Tuesday, December 13, 2011

GrowingUp: Last Christmas I Gave You My Rant...

Ok, so as last Christmas approached I was a little bit on the crazy reflective side. I knew it would be the last Christmas that our oldest daughter was still living at home and apparently I was a little nervous about the prospects of her leaving. Here is a glimpse...
 "This Holiday season has contradictorily been the same as most years and entirely different. In actuality, nothing has changed. We have baked gingerbread, attended the Nutcracker, decorated the tree, made new ornaments, wrapped gifts, sang carols and enjoyed the lights and the general festiveness of the pre-holiday season. The difference is that in the back of my mind I know it will never be like this again. You see, this is the last year that our oldest will be living at home full time. Don't get me wrong. I look forward to this time of her exploration and finding her grown-up self. Going off to college, meeting new people, seeing new things. Independence. But as the mom? Nope. Not so much. As the mom I think maybe she should just stay home forever; singing to me and writing songs and stories in front of the fire until we both grow old. Sound good? Yeah, I know. I just thought I would have more time.

When she was born, 18 years seemed like such a long time. It was quite a long time before she learned to crawl and then walk and then talk. Potty training? Forget it! That took an eternity. The first day of kindergarten seemed as if it would never come. But it came. And went. In the blink of an eye. Then weeks started flying by. And then months and years and now here we are. I hope she is ready. That is really my job as a mother. To prepare each of them them to leave. What a sucky job! Feeding and clothing and guiding and nurturing. Pouring your whole heart and soul into this little person; acting excited on the first day of school when all you want to do is wrap them in a blanket and rock them in a chair. Resisting the urge to run away from home the first time they tell you they hate you. Smiling and taking pictures the first time they drive away in the car without you, even though you would rather take out your own appendix with a butter knife because it seems less risky. All that just to have them pack their bags and leave? What the heck!? I change my mind. No kids for me. Yeah, I know... That shipped has long sailed. I just know that those days and weeks and years that are flying by will soon turn into decades.

I truly do look forward to seeing what each of my children becomes. The photographer/musician, the astronaut, the architect and the ballerina/baker. They are amazing little people. I can only imagine that they will be even more amazing big people. Who will hopefully bring some new big people into our lives and then make some new little people. (Oh c'mon...all moms hope that is what will happen!) But the selfish part of me just wants to freeze time. To scream, "Wait, I am not ready!"

When our oldest was around 5 or 6, we visited a small amusement park. She reluctantly decided to ride The Dragon, a kiddy roller coaster. Wide-eyed and pale she made the first circle clearly holding back the urge to let out a terrified scream. Her horror was obvious even to the teenage ride operator who stopped the coaster to let her off. When she got off she told us that it was both the most horrendous and most thrilling thing that she had ever experienced. That is me. Right now. Holding back the scream and yet somehow thrilling at the ride. I am not one for roller coasters ya know and I am not sure how I was even talked into getting on. But I can say for sure...What a ride!" (December 2010 K is for Kids)
Well, a year has passed since that post, and Number One Daughter has been off to college for  a few months now. We do miss her, and we are looking forward to having her home this next few weeks, but all in all, it has been a joy to witness her adventures. Yes, it is quiet as she is the only one of my children who ever really makes noise. We miss her noise. Her pounding of the piano and guitar. Her lovely voice belting out Bob Dylan. The way she can talk for 10 minutes without a breath. But this is her time to make her way in the world, and her absence really does make her return sweeter.

Quote of the Day: "It would seem that something which means poverty, disorder and violence every single day should be avoided entirely, but the desire to beget children is a natural urge." ~Phyllis Diller

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

FessUp: Hey! What's the Solution?

If you have not been reading the saga of posts prior to this one, no biggy. The gist of it is that I successfully broke myself of a sugar addiction and stayed clean for over a year. I guess I then decided that I missed the extra weight, the foggy brain, the bloating, irregularity and mood swings that accompany insulin resistance, because I went back to eating carbs.

Now, just to be clear. I do not advocate low carb or no carb diets. I think that carbohydrates are an important part of our diet. The problem (for me at least) is the amount of carbs that I have at any one time. Blah blah blah spike in blood sugar, blah blah blah crash an hour later. If you want details about how insulin resistance or hypoglycemia work, it is easy info to find on the internet.

But let's talk about real solutions. It really is easy. The solution is food. And like I said in a previous post, frequent small meals that include protein, fat and a small amount of carbs. Both protein and fat help slow the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream, keeping our insulin levels steady, and helping us to feel and stay satisfied until our next meal. But to immediately address those 5 things that we talked about last time, I have some helpful hints. Obviously each of us need to identify our own 5 triggers and address those. These are mine...

  • {Sweet Cravings} When I get too hungry or my blood sugar drops too low, I tend to binge on whatever I can get my hands on. Because of the low blood sugar the craving will be for carbs which are a quick pick me up. This becomes a vicious roller coaster of highs and lows. When I eat right I do not crave sweets or empty carbs. This means I have to make sure that I always have a healthy snack with me. Usually nuts. I love several brands of cocoa covered almonds for an extra special snack!

  • {Snacking between scheduled meals and snacks} With 5-6 doctor ordered meals, you think I could refrain from extra snacking, but sometimes emotional triggers kick in. My solution has been to find drinks that I love that can be sipped slowly but do not undo my good eating. For me this is club soda with sliced lime (my favorite drink in the world). Super yummy and keeps my mouth busy without any calories or carbs. When it is cold I go for a warm cup of Pero instead. This is a hot barley drink with almost no carbs and very low calories. 

  • {Weekends} Going of my eating schedule on the weekends is a killer. It can undo a whole week in one day! The key to this is really just being mindful of sticking to a schedule even when the weekend schedule is a little more "relaxed" and "varied". 

  • {Sunday treats} I am trying to be more diligent about making this evening treat something a little more healthy. The kids ask for cookies or brownies, but I am trying to steer that in another direction. We love homemade popcorn or whole wheat muffins with blueberries or bananas. We also love protein smoothies or cut apples with peanut butter. We need an evening tummy filler because of our Sunday schedule, but it can be a quick healthy snack.

  • {Family Night Treats} This is simple. If I am doing the right things all the rest of the week I can totally have any kind of junkie, sugary indulgent treat I want one night a week and not suffer any real side affects. I can try to keep the portion under control, but honestly, I don't want to. I just eat it and enjoy it and then go back on schedule the next morning.
There you have it. These are the things that I have found work for me. How about you guys? Any specific issues that you have found specific solutions for? So, as of yesterday I am back on schedule. I am going to blog about it a bit over the next two weeks, probably until everyone is sick of it, but accountability is a big part of it, so help keep me on track if you wouldn't mind...

Quote of the Day: "I generally avoid temptation, unless I can't resist it." --Mae West

Friday, December 2, 2011

UpDate: Hey! What's The Problem?

So, now that I have spilled my guts about the struggle. I am here to offer and ask for some solutions. I know what makes me feel healthy, but I am not always good at following through with it on a daily...no hourly, basis. I had my check up with Dr. V this summer and told him that I was struggling again. He asked me to write down 5 things that challenge me when it comes to eating and then come up with 5 solutions to those challenges. Here is what I noticed that I struggle with.

