Routines, schedules…blah, blah, blah

I worked from home for two days... that was en...

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This is the final day of my mini vacation.  I always have mixed feelings about going back to work…I don’t hate my job…I actually usually like it.  But I really like being at home too.  I just don’t have an option…I have to have a job or I’ll be living in a tent in the woods.  There was a time in my life when I would have enjoyed that, but not so much any more.  I’m thinking  the cats wouldn’t be wild about that arrangement either!

Yes, they are both spoiled…they don’t really get along so this is a very unusual picture…looks like they’re friends…ha!

I intended to really work on improving my blog while I was off.  In some ways I did get a little done.  I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and joined some communities that are focused on blogging.  But I sure didn’t spend the time I could have working on it.  I wanted to work out a plan…a schedule of what to write about each day of the week…haven’t done that yet.  And the design…I really want to jazz it up, but I don’t feel like I know enough about that yet.  One of the communities I joined (SITS) will be having free online classes in April…I’ll definitely be there for those.  By reading the schedule of events, I know I’ll be able to get a lot out of these classes!

One of the things I know I need to do is find a real focus…losing weight?  fitness?  running?  frugal living?  some combination of all of those?  That’s how I’m leaning, but not sure how to achieve it…Different pages with different posts on various days of the week?  Then I read that a blogger should post more than once a day…seriously?  I haven’t even managed to get to the posting every day place. But maybe that’s where having a set routine about what I’m going to focus on each day would help.

I did manage to get a lot of housework done while I was off though…I mean major, move the furniture, clean the walls and carpet housework.  Rearranged the pantry…but didn’t get the closets cleaned out…darn!  And didn’t get my taxes done either…got to get that done soon.  It’s just not one of my favorite things to do (like it’s anyone’s favorite thing, right?).

So, back to work in the morning, trying to find time to  fit in the household chores that have to be done every day, exercise, communicating with friends and blogging.  I know these are the same issues everyone faces, so I know it can be done.  I just have to figure out how to go about accomplishing it in my life…I’ll get it done, for sure I will!

Preparing for rain

The best thing one can do when it's raining is...

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Okay…not really rain…but just wondering how many people think about having enough food and household goods to get you through a bad stretch…whether because of job loss, illness, unexpected expenses, or even a total collapse of the economy.  I know that last one seems to be on the minds of a lot of folks right now what with gas prices once again soaring and food prices continuing to rise.  I read a lot of blogs and that seems to be a common concern.

What do you do to prepare?  I’ve been saving money every week while paying down debt.  I’ve been doing my best to cut back on household expenses (the warmer temps should help with the old electric bill).  I’ve really been questioning the purchases I make…do I really need this?  Is this something that will simply take up space until I decide to give it away?  Is this something I can do without?  Is it worth the money?  Most of the time my answers to those questions help me understand that I’m suffering from a temporary case of the “I want”s.  You know, I want what I want and I want it right now.  I’m getting better at saying no to that needy gal.

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of making (and sticking with) a plan for groceries and household items.  I think I probably have enough groceries to make it through several weeks without buying anything, if I had to.  I’ve been utilizing coupons combined with sales, and have really come up with some good deals on food I actually eat (because how much good does it do you to buy food you won’t eat…unless you plan to donate it to the food pantry…I have been known to do that).  Today I cleaned and organized my pantry.

A lot of the bulk items (dried beans, grains, dried fruit) are in glass jars behind the boxed stuff.  I always put a piece of tape on the jars with the date of purchase and what the item is (surprising how many times I’ve bought a new type of grain to try, thinking I’d remember what it was, and then pulling it out later wondering what in the world I had).  Since it’s just me, I have to be somewhat cautious to not buy more than I can use…throwing food out is a bit counter productive with what I’m trying to accomplish.

