You Can’t Always Get What You Want

This is not my photo, but it shows exactly what it is like here.

This is not my photo, but it shows exactly what it is like here.

Like much of the Midwest, my fair city has been hammered with ice and snow. Last week Friday we had an ice storm that was so bad I couldn’t go to work – the police closed the street that my office is on. On top of the ice has come snow. We certainly had a true “White Christmas.” Lots of folks have been spending a whole lot of time complaining about it, and certainly, the driving has been pretty rotten at times, but I’ve been enjoying it. It reminds me of the winters we had when I was a kid. Plus, each time Hermes and I go for a walk, I’m struck with just how gorgeous it all is. It really is breathtakingly beautiful, especially the rare times when the sun is shining.

I have an odd situation at work. It looks like there is going to be some fairly large changes in management in the next two to three years – possibly as far out as five years. It has the potential to be fantastic. I think we need a fresh perspective, and this might be exactly what the company needs to go to the next level. Of course, there is always a danger with change. It doesn’t always work out the way you want.

I’ve felt a bit stagnant at work for awhile now. I’ve written about it here and there on the blog. I love a lot of things about my job, but one of the things that has kept me here as long as I have been is movement. It seems every few years things get totally changed around, rearranged, and though it’s a crap shoot as to how it will turn out, it’s always been interesting. Sometimes it has gone well for me, other times not so much. It’s not about me personally as an employee, it’s about the economy and our market and so on. Starting fresh in new areas of the company has kept me on my toes, and I like that. So, for the most part I look forward to whatever is coming down the road.

However, I’ve been at this same company for nearly 15 years. It doesn’t escape me that if things go sour, I am stuck with some very specialized skills. It’s time to change that. I have decided to pick up some new skills at work which will help the company, but also help me develop my own abilities. I have signed up for a bootcamp class for one of the big marketing tools we use – information that will assist me in my job now, and will increase my own worth as an employee. It’s a bit of a juggling act, but I have been gifted with an incredible opportunity. For once I know about the change ahead of time, so I can anticipate it, all the while building my own value and skills. I can use everything I learn for the betterment of my present company, but if push comes to shove, I can take the knowledge with me to the next one.

At least, that’s the plan. We’ll see how it goes. It’s going to be a bit tricky writing here about what I am doing, because I want to be very careful not to “out” myself. I love having the freedom and space to write here and share my journey with you, dear reader. I don’t want to compromise that, but I will share whatever I can. Long View Hill was  always meant to be a place where I contemplate the future, and I am certainly in the heart of that now!

What about you? What are your plans for the New Year? Any big changes on the horizon?

Photo credit: Kris Hirst on flickr

 

A Quick Update

Mom! Let's go track some snowmen!

Mom! Let’s go track some snowmen!

I’ve been a bit MIA lately. I am working on a few new projects, and those combined with the holidays, is keeping me hopping! I might be posting a little bit less for the next couple of months. I am trying to get all my ducks in a row on some big things, and it is taking up a lot of my time and creative energy to write.

I’ve also not been able to exercise the way that I want to. I keep trying, but I think I just have to accept that in December, dog walking and snow shoveling is about all I am going to get done. I do have one small complaint, however. I wish RunKeeper (the app I use to track my walks) had a feature where you could input the number of inches on the snow along with a modifier for the percentage of negligent neighbors who haven’t shoveled! I don’t really mind that they haven’t shoveled, but want extra “slogging” credit on my calorie count! (Also, most of my neighbors aren’t really negligent, I know that those who don’t shovel usually don’t have the wherewithal to do so, but I loved the alliteration of “negligent neighbors.”)

Hermes and I are still out for about an hour a day. I’ve added ice fishing cleats to my boots and a few extra layers, but we’re still getting out as much as ever. He loves this weather. He jumps in snowbanks, buries his nose in it and always grabs a few mouthfuls. Even though I am bundled up like I am going on a expedition to the North Pole, it’s hard to be grumpy when he is so dang happy.

So that’s the latest. I’ve got lots of irons in the fire, but I’ll be around, I promise!

