Organizing, Frustration, & Procrastination

I’ve been a little organizing-crazy lately, if you hadn’t noticed. I’m cataloging books and comic books, my stamp collection, and I have plans to catalog and sift through my Smurf collection in the near future, getting rid of some and paring down what I actually bring in. After all the book organizing a couple weeks ago, I decided to get rid of my carousel collection (save maybe a couple carousel horses), and I think I’m to the point where several of my porcelain dolls can be passed along too.

I (like most of us, I’d wager) go through cycles with things like this – taking control of my “life”, so to speak, and cleaning out things, finances, routines, closets – whatever it is that makes me feel like it’s gotten out of control. I let a lot of things just slide for several years (more, in some cases), and now it’s all pretty much come to a head. Time to clean out and organize and pay off and get “life” in general under control again. Parts of it will stay neat and tidy, parts will not, but none of that matters. Right now it’s all about controlling the things I can.

Yes, this sort of attitude is generally triggered by something that makes me feel like everything is spiraling downward. In this case, it isn’t just one thing, but several, and I’m all too aware that I’m using all this organization partly as a procrastination tool, and partly as a way to make time to think about how to deal with one of the things that I really feel conflicted about – my writing. I have more issues with it than I care to outline here, but in a lot of ways I feel like it’s out of my control (even though it’s really not), and a lot of this “control-grab” behavior stems from frustration at choosing to prioritize other things instead of really focusing on building a writing career. It’s a defeatist attitude that I just can’t seem to shake, so…I deal with it in other ways.

Like reorganizing my entire life.

Obviously, it’s a good thing to have things organized. And it’s never a bad idea to overhaul routines and get household things fixed. There are about a million destructive things I could do with this internal frustration, but I’m choosing to be productive while my subconscious works on trying to find some sort of resolution to the cognitive dissonance that I can live with.

But, I’ll admit, I fully plan to try out a video game system as soon as the husband picks it up from his brother – a PlayStation 3 (if we like it, we’ll get a PS4, so I can play the new Spider-Man game that looks and sounds phenomenal). Which I have no time for, and any time I make for it should be going to publishing stuff (the stuff I don’t really want to do, but I don’t want to pay for, either), but I’m going to do it anyways, because I want to, and…well, that’s good enough reason, really.

I’ll figure out how to deal with my writing issues eventually, but for now…it’s time to get my whole life other than that back in order again. Because…I can.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Swapped my vitamins back, and sleep is better, when I get to bed on time. Mostly good, and more sleep on the weekends than normal, but tonight, I’m up late posting this.
Goals check-up: No check-in again. Must do that tomorrow, and again next week!

Writer’s notes for this week

Patches, Pins, Weddings & Work Clothes

Did you have a denim jacket customized with pins or patches or paint (or all of the above) when you were a teen? I did. I still do, actually. And I’m about to make another one, though this time it’ll be a black bomber jacket I’m embellishing.

Hubby wants to dress up as The Joker for the local art museum’s Halloween masquerade this year, so naturally I’m going as my favorite super-villainess, Harley Quinn. I was excited about the idea, but not about the whole suicide squad look (can you say “overdone”?), so I decided since it’s a masquerade party and a dressy one at that, I’d do a “she tried but didn’t quite make it” look that sort of bridges the traditional Harley and the newer-style Harley. Needless to say, there’s a ruffled skirt and combat boots involved, as well as a red sequin t-shirt and the aforementioned black bomber jacket.

It’s really just a great excuse to customize a light jacket for myself. I need a sort of “in between” jacket for spring/fall, and a light bomber will be perfect. But why stop there when I can put Harley, Joker and Poison Ivy patches and pins on it here and there to spruce it up a bit?

Now you might be thinking, “aren’t you a little old for that kind of thing?” And you would be…well, wrong. Because no one should ever be too old to celebrate things they love. And a fun Harley Quinn jacket is no different than a 40-something person wearing a sports-themed jacket of some sort. Actually, I’d argue the Harley will be far more fun than my Broncos or Boise State sweatshirts, and I like both of those (even though I don’t watch football anymore).

Why did I stop wearing my denim decorated jacket? Mostly because the fabric paint dinosaurs on the back weren’t/aren’t really “me” anymore (well, and I went through a “have to be a grown-up” phase that I think we all at least try to outgrow as we get older, because it’s boring). But I still love that jacket, and enjoy looking at all the buttons I collected back then. It was fun, and all of my friends thought it was pretty cool too.

So I spent a fair amount of time shopping for the Harley stuff this past weekend, and late Sunday night, the hubby and I remembered that we have to go to a wedding this coming weekend. A quick glance through my closet tells me I really don’t own anything “wedding-worthy” anymore (I have work, casual, and costume clothing). So it may just be colored jeans, a nice shirt and a professional jacket. Boring, but sometimes that’s not a bad thing. Or rather, that’s the appropriate thing. *sigh*

Speaking of boring, I’ve been wearing a lot of cardigans to work lately (keeps me warm, keeps the tattoos more or less covered when I want them to be), and I’m sick of them. I’m thinking maybe it’s time to break out the actual jackets with my jeans. Try something different. Look a little nicer, in a casual sort of way.

