake up early. Chopping veggies is annoying.

I've let sheer laziness sabotage my months of boot camp, my emerging biceps, my renewed energy.
No more.

Check my sexy new Asics - out for their inaugural workout this morning.
One of my favorite new things I've tried implementing with this whole "healthier me" thing is to jump in where I am. If I eat poorly or skip a workout, get back to it next meal, or next chance to get to a workout. It eliminates the whole "I've ruined the whole thing" mentality that can completely derail a new lifestyle. 

There is something powerful about a Monday, though, isn't there?

Yesterday, as we were driving home from Chicago (another post, another time), I received a text from said guru, "See you at 5AM. No excuses." Just the kick in the rear I needed. I didn't get enough sleep - it's hard, after a month of 10PM bedtimes, to go to sleep at 8:30 (I don't think I'll have a problem today.) I got up, and sweated through a Monday boot camp. It was way hard - I could barely hold a plank for 30 seconds, and I had been up past a minute. But I'll be back tomorrow.
This week's goals:
Attend at least 3 boot camps
Log every bite on My Fitness Pal
Drink 100 oz of water each day.

If you want to give me a kick in the butt, please feel free to do so. I need all the accountability I can find. I am happy to do the same for anyone who needs it.

Next post I will share my happy vacation fun, but today I was feeling motivated and wanted to share. Happy Monday!

Monday, June 8, 2015

40!

I turned 40 this past week. A rather uneventful Monday birthday - I went to work, read all my Facebook happy birthday messages (say what you will, psychologists, about the negative effects of social media on self esteem - I never feel more popular than on Facebook on my birthday,) went out to dinner with my family. Unlike many people I know who are past the age of 30, I still love my birthday. I like to be fussed over, I love presents, and I have no problem owning my age. I have earned my crow's feet, darn it. Anyway, I may have been a bit disappointed, but I wasn't blaming anyone. My daughter plays sports, my son graduated, and I'm a busy woman.

The Girl had a softball tournament this past weekend. My dad and stepmom came to town to watch her play.

We had a nice visit. Watched some softball. It was hot, I was sweaty and dusty, and not exactly looking my best. My brother, dad, and stepmom, and I left after the first game on Saturday so we could go to a cookout at my sister's house. I was looking forward to it. She asked us to stop by her brother-in-law's firehouse to pick up some ice. I followed him down to the basement to pick up the ice - and was met by so many of the people I love yelling "surprise!"




Yay!  I love surprise parties! My mom, brother, and sister worked hard to put this together for me. Family from Columbus, my prima I adore, my A from Indiana...so many people I care about. And then, another amazing surprise...



They moved to Florida last August, and there have been times where missing them has been a physical ache in my chest. They were hiding in a hallway as I laughed and hugged, and then they jumped out and yelled surprise, and I ran and hugged, and bawled - horrible, ugly, huge tears of joy.

Once I calmed down from the surprise, I had time to talk to people and actually notice who all was there. There was a lot of food, and music, and kids running around and playing, and so many hugs. And presents! I love presents! I got liquor, and trees, and Pyrex, and hilariously inappropriate needlepoint samplers, and gift cards...and best of all, I got cards, and a journal my mother put out for people to write messages, and they were all full of love. I have never, in my life, felt so completely loved.
How lucky am I? So much work and time, all just to make me feel special.
Thank you, to all of you with anything to do with this. I truly felt special.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A drunken post

Not really. It's been a little while since my last glass of wine. Like, 1 1/2 hours. The Blackhawks just won. Good for them, right?
Are you on Goodreads? 'Cuz if you're not, you should be. Seriously, where are you? I need your book recommendations. I have been reading like a crazy person lately. My last few have been relatively depressing, so on with the cheerful book recommendations.
When I was about 10, I saw the movie Spacecamp. I loved that freaking movie. I wanted to go to Spacecamp so badly it hurt. I never got to go, but I probably laid on the grass and said "I'm goin' up. I am." more than once, because I am a big nerd. I spent 6 years wanting to be an astronaut, way beyond the usual kid dreams. I was outside for awhile this evening, by myself, without my family even noticing I was out there, and watching the stars coming out, and thinking about that.
Tate Donovan, Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston, and, who is that? why yes, it is Leaf, I mean Joaquin! Phoenix. You just can't go wrong with this cinematic gem. "Jinx and Max, friends, forever."

I have lots I've been thinking about, but my thoughts are not exactly clear right now. My son graduated from high school today, and I feeling a little fuzzy, so I'm going to bed. Good night, sleep tight, we'll chat soon...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hi!

Ha! Look at that! We didn't get all the way to a month this time. But as I sit here, listening to bizarrely soothing videos of women talking about brushing hair and massaging feet, and buying shoes for my shoe-loving Bigfoot of a daughter, I realized that the next several weeks are going to be...full. Not necessarily stressful, but very full. Softball tournaments, book clubs, a wedding, a pretty major birthday or two...my son is graduating from high school...work...did I mention softball?


