Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring updates and a really good read

Good evening and a very happy spring, finally.  I want to start by sharing this picture of my cat, Eddy.  That is his favorite wall.  He stares at it, often.  I'm not sure what he senses in that wall, but maybe you all can see it.

A lot has been going on lately...working plenty, getting closer to Relay, Odyssey of the Mind State competition, and so very many books.  But I specifically want to talk about books.  More specifically, the book I finished today.

Anyone who knows me knows I read a lot.  So many of my friends respond, when I talk books, "oh, I wish I had time to read."  Honestly, I say, stop saying that.  If you really wished that, you would do it.  Because I'm working full time, running my kids all over the place, having a life, and I read more than your average bear.  I make time for it.  I don't watch much TV.   I don't spend enormous amounts of time playing games on my computer.  I don't have a smart phone.  I don't really clean my house...

My point...I read a lot.  Dude, I've read the dead Russians, and everyone knows there's nothing quite so depressing as a dead Russian.  Except, maybe, a live dum dum...

No really, my Russian friends, I'm joking, I love the Russian people.  But I also really love a happy ending.  And today I finished one of the most charming and enjoyable books I've read in a long time (gentleman readers, you may want to stop now, I don't think you'll enjoy this book.)  I adore Barbara Samuel-O'Neal.  She writes under the name Barbara O'Neal and Barbara Samuel, and I love both, but today I finished The All-You-Can-Dream Buffet, by Barbara O'Neal, and I felt so bouyant of heart at the end.  The stories follow four women, Lavender, Ginny, Ruby, and Val, who meet through blogging (hey!) and travel to Oregon to celebrate Lavender's 85th birthday.  They are all different ages and colors and styles, and they are all lovely in their own way.  I wanted to spend days with these women.  They all face down their challenges and find joy and I truly would like to crawl into this book for a few months.  I ended the story with happy tears in my eyes, a little melancholy that it was over. 

My husband hates happy endings.  He seems to think great writing only comes from pain, and all stories should end in death and despair (not that he's read a book since college.)  Hence his love of the dead Russians.  But I love a good happy ending.  I read to escape, and I certainly don't need someone else's fictional problems.  I like to fall into my stories, and let them wrap me up and make me smile. 

What are your thoughts?  Do you like happy endings, or do you need your books to be depressing "art?"  Have you read any good books lately?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Five Favorites this Friday

What, so I post drunk and then don't get back on here for two weeks? Apparently that is the way I roll.

I really don't have much to write this week - I'm getting a lot more work at my job, and life is good and crazy. I haven't gotten a workout in since Sunday, which is stupid, because I have had the time, but I'm adapting to this time change like a neurotic 2 year-old. Which is to say, I'm not. I've been tired all week, which I could fix by waking up and exercising and then eating healthfully, but why would I want to fix what's wrong. Being a grown-up is dumb sometimes.

Since I'm not feeling all that inspired today, I shall incorporate a Friday Fabulous 5 - all the things I'm loving this week. Because I may be old and grouchy, but I still have some things that make me smile. They may as well make you smile, too!

1. Tammy is a busy mom who has lost weight and blogged about it. Lots of people have done this; I like her blog best.  Organize Yourself Skinny

2. My girl and her Odyssey of the Mind team came in 1st at Regionals! They will compete at the state level in two weeks. I'm so proud of them. You've never heard of Odyssey of the Mind? It is a fantastic program, all about problem-solving and independence and creativity. If you are looking for a non sports-related activity for your kids, check this out. Homeschool groups can have teams, too. 

3. If you're here from Facebook, you know I do Relay. I Relay big, and I Relay hard. I post on our Relay Facebook page, and I find it difficult to find something interesting to post on there as often as I'd like. Cancer Man's mom, Cassi, writes a blog and maintains a pinterest board of all things Relay, and she does a good job of finding Relay ideas, and sharing them with the rest of us.

4. My Gaiam green Metro Gym Bag. I bought it to take to Zumba and yoga, kept putting things in it, and now I carry it everywhere as a purse. It's water resistant (which is a good thing with all this snow we've been getting,) it's big, and it's GREEN!

