Sunday Check-In: Snow, St. Joseph and Single Gals

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The last two weekends were very full of activity, plus I was really sick the week of Thanksgiving, so I decided to be grateful for some downtime and do whatever I wanted to this weekend. I made no plans other than to follow my nose and get my house clean.

Friday night I decided last minute to meet my friends Karen and Bob down at the Christmas tree lighting in downtown St. Joe. The lights have been up for awhile, but Friday was the office ceremony where they flipped the switch.

Sometimes this town reminds me of a movie set. With its quaint Victorian beauty and charm, it’s the ideal place for little hometown gatherings. We are so lucky because we have fantastic restaurants and an abundance of locally-owned small business. In fact, most of the businesses that were here 13 years ago are open and still thriving. I give a lot of credit to the influx of Chicago folks that swarm the area to enjoy the beach in the summer. They bring lots of money and “vacation spending” which focuses on the small businesses that stay creative. As a perk, the locals get to enjoy the benefits after the crowds leave. It’s like an 8 month beach vacation (albeit cold) right at home.

Friday night was no different. The storefronts featured live mannequins, and local crowds were walking in the streets with their dogs, kids and elderly relatives in wheelchairs. It was just so sweet and festive. I grabbed a hot chocolate and brought Ashok with me to enjoy the lights down on the bluff. The light show lined the sidewalk on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, and I felt so happy to be a part of it this year.

 

Most of the day Saturday I ran errands and cleaned my house. I picked up a snow shovel because this is the week it starts. We have snow in the forecast three times this week. A man at the Christmas lights fest laughed at me in my parka for the 40-degree evening. He said we are getting a polar vortex this week. A couple of years ago they had one come through, and it dropped to 40 below. Note: I checked the weather. This one is not going to be that bad… but it will bring snow. So, now I have a snow shovel and a bag of Safe Paw snow melt on order from Amazon. I’m just about ready.

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I decided to go down to the local skating rink for Open Skate last night. It’s an outdoor rink, so it didn’t open until it turned colder which was right around the holiday. It was my first time at an Open Skate not designed for people taking lessons, and I enjoyed the high energy skating of the teens and pre-teens on the ice. As I plodded around with my tiny little glides, I hoped that one day I would be as comfortable as the rest of the folks out there. A lady and her daughter looked so graceful skating around in their figure skates. I wanted what they had.

When I was taking off my skates, I happened to be sitting next to the lady that was ice skating so beautifully. I asked her how long she’d been skating, and she said this was her first time back after 4 years. To my surprise, she and her lovely daughter had just moved here in the last couple of months from Vermont. She needed a life change after a divorce. She chose this area because her sisters lives close by in Chicago. But she fell in love with St. Joe. I have met so many women my age and older who have moved here to retire or to start over. In fact my whole block is full of single women. I got her number, and I hope to catch up with her soon. I won’t be skating with her for awhile, but we can sure grab a hot chocolate or go for a stroll downtown.

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I started today with some yoga and meditation. I have my ice skating lessons this afternoon, and I plan to meet a new friend for coffee and a bite to eat afterwards. I hope today will be a lazy day. It’s cold, and we are supposed to get our first “sticking” snow tonight. We are looking at 3-5 inches if the forecasters are on target. I may have to get up early and shovel snow in the morning! I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Should I … or Shouldn’t I?

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Stolen from Pinterest

For the last six months, I’ve been noodling letting my hair go gray. When I wore my hair really short, I never worried about gray. I tossed some store-bought hair dye on my locks and cut it off every month as it grew out. Color was not a problem. Actually, my hair was not a problem. I had very little of it and loved it. But, since I’ve let my hair grow the last three years, I’ve had to start “having my roots done”. Salon time is so NOT me. It drives me crazy having to keep up with this.

My friend Laura is one of my first girlfriends who decided to kick the habit and let her natural locks come in. She’s edgy and stylish and smart and professional. What’s not to love?

