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Friday, March 16, 2018

Getting My Rocks Off, a.k.a. My First Artist Date (Repost)

In case you missed my last post, I started the The Artist's Way: The Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity  (post)Twelve-Week Challenge. One of the required Tasks is a weekly Artist Date. I've done this before, but feel the need to do another run-through. My Artist Dates this time through, though, are quite boring; drawing and crochet projects. This is a repost from a much more interesting 'Date'.
Artist Date: Basically, a play date with your Inner Child. Otherwise known as Filling The Well. Must be performed solo; no buddy/child/significant other. ME-Time. Well, Me and Inner Child Time;-)

Artist Date Week One:

Inner Child: It's time for our play date!
Me: But I have all these errands to run. How about later in the week?
Inner Child: (whining) Tomorrow you have plans, Thursday is Alison's grad, Friday you have to drive her all the way to the airport in Calgary, and you hate being in town on the weekends...
Me: Okay, okay.
Inner Child: Yeah Me! You know where I want to go. We're going shoppin'! We're goin' shoppin'!
Me: Just don't let this get too expensive.

Ten minutes later at Josee's Hand made Imports:
IC: I wanna see the rocks.
Me: Let's check out all the new items they have in. Look at these fairy sculptures; aren't they cute? And these carved wood dragon statues. They're gorgeous! These metal sculptures - is that what they refer to as 'steampunk'?
IC: I wanna see the rocks! 
Me:You have lots of rocks at home. You filled that crystal sugar bowl, plus you have them scattered all over the house.
IC: I just wanna look...
Me:Just for a minute.

Half-an-hour and $50+ of stones and crystals later:
IC: See? That lady likes rocks just as much as I do.
Me: Maybe she just likes selling rocks to chumps like me.
IC: But these are so pretty! Let's go check them out in our book at home and see what POWERS they have!
Me: Properties. What Properties they have.
IC: POWERS! Powerspowerspowers!

At home at my desk with new purchases spread out in front of me:
(In walks my youngest daughter:) "What'ca doin'?" 
Me: (Scurrying to cover up rocks.) "Nothing."
YD: "OOh! New rocks! Can I  see?"
IC: But they're mine!
Me: Play nice.

Ten minutes later:
IC: She took my pretty green malachite and my lucky soapstone elephant!
Me: Green is her favorite color, not yours. Here. This sodalite wand is a real pretty blue...
IC: I bet she took my Jade Buddha.
ME: We gave her that. Look at the time! I forgot to take meat out for supper. Let's go get some frozen burger patties out of the deep freeze.
IC:(whining) But I wanna play with my rocks!

Another ten minutes later:
Me:(Finding myself on my haunches in the driveway) What did I come outside for again?
IC: Somethin' about burgers in the freezer in the garage. But look at these cool rocks! Right here in our gravel!

*Tisk.* Kids.

Where does your inner child take you?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Book Issues

        It was mentioned earlier that I wasn’t allowing myself to purchase any books this year, among other things. And then in the last week of Month Two of my Shopping Ban, I bought not one, but THREE books. ‘What the heck happened?’ you’re asking. ‘There are ten more months to go!’ 
I asked myself the same thing. What was it about this particular week that left me so vulnerable? What was different? Well, for starters, I wasn’t even living at home, I was critter sitting at my daughter’s while she was in Cancun. And I was entirely by myself. Except for 3 dogs and an evil cat. But I enjoy alone time. I could easily become a hermit on a mountain side somewhere, away from it all. Crowds drain me. I’m the poster child for introverts everywhere. Give me a stack of books and no interruptions, and I’m at my happiest. And I brought almost a dozen books, and my iPad with all my kindle and Kobo titles. So that can’t be why. (Maybe I can blame it on the cat?)
Wait, I started a new diet that week, didn’t I? Oops. Forgot about that correlation. I noticed a few years back, when I did the HCG diet, the one where you subsist on 500 calories a day and inject hormone shots into your abdominal fat every morning. It was a six-week stint, and I survived it, as well as lost the weight I intended (still wouldn’t recommend it, though). But strangely, the Visa bill was much higher than normal, and I was thinking I should have saved money during that time, considering I ate only a quarter of what I usually ate. So I took a closer look, and found I had spent around $400 in six weeks, on BOOKS. Without even realizing that I was doing it. I read somewhere about the quirks of willpower. You may be able to exercise it in one area of your life, but then it bails on you in another area. I’m hoping now that I have noticed that weakness creeping in, that I can nip it in the bud this time. But I don’t feel as bad now, once I read in The Willpower Instinct, that a large percentage of dieters often cheat on their significant others! My willpower isn’t THAT out of whack! And I think there’s more than just a lack of willpower contributing in those situations, to say the least.
As for the rest of my list of banned items? I walked right by the yarn bins at Walmart yesterday. I didn’t even stop to enjoy the colours and textures. You would have been so proud of me! Thought about looking at sports wear, but I pushed right on by there too. I want to be able to conquer this challenge I’ve set for myself, and I’m disappointed that I did make this mistake so early in the game, but at least I caught it and figured out WHY. Being more mindful of my choices in every part of my life is important if I want to make changes to my health, my home, my lifestyle. Enough with vague resolutions or wishing on stars.

