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Ain't much a good night's sleep doesn't improve...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Life goes on. Self-nurture works. A good night's sleep. A nourishing breakfast (still experimenting with the grits about once a week... this morning it was with fresh strawberries and chocolate, cooked in skim milk... and it turned out pretty good). A little exercise. And my "one thing", which this morning included vacuuming the master bedroom and the upstairs hall.

Why "one thing"? Besides of course dealing with the sense of being overwhelmed? It had its roots in wanting to have more free time on weekends, and not feel overwhelmed by my endless to do list which was causing me to toss in the towel at the beginning of Saturday!

Problem solving: I pondered back over the years when my son was young. How *did* we do all that we had to do to support a growing child with sports and school and all that? Well, we *used* the work days. Before and after work, there were things that we did that constituted living. School projects, transport to games, all that goes with it. Cooking meals, bedtime rituals, conversations with the family over a TV show, dish washing (we did not have a machine)... it all somehow happened. Yes, clutter built up, it was not always smooth... but we were a family and we lived life. Every day, not just on weekends.

A lot of that changed over time, particularly since I became a true "empty nester". Since I had infinite time (so goes the thought)... things could be put off for later. Then the weekend would get here, and there would be this huge pile of uncompleted tasks that keep a house going... and just me. Why do them at all?

It dawned on me, post-weight loss, during maintenance, that I needed to start living *every day* again. Enter the "one thing" concept... something my stress-cleaning sister had dropping in a conversation some holiday or other. She had read about it somewhere, and she practices it. HER home is almost always at least close to ready for an impromptu gathering.

Never mind that she's an extrovert and I'm an introvert: she has choices! She can say yes or no, based on whether she wants company, not on whether her home is in order!

So... that's the story behind my motivation: I want to be able to have that choice... and when the weekend gets here, if my "one things" have the house pretty much there, guess what? I have time to play AND a clear conscience to go with it!

Life's good. Spark on! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KALIGIRL 8/18/2011 12:47PM

    emoticon you remember how quickly I ushered you in one door and out the other to meet the girls?

I like the idea though - having the choice and not letting things pile up to the point of inertia.

Here's to your one thing!

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BARBAELLEN 8/18/2011 12:34AM

    Barb, I could have written this blog. That is, everything except for the grits (yuk!) and the vacuuming.

Some day, I'd like to hear how your "one thing" works. I always do at least "one thing" that needs to be done, but I think I'm not getting it right. I'm keeping up with the daily essentials, but not seeing progress. Sounds like you've got a good thing going.

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MSLZZY 8/17/2011 11:36AM

    I will have the time for "one thing" activity when DS3 goes off to college.
I am living the life you did when your son was at home. I would expect I'll
have to adopt the "one thing" mentality then. Thanks for the seed of an
idea that can turn into a plan in the future. HUGS!

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SUNNY332 8/17/2011 9:59AM

    Thank you. I need to get busy and do just one thing a day. I am not one of those that is ready for an impromptu anything. I am a planner and also a procrastinator. Thanks for a great post. I needed it.


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LOVE_2_LAUGH 8/17/2011 9:30AM

    Amen! I agree with your blog 100%. Procrastination can be a killer, whether it be related to household chores, exercise or diet. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and inspiring us all!

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_LINDA 8/17/2011 8:59AM

    Awesome! A fantastic Spark concept. Do one thing, one step at a time until its set into a habit. So its not overwhelming. So its doable and doesn't take your whole life up.
I can't get past the good night's sleep. Its been impossible to me. I know a lot of things would improve if I could ever get this one thing solved.

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PATRISNA 8/17/2011 8:42AM

    Good for you! I have been trying to tame the clutter in my home. I kept our house we sold clean for months on end while trying to sell it. I asked myself why did I let the clutter take over this house?

There are two adult males also living here so I am not the only one guilty of scattering and stacking stuff. We are all guilty of not putting things away. Maybe I just need to do the "one thing." I also like your idea of living *everyday* not waiting for the weekend to catch up.

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SWELL10 8/17/2011 8:15AM

    great idea!

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ELRIDDICK 8/17/2011 8:05AM

  Thanks for sharing

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Things I cannot change... things I can...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

and wisdom to know the difference.

This is a boundaries thing, and a heartstrings thing. How many of us are carrying more than our physical size around? Burdens of wanting to run the rest of the human race, or more likely, a selected few of them? Preserve me from trying to run the lives of others!