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And my sexy friend Keri has always had gorgeous platinum locks. She went gray really early in her life. People compliment her hair all the time, and she’s so young, they probably think she dyes it that way.

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Today, Keri posted this pic of this 60 year old swimsuit model who has always embraced her silver hair. I keep tabling the whole “gray” issue because of the commitment it will take (and the worry of what it will look like), but her post got me to thinking.

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So I spent awhile this afternoon reading about women who have made the transition to gray. Just like the transition to curly hair, it takes time and energy and products. It also takes a change of perspective. I had to grow into my curls. I think it’s time I grew into my gray. At least the curls will keep it interesting.

My friend Jerry suggested that I look for an app to see how my hair might look gray. One of my hairstylists told me that gray won’t look good on me with my warm skin tone. And it may not. I know I don’t really like highlights in my hair that much. But, the thing is, gray is not a style. It’s my hair. And it doesn’t mean that I can’t enhance it with some special effects. I just won’t have to be going in to color my roots like some kind of slave to hair dye. I’ve never liked being told what to do, and I don’t like my hair telling me what to do either.

So I found this app that let’s you try out hairstyles, and I tried on the gray. Granted, my hair color may not be just like this. I know for a fact that I am entirely gray at my temples, but only about 40% – 50% gray on the top of my head. I may end up looking like a mess, but I’d love to know what it really looks like so I can make a decision on whether or not I like it. I’ve often thought I’d like to put a colorful stripe in it just for fun. Or maybe I would decide to add some lowlights or highlights. There’s all kinds of things I could do that would not involve the root drama every 5 – 6 weeks.

My friend Jenny says I’m still too young for gray. Maybe I am. Maybe I’m ready for gray. I guess I’ll never know until I try. But I see all of these beautiful women embracing their gray, and I found out today that many of my friends are already making the journey. It feels like a bold way to say that I am embracing all that I am right now.

Chasing the Gerbil: Detachment

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I’ve been around quite a few surly, angry people in the last couple of days. The holidays bring out the best in us, don’t they? Yesterday I walked into a room, and, if looks could kill, I’d be dead as a doornail now and probably beaten to a pulp, too. It was so over the top and unwarranted that I wanted to repeat my Mother’s favorite phrase, “Your face is going to freeze like that, honey.” But all I could do is laugh inside. I don’t even know this person’s name and really didn’t recognize her face. What could I have done to make her so angry?

I was so thrilled to open my “Language of Letting Go” and see that my favorite reading of all time was slated for today. Melody Beattie has a way of talking to me in her writing that gets to me on a deep level, but I remember how this particular reading resonated with me when I was in my second marriage. I was insistent that my ex had to stop treating me like he was. (Take a break and read the reading here.)

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The synopsis – for those who don’t want to read it – is that the Beattie family had a gerbil. The little critter got loose one day, and they couldn’t catch it. It lived for months on the loose in the house. The whole family – and Melody, the codependent, in particular – was adamant that this couldn’t happen. They could not live with a gerbil on the loose in the house. Every time it ran by, they screamed at it, lunged at it, chased it and tried to catch it. The gerbil would run and hide. Finally, Melody saw it one day and started to lunge at it. She just let go. She decided if that critter wanted to live on the loose then so be it. She was tired of being obsessed by it. Ironically, when she stopped chasing it, the gerbil walked by, sat down right in front of her and waited for her to pick it up. Detachment works.

Detachment, for me, is the greatest form of sanity. Sometimes I’m not able to detach, and I wring my hands, get irritated, obsessively worry and rant about whatever situation “should not happen”. If something happens, it can absolutely happen. It did. That woman had no right to look at me that way, and she shouldn’t be doing it. Well, she did. It happened. My ex should not talk to me the way he did. Why not? That’s who he was. And it happened. The only choice I have is to get myself out of the way of that behavior so it doesn’t bother me. Was it harder to detach from a surly husband than that woman I hardly knew? Yes, of course. But the principle is the same. They are who they are. I can be in their space and be affected or just let them be who they are without obsessing about how to change their behavior.