I would rather be able to stock up on frozen fruits and veggies (I just think they’re healthier), but I don’t have a freezer other than the one with the fridge (and it’s pretty full)…so I do the best I can with where I am right now.  I think that’s all we can expect from ourselves.  Do what you can to plan and prepare with what you have now.  Come up with a plan to make things better for your future.  Then go about making that plan your reality.  Prepare for rain.  It may not come, but there’s peace of mind in knowing that you’re ready for it…you know, just in case.

I’m a winner!

Federal Experss long-distance ground delivery ...

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I sure do love giveaways, especially when I win something!  I’d almost forgotten about winning a case of Better Oats oatmeal until I opened the door to the FedEx guy yesterday.  When I opened the box, I was so pleased to see the assortment of flavors…I mean really, dark chocolate with a name like Lavish?  How could it not be good?!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the blogger who hosted the giveaway…Laura Williams at http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com/  I now follow her blog and enjoy reading her posts at We Use Coupons as well…thanks so much for the chance to win this fantastic giveaway, Laura!

And I even look forward to getting my mail every day now…felt like I won the lottery yesterday with the haul I took in…

Got the P & G coupon booklet, the Organize Your Life coupon booklet, an envelope full of coupons from a coupon train on We Use Coupons, a free sample of Vaseline Intensive Care lotion, a free sample of Maggi soup starter and the Remedy magazine.  I haven’t actually had the time to go through any of this yet, but I’m thinking that might be a pleasant interlude this afternoon with a cup of hot tea and some music.

I’m on vacation this week (yea, me!!).  I spent all day yesterday cleaning house…something I’ve neglected terribly lately.  But now it looks all fresh and clean.  Have you ever noticed that you just feel so much better when you walk through your front door and the house is clean and organized?  Now to tackle my spare bedroom…unfortunately not so clean and organized…yet!!  But I’m going to do a little each day…will probably have lots of goodies to give the bingo ladies for their prizes…something they really appreciate.  And I certainly appreciate the more organized nature of my spare room…thinking about turning it into a home gym, just not sure how I’d manage to get the treadmill up the stairs…oh well, that’s a problem for another day.

A home cooked meal…finally

Symbol for subway / metro. NON-OFFICIAL

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When thinking about what to have for lunch today, I said to myself, “oh I’ll just walk over to Subway“…and even though Subway is a decent choice for lunch, I’ve found myself doing that a little too often lately.  I know I can cook healthier (and less expensive) meals myself with food I have on hand. 

 So off I go to look in the pantry and freezer…hmm…so many choices.  There’s quite a bit of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the freezer.  How about I pull out my little counter top grill and grill a few of those to last for the next few days?  What to have with the chicken?  Quinoa?  Couscous? How about plain baked potatoes?  I haven’t had those in quite some time…so yeah, I’ll go with those.  Veggies?  Wow…I have a lot of veggies in the freezer.  Should probably use some of those.  Oh, there’s a package of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots with a lite cheese sauce..that sounds pretty tasty.

All cooked up and packaged for a healthier lunch option, not only for today, but for the next several days.  Yea Patti!!  One more step back to that healthier lifestyle!

Wasted day? I think not!

Monkeys Blogging

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I had all kinds of housewifey things planned for today…cleaning, cooking, planning a shopping list and gathering coupons.  However, I’m afraid I spent a big part of the day at the computer.  I was playing around with the appearance of my blog, changing things, moving things, adding things, deleting things…and then doing it over and over again until I came up with something that was at least semi-pleasing.  It’s still not quite what I’m looking for, but it’s getting there.  I guess this is something that I’ll continue to refine, probably forever!

I have joined a blogging community at blogfrog.com (click on the button on the left sidebar to take you to my profile there).  I feel like such a newbie in the world of blogging…oh wait, that’s because I am!  There’s so much I don’t know, but I’m doing my best to learn something new every day…hey, today I learned how to put that blogfrog button and the facebook badge on my blog, so that’s two things!!  I’m ahead of the game!

I did get up and ride the exercise bike, lift weights and take a walk today…stepped on the scales this morning (yikes) and lost 3 pounds!  Not a bad way to start the day considering I was exhausted from my 5 am truck on Tuesday.  Ate fairly well today…still need to get in more fruits and veggies tho….but I’ll get there! 

