Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'd Like to Thank Everyone

This is the text of an email I sent out to friends and family on Monday (25 August):

Time for a Kick in the Attitude

Actually, I’ve needed this for a couple of weeks or more now. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and under-enthused, particularly when it comes to doing the things I need to do in order to keep up with my goal of losing 50 lbs by my 50th birthday. When I got sick with a sinus infection (second weekend in August), it was like I lost all desire to do anything healthy afterward.

Somebody cue the violins as I sing the “Poor Me” song: Oh, poor me! I have no desire to take care of myself properly! I don’t want to exercise or plan my meals! I’m not getting enough positive attention! This is so hard! Oh, oh, poor me! I don’t get enough sleep (the dog keeps waking me)! I don’t have time to cook for myself! The kitchen is a mess! I don’t have time to do the creative things I want to do! I have 12 loads of laundry waiting to be done when I get home! Oh, poor, poor, me! I’m so bereft that I can’t even make this little whiney rant rhyme!

Hey, if you think that’s bad, try having it running around in your head every day for three weeks!

I was feeling really good about myself a week ago because I’d gotten back into gear. I’d tracked my food, made little charts to check off certain things I needed to do (like take nutritional supplements, do some lunges, get my cardio done). That lasted all of one day. Oh, I had good intentions for the next day, but it was the second night in a row I’d not had good sleep and I was something of a zombie when I got to the office. It just got worse after that.

This morning I even flung off my bodybugg (that thing I’ve been wearing on my right arm that monitors my caloric expenditure) because I resent having to keep track. In fact, I resent that I have to do any of this work at all. Really, why should I have to exercise and watch my food intake and strengthen my body and get enough sleep?

Or, maybe the question I’m really asking is, “Why is all of this so hard to do when it’s beneficial and I feel good for doing it?”

All encouragement and insight is gratefully appreciated. I’m really in a hole and I need help to get out.

* * * * * * * * Here are the responses received * * * * * * * *

A swift kick in the keister is in order. You're having a case of the PLOM disease (Poor Little Ole' Me). Now just knock that crap off, pick yourself up, dust off and start from the beginning. It's going to be a lot harder to take it off than it was to put it on. I fight it every single day that I'm alive, awake and kicking. You can do this - look at all the progress you've made so far. You might just need to mix it up a little and change your routine to get your body going again.

You can do this, believe me. /ck

* * * * * * * *

I sympathize. There is a lot on your plate -- you don't have room for the calories but they keep jumping back onto the plate! Dieting is a bitch, ain't it! Keep it up and you can do it as I know how stubborn you can be about things. /mb

* * * * * * * *

[My son] and I volunteered for the National Disabled Veterans Olympics recently. Some of these brave souls were missing hands and feet, yet playing very physical soccer games on sport wheelchairs - and having fun! There are so many things to be thankful for. /bs

* * * * * * * *

We need to walk today for 30 minutes. I'm going to be there to listen, and I'm not going to judge. Also, since this is a short week, this is a good place to start. I'll see you at 1130 today at your building. / rr

* * * * * * * *

Why don’t you get back to basics. Before you eat it, ask yourself whether the pleasure is worth the calories. Do you really like the taste of it that well? And go for a walk – nothing is a better mood-improver in my honest and humble opinion. Go slow – stroll, look for birds. Take your camera and look for unusual pictures. Go by yourself so you can’t spend your time talking and complaining. Focus on the world instead of yourself. /vn

* * * * * * * *

I don't know if this will help, but Ed's laptop has been reloaded and is acting much better. Too bad we all can't just reboot once in a while to make us more active. Hang in there..... /jb

* * * * * * * *

Here's your weekly Food For Thought courtesy of Jim Canale: "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." -- Thomas Edison, Inventor

Remember to ask your questions:

1. How does this quote relate to my personal situations?

2. How could following this advice change the outcome of my situations?

3. In what way can I apply this idea to better produce the outcomes I desire in the future? /aj

* * * * * * * *

I know how you feel, girl. The kids started school today, and FROM WORK mind you, I had to sort out a stupid argument before they left for school. I was supposed to work out this morning too, and got here and just didn't want I didn't. I started this morning and I'm hot and bitchy...I just want to stop the world for a minute and get off. I know it will get better, but I'm just tired and cranky. So I'm right there with you! Ok, here we go. I want you to say this with me, "This day WILL NOT beat me. I will smile cheerfully to others and greet them and resist the urge to answer truthfully when they ask how I am. I will watch what goes into my mouth today, as well as be careful what comes out of it. I will not allow negative energy to defeat me today." We will take each day, one at a time. /jg

* * * * * * * *

Boy can I relate!!!!

have been thinking this past week how I need to at least send you email to congratulate you on the ten pounds you've lost ( I gained two instead...), and to congratulate Ed on the scholarship. That all got trumped of course by the day to day stuff (messy house, kids that keep wrecking it the moment I get it cleaned, kids that whine and fight me when I tell them to pick it up, a husband who is gone more often than home thanks to two jobs, and blah blah blah. I had to have a pity party for myself Saturday too.

