Monday, August 08, 2011
My husband is a wonderful man with several jobs around here. He is the main garbage dealer-wither. He does the bulk of the laundry (I do most of the putting away). He does much of the post-meal cleanup (I do most of the prep). He does a lot of the yard work (I deal with the car). It is, we feel, a pretty equal partnership.
He has two jobs, though, that are pretty much just his: bat removal and killing the big bugs.
Now, bat removal, fortunately, doesn't happen too often. I tend to scream like an extra in a cheap horror flick and hide under whatever is available to hide under. Last time, it was the desk where I am sitting right now, so I got to be up close and intimate with the constellation of dropped (milk-free) Cheerios that are all over the immediate floor area.
Then there is the ritual slaughter of the really big bugs.
This morning, I was going downstairs, minding my own business, you know, thinking about getting a water refill and selecting a particular flavor stick. You know, the great mysteries of life that we all ponder at about 9:30 AM.
When, on the window sill just above the window seat (this house is over 100 years old so we have wacky nooks all over the place), I see --
It is HUGE.
Okay, not huge.
But it is close to an inch long.
Black as midnight, with antlers, er, antennae. A beetle.
Now, it shouldn't really matter, right? It is neither a termite nor is it a roach. And it's nowhere near where I normally hang out. For it to get here, into the computer room, would probably involve a few beetle generations, assuming it could (a) find a mate (b) raise the children to continue the quest to find the computer room and (c) pack enough food and beetle sweaters for the journey (that area gets kinda chilly in the winter).
I am safe, right?
Now, Mister J has already gone to work.
It's just me and the beetle, and the constellation of Cheerios which are still underneath this desk.
Perhaps the beetle wants the Cheerios? Perhaps the constellation is a subject of their songs and stories, their myths and legends?
DOES IT WORSHIP ME AS THE GODDESS THAT I AM???!?!?!?
I hit it with the newspaper, of course. And I scoop it onto the tray that I am taking downstairs. I get the tray to the kitchen sink.
And -- eek! It moves!
Now I get the neon hunter orange flyswatter that we keep for just such occasions and I tip the tray so as to get it to land on a placed paper towel and then I give it what-for.
Take that, you jespah-worshipping, Cheerio-coveting, window seat-squatting minion of Satan!
Normally I would provide a burial at sea, but the paper towel precludes that. Therefore, a standard burial is provided, straight into the dark blue waste can in the kitchen which fortunately has a heavy enough lid that it would take an army of beetles -- even huge mutant black Satanic ones -- to lift.
I sigh and survey my dominion. I get my water refill (orange flavor stick, for those of you keeping track at home). And I go back upstairs, secure in the knowledge that being a Sparkie has truly helped me to gain confidence and overcome my fears.
But I still ain't touchin' no bats.
Monday, August 01, 2011
I keep glancing at the popular/promoted topics -- you know the ones on the right side, when you're on most pages (although not on private Spark pages or the Start page)? And they are one long festival of depression.
* How do I handle going to a restaurant when others are dieting?
* How do I deal with people sabotaging me?
* How do I handle negativity re my choices?
* How do I handle criticism?
I am paraphrasing but this is the general gist.
Let's look at all of these separately, mmmkay?
* How do I handle going to a restaurant when others are dieting?
-- Have you ever gone to a restaurant where not everyone was eating the same thing? If the answer is no, you are either only 3 1/2 years old or are mistaken or have had an interesting time of it. You eat salad, they eat steak. You eat an omelet, they have pancakes. You eat grilled chicken, they have lasagna.
So what! And, BTW, do you remember what you had for dinner the last time you dined out? No fair, don't cheat by looking at food logs. It's a simple question: DO YOU REMEMBER? 'Cause if you don't, THEY don't. It. Does. Not. Matter. BTW, do you remember what THEY ate? No? Then even better.
Order what you like, the way you want it. If someone comments, they comment. Let 'em.
* How do I deal with people sabotaging me?
-- How are they doing this, exactly? Are they filling your coffee cup with teaspoons of sugar instead of Equal? Are they buying the wrong stuff at the grocery? Are they eating ice cream in front of you?
TAKE CONTROL. Become the food shopper, and put the junk back if someone tries to put it into the cart. And talk to your family. Tell them this is important to you. Most people -- if they love you -- don't want to act like jerks and really don't want to harm you. They may not even know. So tell 'em! And if they DO know, and they STILL do it? Call 'em on it, for the act of passive-aggressive hostility that it is.