  • I love sweets. I do not seem to be able or willing to give up sweets when I am really craving them. Period. I deserve it. The problem is I feel like poop after I eat them, especially if I am indulging on a regular basis.
  • I know that I need to eat a regular intervals, about every 2-3 hours. This keeps my blood sugar level and ensures that I do not get too hungry which leads to some serious binging on anything and everything I can get my hands on...usually empty calories. But let's face it, snacking in between my SIX scheduled meals is probably not necessary!
  • Monday is our Family Home Evening night. This is a night for a gospel lesson, scripture reading, fun and games, and of course TREATS! I never pass up the Monday treat...duh.
  • Sunday we are in church from 11-2 which means that we eat dinner around 3pm. This means that by 7 o'clock everyone is in want of a little treaty treat which would not be such a problem if we did not follow the Sunday treat with the Monday treat.
  • The fifth problem is the weekends in general. Even after a week of mindful eating (more about this later) I sometimes am prone to a bit of mindless "grabbing and going" on the weekends. Dr. V kindly informed me that one day of poor eating takes two weeks to recover from. Ugh!
So, there you have it. My problem areas. Anyone else share these or have others they would like to share with us? Next step is the solutions. I have come up with my own, but I would like us to exchange ideas. If you are willing to do some posts on this subject as well, that would be great. Leave a comment with the link. If I can figure out how to do a link up maybe we will head there at some point. I have some more ideas and some hopeful things up my sleeve too. Stay tuned!

Quote of the Day: "Eating rice cakes is like chewing on a foam coffee cup, only less filling."--
--Dave Barry super funny guy

Thursday, December 1, 2011

UpDate: The Rest Of The Story...

Weighty Matters Part I and II precede this post and tell the delightful story of a somewhat cranky broad and her search for answers in a seemingly uncaring and uninformed medical community...

Dr. V was amazing. He explained all of the issues that I was having and that I had likely been suffering from Insulin Resistance from before that first IR test, but that smaller framed people who are only slightly overweight usually test within the normal range, even when they are not. Five years! I could have had this diagnosis 5 years ago if I had known to ask the right questions or if the testers had known the right answers! I was a bit peeved. But whatever, let's just figure this out. Why would someone who eats a fairly heathy diet and exercises regularly deal with this issue? I mean, isn't this an obese issue? A sedentary issue? Turns out, not necessarily. According to Dr. V my active, healthier lifestyle had been both a blessing and a curse. If I hadn't been doing those things, I would have likely been 75-100 pounds overweight. But if I had been that heavy, I would have been diagnosed years ago. Again...What the crap!?

Over the next 6 weeks I had to watch everything that went into my mouth. I had to keep a journal of all of it. The goal here was to keep my insulin levels even through out the day, instead of this constant up and down that was killing me. Quite literally. He asked me to eat at least 5 times a day at two to three hour intervals. Three meals and 2-3 snacks. I could eat anything I wanted as long as I ate only 30 grams of carbs at each meal and no more than 15g for each snack. My initial appointment with Dr. V was the week before Christmas 2009.  I did not eat any of the Christmas goodies that came to the door. Or that were baked in my kitchen. That I freaking LOVE. I was determined.

The first two weeks were H--E-- double hockey sticks. Detox is no picnic my friends. I used Dr. V's name as a swear word on multiple occasions. But after two weeks I found I did not even crave sweets or breads anymore. I found that I was actually eating MORE food than before, just different food. Mind you I had always been trying to eat healthy carbs. Whole wheat everything, not a ton of sugar. But this was different. If I ate empty calories, I knew I would be hungry and therefore sorry after just a short while. I would be miserable for the next 2 1/2 hours until I could eat again. So I learned to eat good fat and protein with each and every bite, so I would stay full and satisfied until the next meal. IR is a tricky game and balance takes diligence. I found balance though. I did not change my exercise habits one bit, but I lost 15 pounds in 6 weeks. I went from 147 at my first appointment to about 132 at the 6 week check up. I was a different person when I stepped back into that office. I lost another 5 after that for about a total of 20 pounds (down about 30 from my absolute highest). I am sure my body fat percentage went down too, but I did not even bother to have it checked. I felt good, I looked good and I bought myself some size 6 jeans for my 40th birthday a couple of weeks later. That summer I rode my first century bike ride. I really felt like a normal human and I was seriously back in the game of life! Don't read this wrong, because it was not all about the weight. Yes, it was nice to feel fit and trim again, but really the other symptoms of IR are far worse than a little extra weight. I found I could stay awake all day and feel good. I did not need naps. I could read a book and understand what I was reading. I could even have a conversation with a people and not feel confused about what was going on or like I was blacking out. Yes, my symptoms had been that bad.

I wish that I could say that the story ended there, but it doesn't. I know now that this story will not ever really end. This is something that I will deal with for the rest of my life. At my 6 month check up in the fall of 2010 I had successfully maintained a healthy weight for all that time and I was feeling good. Then came the holidays again. I indulged. Like nobody's business. I got cocky. "I am cured!" I told myself. "Go ahead just eat what you want." I gained 10 pounds by January. Some of the symptoms started creeping back but I just put it to the back of my mind. I should have nipped it in the bud and gone right back to being diligent, but quite frankly being indulgent is so much more fun. That is, until you are fighting headaches, constipation, bloating and cravings you can't control and they find you curled up on the couch in a sugar comma with the empty chocolate chip bag still clutched in your fist. You know...just as an example.

So that brings us to now. I do not want to have to hit rock bottom again before I regain control of this thing. I thought perhaps if I got this out in the open and started a dialogue that might get rid of the shame of this Insulin Resistance. I am ashamed. Ashamed that I did this to my body. I honestly believe that that low-fat/high-sugar craze of the 90's and 2000's sent many of us into this spiral. Am I alone in this? I know what I have to do to feel good and to live a long and healthy life, so I am going to start reporting to whomever is listening, even if only for me to have some accountability. I hope though that others will take this journey with me.

Thanks again for listening. Let's get going.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

FessUp: Weighty Matters Part II

If you missed yesterday. Here is the long version. Now, a short recap and the rest of the story...

When we last saw our heroine, she was down and out. Too heavy and too tired. She was noticing that she had little concentration and was becoming forgetful and confused sometimes. Frustrated by the doctor's and nutritionist's lack of concern, but knowing deep down that something was wrong with her body, she took matters into her own hands... I am thinking that this was around 2006. The nutritionist implied that I was probably putting to much butter on my toast and too much sour cream on my potatoes. I knew I was eating healthier than most Americans, but there is always room for improvement, so I would start being even more careful with my diet. Perhaps I just needed more exercise. After all, I was getting older. So...I joined a gym. I found that I actually liked it. So for the next 9 months I got my behind out of bed and to the gym at 6am so that I could be home in time to get kids ready for school and not have to leave the preschooler with anyone during the day. When the youngest started kindergarten, I did the dance of joy because now I could go work out when normal people were awake and the sun was up! That year I lost 10 pounds. I worked out hard. Nearly everyday for at least an hour. Weight lifting. Cycling. Yoga. Walking. Running. 10 stinking pounds. But I had to admit that I felt better and my body fat percentage went from a medically obese 32%, down into the normal range around 28. And I ditched the tens for a snug size 8. Frustratingly, this is where I stayed for the next two years.