I am bracing myself for the next year and a half or two years. Practicing my tongue-biting skills. I am taking deep breaths and planning how I have to not give up fitness and nutrition because I will need strength to get through this. Regaining and carrying extra pounds will NOT help it. Losing fitness will NOT help it. Making myself ill by neglecting myself will NOT help it.

Last night in an IM conversation my son broke news that I had been semi-anticipating. He had previously foreshadowed that this was a possibility. His next "business trip" is a go. He starts pre-trip training next February. He has time to get one more University semester in before he goes. Then he will be gone and I will have to support his mission by handling things on his behalf, and his wife and I will once again be asked to look after one another for a year of his absence.

These things add mega-stress... I lost most of my weight while he was gone. I have maintained for a year with him back. Maybe this time I'll be able to lose the clutter from the house? My older sister is a stress cleaner. I was a stress eater, but some levels of stress are beyond what food will help. And I chose exercise and self-nurture as my stress management system.

Breathe deep: living in and of itself is a good thing! Taking care of oneself, physically, mentally, and emotionally is essential. I'm counting this as a new emoticon... of I don't know how many, but each of them counts!

Keep praying, and Spark on! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KATIE33MAHALA 8/17/2011 6:10PM

    Being tough doesn't mean that every day isn't hard, or a constant struggle. It also does not mean that we never fall, or fail. Thats what makes us tough, and the proof is how we rebound and get back up and into the fight. We do this, with a mix of emotions, because tough or not, we are human! Prayers to you Barb, for extra strength and a very fast yr for you.

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MNTWINSGAL 8/16/2011 8:26PM

    Barb, even if you sort of knew this was going to be, it's a shock anyway. Hang in there, and know we'll be with you praying for him during this mission. I feel selfish for moping because Jeff left to go back to Hawaii today. I realize it could be so much more scary than that!

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MOBYCARP 8/16/2011 7:30PM

    emoticon emoticon
You've done this before. You can do it again. This time, you're going into it in great physical shape, at an appropriate weight, and with the knowledge of what worked well and what was a mistake last time.

You can do this. You won't be perfect at it, but perfection is not required.

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BARBAELLEN 8/16/2011 6:25PM

    Wish I could say something helpful, but I can only imagine the stress of this. Those words reflected in your title say it all.

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You can do it!

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MSLZZY 8/16/2011 12:52PM

    So soon already but he was expecting this current turn of events. My SIL has
the same shadow hanging over his head but since he just became a captain, there is hope that he will not have to make another "trip". Stay strong and
focus on what you can do. You bear an awesome burden as a mother but your
strength lies within and you have proven that you can do it. HUGS!

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_LINDA 8/16/2011 11:04AM

    You have done really well with your program. Simply can't imagine the stress of having a loved one in danger :(({ To lose weight while he was away is phenomenal. It shows you have the wherewithal to beat the stress monster of bingeing.
I am with your sister on the cleaning, as that is what I did when I was upset, but now I perfer exercise as it includes feel good endorphins. Staying the course with your goals, adding or changing them will give you something to focus on. Dive into your life and live it to the fullest! You will get through this as you have before. Keep your loved ones close, know that everyone sends thoughts and prayers for his safety.
emoticon emoticon

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 8/16/2011 9:42AM

    Prayers are sent for you, your son and DIL. I cannot imagine the stress that having a loved one "over there" causes. But, you have lost a lot of weight and have managed to maintain it for a year now. Way to go! And, you've pretty much made it a lifestyle. Not that that makes it any easier, but you have the mental "wiring" for it now, which should help you make good decisions. I'm quite confident you'll remain active and living the healthy lifestyle while your son is overseas. And you will find a way to manage the stress. Just take it one day at a time.

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KALIGIRL 8/16/2011 8:27AM

    Mega Prayers Barb, Mega Prayers.
emoticon emoticon emoticon
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BUSYGRANNY5 8/16/2011 7:47AM

    Greetings, I enjoyed reading your positive blog! It sounds like you know what you need to do to not only maintain the path you are on, but to thrive along the way! I wish you continued success on your journey and positive thoughts and prayers for your entire family during your son's deployment!

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BUGGYS 8/16/2011 7:38AM

    Staying connected to yourself and your goals will help the stress you are about to have come so far, Barb and your son and his family will need your strenghth! I continue to pray for all our servicemen who sacrifice so much!

