Valentine’s Day

So what did you do for Valentine’s Day? Did you spend it with someone special? Did you have a “Galentine’s Day”? Did you sit in front of the TV, watch a sappy movie and cry into your carton of ice cream? Did you miss it or forget it even happened? Probably not likely on the latter because the media wouldn’t let you forget.

And that’s one reason why I’m just not a fan of Valentine’s Day. I am one of the biggest romantics you would ever meet and I love coming up with creative, cute, endearing, etc ways of showing that you care about someone. But I’m also a bit of a rebel. I hate, hate, HATE when someone tries to make me feel bad for not doing something that I really don’t have to do. The retail and media world would make you feel bad for not spending money, time, or energy to recognize this holiday in some way. It kinda pisses me off. lol

I don’t want someone telling me that I have to show someone I love them on a specific day. If the day means something special to them and myself, then that’s one thing. But honestly, what does a Catholic holiday that has pretty ugly origins have to do with showing my boyfriend how much I care about him? What gives “them” the right to tell me how much I should spend and how?

These are my thoughts and personal feelings. If you love Valentine’s Day, then awesome for you. Personally, I would rather be surprised by a cheaper bouquet of flowers on another day “just because” than to receive something because of a perceived obligation. My best gifts from my boyfriend are when I come home after a long, crappy day and he has done a load of laundry and gotten dinner ready for us. That’s how love works. He’s thinking about what would make me smile…what would make me happy…what would help my day be just a little bit brighter. That’s awesome! I try to do the same for him.

Have any thoughts to share about this post? I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line anytime.

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Procrastination

Everyone has things they know they need to do but they really don’t want to do. Or maybe the task is just so monumental and overwhelming that they don’t know where to start. Maybe it’s a decision that needs to be made and because it is so life-altering/changing that it puts them in a state of almost panic. The normal human reaction in these situations, at least from my observations, is to just procrastinate. Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? After all, in the words of Scarlet O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day.” Right? lol

Well, I used to be a terrible procrastinator. I remember in middle school staying up with my mom late into the night, dictating a paper to her (because I hadn’t learned how to type myself yet other than to hunt and peck) because I had put it off, not realizing how long and big a task it truly was. Or maybe I did and just didn’t want to do it. I used to do that with a lot of things…deciding what to have to eat until I was so hungry, I’d eat anything in front of me; putting off laundry until I had to wash things and dry just a pair of underwear to have clean ones for the day because I didn’t realize I was out; calling someone just because I dreaded the topic or knew I would be on the phone a while.

Problem with putting things off is, you might run out of time to get it done altogether or the results turn out just crappy because you didn’t have time to do a good job. Does that mean you should rush to get everything done immediately? No, but I admit that I’m learning that I feel better about things and myself when I get things done or make decisions in a timely manner instead of putting it off. So I thought I might share a couple of tricks I’ve learned to help myself get tasks done and still not wear myself out or run out of time to do anything fun.

Let’s start with housework, cleaning, or any other tasks that are made up of lots of smaller tasks. I put on some good music that makes me want to move, set a timer for 15-30 minutes and just do whatever I can in that amount of time. It’s amazing how much you can get done if you just do that little trick. I’ve gotten loads of laundry changed out of the machines, one folded and put away, kitchen straightened, bills paid…it’s just awesome.

I will admit that I also love making “To Do” lists. I know they can seem never ending and take time to do when you could be doing some of the actual tasks, BUT it does help to get organized. I also usually put beside it how long I think each task will usually take. I usually put down a few more minutes than I would think just in case I run into a snag. It’s just so nice to see how many things that will only take five or ten minutes when you felt you had a full day’s worth of stuff to do! Maybe something will actually take an hour to accomplish. That’s ok. Work on it a bit, then if you get tired of it or start feeling stuck, stop and go do one of the short, simple tasks. And making a written list of what needs to be done is always awesome because you get to cross it right off as soon as it’s done!

But let’s say it’s something like a paper you have to write for school or some other huge task that, let’s face it, is seriously going to take hours? Split it up! Break it down into steps and then do a step at a time or two and then take a break. Set mini-deadlines to meet so that it doesn’t feel like such a monumental undertaking, maybe even doing bits of it on  different days. Do not sit or stand or work in one position for more than 50 minutes at a time. Take a few minutes to stretch, take a deep breath, get a snack or take a walk. You can only handle so much for so long.

