Another Successful Trip Around the Sun

Yesterday was my birthday.  I made it another 365 days.  Hooray!

Birthday cake with candles

It never fails that I have a little alone time on my birthday and honestly, I’ve come to look forward to that alone time. If I don’t get it, I make sure I make it.  Last night, it involved a little drive, blasting music in my car, and singing along as I drove around aimlessly looking at the beautiful houses, the pristine beaches at night, and just reflecting.

First, I realized I don’t know why driving is so cathartic for me.  I don’t know that I care, I just know that it helps clear my mind and I really miss my clutch and stick shift.  I miss it more than I ever realized I would miss it.  This is the first car I have ever had that was an automatic.  It’ s a nice car but it’s not complete.  It’s missing that one element that makes driving fun.  The countdown is now on for when I can get back into a car that has a clutch…roughly 1200 days.

Second, I have been facing down some serious decisions in life.  Like the kind of decisions that keep you up at night wondering if your fairy godmother is hiding in the closet laughing her ass off at you.  Being a grown-up is rough.  It’s even more rough when there are small people, commonly referred to as children, that can be impacted in so many various ways by one [not so small] decision.  Having almost 95% made up my mind, I think that I’m happy with the choice.  No one ever tells you these choices are going to be this hard when you actually have to make them. Though it is possible that my choice is compounded by my obsessive need to think about every possible outcome.  I have stopped and that might be why it’s easier for me to sleep at night with this decision.  Only time will truly tell.

Third, I’m not giving up.  My NaNo novel from 2012 is done…well the third re-write is done.  I think I’m ready to write that query letter.  I’m back into the full swing of WW.  I strayed for a while which was not good but it’s in the past.  I’m one step closer to that Daily Double – something I’m INSANELY proud of.  I have my new list of goals.  I have a new list of ideas.  I have the old list that I’m still chipping away at.  Over the next 365 days, I’m going to cross off at least four things from that list.  Four.

Fourth, I’m lucky.  I’m so incredibly lucky.  I am alive.  I have a family that loves me.  I have a beautiful daughter who amazes me every day.  I live in a beautiful place where I can see the ocean every day.  I have a roof over my head.  I have a job. I am relatively healthy (oddly enough and please knock on wood).  All of these things are so often overlooked yet are the reasons why I am so incredibly lucky.

Another year is in front of me.  Another year full of chances, opportunities, friendships, love, laughter, tears, and whatever else may come my way.  I cannot wait to see what it brings.

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Yellow Dust

I have no idea what the actual pollen count is right now.  I do know that my head feels like it’s about to just pop off because of the scratchy itchy misery that the yellow pollen is currently wreaking on my sinuses.  I know that trees are beautiful and usually I tell the Husband to get over the fact that he has allergies but right now, I am willing to go cut down all the trees with him.  My grey car is yellow.  You can see the dust blowing through the air.  It’s just blowing…into my eyes, my throat, everywhere.  I hate it. Make it stop.

pollen

The past two days, my allergy medicine hasn’t even touched my symptoms.  It’s miserable.  Yes, there are amazing things that come from pollen:

1) Honey

honeyAside from the fact that it is really bee puke, I’m glad that pollen is used to make something so delicious and wonderful.

2) Flowers and Fruits and Trees

Flowers Lilac.Lily

Without pollen, we wouldn’t get to smell lilacs or enjoy fruits like apples, peaches, cherries, and other good things that have flowers that need to be pollinated.

So…that’s two things.  Other than that…I’m all set.  Chop ’em all down.  Or at least make them stop releasing this ridiculous yellow dust!

 

 

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Kill and Tell…Tell What? How Bad the Book Was?

We have a bookcase at work in the break room.  One of those “take a book, leave a book” kind of deals.  Needless to say it’s impossible for me to resist taking a book when I see one that might remotely interest me.  As you know from reading my blog, dear reader, it doesn’t take much to interest me when it comes to books.  For that reason, I tend to sometimes pick a dud.  It’s bound to happen and for all I know, it could be another person’s most favorite book of all time.  Hey, who am I to judge –  I’m currently waiting for the next Cassandra Clare novel to finish out The Mortal Instrument’s series.

kill and tell

Sadly, I fear that this most recent selection was a dud.  I picked up Kill and Tell by Linda Howard thinking it would be  a simple conspiracy/murder/suspense book, the kind you read in a day and are simply entertained.  It definitely started off like that with Dexter Whitlaw being chased through the French Quarter of New Orleans.  The ominous murder of not only Dexter Whitlaw but also a second man, one whom Dexter knew and respected by unknown assailants made me read on.