Heck, maybe I’ll even start wearing a necklace and/or dangly earrings here and there. Maybe it’s time to get a little crazy.

Or just…you know. Less boring.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: I’ve been pretty good about getting to bed on time, but due to some vitamin changes, haven’t been sleeping well.
Hopefully everything will be balanced out again soon so I can sleep.
Goals check-up: No check-in (because I totally forgot), but I’ve been budgeting and overspending and acknowledging so I can re-budget, so semi-progress, anyways.

Writer’s notes for this week

Collections & Cataloging…or Not

I’ve been thinking about the stuff I collect lately – what, why, and how. I have several collections: stamps, comic books, smurfs, dolls, carousels, and if you want to call it a “collection”, we can include our fairly extensive library. Not all of my collections are active – I haven’t gotten a new carousel in years, and aside from a Halloween one I have my eye on for our SpookyTown collection, I doubt I’ll add more to that collection anytime soon. It simply takes up too much space, sadly. And while I add a doll to my collection here and there, they’ve been mostly Halloween/zombie dolls lately, rather than the standard porcelain dolls I started collecting as a kid.

I don’t actually have many “good” reasons for collecting the things I do…or most of them, anyways. I collect things because I like them, and I’ll admit to a fair amount of guilt about my Smurf collection, which is 95 percent plastics (the kind that never breaks down, and also spews harmful toxins into the atmosphere both when created and when burned). I started collecting Smurfs because I like them, but also because my mom was struggling with gift ideas and I thought that would be an easy thing for her to get. Which turns out not to be true, because my mom doesn’t shop online, and finding them in town is nearly impossible, though there are occasionally some at the antique malls. So. Backfire in so, so many directions there, though my dad does figure out how to order them online. I think I’ll start asking for only Smurfs that were found at garage sales and/or antique stores. Smurfs that have been around the block, so to speak, or porcelain/metal Smurfs. But I digress…

Why don’t I ask for stuff for my other collections? Because books are difficult to ask for – I generally buy what I want, and I don’t want to ask for anything expensive (say, collectors editions, etc). And I’ve tried asking for stuff for my stamp collection many, many times, and no one will buy me stamps for gifts. Which is all kinds of annoying, but there it is. My other collections are, as I said, stagnant, largely because they require room, and I really don’t have any more to give them.

In any case, I go back and forth on whether to catalog my collections or not. The one main reason to do so is for insurance purposes (in case of a fire or some other such disaster), and the other reason is to keep track of what I have so I can avoid or sell duplicates, and so I know what I still want/need for each. I suppose a third reason would be for records and liquidation in the case of my “untimely demise”, so my husband (or whoever) would know what was valuable and what’s just flotsam to get rid of at a lower price.

On the other hand, cataloging a collection is a lot of work, and very time-consuming. So I tend to put it off even though in the case of things like books and stamps, it would be very beneficial to know what I have before I buy anything new (or old, as the case may be).

Luckily, there’s pretty decent software out there for cataloging collections, and I just bought a really handy stamp catalog program called StampMate this week (and started putting stamps into it). It’s going to take me quite a long time to get all of my stamps cataloged, but I think it’ll be really nice having that information at my fingertips, so to speak. Especially if I ever get to attend a bonefide stamp show.

This coming weekend is Labor Day weekend here in the states, and my husband is *finally* going to trim out the bookcases he made for the office last year. But this means that all the books have to come off the shelves, and then be re-shelved once everything is square and the trim is on. Which seems like it might be a good time to start cataloging our library. I have the CLZ Book Collector app (and the comic book collector app too), and it has a barcode scanner with a pretty decent database on the back end, so that should make the process much easier than if I had to enter everything in by hand. It’s just the old/antique books that will take some manual entry work. That’s not too bad, really.

Will I ever get my Smurfs and spoons cataloged? I’d like to think so, but maybe not. It won’t be anytime soon, I don’t think, because there really aren’t good databases out there already for those sorts of things (that I know of), so I’d have to make my own spreadsheet or database, which is even more time consuming than just cataloging. But I may get around to it eventually. I doubt any of my collectors spoons are worth much, but some of the Smurfs I have are. It would be good to at least have the more valuable pieces cataloged, I suppose.

Do you collect…stuff? If so, do you catalog it? Or do you just enjoy it as is, and leave it at that?


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Most nights, was at least 5-10 min. late getting to bed or sleep. Not sure what was up there, but annoying!
Goals check-up: Checked in, but not doing so well. Still working on finances, and this week, cleaning too.

