Saw this neat idea on Facebook about creating a jar full of happy memories that you would then review at the end of the year. It’s very simple: you take a large, empty mason jar and every time something good happens in your life you write it down on a piece of paper and stick it in the jar. On December 31st you open the jar and read all the wonderful things you experienced throughout the year.
I think this sounds like a terrific idea — sort of the daily affirmation thing (that I’ve kind of let slide lately). But, what I’m going to do is use my blog as my jar and post my good things on here, and, I’m going to try and post something each day.
That’s 365 good things, one small post a day. I think — I hope — I can manage it. Surely, there has to be at least one nice thing that happens each day. This little experiment will prove it.
I sometimes find myself feeling very depressed and sorry for myself, but when I look back at my wonderful life I can see that really I have nothing to despair about. Anything that bothers me is usually because I choose to let it bother me. There is so much in my life that I have to be happy and grateful for that maybe by writing down one thing each day I will stay focused on that.
. . . and, as always comes the resolutions. This year, like last, I’ve resolved to not make any.
There, that’s done.
As it is a new year, however, I can’t help falling into the trap of looking back and wondering what I can do to improve myself, or make better use of the life I have. Therefore, I have come up with the following ‘to-do’ list, or perhaps ‘want-to-do’ list, might be a better way of putting it:
1. Each day, do one thing that makes me happy — this could be to write a poem, take a picture, read a book, help someone in need, write a letter (a dying art, and one that I’ve tried numerous times to revive), post a blog, watch a silly sit-com (How I Met Your Mother; New Girl), visit the art gallery, take a walk in the sunshine, play a game with my grandkids, there are many, many things that make me smile, make me happy — I need only do one a day to keep my balance.
2. Stay true to my goals — this means WORK on my novel. I did not spend an entire month of my life writing like a fiend to just let those 50,000 words grow mold. It also means focus less on work and more on life — at 53 (damn near 54 years of age) I have come to the realization that work, though necessary, is not the keystone of life. Life is.
3. Read a book a month. I love to read. Really love it, almost as much as writing. But, for the past 5 – 10 years I have not been reading as much as I once did. I have let work, and work-related obligations, my unrealistic expectations of myself and what it means to be ‘successful’ take control of my life and my time and have, sadly, let reading slip away. I have a small library of books that I’ve been given and that I’ve purchased just sitting collecting dust. No more! I will make friends with reading again.
4. I will waste time looking through home renovation and decorating magazines. And I will watch HGTV from time to time. I love reading about ways to make your home beautiful. Though I may not do any of things I read or watch I can gain excitement and grow enthusiasm from them, and who knows? Maybe, just maybe I’ll find something that sparks my creativity. I used to be quite creative — stencilling tables, walls, furniture, painting old chairs, sewing dolls, making things out of wood — I would love to find that in me again.
5. Start crocheting again. Once upon a time I used to crochet all the time. Over the past 15 years all I’ve done is buy wool and patterns. Those materials that I haven’t donated or sold at garage sales are sitting in baskets and in cupboards. The basket of wool makes a nice, ‘homey’ decoration in my living room, but, really, that wool would make a lovely shawl or scarf. For me. Ha, ha!
6. Paint the bedroom my grandkids stay in. It is such a hideous space right now. Plain white, ugly grey accordion closet doors, makeshift shelves Tim put up shortly after we moved in. I envision lovely sky-blue walls with billowy clouds on the ceiling. I would replace the plastic mini-blinds with a venetian shade and light, cottony curtains. I would remake the closet into a toy closet and add a small bookshelf for the books I’ve started collecting for them. It would be a space as delightful as they are.
7. Become a better, more accomplished cook. It’s funny. I’ve always liked cooking, but as I’ve matured I have come to love it. I’ve always collected cookbooks and recipes — just ask my husband who is constantly telling me there is a better way to organize them than in the one cupboard and two drawers where I have them stashed and stuffed — and I like nothing more than to sit on the floor with recipe books and cut-outs spread all around me reading through them for inspiration. I invested in a Kitchen-Aid food processor this Christmas — fantastic sale at London Drugs on Boxing Day! Can’t wait to put it to the test.