I also want to focus on my writing, which seems to have taken a back seat in my life, even though I say that it’s important to me. I decided to start The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which is a self-help guide to getting creatives unstuck. And I feel stuck, BIG TIME. I’m starting week 2 of the 12 week program, and I’m learning about some of my blockages. But this isn’t my first time trying this program, and I feel some major resistance this time, for some reason. I’m not sure why that is, but I resolve to battle through it. Hopefully, I will become a better writer for it.

Friday, March 2, 2018

My Dieting Dilemma

As you may remember, part of my promise to myself for this year was to lose the excess weight. I’m no stranger to losing weight, and I don’t usually have a problem doing so. The reason I GAIN the weight back has been due to injuries and illnesses. Or pregnancies. But THAT, thank heavens, is behind me. But as I’ve gotten older, it’s gotten harder and harder to lose the weight. 
In my twenties, it was pregnancies. In my thirties, it was plantar fasciitis that cut my running out, then cracked ribs (A bathroom painting accident. I don’t want to talk about it.) made me put weight training and martial arts training on hold, not to mention a nagging issue with my shoulder that turned out to be a torn labrum that needed surgery. I eventually got back into weight training and running, but then my sports med doc told me to quit running and forget about martial arts due to moderate to severe osteoarthritis throughout my spine. I was able to control my weight with walking and weights, but then I went back to school and ignored exercise, just for now, I told myself. Then into the tail end of my first year, my appendix blew. It was the appendicitis from hell. I had my feet LITERALLY (I don’t use this term lightly) knocked out from under me three times in just over a week, with all the complications. Two weeks in the hospital, two months on strong antibiotics that made me too nauseated to eat. Sure, I lost twelve pounds, but it was all muscle. As soon as I could put on my jeans after the swelling went down, I found I still had the same muffin top. NOT impressed. And all I could stomach were white carbs. Not good. Docs told me it could take up to six months or more to recover. Try eleven. 
So with little energy and no stamina, my go-to weight control method - exercise - was put on hold - again. Trying to get back into SOMETHING, anything, has been challenging. I would walk on the treadmill for half an hour - just walk at a moderate pace (okay, SLOW pace, at least compared to what I was used to. I USED to run for an hour on the danged thing) and then take a two hour nap. So I decided to look into weight loss diets. (I’m still a firm believer in naps, by the way.)
So I started reading/listening to dieting books. (Are you noticing a trend here?) Not so much the lose-20-pounds-in-a-month diets. I’ve read enough about those in the past, and I know I can’t stick with them, I get dizzy trying to work the farm and subsist on celery. And 1200 calories a day?!?!? I’m done that by noon! Fasting?!? I’m ready to pass out while carrying a square bale into the sheep pen. No thank you.
I tried to find books on new lifestyle eating patterns. The End of Dieting and Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman promote a vegan lifestyle. Just fruit, veggies, seeds and nuts, for the first six weeks, then you can add SOME whole grains and beans for life. No meat or fish, no oils, no dairy, no eggs. No thank you. I don’t care if I would soon get used to it, it’s much too restrictive, especially when the rest of the family will not be following suit. Maybe if I lived alone, I might try it. In fact, a did a ‘version’ of it for a week while I was alone at my daughter’s place out in the boonies, taking care of all her critters while she baked on the beach in Mexico. My version had 2/3 cup of oatmeal with nuts and flaxseed and molasses (for iron, I told myself), for breakfast, then soups for lunch that was veggies and beans (okay, so my Mama’s French pea soup also has some ham in it, sue me) and supper was a big salad with Mighty Caesar Dressing. So yeah, some dairy, also the milk in my coffee. Some days, it was just not satisfying. But I did come home 4 pounds lighter.