Does My Face Cause Regrets?

compliment or-nsultOccasionally I write about the odd “compliments” I’ve gotten since losing weight. Please understand that I know most of these are said with good intentions, and I do appreciate that. I just smile and say thank you when they are given. (I only rant here in the privacy of the internet with you, dear reader.) And one final disclaimer – I am not “anti-compliment” or anything. I really do appreciate when people take the time to say something nice or encouraging to me, it’s just that sometimes, when you dig into what has really been said, it isn’t really a compliment.

The most recent one came when I changed my profile photo on Facebook. (It’s the same photo of me that I put up on this post.) I don’t post a lot of of photos of myself, so a lot of people commented on it and said very nice things… but there was one that got under my skin. It was from an ex. He’s a good guy and we dated back in my 20s. The relationship was never going to “go anywhere” but we had a lot of fun. Even though we had our issues, I was honestly surprised when he dumped me for his crackpot, creepy boss. This is the compliment he left:

I don’t have many regrets in life, but this photo gives me an additional one.

Now, I know it’s supposed to be nice, but… it isn’t. Not really. Let’s break it down:

If he just had said, “I don’t have many regrets in my life, but you are one of them.” (and not on a photo of me,) that could have been sweet. Without being on a photo, the comment could be because I am an awesome human being and an all-around badass, and he regrets dumping me for his weird, needy and possessive boss lady. Fair enough.

If he had said, “Daaaaaaannnnnnng woman, you loooooooook goooooood. I haven’t dated anything that fine since 1993!” I would have laughed my head off. (And it would have probably been true!)

However, when we unpack what he did say, this is what I get: “You look good, now. I regret breaking up with you, now.” Honestly, that just ticks me off. I may have lost a little weight and gotten a makeover, but I am still the same dang person! The photo gives you an additional regret? You think I look attractive (now) and so you wish you hadn’t been a jerk in the 90s? What if I wasn’t attractive? Would you still regret it? Because let’s be honest, I’m still basically the same person I was a year ago. I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but this comment of his makes all my feminist hackles rise.

I don’t mean to make mountains out of molehills, and hey, I like the way I look too. I just don’t have any illusions that it makes me any different (better or worse) than I was before. I’m me, for all that that means: good and bad. If you regret being a jerk because you were a jerk, fine. If you think I am pretty, fine. But if you regret being a jerk because I am pretty, you’re still a jerk.

 

The Daily Habit

LiftI thought I would write a quick update on what I am working on. I have a number of habits I am trying to build daily. I track them on the Lift app. Here’s a summary:

Eat Protein (1g/1lb): Recently I wrote a lot about how I am eating, (see: Food and Happiness) and that continues to go well. I have good days and bad days, of course. There are also times where I *think* I’ve hit my goal, but did such a lousy job tracking that I am not sure! Overall though, this is still working great. My weight is holding steady, I feel great and I never feel like I am dieting. The only new thing I am noticing is that my body doesn’t seem to like me to eat late anymore. I never used to think that mattered. I ate when I had time, so if that meant dinner at 9PM, then that’s when I ate. I’m starting to find that I feel better if I eat earlier in the day. If it is late and I haven’t had dinner, go with a light snack rather than a large meal.

Exercise: I’m still trying to find my winter groove. I’d like to do more, but for now I am content with whatever 15 minutes I can get, whether that is 15 minutes of shoveling snow or 10 minutes of shoveling, 4 minutes extra of dog walking and a few Kegels! I’m sure I’ll find my rhythm – I’m just trying to let that happen naturally instead of forcing it like I usually do.