8. Develop a system for keeping my office neat and tidy and actually follow it for more than a week. ‘Nuff said.
9. Dream more. Plan trips I might never get to take. Fantasize about money I’ll most likely never have (the current Lotto Max commercial? That’s me and Tim.) Imagine a bright future for my son and his family in which money, stress and worry is non-existent. See Tim and I living ‘down east’ temporarily like we’ve talked about ever since our motorcycle trip to visit my brother and his family in Dartmouth, NS. Actually getting to meet Stephen King and blubber on to him about how great I think he is and how his writing and his life have inspired me. Be short-listed for a writing prize or award.
10. Organize my photos! My lord I’ve got gazillions of them. Digital cameras are wonderful, but the hundreds of pictures I’ve downloaded that never get erased, shared or printed is ridiculous. So, I have decided to become ruthless. And actually take the external hard-drive I bought for storing my pictures on out of its package and use the damn thing!
11. Exercise regularly. I walk a lot, but not nearly enough. Once upon a time I used to walk for at least an hour every day, now it’s a half hour 3 – 4 days a week. I have a treadmill and free-weights that I barely use. I will endeavour to use them at least 3 times a week. Yoga starts again on the 16th. I bought myself a good mat and am determined to start doing a few exercises each morning before work. This sounds exhausting. Don’t know how successful this ‘to-do’ item will be. Perhaps I’m just getting lazy.
12. Blog at least once a week, but not more than twice a week. Trying to blog everyday had become a major source of stress for me. I was comparing myself to many other bloggers, some of whom post two to three times a day. In my job I don’t have the time to blog (I’m rarely sitting at a desk) and, even if I did, my employer would not take kindly to me using my work time for personal pursuits. I’ve tried blogging during my breaks, but that never works because I take my break in the classroom and there are always others in the room and you know what that is like. No concentration, constant interruptions, etc. Mornings are too rushed and in the evening, well, if I’m going to work on my novel I need the time for that. So, once a twice a week it will be.
13. Visit other bloggers on the days I’m not blogging. There are so many fine bloggers out there, many whom I’ve subscribed to and yet I can’t seem to keep up with visits. Currently, my email has over 400 notifications in it, none of which I’ve checked up on. Two-thirds of these notifications are from bloggers I subscribe to. I feel terrible that I never get around to reading half of what enters my in-box. There is a ton of great writing there, I just know it, but I simply don’t have the time. So, I will read what I can, when I can and comment accordingly. The blogging world is made up of some of the most amazing, understanding people in the world and I know that this will be fine with them. And really, it’s only just me.
14. Worry less. I used to joke: If I don’t have something to worry about, then something must be wrong.
15. Say “I love you” more often. Such a simple thing, and yet, so often forgotten. I want the people I care about to know it. Saying those three little words is all that is needed.
16. Thumb my nose at 2012 Doomsday predictions. I read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy a couple of years ago. It affected me more than I thought. I have carried a seed of dread in the core of my being ever since finishing it. I have allowed it to grow and it has spread a noxious weed that has tangled itself throughout my being. It’s time to yank it out and burn it. Better to believe in present day examples of the good of humankind when disaster strikes rather than some imagined apocalyptic horror.
Well, that’s it. My list of things to do this year and beyond. I’m printing it off and placing it near my writing station. On a wall, where it won’t get lost beneath a mountain of paper. Now wait a minute, what number does that come under?
When I went for my weigh-in at Curves on the 7th I was sorely disappointed. Their scale said I had lost a measly .5 lb. My scale at home said I had dropped 4 lbs, but I chose to believe the Curves scale. On top of that was the fact that the only place I had lost inches was on my thighs.
I already have skinny legs! I don’t need skinnier ones!
Anyway, I spent a good 24 hours being really pissed off. Then I got my shit together and decided that cutting dessert out of my life really wasn’t having an impact on my weight loss goals. So. . .