But why should I punish my body for my bad mood, by eating garbage? Why should I further damage my self-esteem by allowing myself to give in? Why reinforce my belief that I can't lose weight, by eating more high-calorie comfort food? Because the food tastes so darn good, of course. I don't need it, I hate myself for doing it, but like any other addiction, I like it too much to stop myself.

Despite how much better I feel when I am not so overweight, despite how much I like looking at myself in the mirror when I've lost weight, despite how much more shopping I can do because they have more of my sizes available, despite the attention I get from losing it, despite how much better I feel about myself for having a little self control, I still sabotage myself.

Like you, I don't think it's fair that high calorie foods have to taste so good. I will barf before eating something that's "good" for me that I don't like, and I don't like barfing at all. I don't think it's fair that my mom who lived off coffee and cigarettes most of her life is probably in better shape than I am simply because she is thinner and not putting as much stress on her internal body organs as I am. Rotating shift work doesn't help, but I can't blame that for all my problems. People who eat "right" and work shift don't have nearly as much problem dealing with the rotating schedule as I do. People who have nothing better to do after work than run 5 miles are just sick! They look great though, too.

Yeah, the world is unfair. As I think Bill Gates once said, "Get used to it." As my calculus teacher once said "Suffering builds character." I didn't realize how right he was at the time, as I was too busy thinking about how sadistic he was.

The best way to build self-esteem is by challenging yourself to "get out of your comfort zone" and try. Does victory feel as good if you didn't really have to try for it? (well, yeah, sometimes, but...does anything worthwhile often come easy? Do we learn patience by not having anything to test our patience?

When I first trained for my present job, I went home for 5 days in a row thinking "Maybe I can't do this. I don't think I should have done this. It's over my head. I'm going to wash out and fail at this, humiliating myself." But someone pointed out to me that "if the village idiot over there can learn to do it, so can you!" I had to change my mantra to "Keep trying anyway. Don't give up just yet. There is nothing wrong with trying." After another week of trying, I began to see the light. It sure helped to have support from my co-workers, and my husband cheered me on some, but it was still up to me to keep trying, to not give up. In the end, I was the only one who could do it for me.

And that's how I think weight loss has to be. My challenge isn't like my husband's challenge with weight, or my kids. So I can't expect them to take up the cause for me and cook the right foods, and so on. I have to pick up the grocery list and decide what foods I like that will be better for me. I'm not saying "never" to the high calorie good stuff, I'm just saying "Not so much anymore." Keep the candy for special occasions, as it was meant to be. Same with dessert.

It's all well and good to say all this- doing it is another thing. But maybe it helps you to know that you are not the only one who struggles and finds it hard. You are not the first person to feel sorry for yourself and cave in to desire. Caving doesn't make you a failure, it just makes you human. Forgive yourself, don't dwell on the mistakes, then try again. /sm

* * * * * * * *

Oh, poor me! I have no desire to take care of myself properly!
Ok, but this is the only body that you get...May want to make it last awhile!

I don’t want to exercise or plan my meals!
Who does? Life would be sooooooo much easier if we were those b**ches who could eat anything and not gain an ounce...But we're not.

I’m not getting enough positive attention!
So who are you doing this for? Yourself? Or are you doing it so that other people notice you? If you're doing it for yourself, that's the way to go. If you're doing this for the attention...Man, you are so screwed, 'cause trusting something so important like this to other people is asking for failure.

This is so hard! Oh, oh, poor me!
ce when is something easy as rewarding as this will be? And hop out of the pity pool and get into a real one and do some laps, girl!

I don’t get enough sleep (the dog keeps waking me)!
Why does the dog wake you? Is there a remedy for this?

I don’t have time to cook for myself!
No easy answer to this, but cook when you have time and freeze. This can also help with portion control.

The kitchen is a mess!
No excuse. Clean it up and get cooking.

I don’t have time to do the creative things I want to do!
Neither do I but do you hear me crying over it?

I have 12 loads of laundry waiting to be done when I get home!
Do you have to sit on your washer and dryer to make them work? Pop a load in, go exercise...Pop a load in and cook a meal. Pop a load in, stop it after it fills, let the stuff soak a bit and go for a quick walk.

Oh, poor, poor, me! I’m so bereft that I can’t even make this little whiney rant rhyme!
Again, out of the pity pool and into a real one and do some laps soldier! And it's no one's fault but your own that it doesn't rhyme! :P

*hugs* Honey, I know it's hard (as I watch the numbers on my own scale climb...) But you have to do it for yourself, and as much as everyone loves you, we can't do it for you...You have to do it for you. And one day, people will start to notice...I've found it takes a good 20+ pounds, but they will see it. /ks

* * * * * * * *

(You asked for a kick, so, here goes.)