I feel this picture of teacup kittens helps me make the transition to my next topic.

I hear you all asking, "So Missy! How goes the healthy journey?!" Well I'll tell you, friends, I have been quite the lazy girl as of late. A few weeks ago, I did participate in the Flying Pig Relay. About 6.5 miles. I walked most of it, although I ran more than I thought I could. It was hot. I probably should have eaten ahead of time. Anyway, my point is, it was kind of hard.

Here I am, at the end. I felt so accomplished that apparently, I don't have to ever eat healthfully or exercise again. This week, I didn't wake up and go to boot camp even once. I kept on thinking, "I am so tired. I need more sleep. Sleep is more important." But, even with more sleep, I was still feeling horrible and tired. And, being the big-brained individual I am, I finally arrived at the conclusion that living on white cheddar popcorn and pepsi and no exercise will probably continue to exhaust me. This morning I met with my beloved boot camp guru and we discussed goals and maintaining accountability. And then, this evening, I asked a group of friends on Facebook to jump on this with me. Ooh, and I read this blog called Runs for Cookies, (Isn't Katie adorable?)  Anyway, I love those photo-a-day challenges, and this one looks like fun:


I love this - what fun! Obviously, we're already halfway through the month, but why not just jump in now. The goals I set up with Mel today were:
1. Gain muscle
2. Lose fat (we have an Inbody machine to measure these things. I will do new measurements on Monday.)
3. Attend boot camp at least 3 times each week
4. Drop the pop, again (my nemesis)
5. Stop eating from boredom

I would like to add daily food tracking and drinking 100 oz of water

These are not new, but I need a back to basics kind of push. stay tuned for pictures this month!

I've read some good books over the past month - I reread The Giver. I forgot how good that was. So I went ahead and read the rest of the series. The rest of the books aren't as good, but they do give closure. I've also been working my way through my Goodreads To Read list - reserving books from the list at the library and picking up stacks at a time. I don't really understand why all of the people in my life can't just let me read all the time. Is anything at work really worth interrupting my reading? I think not.

It's late, and I must be going to bed. Before I go, I want to show you something I found on Etsy that I must own, as this is, for some reason, one of my favorite things to say:

Perhaps I will gift it to myself for achieving my goals. Or, my birthday is only 2 weeks away...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

And, another month goes by...

My husband put on an X-Files episode - one of the good, alien abduction episodes. I had forgotten how spooky this show could be. 


Of course, you all already know Fox is doing a limited run of new episodes. So very cool. My first Simpsons episode was the X-Files episode. I still love that episode. "Look at this Scully. There's been another unsubstantiated UFO sighting in the heartland of America. We've got to get there right away!"

I have spent the last month driving my daughter all over Guam and back for volleyball and softball in the evenings and weekends. Her volleyball team played in its last tournament in Louisville this past weekend; they did relatively well, 3rd place. The Girl and I had a great time during our non-volleyball hours - we ate dinner at Mark's Feed Bag and did some unhurried shopping at Target. I may be the last person to discover Mark's Feed Bag, but oh my, it was good barbecue. Lovely, unstressed time together, which is rare for us.

My boy is going to be graduating in a month. We did the required studio senior pictures to go in the yearbook, but we did not buy any (they were insanely expensive, and my son never looks like that.) So on Easter, I took a few pictures of him and the two of them. They are not great shots, but they definitely look like my kids.


See that he is not wearing the tuxedo top and dickie. He is wearing his favorite t-shirt - "Keep Calm and Carry a Towel." Gold star sticker to you who gets the reference.

Of course, boot camp is still happening. We've recently moved outside for the mornings with good weather. My weight has been going the wrong direction, entirely because of my poor food choices. So last week I tried Tosca Reno's Cooler 1 plan - very little sugar, very little fat, so very much protein, lots of veggies. I like veggies, but I found I dislike an awful lot of protein sources - I don't like fish or eggs, and we were not allowed beans. I got really sick of chicken and turkey, really quickly. I did 3 days, but stopped after. A lot of my boot camp friends are feeling great on this plan (it is a short term plan,) but I am apparently not ready. I definitely need to decrease my sugar intake. 


Look, another spooky skies picture. Ok, this one I took, featuring the sunset, the moon, and my smelly butt pear trees. 

It's time for bed now. I will have to chat with you again soon - lots going on. Night!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Oh. Hello!

Happy Spring! It was a rainy, dreary first day of spring for us in the Ohio River Valley.
I've been a bit absent this past month, haven't I.  This has been true in so many facets of my life - I was sporadic with my boot camp attendance, eating horribly, messing up work issues, spacey, irritable.  End of winter blues, maybe?