This week I committed to practicing yoga and meditation before I go to work. I feel much more grounded. The after effects of my practice give me a few more seconds between an event and my reaction. In that few seconds, I have a chance to decide if I need to be bothered about something and react. I can’t explain it. That’s just what yoga and meditation do for me. And today, I’m reminded about that gerbil. I don’t have to make someone stop behaving the way they are. I just have to detach.

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What are you chasing relentlessly thinking it should not be happening? What would happen if you just decided that if it’s happening, it must be okay for it to happen? How much saner would you feel if you accepted that it was “not ideal” but in the realm of normal? Would YOU feel better?

I have a feeling I will be dealing with some gerbils running loose in the house today. I think I’ll just let them run – or scowl or rant. They can do whatever they want to do – and probably will. Eventually they’ll get hungry or tire themselves out, right? I’ll just try to focus on how cute they are. We’ll see how it goes.

Sunday Night Check-In: Hiking, Swizzling and Twinkling

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I was sick in bed over Thanksgiving, and since I didn’t want to ruin other people’s holidays by giving them what I had, I stayed home. There was no turkey or dressing or anything festive at my home. I ate leftover pizza all day Thursday. Honestly, I felt like crap, but it was a great excuse to rest without any guilt over house cleaning, chores or spending money. I watched movies, slept, read, slept and then went to bed and slept.

Yesterday, I took the opportunity to get out in St. Joe with a new friend to see the town and shop a bit. Holiday decorations were up, and I made a mental note to take Ashok for a walk in the evening to see the lights. I actually ran into 4 people I knew while I was downtown. I guess I’m going to have to behave myself here. One woman stopped me and asked if I worked at Whirlpool. She said she’d recognize those curls anywhere.

I just LOVE Caffe Tosi!

I bundled up last night to go see the lights, but most of them won’t be lit until this Friday. I’ll have to make time this weekend to get out and about. It was still beautiful, and I enjoyed being warm and cozy in my new LL Bean coat and wool tights. I made a run to LL Bean in Chicago last week to stock up on winter outerwear for both me and Ashok. I hope that we are all set. I know last night I felt warm and toasty and was even sweating by the time I got home. That being said, it was only in the low 40s. The temperature will be dropping much lower than that in no time.

This morning I got up and decided to take a drive in the hopes of finding a trail or two. I stopped first at my favorite breakfast place from 13 years ago and had a frittata with sweet potatoes and avocado. The Blue Plate Cafe serves wonderful organic coffee and homemade baked goods along with a healthy assortment of brunch and lunch dishes. It is located on the Red Arrow Highway (I call it the Red Arrow Drive, and you can get info here.) which leads to a string of little beach towns between here and Indiana. When we were dating, my second husband and I used to go to yoga every Saturday morning in Indiana and then stop by the Blue Plate for breakfast. We had some great times there and often brought our friends from St. Joe to both yoga and breakfast. It was a ritual that I remember fondly.

But this morning breakfast was followed by a search for a trail. I finally landed on a little area called Warren Woods. (Warren Woods and Warren Dunes were named after a guy who made his fortune creating the featherbone corset.) The signs say it is a primeval forest, and it was lovely. The sun wasn’t out, but it was only in the 40s so it wasn’t too cold. Ashok and I hiked for about an hour and a half beside the marsh and a small creek. We saw several other dogs with their owners, but it was mostly very quiet and pleasant. The area reminded me a lot of the Wild Azalea Trail  in Louisiana except for this sign that greeted us at the beginning.

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After hiking, I did some grocery shopping and then reported to my ice skating lesson. I’m happy to report that I’m improving. At my second lesson, Mindy taught us to “swizzle”, but I have not been able to get it successfully. Tonight, about halfway through the open skate, everything clicked, and I was doing my swizzles! I was thrilled.

