Friday, November 02, 2012
And so the year slips into November, drawing the covers up around its shoulders as it prepares to go to sleep for the winter. It's also time to add the next to the last habit to my days and to look back a bit and asses how well those other habits have been integrated into my life.
There are only 2 habits left and for November I choose:
#11 Clean the kitchen every night.
This is an easy one for me to integrate because .... way last winter when I selected these 12 habits I started cleaning the kitchen every night. As I wrote back then,
I am a morning person and am often really tired at night. It's easy to get up at 5 and clean the kitchen - but seeing a dirty kitchen first thing in the morning starts my day off with a tiny bit of ugliness. How about starting it off with something pretty instead?
As soon as I'd written those words, though, I realized that it would be easy to just start doing this right away and now it's already a habit.And I was right. It's nice to walk into a spanking clean (at least as spanking clean as I can get it) kitchen and start making the morning coffee. There have been evenings when I've walked through the kitchen and thought "I'm too tired" but then the habit would pinch and I'd spend the few minutes to tidy things up. That is what a habit is for.
As I move into the holiday cooking time, it will be good to already be in the habit of cleaning up after myself. I expect it will make this stretch of time go much more smoothly.
As for the rest of my good habits - I must begin with a caveat. October has been a difficult month in spite of the many lovely events and pleasures that dotted the weeks. First off there is An Issue that needed to be dealt with - something I've dreaded - and, though I put on my big girl panties at last and peeled back the curtain, I was only able to let in some cleansing sunshine. It's better - but it's not done yet - and, alas, may never be done with - which is part of why this is such a difficult situation. Like humidity in the summer, this is something that will always have to be factored into the equation.
Also, we've been short staffed at work due to illness, making the work days feel sooooo long. In addition, I'm facing a huge staffing rearrangement - the consequence of time, as a senior staffer is retiring. I have been dreading and grieving over the shake-up because this particular team has worked so beautifully these past few years. Even though I can see wonderful developments arising from the staff alignment that's moving into place - I hate to see something old, successful and precious come to an end. Oh Yes. Then there was the storm. Yeah. Dread + Stress + Mild Grief = Difficult Month.
So I am cutting myself some serious slack on the habit forming stuff. Still, it is better to know how I've done before it all becomes a blur and I lose all the ground I've made this year
#1 Food Tracking
I have done so poorly at this I should give myself an F. Looking back at my track records I see I only tracked daily for one week. After that - once I had 'blown' it for the week ...usually by Saturday ... I just quit. Yes there was the 1200 calorie cheesecake (of which I ate only 1/2) and yes there was the wedding and the anniversary and the convention. Okay. So why am I so afraid to look at myself when I'm not being perfect? I think there is a serious SERIOUS issue here with self delusion. I want to see me as being a Good Girl and Not Making Mistakes and Knowing Better ... and a tracker that says I ate enough to feed a football team won't let me see that. But if I did eat that much, gosh - what's the point in saying "I did not write it down, so maybe I didn't really eat it" ... Like those jokes about Southern Virgins we told in the '60's. "I didn't get caught so I didn't do it..."
I think I need to come to peace with myself about what food and eating is all about and perhaps about why I am bothering to care about tracking and what I weigh and how I look and the entire body thing. I do care. I care because I want to be healthy. I care because I want to look good. But unfortunately I also care because I want to be a Good Girl but I want the food that makes me feel like a Bad Girl.
There's a focus on the wrong things and I am going to have to do some serious thinking, some deep soul searching, and realign the focus onto the positive issues. In fact - I need to get comfortable seeing me overeat - because I promise you, when I overeat I refuse to acknowledge it till later - in short - I won't look at me doing something I think I should not do ... even if I do it. I need to get comfortable looking at all of me if I ever want to get along with all of me - instead of getting blindsided by the chocolate-candy-eating me. It's time for the Left Brain School Marm to have a little chat with the Right Brain Wild Child and see if they can start working together again.