Enter the total alpha male, ladies man, Southern gentleman, Marc, who just happens to be the detective assigned to the Whitlaw murder case.  Howard first presented him as very smooth operator which then led to Whitlaw’s family.  I should have known when Karen was presented that she was a stereotypical woman who didn’t really need a man because she wasn’t sure where she was heading in life and thought she was just fine without one.  I should have stopped reading there but I’m stubborn and I wanted to find out who stepped into the car after the murder.

When Marc and Karen finally meet, it really felt creepy.  Marc wanted to make her his next conquest.  I don’t really believe in love at first sight.  I think I believe in lust at first sight and this is what I was reading.  I did not like the whole mentality of manipulation that Marc took on while he was “comforting” Karen and I felt that there were times when I wanted to kick him in the shin for being so chauvinistic as he “played his cards right.” Not to mention, I almost threw up a little at the various trashy romance passages that I so was not expecting to be there when I picked up the book.

The two fall desperately in love after a night of wild abandon (and as one of the Goodreads reviewers called it “Monkey sex”) followed by Karen running away from this “perfect” man only to find out that she’s in danger.  It felt rushed and a little annoying because she got home and the way that the ominous “they” found her was  just so plain.  I wanted it to be much more mysterious and full of intrigue but as soon as one of the big baddies was introduced, you knew.

Some of the descriptions of the scenery were nice and she did a great job of explaining humidity and high temps.  The characters were a little flat and not as developed as I like, even in my “throw away” books.  The real kicker for me that really made me kind of annoyed with this book was the discovery that it was the first in a series.  A series about a character you only meet in the last two pages of the book.  When I heard it was a series, I thought it was a series about Marc and Karen but, no!  It’s a series about the son of a dead CIA operative.  Really?  Usually the first book of a series is supposed to introduce the main character.  Not just give him a glorified cameo in which he saves the main characters of the book.  I really had a hard time with this one.  However, it’s one more book toward my 2014 goal, which after a semester of grad school is WAY off course.  Another plus is that I can bring it back to the bookshelf at work and let someone else enjoy it.

On to finish the first book based off the tv show Castle…hopefully this one will be a little more mystery and a lot less heaving and bulging…

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Freedom! Kind of…

I finished.  My first semester of grad school is over.  My time is now free.  Last night, I sat down and felt a little strange because I didn’t have a discussion to respond to, a paper to write, research to do, a chapter or six to read for the first time since January.  I don’t know why this felt so much more intense than before.  It’s possibly because I am at a different place in life right now that it seemed harder.  My focus is more on my daughter than on school.  Damn distraction.

I finished though and so now, it’s time to get back to the real work.  The writing, the sewing, the reading…

It’s funny though because I’m stuck in academic writing mode.  I can’t help but feel like I need to include massive amounts of academic verbiage that exemplifies the fact that I am able to write at the desired level of my recent professors.  It’s a strangely hard habit to break.

Give it time though.  I’m reading the first Castle book…yes the one based on the television show.   I can’t wait to write the review for that one!  I also am back on the WW bandwagon after an abysmal winter.  Not to mention I have other things happening that are going to prove for a fun summer.

It’s good to write about nothing.  It’s good to not have to cite in APA format. It’s good to not worry about whether or not I have included enough references.  It’s good to just write.

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Points Life Forever

After apparently five weeks of being MIA at my local Weight Watchers meeting, I returned tonight.  Sadly, I didn’t plan accordingly and forgot that it was the beginning of the year and the first meeting at our meeting place that wasn’t snowed out since the new year.  That meant that the line was insanely long, full of fresh faces.  They all shared the same look – that look of fear as the line slowly inched forward to the grey metal square. They watched as the seasoned veterans disrobed down to the lightest layer of clothing, ritualistically preparing their weight tracker for the kind receptionist who greats those she knows by name.  Shoes come off and the line moves forward in an array of colorful socks, each pair taking a 2 inch step up at their final destination.

ww-logo1I may have shared that look today.  Even though I have been there for a long time, having been away for a month was nerve-wracking.  Add to the fact that the month I was MIA was the month of December, also known as the month full of Christmas parties, Christmas cookies, and lots of Holiday cheer.  (You can read that as I completely threw my Points tracker out the window and ate what I wanted, when I wanted.)

