Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Never fully dressed

I don't know where it came from or why it's so perfect, but if you've ever seen the movie "Annie" then you've heard the song "You're never fully dressed without a smile." I love that song. It makes me want to smile when I pick up the phone, when I meet a stranger walking the street and especially when I'm in Hy-Vee.

A smile makes me feel like I'm having a better day. It makes a "I'm feeling super large today" into a better day. However my clothes or my mind are making me feel, a smile in the mirror makes me feel better. Probably due in part because when I smile at myself in the mirror I laugh at my reflection for smiling and then I pull really weird and funny faces and then I crack myself up because I'm such a nerd. Who else makes faces at themselves in the mirror other than a nerd?

But regardless, it makes me feel better. A smile changes my day, and I hope that my frown doesn't dress me up as much as a smile ever will. I crumpled forehead just gives me a headache, but a smile can take aches away.

I don't smile as much as I should. I worry about money and friends and, oh me oh my the fact that I need a new car. Does that go under money? I worry that I'm not doing enough and that the cats are sick and ohIneedtobreathbecauseit'stoomuch. Then I try to remember to breath. Sometimes, a lot of times, I forget to smile. I forget to smile at my wonderful SO because he comes and sits by me at the end of his day. I forget to smile when my mom makes a mom comment. I forget to smile when my nephew is just being a boy.

Since when did life get so serious? Not for me today. Today I will smile like a grinning fool. Some may make fun, but I'll make 'em smile. And you better believe I'll have an extraordinary day!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Sometimes I hate expectations. They often serve to let me down. What I hate most about expectations are the ones other people have for me that, try as I might, I can never live up to. How can you live up to someone elses expectations when you never know what they are? You do your work, you accomplish everything you're "supposed" to, but still you fail because you missed some deadline that was never mentioned.

It makes me feel:

Interesting, right? Let's just say it's been a day today!

I also am not a fan of failing at expectations I set for myself. I set something in sand so that I can see it, look at it and reach it. I expect myself to go running three times a week. I expect myself to eat the proper (if not more) servings of fruits and vegetables every day. I expect myself to go to work, go home, keep the house in reasonable order and take my turn making supper! I do not feel these things are too much to ask from me. I do not think it's too much to ask my body to respond to what I'm doing and lose some gosh darn weight.

Expectations set us up to fail, but they also set us up to succeed. They give us goals to reach for and keep is moving, instead of allowing us to become stagnant in our lives. As much as I dislike the pressure they put on me at times, I'm thankful that my failures allow me to push harder and to be better. This is a life journey after all! However much I want it easy, I want it to be better that much more. As much as I get frustrated, I keep right on truckin' one foot in front of the other, one day at a time.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I run

Do you remember the Dick and Jane books? I love those books.

See Spot run.
Spot runs fast.
Run Spot, run!

Okay, I don't really know if that is actually in a Dick and Jane book, having read one probably when I was four. But when I think about those books, I think about Spot. And then, to tell you how I feel about me and running. Insert "Jessica" for Spot. I don't necessarily run fast, but oh I like to run.

There's a freedom when I get my feet moving that I can't quite describe. I know I'm doing something healthy. I know I'm making my life better AND I get to be outdoors, enjoying the weather, as gray or as sunny as it may be. Slowly but surely I'm walking and running my way to a better me.

One more thing running does, other than give me amazing healthy benefits, is allow me to shuffle through the thoughts, good bad, ugly, frivolous, that speed through my head. Most times all that humming in the background of my brain is just that, humming. I don't pay attention to it unless it causes a tune to come to mind, and it leaves me be. Sometimes I have to focus, to pull out thought that maybe need a little attention. I get time to decide if I really am enjoying the new bread I made. If there is something that needs some thought, or planning. Sometimes I just get to listen to my tunes and focus on the breath coming in and out of my body.

Running frees me in a way I had never known. When I sing a song and I can hear the notes carrying away into the sky and hear a melody being made from my throat outward, that's what running does. I have raced a couple of times. Racing is great and when I finished my first 5k I had a sense of accomplishment like no other. Unlike singing, which has comes naturally to me and then I used to fine tune in choirs and lessons et al, running is something I work at, something I strive for something that never has come naturally.

I may never run the half marathon I dream of, but I'll for sure partially walk one! I may never flow with effortless grace down the last 1/2 mile stretch on my running route, but I'll run it, and sprint the blocks at the end just to show myself that I can (and I hear it's good practice for those races). I run for me. I run because I never thought I would, and now I can't believe I do. I can try to compare myself to people who run faster or longer or farther, but in the end I can't because they're not me. I run to give my dreams that kick in the butt they need to keep on fighting. I run.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Oh what a wonderful feeling!