And so, even if my actual tracking activity earned such a low grade - the fact that I have explored what was going on before November got into full swing earns me a low, but passing grade this month - a D+
#2 Exercising - All the traveling I did this month interrupted my beloved weekly schedule and I missed weight training several times - but I got in lots of other activity - frequently deliberately substituted for the tried and true. I will give myself a B+
#3 Drink 6-8 cups of water every day - Eh. sometimes yes, too often not - but enough to earn a C
#4 The Charles Schwab list at work - I couldn't have made it through the month without that. There were a few days when I forgot and it just made things SO bad that I could not really function. It earns a B+
#5 Read my 5-year play every morning week - Which I did till last week and this - and I will blame that on travel and hurricanes and give myself a C
#6 Compliment someone on my staff every day - Every Day? hmmm. Perhaps 3 times a week. I wonder if every day is impractical and yet I fear if I don't hold on to the daily intention I will drift into forgetfulness. I will have to ponder this question. But ... I grade myself with another C
#7 Draw 20 minutes a day. - Surprisingly - I've kept up with this fairly well. I am not drawing every day because I am painting some too - and working on a 'project' that has kept my art supplies spread out on the dining room table all month. This has earned me an A-
#8 Select a big life goal and take one step towards it every day. - Okay - this is a tricky bit. If I want to be fit and slim and healthy and to develop my artistic skills ... all specific Previously Mentioned Habits and I do something towards even one of those Previously Mentioned Habits, then ... have I also fulfilled This Habit? Uh. The operative word is Select because if it's a habit did I select it? Well. My intention when I wrote these habits was to be conscious of my efforts and deliberate, not just lucky. In light of the Other Challenges of this month I will give myself a C
#9 Ditto at work - Same issue - same grade C
#10 Pray. - You can be sure I have done one heck-uva-lotta praying this month - praying for courage, praying for wisdom, praying for the storm to miss us - but not the daily thing I should have done and again - not the deliberate and scheduled way I intended when I first plotted out this scheme of habit forming behavior. But though I did not pray at scheduled times, my prayers were not just the plea for pleasure selfish ones. There was enough of the true prayer this month to justify a grade of B+
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Sandy spent way too long getting here and when she came she didn't do as much damage as we'd feared. I'm on the southern fringe of the storm impact area - a place I like to call Upper Tidewater Virginia and I live on the water - but our farm is on a bluff over the river with a 25 foot bank down to a marsh so there was never any danger that the flooding would do much more than cover the pier.
The worst part of the whole thing was the waiting. I began to hear news that Frankenstorm was on the way to Virginia way last Thursday while at the library conference in Williamsburg. Usually I ignore hurricane news because ... what can I do to stop it. And Prepare Prepare Prepare was shrieked across the news but since I live on a farm in the country I am always a little prepared for having to go it alone. Still - I picked up on the tension and I waited - mostly for the power to go out. Which it never did.
The only really bad thing about power going out is that it's dim in the house during the day and it's a bit more of a chore to keep clean. I am always surprised at how much I wash my hands - which I never notice unless I can't just turn on a spigot and wash them. A summer power outage is not so bad because the daylight lasts so long but in the darker time of autumn and early winter it's a little gloomy in my house.
But as I say - power never went out - never even blinked. Still, I felt the tension. And in response - I found myself strolling through the kitchen in search of ease - nibbling on this and that - mostly healthy fruits and whole grains but now and then a cookie or brownie thing. I deliberately did not buy any ice cream at all when I went to town on Saturday because I know how it is with me and Mr. Ice Cream Box. We can get down and dirty in a flash. He stayed in the grocery store throughout the storm.
Although we got about 6 inches of rain, there were very seldom any downpours - it was just a steady slanting stream of water coming out of the sky. I took the dogs out a couple of times and so did Himself, to look at the marsh, to check out the fields and to burn off excess energy
There were some vivid autumn colors that seemed to be enhanced by the grey storm.
I had lots of help from Callie, the little dog, who has strong opinions about what makes a good knitting project.