Writer’s notes for this week


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Two Lessons, Artwork & Yogi-Smurf

I learned a couple of lessons last week, and semi-ruined the two days I had off in the process. So naturally, I’m going to share those lessons with you, in hopes you don’t repeat my mistakes:

1. Don’t pet wasps. They don’t care if it was an accident, and they will take great offense, much like a tiny rattlesnake. Only meaner.

2. Remember to change the water filter in your refrigerator at least every 6 months (if you have an ice-maker/water dispenser). Don’t put it off if you know it needs to be done. Get off your lazy butt and just do it.

It’s a long and ridiculous story involving wasp venom, weird toxin allergies and making stupid decisions at wrong times, but just trust me on this.

Also, Benadryl doesn’t put me to sleep like a normal person, a fact my husband is in awe of. Apparently, it’s my super-power. There are worse powers to have, I suppose. If anyone ever drugs the whole world with diphenhydramine, I’ll be one of the few people who doesn’t get knocked out, so there’s that.

In other news, I bought a couple of pictures at our county fair last week. One is a lovely painting that I find very calming, though it’s actually a ship in a storm. I think it’s acrylic, though I’m not one-hundred percent sure. The hubby and I both loved it, and now we have the task of finding a place to hang it. Understand, we have zero nautical items in our home, and the painting matches nothing we have. But that’s kind of our MO when it comes to artwork, so in a way, it does match everything just because nothing actually matches, if that makes sense.

I think I know where it will end up, but that means I have to relocate another picture (my framed Rodin postcards from the Rodin Museum in Paris). We’ll see. I’ll give it the week before I decide.

The other picture we bought is a photograph of wasps (yes, they’ve been very focal in my life for the past little bit) on a heart (a real, anatomical heart) in the dark. It’s…intense, to borrow from a friend. Only one other person I know reacted as I did, basically finding it so disturbing and yet so compelling that it just will not get out of my head, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for two days after seeing it. And even after I’d talked myself out of buying it, I ended up buying it anyways because…I had to have it. I triggered so many different emotions in me when few things do. Which makes the title of “Process vs. Emotion” even more fitting.

More than all that, the night I saw it, it spawned a story idea that I wrote down immediately, and I’ll definitely be writing that book in a year or so. And I’m really looking forward to it.

That photo will hang in my office as soon as we get the bookshelves trimmed out and finished. There’s just enough room between them for this in a recessed area, which will give it the drama it deserves.

In the midst of all this physical and emotional chaos, I got a new tattoo last Thursday (the whole reason I took Thurs/Fri off). I’ve had a lovely lotus on my left thigh for a good 20 years now, and it was showing it’s age. I had that retouched, and then right above it, I got a yogi smurf figure tattooed. It’ll look great once it heals, but it’s a little ironic that everything that happened last week did so around this supposedly calm tattoo of a smurf meditating.

Be calm, and let it flow. Right?

Also, don’t pet wasps.

Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Missed two days, I think. Not bad!
1 push-up per day: Pinched the normal nerve in my shoulder blade, dang it. Need to find a different goal.
Goals check-up: Missed this week, with no good reason. But I am focusing on finances for the week.

Writer’s notes for this week


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Fair Time, Hobby Restart & Comic Book Catch-up

It’s county fair time! Which was more fun when I was in high school/4-H, but I still enjoy going to the fairgrounds to eat fair food, check out the exhibits and take in some free side-shows along the midway. We’re going tonight, so that should be fun.

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I had an idea on how to get back to the hobbies (and my comic book TBR pile). Well, I’ve been working on implementing that and another one, with some good success. Sometimes whining is productive, once you realize that at least some of what you’re whining about just isn’t true, when you really think about it.

I set myself up for success this past weekend, in that I did what I could to make my hobbies more accessible to me, and also to change my perspective when it comes to hobbies like stamp collecting and fiber arts. This is one thing that my personality does not serve me well with, and I end up putting too much pressure on myself to “do and learn everything right away”, and “participate and interact regularly with other hobbyists” with activities that should be fun and relaxing, rather than stressful. I tend to treat it like a job and knock myself out trying to learn everything about it all at once, instead of taking it easy, figuring out what I enjoy about that particular activity, and then focusing on that. In a more moderate manner.

So part of getting back to my hobbies is to acknowledge that I don’t have to do “all the things” associated with that particular hobby, and I don’t even have to do much in one sitting just to make a little progress & enjoy myself. Saturday night after I cleaned my office, I got my two stock books out and put several hundred assorted worldwide stamps into glassine envelopes for passing to other collectors. They’re stamps I got in the big assortments that beginning collectors get when they’re first starting out. Those packs are great ways to sort of figure out what draws your eye and what you’re personally interested in collecting, but I’d kept far more than I was actually interested in keeping just for the sake of “building my collection”.