I knew that the scale was going to show a gain.  I hadn’t been doing anything to promote the ideals and values that a good Weight Watcher should show.  I wasn’t saying the Weight Watcher pledge.  I got a little down on myself instead.  Alright, fine.  I beat the living daylights of out myself over it.  Positive self-talk has never been a strong point for me and those who know me would claim that I’m a perfectionist and that I don’t allow myself to make mistakes. Then, when I make those mistakes, I just spiral around the crazy-go-round with them.  It’s not always pretty.  That’s why I knew I had to face the music and really get it done. Knock on wood that I don’t need any major medical things this year.

The worst thing is that I had one of those moments when the song you hear just hits you with a 2×4 across the face and you realize that it’s now your theme song.  The daughter has been on a Disney Frozen kick (along with almost every other girl from 4 years old and up) and that means I have probably heard “Let It Go” about fifty million times now.  There’s a few lines in the song that summed up my inner voice, the one that I sometimes don’t listen to when I should probably listen to that voice all the time.

frozen

“It’s time to see what I can do / To test the limits and break through / No right, no wrong, no rules for me, / I’m free! / Let it go”

I need to let it go and see what I can do.  It always looks good on paper.  I just need to figure out exactly how to do that.  Let it go.  I need to let my mistakes go.  Let go of my not so perfect days. Let go of perfection.  Someone once told me that perfection was boring anyway.  Just let it go.  Maybe someday I might fully and truly understand what those words mean.

No matter how I slice it, I have to let go of the fact that my body cannot process food the same as other people’s.  I need to let go of the fact that I will always, no matter what age, have to pay attention to what I’m eating.  I will always count points, even if I do not write them down.  Through December, I was counting points mentally.  I knew how many points I was over every day because I was keeping count.  I can rattle of points values of foods like Rain Man can rattle off a tv schedule. I’m going to just accept that.  Maybe that will help letting go of some of the other stuff a little easier.

Tomorrow is week one, for the sixth time officially.  I’m letting go of the other times.  Tomorrow is Friday. It’s a day.  It’s one day.  It’s one day in which I’m going to count my points.  It’s one day where I will make good choices and if I slip, I will forgive and move on.  It’s one day.  It’s one meal.  It’s letting go of all the other stuff and living in just the moment.  Let go of the what ifs.  Let go of the woulda, coulda, shouldas.  Let go of the maybes.  Just deal with the moment.  Let it go, let it all go but that one moment.

Let it go.

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Under Pressure?

There are times when I realize that my self-induced state of procrastination is the cause of my anxiety when it comes to completing projects.  In 2014, I really am trying to approach life with less anxiety.  I have seen some people say that they are choosing a word to visualize and focus on for the year.  Normally, I would view this as some kind of new age mumbo-jumbo that may or may not work.  However, this year, I’m trying to cast aside my cynicism and open my mind to something new because clearly, my cynicism isn’t exactly working out so well for me.

My word is:

happy

Whatever “happy” means, that’s what I’m aiming for.  There are lots of meanings for happy and how it applies to life.  I could just have a happy day.  I could have a happy accident.  I could just try to find happiness in every situation.  Happy.

Where does that leave my procrastination?  Where does that leave my last minute pressure of making something perfect in a less than perfect amount of time?

I think that it leaves my procrastination being tossed out the window.  I used to tell myself that I only worked best under pressure.  Working at the front desk of a busy Cape Cod hotel, I was constantly under some kind of pressure during the summer months, coincidentally my favorite months of work.  There were complaints, room moves, last minute tours…all things that required me think fast, perform quickly, and get nothing wrong.  The pressure pushed me to perform at my personal best.  At least that’s what I thought.

If I’m trying to focus on Happy, doesn’t that mean I should be trying to eliminate stress that I can control?  My brain says “Duh, stress is ridiculous!”; my heart says “But, I like the pressure. It’s a big thrill to see how well I can do in the eleventh hour.”  Well, my heart might not really like the pressure because the pressure can sometimes cause high blood pressure which could ultimately kill me.  If I’m dead, then any goals I may have planned are pretty much null and void.  It’s just that I have become used to that kind of pressure.  I have convinced myself that it’s the only way that I can get things done.