The news and internet coverage ws simply awful. It gave us almost no information about where the storm actually was as it slowly tracked north, then west. It was all about the news broadcaster, standing on the shore, watching sand flow out to sea - which, anyone but a fool would have known was going to happen. I finally found a little bar chart on the weather dot com site that gave longitude and latitude but only for a few hours. Their maps were absolutely useless - like pop-art advertisements. What is with this stupid tilted angle display? Do they think I am playing a video game? Do they think life is a video game? I guess so.
ah well. It seems I'm still pretty cranky about it all - though at last I am back to my routine and eating better. Yesterday the storm was pretty much gone. Lots of schools and businesses were closed but I put up this sign:
My WW meeting was canceled yesterday so I don't have any idea how much damage I did snacking my way through Sandy. My home scale says I didn't gain any weight - but I have also not been exercising as regularly as I like - especially I have not been lifting weights - so I feel flabby.
Well. Let us hope for good weather and smooth sailing from now on. I am ready to get back into the swing of things.
I hope you all made it through this storm with as little damage as I did. I know my friends further north took a much bigger hit. May you bypass the snackmonster if you're still at home and may the Men with Tools show up on your block and get your power back on.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Oh my! I didn't realize I hadn't posted since the cheesecake thing. I am going to blame it on Other Things - and being short staffed at work and oh - hmm - the fact that I was in slacker mode.
Slacker mode - you know it - when you go off your plan for a little while, even though you're not at your goal because you're close to it and you're tired of it and there's some big event happening and you're a little curious about what life is like without all that focus.
Slacker mode isn't just for weight loss, either. It can be for anything you've been trying to do - work, school, finances, house building ... any big thing can be nudged aside by slacker mode. Yesterday I was walking in the beautiful October evening and thinking about autumn and how packed it is with events. Things that may or may not have food involved ... like birthdays and anniversaries and all those foodie holidays. I remember how mad I was for candy corn when I was a girl and how I would wait all September and October for the little dime store up the street from us to fill its bin with this seasonal treat. This store sold candy by the pound, not bagged or pre-packed in cellophane, so you could go in and get a nickle's worth of candy if that's all you had. Sigh.
And my mother - a complete candy freak - would start buying Christmas candy about now and storing it in the freezer in the garage. One year I discovered the most amazing candy, like a mellocreme only mint flavored and Christmas shaped ... little stockings and trees and blurry angels. Every night my job was to empty the kitchen trash can, also out by the garage, and I'd slip inside, open the freezer, and sample a few. Way long before Christmas there were only empty boxes, their ends gaping like so many open mouths - evidence of my perfidy and sugar addiction. Mama, who understood, merely shook her head and, thank goodness, never told Daddy, who may have understood but would have punished as well. I don't think I was punished but perhaps she made me pay her back for the candy - though - perhaps not, that close to Christmas. After all, she would then have had to stand surety for my present shopping.
Funny the things you remember when walking in the clear October air.
But this is supposed to be about Slacker Mode ... which I am glad to have indulged in but am ready to step out of. It began with the Cheesecake I believe - or perhaps the 41st anniversary of First Date with Himself - a celebration that we cherish more than the wedding anniversary - because that was the start of it all and also, more ... hmmm ... exciting. More full of possibilities. The wedding, which was just the two of us in front of a judge in the Rockville County Courthouse, is precious because of what it admitted to, but there was not nearly as much adventure - as much excitement - as the First Date.
And we celebrated it with steak and baked potatoes and ice cream and wine and about 18 hours of conversation - which was pretty much how we spent that first date too - only, of course, then we didn't have the money to eat steak. We had fried chicken.
Hmm. Well. It looks like I'm slacking even about talking about Slacker Mode - but that's not true. It only seems that way. I'm having a hard time talking about Slacker Mode because I'm out of it. I had a great time eating that baklava, the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich and the Oysters Fricassee and yes, Mr. Ice Cream Box and I spent some intimate quality time together in front of the television. But that was then and yesterday I went back to my WW meeting and stepped on the scale and saw, with relief, that I had done only .4 lbs of damage in my 2 weeks in Slacker Mode.