* How do I handle negativity re my choices?
-- Not everyone is gonna love what you do. When I was 14, I bought a dress with my own money. I had not worn a dress for years, but I liked this one. It had an off-white background and a black graphic floral pattern. I liked it. My mother HATED it. But yanno something? I was wearing it, and not her. And, BTW (if you know "Color me Beautiful"), I am a Spring and she is a Winter. We have never looked good in the same things and have never had even slightly similar tastes in clothes. That's not going to change any time soon.
I wore the dress anyway. So what to do if someone criticizes your salad, e. g. "Oh, just one lil bite of pasta/birthday cake/chips/whatever won't hurt you!" "Ugh, I hate salad, how can you eat THAT???" Heh, no, get thee behind me, Satan. Eat your salad anyway.
* How do I handle criticism?
-- The same way you do in any other aspect of your life. Do your best not to take it personally and, instead, try to learn from it. A lot of people mean well, but they don't know shinola about weight loss. Do what you do with any boring drone -- pretend to listen, nod and smile politely. Offer an occasional "mm hmm" or whatever acknowledging noncommital sound you prefer.
And then go ahead and do what you need to do for yourself anyway.
THEY DO NOT LIVE IN YOUR SKIN. THEY ARE NOT THERE IN THE DOCTOR'S OFFICE WITH YOU WHEN YOU'RE TOLD YOUR CHOLESTEROL IS TOO HIGH OR YOU ARE PRE-DIABETIC OR WHATEVER. THEY DON'T WEAR THE DRESS, AND THEY'RE NOT EATING YOUR SALAD.
Free yourself from the tyranny of thinking that you need to kowtow to others' expectations.
Live your life, not the one that others expect or think is somehow better for you. They are only projecting their own insecurities onto you.
Be Teflon, and they will fly right off.
Monday, July 25, 2011
I have thinking about budgets a LOT lately.
There's a pretty obvious reason. Unemployment is now gone. So we have to, quite literally, watch our pennies. We turn off fans and lights after each other. We sit together if we turn on the a/c (fortunately, the heat finally broke, so we can keep the a/c off -- and most of the fans as well -- and save more $$). And, of course, there's also the food budget. No more presliced mushrooms. I slice them now, and we save a buck. We eat more beans (they're good for ya! Just don't stand downwind of my home, mmmkay?) than chicken. Our salads are not piled quite so high. We use coupons. We look for generic alternatives. The once weekly dinner out is down to once every other week. It may end up being once per month but right now this scarcest bit of luxury is something we are holding onto.
I suspect that, at some point, this will translate into some losing (not this week, but TOM is looming). If nothing else, it should translate into some more cooking creativity. We are finding all sorts of interesting leftovers in the freezer, and they are finding their ways into our meals.
So -- anyway -- I wanted to talk about calorie budgets, and making good food choices. So many of us are overweight because of junk food, bad, greasy cakes, stale company meeting cookies, day-old doughnuts and the like. I suspect that few of us are, truly, carrying around extra poundage because we got too much Kobe beef or truffle oil or pheasant. And food need not be expensive to be good, of course. I am not saying that we didn't overindulge on things that tasted really good, or that were even good for us -- we just overdid it. Repeatedly.
If we are on a calorie budget, it makes sense to choose the best foods, right? To spend our caloric "money" wisely, and carefully decide where and how to spend it. Why purchase junk that won't be sustaining? Why not work to get the best that you can, within your limited means?
And that got me to thinking, which is always dangerous.
The idea of choosing the best foods reminded me of someone I knew a good 25 years ago.
I worked with a gal, a secretary, who was up to her eyeballs (and beyond) in debt. She made, probably, about $11k/year (I knew this because she told me; this was Delaware and apartments were $150/month for nice ones) but was in debt to the tune of about $50k.
Yes, more than she made in 4 1/2 YEARS.
And what was she buying?
It wasn't medical care or a house. It wasn't even a car. It was ... stretch pants. And blousy tops. I bet she had one for every day of the season, let alone week. She bought and ate fast food (yes, this was a large gal), and I recall overhearing her tell one of her pals, "I got a new credit card offer in the mail; the limit was $5,000 so I got it and once I got the card I went out and spent that sucker right up."