I inquired as to what will happen after our next two lessons are completed, and Mindy said I can actually take lessons through June. I’m thinking I just may do it. These things take time to learn, and if I commit to a season of lessons, maybe I’ll be good enough at ice skating to have some fun with it. And I’m making some new friends, too!

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Since half of my holiday was spent being sick, and the other half was canceled due to work, I’m wishing I had a little more time off. But, tomorrow is Monday, and we are on the home stretch to our “live date” for our new organization. I’ll be glad when we are settled in to our new world. My goal this week is to spend a little time each day in meditation, work out 5 days at least and continue eating healthy with minimal sugar. We’ll see how it goes.

Have a great week, y’all and make some time to enjoy the holiday lights. They’ll be gone before you can blink an eye.

So, This is Change

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“So this is change,” my wise friend Nancy said to me on the phone yesterday, “which is why everybody resists it, right? All your sh*t starts coming up, and it’s painful. And we do this sh*t sober,” she added. “It’s not easy.”

Ahhhhhh …. the beauty of friends who get it. Nancy and I are definitely sisters somewhere in the Universe, and we are somehow on the same train once again in this life. She relocated to Chicago right when I got here and started her own new job at one of her former companies. I have never been so grateful for a set of matching circumstances in my life. Our reports mimic each other on a daily basis. And her words reminded me that I’m not going through a hard time. I’m just going through change.

Out of curiosity, I looked up my blogs from October/November 2013 because I would have been in the same “place” in my relocation journey. I saw myself trying to connect with old friends from Memphis, out exploring the area and spending time nesting at home. But when I read between the lines, I remember what I was feeling and thinking at that time. “What did I just do?” I would ask myself but brush it away just as quickly so as not to second-guess my decision. I felt lonely. My old friendships were fading into the background due to distance, and there was nothing new to really take their place. I was surrounded by acquaintances and hungering for something deeper.

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Image from Fab After Forty Blog

Martha Beck writes about change. My Meetup Group in Baton Rouge read one of her books on change. At the time I knew I was going to have to change again in a big way. My job in Louisiana didn’t look promising, and it’s really important that a single gal have job stability. But I remember pinpointing that I was in the “exploration” phase of change. I didn’t yet know what I wanted to do, but I felt like I needed to do something. The book helped me stop trying to figure it out and just enjoy the research. It was probably about that time I signed up for Career Counseling which eventually led me here to Whirlpool.

In this article on human metamorphosis, Beck explains the four phases that we need to go through in order to change. Just because I’m in my job and in my new house, it doesn’t mean that my psyche has caught up. My surroundings have changed, but Sharon is still the gal that left Louisiana unexpectedly just as she was starting to adapt. In one of my blogs in October of 2013, I was excited about my upcoming “running season”. In hindsight I know that running season was doomed, and running endurance races wouldn’t work out for me down there. That was a huge part of my life in Memphis that fell away. As time went on in Baton Rouge, I learned to hate running in traffic, sweltering in the heat and I never really found a social running option. I know that my life will change here, too. I just don’t yet know how.

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I think I’m at the end of the “dissolving phase” and the start of the “imagining phase”. I’m still struggling a bit in finding a daily routine that works for me, getting my yoga and meditation practice going, and meeting like-minded friends. Everything has changed. Every relationship is new down to the barista at the coffee shop and the receptionist at the vet. The food is different. I’ve lost my year-round local produce but I’ve gained access to a freezer full of Great Lakes Fish. Even my hours at work are different, and my morning routine is struggling to adjust. I liked my morning routine! But it’s doomed to be revised. It’s not bad. It’s just different.

My close friendships are changing. They have to adjust to the amount of space between us now due to distance. I know from experience that some won’t survive. Others will shift, and we’ll find a new normal. There is loss in that, and, in some cases, there is relief from needed change.

So, what to do now? Martha suggests the following, and, ironically, it’s just what I had planned this week. In fact, when a friend asked what I was doing for Thanksgiving, I said, “I don’t know. I’m going to take it an hour at a time.” And I’ve ended up doing exactly what she recommends below. Perhaps I get this more than I thought.