Somehow I kept myself motivated to keep working out even though I was not seeing any changes in my body and I knew my other symptoms were getting worse. During this time I certified to teach yoga and started teaching at my gym and loving it. I learned truly to accept my body where it was that day and to stop mentally beating myself up for not being where I wanted to be. Accepting myself just as I was made a huge difference in my mental state. My body was not different, but I was. And I could accept me, and be grateful for what I could do and could let go of expectations and judgements of myself. I learned to just be happy with what is here and now even while moving toward a goal of something different. So I carried on.

Everything hit rock bottom the summer of 2009. Up to this point I had been living my normal life. Tired and cranky often, but happy and up often too. But that summer was different. I couldn't move. I slept all the time. I napped 2 or 3 times a day. Sleep didn't feel restful or normal. It felt like a comma. I went back to my OBGyn. They ran a thyroid panel. This must be it! Finally, some answers! But it turned out I was in the low end of normal. The doctor prescribed a common thyroid medication anyway, since I was having symptoms. Does this seem sketchy to you? Yeah me too, but I was desperate. With a somewhat iffy hypothyroidism diagnosis in my pocket, I went to see an endocrinologist to get a better idea of treatment for this. I gave him the whole sob story. Five years worth. To his credit, he listened. He looked at the numbers and he looked at me and he said, "You don't have hypothyroidism, you have insulin resistance. If you were fat, a 1st year med student could have diagnosed this." What the crap!? Now, trust me this is not a diagnosis that any of us wants, but I finally had an answer AND he said I wasn't fat...so it was a win win in my book!
The next 6 weeks was life changing.

I thought I could get through this story and to where I am now with just two posts, but I guess not. I will continue tomorrow, and I have some exciting things that I want us to do together if you guys are up for it! Thanks again for letting me get this off my chest and for your supportive comments...The comfort of strangers and all...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weighty Matters Part I

This will likely be the least understandable, most jumbled post of my illustrious career, but if you can stick it out, I hope it will be worth it. I am going to spill the beans on a personal struggle of mine that I would rather not discuss but that is worth discussing. I do not know where to start, so I think I will just head for the beginning and see what happens.

I was not the kind of teenager girl who ever thought about my weight. In this day and age that seems nearly impossible, but it just was not an issue for me. I was a scrawny tom-boy climbing fences, jumping rope and rollerskating my way through childhood in the 70's. I stayed that way into my tween years. I had a brief period around 7th grade where I, um...bloomed...before I sprouted, but once the sprout hit, I was back to my usual size. I never thought about what I ate or what I weighed. The first time weight ever became an issue for me was after the birth of my second child, who is now 16.

I gained a lot of weight during the pregnancy. Happy weight. We finally have money for groceries weight. Eat every time the toddler eats and finish all of her leftovers weight. The good news is that I was 25 so with a bit of walking and nursing a gigantic baby, the weight came off fairly easily over about a 6 month period. The bad news is, I fell for the popular "low fat" thing that was going on at the time. The bad news is that in the 90's "low fat" was code for "unbelievably high in sugar." This wrecked my body. Yep, wrecked. But I fit back in my size 4 jeans, so I didn't really care. Then.

Over the next 10 years and two more pregnancies my weight kinda went up and down but only within about one pant size either way, so I ignored it. My mood also went up and down, and my temper was often out of control as well. When I hit 35, my weight peaked at around 150 something. I was a size 10. I was not feeling well at all. I starting asking my doctor about it. This lead me to a nutritionist and my first insulin resistance test. The test came back borderline hypoglycemia, and the chart said that I was on the top end of the normal weight range for my height. The nutritionist told me therefore that I was just fine and had probably been underweight my whole life and so now I was just evening out. I didn't feel even. I felt tired. And sick. But no one would listen. I took me the next 5 years to get someone to listen.

Obviously this is getting to long for one post, so I will continue tomorrow. Follow the journey if you are not completely bored out of your skull yet. I honestly hope that this will be one of the more important things that I write about, which shouldn't be too big of a stretch considering the drivel I usually pump out!  Even if it is not meaningful to anyone but me... I need to get it off my chest. Thanks for listening. More tomorrow...


Sunday, November 20, 2011

GrowingUp:Don't All Grannies Ride Harleys?

One of the reasons I began keeping this blog was to force myself to write down a few family stories as keepsakes. I wish that my forebears had written more of just the little things that happened in their day to day lives. I imagine they would tell me that they were too busy sailing ships to the new world and revolting against the British to bother themselves with such mundaneness, but whatever. We seem to have an abundance of spareish time in this present age however, so it behooves us to do that which our ancestors had little time for. Journal keeping has been a huge part of my life and is a gigantic part of my religious culture. Let's just think of this as a little journaling...public style.

My parents were young when I was born. Really quite young. My adorable mother is only 18 years older than me. These vignettes are about her...and the issue of her age...or lack of it. I have some rather disturbing stories to tell about my dad being young as well, but I will save those for another day.
As a little girl, I do not remember even thinking that my mom's age was an issue. She just blended in with all of the other moms. They were all oldish. The first of more than a few instances that caught my attention was around the 6th grade. I must have had some sort of doctor's appointment and my mother came to the classroom door to get me. "Hey, NatureGirl, your sister is here!" Sister!? Who could possibly think that a woman in her late 20's would be my sister? Sheesh!

Things got worse as I headed to high school. I, of course, aged. My mother, however, did not. At 5 foot nothing and 100 and nothing pounds she still looked as if she were in her late 20's. She was repeatedly asked for a hall pass every time she stepped onto my high school campus. A doctor once asked me (in her presence) why I did not bring a parent to the appointment. When I pointed out that she was my mother, he asked why I was dressed more adult than she was...Picture a female Alex P. Keaton and her somewhat "laid back" hippie mom...

Oh, and guy friends with crushes on your mom is SO not cool when you are in jr. high! I think though that the most memorable incident happened when I was about 15. I filled in for a friend on a babysitting job for a family I did not know. My mother dropped me off and told me she would pick me up later that evening when the parents were expected home. I guess part of what made this so memorable was the horrible, rotten children. It was a nightmare of an evening and I had finally got the kids settled into bed when my mom got there. The parents were late coming home so we just watched TV for a while. The mother eventually came in and when she saw my mom with me in the living room, she started ranting and raving about how I was NOT to have my silly girlfriends over for who-knows-WHAT kind of shenanigans, and how DARE I, and no WAY was I getting paid. The look on her face when I explained the situation, would have been payment enough, but I believe I may have received something close to double the going babysitting rate that evening!

I still think it is funny how young she is when I am this old. We still get asked if we are sisters when we go places together. No one ever believes that she has grown grandchildren. And all of MY friends wish THIER mothers rode a Harley on the weekends.