You know you feel better after you've exercised, so "Just Do It!" You're not going to lose 50 pounds sitting around on your duff - you've got to instill better eating and exercise habits - don't you *dare* fall off the wagon now! (Imagine me doing a drill sergeant impression, here.) So you don't feel like sticking to your plan today - *too* *bad*! You *will* stick to your plan today! You *will* *not* indulge yourself in junk food today - that's the *wimp's* way! You *will* eat healthy foods today, in healthy portions! You *will* continue exercising! You *may* change the way you exercise, but you *may* *not* stop exercising! (Ok, that's all I can manage of the drill sergeant.)

You probably do need a change - just don't let that change be a total abandonment of what you're trying to achieve. You know it's going to take a while to lose those 50 pounds. It took a while to gain them, after all. So you're going to have to find ways to keep yourself motivated during the process. You might consider taking up some other thing that would be exercise - dancing, racquetball, roller derby? - not as a complete substitution for your workouts, but as a change of pace. I would also suggest talking to your trainer and, perhaps, your counselor. Just don't get the two mixed up - I don't think your counselor will be able to offer exercise advice that is as good as your trainer's :-)

As for the laundry/time/creative stuff quandary, the only encouragement/advice I have to offer is to do it a little at a time. Don't try to do 12 loads of laundry in one day (or even two). Do the most urgent load (or two) tonight. Then repeat the process tomorrow, and successive days until it's done. Yes, new laundry will accumulate in the meantime, but that can be incorporated into the priorities. Is there any way you can tag-team the laundry with Ed? One of you starts it, the other moves it from washer to dryer, and whoever is available removes it from the dryer? (If this is what you already do, obviously, ignore this suggestion.) /me

* * * * * * * *

Focus on the vision, not on the task at hand. Ha! Doesn't that sound profound, like a quote from someone important? It just popped into my head so I thought I'd pass it on. I had the vision for the painting before I even bought the canvas. I painted the town one building at a time. At the end of the session, the painting wasn't finished by any means, but the task was finished for that day and I could rejoice in that.

So, you're right. All of this planning, prep, etc., is the pits. We should all be as rich as Oprah and have our own cook, nutritionist, grocery shopper, etc. However, thinking that way is just going to heap insult on the reality of our own life. So just focus on making good food choices today, even if someone else has to prepare them. Stay away from the carbs and enjoy the protein.

Now you know everything I know. Do as I say, not as I do! Hang in there. We're all in this together. / jw

* * * * * * * *

Step one for today--put your BodyBugg back on ASAP!

Get back on the bike, horse, whatever metaphor works for what you fell off of.

Question to ponder: do you believe that you deserve to feel good? /tm

* * * * * * * *

What is this all about??? You are a very accomplished lady and you didn't get there just because you are not inteligent and gifted in the creative way. You are bigger than this weight thing. Yes, it is hard, but like you said, you really feel good when you do it and you feel good that you have done something. You have succeeded in so many things. This is just one more thing you can do. Stop the 'poor ol' me' routine. If you don't pull yourself up and get on the healthy life again you are saying that you are too old to learn something hard. This is hard, it is against everything you have done for 49 years. Are you afraid to succeed at this? Are you afraid to look and feel so good that you can't stand yourself? Your mom never had a weight problem because she had different eating habits than you do. ( We will not say anything about the cigerettes - my mom kept the weight off I think by smoking herself into her jar.) You can change and you will. None of us feel like doing anything that is hard when we are sick. But you are not sick and you just have to 'Do It'. Start now! /rs

* * * * * * * *

There isn't a person one that isn't, or hasn't, gone through exactly what you are experiencing, and you know what IT'S OKAY!!!!! The good thing is you can step through this and you can succeed! If it feels good give yourself a stress reduction day, take a long soaking bath with your favorite scents, and then find a restaurant and treat yourself to a wonderful salad that has a lot of different veggies and a really good wait staff, find some really wonderful rich chocolate and treat yourself to a piece, then feeling really refreshed and relaxed go for a walk or a bike ride and just enjoy nature. Then the next day you can go back to the Gym and the stricter diet but every once in a while you need to acknowledge your own efforts! Know we all support you and know you are on the right track--keep up the good work!!! /mm

* * * * * * * *

If 50 by 50 is a reasonable goal, then keep reminding yourself! Unfortunately, I would be happy with 30 lbs off for myself....and I am 62 so that isn't much encouragement! I wish it wasn't so much work to be well or get "well" too...not fair that some folks don't look like they put out any effort and are in great shape! Who said life was fair?!

Seriously, when you have an illness, I have found that the mental attitude takes a downturn...the meds don't seem to be working as well. You need to "pamper" yourself a little---eat some soups and things that felt good when you were ill, then work into your other routines. The old saying "take one thing at a time" is best attitude to have right now. You have so many things you are doing/like to do when you are well....I have same problem....when I am "up" I can really get a lot done, but otherwise it is a struggle.