Let's discuss the health stuff, first.  I am about to admit something here, and it is painful, but true.  I gained ten pounds this past month.  TEN!  Drinking pop, eating mass amounts of candy and junk (Ding Dongs were a particular vice.  Not exactly gourmet fare, that.)  I think I may have made it to boot camp 5 times between February and March 15. I stepped on the scale on Monday and almost fell over from the shock.
Some things I've learned (or RElearned) from this past month:

1.  Momentum is key - this is for both exercise and nutrition.  If I go one day, it's easier for me to go the next day, and the next, and the next.  If I stop, it's harder.  Pretty simplistic, but important.
2.  Planning is so important - I know this, I've blogged about this, and I still fall into my own trap of "I don't feel like making a meal plan and prepping my food.  I'll just wing it."  And then I buy Ding Dongs on my way to work.
3.  I am not particularly motivated by money.  This is a new lesson for me.  I entered a challenge at boot camp where we put $5 into a pot at the beginning of the month, and the members with the highest percentages of loss won the pot.  I've also entered a few DietBets.  I thought, because there was money involved, I would be more committed.  Nope.  Good to know.
4.  Pop is BAD!  I know this!  Why is dropping the pop so hard for me?!
5.  White rice seems to have a very nasty effect on me.  Like, serious bloating, horrible, distended belly.  I do not know why.  This really doesn't have anything to do with weight loss, but it's something I've discovered recently.  I realize it's not the most healthy option, but it is a comfort food for me. The last few times I've eaten it, I've had this bloat, and the white rice is the only common factor.
6.  Getting up at 4:30AM and going out in the snow and cold is really hard.

This week I hit my mental reset button (again, I know, but at least I keep hitting it.)  I went to boot camp each morning this week.  Even this morning, when my workout buddy was unable to join me, I went.  I logged every bite I took, even the crap.  Today was particularly bad, but I logged it all.  I made green smoothies the night before, put them in the freezer, and took them out before I left for boot camp so they were melted enough that I could drink them on my way to work.  They're very filling, and I sip on them all morning, so I don't feel hungry again until lunch. I need to do some more meal planning, but I'm feeling better about this.

Other things I learned this past month:
1.  O. M. G. My mind is blown. Seriously, this habit is going to be as hard to break as drinking pop.
2.  My sweet sister R. is getting married!  Very excited.
3.  Tay's "Better Than Sex" tea Best way to spend a Friday evening.
Yes, those are Girl Scout Thin Mints.  I bought 1 box this year, and have been nibbling at them slowly.

I love to read.  You all know that.  I read a lot, and most of it is pretty lightweight, mindless fluff, and I have no problem with that. Once in a while, though, I read something that grabs my heart and squeezes so tightly, I have trouble catching my breath.  I've been slowly savoring I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by the late and wonderful Maya Angelou.  Very slowly, reading a few chapters, then taking a break for some fluff, then a few more chapters.  It is worth the read for the language alone, which lingers on your tongue like a deep, dark chocolate. Each chapter is another part of her childhood (so far, I'm only 60% through), and the stories are entertaining at times, disturbing at others.  They are stories about life for an African American in the south in the 1940's and 50's, so I knew to expect disturbing.  Today, though, I read a chapter that touched me so deeply, I was in tears.  It is graduation day, and the whole community is elated.  Everyone is dressed up, giving gifts, excited about the future.  And then the key speaker, a white gentleman running for election, mounted the stage, and began to speak about the great changes in store - new science equipment, famous art teachers - for the white school.  Then he went on to praise a football player and basketball player who had graduated from their school.  The message was obvious - "The white kids were going to have a chance to become Galileos and Madame Curies and Edisons and Gauguins, and our boys (the girls weren't even in on it) would try to be Jesse Owenses and Joe Louises." The speaker leaves the stage shortly after, the diplomas are handed out, and the valedictorian begins his speech.  The room is hushed, angry, the entire audience stricken by the words of their "esteemed" guest speaker.  The valedictorian then turns to the students and begins to sing "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing", the poem by James Weldon Johnson, set to music by J. Rosamond Johnson, and the entire room joins in, and is empowered.  "We were on top again.  As always, again.  We survived.  The depths had been icy and dark, but now a bright sun spoke to our souls.  I was no longer simply a member of the proud graduating class of 1940; I was a proud member of the wonderful, beautiful Negro race."  Tears running down my face (at my office, no less), I wanted to shout out "Amen!" I am neither an African American woman, nor a religious one, but I was compelled by Maya Angelou's beautiful, powerful words. I've heard her speak on NPR - I think I may have to get this book on audio. If you haven't yet, please read it.
Image result for maya angelou quotes
Have a glorious evening, friends.

Note:  Shall we count how many times I double-spaced after my periods?