Years later, I have a better idea of what I like and what I’m not really interested in, and I feel like I can pass along the stamps I’m not interested in, and just keep what I really like and want to know the history of. That will make collecting easier as time goes on too. Before, I’d get shipments and keep a lot that I kind of liked, but didn’t really fit anything else in my collection. Now I feel more okay with saying “no” to things that just don’t interest me – and I think that will make for a healthier collecting attitude/environment, and make my collection easier to maintain.

I tell you what – it felt good to sit there for an hour last Saturday night and just look through stamps, deciding which to keep and which to pass on. It was relaxing and fun. I have an hour on Monday and Friday nights set aside for working with my stamp collection, so last night, I went through a couple more packets of stamps I bought ages ago. Put some into my newly cleaned out stock books to be put into albums later, and put the rest in a pile for trading/selling. Another enjoyable hour.

My issue with fiber arts (crochet/knit/weaving) is similar but different, in that if I’m just making stuff and not worried about what/who it’s for (or if it’s for myself), I’m having fun. If I’m working on something for someone else and that’s the whole point of the project, that’s work, and no longer fun. I wish that wasn’t the case, because I’d love to make things for people, but that’s how my brain perceives it, unfortunately. I need to just “make stuff”, with no particular purpose, and then if I happen to have something on hand that will work as a gift, so be it! If not, no problem, I’m not going to knock myself out to get projects done on a deadline, or to specific sizes/colors/etc. I have to take the “work” out of it in order to enjoy it…probably because it needs to be a relaxing endeavor in order for it to “earn” space in my already tight schedule.

I need some new dishcloths (for myself), so that’s where I’m starting this week. Simple, easy, no pattern needed (so I can easily watch TV while working on them). I have an hour on Tuesday and Thursday nights set aside for crochet and knitting projects. It’ll be Thursday night this week, since tonight is fair night.

I figure with two nights per week set aside for each hobby, I’ll feel good if I actually get one night for each. That gives me two “chances” to work on things, and if I use it, great, if not, well…no biggie. I can’t complain about not having time for these things if I actually have time built into my schedule. It’s unlikely that all four nights in a week would be preempted for something else. And if that happens on a regular basis, then maybe it’s time to give priority to whatever’s doing the preempting.

These hobby hours intersect with our normal “TV hour” between 9-10pm, so they won’t get in the way of dinner or walking the dogs or working out or whatever. I’ll be splitting focus those four nights, but Monday/Friday nights are hit or miss on the TV thing anyways, as the hubby often works out late on those nights (he did this week, so focusing on stamps was easy enough once the dogs settled after our walk). As long as I’m working on easy things I don’t need to follow a pattern with, Tues/Thurs should work fine for knit/crochet/weaving. Keep it simple.

As for comic books – I mentioned last week that I’ve been reading one issue every morning when I get up. Last weekend, I hung a magazine rack in the hallway between the bedroom, the office and the bathroom, so I can grab the next issue as I’m headed from the bedroom to the bathroom to shut off my alarm, and then when I’m done with that issue, it goes in a pile on the bookshelves in the office for archiving later. Routines are all about flow, and a simple magazine rack on the wall makes the morning flow that much more efficient. Plus, it’s a visual reminder to grab an issue – not even just in the morning, but whenever I have time.

So…good things happening around here, plus the writing is finally picking up a tiny bit of speed, finally. Naturally, I’m wondering what kind of a curveball life will throw at me next to knock all this new organization/prioritization out of my hands, but until that happens, I’ll just enjoy being back to “normal” for awhile.

That’s really all we can do, right?


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Did pretty well for the weekdays, but worse on the weekends.
1 push-up per day: Did 5 on 3 non-consecutive days, and that’s it. Need to work on that.
Goals check-up: Completed Sunday, with a few changes to a couple hobby goals.

Writer’s notes for this week

People & Thought-Provoking Entertainment

Last Friday we went to a ZZ Top concert, and while the music was good, I really wanted to hurt some of the older concert-goers there. The younger people were easy to be around – even when they were dancing they were cognizant of the people around them and polite when they bumped into someone on accident.

We weren’t even at the front of the crowd, but rather in the middle (standing room only – a street concert/festival), and half-way through the set, a crowd of older (probably in their 50’s) people pushed their way up and through and not only blocked the view (stopped right in front of me instead of pushing forward even more), but took up all available space, leaving zero room between me and anyone else. Understand that I *need* at least a couple inches of personal space. At all times. I’ve been to a lot of concerts (less so with standing room only like this one, but still, quite a few, and never had a problem before. I don’t mind the occasional brush-by or whatever, but being in a constant crush of people is not something I can really mentally handle.

It’s odd to me that these people would have been so incredibly rude at that age. People far younger are far more polite at concerts – even drunk young’uns. It really kind of ruined the experience for me, which sucks since it’s the one older band I’ve seen lately who still sounded just as good as they always have (most have been very disappointing, unfortunately).