Lately, I've just had a sense of accomplishment. I feel like I'm doing things and getting things done that I've always wanted to get done! I grew a garden this year. Goodbye black thumb, hello cucumbers! I've CANNED! Love it. There are few things more satisfying to me right now than hearing the lid on a can of diced tomatoes seal. Hours of work and you know in four months when the winds are a-blowin' here in Iowa you can open the freshness of summer in a can. And the SO and I are back to doing anything and everything around the house we want to make it purty. His broken leg is not so much broken anymore, but it still hurts from time to time. I don't know what it is, but today I just feel satisfied. Satisfied with our life, my life. Satisfied with family and friends. As the verse goes "My cup overfloweth."

This weekend was just part of this goodness. Friday we chilled (after work, of course) And by chill I mean we went everywhere in tarnation getting everything ready for Saturday. Saturday was brake day. The SO (that wonderful man) is handy. Love it. I like doing things myself if I can instead of paying someone else to do them and, luckily, he feels the same way. So the squeaking on the front of the car has stopped due to a few handy-man hours and some brakes, a la Advance Auto Parts. Next week maybe the squeaking on the back? A man's car work is never done. Then Saturday night I worked.

Sunday, oh Sunday was a beautiful day. It will filled with boating, laughter, a run and these amazing steaks for supper, followed by our own little bonfire. I don't know if Sunday could have been a better day. We both commented on it, and I was just waiting for the spell to be broken, but it never was.

And Monday, though Labor Day, another hard-working day. Around eleven I got in into my head that I really wanted to put the ceiling fan up that we had purchased a few weeks earlier. This involves going up into the attic, crawling around in blown insulation and find the perfect spots that we need to run wire. I volunteered. What was I thinking? In hindsight it wasn't that bad. While I was doing it, not fun. Since there isn't a walkway up there, there luckily were three boards I juggled to make my way from one of the house to the other. I pushed wire like a pro (well, maybe not, but I tried!) and now, all that's left to do is the wiring! Good Luck, baby! I'm so glad I did it though. With his knee still not on the best of terms with the rest of him, I'm pretty sure it would have been agony for the SO to have done it. And while he tried to take the job away from me, I held out and made it my own. A shower never felt so good.

All in all, some good work. Sometimes toiling has its benefits, especially when you get to reap all of the rewards!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Letting go

Letting Go by Leslie Bricusse
Letting go. When the day comes that I must say goodbye to you, It's the last thing in life I'll ever want to do, I know it has to be, But it's so hard for me.
Letting go. Facing up to the truth that it is time to part. Giving way to the day that may well break my heart. It's not a thing I choose. To win, I have to lose.
Letting go. Moving on in my life into the time to come. Day by day. Page by page, sure of what I've become.
But then you always knew, that's what I had to do.
For I know, the only way to grow, is just by letting go...
Letting go. When the time comes I know I will return someday. But till then, this is when I have to find my way. It's a fact of life, though it isn't fair. There will always be all the love we share ...Still the hardest thing, is letting go... The hardest thing is letting go...
This is a song I sang my last year in grade school. To me, the melody is hauntingly beautiful and it epitomizes how I feel about relationships of any kind that come to an end. The only difference between the good and the bad ones is that hopefully we don't return to the bad ones.
Sometimes I lament my lost friends. People who I still love dearly and hardly ever see or fail to keep in touch with. I know we really haven't lost each other. When we reconnect it feels like we've always been together, but my time with them is precious and sparse. I also think about the people I have chosen to part ways with over my years. I'm not an old woman by any means, but this number is higher than I want it to be.Sometimes we both just changed and grew apart, other times it was something, a specific incident that occurred and now, now we barely - if ever - speak.

I have a hard time letting go of people. I want to believe in happily ever afters and in friendships that will always stand the tests of time. The truth is people change. People's lives change and time and energy are valuable resources for us all. We choose where to spend that energy and who to share our time with. We prioritize and, cold as it sounds, cuts must be made.

When I choose to workout in my scheduled time slot instead of meeting someone for lunch (psshh, like I ever go out for lunch, but let's pretend) that is me prioritizing. Choices are hard. It's easier to give in, to stay in a bad relationship with others and yourself. When I choose to disconnect myself from someone who is purely a negative influence on my life, that is me prioritizing. I choose my health, mental and physical, because if I don't do it for myself, other people won't necessarily intercede on my behalf. I need love and family and friends, but I don't need interlopers and instigators who have nothing but their own gain on their mind. 