And I am thinking, huh?
You are destroying your future and essentially creating indentured servitude for yourself, probably for the remainder of your life, for Wendy's hamburgers and cheap stretchy pants from KMart which will not last beyond five washings. ARE YOU OUTTA YOUR FREAKIN' MIND?????
And becoming overweight, at least for me (and possibly for you), was not a festival of eating amazing foods, but just too much of them. I was not gorging myself on caviar and lobster and chateaubriand and truffles.
Nope. I did it on Taco Bell, stale old potato chips and low quality vanilla ice cream -- and a lot of it was foods that were not even marginally delicious, let alone super-delicious (and of course, as you are well aware, it need not be expensive in order to be super-delicious).
Essentially, I put myself into indentured servitude with my weight, and I sold myself out for cheap, much like the gal with the rainbow assortment of stretchy pants and no retirement fund.
The freedom is to eat the super-delicious (or at least rather delicious) foods, in moderation, LOVE them and stay out of indentured servitude.
Sparklies of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your calorically-induced chains!
Monday, July 18, 2011
This is my 5K finisher song. I try to be hitting the end somewhere during this song. I like it and, because I am more of a lyrics than a music gal, the lyrics have some meaning to me.
I was originally going to post this for the blog entry where I hit goal. Well, that ain't happenin' any time soon and I like the song so, why not? That rule was self-imposed, anyway. It does not mean I am leaving, etc. Don't worry, lil Sparklies.
I ran my 20th 5K on Saturday and it was meh. It was hot as blazes so times were not good for either Mr. J or me. Sobeit. No biggie. But a few other things are happening at the same time, which got me in the mood for this song and, in particular, for the lyric that is this week's blog title.
Unemployment is gone or nearly gone. Communications from the Commonwealth are confusing. Am I done? Done in a week? Done in a month? I have no idea, not really, and it's impossible to get through to a live humanoid. Because Massachusetts hit less than 8% unemployment for 3 months in a row, the big Federal extension was cut. Well, less than 8% should be a source of celebration, yes? It still means that a good three-quarters of a million people are outta work in my state alone.
Including me, and since November of '09.
It is not that I don't look, apply, go on interviews, network and otherwise try.
It's that the economy stinks on ice, 8% or no. I suspect that the less than 8% figure is a chimera. It probably reflects people who completely dropped off the grid, who hit the absolute end of their benefits and are now, doing what, exactly? Defaulting on their mortgages? Handing out "Spare Change" newspapers at South Station? Leaving the state? Knocking over liquor stores?
Regardless of what is really happening with my benefits, my husband and I are on severe austerity. We know that, even if I have $$ coming in until mid to late August, we should still do some serious belt-tightening. We had been going out to dinner once per week. That is now gone. He had been buying both breakfast and lunch out almost every day of the week. Now he's eating breakfast at home and trying to bring sandwiches. I quit the gym (my last day I've paid up to is August 15th). We won't sign up for any more 5Ks this year (although we have already paid for another 3. We will definitely go to those). Lights are off unless we are in a room. Fans are mostly taking the place of air conditioning. We are trying to think of other areas where we can cut back.
I cannot imagine what my retirement will look like. Actually, I can. It will be a void, because it will not exist. I will be either managing an online community or doing data analysis when I am 97 (if I should live so long) when I suddenly keel over. That is assuming, of course, that I get work then.
I am not writing this for a pity party (really, I'm not). It's more as a meditation on self-reliance. And this does fit in with health, believe it or not.
There are a lot of things that we can do on our own which will help us lose weight and keep it off. We track, we measure, we purchase the right foods, etc. We report on these things (sometimes). Reporting on them does not cause the weight loss. It's the doing of those things that does, yes?
But sometimes -- and maybe even a lot of the time -- what we are doing does not have immediate results, or even results that seem directly applicable and can be traced back in a chain of causation. I want to believe that the application for a job I put in today will lead to an interview by Friday, an offer by next week and a brand-spankin' new job by the first of next month. I want to believe that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I just had for lunch, and the swimming I am going to do later today will lead to a pound or two off next week.
But they might not, or that job might come later, or not at all. That pound lost might be a pound up next week, or down in five weeks, and it's hard to trace it all back and see the connection.
This does not mean that doing the right things is futile.