I was also disappointed they weren’t selling swag. Because I’ve always wanted one of those keychains, and it just isn’t the same just buying one off the rack, so to speak. *sigh*

We’re going to a Godsmack/Shinedown concert in October, and I am so glad that our seats for that are in the lower arena, but the very top row, so no one can be behind us, and we’re not in standing room only. Whew!

Saturday night we watched a movie called Gamer (free with Amazon Prime, if you have it). Totally intense, and had a pretty freaky premise, really. It’s hard to even imagine doing some of the things those people did, and even harder imagining agreeing to what they did (intentionally vague to avoid spoilers). It’s a very thought-provoking (and bloody, fair warning) movie, and a potential warning, really. Because as far-fetched as it may seem, the technology isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility (though admittedly, probably not as it appears in the film). Definitely an interesting watch, if you’ve got a couple hours.

I watched another movie this weekend called Color Me You (also free with Prime), which was slow in spots, and some of the acting was decidedly mediocre (some was just plain bad, I’m afraid), but it was one of those “young artist at a crossroads deciding to follow her dream or a parent’s dream” type coming-of-age flicks. With romance, of course, because life is relationships (or lack thereof).

And I found myself wondering yet again what it would have been like to eschew my parent’s advice to pursue something other than writing as a profession. Honestly, if I’d studied writing (English) in college, my life could still have turned out exactly the same (not like I’m using my history degree for anything, and haven’t, ever). Or maybe I’d have learned the craft more quickly and taken a completely different path with writing at a more central place. I did take some English classes and worked toward a minor (later changed to philosophy), but I never really took it seriously, mostly because my parents insisted there was no money in writing, and I believed them (still do, honestly, but I wish I didn’t, and I do know professional writers, just not many).

Which probably would have meant a completely different life, and completely different people in it. A difficult thing to really conceptualize fully, honestly.

I caught up with one of my favorite TV shows – The 100 on Saturday as well, and man…the character development this season is just outstanding. I’ll be discussing that more on the writing blog later this week.

Since we’re talking entertainment today, I’m just about done reading Douglas Preston’s The Lost City of the Monkey God, and I can say with complete honesty that I don’t really ever want to actually visit the rainforest. National Geographic videos will be fine, thanks. It is quite fascinating, but I’ll take our rattlesnakes over a fer-de-lance any day, and no thank you to all the sand flies, rain and sleeping in the mud, too. *shudder*

And lastly, I’m starting to get caught up with my comic book “to be read” list by reading an issue every morning right when I get up (as opposed to scrolling FB/checking email, which is hard on the eyes and kind of ridiculous when I can’t even think yet). This week, it’s I Hate Fairyland, which is perfect, because it so matches my mood in the mornings…and murderous little Gertrude makes me smile. It’s good to start the morning with a smile (even if it’s a bloody, somewhat toothless one), right?

So…what all have you been watching/hearing/reading lately? Anything thought-provoking or shudder-worthy?

Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Missed it a couple days, but did okay the rest of the week. Progress!
1 push-up per day: Didn’t keep good enough track, but missed a few days. Really need to keep a daily tally.
Goals check-up: Completed Sunday night, adjusted for the week with a specific focus on financial and hobby-related goals.

Writer’s notes for this week


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Stamps, Focus, & Accountability

I miss my stamp collection. Just thought I’d throw that out into the “void”, so to speak. I haven’t had time to work on it in the last few years, and I miss it. I miss getting random stamps “on approval” that I can look through and either send payment for, or send the stamps back. I miss going through my albums and organizing stamps and first day covers, and learning about the postal history for each.

This seems like a problem I should be able to fix, but I’ve said that before about other things I’d like to do more of, and I never seem to figure it out. I always feel like I should be able to rearrange my time so I can fit in more of the “fun stuff” I want to do, but it never seems to work out. Or I never seem to be able to work it out, rather.

It’s all about priorities, I know, even though I hate that reality more than I can tell you (and I hate it when other people spout it back at me even more). It’s also about scheduling, and between making my dogs and health and writing priorities, and having to keep my weekends flexible (because my husband is a spontaneous sort, rather than routine-driven like I am), I just can’t seem to get what time I do have organized for better flow.

And there’s also the little issue of my lack of multi-tasking abilities. I can’t watch TV and read a comic book (now that there are no commercials in the majority of what we watch). I can’t focus on looking at/cataloging stamps in that environment either. Heck, I can’t even follow a knit or crochet pattern while watching a commercial-less show, because I can’t focus on both the pattern and the show at the same time. With commercial breaks, I can switch focus for a few minutes here and there and not miss anything. Without them, I can focus either on the show, or whatever else I want to be doing. I can’t do both (and I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing – being able to focus on one thing and really take it in is good, IMO). If it’s a show or movie I’ve seen before, that’s one thing, but something new? No way.