You Are What You Eat is written by a nutritionist Gillian McKeith. It promotes a plethora of natural foods, does recommend cutting red meat and dairy, and sugar, of course, and alcohol. I think it was all the added supplements that turn me off of this book. Heck, I’m already taking a handful of supplements with my meals, and she has dozens I’ve never even heard of. She can tell you what foods you need to eat just by looking at your skin, hair and nails. If you are feeling the need for some nutritional tweaking to your diet, I recommend looking this one up.
The Compassionate Diet by Arran Stephens really didn’t get into a diet, per say. It was a more political/ethical plea. I had issue with the constant beating on the farmers who are trying to help feed the planet (ah, livestock producer here, and no, we don’t pump our cattle full of antibiotics or hormones, my chickens (when I had them) were ACTUAL free range (they would be roaming the yard, and even help themselves to the dog food dish under my deck. It was always like an easter egg hunt around here. You had to hunt for your breakfast). This book left me a little put out. If you want to be vegetarian or vegan, by all means, go to it. I was vegetarian for about a decade. We live in a free country that allows us that privilege. I just don’t like people telling me what I am able to eat or not eat, just to make them happy. That includes my Italian mother-in-law and my husband trying to force-feed me pasta.
Which leads me to my favourite of the titles, Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays, MD. It’s not about WHAT you eat, but HOW you eat. Eating should be a mindfulness practice, not a mindless one. Yes, mindfulness is a Buddhist concept, but also a healthy one. Often times, the reason we don’t feel satisfied with what we consume is because we don’t even notice when we are consuming it. Ever finished off a whole bag of chips in front of the TV? Ever gobbled down a burger on the run, focused on your driving rather than your meal? Ever eaten while you work on the computer? (Hey, where did that sandwich go? I’m hungry!) 
I re-learned that I need to pay closer attention to my body. What is it saying? One of my favourite comfort foods is tomato soup and grilled cheese. So I used that for an experiment. I ate slowly, sniffing my food first, asking if that was satisfying enough, tasting each slowly sipped spoonful, each bite of grilled cheese. What did my body say? “Ugh, all this cheese is sitting heavy in my gut. Cut it back, next time.” (Yeah, I really like my cheese, but I hadn’t had any for over a week, and found out maybe I should reduce it in my diet.) A big surprise to me, but then, I never paid much attention. Maybe the heavy feeling was a sign of fullness to me before. Listening to my body also means noticing when it feels almost full, and stopping there, no matter if there is still food on my plate. Besides, my dogs love table scraps! (I know, I know, bad doggie mama, but my dogs are farm dogs. I will not upset you with what I have seen them partake in out and about.)
So what have I taken away from all of this? I believe I don’t need to starve myself, or cut out food groups, or even favourite items that don’t fit into any of the food groups (Cheezies, you know, I’m talking about you). I just need to PAY ATTENTION to what my body needs or wants, and moderate. Eat slow and enjoy the food, not shovel it in mindlessly and still feel deprived. No deprivation, no cutting food groups. And moving more. I definitely need to move more, but I can’t go gung-ho anymore. Hence, my search through exercise books for a new way of moving for me! That will be another post;-) Which brings me to a confession: I broke my shopping ban. I bought a book. Actually, I’ve bought three books this week. It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it? “Well, you bought one, so what’s one more? And another?” I’m sorry! I’m sorry!