In Phase 1, Live One Day (or 10 minutes) at a Time
Instead of dwelling on hopes and fears about an unknowable future, focus your attention on whatever is happening right now.

“Cocoon” by Caring For Yourself in Physical, Immediate Ways
Wrap yourself in a blanket, make yourself a cup of hot tea, attend an exercise class, whatever feels comforting.

Talk to Others Who Have Gone Through a Metamorphosis
If you don’t have a wise relative or friend, a therapist can be a source of reassurance.

Let Yourself Grieve
Even if you are leaving an unpleasant situation (a bad marriage, a job you didn’t like), you’ll probably go through the normal human response to any loss: the emotional roller coaster called the grieving process. You’ll cycle through denial, anger, sadness, and acceptance many times. Just experiencing these feelings will help them pass more quickly.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Ashok and I are spending it curled up on the couch while the cats slumber in another room. When I finish this, I plan to read Einstein’s biography and maybe even take a nap. Although most people seem to be pushing me to find something to do socially on this holiday, I am most grateful to have zero obligations. Perhaps today is best spent in a cocoon with a hot mocha and a good book. But I leave myself room to change my mind if I need something else in an hour. I hope you’ll do the same. Change is good even if it’s not easy.

Gratitude and Acceptance

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There is so much in my life right now that I am having difficulty accepting. I don’t want to get into the details because that’s part of the problem. I’m in the details at 2:30 AM in my bed, in the bathroom at work, while I’m walking my dog and when I’m trying to enjoy a nice view. The hamster wheel in my mind is furiously spinning with the huge problems that will befall me if what is happening today continues. And yet I know it’s just a hamster wheel. It’s not truly going anywhere, and my worry predicts nothing.

This morning’s reading in “The Language of Letting Go” is about practicing acceptance and gratitude whenever I feel out of sorts. There are times when I’m not ready to hear that message. But I hit a low the last two days. And I just can’t do it anymore. The hamster wheel is flying off it’s rails, and I don’t have the energy to put it back on. I’m tired of feeling sick and tired. So, when I read that this morning, it sunk in.

I am grateful for so many things. I was born with talent and intelligence and have been offered many opportunities to grow and change. Somehow I was born with the will to look inward and the desire to solve my internal problems which seems to be the difference between a life of mediocre striving and one of joy. I am grateful for that. I am even grateful for those experiences that have held me to the fire. Without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I still have much to work out, but I’m grateful that I’m breathing this morning with another chance of going at it.

Acceptance comes harder because I have this idiotic belief that if I want something to be different bad enough, it will change. I cry, “This is unacceptable!” In my twisted thoughts, I think the situation needs to change, and I’ll worry and work and worry and work trying to make it change. The reality is my mind needs to change. One of my favorite sayings is from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:

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There are a few problems in my life that I cannot fix on my own right now. There is very little I can control. But I can shift my mind into gratitude and acceptance of where I am at this moment. Like every other moment, this, too, shall pass. Things will get better … or they’ll get worse. But the truth is they will never stay the same. And I’m very grateful about that. Now I just need to work on the acceptance. Grrrr….. 

Anger: A Cover for Fear

Man, is the world angry right now! Facebook is literally going to blow up from all the infighting. I keep wanting to deactivate my account, but I can’t stop watching. I tried to post my opinion a couple of times, but “friends” jumped on it like white on rice to tell me what an idiot I am. I just decided it’s not worth it to post my opinion since even the winners are acting like a bunch of angry bees.

My reading this morning happened to be about anger. What an appropriate topic at the moment. Melody Beattie made the point that it’s okay to be angry. Anger is a very healthy emotion. It’s not healthy to be resentful. I have watched with great interest the resentment over the past 8 years on Facebook to the current administration. It was ugly, and it made me question many of my relationships with people. It had nothing to do with the fact that we had opposing political beliefs and everything to do with their inability to process anger and move through it.