Let’s make it a little harder though. What if you have a huge decision to make? Like maybe if you should move or take this job or that one. What happens if you put the decision off too long? You lose the ability to make the decision. It’s taken away from you because time has run out. In not making a decision, many times you have made one. So how do you make such huge decisions? Well, it starts with research. Really look into all your options. Talk to the people who have had to make the same decision and also people who your decision will affect. Don’t worry too much about opinions if the source doesn’t know what they’re talking about but definitely listen if they’ve had experience being where you are or are headed. Put the decision(s) and option(s) on paper and really take a good look at it. What are the risks of each way you could go? What are the benefits? What’s the worse that could happen? What’s the best? Most outcomes would be somewhere in between there. Could you live with that? Many times, there might be more than one “right” decision or there isn’t really a “wrong” one. It’s about your commitment and effort that you put into making the decision work. Not always. Sometimes there are circumstances our of our control and things turn badly. But if you have a backup plan or a ‘cushion’ if things don’t go as well as you’d like, usually they still work out ok.

Bottom line is, putting things off (especially unpleasant things) is normal. But it can be nerve-wracking and stress-inducing. Why create more trouble for yourself? lol Try to just get it over with and it will go smoother than you feared 99% of the time.

New Year 2018! Resolutions?

Wow! I know I’m going to sound old here but it’s the year TWO-THOUSAND-EIGHTEEN! That just seems…so futuristic/sci-fi-ish! lol I always here around this time of year people ask where our flying cars are. Honestly, I’d much rather have the totally self-driving car than have to learn to fly a car. I could nap, watch TV, read, do whatever I like while I travel to wherever I need to go. Not to mention the cutbacks on car crashes.

But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about this post. Every year, around this time of year, we hear about New Year resolutions and people determined to get into better shape, lose weight, etc. Gym memberships soar in January and by March, are seldom used. I’m not knocking people who make these resolutions; getting into better shape is a good goal, as is losing weight if you need to. However, I personally think that New Year resolutions are a bunch of hogwash promoted by the media.

Don’t get me wrong, whenever there are milestones in our lives or change, it’s natural for us as human beings to reflect on where we are, where we’ve been and where we want to be in the future. Setting goals is a good thing. We need to grow and change, not just exist. Trying to better ourselves in any aspect is admirable. But this shouldn’t be a ‘oh-it’s-New-Year’s-so-I-have-to-make-resolutions-that-I-don’t-intend-to-keep’ kind of thing. If you see a need in your life to make changes, you should set goals to do it. Work on them a little at a time, celebrating each accomplishment and any progress. Pick yourself up, dust off and keep going when you fall down on the path to your goals. But make sure that you set goals that are reachable and do it for you…no one else. Because if you’re doing it for someone else or because you feel you have to but you really resent it or don’t want to, you are going to fail. You’re going to stop working towards that goal because it’s not what you really want.

So what do you do when you know you need to make changes but you really don’t want to? You have to make yourself want to. Yeah, that sounds easy right? lol Well, it starts with small changes in your thought pattern. Little changes in habits, realizations, research, meditation, self-searching. What am I rambling about, you may ask? Well, let’s look at an example.

Let’s say that a man smokes and he knows he needs to quit but he really doesn’t have the motivation or desire to. He enjoys smoking, it relaxes him and he resents people telling him what he should or shouldn’t do, even if it’s for his own good. So how does he start to want to make the changes, take the steps, to stop smoking? Maybe he loves his family and doesn’t want to endanger them so he starts smoking outside or away from home. That’s a start. Maybe mentally and consciously he knows that it can cause cancer but he doesn’t really know what all that involves and means or what other major health risks and dangers attributed to smoking. So he does research and talks to or reads about people’s lives who have had major issues because of their past smoking.

Maybe that’s not enough to motivate him, but it gets him thinking. When he has to choose between his cigarettes and something else that he’d like to buy and his ingrained habit starts to cause him to choose the cigarettes, maybe he stops for a moment and realizes that he never seems to have enough money for everything. So he starts saving receipts and keeping track of how much he’s spending on his smoking habit. Maybe the shock of that starts him thinking that he would like to change.

He knows that smoking is hard to quit. He’s tried it before but never was able to stop for long. But after thinking about it, he realizes that he never really wanted to quit. He was just going through the motions. But the motivation of the love of his family, the medical conditions and expenses, the cost of buying cigarettes…concentrating and thinking about these over and over makes him want to eventually change and so he tries harder. Will he relapse on occasion? Probably. But if he really wants it, he will eventually obtain his goal and be smoke-free.