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DEBRITA01 8/16/2011 7:28AM

    Praying for you and your son as he prepares to return to active duty... emoticon

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Work before play

Monday, August 15, 2011

I've written about this before, but it's worth resurrecting from time to time:

One of the great strengths of becoming fit is that more active things start being "fun". And many of us were raised with the "work first, play later" mind set. This can get in the way of being active for the purpose of health maintenance, if your "work" is not active!

I found this to be the case yesterday as part of my "one thing" was more active (closet cleaning), but the evening part was stitching up some pockets in an overcoat... very sedentary activity, but still counts towards my "one thing" goal. If I get too many of those sedentary tasks on my to do list and I get to procrastinating on them, I am subject to the temptation NOT to "play", i.e. exercise!

Well! Back to basics when that happens. As much fun as being active is, it is also ESSENTIAL to good health. And those sedentary tasks aren't getting done while you're procrastinating on them anyway! So, yes, if the body needs to move... move it, already! emoticon

And what are we back to, friends and Sparklers? (Do I hear a "balance" out there?)

Life's good... Spark on! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BARBAELLEN 8/15/2011 10:35PM

    Oh, boy! After reading this, I'm reminded that I'm really in need of balance. Unfortunately, the things I don't want to do but need to be done are more than I care to think about. Another thing to work on. Sigh!

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KALIGIRL 8/15/2011 12:38PM

    Here's to balanced movement! (and getting those one things done)

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MSLZZY 8/15/2011 11:26AM

    Balance is key to a long and happy life. Thanks for reminding me that the
more active I am, the better. But some of those sedentary activites creep in
on occasion and still need to be done. HUGS!

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_LINDA 8/15/2011 10:39AM

    I far and away prefer performing physical chores then sedentary ones. I feel more like I have accomplished something. But my main motivating factor is I feel a lot better moving then sitting. These hours and hours of sitting I have been doing waiting for my foot to heal have not only given me a sore butt, its driving me batty not to be doing something physical. At least Mom is starting to allow me to do dishes again. I love cleaning up the kitchen, scrubbing counters, cleaning the microwave, etc. Just love being a gal in motion. Couch potato just isn't appealing to me :( But I have always loved exercising, my problem was I liked eating too much too :)

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BESTSUSIEYET 8/15/2011 10:09AM

    Balance! I'm with you, Barb!

Must admit my mind started to go a different direction as I read this ... I was thinking how "work before play" could be a picture of our fitness journey. In the beginning, fitness minutes felt like work, not they feel like play. So for those starting out, it could be an encouragement ... Keep at it, and be surprised one day when you find you look forward to it!

Have a super day with all kinds of work and play!

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 8/15/2011 9:43AM

    Good blog. And oh, so true, too! Yesterday I did not get up in time to take my walk and I found that I actually missed going. How strange is that? LOL!

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Closet cleaning

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I had finished my latest "reading for fun" book and haven't yet gone to the library to get another. In the meantime, I picked up my current self-help read: Getting Organized, by Stephanie Winston. I have owned this book for probably ten or twelve years. Every time I pick it up, I get discouraged... it doesn't seem to apply... my life is just "too".

"Too what?" you may well ask. "What makes YOU so special, Barb? Everybody's life has its points of pain/disorder/need for improvement."

"But," I argue back, "it's EVERYTHING!" That is the point of "one thing" initiative: to by doing identify a reasonable set of values and goals related to order.

And as with weight and fitness, this area of life needs a custom solution, one that fits *me*. In fact, every area of each of our lives needs that kind of custom solution. In order to live fully, aware, awake, and appreciative of the gift that LIFE is, we need to find the way to who we are and why we are here... and it's not *just* to be healthy and fit. It's to *do something* with that health and fitness.

Having order and harmony in my home is similar... it is not just for the sake of order and harmony. It is not something rigid or perfectionist... it is to enable me to live fully and to fulfill that purpose, that reason I'm here.

This led me to start trying to apply the first step the book suggests: to write down at most six elements in my life that need to be put in order. I had trouble doing this. This is where I always get stuck. Because for the most part, my life sort of works. And yet, I am not satisfied... so... that sort of implies I'm in some level of denial about life working. "Where is the pain?" I ask myself.

After some dithering about and writing down preliminaries, I called it "good for now", closed my notebook, and moved on with my day.

