Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dear Mom,
If you are looking for something encouraging, inspiring and validating (who isn't?) to start the New Year, I highly recommend Austin Kleon's Steal Like An Artist. This is one of those books I think everyone  should read and I am trying to figure out how I can make my kids  'young adults' want to read it. It is a quick read- I zipped through this in about an hour. I will re-read it once I finish reading his follow up book, Share Your Work, which is as full of good advice as the first book.

Wishing you a year filled with Good Books, Good Health, and Creative Pursuits that fill your Soul,
with Love,

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Binder

Dear Mom,

The Binder of Organization is the result of another snippet of conversation with the same friend who sparked my exercise bonfire. This time she was telling me about the little book she has in which she writes down gifts and checks off when she has written her Thank You notes, and another that she notes different housekeeping tasks. I thought these excellent ideas, but I would need all my thoughts and notes in one place or I'd skip using it rather than hunt down the right book. Hence, The Binder.

I cobbled together unused school supplies (loose leaf paper, leftover divider tabs), printed off blank calendar pages, and grabbed a binder I was not using and went to work.

This would be the place where I Keep Track of Things. Sometimes my head feels way too full of extraneous details and I hate forgetting things I think I will always remember. Some of the stuff that goes in The Binder really means nothing, but I like having those nothings where I can look at them and feel some sort of satisfaction.

I am Not the Bill Payer in this house, so I am not responsible for the Paperwork. The Binder idea may or may not work to eliminate piles of papers. I only share what is working for me should this little nugget serve to help or inspire. Obviously, The Binder is to each person what he or she wants and needs it to be.

The first section in my binder is just loose leaf paper. This is where I keep a running To Do list. It also  is a place I can quickly jot down items we need to get on our next grocery/hardware/Target runs.

I have section with notes for a future trip, an Exercise section of blank calendar pages where I can make note of that days workout and look back over the month/weeks and feel a sense of accomplishment. I also note my Target Heart Rate at the top of each page so I won't forget.
I have sections for Housekeeping, Menus, Reading Lists and Book Queues, Knitting/Spinning/Weaving projects (with start and finish dates) and a knitting project queue. I have a section with Garden notes, too. The section that has been most used and extremely helpful through the holidays is my Gift section. I've listed all the recipients and the gifts I've given them so I can remember the idea of the gift, check off when I get it and gift it, and I'll keep the list so that in 2016I can remember what I did in 2015. I've been able to keep track of what my kids are getting and I checked things off as I wrapped them so I wouldn't forget (or worry that I forgot) something. I've also a page of gifts received and note when I write the Thank You notes. No more panicking that I've forgotten to write an Thank You note! Another page in this section has Birthday gifts, and another with ideas for future gifts. For me, THINKING of the gift is the hardest part. Now when I think of something I can write it down and not worry that I am going to forget that good idea. My hope is this will also help me to stay ahead of the gift giving game. By writing it down I may be more likely to get/make the gift rather than have it swimming around in the "I'll do that someday" part of my brain. "Someday" usually ends up coming under pressure.

The Binder isn't solving any of the World's Problems, but it has helped to de-clutter my brain and give me the illusion of control and most importantly, a sense of Calm.

Monday, December 21, 2015

When Attitude is Everything

Dear Mom,

I don't know whether it was delusions of grandeur (I am the exception to the rule) or the two year old inside me (nobody is the boss of me!), but until quite recently Exercise and I have not had a good working relationship.

I had a little epiphany following a conversation with a dear friend. She said the simplest of phrases- "If I don't exercise by a certain time of day, it is not happening" - which sparked a bonfire of insight in my clogged brain. Isn't it interesting how little nuggets of conversations, a word or a phrase, can do so much to either inspire or condemn? I hope in my lifetime I've done more to inspire, but I fear, through thoughtlessness, that I have not.
Anyway.....that little phrase made me realize that one of the things stopping me from exercising is getting dressed to do it, and another is that I don't want to shower more than once a day if I can help it. 