5.  You know how I've mentioned before that I like watching videos on YouTube?  Not videos about doing interesting things, or parents embarrassing their kids, or music, or playing video games.  No, my videos are usually people speaking softly, describing the jewelry in their jewelry box.  Or pretending to give a pedicure.  Or, and these are my favorites, brushing someone's hair.  They're called ASMR, it really is a thing, they even featured one of my favorites on ABC World News and NPR.  The soft speaking and (pretend) focused attention are very relaxing for me.  They make my scalp tingle, and not in a weird way, in a relaxing way.  The same way Bob Ross's voice would affect me.  You all know how I love Bob.  Here is a link to one of my favorites -  Ilse.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Take a lesson from parakeets...

Heh, heh. Cuz that's funny.
Had a lot of wine tonight. I mean, a lot. Did you know that in a pinch, a crayon ?under your nose makes a good pretend mustache?

Has anyone had any great "life advice?" Because that probably takes the cake. Remember haow I wrote that post a few months (Christmas night) ago, when i drank all the wine and posted drundk? Yeah,thats where I am now. Lots of wine. So Iwastched Dallsas Buyers club last night. That was what mmost peoplewould call a "good movie". I don't believe in "good movies." I watch funny, bad movies. Those are the most fun.

So what are your reading right now? I'm reading Kim harrison's newest - The Undead Pool.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I really just wanted to be Han Solo.

Dude, it's almost the end of February! How did that happen? I was doing so well for awhile, posting a little more...the days, they just fly by.

Updates: Still working at ACS, still enjoying the job. Still exercising a lot more, and adding more water, although the weight is slow to move. Probably because I have not really changed my eating habits so much. Not eating ice cream all night, though, so I've got that going for me. My mood is definitely better, and I am certainly crediting the exercise with that little development. Seriously, any of you suffering depression or anxiety, this exercise thing is for real. I can feel a definitive difference in mood and ability to cope between the days I move and the days I don't. Fit it in - do whatever you have to do - just fit it in.

On that note, let me chat for a bit about a cause I am loving. Rob's Kids is dedicated to helping children suffering depression, PTSD, and suicidal thoughts. Their big fundraiser is tomorrow night (Thursday, February 27) which they call February Fit Fabulous. There is food, a silent auction, vendors, and line dancing and Zumba. It is great fun for a really important cause

Let's see, let's see...Kim Harrison is going to be at Joseph Beth in Cincinnati tonight. Going to that, should be fun. Basketball season is winding down, and softball is winding up. Haha, get it? Winding up? That's a softball thing, right?

Finally, I want to keep writing, but I was running out of thoughts (ooh, it's mighty dusty and empty up there today...)so I looked up some blog prompts, and I liked this one from NaBloPoMo in November:
Tell us about your first friend.
I like this. My first friend I can remember that was not related to me was a boy named Noel who lived at the end of my street. My mom met his mom at some park district craft class, I guess, and we were the same age. He had a really long, Polish last name I can neither remember, nor could I probably spell it. We spend a lot of time playing in his sandbox in his back yard, and he was in my kindergarten class. Some of the other boys in the neighborhood would occasionally join us to play Star Wars, and they always made me be Princess Leia, just because I was a girl. I wanted to be Han Solo, and then later in my life I just wanted Han Solo, but that is another story altogether. Anyway, so Star Wars, and probably a game of doctor or two, but he was kind of a crybaby, if I remember correctly.

My other earliest friend memory would be of my cousin, who I have adored and tried to emulate most of my life, but she is related and had to spend more than a few nights sharing her bed with me, so she had to learn to like me. She also reads this blog, which is very nice of her, so, love you prima!

How about all of you? Who was your first friend?

Friday, January 31, 2014

I bet I could filibuster with the best of them...

I've spent some time in self-analysis this morning. I like to sing in the shower, but when no songs come to mind, I spend a lot of time thinking back over conversations, what I should have said, or not said. Considering issues I'm having with people, particularly my son. Today's ruminations took me back 3 days...