Goals are like that. So make goals and resolutions because you have thought about it and really want to. Don’t do it because someone tells you it’s the right thing to do or the right time. The motivation to change and the drive to do it has to come from inside. Write the goals down. Write down all the details…what you want to change, why, how you plan to do it, how you plan to reward yourself when you reach the goal. Get a buddy or friend or family member to help you. Don’t resent them for reminding you of your goals. Take a deep breath and thank them. If you decide to give up for a while, think about why and when you plan to pick it back up, if ever. Try to live life and direct it, not just react to it and go through the motions.

If you are making resolutions this year, I’d like to know what you personally plan on working towards if you’d like to share.

Update on Weight Loss/Healthier Goals

So I admit to having slowed down on the weight loss goal. I haven’t really gained anything back but I’m still not trying as hard as I was. I also quit Weight Watchers. Not because it doesn’t work but for a couple of other reasons. One of which is that I really wasn’t following the plan so why should I keep paying for it each month? When/if I’m ready to pick that particular plan back up again, I can always rejoin. Also, I am just starting to use a different app that kinda helps with the same things that the WW app does (at least it looks like it does so far) and it’s free!

It’s called the “My Fitness” app and I’m really digging it so far! It can track your steps, calories, weight loss goals and progress, and has a great added feature of tracking the actual nutrition in your foods. So you can see if you’re not getting enough of certain things (like potassium, for example) or are eating too much of something, such as sodium. I really love that feature because I like being able to see what cutting or adding certain foods does for my nutritional intake. For example, I decided to cut out most potatoes for a week, no matter how they were cooked. I just had no idea how much potassium is in potatoes and I had cut out a good source! Oops.

Like most things in life, balance is key in a good diet mostly. An occasional cookie or serving of ice cream won’t make or break you. However, I need to make sure that I’m eating enough variety that I get the nutrition I need while being careful not to overdo the saturated fats, sodium or empty carbohydrates. I’m finding the app such an awesome tool that I kind of think of it, right now anyways, as a toy. lol

But I am trying to add a couple of things I have read to be helpful in trying to be healthier and/or losing weight. If they don’t help, they most certainly won’t hurt. Here are a couple of things I’m trying:

  1. Drinking at least 8 oz of water when I wake up in the mornings, even before coffee.
  2. Absolutely no soda, even diet, for at least one week out of every month. (If I could kick the habit completely I’m sure I would do better but I occasionally need the caffeine boost and don’t want or have coffee available.)
  3. Get out in the sunshine for at least 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week for some needed Vitamin D. I read somewhere that if you think you’re getting the Vitamin D by driving in your car, you’re wrong. Glass apparently can block it from getting through. So unless your windows are down, you aren’t getting the Vitamin D like you thought you were.
  4. Don’t let myself do just cardio for exercise. I also need some kind of weight-lifting, push-ups, etc in my routine and stretching! Stretching I also want to try to do better at by doing some stretches while I watch TV.
  5. Wait about 15-20 minutes after eating before going back for seconds or even dessert. I want to make sure I’m actually hungry or just haven’t let my body catch up with my eyes yet. I’ve also found that even when I’m craving something sweet, like chocolate, if I just eat one or two small pieces I’m usually good. Any more and I start to feel icky.

So there ya go. Updates and some small goals I’m working on adding. Some might sound familiar but I know that I need reminders. And just because I haven’t been doing my best doesn’t mean I want to give up altogether. I want to be able to live a good quality life for as long as I can.

The Kind of Person I Want to Be

So I’ve been going through a period of self-discovery the last year or so, and I’m exploring more about who I am and who I want to be. I think most people have those moments or time periods. If not, they definitely should. Life can keep you very busy…but is it busy doing things worthwhile? Are we busy taking action or simply reacting to what’s going on around us?

I got tired of simply reacting to life and wanted to really take control. So I’ve been doing several things. First, I’m writing more often: here, working on my own fiction, I wrote an article for a professional journal, and I write in a personal journal more regularly. It’s helped me tremendously to be able to clear my mind by putting thoughts on paper…or in a computer document or on a website. lol When I free-write for myself, I’m sometimes surprised at what comes out, both positive and negative. I am surprised sometimes at the strength of the feelings that surface when I didn’t realize I felt so strongly. But it is extremely therapeutic for me and I hope to keep it up for a long time, if not my remaining lifetime.