Kale chips..yum…that’s on the menu for later in the week.  These things are seriously delicious and oh so easy to prepare…and a whole lot better for you than potato chips (although I will admit to eating my share of potato chips, have been buying the Kettle brand chips lately…still a lot of fat and calories, but really tasty options).

Clean Eating chicken and dumplings (all the credit for this goes to The Gracious Pantry…amazingly good recipes…if you get the chance, check out her blog)…when the temps drop, I’m going to make this again…in the slow cooker, of all things!  How cool is that?

So, no I didn’t accomplish everything I intended to today, but the day was far from wasted.  I learned something new, worked on my health and fitness, and finished the day with a sense of accomplishment.  Not bad, not bad at all.

The flight of the bumblebee

Bumblebee

Alright, I’m not exactly a bumblebee.  Yes, I have a funny, kind of round shaped body.  But I can’t fly like a bumblebee can.  However, as improbable as it may seem to others, I do run…in kind of a shuffling, bumbling manner.  I’ll never win any races (well, perhaps if I ran a race at a senior citizens center…nah, not even then), but I sure do enjoy getting out there and just moving.  I ran/walked my first 5K  last fall then promptly stopped running.

I did this 5K in honor of my mother.  She died from breast cancer 20 years ago.  I know she would have been so proud of me for doing this.  And honestly, I was pretty proud of myself for doing it.  So why did I stop running after such an exhilarating event?  At the time, I attributed it to the fact that my work schedule gets crazy from September through the end of the year.  Now I wonder if there was something more involved…I love going out by myself in the early morning and just running at whatever pace I feel like running.  Not competing with anyone except myself.  Pushing myself to go a little further or a little faster. Using the time to contemplate various aspects of my life.  Or simply using the time to enjoy being outside, doing something physical.  While I loved the sense of accomplishment I felt when I crossed the finish line, I didn’t particularly enjoy the race itself.  Possibly, had I not gone there by myself, I might have enjoyed it more.

Regardless of why I stopped, I’m now getting back into running.  Slowly, painfully getting back into running.  But I am doing it…to look at me, people might assume I can’t run  just as that bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly.  But we’re both out there every day doing the improbable…watch me fly!

Ooh…pizza

I have the weekend off work!  After a tough week at work, I was really looking forward to two days off.  Had all kinds of plans about what I’d get done today, but it hasn’t quite turned out that way.  I baked a pizza last night, intending to eat a couple slices and save the rest for the next few days.  I ended up eating twice what I’d planned and then was up all night with an upset stomach.  Now you’d think, after 50 years, I’d know better…but no…it tasted good and I just kept on eating…come on!!   Yes, the pizza was somewhat healthy, but how healthy is half a pizza?   So anyhow, just a few hours sleep last night and feeling really tired today.

I have done a couple of workouts over the course of the day…went for a walk early this morning…loving this sunshine we’re finally having.  And I’ve lifted weights…trying to decide between the exercise bike and the treadmill for my evening workout…or maybe dancing?  Hmm…decisions, decisions…

One thing days off are good for is spending some cuddle time with my little Spooky girl…not sure if she misses me when I’m at work or not.  She might just spend the time getting into things…like the day she unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom..sounds funny now, but it really wasn’t at the time!  At least I don’t have to spend a lot of money on toys for her!

Dinner tonight is going to be a smoothie.  That’s one of my favorite light meals after a long day at work (unless it’s really cold outside).  So, half a banana, some frozen strawberries, some yogurt and almond milk…oooh, it’s so good…wait a minute, who said that?  I can see the guy, but I can’t think of his name.

Definitely going to make tomorrow a better day…getting a good night’s sleep will make a huge difference.  Planning my meals and snacks for the first part of the week, along with my shopping trips (what coupons can I use to save a little dough?), then doing the actual prepping and cooking…turn on some music (some oldies please, from back in the Little Italy days) and enjoy myself while I’m getting some work done.  I guess I’m slowly getting back on track…I’ll get there, that much I believe!