Leave for Work On Time: Confession time: I am frequently late for work. Not a huge amount, just a few minutes here and there. I’m salaried, and I always make up the time by working through lunches or staying late, but I hate that feeling of walking in, knowing I am running behind. Especially now that the roads are covered in ice and snow, I am trying to ensure I always leave the house with extra minute to spare. The hardest part is distractions; not with fun things like reading a book or catching up on a game of Words With Friends, nope, those are never a problem. My problem is doing little “good” things that will only take a minute – emptying the dishwasher, throwing in a load of laundry, tidying the kitchen, and so on. One of those isn’t a problem, doing all of them is. So, I have a couple of strategies to help:

Making My Lunch the Day Before: This goal hits three areas: it helps me get out the door a little quicker in the morning, get my protein for the day, and it helps me save me money. When I do it regularly, I love it. I use up the food in my house, I have a great meal every day, and I spend less. Obviously this is more of a weekday thing than a weekend issue, but even on the weekends I am trying to think ahead.

Set Out My Outfit for the Next Day: Similar to the goal above, it’s helping me with my time in the morning and it’s saving me money. If I have time the night before to set something out, I can be a bit more creative with what I already have. I don’t need new clothes, I just need to figure out new ways of wearing them. It’s easier to plan that at night than when I’m in a rush in the morning.

Meditate: Like exercise, my meditation habit got derailed for a bit. I am trying to get back to it. In November, I was walking on my lunch hour and then sitting in my car for a while, but now it we’re having highs of 11 degrees. Yesterday I tried taking part of my lunch hour in the conference room. It worked okay and it was a nice place to sit quietly, but I kept worrying that someone was going to walk in. I might have to go back to meditating more at night before bed, but I’ll really miss those quiet minutes in the middle of a crazy work day.

Saving Money: I’ve mentioned that I am starting to budget again. Mostly I am just tracking figures, but the goal is to put together a reasonable plan for my spending. I have a ton of things I want to do, and many of them require money. Saving as much as I can is a good thing.

Sleep at Least 8 Hours: Another hit or miss habit for me. I love it when I can do it though. The last week had been pretty good, hopefully I can keep the streak going. I am a happier, healthier person when I get a good night’s rest.

Unclutter: As usual for me, I started removing clutter by jumping in with both feet. I was sorting out closets and cleaning out cupboards… and then I became exhausted. Lately, I am happy if I clean up the kitchen counters or tidy the vanity where I do my makeup in the morning. I have to say though, even a little bit of cleaning makes a difference. Just taking the recycling out makes my kitchen feel better, so even though I am not getting everything done that I wanted, what I am doing is making a difference.

So that’s it. That’s all the stuff I am working on. It sounds like a lot, but really it amounts to taking care of myself. All of these things are either related to my physical health, or my mental health. I’m just trying to feel better, about my finances, my job, and my home.

Snowflakes are Falling

winter wonderlandHere’s me, feeling festive! Like much of the Midwest, we’re getting a fair amount of snow. That opens up a whole other area of winter exercising – snow shoveling! Also scraping off cars, donning winter gear, and of course the ever popular sport of clutching the steering wheel white knuckled with fear. All good for the heart and respiratory systems!

The funny thing is that I have always loved winter. As a kid I had pretty bad seasonal allergies and winter was one of the few times I could play outside and not be bothered by pollen or dust. It’s also a lovely time of year. One of my favorite sights is fresh snow at night when it is like a big sparkling blanket.

I have to say though, that it’s a little different having lost forty pounds. Winter is still pretty, but brrrr! I am so very cold! Of course, Hermes the dog thinks this weather is awesome, so we’re still trekking through the neighborhood twice a day. I swear he deliberately looks for snow banks to jump in, silly little dog. I mean, I know he is wearing a fur coat, but the bottom of their paws is just skin – how is it that they don’t care? It’s a mystery.

I am so ready for this!

Yes! Winter!

I won’t be running in this, that’s for sure. I’m just too scared of slipping and falling. I even wear cleats on my boots when I am walking the pooch, so I don’t think I’ll attempt running. My new snow pants are awesome, though: “Bugaboo” by Columbia. (I got them at T.J. Maxx.) They much such a difference! They really are warm, and they keep the snow and damp off me, which is even more important.

What about you? What winter exercise do you do? What are you planning on? What’s the weather like in your part of the world?