Tuesday night I went to my Classics Book Club. This is one of my favorite things I do. Not only because I've discovered some books I've really enjoyed, and never would have read on my own (the mark of any good book club,) but because the people I've met at this book club are some of the best people I know. I can never thank my friend S enough for inviting me to be a part of this. The woman who started it, started it with the idea that we would read a book and meet every other month, but we've liked each other's company so much, we wanted to meet more often. Her boyfriend (now husband) suggested we alternate a classic book and a classic movie, which has been great for those of us who only watch bad comedies. So we meet once a month, and these are the nights I look forward to most.

This past week there were only 3 of us (weather's been bad, people have stuff, whatever,) and sometimes that's nice, as we get a chance to chat and catch up. We were chatting, and both of the women there have a lot going on, so there was a lot to say. A lot I was saying. About an hour and a half in, I'm telling yet another story about me when I made a realization:

Oh God. I am one of THOSE people.

You know the people. The ones who, no matter what is being said, has to make it all about them. I've been aware for awhile (I've even blogged about it) that I have a nervous habit of talking more, and faster, and louder, when I'm uncomfortable around people. I have to make them think I'm clever and funny, obviously! But I wasn't uncomfortable or nervous. I was just talking. I've always known I've talked a lot, but I guess I never really stopped and listened to myself...I talk about myself a lot.

Now, I have a blog. I try not to talk a lot about subjects I know nothing about, and I am an expert on nothing but myself, so that is what I blog about. I'm pretty clear about that, so if you're here, you can't really complain that I blog too much about myself. But conversations, especially with intelligent, fun women? I don't need to be the star of that show.

I've always thought that those people just think their stories are better and more interesting than everyone else's; that they are smarter and more eloquent, and so they must dominate the conversation. But I don't think that way. I really don't know why I do this. I will say it is not a conscious thing, and that Tuesday evening, once I actually stopped and listened to what I was saying, I made a conscious decision to listen more and talk less. I don't know how successful I was, but I did stop talking briefly.

I guess I am just letting you all know that I realize what I am doing, and I am trying to work on it. Maybe I'll broach this particular subject with my therapist next time. I pay her to listen to my stories, so I don't feel guilty dominating those conversations...

Ok, so I was going to add a picture here, but I Googled images for "women who talk too much" and some of the most offensive images came up. Yikes. Google at your own risk.

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Self Esteem, and How to Have Some.

"...although the subject of self-esteem has generated a fair amount of controversy over the past few decades, it's clear that we don't get healthy self-esteem from constantly telling ourselves how great we are, or even from other people telling us how great we are. We get healthy self-esteem from behaving in ways that we find worthy of our own respect -- such as helping other people." Gretchen Rubin, Happier at Home

I read a lot, but I am not an annotator. It is a rare passage that inspires me to underline, highlight, or mark in any way, the page of a precious book. But this passage resonated deeply with me; possibly because a healthy self-esteem is an elusive creature for me, or possibly because I cannot seem to help saying "yes" to almost any project that might do some good, no matter how much time I have to devote to said project. I underlined and highlighted this passage, and bent the page over. It is the most definitive explanation of how to attain a healthy self-image I have found.

I am a negative self-talker. People laud the self-effacing humor, thinking it unassuming and humble, I suppose. I think, and this may be assuming the worst, but I really think that people love put-down humor, and putting yourself down is a way to participate in put-down humor while maintaining the image of being "nice." That's neither here nor there; I have a bad habit of starting statements with things like, "I'm not a particularly brilliant person, but..." or "I have literally no artistic talent, but..." It drives my therapist crazy; she is constantly trying to get me to reframe the way I speak, "I enjoy doing art" without the qualifying "no talent" bit.

There is one part of my life where I never put myself down, and that is when I am doing work for Relay. We've put on some good events these past few years, and while I am in no way responsible for the outcome, I certainly had a hand in it. I am proud of our Relays, of the work we put into our Relays. I'm not uncomfortable when I speak in front of the participants, or talk to patients, or any other aspect of my work with the American Cancer Society. Why not? I think of myself as rather uneducated and undisciplined, but I respect a giving personality, and so, when I am doing that work, I respect myself.

The trick is to apply that self-respect to the rest of my life.

Monday, January 27, 2014

This post is the epitome of "Heedless Rambling."