Second, I went to a career counselor who also used to be a personal counselor. This was a fantastic move for me. Not because I desperately needed help finding a job or something similar to that. I’m employed and I make a good living (not that I’m loving my job at the moment but that’s a topic for another day). No, I did it to explore my talents, abilities, personality, the kinds of situations I would thrive in, the types of things I would excel at, etc. I wanted to get to know better who I was and who I could be! It’s been an amazing journey and I’m so happy to have spent the time and money on it. I’ve learned things about myself and built confidence in myself. I’m at the point that I really understand myself better and have a couple of paths that I’m exploring to be happier in my everyday life. I’m even seriously considering opening a franchise of an established company that I think I would be really good at. It has helped me to know what kinds of careers are out there if you just have the right direction and inclination to learn and explore. I’ve also found some great resources to explore and also met some interesting people, either in person or on the phone, as I got the courage and inspiration to ask them about their careers and businesses. The counselor also had me take the Myers-Briggs personality test, which I highly recommend you do if you never have. It helped me to understand myself better and to recognize why I do certain things a particular way or get frustrated at other things. It also helped me identify traits and tendencies I need to watch out for so as to better get along with people around me. I have absolutely loved this time with the counselor and while I still have one session left, I will take the information I have learned and discovered and continue to go over it in the future.

Lastly, I’m reading a self-help book (one of a few that are on my list to check out), and I have found a section that I plan to definitely try to apply. I’m not entirely sure how much I’m allowed to mention about this book but it’s not a new one. The title is, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and it’s by Stephen R. Covey. I’m taking my time with it and trying to absorb the messages in it, either to use or to discard but it has brought up a couple of things that I want to keep in mind and I’d like to share them with you. I will keep it brief and limit it to only two. (I’m only half-way through the book right now.)

One, I have learned the difference between leadership and management. There is definitely a difference and while you can try to be/do both, it’s important to be able to differentiate the two. If you have to choose one to be, know what the role involves and what it does not involve. In my own life, I want to be a leader first and a manager second.

Two, I’m planning on taking some time in the next couple of weeks to develop my own personal “mission statement” or creed or rules for living or however you want to phrase that. The idea is to explore what’s important to you, what your core values are, and to try to stick to them when you are devising plans or making decisions. It’s a way to explore yourself and the kind of person you want to be and I think it’s a brilliant idea. It will take a little soul-searching and probably some tweaking or adding bits over time, but overall it will be something I can refer to when I feel like I’m losing myself or going through a difficult situation. Maybe you feel as though you already know what’s important to you in life or you have your religious faith or some other guiding factor. I’m telling you this is for you personally and a way to word things so that they really mean something to and for you. These are not for a specific situation but can cover multiple situations. Principles not rules or laws. For example, I’ll share one of mine that I first thought of… “I will not do or bring any harm to others, trying hard to apply this even to those who might have wronged me.” This is important to me as it is a reminder to not only mind my actions but to think through consequences and not to seek revenge. It’s something I want to strive to make a part of myself. I’m looking forward to putting my mission statement down in writing.

While life can be an ongoing journey of self-discovery, it can also lose you in the everyday rat race, or in the chasing after material things that you really don’t need. Sometimes life can keep you so busy that you forget the kind of person you really would like to be. That’s why I plan on trying to take some time out on a regular basis to reflect or meditate on things like this. Maybe I won’t have time every day but certainly some time every week to check that I’m on the right path and headed in the right direction for me. I invite you to do the same and I would truly love to hear about your journey if you care to share.

Birthdays

So this past Wednesday was my birthday and I’m now closer to 40 than 35. Most of the time, adding a number doesn’t mean much to me except that I know things won’t be as easy as I get even older. I will say that I will take getting older to the alternative which is…well you probably can figure that one out! lol

But I find myself reflecting on my life when my birthday rolls around. I try to take the time to figure out where I am, where I thought I would be, where I’m headed and where I would like to be headed. I do this more on my birthday than even New Year’s. Sometimes, the results aren’t pretty. Other times, they are surprising. Many years, I simply adjust course and keep going. Some birthdays have definitely been more memorable than others of course, be it mentally or emotionally. I’ll just touch on a couple and not recount my entire life for you.

I remember turning 16 and being the oldest child, used to sharing and coming from a family with not much money, I certainly didn’t expect my parents to buy or give me a car. In fact, my parents told me that when I got my license and started driving, I would be expected to drive my sisters around where they needed to go, and I had to pay for my part of the insurance. Hence, I had to get a job. So I started working at the local big retail store that has since gotten too big for its own good, in my opinion. My mother dropped me off a couple of times before my grandfather gave me my first car: his old ’87 Fleetwood Cadillac. He had gotten a new one and I drove that boat around all over the place. If you wanna get good at parking, learn on a car that big! lol

The year I turned 20 was also the year I got married and that has it’s own regrets and lessons learned. I had heard and sort of knew that was very young to get married but I thought I was so mature. Little did I realize that I hadn’t had time to really get to know myself before chaining myself to a man who was definitely not worthy of my affection and caring.