. . .I’m taking a more realistic approach to this whole thing I still want to lose 30 lbs., I still want to be healthier and make sure I have a good, strong, healthy heart. To do that I will continue exercising — I’ve had my workout intensity level ramped up a notch at Curves and I’m attempting to get there 4 times a week — I have managed to get out for a couple of nice long walks — that was a week ago when we had spring-like temps. Now that we’re in the deep freeze again. . .
My brief stint of not eating dessert (it was a month and a half) has taught me that I don’t really crave sweets as much as I had convinced myself I did. I am satisfying my sweet tooth with fresh fruit and a daily serving of yogurt and granola. It is certainly enough. I will still limit how much and how often I have dessert. I will replace cookies with my tea with a piece of fruit instead. I will continue to chew on raw vegetables when I get the munchies. (this is not my favorite thing to do — but it’s better for me, I know).
So, that’s my new approach. I don’t feel like too much of a quitter. I feel positive and energized. And hopeful.
So, I made it through my first month. I ate dessert only once — for my son, Landon’s 30th birthday. I made cheesecake with strawberries. Had a small piece. I remember it as being very good.
I have lost another 2 lbs. Yay! Finally. When I stepped on the scale on Friday morning it said 166. So, I felt good about that — a total loss of 4 lbs for the month. Yes, I was imagining double digits, but what the hey, I’ll take it.
Generally, I’m finding I’m doing okay with not wanting any dessert. There has been the occasional craving for something sweet like chocolate, or cookies, but I’ve managed to get over it by grabbing a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit. I find making myself a cup of green tea helps, too.
Speaking of tea. . .
I was at David’s Teas in West Edmonton Mall on Sunday and bought some amazing ginger tea. It’s called Organic Pu’erh Ginger and is purported to aid digestion, cleanse the blood, help with weight loss, counteract nausea, colds and sore throats. It has a hint of orange flavour and I can honestly say it is a wonderful tasting tea.
I am committed to getting to Curves 3 times a week — therefore, because I have such a busy week ahead of me I’ll be going for two workouts before work this week.
The walking in the evening did not pan out last week, I only managed to be home one evening out of five and when I was home I was so thrilled to be there and able to cook a meal I didn’t give going for a walk even a fleeting thought. I know it won’t happen again this week because I’m busy for the next three evenings and then I’m off to a conference for four days. Sigh. The only upside is that hopefully it will be much milder by the time I do find time to get a walk in.
Last week I got to Curves 3 times, this week I am aiming for the same. I realized I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough during my workouts and so I really stepped it up last week. I’m hoping that my increased efforts will produce some results.
I made a concerted effort to cut back on carbs and fats last week. Trying to increase the servings of fresh veggies and fruit I eat throughout the day this week. I do not snack in the evening other than a piece of fruit and a cup of tea, during the day I have yogurt in the morning with some trail mix or a piece of fruit, then during the rest of the day I may nibble on a granola bar or eat a handful of nuts. I’m just not getting why it’s so hard for me to lose weight.
I am getting a little discouraged, but I refuse to give up — yet!
My plan of getting up at 5:15 has not been working — I just can’t seem to drag my sorry behind out of bed at that time. So, I’m going to try really hard to get a walk in after supper at least twice this week. I realized that once upon a time I used to walk every day, no matter how cold it was, but for the last couple of years I’ve wimped out. Granted, I am much busier now in the evenings, but on those days when I can be at home I’m going to make a supreme effort to get my boots on and get some fresh air and exercise.
Okay, so I’m a little miffed. I haven’t lost a single pound since my last post!
But, I think I know what might be going on. . .
although I’m no longer eating desserts I believe I’m compensating by eating more ‘real’ food. and not ‘good’ stuff, either. I noticed this week that I’m eating a lot more bread than I usually do, and I’m, of course, putting butter on it. As I’ve been quite busy the last couple of weeks I’ve eaten a lot meals in restaurants and from take-out. Not great. I try to choose healthy meals, but I think I’ve been ‘rewarding’ myself a bit too much with things that contain creams, cheeses and the like.