Anger is toxic if it turns into resentment. I’ve been in relationships where anger was the primary emotion. I feel unsafe in those environments. In fact, I AM unsafe in those environments. Being in relationship with chronically angry people breeds imbalances in power, resentments, abuse and pain in general. Anger is a low-vibrating energy, and it lowers the vibration of everyone it touches. And anger makes you sick. It causes and fuels addictions, heart disease and a whole host of other life-shortening health issues.

But anger is a healthy emotion if processed. A counselor once told me that anger is a great signal that something is wrong. She advised me to take notice when I am angry. “When you feel that churning inside, ask yourself what you fear? Or are you hurt? Use it as a way to understand what you are feeling,” she said, “and then do something about it.” I laughed, “You mean you don’t just punch them in the face?”

Anger is a secondary emotion. It is what we go to when we feel most vulnerable. It helps us cover up victimizing feelings. When I’m angry, I feel like I’m in control. I feel like I’m “better than” or “smarter than” or superior in some way. It feels like there is a ready solution for a complex situation. That feels so much better than being afraid. And, in some instances, it protects us. If I feel angry because somebody hit me, I can get myself out of there or protect myself physically. If I just swallow my anger like I’ve done for many years, I can end up being angry at myself and internalizing it. And anger turned inward causes depression. Unprocessed anger makes us sick, too.

So I allow myself to get angry. I try not to lash out, but I do on occasion. When somebody steps on my foot, I snap back. I’m beginning to process the anger I’m feeling right now about the election. I’m fearful for our country. Even if I supported this candidate, it is big change. And change is scary. The fact that I’m a woman and felt disrespected during the course of his campaign just makes the fear bigger. That’s what is underneath my anger.

As I’ve gone through the week, I’ve talked to others that are safe, and I’ve processed my feelings. I’ve helped them process their feelings. I’ve heard a lot of f-bombs, and that’s okay.  I’m starting to feel better although the fear boils up every now and again igniting a new burst of anger. But, I’m trying to remember that God is my source of safety. And, honestly, I’ve thrived in this man’s world even though the odds were against me. It’s been easier the last administration, but I can get through it. I have an army of like-minded friends, and I plan to gather myself into their arms and move forward being who and what I am.

I have decided, though, to change the way I use Facebook. Honestly, it’s been painful to be around so much negativity during this administration and the ensuing election. I would unfollow people, but they would still jump on my posts and try to argue with me. My Facebook group is going to be much smaller. It will consist of people that truly know me and that are kind and positive regardless of their political stance. I’ve spent enough years of my life in relationship with chronically angry people, and I’m sick of it. I want to be able to speak my mind without being criticized. I have a right to my opinion.

Most people will work through their anger/fear, and others will continue to seeth for years. I just don’t want to be in that space. If there’s something to be fearful of, I can only deal with it when it happens anyway. I’ll just surround myself with the safety that I desire and continue to walk my path. It’s the only thing I know to do until something better presents itself.

 

Sunday Night Check-In: Skating, Gumbo and a Super Moon

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At the skating rink…

I’m starting to feel more confident about my ice skating… getting my skating legs I guess. That being said, I’m still slow as Christmas and fell right on my ass tonight. But, seems that’s a good place to fall since it didn’t hurt at all. I’m enjoying it. I like my coach Mindy, and the women that are in my beginning group are really sweet. We are all progressing slowly but surely.

I’m trying to do “swizzles” here. They are awkward!

I fell off the wagon a couple of days with sugar this week self-medicating from my distress about this election. But I was kind of proud of myself that I pulled myself together and got back on track. I also decided to sign up for Jessica’s (the Bitch) Virtual Boot Camp. I joined the Renaissance Athletic Club here. It’s a really nice club, but I have a hard time getting to classes. My best time to work out is first thing in the morning. The boot camp offers 30-minute workout plans, and Jessica says they are really effective. She’s worked out for many, many years, and she said these have totally transformed her body composition. She loves them. I did three of the workouts last week even though I had a hard time getting to the gym. I’m encouraged that I got on track and stuck with it. Tomorrow it’ll be up at 4:30 so I can get there at 5 AM to work out.