You have been able to keep your goals this long, shouldn't be too hard to get back! As for exercise, try to walk if nothing else. /jp

* * * * * * * *

I sincerely feel you. But no worries because you are doing great! We all need to take a step back now and then. We regroup, remotivate, recover, and press on. It is so difficult to make lifestyle adjustments -- even more difficult to make several at the same time (e.g. amp up the exercise, eat right, take supplements, etc.). I am amazed at the progress you have made so far and think it's terrific you are hanging in there. We all have motivational highs and lows. One of the most underemphasized things that we find when tackling changes like this is the ability to cut ourselves some slack! If you push yourself too hard when you are not up to it, you can do more harm than good. So every once in a while, it's ok to throw the body bugg! Our bodies are amazing. They adjust and learn like you wouldn't believe. Changing things up is actually ok -- it gives us a needed break and allows us to continue on to even greater progress. So take care of you, first and foremost! Take care of your health -- the lack of sleep and rest and recovering from the sinus infection has worn you down (I'm assuming). That'll suck the motivation out of anyone. So get some rest... do something nice for yourself... "indulge" in a creative project to get the energy flowing. Pick one thing that you want to do, and just do it. Messy kitchen be damned (unless that is the thing you want to do). Start small. The motivation will come and it will pick up and grow. Then you can work back toward the body bugg and get back on track. But do pat yourself on the back for all the progress you have made. You are kicking butt!!!! Hang in there! You're doing great!!!! /gp

* * * * * * * *

I'm going to be gentle with you, because I'm in exactly the same place. It's not fair, is it? Shall we try the reward (bribe!) system for a couple of small goals and see if it helps? I know I feel so much better when I'm on track. /mw

* * * * * * * *

I'm reading a good book that talks about tapping into your subconscious/non-conscious brain to achieve all those goals we set with our conscious brain. They highly recommend meditation and visualization for working this miracle. Without harnessing the non-conscious brain, apparently, we can set all the goals we like, but we will not achieve them. This explains a lot.

I think you deserve to treat yourself really good to reward your efforts so far and to pamper yourself after your sinus infection, which are really horrible, debilitating things that sound a lot simpler than they are. The infection drags you into total lack of energy and lack of will. The antibiotics that fight the infection are pretty hard on your overall system too. Be kind to yourself for a couple of days and then send yourself back to boot camp!

Your goal is wonderful and I hope you will find/gain the strength you need to succeed. /dh

* * * * * * * *

I'm in the same hole with you dear, I'm not sure if it's a collective thing or not. I just figure for me I'm getting the sympathy tummy with our pregnant co-worker. And I need to get walking again! /kc

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What-Did-You-Dream Game

Lady Euphoria had a fun post about having to log her dreams as part of a creative assignment. I have hilarious, outrageous, and often inspiring dreams and they go back as far as childhood.

My most vivid memory is of a dream I had when I was around 6 or 7 years old. In the dream I'm riding a large red and white yo-yo (it came up to my chest and was big enough for me to lay flat upon) down a snowy hill near the house where I grew up. When I get to the bottom, it's not winter any more; it's summer and I'm floating over the intersection. In the intersection, spreading out to cover all four of the corners, as an enormous fried egg (sunny side up).

Yes, the dreams are that detailed. And vivid.

My husband doesn't remember his dreams unless they are utterly terrifying, and then the dreams are not as full of color and detail as mine. I suspect the lack of color part might have something to do with his being slightly color blind, but I also think it's because his mind just doesn't take in details the way mine does. (This is not to say he is not a detail-oriented person. He is, but it's limited to the things he does well, such as cooking, woodworking, and archeology. I seem to be all details, all of the time.)

As I've grown older I've had dreams that are more like stories that are trying to work out their own plot lines (no matter how outrageous the people and circumstances involved). This morning I dreamed that I was involved in some kind of espionage / protection plot. I was on top of a series of buildings and we were protecting a woman who was designated as "the prophet." At one point we realized she'd been taken and the general alarm was raised. I was running through a kind of dormitory where young men (soldiers, guards) were sleeping and I was waking them and berating them for being in their beds. Then the prophet appeared (turned out it was my friend Trish) and I realized these guys were sleeping because they'd just gotten back from rescuing her. There's more to it than that, of course. There were large copper or bronze coins with a date of 1639 stamped in them and small cups everywhere that people were using the put these coins in; I was going around and collecting them. At some point I was in a gift shop, which was when I realized that all of this was a sort of historic reenactment, but the kidnapping part had been real as it had been engineered by a group who, for political reasons, didn't approved of what we were doing.

I don't get Freudian about these dreams. They are a kind of adventure in my sleep, like books I wouldn't otherwise have time to read or films I wouldn't otherwise have time to see. The only time I become concerned is when I have dreams that are so frightening that I wake feeling tense and frightened. Those are dreams that I don't care to retell or even to remember because they're not worth dwelling on. About the only information they give me is that I'm upset about something and need to attend to it.