So, I am my own worst enemy! Like I didn’t already know that.
With awareness, however, comes the power to change. I am going to carefully watch what I eat from this point on — there’s no point in going through the agony of denying myself dessert and goodies if, in the end, I replace them with other bad-for-me types of food.
On a positive note: having rid my diet of 90% of the sugar I was consuming I feel more energetic, less frenzied. I am not craving sugar, I’m finding other ways of getting sweet tastes — spices, fruit, dried fruit — all can help curb my desire for a piece of candy or chocolate. I won’t deny that there have been many evening when I wished to have a few cookies with my nightly cup of tea, but grabbing an apple or a handful of grapes has worked to satisfy my sweet tooth.
One thing I don’t want to do is replace the sugar in my diet with sugar substitutes. I’ve used them once or twice but find I don’t really care for the taste. Also, it’s not really teaching me change my food habits — I’m just replacing one ‘bad’ thing with another.
We have ‘muffin morning’ once a month where I work. It’s a chance to socialize and well, eat muffins. This month I wasn’t going to indulge, but someone had thoughtfully brought some really healthy, hearty type of muffin and so I did. Since then I’ve been wrestling with the idea of whether this was ‘cheating’. I think I’ve come to the realization that I’m going to have to incorporate things like muffins into my diet, or pretty soon there won’t be much for me to have in the way of snacks. And I’ve still got 11 and 1/2 months to go. The granola bars I’m eating aren’t a particularly good choice either — they have 10 grams of sugar each — I think I’m going to have to find a recipe to make my own.
It’s the snacking that’s hard — eating more fruit isn’t the answer as it’s too high in sugar — I limit myself to 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt/day. I’ve incorporated dried fruit and nuts into my diet, but that’s high fat, high sugar as well. So, I’m kind of getting concerned about what else I can eat.
I’ve explored different variations of rice cakes and although I like them they get pretty boring. So, if anyone out there has any suggestions for snack foods I would appreciate hearing about them.
Last Friday I had a terrible craving for chocolate while at work — I ate an orange instead. Then chewed gum. Then drank tea. Did not succumb, but it was hard.
Saturday, during our recovery from the snowstorm I went into cocoon mode and that generally means comfort food and to me comfort food means cookies, cake, candy, etc. I went and played Scrabble, drank sherry and ate mini-oranges instead. It worked. I made it through.
When I weighed myself yesterday I was down 4 lbs. Current weight: 168 lbs. Not kidding myself, that is most likely all water loss.
I have started back at Curves. Went twice last week, am aiming for 3 times this week. I am also trying to get in some yoga or the treadmill 3 times a week.
I’m trying the Curves weight loss program again in an effort to jump-start my metabolism. I am going the protein route rather than the carb route. Too many carbs generally make me feel bloated and lethargic. I may switch between them, but I’ll have to check out whether that is recommended or not.
I think I was expecting big, immediate results after 10 days of not eating any kind of sweet, but I have been disappointed. I do, however, think it has made a big impact on my sense of general well-being. I am not as tired as I was before starting this crazy thing, and I have not changed my sleeping habits or daily activities. So, getting rid of excess sugar and fat in the diet does have that positive immediate impact.
I got measured and weighed at Curves last week. In the interest of transparency and so I can keep a running comparison going I’m going to post those measurements:
Not a pretty picture, but not entirely bleak, either. I am determined to lose 35 lbs and get down to a size 10. I’m not sure I can accomplish that in one year, but I hope this gets me on the right track to achieving my goal.
I sometimes wonder why I bother, why I don’t just sit back and enjoy my life as it is and stop worrying about my weight, my health — I eat pretty good, I get moderate amounts of exercise — it all just takes so much effort. And then I bend over to tie my shoes and find myself gasping for breath. I hate that. The day I can bend over without feeling like my head’s going to explode will be a great day.
Yesterday was actually pretty easy. Took all the chocolate to work. Was not tempted to sneak one. Yay!