Everyone has a story to tell

Hot chocolate, Café Zéphyr, Paris

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It was a crazy day at work today.  We had to go outside and unload a truck in the near zero degree temperatures…miserable is all I can say about that.  After we finished unloading, I was in the breakroom trying to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa.  Some of the kids (well…kids to me, most of them are in their early to mid twenties…so, yeah, kids) were talking about the things that kids talk about.  That’s when it dawned on me that we all have a story (or multiple stories) to tell.

 I overheard one of the girls talking about music.  Come to find out she’s quite an accomplished musician, has been in two bands over the years and just about made it on MTV!  She plays the flute and guitar.   All things I didn’t know about her before.  One of the boys is here in our town doing mission work.  This kid has so many talents and so much knowledge about a variety of things.  It’s so fun listening to the younger folks talking.  They have so much enthusiasm  and the whole world is open to them.  I hope they hold on to that throughout their lives.

And really, it’s not just the kids…we have a woman who raises sheep and spins the wool, a man who is a very talented musician (I’ve seen him on YouTube!), a young woman who has tremendous artistic talent, a man who has had some really crummy things happen to him but still maintains the most upbeat attitude, and it just goes on and on.  I think this realization will influence how I see these people, as well as other people, from now on.

Then, of course, I began thinking about the story I have to tell.  Where to begin?  The little girl whose father was in and out of her life until she was nine and her parents got divorced?  The girl who grew up on a farm with her mother, two brothers and grandparents?  The girl who had dreams of being a singer (ahh…if only that girl could actually carry a tune)? The girl who breezed through high school, went to college and then ended up quitting?  The young woman who owned her own business for 13 years?  The woman who enjoyed the blended family when her mother and step father married?  The woman who lost her mother to cancer?   The woman who struggled with weight, body image and self esteem her entire life?  The woman who decided to make positive changes in her life, who dared to dream big and reach for those dreams?  The woman who realized she had a story to tell and a life to live?

I’m not sure how this will play out…which stories I’ll decide to tell or which ones I’ll keep to myself.  The story about weight loss will most definitely be told…both the ups and the downs.  The others?  Ahh…you’ll just have to come back to find out if, or when, those stories will be told.

One step forward

Blogs on JoopeA

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I was so surprised to hear from so many people about my blog yesterday (although not a lot of people actually left comments on the blog itself…what’s up with that?).  Right after I published that blog, I felt like grabbing it back.  What was I thinking sharing my struggles with anyone who felt like stopping by and reading it?  By using the publicize feature connected with facebook, I was suddenly blogging very publicly rather than anonymously.  Very few of my friends and none of my family had read my blogs, so it felt safer to share anything and everything.  After all, I didn’t really know the people who read my blogs and they didn’t know me, so whatever I blogged about was kind of in the safe zone. 

I definitely stepped outside that zone yesterday and suppose I may as well continue down that road today.  I did get up at 4:30 this morning, got in a good workout and ate a healthy breakfast before getting ready for work.  Getting that workout in early made me feel good about myself…the first step back in the right direction.  I took my lunch and snacks to work.  I must admit though, I was tempted to buy a candy bar at work.  What?  Let me explain…my district manager called.  We had a conference call scheduled for this afternoon and he wanted me to give a little talk on the call. At the same time, he told me I’d be presenting three different discussions at a district meeting on March 1.   I’ve never been comfortable with public speaking.  When I was a kid, I was painfully shy.  I’m not that bad any more, but speaking in front of all the managers, the auditor and who knows who else still makes me nervous.  So…nervousness, for me, has often triggered emotional eating.  I knew that’s why those candy bars were calling my name today.  I’m pleased that I was able to ignore them, plan what I was going to say and move on with my day.