My new hairdresser Jose cut my hair this weekend for the first time. He did pretty good!

My big task this weekend was to make gumbo. I’m having some girlfriends from Whirlpool over Tuesday night for a gumbo dinner, and it’s been awhile since I made one. I chose chicken and sausage, and I really enjoyed cooking this morning. There’s something therapeutic about making a roux. I watched a couple of YouTube videos on making a roux even though I’ve done many in my life. It was interesting that so many different versions could exist when it’s such a simple little thing. The one below is the one I ended up emulating this morning.

I plan to take vacation this Friday through the Thanksgiving week. I’m so looking forward to having some extended time off. Ever since I got laid off two days after my May vacation, I have not had any vacation time. And when I moved in, I literally moved in one afternoon and went right back to work the next morning. I just need some time to chill. My parents might come up Thanksgiving week, and my friend JoAnn arrives Friday on the City of New Orleans in Chicago. One of my favorite things to do is enjoy the Christmas festivities and decorations in Chicago. Ironically, JoAnn and I had already planned to come up here for Christmas before I moved. Who knew I’d be living here?

I walked around downtown Kalamazoo before ice skating….

That Super Moon was hanging in the sky tonight. I could see it in my rearview window as I drove in from Kalamazoo. It hung low but bright even as the sun’s light was still on the horizon. They say this is the closest the moon has been to the earth since 1948, and it won’t be this close again until 2034. If I’m lucky, I’ll be 73 when it passes by again. I wonder what the world will look like then. I hope that I’ll be in good enough spirits and health to enjoy it. That’s only 18 years away. My, time is sure going fast.

Stop and smell the roses this week. Time is fleeting. 

Exercise Your Right to Vote: Majority Rules

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November 8 is heading this way like the train I’m riding on now. This time next weekend, it will all be over. My friend Thomas posted that he hopes that when all of this is over that everyone will move on with their lives and engage our political system by writing your congressman and senators instead of acting like a jerk on Facebook (my words not his).

I’ll just say this. Whether or not you believe that America was ever great or kind or nothing of the sort, please get out and vote. Our nation is – if it ever was truly great – great because it is a democracy. People in other countries wait in line for days in brutal conditions just to have the opportunity to vote. For much of our history, certain groups were not allowed to vote. Blacks were given the right to vote in 1870, and women were finally granted the right to vote in 1920. If you are a woman or an African-American, get out and vote. There are people who gave up their very lives for us to have the right.

I have voted for many presidential candidates that did not win. There have been years that I haven’t voted. I never vote a single party line. But the one thing I know for sure is that my life has never ended because my candidate did not win, and it hasn’t gotten any worse. My life’s ups and downs happen largely because of my own decisions and choices. But I can say that my quality of life at work has increasingly improved because of the protections and laws that have been put in place to enable women to be who they are in the workplace and not face discriminatory practices. In my own experience, the workplace environment has improved dramatically over the course of my career. So, I believe it’s heading in the right direction.

 

I expect that this will continue to improve regardless of who wins as I know that there are checks and balances in our political system. Do I think our system is corrupt? Yes, I do. Do I think it works well? No, not really. But in comparison to what other countries endure, we have it great.

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For me, it’s a matter of setting expectations and changing focus. If I focus on the world coming to an end because my presidential candidate doesn’t win, I’ll probably be pretty scared about Tuesday. If I focus on my faith and what I can do to make my part of the world a more loving place, life will go on. My belief is very strong that God is in charge and whatever the outcome of this election, the world will keep on turning. We’ll just reap what we sow, and in a democracy you reap with the majority. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Get over it. Cheer or cry with your like-minded friends and then go find something fun to do that doesn’t include shooting other people.