One of these days I'll have time to flesh out some of these dreams into viable stories. Like, when the laundry is done. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Lava Load of Laundry

It has been sorted into 12 loads. That's three loads of hang-up-out-of-the-dryer, three loads of towels & washcloths, two loads of T-shirts/shorts/knits, a load of blue jeans, two loads of socks/undies, and one load of a couple of blankets.

And that doesn't count the small load of dye session towels that are in now. (See the KFYS Club blog for pictures of yarn I dyed.) Those towels have to be washed in hot water in a load unto themselves lest the dye decide to migrate to other items. (The dye on the towels has not been fixed as it has been on the yarn. I'm not going to waste vinegar on towels that are for mopping up dye and other disgusting spills.)

The laundry has been accumulating for a few weeks due to illness (2 weeks ago) and a massive clean up (last weekend). It will probably take all week to get to this stuff. I'm going to take the load of socks/undies over to my mom's tomorrow so I can attend to them in between sewing and visiting and playing cards with her. I'm looking forward to getting away!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Buzz, Zoe, and the Snake

This tale was sent to me by a friend, Buzz, who has just moved into a lovely house in the country.  He has a dog, Zoë, who is a boxer.  His neighbor and good friend is Dan.


I had a little adventure last night that I thought that all of you might find amusing. :-)

Well, there I was…  at the house burning some cardboard boxes.  I noticed that Dan had purchased a new planter.  I went over to check it out.  In the process I saw a snake near the planter.  Of course I did what any big strong man would do…I jumped back in fear…literally.  No, there was no screaming…this time.

At first I thought it was the same snake that I threw over the bank this weekend.  It was a garter snake that got caught in the erosion mats and died.  So, I got pissed off at the dogs for dragging this snake back up the hill.  Zoe (the boxer) was standing next to me watching this whole display of manhood.  Needless to say, she was not impressed.

So, I grabbed the hoe…no not, Ho…hoe.  I thought I would get rid of this nasty thing again.  I asked Zoe if she had done this and she told me, no.  As I tried to grab the snake, it started to slither all over the place.  Again, I did what any strong man would do…yes, I jumped back.  That is when I figured out that this was a new snake caught in the erosion mat with the plastic mesh caught around its mid section and its head.  Its head was under the mat and I could not look my foe directly in the eye.  When I am locked in mortal combat, I like to look my foe in the eye…that’s how I roll.  :-)

Anyway, I realized that this snake was going to die and I realized that if Dan saw this snake, he might die too.  I didn’t want to lose my best friend.  So, I figured since the snake was going to die a slow death, I would expedite his departure from this world.  That is when I went whack whack with the hoe right where his head went under the mat.  I figured that I would give my worthy opponent a chance to take his last breath in peace.  I went back to the burn barrel and threw another couple boxes on the fire.

When I came back, I tried to free his little carcass from the erosion mat.  Guess what, he started to slither all over again.  Yes, you guessed it…I jumped back once more.  Needless to say, Zoe was still not impressed with this whole scene.  I told her to stay back and she looked at me like…I’m not getting near you, the hoe, or the snake…duh!

Once more, whack whack whack went the hoe and more boxes went onto the fire.  I was sure that took care of my problem.  I freed the snake and when I dropped his lifeless body on the ground, he took off like a shot down the hill.  This time I was whacking wildly and chasing a snake down a steep embankment.  He had deep indentions in his body.  There was no way this snake could have survived this onslaught.  I would have been dead from all the beatings.  Zoe knew enough to stand back and avoid sudden death.  Furthermore, my dog was the smartest animal in this whole situation.

Once again, I picked up the snake.  His body draped over the head of the hoe.  I finally had the opportunity to look my fellow combatant directly in the eye and then…his little tongue flicked all over the place.  I threw him to the ground and once more, whack whack whack.  This time he was dead.  I took his battered body and threw him over the bank where we never go.  He lies near his little buddy that met an early demise earlier this week.  I believe two dead snakes over the bank constitutes a snake burial ground.

3 Foot Wild Garter Snake = Free

Simple Garden Hoe = $22.99 + tax

Boxer Dog = $400

200+ pound man getting the workout of his life versus a 12 ounce snake = priceless.

Oh, forgot to mention the fact that Dan was at work while this WWF grudge match took place.  When I told him the story of the snake that would not die, he did what any big strong man would do…no, he did not jump back…he said, “Eeeeuuuuwwwww, ” and shuttered in disgust.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Obtainable Affirmations

These were in my in box today. At last, affirmations I can aspire to in my ongoing quest for improved mental health. :)

1. As I let go of my feelings of guilt, I am in touch with my inner sociopath.

2. I have the power to channel my imagination into ever-soaring levels of suspicion and paranoia.

3. I assume full responsibility for my actions, except the ones that are someone else's fault.

4. I no longer need to punish, deceive, or compromise myself, unless I want to stay employed.

5. In some cultures what I do would be considered normal.

6. Having control over myself is almost as good as having control over others.

7. My intuition nearly makes up for my lack of self-judgment.

8. I honor my personality flaws for without them I would have no personality at all.

9. I am grateful that I am not as judgmental as all those censorious, self-righteous people around me.

10. I am willing to make the mistakes if someone else is willing to learn from them.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pyramids of Z Street

I married an archeologist, so it should be no wonder that cleaning up our house is somewhat akin to the excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamen, with the exception that these are remnants of 20th century culture we're discovering.