Basically, I need either a show I’ve seen before (or sports, but we don’t watch much of that), or quiet time to indulge in any of these activities. Two things that are rather hard to come by on a day-to-day basis, sadly. And before you say “less TV”, I watch about two hours per night, sometimes less. Half hour while we’re eating, an hour when we both finally settle in after dog exercise & workouts, and half-hour for the news. Not like I can do anything while I’m eating, either.

It kind of sucks. But, as much as it may sound like it, I haven’t given up yet on figuring out how to make time for the things I love. One of these days, I’ll hit on the “magic formula” (or be old enough to retire – still a long ways off), and life will be good. Or richer, anyways.

Regardless, I will get the new Scooby Doo stamps soon. Because Scooby. Seriously!

Which reminds me – I have new issues of the Scooby Apocalypse comics waiting to be read at home.

Ooo…all this whining has given me an idea. Sometimes whining can be productive, if you focus on it hard enough. It’s early in the week, so if my idea works, I’ll report back next week. If not, we’ll just forget I ever had it. Deal?

On a somewhat unrelated note, for accountability’s sake, I’ll be posting my resolution progress (or lack thereof) at the bottom of each post here until the end of the year, and also a link to my writing-focused blog for anyone who cares to see how that’s going from week to week. It’s mostly for my own edification, to push myself to keep my goals forefront in my head, and to keep up with the writing blog too. Because posting in public is motivating. Even if the audience is small.

Now, back to catching up on my budget (or rather, starting over, because it’s a mess). Having money won’t do me any good if I can’t manage it well, right?

*Note to self: buy lotto ticket tonight. And one for my hubby, who is 54 yrs old as of today and would like to retire soon!

Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Missed it by at least 10 minutes every night last week. Dammit.
1 push-up per day: Missed one day, did at least one all other days. Highest daily count: 8.
Goals check-up: Completed Mon. night, adjusted some goals to fit current routines/desires.

Writer’s notes for this week


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Food, Panic & Fasting

Confession: I missed two days of doing one pushup last week. Mostly because I just forgot. I have a reminder set now, so I’ll definitely do better this week (did 8 last night)!

I’m actually very motivated to do well with that goal, because I’m finally, after years of being stuck at the same basic weight, losing again. The thing is, I’ve always had good luck with keto-style diets (where your body burns fat instead of sugar/carbs for energy), but it’s not a sustainable diet if, like me, you enjoy a wide variety of foods and food preparation techniques. I’ve never been all that keen on giving up natural sugars like fruit either – there are good nutrients in fruit, and not all carbs are bad, IMO.

There’s a new-ish trend that’s becoming more popular called Intermittent Fasting, and while I’m not normally one to jump on various trendy bandwagons, this one appealed to be mainly because it’s largely how I ate all through high school & college. I was never overweight back then – in fact, I had trouble keeping weight on. But I never ate breakfast, and went from vending machine to taco bell and back while being on my feet for more hours than not during the day.

Also, genetics. When I was young, they were on my side. Now, not so much. *sigh*

Obviously, I didn’t eat all that well back then, but I also didn’t eat all that much, which was the key. And when you love food like I do, and you have enough money to buy food (like I do now), it’s incredibly difficult to just “limit calories” for three meals a day. Also, not much fun.

The thing about intermittent fasting is that if you fast for enough hours in the day, your body will switch to fat burning when it runs out of carb energy. And if you work up to longer fasts, you can ramp up something called “autophagy”, which, from what I read, is when your cells start cleaning themselves up (dismantling the old, dysfunctional or otherwise mutated bits and turning them back into usable “parts”). There are other potential benefits as well, but those are the two I’m most interested in.

So, after a lot of research, the hubby and I decided to try it. He was interested first, so he was already basically following the no-eating from around 7:30pm (when we normally finish dinner) to lunch the next day, though he’d have a light snack late at night, and occasional snacks at work in the morning (so not a true fast). I, on the other hand, was eating round the clock, and I knew it would be more of a mental challenge for me to change than a physical one.

Mostly because, before last week, I panicked if I got hungry. Something about that hunger hormone (gherlin?) hit my brain and told me to eat asap to keep my blood sugar up! Don’t go without! Don’t starve! Very bad things will happen!!

Hormones are drama queens, and can’t be trusted. My brain knows this, but still responded with the appropriate panic to hunger signals. Which was really annoying, once I put it in perspective. My body was controlling me, not the other way around. And that made me want to take control.

Being a control freak isn’t all bad. Sometimes, those powers can be used for good…

To start, I cut out my late-night snack (a half-cup helping of yogurt, granola, hemp & chia seeds, and maple syrup). I have (had) trouble sleeping on an empty stomach, so I was prepared for a struggle, but I managed to make it through to the next morning. Then I started pushing my breakfast back, first by an hour, then another one, and another, and another. The first day was really rough, because that “hunger hormone” kept firing off every time I would normally eat, and the more I didn’t eat, the more insistent it was, so I was hungry pretty much all day – even when I was eating.