Silly as it may seem, I must get over that mentality.  I have to take one step at a time.  Plan a little, not excessively, to complete goals and not leave them to the last minute and expect to have the results that I really want.  So while I may feel I work best under some kind of pressure, I have to accept that it does not make me happy.  Since happy is my word this year, I have to try to obtain that word and stay focused.  Procrastination – I’m sorry, you are no longer welcome to the party known as my life.

This post is part of the January 2014 NaBloPoMo.  This month’s theme is “Pressure.”  Today’s prompt was “Do you work well under pressure?”

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Adieu 2013!

I wish I could say with absolute certainty that 2013 was the best year ever.  I can’t though, because my mother taught me not to tell lies.  It had its high points and it certainly had its low points.  As I look back, it’s easy to say that I would do some things differently.  I think it’s safe to say that many of us may feel that way at times. That’s why looking back on a thing or event can be easier than looking forward.  It’s certainly much less daunting than looking to the future.  To be honest, the future always has terrified me.  The unknown.  The lack of control of that unknown.  It can be a scary thing.

Looking Out to the Unknown

Looking Out to the Unknown

As the clock gets closer to that midnight hour – that new year – I can’t help but feel a bit of anxiety.  It’s silly really but I dream big and I really get anxious about how I’m going to do everything I want to do.  The main reason for the anxiety is because I think of all the tiny details and let them warp my mind.  I lose sight of how to achieve every one of those goals I so nobly set for myself.

The answer is just as simple.  One step at a time.

So, as I prepare for the dawn of 2014, I realize that my list of goals and things I want to achieve over the next 365 days is truly a list of items that can be done.  I just have to do it one step at a time, just how Melinda Mae ate that whale.

One bite at a time...

One bite at a time…

 

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2013 in review

Pretty cool. Now to see if I can improve those numbers in 2014!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Toys for Boys? Toys for Girls? Why not just “Toys?”

This game has been the buzz item this season, at least it seems to me to be the buzz item.  For girls only though so boys, tough luck.  Go back to playing with your Legos, Kinnex, and Erector-sets (are those even still a thing?).

Last year, my step-mother-in-law, got this for the Daughter (who was almost 4 at the time).  While she was a little young to really get it, we have since played it together as she has gotten older and better able to understand the directions that have to be read in order to play.  Yes, it teaches her to put things together in a process and have an end result.  It allows her to experiment with different configurations and introduces the very basic functions of physics to her.  Overall, it’s an ok game for her to learn how to experiment and see what results she may get and then engineer a system to get the desired results which, for this game, include getting Katinka the ballerina dolphin in a pink tutu, to spin in a certain direction.

It is true that there is a disturbing, alarming, and frankly disheartening lack of women in science.  However, does that mean we need to “girly” up science for girls to get more involved and interested?  And then there’s the gender question – can something like engineering be turned into a girl toy or a boy toy?  Shouldn’t something like science (or any subject for that matter) be gender neutral?  Or even better yet…be ready to gasp, dear reader…shouldn’t all toys be gender neutral?

Let’s look again at GoldieBlox.  The game itself a good idea.  Get girls interested in creating something.  I just wish it wasn’t all cutesy with pink and silly characters.  I also think that it still kind of perpetuates the gender bias in toys with the colors of the pieces of the set (Pink ribbon, purple dowels and purple board) by insinuating that a girl will only play with it if it has pink and purple pieces and cute animals wearing clothing…but it’s a step.  I cannot deny that it is a step.  Though, as a kid, I played with Legos and really did love building all kinds of structures.  I always wished I had a Kinnex set just because it looked like fun to design and build stuff.

Lego also came under scrutiny recently when they launched a new line aimed specifically at girls.  They titled it “Lego Friends” and packaged it in purple boxes and made all the little Lego people women or girls.

girl legos

Again, can someone tell me when primary colors were deemed “boy” colors and that girls only like pink and purple?  Or when colors in general were deemed to have genders?  At any rate, they launched this product in the hopes to get more girls interested in architecture.  Apparently it is faring well because when you go into any toy store, you see rows of the stuff just on the shelves. But why?  Why did girls need to have this product line?  Why couldn’t they play with what was already out there?  It’s the same product, just different colors.  It’s the same concept, build a house or a castle or a wall or a tower or a whatever you imagine you have built and then play with it.  Why does it need to be specific for girls?