"Honey, just how many Walkmans did you own?" I ask, picking out two of them from a cardboard box at the back of a closet.

"I kept breaking them," he says.

"You got the sport model," I observe, noting the bright yellow plastic casing. I don't ask why he didn't discard them. Archeologists don't discard anything; they leave them to be catalogued, tagged and stored, even if there are just pieces remaining.

"They were supposed to be stronger," he says.

"Can I turn this into a rag?" I ask, holding up a small t-shirt from B.R.A.N. 7 (the Bike Ride Across Nebraska in 1987). It's a size to fit a 10-year-old and it's full of holes.

He gives me a pained expression, the one that asks, How could you possibly think I would even consider it when it cost me a week of hard riding? I fold the shirt reverently and add it to a neat stack on the top shelf with his t-shirts from other bike rides. He doesn't wear them (they wouldn't fit any more anyway). They are trophies of a different place and time.

We were able to agree on some things to go into a garage sale: Some old lithographs that had belonged to his parents that he'd never much cared for in the first place, a dusty grey fedora that had been his father's, the bamboo torches (the kind that use lamp oil) we'd received as a gift 15 years ago but never used. I'll be putting in some skeins of yarn, an old punch bowl, some stuffed animals, and other craft items. There have enough to hold a nice garage sale and maybe we'll make enough to buy a textbook or two.

I'm embarrassed a bit to think how bent out of shape I got yesterday about money and costs and fancy dinners and absent fairy godmothers. As I go through the house and learn that we're well enough off to be able to get rid of some things, I know that I have nothing to complain about. We're making it; we will survive.

Considering my mother is near enough to death's door that she doesn't have to shout for God to hear her (and I tell her to remind Him that she'll be there soon enough to give Him what-for if He doesn't get off His heavenly arse to answer her prayers), it's nice to know she's praying for us every day.

Yep, I think we're going to make it through this.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Glass Slippers Cost Extra

We learned that my husband was awarded a scholarship of $3,000 for the next year (so, about $1500 per semester). I was really happy about it until I learned that the loan amount he qualified for (about $9,500 for the year) was not enough to cover his tuition, fees, and books. See, I thought that his loan amount would be able to be reduced because he was given the scholarship. I thought the loan amount alone was supposed to have been enough to have covered tuition and fees and books.

Oh, I was so naive.

His tuition and fees for this semester came to about $6,400, so even after using half the total loan amount and half of the scholarship, we still had to pay out about $127. And that doesn't count the $800 we'll be spending on his textbooks this semester.

So, this program, which was advertised on the web site as costing about $10,000 total for the 18 months it runs, now looks like it will cost us around $21,000 once you include books and fees and God-kn0ws-what else.

I'm seriously bummed out. I feel as though we are, once again, shat upon from a great height. Oh, yes, I suppose I should be glad there was a scholarship to help us cover about $1,500 in tuition that would otherwise have come out of our pockets, but I'm still suffering sticker shock.

And while all of this was going on, I was blithely working away on some items needed for an extravagant birthday party that a client is helping to arrange for this weekend. What am I but the modern equivalent of Cinderella, toiling away in relative obscurity and penury while the wealthy sip wine at lovely meals and worry about nothing more than whether they are dressed properly for the evening.

There is no fairy godmother. There are no glass slippers that, when finally placed on my feet by the handsome prince, will reveal me to have been a princess after all.

This is the part of the story no one ever tells you: The part where, after Cinderella is rescued from her impoverished life, everyone else in town still has to deal with what they little they have. Apparently there is a shortage of fairy godmothers, handsome princes, magical glass slippers, and the rest of that stuff. It's sort of like the Powerball lottery -- you can buy a ticket, but there's only one lucky winner (and you're not it). And Cinderella has forgotten your name because she's in happily-ever-after land while you're still trying to figure out how you're going to make it to the end of the month without ending up in the poor house.

Toss me those glass slippers, girl. I'll sell them on eBay and then use the money for something useful.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Laundry Olympics

Honestly. I have to cheer myself on, have a little commentator in my head blathering on and on: "She's tackling the baskets by doing a pre-sort -- towels here, t-shirts there, socks over here -- and that's the mark of a real pro. Divide and conquer. See how she's got those towels going -- fold, fold, triple-fold! Excellent technique! Let's look at that again in slow motion: Yes, here's the first fold in half, then a quick flip to get it in half again, and then a deft motion to fold in each side on the middle and stack it up. These are perfect scores, people, for style and execution."