The lack of salt in my diet didn’t help – my electrolytes went really low and gave me a whopper of a headache, which wasn’t pleasant. A little sea salt in water did fix that problem, and I’m more attentive to getting a little salt in daily now to combat that (salted peanuts).

In any case, after the first day, things got a lot easier, and now I’m doing 15 hour fasts regularly Mon – Fri, and pushing towards 16 (which is the goal). We don’t fast on the weekends because our schedules are just way too variable, but we still only eat a couple times per day – morning and evening, often skipping lunch.

According to the scale, I’ve lost two pounds in the last week and a half. Which is pretty amazing, all things considered. If I can keep losing a pound a week (or even a pound every other week), that would be incredible. I have a good 15-20lbs to lose, and slow and steady would be perfect (and not leave me with too much loose skin).

I do have to make sure I get enough fiber, which is kind of a challenge with a smaller eating window. But the longer I go without food, the easier it gets, so I’m really not hungry during the fasting window any longer. And I don’t feel the need to eat a lot during my eating window either…so I don’t “binge” to catch up, which is also good. My body is running on less overall, and doing just fine with that, and I don’t have to work at it all that hard, now that I’m through the adjustment period.

I try to stick to a fairly low-carb diet anyways, and I’m still doing that too. But I haven’t been too strict about it lately, and I’m still losing weight, which means in the fasting parts of my day my body is definitely burning fat for fuel. I want to keep that going, and I imagine when that starts to slow down, I’ll be able to go stricter with the low-carb thing and get some extra loss out of it to keep my metabolism revved.

So…a good experiment so far, and one I’ll continue for as long as possible/feasible. One more weapon in the arsenal against the bad genes in my makeup. Here’s hoping it’ll make a long-term difference.


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Resolution Six-Month Checkup

I had to break one of my resolutions for the year (the one easiest to keep at the top of my mind), so I figured this would be a good time for a six-month “checkup” of sorts to see how I’m doing. As a quick reminder, I did make a long list of goals for the year, but only three actual resolutions:

– Get at least 6 continuous hours of sleep 6 nights per week
– Eat at least one egg per day, 6 days per week
– Read through my goals list once per week, and note any progress or lack thereof. Adjust as necessary.

Needless to say, things aren’t going well. *sigh* Until a last week, I’d been fudging the 6 hours of sleep thing for a few weeks, pushing it later and definitely not getting to bed on time, which makes my mornings suck (not to put too fine a point on it). Granted, some nights this year I just haven’t slept well. That’s partially because we bought a new, much firmer mattress that my husband loves, but it’s taken me a good couple of months to adjust to, and partially because the weather was so weird for awhile, and finding the “sweet spot” for the A/C with all the humidity we’re really not used to was very much a trial and error thing. Another issue was gallbladder discomfort, which I’ll get to in a bit.

But part of it is that I’m just trying to do too much at night, and not getting it done frustrates me, so I stay up later to try to compensate, and then get up tired in the morning which means I’m even more tired/less productive the next night, and it’s a cycle that hurts me more than it helps. I just really need to scale back on the things I want to do and take care of myself by…getting to bed on time. I’ve done that very purposefully the last several nights, and woke up rested, before my alarm, and ready to start the day (except Sat night, but that doesn’t count).

So, I’m relaxing and reorganizing my late night schedule, admitting that I can’t actually do eveything I want to do, and getting to bed on time. Because it’s important.

The Sleep Resolution stands.

I mentioned gallbladder discomfort above…it’s been worse than normal this year, and I couldn’t figure out why after it’s been so calm for several years. I was almost resigned to finally going to the doctor, but still dragging my heels, so to speak.

I decided to try Chanca Piedra again (stonebreaker herb), which worked great last time I had issues. I was also reading up on intermittent fasting for health, and stumbled on a research study that found that eating more than three eggs a week was highly likely (ie, happened in 93% of the test group) to cause gallbladder discomfort.

I’ve been eating 10-13 eggs per week since January, faithfully, per my resolution. And my recent gallbladder issues have been going on pretty much exactly that long. *sigh*

I finished off the eggs I’d already hard-boiled for last week with the help of my husband (egg salad sandwiches are yummy), and cut myself back down to only having eggs occasionally. *One day* after I quit eating eggs daily, my gallbladder inflammation went down and the discomfort all but disappeared. It’s been five days now, and the discomfort is still there (because the eggs probably caused more gallstones to form over the months), but barely noticeable. I think a round of chanca piedra to break up the gallstones will probably get me back to where I need to be in regards to gallbladder health. If it doesn’t, I will go to the doctor, but I’ll definitely try this first, since it worked so well the first time.

So – The Egg Resolution is dead. Turns out the one resolution I was actually keeping was hurting instead of helping. Dang it.