Quote of the Day: "Getting old is a fascinating thing...The older you get...the older you want to get."--Ralph Waldo Emerson poet, writer and philosopher

Monday, November 7, 2011

DigItUp: Onions Have Layers

Like ogres and onions, Miss NatureGirl does indeed have layers. Many of them. So many in fact, that we are not actually sure what she has on the inside. Probably just a creamy filling of some sort. Today's layer is being shed over at The Renegade Farmer with a little tutorial on drying onions. Yes, it IS as exciting as it sounds...

Quote of the Day: "You know, not everybody like onions. What about cake? Everybody loves cake!"

The Renegade Farmer

Friday, November 4, 2011

EatUp:Farmhouse Festival Cooking With Apples

It is Farmhouse Festival Friday over at The Renegade Farmer today and I would like to share a little farmhouse lovin' with a little farmhouse cookin'! Life around even the smallest of suburban homesteads can be a little unpredictable at times....especially if you are lucky enough to be a girl from the north country. It is of course apple season, and thankfully, my cup runneth over this year in the apple harvest. This is not always the case. Many a year the dreaded summer frosts kill off the blooms and I get absolutely No apples. I am happy to say though, that this Autumn I am challenged every day to come up with a new way to use up some apples! 

This...Is what I mean by unpredictable. This is how the garden looked a few weeks ago. I thought I took a pic of the apples too, but I guess only the tomato picture survived. Unfortunately the tomatoes themselves were not as lucky. I braved the blizzard and rescued what I could. I left most of the green ones behind. I know they can be ripened after picking, but they were so small that it was hardly worth it. The lovelies that I rescued are now yummy tomato sauce waiting to bring a bit of summer to the dinner table during the dark winter.

So If you are as lucky as I am to have so many apples to use up, here is my go-to recipe for making quick use of a half a dozen of those beauties!

Apple Dump Cake
Mix in one large bowl:
     1/2 cup butter
     1/2 cup milk
     1 tsp vanilla
     1/4 tsp baking powder
     1 tsp baking soda
     3/4 cup sugar
     1 egg
     1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
     2+ cups of chopped apples (peels on)
Dump into greased 9x13 pan and top with a sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon (or a full crumble      topping if desired.)
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Quote of the Day: "Food is an important part of a balanced diet."
--Fran Lebowitz author

Friday, October 28, 2011

WriteUP: The Present Now Will Later Be Past...

So. Here I sit. In my favorite room in the house. Starring out the big picture window. Straining to see through the streaks in the glass and the fake cobwebs. And the real cobwebs. Eating chocolate chips by the handful. Trying for the life of me to figure out why handful only has one L and wondering if I even knew that before. This is what procrastination looks like. And doubt. You may have noticed that I have been rather absent for the last few months. It is change. I don't like it. You have heard me rant about it a million times before. My oldest child left for college last month. Her 19th birthday is in a couple of days. I really am happy for her and she seems to be having a good time. I want her to have this time in her life of self discovery and adventure. But I do not want MY life to change. See how those two things don't really work together? Stupid growing up.

I am not sure I am ready to be the parent of a grown child. My MOM is a parent of grown children. But she is old, so it is ok. She is only 18 years older than me though, so it might just be a perspective thing. My grandmother passed away almost a year ago. On my daughter's 18th birthday. Shortly before she passed she said something very funny (not unusual for her.) Her health was failing and I asked her how she was feeling and she said, "Fine, except all these OLD people keep visiting me and calling me MOM!" Perspective.  I still have 3 children at home, so I know my job of raising kids is not done. Nor do I expect that really it is ever done. It is just a different role now. I don't do different.

I have also given up a bit on writing. I have always had doubts about my own abilities. I know, we all do. Some people do not seem to let that fear hold them back however. I have a girlfriend who is having a children's book published. She knew the odds were against her without a name or an agent or any thing behind her but a manuscript and some illustrations. She told me, "I knew the chances were slim that it would even get read, but what did I have to lose?" Um, let's see. Dignity, self-esteem, pride, confidence, morale...
I am sure that every would-be writer dreams of being published, but most don't even have to go that far. Most people who write just want to be read. We just want to have someone think or feel something when they read what we have written. I am very sure many of you can relate. Somedays it just seems like a big waste of time. Why should anyone care about anything I have to say. Oh yeah. And my best friend is moving out of state. And...and...and. You know there are a lot of little things that make it easy to be in the dumps, but really...there are so many MORE things to be excited about...

So. Her I sit. I think I need to just get back into my life. It is changing. That should be ok.  I am going to make that ok. There is advantage in life in being willing to be present in the here and now. Honoring the past for what it was, facing forward to the future without rushing to it. I want to look forward to change with anticipation and excitement while relishing the stage I am in now. I mean If nothing ever changed I would not be here now. No Hunky Hubby. No Kiddos. No Life. So this is it. My last whiny post. Back to PerkyNatureGirl. You know, the girl who takes life by the horns and who makes lemonade out of lemons! Yeah, I don't know that NatureGirl either, but maybe we are turning a corner here...Reaching for the stars and going for broke! Woohooo....

Quote of the Day: "There is only one time that is important – NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time that we have any power.”--Leo Tolstoy

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Haiku Wednesday

Bare Limbs are Proffered 
Drawing Heavenward "When shall
New Birth come to me?"
photo by Ting-Li Lin

I am participating in Haiku Wednesday today over at "You Know...That Blog" Just to shake things up a bit...cuz I am just crazy spontaneous like that!

Join the fun!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

CheerUP: Daydreamin'

I'm still here. I have been a bit in the dumps since school started again. I did not write much this summer anyway. I don't think I have anything left to say. I have not been myself lately. I think I need something different to be happening in my life. I suppose that means Making something different happen. I am having the doldrums I guess. Just ready to mix it up and change things around a bit. Yes, this is really me. Yes, I am sure. No, no one hijacked my laptop. Yes, quite sure.

Anyone ever feel this way. Just...um...blah...you know? So I am open to suggestions. Mind you, nothing to adventurous. No jumping out of airplanes or SCUBA diving. I am bored, not crazy! Like maybe highlights or something? New curtains in the bedroom? I am open some ideas. Well, you know... not Open, open. Just mostly open...sort of...to the idea of changing things up a bit! My head is in the clouds, but I need my feet on the ground running. Toward what? I Dunno...I really do need some feedback on this one. Or maybe therapy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

GrowingUP:The Metaphysical Nature Of Cutoffs...

Once upon a time, in the not so distant past...the 70's, life was different. I know, I know, every generation says that, but I mean it. As I have mentioned, my oldest child is leaving for college this month and I therefore, more than usual I mean, have a sense of urgency to make this summer last. I have always loved summer vacation from school. I love having my kids home. I love the heat and even the stickiness of summer time. And dirty feet. Nothing gives me joy as much as seeing the absolute filth on the bottoms of my kids' feet. THAT is the measure of a good summer!  I love the laziness of it. The carefree days spent doing almost nothing and virtually everything all at once. I feel more myself during the summer than any other time of year. And that my friends in a very round about way brings us to the 1970's, my childhood, and cutoff jean shorts.

Seriously. Isn't everything that is good and decent in the world epitomized in a pair of cutoff jeans? I am a little afraid that this once ubiquitous article of clothing has gone the way of the drive-in movie theatre and shoes with laces. But really, what cutoffs symbolize will forever be embedded in my soul and I for one intend to pass this legacy on to my children before it is too late.