What it means, instead, is that cause and effect are a more complicated marriage than we probably realize.
And we still need to do the right things -- whatever they are -- for any goals in our lives that are worthwhile, whether they are losing weight, finding a job, running a 5K, saving money or anything else.
And we should help each other along the way. For the title to this blog entry is actually a bit wrong.
Go ahead and ask for shelter. Ask for charity. For we have all been there, or are there, or will be there, and if we don't have each other, then all of that doing of right things is just so much isolation. It's like a boulder we're pushing uphill.
I will help you push your boulder if you help me push mine.
Monday, July 11, 2011
I have been thinking a lot about messages and communications lately. How we talk past each other. How we disagree ... kinda. How we say one thing but imply another. How being online distorts, changes, transmogrifies and royally screws up the layers, textures and nuances of meaning, and how an emoticon is a poor substitute for how we really feel.
I went to a forums site recently, one that I had not been to before. Like 99% of the planet, I skimmed the Terms of Service when I signed on. Then I went to a welcome area and I told people, I'm new here but have been on forums for over 9 years (it's probably 10 by now, and I've been in forum management for it'll be 9 years next month).
And all was well until I made some wave or another. Which, truth be told, might've been prevented by a much more careful reading of their Terms of Service, going over it, syllable by syllable, much like people go over the Zapruder film frame by frame. The big rule that I violated (and I checked this!), was buried amidst other rules, rules that seemed more important. Essentially what that site had done, as they say in the journalism biz -- they buried the lede. What that means is, the most important piece of the rules (to them) was not spelled out, clearly, bodly, importantly, etc., front and center, first on the list.
Nope. It was down there.
So I suggested, maybe change the order of the rules. Not change the rules. Just, move them around and put your Numero Uno really up there as #1. Or, perhaps, do something to your software, adding a reminder or feature that can really spell this out.
And, I had my head handed to me.
I will not go into specifics (the site has naught to do with diets, exercise, health anyway). It did make me a bit peeved (including when I was told the protocol for going to a new site -- uh, I've been going to new sites for years. I do actually know the drill). This should not bother me, but it does, and it is not because I had my hand slapped (it's been slapped before, and it will be slapped again, I have little doubt), as rather that it seemed that so much of the communication going on was at cross-purposes. Mixed messages were spiked with what certainly looked like anger, then the anger was denied even more vehemently, and around and around we go (and yeah, I offered an apology, was told there was no anger, and then my head was handed back to me again. WTF?).
My husband has heard me complain about this treatment for days, and he finally said: Sever all ties.
And of course he is absolutely, 100% correct about that. And I make an effort to do that but it's the nagging question of: could communications have been better?
And that brings me to my point and the actual connection to here on Sparkpeople.
I see people asking all sorts of interesting questions that, essentially, truly just boil down to communications:
* How can I tell my mother-in-law to stop offering me seconds?
* How can I tell my husband he's eating himself to death?
* What can I tell people (some zinger) when they are mean about my weight?
And on and on, ad infinitum, as if we were all back in Junior High.
And I dunno about you, but I was last in Junior High a good 35 (yes, really) years ago. I'm glad to be done with that, and have no desire to return.
Are we all really so bad at communicating, at telling people what we want, that we cannot do it? I can understand a teen being confused, or even a younger adult, perhaps, being befuddled. But at a certain point, shouldn't experience and (somewhat) common sense kick in? I wonder. Are we all so intimidated by others, so afraid of making offense or, whatever, that we cannot (with grace, good humor and KINDNESS) tell each other what we need to?
Kindness, yeah, that's a good one. Criticism is fine, and when it's leavened with kindness, there's a fighting chance that it will sink in. When it is not ... it is easy to tune it all out, yes?
Good humor, yeah, there's another one. Humor in understanding our shared foibles, as opposed to mean spiritedly laughing at each other. Do we do that? Not outwardly, but there are judgments, even here, yes. Don't deny it, folks. I've heard 'em -- oh, I did it all without drugs (therefore I am superior) or I did it all without plastic surgery (and therefore I am superior) or I never let myself get that big (whatever the magic figure is -- and therefore I am superior).
And grace, too, as we are on the receiving end of it at times. But I don't think there's anything wrong with pushing back when you need to. If a reaction to you is all out of proportion, well, I say feel strong enough to push back and face that reaction, and challenge it.
We are the message.
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