Why, Hello Again.

This photo of my dog in the tulips is for no particular reason other than cuteness.

This photo of my dog in the tulips is for no particular reason other than cuteness.

I was going to write a long post about why I disappeared from blogging, but every time I sat down to write it, my heart sank. It just seemed so boring to write. It finally occurred to me that if I am bored writing it, it would be even worse to read it. So, in the words of the great Inigo Montoya, “Let me explain… no, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

I stopped working out, so I stopped writing.

Not my proudest moment, but there you go. Now I am working out again, I have the energy and motivation to write. I have a ton of blog posts in my head and hopefully now that life is settling back into its groove, I won’t fall off the cliff again. No promises though – it’s my blog and I can not write in it if I want to.

For now, I am lifting weights again, walking my dog and trying to eat healthy. I am also trying to make some changes in my career and around the home, (like I said, I have a lot to write about.) I am also planning on getting back to reading all those wonderful blogs that I’ve been missing. See you around!

 

 

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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!

A Wonderful Weekend

dinner table art by danehavI had a wonderful weekend. It was relaxing, calm, productive and fun – what more can you ask for? It was a lazy sort of weekend, with plenty of time to kick back and read a book, but also some really nice time with friends. Plus, I got to do those little things around the house that make me feel good: laundry, cleaning, working out, and preparing food for the upcoming week, that kind of thing.

One of the great moments was having a long talk with my boyfriend about my goals. He is so supportive. He immediately volunteered to help with my Jump Fund goals. So this weekend, we ate in. We made our meals together – pulling things out of his ‘fridge and mine. In fact, the only money either of us spent on meals for the weekend was picking up some broccoli from the local organic market.

We both love to go out to eat, but honestly, both of us have really changed our diets of late, and eating out can be tricky. Eating in, however, was pretty simple. So, it turned out to be less hassle, more fun, healthier and less expensive. Awesome!

I am not cutting out dining out all together – not by any means. In fact, we went out one night to celebrate a friend’s birthday, but we had dinner at home first, and then just had a couple of drinks at the restaurant. I think that is how I would like treat eating out – as an occasion. I want to go out to for a reason – to try someplace new, celebrate with a friend, or enjoy a special event. What I don’t want to do is go out just because I can. That means means meeting friends for lunch, but packing my own when I am not. Since I have been tracking calories I haven’t gone out that much, but before this, I would regularly go out somewhere on my own. I like solo dining, and I like getting out of the office, but there are better ways for me to do that.

All this fits really neatly into my Health and Wealth goals. I want to treat myself better, but that doesn’t always mean buying something. Just as often as not, it means eating quality food, prepared with someone I love. It means taking a long walk on my lunch hour to get out of the office, rather than fleeing to a restaurant. And when I go out? Really making it about sharing time with people I care about.

 

Photo credit: danehav

Selling and Buying

Money by AaronPatterson“Expenditure always rises to meet income.”
– C. Northcote Parkinson (July 30, 1909 – March 9, 1993)

That’s the law of finance that I am trying to beat. It is not that I don’t believe it is true – I know it is true. My goal is to try and do something about it, and I’ve made a couple of more steps in that direction.

First the selling – In addition to trying to sell some of my clothing through consignment, I just sold a ring my ex-husband had given me. It was a cute little ring and I liked it, but there were too many memories associated with it. I took it to a jeweler that bought it for the gold. Those dollars went straight into my Jump Fund. I could have probably sold it through eBay or something like that, but this was simple and easy and I was happy with it.

Now the buying – A couple of years ago I switched most of light bulbs over to cfls. I happened to get my electrical bill last week and noticed that my electrical usage is climbing. Since doing my big change over, a few (new to me) lamps have snuck their way into my house with standard incandescent bulbs, so I popped over to the store and picked up some new bulbs.

Dryer balls

When I was at the store, I noticed these dryer balls. I’ve heard good things about these in the past, and since I am nearly out of fabric softener it seemed like a good time to try them out. Plus, if they decrease drying time, that will also help the electrical bill.

I also dusted off the old drying rack. There are certain things I really like to put through the dryer, like towels, but there are plenty of others that can air dry. Or even dry partially in the dryer and then finish up in air. The first load that I ran with the dryer balls really seemed to work well, so I feel good about that.

Of course, unlike selling that old ring, these little purchases aren’t going to let me take cash and put it directly in my Jump Fund. First they have to pay for themselves (though they were pretty inexpensive) and even then, tracking the actual change they end up making is going to be tough to do. However, my goal isn’t just to put money aside for when I decide to change my life, it is also to see if there are some simple ways I can decrease my monthly bills. The less money I am spending on day to day things like utilities, the more flexibility I will have.

My boyfriend and I were talking about this a little the other night. The truth is, I don’t know what it is that I want to do, I just know that it isn’t what I am doing now. That isn’t to say my life is bad, it isn’t! It is full of great and wonderful things. I just get the feeling there is more out there… and I am going to find it.