Clothing was not as inexpensive in the 70's as it is now. There was no Target or Walmart or the like. There was the only mall...and Kmart. And boy howdy those of us forced to shop there were subject to great humiliation at the shopping for the clothes and even greater humiliation at the wearing of the clothes. Jeans so stiff and so reenforced at the knees as to render the wearer completely immobile for at least the first two weeks of school. After not a few washings and wearings the child could eventually produce movements something akin to that of a Stormtrooper. You may have guessed that I did not have clothes from the mall. Unless you count Sears. Mind you this is the 1975 Sears, not the Sears of today. I believe those jeans were actually made from recycled tires, but I am not sure.

Needless to say, by the time these jeans softened up it, it was the last week of school and they were high water, but only had holes in the first two layers of the knees!  Of course nowadays, we would head to the store to go "summer clothes shopping" for shorts and T's and new sandals. But this was not invented yet when I was a kid. Summer clothes shopping consisted of, you guessed it...mom taking a pair of scissors to the jeans! Free at last...free at last...

Knees were now uncovered, free to be scraped and bruised and dirtied. Shins were free to be tanned and skinned; scratched and mosquito bitten. Boys ran around bare chested and girls donned swimsuits, but every last one of us in cutoffs and bare feet. It was summer.

So there you have it...The letter M inasmuch as it pertains to cutoff shorts. Too much of a stretch, Teach? Check out this link for AlphabeThursday if you would like some more appropriate interpretations of the assignment!

Quote of the Day: "Deep Summer is when laziness finds respectability." 
--Sam Keen philosopher

Thursday, July 7, 2011

SpeakUP: Etiquette Is Your Best Bet

It seems as if I have been rather absent from the blogging world as of late. With four kids home for the summer it is nearly impossible to get computer time. Half the time I cannot even find the thing, and when I do the battery is always dead. Oh well, such is life. And dishes...up to my eyeballs in dishes, but that really has nothing to do with this post. What does you ask? Well, bicycles, that's what.

Bicycles you say? Yes. Bicycles. I really love to ride my bike. For fun, for exercise, for transportation. Hunky Hubby rides his bike to work during the months that he can.  (One of the ways he stays Hunky!) He has done this for about 18 years and has only been run over once!  I have noticed that there is a general lack of knowledge of bicycle etiquette in this area. Really it is only reasonable to cycle here maybe five months of the year, so most folks are not used to bikes being on the roadways and pathways, so I understand. It would be nice though, if we could all learn to share the roads and paths in peace and harmony. Pedestrians, Cyclists, Motorists...united as one. "I'd like to teach the world to sing..."

I am pretty sure no one really cares about this but me, but it's my blog so here goes....
Laws for cyclists vary from state to state, so I am not going to go into actual laws of riding on the roadways but more...you know....good manners especially on non-motorized pathways. Using good manners makes it easier for all of us to enjoy common "ground", smoothing out bumps in the "road" and avoiding potentially "abrasive" situations.

In places where cycling for transportation is common there seems to be one general rule: Get where you need to go as fast as possible and try not to get killed while doing it. I think there should be more rules.

#1 Be courteous. When we give respect we get respect. No darting in front of cars or running over pedestrians. Riding with traffic when on the road is best and using hand signals helps motorists know what we are up to. Cyclists have the right to be there, but we need not be brutish thugs to get respect on the roadways.

#2 Vocalize. Bikes are quiet and pedestrians, more often than not, have headphones these days. A simple "On your left" is common courtesy. Remember also that the peds have the right of way so let's slow down and make sure they are safe before passing. No need to speed past the walkers and joggers. A little "Thank You" when passing never hurt anyone either!

#3 Right is right. When negotiating on-coming traffic on a shared pathway, whether bikers, bladers, boarders, or pedestrians, stay to the right (at least here in the US) and slow down a bit. Being predictable is always the safest bet. Try to make eye contact if possible. I had an on-coming pedestrian jump right in front of me on a path recently. I slammed on my brakes and nearly bit it in the grass when I swerved. I assumed he saw me. Apparently he did not.

#4 Be visible. Bright colored clothing, lights and reflectors make it easier for everyone to see a cyclist. Try hard to be seen, but always assume that NO ONE sees you!

#1 Don't be afraid. Most cyclist are not out to get you. Stay to the right of the path and allow the bikers to go around on the left. If a cyclist is courteous enough to warn you that she is coming up behind (or if you see them coming toward you) do not jump or scream or turn around and stop in the middle of the path. Just keep walking and move a bit to the right. That is all.

#2 Keep a short leash. Nothing is more frightening to cyclists than dogs on a long leash or no leash at all. Dogs are even more unpredictable than humans and do not understand left from right. Getting up close and personal with the pavement is a real possibility for a cyclist who is caught in a leash. Fido won't be too happy either. Keeping the dog on YOUR right side is safer for pooch and pedaler. It allows the bike to pass on your left both coming from behind or toward without worry of leash entanglement.

#1 Please do not run us over.

#2 A little space is nice. It makes cyclist more comfortable when motorist pass without hugging the bike lane, if there is one. If there is no bike lane this is even more important. A thrown rock is a nuisance to a windshield and a motorist. It is deadly to a cyclist. So is getting run over.

#3 Drop the superiority complex pretty please. Cyclist have the right to use the roadways including center turn lanes and crosswalks. We promise to obey the traffic laws, be predictable in our movements and use hand signals if you promise not to run us over.

#4 Please do not run us over.

If you are a cyclist, or share the road or pathways with cyclists, please add to my list. Comments are always welcome. I also added a bit to my story under the fiction tab. Let me know what you think if you have a second. Loving summer. Loving my bike. Share the road my friends...and happy riding!

Quote of the Day: "When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race."  ~H.G. Wells

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WriteUP: To Whom It May Concern...

To Whom It May Concern:

Ok, so I posted a tiny piece of a bit of fiction I have been working on. And by "working on" I mean periodically thinking about but mostly just ignoring because I am kinda lazy and know I will never finish it anyway, so why work so hard? Also I am kind of a little tiny bit totally petrified to have anyone read my writing in the first place, but I am trying to be brave AND would like some Feedback. Criticism. Overtly exaggerated praise. You know...thoughts. It is under the tab marked fiction.

Also, I am completely computer illiterate and do not really know how to work those tab thingies so if anyone has a suggestion of how to help me keep the fiction separate from the non fiction in a simple way... I would appreciate the help. Perhaps I am beyond help...in that case, just ignore me and hop away...

Thanks for listening.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Simplicity Habit #3: Know When To Say When

Uncle...Uncle! I give! You know, sometimes, there are times, in life, when we have to know when to say When. Period. Lest we run ourselves ragged. I believe I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of such a time. In April and May, as the high school graduation of my oldest child approached, I believe I was single minded in this. No, there was not a ton of stuff that I actually had to do, but it was consuming my mind powers quite thoroughly. There are still more things to do as I believe she may have changed her mind about which university to attend in the Fall...if any. She may hop a freight train to Hibbing MN. Don't ask. But isn't she a cutie?
That's right...