And in looking back at these 2 weeks of foodulgences I'm rather delighted to see that I tracked almost every day, I ate a good number of fruits and vegetables, and I exercised because I love it, not because I need to to burn off the sins of the dining room. And last night, when Himself suggested we celebrate his homecoming with a seafood platter at the local restaurant I was untempted and convinced him that an evening of my vegan cooking and our two little dogs would be much more fun.
And it was.
Yep. I'm really not in Slacker Mode any more. Hope the next time you find yourself there - it lasts only a brief time and does little damage.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Way last January, our oldest friends dropped by with some important information. SAVE THIS DATE for their daughter's wedding, the first weekend in October. Not 2 months later we got news from beloved cousins to SAVE THIS DATE for their daughter's wedding, the first weekend in October. It was a tough choice, but we let family trump friendship on Saturday but we made sure to spend Friday evening up at the farm (a different farm) with P&T and their brideful daughter, D and all their new (and old) family. Our hearts were so filled with long ago memories - T bringing P over to our house on their first date. Playing the music at their wedding 2 years later. T's dog Clancy going crazy at the spring, as we flipped gourds of water over his head. P taking me to VaBeach during a hideously difficult period I had to plow through in the 80's.
This is an old friendship - a sweet strength in my life and I treasure it. There was a softball game and there was fried chicken. There was a bonfire and there were oysters. This is, after all, Tidewater Virginia. And though we couldn't be at the wedding I've seen pictures. It was adorable and the bride was beautiful. Just the way it should be.
For us, though, Saturday meant an early start to Bedford where COUSINS live and where another wedding was gearing up. This is the family of cousins whose little girls came every summer to Bess's Girls Camp - to play with my big girl art toys and swim down the red moon path. The bride was the great granddaughter of our precious Aunt Anna - the family matriarch who never abused her power but who also made her thoughts known to all, even if she didn't drive and lived 200 miles away.
We are just one thread of this vastly woven plaid of a family - the Tidewater thread that glides under and around the Arkansas thread, the Tennessee thread, the South Carolina thread, and all the other Virginia threads - glimmering and winking our own colors to blend with the beautiful cloth that is family.
The drive is one of my favorite pathways across Virginia. At least a quarter of the way is down Rt. 60, a long steel-blue ribbon of highway that shakes itself out over the rolling landscape of Piedmont VA, through Powhatan, Cumberland and Buckingham counties. We got to the motel in good time and ran straight into the bride's Uncle R, in the lobby watching the Arkansas/Auburn game. So yes. I took the clothes upstairs - a dress, a small overnight bag and a suit (I thought).
Only. It was not a suit. I had taken BD's suit coat to the cleaners that week, along with some summer things of mine that needed to be prepped for winter storage, but not the trousers. I packed the overnight case for us both but assumed someone else had gotten his own suit together. Teach me a lesson, right? There at the motel I discovered that while I could take the top half of my husband to a wedding, the bottom half was not going anywhere with me. Not in those ripped dirty jeans.
"I'll just have to go as I am" was his first flippant effort to mask panic.
"Not with me you won't," was my reply. "There's at least a Walmart in this little town - we can find you something that's at least clean"So off to the tiny shopping center we went to discover a Goodwill store right next door. A very nice Goodwill store with a pair of size 38 grey suit trousers that were as close a match to his jacket as anybody could wish - certainly a closer match than anybody looking at us would notice. For $3.50. See?
With that kind of luck I should have bought a lottery ticket!
The wedding was just about the happiest, smiling-est, hugging-est wedding I've ever been to. I took lots of very fuzzy photos - the bride's were the worst - but I got some good snaps of huggin' cousins and while the rest of my pictures aren't worth displaying, they're sure fun for me to look at.
Best of all? With TWO weddings and all that travel, which means that much less opportunity to exercise, I gained only .4 lbs. And yesterday I was back in the gym at the bootcamp class. I plan to reach my goal before the November winds chill my little corner of the world. Here's a picture of me with Himself, all dolled up for the festivities.
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