It’s strange.  I’m in retail management.  I know how to do my job.  I know I’m intelligent and capable.  I know I understand the policies and procedures of our company as well as the other managers do.  But I still feel hesitant about being the center of attention at that upcoming district meeting.  Because I’ve gained weight?  Yeah, I’m pretty sure that has something to do with it.  I know people who haven’t seen me since the last meeting will notice how much weight I’ve gained.  But wait!  So what?  Why do I care about what they think?  I’m who I am regardless of my weight.  I remember my step sister once told me that my weight didn’t have any bearing on how they (the family) felt about me.  That was the first time I’d thought of it like that.  I’d always assumed that my family and friends “liked” me more when I was thin, that they were embarrassed to be around me when I was heavier.  That doesn’t say a lot for how I thought about them, does it? 

I think I’m going to have to do a lot of soul searching on this journey, challenge my beliefs, question my thoughts and feelings.  It already feels uncomfortable, but I know the discomfort won’t kill me.  Facing my emotions won’t destroy me.  This may not be the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but it just might end up being one of the best things I’ve done for myself.  I’ll continue putting one foot in front of the other and picking myself up when I fall.  I know I can do this…wish me luck and pass along the occasional word of encouragement, okay?

I’ve fallen..but I will get up

Weightloss pyramid.

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My struggle with my weight is no secret.  How could it be when anyone who knows me has watched me lose and gain weight over and over?  Sometimes I’ve only been able to stick with it for a few weeks.  Then there have been the times when I managed to make such drastic changes in my lifestyle that I thought I’d finally overcome the problem for good.  Unfortunately that has yet to be the case.

I had kind of taken a break from the healthy lifestyle I was leading from about September through the end of the year (working really long hours during that period of time).  My intent (New Year’s resolution, if you will) was to get right back on the fitness bandwagon, but it didn’t work out quite like I’d planned.  I was doing well at the beginning of the year, then got sick a couple weeks ago.  I didn’t exercise at all during that time and now I find myself struggling to get back into the workout habit.  I fully intended to get in a good workout this morning, but I just didn’t do it.  I do so much better when I work out first thing in the morning…why do I not do what I know I need to do?

And did I mention eating?  Holy moly, my eating has been a disaster lately.  I haven’t been planning my meals and snacks.  I haven’t been buying only good for you foods at the store.  I haven’t been cooking and prepping on my days off.  I have been eating way too much of the not quite so healthy foods (can you say “candy”?  I sure wish I couldn’t…but there you go) and not enough of the healthy ones.   I have been eating at fast food places.  I have been drinking diet Pepsi (I can’t swear that there’s a correlation between drinking diet Pepsi and my less than stellar dietary habits, but it sure seems as if there is).

I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I’ll always have to be vigilant about what I eat and the exercise that I do.  Fair?  Probably not, but my mom always told me life wasn’t  fair…looks like she was right.  If I want to feel strong and fit, if I want to have energy, if I want to feel good about myself,  I’ll have to do whatever it takes to get back to where healthy eating and exercise are part of my daily life.

I need to come up with a plan to get me back in the swing of things, then another plan to keep me motivated when the going (or losing) gets rough, and yet another plan to maintain the weight loss.  I believe every victory begins with a single step in the right direction.  My first step is to plan my day for tomorrow.  I’ll get up at 4:30, feed the cats, then hop on the exercise bike for 30 minutes.  Then I’m going to sling some weights around for a bit, eat a healthy breakfast and log in to SparkPeople (the accountability is key for me).  I’ll take my lunch and snacks to work so I won’t be tempted to run out to a fast food joint for lunch or raid the vending machine for a snack.  A brisk walk at lunch is also on the agenda.  A steaming bowl of soup and a healthified grilled cheese sandwich for dinner, some blogging and early to bed will bring an end to my first day of my healthier life.

Will I do it?  YES!!  I will do it because I want to feel good about myself again.  I want to enjoy going out and doing things with my friends.  I want to feel the joy of running again.  I want to love the life I live.  I can do this…I will do this!!

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