Point is this...Sometimes we have to be willing to let some things go, even if temporarily, for our own sanity. For me, it has been blogging, reading, some church and civic responsibilities and even my daily exercise routine. Don't even get me started on what I have been eating! I am not saying that giving up things we love or letting ourselves go to pot in the name of avoiding overload is a good idea. No, it was more of a gentle setting aside of things that I did not have time or mental energy to focus on, just for a while.  School is now officially out for all four kids and I can take some time to regroup and refocus on the things that really matter to me and to my family.

It means sometimes admitting to ourselves and others that we are not capable of being everything to everyone all the time. It may mean that we have to give ourselves permission to let someone else hold the ball for us and being grateful for people in our lives who can and will do this (Thank you Brenda). Those pleasures and responsibilities will be waiting for us when we get back. In the name of simplifying our lives, sometimes we have to periodically take a moment to evaluate and prioritize what is necessary and what can be dropped, even temporarily. It is not weak to admit that we do not have the time or energy for everything that might be asked of us; to acknowledge that we have limits. When we know what we truly value and prioritize our lives around those things, it becomes easier to admit our limits and to say "no" when we need to. And while our core values likely do not change, sometimes what we are doing needs to. Life happens, and rather quickly I might add. It may be necessary from time to time for us to adjust our priorities around those values. The "to do" list shifts...but not the "to be" list.

For me this shift was a bump in the road, not a lifelong change. Things are more back to ehem...normal...so I can get back to some of those things that I had to momentarily let slide. Grateful for the break, for friends and family willing to pick up the slack and for knowing myself well enough to know When to say When.

Quote of the Day: "A Pint can't hold a quart-if it holds a pint it is doing all that can be expected of it."
--Margaret Deland novelist and poet

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

GrowUP: More Highly Exaggerated Confessions of a Wannabe Farmgirl

I am fortunate today to be doing my thang over at Renegade Farmer. Today's subject? My lack of famerness. Farmery? Farmocity? Anyway...you know...my lack of any actual skills in the farm department. Oh, and I threw in some totally random thoughts on simplicity too...just for good measure. If it is too much trouble to click over, by all means just stay here. But there is nothing more to read.

Friday, May 27, 2011

FedUP: Luddites Unite!

This was absolutely the last time she would do it. She would put her foot down this time. Tell her husband "No" and mean it. Yet here they were. On the threshold of yet another cellphone store. She hated this. Shopping for a new phone. Even before she entered the store, she knew what to expect. Through the window of the cellular store she could see the sales clerks that she knew were not yet thirteen years old.  Seriously, why was she expected to conduct business with a junior high cheerleader? "I can't face it." She said to her husband. He took her by the hand and lead her into the store. The conversation in the car was still racing through her head.  

"The sales chick is gonna tell me junk about the latest super-phone-with-buttons-and features-and-apps-up-the-wazoo, and then I'm gonna have to feign interest just long enough to say, 'really all I need is a phone...Texting would be nice.'  Then she is gonna giggle, and rattle off some scripted, overly rehearsed, totally unconvincing sales speech about this super-camera-phone-with-buttons-and-features-and-apps-up-the-wazoo that I just have to have!  Then I will have to try to convince Barbie that all I really need a simple phone...nothing fancy.  She'll look at me like a I am some sort of elderly luddite and direct me to the display of 30 phones that come in 68 stupid colors.  I cannot handle it, Honey.  I just want a @#*!* PHONE! " 

And yet here she was, yet again. Barbie quickly approached with the obligatory, painted on smile. "Hi!" she veritably shouted into the quiet of the store. "I totally bet I know exActly what you are looking for!" She was wrong.

This was for a writing prompt over at TheRedDressClub. This week we were asked to write a post starting with the words "This was absolutely the last time" and ending with "She was wrong". 
FYI: the photo is of a phone exactly like my first cell phone...I still have the same number.

Quote of the Day: "If The Phone Doesn't Ring, It's Me." ~ Jimmy Buffet

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Simplicity Habit #2: The Ten-Second Tidy Basket

Well, I was hoping that Simplicity Habit #1 would be useful to someone...anyone, but it turns out that no, it was not needed. We all know that unloading the dishwasher first thing in the morning is ideal. I assumed that other folks, besides your's truly, were having trouble actually making this happen.  Turns out that NatureGirl is in fact, the laziest person alive. I have suspected as much. Oh well, perhaps tip #2 will prove more valuable.

This is a tip that someone shared with me many years ago. And it really does work. The idea is that most of us waste a lot of time and a lot of steps when doing that little "tidy-up" time around the house. Not the deep cleaning of each room, but just the picking up of stuff that is not where it belongs. 

[note: If all of the comments come back that everyone else's children put things away as soon as they are done with them so that nothing is ever out of place, I will take an overdose of chocolate and end this blog immediately] 

Often, when we are tidying up, we see things out of place and grab the offending item and take it to where it belongs. In that room we then see the next item that needs relocated and grab it and walk to the next room to put it away. Think: If you give a Pig a Pancake! We are constantly running from room to room moving our stuff. So...to the tip!

Carry an empty laundry basket around the house with us as we do this little tidy. Everything that we see in the room that does not belong, goes in the basket. This first room then gets a quick tidy and we move to room #2. Everything from the basket that belongs in this room gets put away, and everything that does not belong in this room gets put in the basket. Quick tidy and then on to room #3...Get it? Eventually we are back to room number 1 with whatever may be in the basket that needs put away. We essentially save ourselves the running from room to room and backtracking that takes extra time and so many extra steps. 

Confession time: This really does work. I have tried it. It saves time and energy, I promise. The problems? I am often to lazy to do this when things are just a little untidy and it does not really work when things are all the way untidy...if you know what I mean. I also would like the children to learn to do this for themselves instead of relying on Mom to pick up after them. The kids are 18, 16, 13 and 9. At what point do I give up on this fanciful notion? AND often the laundry baskets are full of clean/folded clothes that said children have not yet put away!

So, it is what it is people. If you actually happen to have an empty laundry basket, this really does simplify that morning and evening tidy up. AND if we can muster the motivation to do it everyday, it saves us from the larger clean ups that become necessary when we...um...let things go...a little longer.
I am going to work on this one.

P.S. Hunky Hubs read the blogo tip #1 and unloaded the dishwasher last night after I was already in bed.  Told you he was a hunk!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Simplicity Habit #1: Wake Up To An Empty Dishwasher

Let's talk about simplicity. Specifically a bit about what simplicity IS and what simplicity is NOT. First simplicity is not always easy.  What?! That's right...not always easy. Simplifying our lives does not necessarily mean we will have less to do either. It does not mean giving up all of our worldly possessions and taking a vow of poverty. "Get thee to a nunnery!" Nor does it mean that we no longer have chores to do and can spend our lives in unoccupied idleness. "Get thee to a BarcaLounger!" No, we may actually have more to do, not less, when simplifying our lives.