I know that I’m not a typical woman.  I do not wear a ton of make up or spend half an hour getting my hair to sit just right (if you know me, you know that my curls don’t like to behave anyway).  I know my fair share about cars.  I love watching the Science channel with my husband just because it’s interesting and the images are amazing on the nice pretty HD television.  I despise the color pink (please don’t revoke my woman card).  I don’t see a need for “girl” toys.  Does this factor in to my opinion of this game?  When my step-mother-in-law was explaining the GoldieBlox game, she said the creator made it because as a kid she didn’t have any toys like it to play with as a child.  At first, I probably reacted a bit rudely because sometimes, I can be a bit blunt with no filter (sorry step-MIL – didn’t mean to be rude at that moment), but seriously what did that even mean?  Didn’t she have access to Lincoln Logs or Legos?  Or was it that her parents didn’t buy those toys for her when she asked for them because she was a girl and her parents were stuck in a “this is a girl toy; this is a boy toy” mentality?

So, now let’s look at that idea – parents.  Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher.  Yes, we send our children to school to be educated and pass tests, and feel the pressure of pop quizzes, MCAS, SATs, PSATs, and ACTs.  But, as a parent, you can’t just rely on the school system to fully educate your child.  There are so many tests that the child must be taught to conform to.  There are so many guidelines that must be met in order to pass the child that parents need to have just as active an involvement in shaping their child.  Does that mean it’s easy?  NO.  Parents work a lot to maintain the basic life needs of a child (food, shelter, clothing) but, parents must also work to help their child explore their full potential.

That being said, isn’t it on the parents to introduce children to science in all forms and ultimately encourage the child to pursue what makes them happy no matter what that may be?  If your daughter wants Legos, buy her the Legos: Ninjago, Friends, Lord of the Rings…whatever.  If your son wants a kitchen set with pretend cupcakes and cakes, buy it for him. Haven’t you ever watched Ace of Cakes or the Cake Boss – those men are very manly and secure in themselves and HAPPY.  If your daughter wants dolls, get them.  If your son wants art sets, get them.  Do not tell your child, “Are you sure? Don’t you think that’s kind of girly/boyish?”  Do not perpetuate this idea that these inanimate objects have a gender specific target.  Let your child explore and discover what makes him or her happy.

As a parent, introduce your child to science.  It can be simple things at home, that are totally free like a Nature walk, a night-time “Star Party” to name constellations, a pot of water boiling.  The internet is full of great “free” activities that you can do with your child at any age.  Read your local newspaper to find local events that feature science.

science_works_better

We are lucky to live where we do because there is almost always something scientific going on somewhere.  If you aren’t as fortunate to have events to go to, just talk about it.  Just talking about it and pointing things out can help pique that curiosity that is naturally in your child.  If science isn’t want excites them, find out what does.  Nurture it and then watch as your happy child does something wonderful with his or her life.

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Eating Cupcakes While Watching the Biggest Loser?

The Biggest Loser is inspirational, a little unrealistic, but inspirational nonetheless.  Watching this show, I’m reminded, for the umpteenth time, as to why I haven’t completely given up on Weight Watchers.  I may have been moving a snail’s pace, but I haven’t given up 100%.

Watching these people stand up on national television and bear it all to help inspire others is pretty amazing.  And yet, here I sit, enjoying a chocolate cupcake.

Yep.  A chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting and fall colored jimmies.  It was good.

By Kat Kellner [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kat Kellner [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I probably should have been doing squats or lunges.

Sometimes, I think I need Jillian or Bob to yell at me to keep my fat butt in motion.  But then I realize, that they can yell at me all they want.  If I don’t fix what is broken, it won’t matter one bit.  The broken parts will always be broken.  It’s hard work.  Having done some form of this hard work my whole life (since I was 8), I get tired of it.  It’s what’s wrong right now. I’m tired of having to weigh and measure every single bite. I’m tired of having to write everything down.  I’m tired of having to wake up thinking about it.  It wears you down.  Even if I get to a point where I’m at a healthy weight, I will still have to track, weigh, measure.  Constant vigilance.

It’s sometimes discouraging.  But, then I think about being six feet under and not being able to see the Daughter hit some of life’s major milestones…that’s even more discouraging.

It’s a constant struggle. I know that I cannot give up, but on the other hand, I have never been able to fully imagine myself at the finish line.  Either way, I’m not giving up. Time to pony up and put the cupcake down.

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