Why do they never give us medals for slogging through the every-day, annoying things of life that have to be done no matter how tired or sick you are?

Monday, August 11, 2008

This Mess is a Place

This is the wreckage that is my kitchen and dining area. Brace yourself. I have more photos of the carnage:

It should make a reasonable person blush with shame. Dishes, papers, miscellaneous stuff, foodstuffs . . . Ed has the responsibility of cleaning up the kitchen area, and I have to clean up the dining area.

Oh, yeah, here's that detail photo:

Believe it or not, I've actually done some work on that area since taking the photo. I've got the trash bin half full with stuff thrown away and from emptying the shredder twice. I was thinking of using all of the shredded stuff for a papier mache sculpture -- you know, something as an homage to the mess, but I think these photos are enough.
Right now I'm contenting myself with throwing away what I can right away (catalogs, old magazines, old flyers) and setting aside the rest to go through. There are old statements that can be shredded, for example, and those silly "Pre-Approved" offers. Some letters and cards, of course, I am keeping. And I'm finding various odds and ends (packing tape, pens, glue sticks, buttons) among the mess. I might just have to bag up the stuff to be shredded and take it someplace because my lovely little home shredder is going to be overwhelmed, to say nothing of needing to be emptied every 10 minutes.

The best laid plans . . .

This sinus infection has really put me down. Nothing has been done to improve the condition of our home since August 2-3 when I cleaned out a back room. The dining room is still overflowing with papers and crap that needs to be sorted (throw away, shred, and keep). I think I'll set up the TV so that I can watch Olympics stuff while I do that, presuming I can keep my head from exploding. Gawd, I feel like hell.

It's an exercise in faith for me to be among this mess without doing anything about it -- faith that I will feel better, faith that I will be able to tackle this soon, faith that it can be done without losing my soul in the battle to bring a bit of orderliness to our lives.

In my lucid moments this past weekend I've been enjoying some of the Olympic Games. I watched a bit of women's fencing (sabers) as well as women's sand volleyball and learned a little more about those sports. It seems that when it's a sport that doesn't get much air time on the networks you get to hear more informed commentary.

Last night I watched a bit of women's gymnastics qualifying, one of my favorites, and I was awake for some of the swimming races. I found myself rooting for the 4th swimmer on the US Men's 400 meter relay team. He looked to be bringing in the team at 2nd place, then he moved ahead and touched the pad at just .08 seconds before his rival on the French team. It was a spectacular finish, and an upset because the French team was expected to win.

Just before that I saw one of the women's team swimmers lose by .07 seconds to a rival on the Great Britain team in a 400 meter swim. Again, it was a beautiful and exciting contest. A swimmer from Italy was the favorite to win. A swimmer from France had the lead in the beginning, then the US swimmer pulled ahead after 250 meters. In the last 25 meters she was failing, and here came the swimmer from Great Britain who wasn't expected to get a medal at all. It was a great match -- a disappointment for the girl who worked so hard for that lead, to be sure, but a great match.

In an odd way, I find that this sinus infection has sidelined my plans and my progress on getting the house in order much in the same way an athlete gets sidelined for injury. I saw the utter frustration and sadness on the face of one of the US team gymnasts because she couldn't compete in floor exercise due to an injury that happened at the end of practice. She couldn't compete in that event and therefore would not qualify to compete for a medal in that event. (I saw on the news that she was able to compete in the uneven parallel bars.) She was prepared, but she ended up sidelined. Well, that's me. The difference is that I'll get better and be able to tackle this. The difference is that I'll never get a medal for dealing with this mess (but I'll be happier for it).

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Bed Rest Today

I have come down with a sinus infection. It started yesterday morning. I saw my doctor in the afternoon and was prescribed the appropriate medications. Today I feel as though someone inflated my head beyond it's usual capacity.

I did watch a lot of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games last night on television. They were magnificent to watch. Pity we also had to endure the inane commentary of the NBC employees blathering on. At one point they were actually talking about how former tennis great Jimmy Connors was saying that the Wimbledon tennis match was the best ever this year. If they have nothing of substance to offer, they should keep their mouths shut.

This morning I watched a bit of the women's fencing (USA swept the podium) and learned a few interesting bits about that sport. It was nice that there was a commentator whose remarks were instructive. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be at NBC felt we also needed a "color" commentator, meaning someone to say things like, "She got her there!" and "Let's see the replay on that." This is also the person who felt it necessary to remind us repeatedly (as though we had trouble with short-term memory loss) that these were both from team USA and that it meant USA would have both gold and silver medals no matter the outcome, blah-blah-blah.

Of course, I'm sure we'll be treated to a heart-rending story for each athlete as the games go one. You know the kind: Joe Schmoe grew up in impoverished circumstances yet his family sacrificed and then his father or mother or brother or sister or favorite aunt is seriously ill at the moment and needs a heart transplant so Joe is competing for this relative or that. While I have no doubt that any of these athletes trained extraordinarily hard and missed out on certain activities with friends and family, etc., you don't have to look far into anyone's life to find some kind of tragedy and sacrifice. I believe it trivializes the efforts of the athletes as well as the sufferings of all to make such a huge drama out of ever life. Good heavens, life *is* drama. It's comedy and tragedy and it's played out every day. To edit a person's experiences into some kind of schmaltzy soap opera is disgusting and manipulative.