Simplicity is living intentionally with our possessions. It is cutting clutter. Space clutter, time clutter, mind clutter, life clutter. It is paring our lives down to the things that we value most. It is creating habits that allow us the freedom to do the things that bring us real joy. The real focus, I believe, of the simplicity movement (which is in no way new) is mindfulness. When we know why we are doing the things we do, and we have good habits that help us to keep our lives and homes and minds clutter free,  we make room for joy. For spontaneous play.  For Friends. For Love. For Real Life.

So, I have been making note of some of the habits that have helped me simplify my life, and will be sharing these over the next couple of weeks. In the end, I hope to do a link up so that each of you can add to the list!  I am by no means an expert, but from experience, I can tell you that when I follow good habits, my life is more simple, more relaxed, and much more peaceful, which in reality is what I am after.

Simplicity Habit #1--Always wake up to an empty dishwasher.
I have tried so many different systems for dishes. I have found the one that brings me the most peace throughout my day is this. I admit that I do not always follow it. When I do not. I am sorry. So, the habit can go a couple of ways depending on your preference or amount of dishes. Option #1 is to run the dishwasher in the afternoon and then unload the clean dishes while making dinner. Obviously, this chore could be done by anyone in the home, not just Mom or Dad. The dinner dishes are loaded after supper and the dirty dishes are added throughout the next day until we are ready to run it again in the afternoon.

If the thought of dinner dishes sitting overnight in the dishwasher makes you cringe, then you are a candidate for Option #2. Running the dishwasher after dinner and then unloading it before bed. This way we actually DO wake up to an empty dishwasher, but either way we are loading the dirties throughout the next day. I actually alternate between these to options depending on how many dinner dishes were created. And trust me, most evenings Hunky Hubs and I are tired. We just want to go to bed. We do not want to unload the dishwasher after the kiddies are tucked in. But the next day goes so much more smoothly if I take the time to do this.

Why it works: I am lazy. If the dishes in the dishwasher are clean when I get up in the morning, I will do whatever it takes to not unload those puppies until absolutely necessary, which means the dirty dishes pile up in the sink and on the counter all. day. long. Am I right? With an empty dishwasher however, I can blissfully pop in the offending cups and plates all day long one or two at a time and keep the kitchen relatively clean throughout the day.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, creates peace as much as a clean kitchen. Admittedly, there is no less work involved in this habit, but by eliminating the stress of piles of dishes in the sink, life is simplified.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CheerUP: Happiness Project 30 Day Challenge

I am about a week late with this link up, but better late than never is what I (ok, I hardly ever say that because I hate being late) But for what it is worth, I did the work, so I ought to at least get some of the glory...right? Here is the original post on the Happiness Project, based on the book of the same title by Gretchen Rubin...worth the read by the way.

Day 1  I am having a tough time finding the love today. I am in a bad mood after a late night argument with a curfew breaking teenager. The same argument we have had 2000 times. Neat kid...but punctuality is not in her vocabulary. Luckily lots of other things are. Loyalty. Creativity. Talent. Humor. Intelligence. Wit. Strength. Faith. To name a few. I am grateful for the many things she IS.
Day 2  Hair. Cut. need I say more?
Day 3  There is sunshine in my soul today AND outside.
Day 4  Grateful for the ease and comforts of life.
Day 5  Today is my mom's birthday...grateful to have such a young, generous, funny mom who taught us to love people and books and each other.
Day 6  I am stronger than I think. Lifted up into a headstand today and Hunky Hubby said I made it look easy.  Quite a compliment considering he makes EVERything look easy!
Days 7-13 Totally Forgot to write anything, but I am sure I was danged grateful for something!
Day 14 & 15 I am SOOOO grateful for sunshine these past two days. And for a nice quiet Easter Sunday.
Day 16  Yep...forgot again.
Day 17  Grateful today that 26 years ago at age 15, I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know who I am, I know God's plan!
Day 18  Just finished the most aMAZing book: Poser My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer...Ab.so.lutely LOVED it!!!
Day 19 Grateful to have Hunky Hubby home after a few days away on business. The answer is "Yes"...absence does make the heart grow fonder!
Day 20 Nice quiet day at home. Clean house. Good tunes.
Day 21 Hunky Hubby is so handy...he put in a gorgeous new front door for me!
Day 22 Really uplifting day at church today.
Day 23  Grateful that someone called me "strong" today.
Day 24 Glad that my 9 year old baby princess will still sit on my lap.
Day 25 Hump day. Feeling blue. Exercised anyway. I guess I should be grateful for that.
Day 26 An absolutely gorgeous morning!
Day 27 Starting a little bit of a remodel project in the kitchen...gonna be fun!
Day 28 Grateful today for a really cool little brother.
Day 29 Finished a really incredible book about a woman with face blindness. You Don't Look Like Anyone I know By Heather Sellers. Fascinating and captivating memoir.
Day 30 Grateful for a strong body today...Sometimes I surprise myself!

There you have it. I was not as good as I should have been about keeping it up everyday. I discovered that I am more apt to use a pen and paper than get on the computer. If I continue my gratitude journal for the rest of the year, I will have to jot it down in a notebook.  Was nice though to focus on the things that we have rather than any little thing that might be missing. I am so blessed in so many ways. The little annoyances of life and even the BIG trials, need not make us unhappy. I saw a marquis yesterday that read "Happiness is recognizing it." I do believe that is half of the battle. Thanks to WonderWoman Naomi over at SevenCherubs for hosting this link up.

Quote of the Day: "I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."  ~G.K. Chesterton writer

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

GettingDOWN: Manifesto Memoir

This post is a compilation of several that I have written over the course of the last 2 years. But I decided to resurrect and revise the content to participate in this week's memoir prompt over at RedDress. The them this week is Pride. Not the like stuck up kinda pride...you know...the I can Do it! kinda pride. So here goes. In February of 2010 I wrote:
Have you ever had the feeling that the universe is trying to tell you something? Yeah. Me too. Usually I just ignore it. Ok, this is complicated so I will get to the point. Several things have happened over the last few months that have given me the determination to change my status quo and break out of my box. Ok, perhaps determination is too strong a word. What is the word for "I'm still chicken but I think perhaps it is about time I do change because I am turning 40 next week and so what better time to finally break out of my shell and do something really different, really hard and really unexpected even if I don't really want to?" Where the heck is my thesaurus...?

So, if you can, follow my train of thought through the last few months...
First, an old college roommate announced that she was training for her first triathlon. Something I have always thought I might like to do, but too afraid. Then a friend suggested that I consider doing a local century bike ride this summer. Yeah, right! But then I read a blog post entitled "what are you waiting for?" So I asked NatureGirl, "NatureGirl, what are you waiting for?" She had a whole list that I will not bore you with now, and then had the gall to remind me of my own recent post in which I was dumb enough to say that I was finally ready to take a step outside of my box.

So, long story short, in order to help force myself out of that box I decided to do something daring in honor of my 40th birthday (in 2010). Specifically, a century bike ride. I chose to do the 100km. Sixty five bum bustin', leg burnin', sweat breakin' miles. And...I DID IT. And except for the 20 mph winds for the last 30 miles it wasn't all that hard. This year (2011) Hunky Hubby says we are doing the 100 mile route. I say "Bring it on!" which, if you know me, is not something I say very often. You see...I am the queen of big buts.
You know...
I would try the ride... BUT.
I wish I could do this...BUT.
I would love to try that...BUT.
I could be all that and a bag of chips...BUT.
I dream of_______...BUT.