Greetings! Time for another weekly update. Unfortunately, it's not quite as upbeat as last week's, as I have finished off what started out as an excellent week with a cold. A rather nasty cold that my family was generous enough to share with me. Thanks, family.

Um, let's see...last week I did a kickboxing workout with the yummy Guillermo Gomez, 2 treadmill workouts, a Walk Away the Pounds workout, and a Gaiam Walking DVD, which was actually a really good workout. Lots of lower body strength exercises, and I was feeling it the next day. Drank my water, got my sleep, but the eating, once again, was not awesome as I had a serious craving for chocolate and ice cream. I've been good about staving off the ice cream the past few months. This is a major issue for me, as ice cream is one of those "trigger" foods, I guess. If I buy preportioned - like bars or individual treats, fine, but a half gallon is gone in two days. So I don't buy it...until last week. And, yup, it was gone in two days. I did not buy more.

Let's talk books now. We haven't talked books lately, and I have been craving a good book discussion. You would think I would get enough with two book clubs, but no way. I've read some good ones lately. My friend K recommended The Fault In Our Stars, which was excellent, very emotional and beautiful, but here's a question. I was a relatively smart teenager. My son is a very smart teenager, who hangs out with smart teenagers. None of these smart teenagers talk like the supposed intelligent, well-read, unusual teenagers in any of these modern young adult novels. “That's why I like you. Do you realize how rare it is to come across a hot girl who creates a adjectival version of the word pedophile? You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.” This is said by Augustus, the brilliant male protagonist who breaks my heart. Maybe the unlikely dialogue is due to the fact that the characters have all faced, or are facing, serious disease, and so they've had to deal with their own mortality, something with which most teens are completely unfamiliar. More likely, however, it is dialogue an adult author thinks a brilliant teenager would say. And maybe that's why young adult lit is so popular with adults - because we would like to think that is the way we would talk if we were smarter versions of ourselves?

That went on longer than I planned.

Another interesting book I've read lately - Gretchen Rubin's Happier at Home. I was going to start this sentence by apologizing for this, because I know many of my friends find Rubin to be a little saccharin sweet and maybe a bit self-centered. Which makes me giggle a bit. It's a memoir. Isn't a memoir supposed to be self-centered? It's a book written by a person, about that person's experiences. Also, she is very careful to begin her book by saying she is not a mental health specialist, and she does not have clinical depression. I do have clinical depression. I wasn't expecting this book to cure my depression. She is writing about discovering the things that truly make her happy. And making a specific plan to explore these happy-making activities and include more of them. I enjoy her explorations and plans.

You know, one of my resolutions this year (unwritten; it's kind of evolved over the past few weeks) is to stop apologizing for the things I enjoy. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted one of those pieces from...somewhere or other...10 Songs We're all Sick of Hearing, or some such something. And people are either announcing, loud and proud (on Facebook, you know what I mean), "I've never even heard of number 3", or 6, or whatever. Or other people are saying, "don't punch me, but I really kind of like #2." And, while I hadn't heard of one or two of them, and I hated a few, I really enjoy some of them. I listen to them on purpose. And I'm a grown-up, and I'm kind of tired of feeling like, as a woman with any intelligence, I shouldn't enjoy working out to anything by Britney Spears. Or that I should be sick of hearing Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" (no, I'm not sick of it, I have no idea how arrogant the band is, and I really don't care. I like the song.) Or that I should not be dancing to Blurred Lines. It makes me want to dance. And I never listen to lyrics, anyway. I'm not apologizing anymore! And neither should you. If you enjoy listening to West Side Story over and over again, so that your best friend wants to throw herself bodily from the car, you do it. And laugh as she then sings "When you're a Jet, you're a Jet..." for the rest of the day. Oh wait! You already do that, don't you?!

Wow. That was a bit of a rant. Completely unprovoked, which makes me laugh a bit. And now I have to go upstairs and spend some time with my daughter, who is appalled and the mass amount of crap I am spewing. That is not what she said. But she was shocked. I actually had something I wanted to chat about, re: Happier At Home; that will have to be my next post.  Sleep prettily, friends.