Ugh, no more soapboxes for me today. I need to go to bed.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Out with the Old

As it turned out, I had a migraine for the remainder of Friday. It was the third one I'd had last week. I haven't had them this bad in a year. I think the combination of cleaning and weather triggered many of my allergens and these have been ganging up on me despite the medication I've been taking to hold them at bay.

I spent a lot of yesterday cleaning out a small bedroom that has become the dumping ground for times when we need to clean up in a hurry (such as the time when a storm knocked out power at my mom's and she had to come over to our house because she's on oxygen 24/7 and didn't have enough spares to last through the uncertainty of having the electricity come back on). The best part was when I found a cheap little tiara (my sisters and I had all gotten them for an occasion 3 years ago) which I placed on my head as I cleaned. I was the Princess of the Mess. It was silly and fun.

So, today our house is a bigger mess for all of the stuff pulled out of that room for sorting. We'll take a number of things to the storage unit, but likely not today since the temperature is so hot. I think we'll try for tomorrow morning when it's cooler.

To tell the truth, I don't find it particularly cathartic to be cleaning out this room. Some people express that feeling from cleaning out old stuff. I don't. It's just a job. I feel good when it's done. But I feel very good about getting rid of some of my old notions about worrying and such (as posted previously). That feels really good to be rid of.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Taking off the Masks

I injured my right shoulder (doing lovely, domestic things) in such a way that it has been painful to extend my hands to a keyboard for typing. I didn't post because I reserved most of my energy for doing my paid jobs rather than blogging. It's just as well, I suppose. The things I'd have written about probably wouldn't have been worth reading.

For the past number of weeks I've been blown about by the wind, speaking in terms of my emotions. No, I'm not bipolar, so it wasn't like having to balance manic and depressive moods. What I am is someone who has to battle depression on a daily basis both with medication and with cognitive restructuring (in other words, changing the way I think about things). Things have been going reasonably well -- I'm still on my diet and doing the things I need to do in order to continue progress -- but there are still worrisome elements of life that have overwhelmed me, the big issues such as, "do we have enough money to get through this month?" and "what happens if the money runs out?" and "what if Ed can't get a job when he's done with school?" and "Oh, Lord, how will any of this ever work out?"

For the most part, I can stay positive and move forward. But I have days when I want to stay in bed and pray that I'll wake up to find it was all just a nightmare. It all came to a head last weekend when we went to see the film "Journey to the Center of the Earth." When the principle characters reached the point of no return (i.e., the moment when, like it or not, there was no going back so they were compelled to move forward into the unknown) -- which in this case was being trapped in a cave with 60 tons of rock covering the opening -- I felt the metaphor hit me like 60 tons of rock. Ed and I reached a point of no return once his job was eliminated and he was forced into retirement. We were unable to go back; there was only going forward into the unknown.

Yes, we did pretty well at first -- Ed was able to find part-time work and so was I -- but then Ed's part-time work went away (curses to CompUSA) and he was unable to find any other job. It seems that every other avenue of employment was closed to him, so he found a program of study that should take only 18 months, at the end of which he'll be a qualified surgical technician and able to get a decent job. I hope.

But we don't live in a movie script. There will be no finding of a wonderful new world and we won't find out way out in one heroic ride up a geyser that deposits us on a sunny vineyard in Italy with diamonds in our backpacks (you have to see the film to get it all), and it certainly won't be all tied up neatly and happily in a mere 92 minutes (or however long the film was).

So, I've worried. And worry made me feel depressed.

But today I learned that worry (as well as anxiety, anger, and even guilt) are just masks we wear to keep from seeing what we need to see. What is it we need to see? Well, for each of us it's different, so you have to figure it out for yourself.

For me, worry is sometimes a way I have of covering up that I'm really frustrated with not being able to control the outcome of things. Worry is a way of trying to control, because I often feel that if I give up control then everything goes wrong. (And that's a huge fallacy. Things were already crappy but I believed that if I could exert control over them they would then be good.)

Worry is also, for me, a learned behavior. Worry is a way to prove you care. Worry is a way to show concern.

Even if I've taken my medication it's possible for me to feel overwhelmed with worry. But the medication helps me to step away for a second and consider what positive steps I might take to deal with my situation. The medication helps me to remember that I can choose to not worry. The medication helps me to remember that worry is form of denial.

I am very thankful that medication has been developed to help me to overcome the effects of depression. I am very thankful that I've found a counselor who helps me to see the flaws in my thinking. And I am very thankful that my husband loves me in spite of my madness sometimes.

Life is pretty good, even with all of the crap floating around us.