That is a lot of big buts. I was kinda tired of walking around dragging all those big buts behind me. Now, this is not to say that I do not love my life. I totally do. I have amazing kids and a Hunky Hubby that I cannot get enough of, and we live a great life full of love and books and movies and art and nature and fun, but I have always played it safe. Shortly before that ride I read something that I had written in a journal a year or so before. "Will I ever do something truly daring?" This ride for me was daring. It required believing that I could do something that I did not know whether or not I could do. I never, let me repeat, never do anything that I do not absolutely know I can do. Especially in public. 

So many of my posts over the last 2+ years have been about my desire to get out and live, oh I don't know, to live...more, I guess. Live more, love more, pray more, try more, be more. Not worry so much about getting hurt, or looking stupid, or shhhhh....failing. In the end, I am proud of myself for doing this hard thing. Not so much that I accomplished it even, but that I even tried! That is a big step for this ScaredyCat! I am quickly realizing though, that life is too short to waste...

Quote of the Day: "Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: "I am with you kid. Let's go." ~Maya Angelou

Thursday, April 28, 2011

DressedUP: Barefooters Unite!

It is AlphabeThursday again and today's letter is B. First off, I had no idea this was even a movement, but it turns out...it is. I am a barefoot kinda girl.  Growing up in sunny California, there was little reason to wear shoes as a child. Our feet were tough as any shoe leather. 110 degrees is not uncommon in my hometown. A favorite childhood game (if you could call it that) was to see who could withstand the heat of the asphalt the longest before running...and I mean RUNning for the lawn.  By the end of the summer the kids in my neighborhood could have walked a bed of hot coals without so much as a hint of a blister. We went everywhere barefooted, including the 7/11. That is, of course, until school started again and we were forced by society to shove our feet into those little torture devices called shoes.  Mary Janes, saddle shoes, Keds or Chucks...it did not matter...shoes were torture.

For me, things have not changed...much. Except for the fact that I live in Idaho and it snows here 9 months out of 12,  I still hate shoes, but wear them out of necessity. During the warm months, I go barefooted. A few neighbors have taken up a little friendly taunting as I walk passed them barefooted on the 1/2 mile walk to pick kids up from school. Turns out there is a term for it even. According to Wikipedia someone who prefers to not wear shoes in public is known as a "barefooter." Barefooted running and hiking are becoming quite popular. There are books on the subject and even whole "societies" dedicated to furthering the cause of the Barefooter.  Who knew? Must be kids like me who grew up in the 70's and are having a difficult time converting to Shoers. Footwearers? Shod?

Hunky Hubby recently purchased a pair of Vibram Five Fingers for me. Those are the crazy shoes I am wearing in the pic. It is as close to going barefoot as one can imagine while wearing shoes.  I feel quite liberated!  The piggies are free in these shoes for one thing, not all bunched up in a little ball at the end of   shoes. And I don't even own girly shoes! I cannot imagine what you ladies in heals are feeling. Don't tell me, I don't want to know.  All I can say is...free the piggies, girls...free them!

There is something so natural and so visceral about going barefooted. Every texture of the earth is so available to us. There is a deep connectedness to the ground that we walk on without shoes. I know it sounds silly and most ladies would never even consider going out in public without the perfect footwear.  I get it. I guess. But as a naturegirl, I get think I need the sensations of connecting to my surroundings even in this small way. Go ahead laugh, but it really is mindset. A life philosophy even, silly and frivolous as it sounds. Removing what we can from our external forms so that our internal senses can more freely connect to nature and our surroundings. Shoes is just an example. The idea I guess, is letting go of those THINGS that keep us from really experiencing those surroundings. Not just being IN nature but becoming PART of it. Getting dirty, sleeping under the stars, standing still a rainstorm, catching snowflakes on our tongues, eating what we grow, shutting down TV and radio to listen to the birds chirp outside the window or waking up early to watch the sunrise. I have two little birds making a nest outside my kitchen window. I stood for quite sometime just watching them. I could not take my eyes off of them. So naturally they went about their work. Instinctually. It was lovely. I will take the time to watch the birds, and I will go barefooted.

Quote of the Day: ""Going barefoot is the gentlest way of walking and can symbolise a way of living — being authentic, vulnerable, sensitive to our surroundings. It's the feeling of enjoying warm sand beneath our toes, or carefully making our way over sharp rocks in the darkness. It's a way of living that has the lightest impact, removing the barrier between us and nature."
— Adele Coombs, "Barefoot Dreaming"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gabrielle's Toenails

I am participating today in a writing prompt over at The Red Dress ClubThis week's memoir prompt is to write a piece inspired by the color red - but we are not allowed to use the word "red" in the story. Here is mine...

Jamie remembered only odd bits of rather unimportant details of the day they had first met.  It was the first day of third grade.  Jamie had just moved to the small  northern California town from and even smaller one.  Earlier that week, Jamie’s mother had walked Jamie and her younger sister, Jeni, to the school, hoping that they would be able to navigate the mile or so on their own for the year.  On the first day of class the sisters had walked alone, but upon their arrival, everything had looked so unfamiliar to Jamie that she had wanted to head back home thinking that she and Jeni had somehow stumbled upon a different elementary school.  The wrong elementary school.  Jeni convinced her sister that they were at the right school and the two girls took their places in line in front of the adjacent second and third grade classrooms.  Jeni was more than a year Jamie’s junior, but infinitely more confident and self -assured.

Jamie, still nervous and not entirely convinced at her belonging there, stood awkwardly and silently against the windowed classroom wall, the cold metal siding chilling the backs of her legs. Gabby had walked confidently toward the timid girl and introduced herself. She was a good head taller than Jamie and wore a colorfully printed sundress that tied at the shoulders, and her hair in a bun.  Her brightly painted toenails peeked out from the leather, braided high heeled sandals like little cherries.  High heals and those toenails! It was the one color that Jamie's mother would not allow her to paint her nails. Gabby looked, not like a nine year old girl, but a sophisticated woman of the world. Like one of the teenagers that Jamie saw on TV shows. There was something unfamiliar about this uninhibited little girl and yet undeniably desirable, and her name was Gabrielle.

Even her name sounded exotic and veritably steeped in femininity. A harsh and direct opponent to her own name. Jamie. A name that gave no hint of gender.  There was very little in appearance to betray Jamie’s femininity either, except her long blond hair.  Yet, it too, somehow only said “tom-boy” as the stringy waves hung unflatteringly in her face, half obscuring her bright blue eyes and freckled nose. She had always believed it was the freckles that won her the nickname Snicklefritz, but she could never quite figure out the connection.  Her little sister, the real beauty of the family, was affectionately called Sunshine. Jamie was pretty too, but she did not know it, so chances are that no one else did either. Gabrielle, in contrast, left no one wondering.  From the pink barrettes that held the perfect coiffure of dark curls away from her face to the tips of her brightly painted toenails, Gabby looked the part. She was a girl.