As far as the third resolution goes…well, I think it’s probably obvious that I have *not* been checking in with my goals list once a week, and I’ll be totally honest and tell you that at least several of them have been either ignored or derailed by other things. Which isn’t good. But, I have six more months to work on that, so I’ve set an alarm for myself on Monday nights to do that weekly check-in, and a few other check-ins I need to be more diligent about as well (things like budgeting, meal planning, etc). Right at the first part of the week.

Way back in the “dark ages” before digital assistants were phones, the whole reason I started using one (palm pilot!) was to keep track of my schedule and remind myself to do things. I still do that, but not as much…and it’s a great tool to keep me moving in the right direction. I need to make better use of that particular feature again.

The Goals Check-Up Resolution stands.

I think I need to make one more resolution so I’ll still have three to work on (because every creative person knows that odd numbers are better than even). In that light, I’m adding another health-related resolution:

The Push-Up Resolution is a goal to do a minimum of 1 push-up per day/6 days per week for the rest of the year. Yes, it sounds insignificant, but much like the dead egg resolution, the purpose isn’t just to do one push-up, but rather to do one healthy, resistance training thing per day which most days will end up being 5 push-ups, or 1 push-up plus 10 bicep curls, or 20 push-ups, or 10 push-ups plus 10 squats…

You get the point. Taking the time to do 1 push-up per day will force me to think about working out, and if I have time to do one, I can probably do five or ten, or even twenty, or if I’m downstairs by my weight set I might decide to do a few other exercises just because I’m there. Or, I might be busy or sick or just not feelin’ it, and I’ll just do one push-up to satisfy the resolution and that will be that. It’s still something, and something that will affect positive change in the long run.

That gets us back to three resolutions for the rest of the year.

How are your own resolutions (if you make them) going? What about just basic goals? Have you done your own check-in lately?


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Baking Therapy

I spent quite a few hours in my kitchen this past Saturday. My father-in-law’s birthday was last Friday, and we were celebrating Saturday. My husband asked if I’d make a Sour Orange pie he’d seen on America’s Test Kitchen for his dad, who loves lemon meringue and other such sour things. I offered to make some coleslaw too, since hubby and his brother had decided to make ribs (heat & serve – Curly’s from Costo…so good!) and baked beans (BIL’s recipe) for the dinner.

I started off with the crust for the pie, then made the coleslaw while the crust was cooling, and then made the pie filling…and then hubby mentioned that his dad was out of his favorite peanut butter cookies and had hinted for more. So I whipped up a batch of those while the pie was cooling.

Then I had 4 egg whites leftover from the pie filling, and decided to make orange flavored (lightly) meringue cookies to go with the pie. So, I did that, made some orange-flavored whipped cream to go with the pie, and the meringues were just barely done by the time I had to head out the door with all that food.

One would think I’d be tired after spending all day in the kitchen, and I was. But it was a relaxed sort of tired, and my mind was clear and calm (always good before spending time with family of any sort). Everything I made was a big hit, and I had so many meringues that I took some to work on Monday, sent some to work with hubby, and still have some we’re nibbling on at home.

I know a lot of women (people, for that matter), don’t like to cook, or like having help in the kitchen. Not me. I like having the kitchen to myself, and if you offer to help, you’re very likely to be turned down. My kitchen is my “alone” space, a space where I don’t have to make room for other people, or try to work around someone else. I can do what I want, how I want, and when I want in that particular domain, and I don’t have to deal with compromise or interaction or even communicating what I’m doing when. I like having that time to myself, and my small galley kitchen gives me a great excuse for turning down company – there really isn’t a lot of space for more than one person to work in there. I actually kind of hate open kitchens because they invite people to “watch” or help with the cooking process.

Selfish? Of course. And obviously I’m polite and offer to help whenever I’m at someone else’s house (and normally people take me up on it and we have a good time, though I am more grateful for large/open kitchens in that scenario). But when I’m home, in my own domain, kitchen time is much-needed “me time”, and a sort of sneaky, yummy way for this introvert to recharge the social batteries a bit.

That’s probably why I like doing food prep for the week on Sundays – hardboiled eggs for breakfasts, making burritos, meat pies, or whatever else might be nice to have in the freezer for quick lunches, and prepping salads/cutting fruit for eating later in the week. I love food, I like to cook, and I love to bake (though I don’t much, because…calories & carbs), and while kitchen time is a lot of work, it’s also very therapeutic for me.

The only thing I’m really not fond of is the cleanup. But, it’s a small price to pay for the joy of making something I know that I (and hopefully others) will enjoy. And honestly, since I always have the kitchen to myself for my nightly clean-up time too (I don’t clean until late at night), it’s another good transition time when I can let my mind wander, and look forward to one last cup of tea once it’s done.

Now, if I could just figure out a way to cook, bake, taste, and not have all those calories stick like frickin’ glue…that would make this particular hobby/therapy absolutely perfect…


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