Slowly Getting Back

saddle

Whoopi-ty-aye-oh

This morning I attempted to go for a run. The weather app on my phone said it was supposed to be fairly mild (high 30s, low 40s), and the ice and snow have pretty much melted off the sidewalks for now. It was supposed to get around 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) later in the day so I thought that might make good running weather. I set out my running gear the night before. In the morning I got up early and donned it under my dog walking clothes.

I didn’t end up running, however. Once I got out with the pooch I realized that the winds were just too strong. We aren’t talking about some little gusts, we’re talking about the kinds of winds that blow over trash cans. Was it likely to blow me over? No, but I could tell it would be miserable. Instead, I pulled up the hood of my winter coat, tightened my scarf and took the dog for an extra long walk.

I was a little disappointed, but also pleased. I did what I set out to do – got up early and was ready for a run. I can’t control the weather, and the fact I bailed didn’t feel like a failure, it felt more like an affirmation. I am taking care of myself, whatever that means at the time. The weather was much milder at lunchtime, so I went for a walk then. Knowing about the wind, I specifically dressed for work in clothes that would keep me warm (tights under my dress pants, layers and a warm sweater.) I got a solid 45 minute walk in.

I read an awesome article about working out and getting older over at Stumptuous.com that reminded me why this is important. It won’t make me invincible, but in the long run, it just might make life a little better.

Winter Messages

The River in winterI’ve been feeling out of sorts lately. As I mentioned Monday, I’ve fallen out of my routines. I seem to have a slight case of the blues. It’s nothing serious, there is nothing really wrong, I just feel like the Gods of Entropy and Apathy have taken notice of me and decided to teach me a little lesson.

I think I know what started it all. The Thursday before Thanksgiving I was in a minor car accident. Really minor – an inattentive driver rear-ended me. Fortunately, it was at a traffic light and I have one of those 5 mph bumpers. Though it felt like a lot more than 5 mph when he hit me, my car was fine – not even a scratch. I did, however, bang my right knee into the steering column. (I drive a stick shift.) That knee has been giving me some grief for a couple of months now, so it took me some time to realize that the new sharp pains came from the accident. There was no visible bruising or swelling, it just hurt like someone was repeatedly hitting me with a ball peen hammer. I thought I must have really messed it up somehow. It hurt to walk the dog and it was impossible to run. Weight lifting, with all the squats, got thrown out the window too. I could have done other things, but that’s when the vindictive nature of the Twin Gods of Little Movement struck.

We all know Newton’s First Law, right?

An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

I seem to be at rest, but I want to be in motion. In order to change my state, I need some kind of force – a lever to pry me free of my inertia. With the holidays and rotten weather, I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors, much of it in front of screens. I decided it was time to get out in nature. I’m out walking the dog every day, of course, but I was feeling called to do something else.

I went for a walk in the woods.

I went on my lunch hour. It was dark, rainy, wet and cold. I was also inappropriately dressed, (since a muddy walk wasn’t my plan when I left for work that morning.) Fortunately I always keep a spare pair of walking shoes in the car. I was about 20 minutes in when I stopped to take a few photos, then walked a little further… and saw what nature wanted me to see: a pileated woodpecker. Many people see signs in every day things, like numbers or colors. I have a deep affection for birds. Some birds, of course, are particularly special. The pileated woodpecker is one of those. There he was, up in an old tree, proudly strutting his stuff.

Like me, my dad was also a bird lover. For many years I gave him books on birds and bird watching for Christmas, especially when he became sick and couldn’t read much anymore, but could still enjoy the pictures. He was amazed by the pileated woodpecker, and I remember him saying “Look at these huge woodpeckers! They are the size of a crow! I want to see one!”

As far as I know, he never did.

But I have, several times since he passed away. They are shy birds and usually found only in heavily wooded areas, like the areas up and around my cabin. Every time I see one, I think of him.

And perhaps that’s the message: Buck up, buttercup! Live large and follow your dreams. Life is a crazy thing, you can die of cancer at 59, so don’t waste it moping about – get out and do something. You’ll be glad you did.

Fair enough.

pileated woodpecker

 

Photo credit of the pileated woodpecker: Matt MacGillivray on flickr