The first book I bought was a bodyweight training book. A different one from the others I already have. I even went through all the exercise books I have, but they didn’t have what this one promised, and I broke down. But it delivered! I read it through, and it has more for me than the other books I had offered me. The second book, only a buck, (like the cost matters) was for research for the genre I’m planning to start my publishing career in. (And I’m afraid I foresee making more purchases like this one.) And I’m almost done reading it, too. That’s one thing that’s different; I rarely open the books I buy right after I buy them. But more on my book issues next post. I need to hit the treadmill, there’s too much snow coming down to go for a walk. Catch you later.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Emotional Toll of Decluttering (and not so much on the Shopping Ban)

 (I have been trying to write this post for weeks. The first draft couldn't be posted for some reason, then somehow got deleted. Then tried to post it a second time, and was deleted again. Started thinking maybe it wasn't meant to be when I tried again. Thank goodness I wrote it in Pages this time. Crossing my fingers!) 
     Disclaimer: Honestly, this feels more like a journal entry than a blog post, just not as much whining as I usually spill all over the page.
     Over the last couple of months, I've been reading/listening to a number of books on decluttering. The authors rave about the freeing feeling that decluttering has provided them. I'm still holding out for that feeling - getting only snatches of it here and there. I look around and see very little change. Many miles to go before I sleep. When a book tells me it can show me how to declutter my home in a week, I deduce they are high on something I need to get ahold of, and close the book. I'm not delusional. My hubby says I'm a hoarder, and if you saw my office, with every available surface stacked with books, magazines and papers, you'd believe him. But I'm not the only one (hoarder, that is) living in the house. I'm well aware that this is not going to be a quick transition, but I'm feeling the one-step-forward-two-step-back frustrations.
     It took me an entire afternoon to clean out my nightstand. Two whole drawers. I filled dozens of baggies with jewelry I haven't worn in years, threw out piles of papers and memorabilia that no longer held any significance, and donated a stock pile of wallets. I don't use wallets. I don't even carry a purse, haven't for years. If it doesn't fit in my pockets, I don't carry it. So why was I keeping the wallets? (Oh, and any idea what I can do with Wilf Carter and William Shatner's autographs? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?)
      You may think I'm a decluttering virgin, but I’m not. Every few months I go through my closet, filling a huge clear gardening/recycling bag for donation. No walk-in closet for me in our '60's built home, and I don't have a dresser, our room is too small for two of them.
     I tackled the dreaded Tupperware cupboard, which I do regularly, and only had about a dozen pieces to recycle, and some specialized lunch containers to donate.
     There are actual empty cupboards in my kitchen - areas that are hard to reach (no short jokes, please) - so I've avoided putting anything in them where they would just collect dust.
    I emptied out my laundry room cupboards and my hope chest, which were full of fabric and needlepoint projects still in the packages. I donated the fabric to my Mom's quilting hobby and the needlepoint projects to the seniors centre. Then I went looking for my sewing machine - turns out I had given it to one of my daughters years ago. Hadn't even missed it. My yarn collection (seventeen rough totes, four of which I have already worked through) has been moved to a sea can on our property (my husband doesn't see his hoarding issues when he has acres to spread it out), so that, you would think, would free up some space. (Funny, I can’t let go of the yarn, but the finished projects, no problem.) But I guess I was very good at filling nooks and crannies. No one could notice the difference in the house.
     I'm working on my office - the toughest room in the house by far - so maybe that's why I feel so bogged down in the decluttering. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo suggests one go through their clothing, then books and papers. That's where I've stalled out, and drifted off to other rooms and groupings. My kitchen is easy, I emptied out my cupboards only a year ago to paint them, and got rid of tons of stuff then. Yet, the office has been beating my butt for over a month.
      Yes, I burned two or three boxes of old, useless books that couldn't be donated, gave away eight more boxes, but now I'm just rearranging the rest of them. And there are ALOT  of them. Marie says that if you haven’t read them, you won’t. But I can’t let them go, not all at once, anyway. I’m trying to read through them, then I can hand them off.
      Papers aren't so hard to get rid of, but there is tons of it to go through. Binders full. Lots of binders. And boxes. And drawers. And shelves. Then I got distracted by my old diaries and journals (Dear gawd the teenage me was sooooo pathetic!) And magazines! I emptied nine magazine racks, but still have six more I have given myself until June to read, or I toss them too. 
     In Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki, one of his many rules states “not to get creative” when decluttering. At first, I wasn’t sure what he meant, but as I started going through the closet in my office, I found myself imagining ways of altering or fixing items I found stuffed in there. “This heavy card board box would be great to cover with Christmas wrapping paper and use for gift giving…” Only we don’t exchange gifts at Christmas, my girls just want money.
     There is plenty more to sort through in that room, I’m still in the process of emptying out the large L-shaped desk with shelving and cupboard storage and drawers, and I plan to sell it. But I work it in spurts, then I find myself a less taxing area to hit, so I don’t feel so overwhelmed. It’s the worst room by far.
     I did, however, find it very freeing to unload my Inbox. All 3400+ unread messages, and everything read still in it. Then I started emptying some of the folders; one had over 6000 emails in it that had been randomly stuffed into it, and I don’t know how they got there. I just closed my eyes and pressed delete. After that, I unsubscribed to around 80% of newsletters and advertisements, like Old Navy. I realized over three quarters of my emails were just trying to sell me something. Useless, considering it’s my NO SHOPPING year. And the files? Very few of them I ever went into, looking for something specific. If it was something I filed away “to read later…” Yeah. Never happened. 
     As for my shopping ban? So far, so good. Only 10+ months left…
It’s actually not near as painful as I thought it would be. I even tacked another item on the list of no-no’s: DavidsTea. I found that I likely have enough of it stashed away to last me the year, anyway. So if I run out of a favourite, too bad.