In the evening, the kids came over and were playing with the kittens when the doorbell rang... and there at my door were Becky and "the girls"... her two absolutely gorgeous German Shorthaired Pointers that bring back the soul of my Diamond. Becky got to meet my son as we both came out to pet the dogs and make a fuss over them.

We didn't invite them in, as the dogs would probably have freaked out the kitties. My daughter in law stayed in with the kitties. Although, I have to say, The Prisoner was right there at the door wanting to come out and investigate those dogs!

In the course of those two events: the kids being over, and Becky dropping over, my organizing principle became clear to me, and I discovered that I have two:

1. My home is to be a place of refuge for ME, that serves me, instead of me serving it.

2. My home is to be a place of harmony and love that expresses welcome to those I choose to invite into it.

My goal is to have my home in good enough order that I feel comfortable, not embarrassed, to invite someone in who just happens to be in the neighborhood. I recognize that part of this is work on ME, psychologically... and part of it is the legwork of finding systems I can live with to keep the place in order. That means losing some clutter, for sure.

This initiative is not that different from the Sparks that lead to weight loss and maintenance... small changes, adding up, over time... preparing ahead, appreciating and giving myself credit for progress, not demanding perfection.

This morning, my hall closet, the one at the front door called to me. What better place to start: if there is no room in the closet to hang a guest's coat, what message does THAT send?

Coat, gloves, jacket... in the laundry. Pockets being stitched up. I will not be caught at the first frost THIS year. The closet floor has been swept. Several things moved to a proper place in the house... the garage, a different closet. I am ready to take some old stuff to the donation bin. I haven't done the shelves above yet... but I've certainly done my "one thing" for this morning.

And for a treat/reward, I will go to the library and get the next book on my list of "to read for fun"!

Life's good... Spark on! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 8/14/2011 8:21PM

    Arrrghh, this gets me right where I live, literally . . . at home. I am no domestic diva. Need to pick up my game in the decluttering area in particular!!

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MSLZZY 8/14/2011 6:47PM

    Work first, play later.There is always some corner that needs attention.
Hope your Sunday was grand.

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MNTWINSGAL 8/14/2011 3:14PM

    Ah yes...the hall closet. One of my big embarassments too. Who owns all those jackets? Where did all these shoes come from? And why does it smell like a locker room? Soon my kids will both be settled and I plan to tackle these projects too. But until they take their "stuff" I guess I'll just have to keep the door shut!

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BARBAELLEN 8/14/2011 2:55PM

    Take it from one who has joined the "Getting Organized" team on SP. One of the challenges is to declutter or clean 15 minutes a day. Another is to handle 25 objects a day and make a decision. I'm doing these things, but it would take many lifetimes for me to declutter at that rate.

I was in the antiques business, and am no more. Furniture was easy enough to get rid of, but the rest doesn't move as quickly. I have two rooms and an attic full of neatly packed things from my store! Thank god I stumbled across some TV show about hoarding, because at least I have my living and kitchen areas decluttered and clean. (Whew! Those hoarding people are sad!) So, getting rid of stuff is always on my list. If you noticed my Spark wallpaper, that old kitchen stuff was mine. I let some guys assemble it for a webpage photo on the condition that they keep it. (They are a couple who collect teapots and vintage kitchen items!) Win, win!

Believe me, every time something goes, the air seems to get thinner. If SP would put a freecycle "want" list up, I would be delighted to make alot of Sparkers very happy. Congrats on your hall closet. BTW, if there's anything you collect, let me know. I probably have it. FREE!

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MOBYCARP 8/14/2011 1:40PM

    I think I already told you this, but I looked at Organizing from the Inside Out. Specific suggestions were mostly worthless, but the concepts were vital. Some of the exercises were helpful. Some chapters were obvious non-reads. Probably the most valuable question was, "What is working right now?" That kept me from spending a ton of time reorganizing the kitchen, which looks clumsy but has no process issues.

The actual *doing* of de-cluttering is no big deal. The thought-work of deciding what has to go, what should be stored inconveniently, and how to conveniently store what is actively used is the hard part. I have to do that in smaller chunks interspersed with implementing the intermediate conclusions, and I imagine you will too.

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DEBRITA01 8/14/2011 12:42PM

    I started simplifying and decluttering after I read the book *Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?* Somehow, I got sidetracked with the nicer weather and summer activities, but I was just thinking this morning that I need to continue the project. Thanks for the timely post!