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So I urge you to get out and vote. If the majority chooses a different candidate than you would like, I urge you to focus your efforts on productive ways to make changes and be grateful that God put you in a country where you had a say. If the majority votes with you, please don’t expect that the world is suddenly going to turn in your favor. Nothing happens like that in our political system. This is a country of all kinds of people, and we have to share the wealth and the problems. In my opinion, if you were born in this country or were able to move here, you have won the lifetime lottery. It really doesn’t get a whole lot better than this. It’s not perfect but we aren’t dodging bullets on the way to the grocery… yet.

Please get out and vote!! 

Food, Sugar and Bouncing Back

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It has been a crazy 4 months for me. In fact, it goes back even further than that. Almost all of this year has been one stressful event after another. I’m ready for some normalcy. (And I know I shouldn’t ask for that… knock on wood.) I had settled into a very healthy routine in Louisiana with fairly regular exercise and healthy eating with an occasional splurge at Magpie. The fact that I had year-long access to local produce was a huge benefit. But the stress of the last few months has tested my fortitude, and I’m making my way to get back on track.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that in the last few years I’ve struggled with the weird effects that coffee, flour and sugar now seem to have on my body. Any of the three seem to ramp up my anxiety to a level where I can’t sleep at night. I get caught in this vicious cycle of craving and crashing and basically feeling like crap. And, of course, all I craved during this time has been the trifecta of ill health for me. And I indulged. To top it off, my exercise became much more intermittent although I did continue to walk and run/walk on occasion. Ashok makes sure of that. But even my yoga practice has suffered. I haven’t struck a pose in quite awhile.

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My sister started inspiring me about the time I got here to Michigan. She’s started exercising regularly for its health benefits and has really taken to a regular routine of getting up at 4:30 in the morning to “get ‘er done”. Keep in mind that my sister is not a morning person like me. This was something that she decided was in her best interest, and she has willed herself to get up and get going. And she’s having such great results and is so excited about her journey that she inspired me. That’s what’s funny about life. She says I inspired her to get healthier and then she starts inspiring me. It’s why we have each other!

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I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, and, in fact, at one time I was a Weight Watchers leader. I joined the online program and have been tracking my food and exercise since August. I say that as a broad overview because I have not been consistent, and it has been a struggle. I gained about 8 pounds during my move and the preceding layoff in the spring. While that’s not a bunch, it’s not easy to get off. My clothes were starting to feel too tight, and I’m not willing to invest in a new wardrobe. So I kept with it. I’d fall off the wagon a few days and get back on for an hour or a day or even a few days. My sister was doing it… I had to keep trying!!

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I’m happy to report that I’m within my normal range of weight although I’m looking to take off a few more pounds to allow room for layers this winter. But mostly I’m happy to report that I’ve been reenergized around my battle with sugar. Everytime – without fail – that I fell off the wagon it was because of sugar. And the more sugar I ate, the harder it was to get back on track. And the more days I ate sugar, the more anxiety I had and the worse I felt, slept and thought. It was a great reminder of where I need to be with that white stuff.

A coworker yesterday looked at my beets, sweet potato and tofu lunch and said, “You always eat so healthy.” Well, not really. It may seem that way, but it is a lifelong pursuit that has leveled out to be a fairly healthy diet with a lot of side trips into junk food land. I told my young coworker that I was at the age where there is no more putting it off until later. Food really affects me now, and I want to be healthy and feel good most of the time. I just have to keep remembering that when I fall off the wagon in the future. I know I will. It’s a journey not an event.

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Meanwhile my commitment is to track all of my food for the month of November – regardless of whether or not I’m happy with what I eat. Maybe I’ll learn a few other things by doing so. The other thing I want to focus on is minimizing my daily sugar intake. I’m allowing myself a little honey. And I may have sugar from time-to-time, but I think my new rule will be that I can only have a sugary dessert with a meal and only once a week at most. I have to break the habit. I’m liking the way I feel, and I’d like to keep it that way. There are plenty of yummy foods out there that are not sweet.

Y’all have a great weekend. 

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