Let me digress here to say that a few years ago we decided it was smarter to use the money we were paying for a gym membership to buy an elliptical machine. We admitted that we were not using the gym like we should because
1. we (I) did not like bundling up to go out in the cold, sweat in the gym and bundle up again to go out in the cold.
2. the drive to and from the gym added to our total workout time, and time is precious.
3. the last thing My Hero wanted to do after getting home from work was leaving again to go to the gym.
We bought the elliptical machine. 
At first, as these things do, we used it faithfully. 
Then we began using it sporadically. 
Then I pretty much stopped using it.

Until the bonfire. Once I started thinking about what was stopping me from spending time with the elliptical machine there was an avalanche of thoughts of what I can do so that I WILL spend time with the machine. The machine is in my home. In our bedroom. I can exercise in my pajamas, before my morning shower. No changing into an "outfit" to exercise. One efficient and thorough hot shower. 
Two Obstacles overcome!

My next hurdle was of attitude, mostly. Until this epiphany, I spent my time elliptical-ing trying all sorts of things to distract myself from the fact that I was exercising. I tried audio books, music, The Andy Griffith Show and Headline news. Distraction did not work. If anything it made me more focused on the clock. Here is where the attitude shift came in. I spend 30 minutes on the thing. THIRTY. I can waste thirty minutes on the internet in a hurry, so surely I can spend thirty minutes exercising. Once I decided that 30 minutes was really a little bit of time I decided that I would NOT distract myself. I would let myself be bored and daydream. Daydreaming, in fact, is healthy for the brain. A creative, subconscious reboot. Now those 30 minutes are good for me mentally and physically. Now those 30 minutes fly by. I almost (not quite, but almost) look forward to exercising.
Those 30 minutes are like my Artist's Way  morning pages. I've decided to think that my beat red face  is evidence of all that freshly circulating blood pumping creative ideas into my brain. My body is getting rid of toxins as I perspire. My joints are getting freshly lubricated. My inner 2 year old admits, reluctantly, that I feel better.

MOVE it or LOSE it.


Okay. So this has not happened. Frankly, I don't think I could handle it if it did.
 In fact the bathroom scale says that NOTHING is happening.
My Hero says he thinks I have lost inches. (This is why he is my Hero.) But I can't say that my clothes are fitting any differently. 
What I do know is that it takes a little more effort to get my heart rate into the target zone, and the cool down recovery is quicker. Evidence of improved cardiovascular health. 

I've managed this new regime since November 1st. I've exercised more days than I have not- most weeks I manage 5 of 7 days. Never less than 4 days and never more than 6. I log my workouts in my Binder of Organization- (stay tuned)- so I can look back and give myself a pat on the back for sticking with it. 

Now someone needs to say something, in a conversation, that will change my relationship with sugar.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Good Busy

Dear Mom,
Lest anyone think I never came back from that getaway in October, when Last I Posted, I think I'd better get an update here on the blog as proof of life.
The October trip was perfection. For the first time in EVER that I was reluctant to come home. For a total homebody to say such a thing is Something. Our cabin was charming, with a big fireplace and lace trim on the cabinet shelves. We dressed for comfort, took turns cooking meals, took long walks.

Since then my time has been filled with family visits, picking apples and freezing them in pie filling; I've been knitting (and un-knitting) and weaving and painting a little, too.  Sewing and littering the house with threads and fabric scraps. (Why is it that I can conceive of and knit an entire sweater out of 2 sticks and a string, but I am unable to figure out how to sew bias tape in a straight line with angled seams? I gave up and sewed the strips together with the ends smack into each other at 90 degrees.) Baking for neighbor gifts and really appreciating Amazon! Reading  Career of Evil, Fairy Tale Girl, and Banquet of Consequences and binge watching The Tudors, Land Girls, Wives and Daughters. (Wives and Daughters is very good. A+! ) Making friends with the elliptical machine (attitude is everything) and creating The Binder of Organization. More on those last 2 in another post.....