Totally ignored the pile of cookies and chocolates in the staff room. Got some strange looks when I explained why I wasn’t snarfing them down. Chewed on a handful of dry, honey roasted peanuts. Had a moment of feeling smug then realized break was over. The tough part about being back at work — regulated breaks. Huge sigh.
Am trying to decide what I’ll choose this month to spend my one goodie on — Pie Day this weekend with the girls, my son’s 30th birthday, or my granddaughter’s 6th birthday. So far, my son’s birthday is coming up the favorite. It’s next Wednesday. Pie Day is this Saturday. Hailey’s birthday is the end of the month. Landon’s birthday is the halfway mark, but more than that, it’s such a milestone I feel I should celebrate it with him. By eating cheesecake. That I’ll make. With strawberries.
When I woke yesterday I was full of optimism, eager to get back into the swing of things. I won’t lie, heading back to work did not make me jump for joy, why, oh why did I not win the $50 mil last Friday?, was my immediate thought. But, the beginning of the new year always gets me a little excited, so I was anxious to put a formal start to it.
Today. . .
. . . hmmm. Another story.
The alarm went off at 5:30, my new time for getting up so that I can have time to blog. I slid out of bed at ten to six. Tried not to berate myself too much. This is only Day 2 after all. Am frantically watching the time in the right bottom corner of the screen as I type because I have to be done by 6:30 so that I can go practice yoga for a half hour.
The yoga is a new addition to my new morning routine, as well. While in Winnipeg at my sister Lori’s, I went to her yoga practice and was lucky enough to experience the teachings of a true teacher. I came away inspired to keep practicing what I was taught.
Didn’t make it yesterday. Spent too much time blogging then had to make the dash to get ready for work.
Today, I am determined to keep to my schedule. It’s my old struggle with time. It just seems that there is so much I want to do, I make a schedule thinking I’ve got more than enough time to handle it all, but then, in the end, I’m left with a half-dozen things not crossed off my ‘to do’ list. Drives me nuts.
Hope your day goes smoothly — have a happy Tuesday.
At the beginning of every new year I sit down and write out some goals for myself — things I want to accomplish, things I think I need to do. Most of the time they get forgotten, but a couple of years ago I came up with this list of writing goals. I keep a copy of it taped to the wall beside my desk as a daily reminder of what I hope to accomplish as a writer.
Have I managed yet to double my income as a writer? No. In fact, I’ve made no income as a writer, but I don’t let it get me down. I have, however, stuck to my goal to write for at least one hour everyday (most days) and I have written quite a bit of work that if I would develop a back bone I could submit.
No matter how much I write, though, there’s still this nasty little voice inside me that says: they won’t like it, they won’t buy it, they won’t read it — why would anyone want to read THAT? I tell it to shut-up and leave me alone, but like all bullies, it’s pretty persistent.
Still, though, I keep trying. I’ve had successes in the past, and I’ll have successes again – it’s just about developing my confidence and refusing to give up.
More than anything I use this list of goals to remind myself that I have to keep trying in order to keep growing. It’s also helpful whenever I start listening to that little voice as though it’s telling the truth, to weigh what I have accomplished against what it’s telling me I haven’t. Pursuing goals is tough, hard work and it’s tempting sometimes to want to give in to that little voice that’s telling you you’re wasting time. Having a visual reminder of what’s important and why has been a huge help to me.
This little list could be adapted for any goal. Feel free to ‘borrow’ it and make it your own if it’s something you feel can help you achieve yours.
Wishing you much success in whatever you pursue.
Writing Goals for 2010
I am going to become a successful writer this year.
I am going to be making enough money writing that I will double my income.
I am going to do what I’ve always wanted to do, and what I was born to do – write.
My focus will be short stories and personal essays.
I will target magazines and on-line publications that publish these forms of writing.
I will publish my children’s book and write another one.
I will spend at least one hour every day writing, but more when I can manage it.
I will make whatever personal sacrifices I must to achieve the above goal.
I will make writing my main priority, second only to family, in my life. Work and school will become third and fourth.