     One of the hardest parts of decluttering are the communal items, and my husband’s stuff. He has collections, too. Several collections. Including couches. We have six in the house, and I plan to sell/give away half of them. I foresee a divorce:-) You see, my hubby wants me to declutter, but he doesn’t want me to actually get rid of anything. Hence, the sea can. The 40 footer is half full of furniture, Christmas decorations, my yarn, some of my daughters’ stuff for their “someday” homes, and an “in-caser” furnace. In case we need the parts for ours. We have a furnace room full of in-caser items. A set of golf clubs, in case hubby decides to take up golf, a wheel chair and two walkers in case we need them some day, a couple of milking pails and extra parts in case he can convince me to milk cows again, etc. Need I go on? So I can’t just get rid of this stuff, it’s not mine to do so. I have trouble parting with some of my stuff, so I can understand illogical attachments (Hello? Magazines? Yarn?) I have to respect his feelings, and his stuff. But I can move it out of the house and show him how much “lighter” we can feel with it all removed. Again, fingers crossed!

Friday, January 19, 2018

I'm Baaaaack....

     It's the new year, when we all re-access our life, our journey, our place in the cosmos. Am I where I hoped I would be by now? The answer is usually a big, fat, resounding NO! Why is that? Are we just all lazy sots? Is it just too hard to break habits? Make new ones? Do we not have enough support? (That's right, blame someone else for our shortcomings!) Does LIFE get in the way? (I'm not really sure what that means; are we not living our life as we are trying to change it? Do we hope to accomplish something in a bubble?)

     I think it all comes down to mindfulness. We need to pay attention to why we do what we do, when or before we do it. Why am I shoving this food in my mouth, even though I'm not hungry? Why am I buying another book to put on my MASSIVE to-read pile that is overflowing the shelves in my office, living room and front hall? Why am I sitting on the couch, again, where I've created a groove in the cushion that fits only me, watching shows I don't even care for? Why am I picking out another bunch of yarn for a new project when I have seventeen large rough totes full of yarn for other projects I had planned? (Yes, 17. I kid you not.) Most of it I can't recall buying, or even what I had planned to make with it. 

     We live in a world that consumes. We are trained to believe we NEED to have these things. NOW. Let's admit it, we all resort to Retail Therapy for a number of reasons; boredom, stress, feelings of inadequacy, as well as the miracles we subconsciously believe some item might preform. (This dress will make me look twenty pounds thinner and might even save my marriage!) We are all intelligent people, but we can convince ourselves of ridiculous things, things that if we said them out loud, anyone within hearing distance would crack up in disbelief at our self-delusion. We need to pay closer attention to why we are doing this. But first, we need to actually catch ourselves doing it. 