When I turned 25, I had a few minutes of panic as I thought about my decision not to have children. There are medical issues that run in my family that usually present themselves after having kids. And with my marriage as it was, I knew bringing children into it was not a good idea. But almost every woman goes through a period where she really wants them or at least thinks about it hard. I knew the best time would have been before I turned 30 to start a family if that’s what I was going to choose to do. I’m still thankful that I chose not to go that route. If I had children, I would have taken care of them and loved them with all my heart, but seeing how things turned out, I definitely made the right decision to stick to my instincts and not have them.

I was 36 when I lost my dog, my cat, my grandmother, left my husband and moved into my own apartment for the first time. This is when I truly felt I began to live. Wow. Sounds like a country song doesn’t it? lol It was a very tumultuous time in my life but I learned a lot during that time. I miss my grandmother a lot. I miss having a dog a little. I don’t miss the ex a bit. lol

So this year? This year, I’m more optimistic about life than ever. I still plan on trying to get into better shape physically. I hope to finish losing the weight I was trying to over the last year. I am trying new things and exploring options and I feel like my future is bright. I am happier than I can remember ever being and while everything isn’t perfect, I certainly can say I’m on the upswing. And yes, I’m two years from being 40. 😉

Funny, one of my favorite songs came to mind as I was reading this to edit it. Maybe if you are a Five For Fighting fan, you already know it. If you want to check it out, here ya go: 100 Years

If you’d like to share a memory from one of your birthdays, I would love to hear about it! Just message me or drop me a note here.

Updates on Relationships and Weight Loss

So I thought I would take today to simply catch you up on a couple of things. First, I will update you on my relationship(s) with my two boyfriends. If this doesn’t interest you, just drop down to the next section. So West-Coaster took another job where he is as he couldn’t find anything here near me that would pay what he wanted. That means that our “relationship” will stay long-distance and I’m not really ok with that. I can’t move there and honestly, I don’t want to. He says that his long-term goal is still to move somewhere on this side of the country but who knows when or if that will ever work out. While we will still chat, text and visit with each other, the future of our relationship has shifted significantly to the more friends zone instead of anything more.

It took me a bit to get over that and to be open with you, I admit to feeling like I was just not enough to him for him to keep looking or accept a lower salary. Now he works a job that has him working 60+ hours a week and with the time difference, we barely text during the week anymore. We want different things out of life and have different priorities and that’s fine. He wants to make a good amount so that he can save to possibly be able to retire significantly early. I want to enjoy life while being content with having what I need and saving at a reasonable rate for the future. If that means retiring at 65, then I’m ok with that. He wants kids and I’ve decided that children aren’t for me. I love kids but I really don’t want any of my own. Many times, it’s not about one person being right or wrong in a relationship. Sometimes it’s just that you are both too different or want too different a life for things to work out.

However, things with “Native” are so awesome that I can’t tell you in words. I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with him and we can talk about anything and everything. We’re in the same line of work and while that has never been something I looked for in a relationship, it’s awesome to be able to ‘talk shop’ at the end of the day. (Don’t worry! HIPPA/privacy stays completely in tact! lol) He’s got a great heart and he treats me like a queen. I don’t think I could possibly be happier. Our future looks bright and we’re talking about serious commitment in the future being a possibility.

As for my weight loss program/routine, I admit that I seem to have stalled. It was supposed to be temporary but I haven’t been able to get motivated to try as hard again. I have not gained anything back so that is a relief. But I also haven’t lost any more.

I have a plan, however, to start with adding more exercise into my routine. This weekend is the time change where we fall back an hour and I plan on using this to get my butt out of bed earlier (as it will feel like the same time) and walk either outside or on the treadmill for half an hour Monday thru Thursday. I’m not sure about Friday as I have to get up earlier for a different work shift anyways. I hope this will get me pumped about working on my eating habits again and going back to being a bit more strict. If not, at least I will get in better physical shape.

So there you have it! An update on what’s happening with my relationships with the men in my life and also with food! lol On a side note, my birthday is next Wednesday. I plan on trying to do at least a short post on how it went. Don’t have anything exciting planned but who knows! 😀