Hopefully some of those people that don't fit in our lives (or in whose lives we no longer fit) do come back around. We reconnect, sing songs of merriment and joy and give each other big big hugs. It's always my hope.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My life in an ink drawing

It's taken me a long time to figure out my life. To realize that sometimes starting slow and steady was better for me than to be gung ho and burn myself out. My whole life has pretty much been slow and steady. I was grumpy through a lot of it, but when I found my cup of coffee, life definitely got a little better and I became a little happier. Yes, I'm talking in metaphors (coffee being exercise and a healthy lifestyle) and the fun that goes with it.
It took me quite some time to realize that being healthy was more than getting my waistline in check. It means checking with myself and knowing that emotionally I'm doing okay and spiritually my life is where it needs to be. I can work out and eat right, but that's only part of what makes a body whole.

This is a permanent ink drawing I have done on my left wrist. Aka, a tattoo :D

It's a Celtic sign that stands for the spiritual, the mental and the physical. The circle connecting the three points stands for the circle of life / God's eternal grace.

I wanted this to be able to look at it permanently. I forget things. I lose focus on the big picture sometimes and all the daily grinds get to me. When I stop seeing the big picture, I also lose sight of myself in the big picture. I need that reminder to pull myself together. To realize that my life is different from the thousands and millions and BILLIONS of other people out there. There is not a cookie cutter way for me to live my life, it's just me and figuring it out. Figuring out what works for me, what doesn't work for me, and how fast or slow I need to take it. No one else can decide this for me, regardless of how hard they try to. The best they can do is support me, urge me on toward my goals. The rest is up to me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Going au natural

Ooo la la. Can you only imagine? Okay, I'm not talking about a loss of clothing right now, I'm talking about trying to eat food without all the preservatives and additives and all that fun stuff. I know, it's hard, especially when that pre-packaged meal you can get it, stir it and let it go for twenty minutes, where if you're chopping and cutting and blending for twenty minutes and then baking or cooking for twenty more it's twice the effort and twice the time.

I'm not saying that all that packaged food is bad. I have a degree in English, not in chemistry or nutrition, so I wouldn't know if X is better than Y or vice versa. There are some packaged foods out there that aim to give you healthy food while meeting you budget needs, which is definitely a concern for me. Since with no kids and lots of time (hello, when you get off work at 1 p.m. you HAVE time!) cooking is hobby for me, I'm trying to go more natural with it all. My garden is there, calling my name, and I hate to waste what I have. The SO is on board, we both like fresh ingredients and he definitely doesn't mind when I spread my wings in the kitchen. So here goes more!

We already eat vegetables from the garden, and we definitely enjoy the steamed vegetables found at any grocery store, but my next jump is bread. I love bread, fresh-baked buns, loaves with a springy but dense crumb, oh my, my mouth is watering. I would love it if I can made the bread we need in this house. I love a good wheat bread. The SO likes white sandwich bread, and we both like a little something else. My goal, should I choose to accept it, and I do, is to make a kick-butt sandwich bread. I'll let you know how it goes when I get more flour in the house. I used it all making cinnamon bread last week and I've been too lazy to go out and get more.

I know that homemade bread won't necessarily be cheaper than buying it at a store. If I get all fancy-nancy and do gourmet bread, then yes, I'll probably be saving money considering a loaf of my bread is normally $3 at the store, but the SO's is only $1, if that, and that will be hard to beat. What I want to get away from are the preservatives and the other fun stuff that goes into that kind of bread. Will it be better for us? Who knows. Will I feel better about it? Maybe, but I'm not going to beat myself up if I have to go buy a loaf of bread because I really didn't feel like having a bread day that week. Life it what it is, and I'm doing the best with it! I'll let you know how it goes on the flip side!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


When I started trying to lose weight I thought that was all it was going to be. I would lose weight and start to feel better about myself. I don't think I was ready for everything I would learn and do along the way. Treating myself the way I deserved to be treated was an eye opener. My life changed and I changed with it. My latest change is trying to be more frugal.

I'm turning into the coupon lady, and I think I like it. I look for deals, I look for ways to save money and time. I'm the person standing in front of you in line who has fifteen coupons and ten items. I rock like that.

I can't explain how my weight loss has played a part in this, other than saying when I got one part of my life under control, I started working on others. One way I wanted to change is by being better with money and if I can save thirty dollars (or more!) a month by taking the time to cut rectangles out of paper, so be it.

With my frugality on full display, I'm also trying to freeze and can and become quite the domestic. Last week before my vacation I canned diced tomatoes and fruit salsa. The weekend before that a friend from work and I canned tomato sauce and regular salsa. My garden has helped contribute to this and I'm eating more eggplant and fresh green beans than ever before. My wallet and waist both like this, and I will no longer boast about my black thumb.

I never knew I could get so much pleasure out of growing and eating my own produce. It's so tasty, so fresh and I know it's organic. My excitement for all things garden isn't really coming across, so let's just say I beam. Oh I beam! Btw, does anyone need any cucumbers?