     What is that voice in your head telling you when you see the advertisement of 70% off on athletic wear, even though you have a closet full of it that you haven't worn? "But it's ON SALE!! The stuff in my closet likely doesn't even fit anymore. And I really should start working out, one of these days, a new outfit will put me back on track..." What? You don't hear voices? Are you sure? Maybe you hear the devil whispering in one ear, and the angel in the other? Are you deaf in one ear? 

     This was kind of long lead-in to my reason behind this post: I'm making 2018 My Year of No Shopping. I'm told that making yourself accountable to others makes it easier to stay on course, though I've found that's not necessarily true for me, but I'm going to try it. Again. 

     So what can't I buy this year?
  • Books, magazines, notebooks
  • Yarn and other craft products
  • Clothes, shoes, jewellery, and accessories
  • Stuff for the house, i.e. decor items, small appliances
  • Electronics

     And what CAN I purchase?
  • Groceries
  • Toiletries
  • Replacement of broken items (January 19, and I had to buy a new dishwasher, and I know my rubber boots for the farm have bit the biscuit. They aren't supposed to have heel ventilation, right?)
  • Gifts
  • Movies/dining out (this rarely happens, trust me)
  • Yard repairs/improvements
  • Furniture and appliances, if for replacement only

     Over the last month or so, I've listened to a number of audiobooks on hoopla about minimizing and doing with less. I can't link to hoopla on my computer, but if this interests you, these are the titles:
     The Year of Less ~ Cait Flanders
     The More of Less ~ Joshua Becker
     The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up ~ Marie Kondo

     Maybe you can help me stay accountable. Have you made any resolutions? How is it going for you? Do you have a back up plan?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hello? Is Anyone Out There?

(Photo courtesy of Photobucket)
Remember me? Probably not. If you do, you must have figured I was abducted by aliens, or perhaps moved to a third-world country where I lost contact with the civilized world as we know it. But believe it or not, I gave up blogging to focus more on my writing. And I HAVE been writing. Just not as much as I had hoped to have finished. But I did manage to start many more writing projects;-) I'm very good at starting, but need to work on the finishing part. That's one of the reasons I've come back to my blog. Accountability. I'm going to pretend that my followers from my woe-be-gone days are still out there, hanging on my every word:-) 
But I'm not only challenging myself to finishing a number of my writing projects. I'm facing the challenge of going back to school at the ripe old age of 46. I start next week. I'm beginning the AHT (Animal Health Technologist, otherwise known as Vet Tech) online course through Olds College. Hopefully those Bio classes I took in University twenty five or so  a few years back, come in handy. Why did I take those Bio classes all those years ago? Because I wanted to work with animals, and that was the closest I could get to them at university. But now the wonderful opportunity to get the training I always wanted to is available to me in a very accommodating manner, and I'm jumping on it! I will be at the College for 6 weeks this summer for labs and some hands-on training, then continue the remainder of the fall semester online. Very convenient, considering I'm still working the farm. (Did I mention I wanted to work with animals SO BAD that I married a farmer? I'm sure there were a couple more reasons...)
AND, if that isn't enough, I'm also going through The Artist's Way  twelve-week program yet again. I'm feeling separated from my creative self, therefore I feel compelled to recharge the battery. Julia Cameron's Artist's Way has helped in the past. You are welcome to join me, just follow the link. I will post on my weekly Artist Dates, which are basically play dates with my inner child. Let's see what kind of trouble that little brat can get into!
Have you had any long-time dreams/bucket list items that you still feel the need to pursue? 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Long-Anticipated Sequel! Out in Bookstores Today!

The title everyone's been waiting for:
(Info obtained from Amazon:)
This thrilling sequel to the much-talked-about Nightshade begins just where it ended-Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemy, and she's certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer-one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack-and the man-she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.

About the Author

Andrea Cremer lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she's a professor in the history department at Macalester College. Wolfsbane is her second novel. 
The wait is over!