 

Photo credit: Aaron Patterson

Green Eyed Monster

Grown men fighting in 1938 by Smabs Sputzer

I want to punch my coworker in the face.

Smug bastard, he is walking around here all happy and unaware that I want to give him a black eye… maybe two.

What has he done to become so happy and become the target of my wrath?

He quit.

Now let’s be clear. His quitting will have very little to do with me. Oh, it might make things a little more complicated around the office, but nothing terrible. It isn’t like I will have to pick up his work or anything. No, the reason I am seething has very little to do with him – and whole lot to do with myself.

A Little Background

I work for a small company of roughly 13 people, (…make that 12,) and here’s the thing – we are like Hotel California, no one ever leaves. Roger, my coworker, started just a couple of months before I did – 14 years ago. That’s right, I have been working at the same company for 14 years.

That isn’t to say that people aren’t asked to leave. Over the years many people have been laid off or fired, but there just haven’t been that many that have chosen to leave on their own. There was a gal three years ago who left to be a stay at home mom and a gentleman a few years before that who decided to go back to school to a university across the country. Of course, he continued to work for us on a freelance basis. The only other person I remember leaving was someone who left to start his own business, and again, he’s continued to work for us now and again.

Why do people stay? They stay for all the reasons you might imagine. The pay and the benefits are good. The work is stable and secure (we haven’t laid anyone off in years.) It is a challenging environment, but in a good way – rarely stressful. The work changes enough to keep it interesting. I have solid coworkers who aren’t into office politics or being pains in the ass. While it is not exactly the kind of job you jump out of bed for in the morning, it is one you feel good about going to. In all, it is a very good place to work.

Roger and I have been carpooling for about three years. While I won’t call us close friends, (we don’t associate outside of the office much,) we have certainly shared a lot in those daily car rides, and in truth, I am happy for him. He seems to be starting a new phase of his life.

…but that is also why I want to punch him. I admit it, I’m jealous. It isn’t that I want another job, I am happy where I am. I am jealous because he is taking that leap of faith – starting something new. I want to start something new!!

The only slight problem here is that I have no idea what it is that I want to do. I really need to figure that out before I go jumping off ledges. Here’s what I do know:

I have a huge project that ends in June, but another that starts in May and runs through September. That is going to keep me hopping through the spring and summer. For my own sense of sanity, I am trying to keep the rest of my life fairly stable. I’m going to keep working on my weight, and keep managing the finances so I can add more to the jump fund, but I am not looking to add anything else. Change, as wonderful as it can be, can also be really stressful.

I am also going to keep reading, keep writing and keep thinking about what “happiness” means to me… What am I going to do to make coworkers want to punch me?

 

Awesome illustration from Smabs Sputzer

 

Health and Wealth

Seed by the yes man

“Life is not mere living but the enjoyment of health.”
– Marital, Epigrams, 1st Cent. A.D.

Weight Loss and Jump Fund Update:

I had a wonderful weekend. Perhaps inspired by the Dave Wood quote I posted the other day (“Instead of waiting for your two week vacation every year, why don’t you create a life you don’t have to escape from?”) I treated the weekend like a vacation – I read books, I napped and I relaxed. I also did some of the things that make me happy: I had a great hour long talk with one of my dearest and closest friends, I took several long rambling walks with my dog, and got to spend some time with my boyfriend. I also took care of a number of projects that have been on my “to-do” list for awhile. Those types of things don’t make me happy exactly, but they do give me a sense of of satisfaction.

My weight loss continues to go well. I am really happy with the way things are progressing and I am finding that I have a lot more energy! At first I thought it was just increased stamina, but I haven’t significantly changed my exercise. Now I think it is more because of how I eat. I’ve cut out a lot of white flour products, not because I can’t have them, but because the “cost ratio” of the calories is too high. (I’d rather eat vegetables – I get to have twice as much and they provide more nutrients!) I think that has effected my blood sugar. I am having a lot fewer dips in energy, and just generally feeling better. Of course, not carrying around a extra stone of weight doesn’t hurt either.

My other project for the next couple of months is to track my spending habits, looking for ways I can improve things. I am creating a Jump Fund, money set aside to create a better and happier future. This weekend I found a way to to combine the two! On Saturday I decided to try my hand at selling some clothes by consignment.

Since I have been losing weight, my clothes are getting pretty big on me. I work in an office and have some fairly nice things. Rather than just trying to get a couple of bucks for them at a garage sale or just donating them outright, I thought I would see if I could use this as an opportunity to put a little extra money in my fund. I have several great consignment shops around me, so I decided to try it out. I picked out four name brand items that were that were in great condition that I had tried to wear last week but had found were too big. Instead of driving to the shop, I put them in a bag and walked over. The shop took three of the four things to try to sell, so we will see how it goes!