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SUNNY332 8/14/2011 10:54AM

    I agree that being organized and cutting back on the "stuff" makes for a more pleasant existence and this is what I desire to have at home too.

What fun book did you read? I am currently reading 90 Minutes in Heaven but finished reading a really great book - The Hidden Garden by Kate Morton. I also read The Help. Both were excellent and I highly recommend them.

Now - back to the organization. I am on board with you on this. Wonder if we should make it a team challenge?

Day 1. - Pick a room and start with the drawers? What do you think??

Let me know. It would be fun and just think of the treasured finds we can share about.


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_LINDA 8/14/2011 10:49AM

    Sounds like a great plan to me! Spark's principles really do apply to every facet of your life. To tackle odious chores and tasks, one step at a time until they are finally all done. My hallway 'closet' is just an open space and the one I found necessary to park my scooter in (because of lack of space to put it anywhere else), so obviously, I could not cram it up wall to wall with coats, clothes, etc. Makes you sure take a good look at what you really need. I have one light weight jack, one medium and a heavy one I borrow from Mom for our cold winters. I actually like having as uncluttered a place as possible. It really is peaceful, knowing instantly where to find something. Only one place left to unclutter and that is my office and bridge club things. I really need to get all those ducks in a row so I can constantly keep track of the things I need to instead of trying to round it all up at the very last minute (the way I used to do everything). I am a great last minute worker and will work around the clock to get a project finished, but that is a stressful way to live.
There is always something one has to look at to improve one's life and mental well being.
Enjoy your Sunday!!

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Growing like weeds and other miscellaneous

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Who would have thought that in two weeks they have lived at my house they would spurt like this? And of course they are expanding the territory they "claim" within the house, day by day.

Yesterday my Spark calendar told me to take a nap. Since I had the day off, I took its advice. But before I did that I got my hair done... I'd been "too busy" to get a haircut and my bangs had been straggling down to mid-glasses... not cool. I feel much less ragged now.

I got a full night's sleep last night, too. In fact, after taking my thyroid meds this morning I turned off the alarm and went back to sleep, barely getting up in time to go biking with Becky's bike group. I dashed through breakfast, dressing, etc. in 20 minutes to make it all happen. But it was a great day for a bike ride! emoticon

When I got home, I bundled those kittens into their box for a trip to the vet to have microchips inserted. They are now safely registered and if they ever escape and get lost, they will be easy to identify and return to their hu-mom.

I will end today with a birthday dinner for my daughter in law out at the place of her choice. Which she tells me will be Red Lobster. I've had the counts out there for their menu for a while, so it should be a breeze to track.

In short... life goes on, and it is good. Spark on! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DEBRA0818 8/15/2011 8:26AM

    Love the picture of domestic tranquility that two cats sleeping together present -- they are adorable! Animals evoke a sense of innocent being within me and remind me that vulnerability is a natural thing. Thanks for posting!


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SUNNY332 8/14/2011 11:20AM

    Those babies are growing like weeds. They are so cute and I bet they are good company.

You don't have to tell your cat you love it - it knows you do.

Hugs, Sunny

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_LINDA 8/14/2011 9:35AM

    Wonderful day!! Lucky you getting some sleep! Second day in a row with only two hours broken sleep here. Might have to take a nap by default today lol.
Much as I don't like cats, those sure are sweet looking!!
That is cute hu-mom :)
Enjoy your Sunday!!

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CONCHA77 8/14/2011 9:20AM

    Your fur babies are too cute! Glad life is going so well for you! emoticon

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 8/14/2011 9:03AM

    You're having a great weekend! And those little kitties are just the cutest things. Not having had my laptop for nearly two weeks, I was not aware you had adopted them. So precious. I'm a cat lover -- can you tell? LOL! Hope you enjoyed Red Lobster.

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KASEYCOFF 8/14/2011 6:33AM

    Sounds like another good day - love the security for the kitties!

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FITFABJENN 8/13/2011 8:45PM

    Cute kitties...

Enjoy dinner with the family. emoticon

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MOBYCARP 8/13/2011 6:35PM

    Do I detect a family resemblance to your older sister's cats in this picture?

Oh, the cats on the table and the silver spoon, emoticon
Little Boy Blue and the Man in the Moon,
When you comin' home, Mom? I don't know when . . .

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WATERMELLEN 8/13/2011 5:41PM

    Hu-mom: love that!! (Although here in Canada would likely be hu-mum!!)

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