I then hiked over to my local organic grocery. I was out of eggs and wanted to do some cooking over the weekend. From the grocery, I walked home. Total distance? 1.84 miles. Normally, I would have I driven to both of these places, but it felt good to walk instead. I saved some gas and burned calories at the same time!

Seeing the actual distance, it seems a bit pathetic that I would have driven before, but I think I tend to exaggerate distances in my mind. I knew these places were within walking distance – I walk by them all the time with my dog. But, to go to both, planning on having to carry things? Yeah, I would have driven. But a good sturdy bag and some good shoes were all I really needed.

I figure that every single time I can walk somewhere rather than drive, I am adding to both of my goals. It makes me really grateful that I live in an awesome, vibrant neighborhood in a great city.

 

Photo credit: the yes man

 

Walkin’, Yes Indeed

Walking

I mentioned recently that I am trying to spend more time walking. I thought I would post a quick follow up:

Things are going quite well. In addition to my twice a day walks with the pooch, I have walked to my doctor’s office, to my hair salon and to the theatre downtown. These trips are ones that out of habit I would have traditionally done by car. None of them, however, are much more than a mile away and all of them took less than 20 minutes one way.

We also had some rare sunshine here in the Midwest so I used that opportunity to take a 30 minute walk on my lunch hour. I was planning on running errands, but instead I chose to take a walk. I mean, you don’t get sun here in the winter very often – you have to soak it up when you can!

It isn’t all unicorns and flowers though. I almost skipped that theatre trip. It was dark and cold and I had just walked the dog for a half hour, I wasn’t feeling up to another 20 minutes on a dreary winter night. I ended up doing it mostly because I bribed myself with wine. (If you walk, you will burn enough calories that you have plenty left over from today to have a glass of wine. Walk woman, walk!) By the time I got home though, I just crashed into bed and never did have that wine. phoo.

Here’s what I keep telling myself though: 1) Walking is good for my health. I am burning calories and building up stamina. 2) It is good for the environment  Every time I don’t start my car, I am helping out a little. 3) It is good for my Jump Fund. Okay, I know that at roughly $.50 a mile, I am not piling wads of cash into my savings, but every single shekel counts, right? A penny saved and all that…

So, I’m going to keep on walking. It is, after all, when I do my best thinking. And when I draft most of the blog posts I write!

Preparing to Jump

Jump by Aza RaskinAs a young gal I was a big fan of the works of Robert Anson Heinlein. Mr. Heinlein was a prolific science fiction writer, and many of his characters shared the same characteristics – they were always “prepared to jump.” Typically his characters (both the men and women) held multiple university degrees, could cook, were excellent with firearms, and were always prepared to leave their current planet for a new one if everything went sideways. Part of being prepared meant having a stash of cash available (usually in multiple currencies) so that his characters could get out of town fast.

I’m not planning on leaving town, (and I already have an emergency fund to take care of that proverbial “broken water heater” that financial gurus always mention,) but I am almost 40 and thinking a lot about the future. I am starting to dream about what I want the next 40 years to look like. Plus, I keep seeing things like this:

The thing about dreams, though, is that they can easily get derailed by a lack of cash. How often are we afraid to take a leap of faith because of a fear about money? Whatever the dream is – starting a new business, going back to school, changing careers, travelling around the world – it all takes money. We have so many day to day expenses that dreams and ambitions get pushed to the sideline.

Like most people, I suspect, I have a whole list of things that I would like to do before I die. What I am trying to do is figure out what is going to be the most meaningful and bring me the most happiness. I honestly don’t know what that is going to look like yet. I do know, however, that having a stash of cash can’t hurt – and can only help. Perhaps all it will do is give me the strength and courage to take a leap in a new direction, but that is enough.

Now, I believe that people are very bad at focusing on more than a couple of things at a time. I have so much in my life that I care about – my relationship with my boyfriend, friends and family, my career, my volunteer work, my home, my dog, and just all around living. I also have one big goal that is taking up a lot of my attention – my weight loss. I don’t want to take anything away from all that. The weight loss is going incredibly well but I have goals yet to achieve.

So, after thinking about it the last couple of days, (Walking the dog is a great time for thinking!) I have a very simple plan. Over the next three months I am going to monitor my spending. I am not going to try to change it; I am just going to try to spend more time thinking about each purchase I make. I am also going to look for ways to adjust my budget a bit, make a little more room for savings. I’ve done this before, and I know I can do it again.

June has always been a good month for me to overhaul my finances. Hopefully by then I will have achieved more of my weight loss goals and have more energy to focus on it. (If not, I’ll push it back a month or two.) Ultimately, I want to be a little smarter with my savings and put a bit away, not as a “rainy day” fund, but as a “create a fulfilling life” fund.

When the time comes to jump into that new life – I’ll be ready.

 

Photo credit: Aza Raskin