sickness abound – done with 2014

As I mentioned in my last post, it was quite a week.  Actually, the last two weeks weren’t all diet 7UP and the Mindy Project.  If there was a cave anywhere close to me that had cable and a bed, I would have taken up residence there.

Getting sick on Christmas is the ultimate suck.  Okay, probably not the ultimate but it was lousy nonetheless.  Some kind of plague descended upon my lungs on Dec 23rd & kept their foothold until Dec 29th – and those were the really bad days.  It was yucky.  I was grumpy, exhausted, missed out on Christmas festivities & felt like hell.  I went through a bottle of cough syrup in a day & a half.

my attempt at holiday spirit on Christmas day.
my attempt at holiday spirit on Christmas day.

Thankfully, I started to feel about better RIGHT in time to prep for my endoscopy & colonoscopy. Yep, 2014 didn’t want me to go gently into that good night-oh no, 2014 wanted to be remembered!  I mentioned a while back that the nurse giving me my instructions for the prep told me I could do all of this on the 30th, when I was flying across the country.  He was/is delusional. Office mate had the joy (misfortune) of taking me to my appt at 6:30 am and hang out until I was done at 9:30 am.  I told the doctor to tell him my insides are all pretty – my doc obliged.  Hopefully, this eased some of office mate’s discomfort when he got to hear about my innards.

I had my last meal at 2pm on the 29th & then had to fast until the 31st at 10am.  I was HUNGRY! I can’t decide if being in an airport setting/traveling for 12 hours was helpful or not.  In one sense, I couldn’t just get up & be taunted by treasures bestowed in the fridge.  On the downside, the smell of french fries wafts through the airports like the siren’s call to sailors.

I made it though.  The same nurse who told me I should do the prep while on the plane, also told me I would bounce back from the anesthesia by the evening.  Days later, I was still feeling groggy. My dad said this was normal considering all my body had gone the last couple of weeks.  I’m sure some of it was jet lag & time change & my never-ending sickness… See what I mean about the 2014 vendetta?!

is it possible to punch a year in the face? do years have faces?

Actually, based on the accounts of my friends & fb statuses all over, everyone was sick over this Christmas season.  So, I should stop complaining… But I won’t.

my fam sprayed this in whatever room I was in - my nephew actually sprayed me.
my fam sprayed this in whatever room I was in – my nephew actually sprayed me.

I’m quite happy 2014 is over.  Other than my bright & shiny Dopey moment right at the start, the rest of the year was unpleasant.  Doctor visits galore, lots of sickness & all kinds of introspection left me exhausted.  What good did come out of this year?  Plenty of happy moments for my friends & family that I got to be a part of.  I figured out a gluten sensitivity that I’m slowly working to incorporate into my daily eating in the form of the FODMAP diet.  I’m learning to read labels-as in REALLY read them & somehow, magically, I’ve kept this blog up & running.  Ha! I even kinda-sorta kept myself up & running!  Oh wait… dairy has turned on me – jerk.  I got coffee from a 3 different coffee shops while in WA with nonfat milk all three times just to make sure.  Yep, my stomach recoiled and I got to sit there hurting.  Lesson learned – x3.

it’s taunting me with it’s jaunty dance

2015 is going to be a year of big changes.  I’m on the road to taking more control of my health.  I have doubts all of this testing is going to lead to some sort of cure but managing it is my prime focus.  There is a trip to Paris in my future for my brother’s wedding.  And I’m slowly dehoarding & looking at some life changes-I even wrote a letter to Santa asking for a husband.  Think it will work?!  I went to a hypnotherapist (more on this soon!) and learned some really helpful stress management techniques.  So while I’m not making resolutions, I’m creating strategies to feel more fulfilled and healthy – decent concept in my mind.

 

tasty eats and treats

This is going to be my attempt at a sort of “holiday” post.  Here’s the deal, I’ve gotten a bit grinchy in my later years so I don’t have super cute stocking pics to post or anything like that.  However, I did want to put a few things out there that might be helpful to all of you!

this is an accurate depiction

1.  The nice and easy-ish giftie

My supervisee gave this to me – isn’t it cute?  She went to the dollar store for the mug and maybe the ornament? and then proceeded to stuff it with all of the goodness that is hot chocolate.  She also put a tin of homemade cookies in there with it.  It was such a sweet (ha – see what I did?!) gift and it looks great.

giftie2.  Giftie #2

This was also from a co-worker.  Originally a version of this was in a white elephant exchange I was part of – and then someone stole it from me.  Rude.  But she brought me one anyway – a “baby” from her spider plant in a container that was recycled from something in her apt.  I love it!  Such a cute idea.  She told me the only thing she spends money on is the soil and the containers are from different upcycled items.  Brilliant.

a perfect gift for all ocassions!
a perfect gift for all occasions!

3.  Giftie #3

Can you knit or crochet?  Well, neither can I but I got a coozie from another supervisee wrapped in some hot chocolate.  I’m digging the homemade gifties this year.

Foods… so if you are partaking in holiday gatherings this year, I’m guessing many of them are potluck style.  So here are a couple of ideas.

1.  Go to Costco.  Seriously, I felt bad about going there and scooping up some Ivar’s clam chowder (made in WA!) but then I stopped feeling guilty when I dumped it in the crock pot and could continue planning the rest of the holiday gathering.  Those $11.00 were well spent and it was gluten-free so it was a guaranteed dish I could eat.

2.  If you want to get your chef on, I made chili tacos last week.  I am not going to include a picture because they certainly aren’t the prettiest of all goodness.  BUT they taste so good!  I’ve made it for groups in the past and they always look at me like I’m a nutball and then they gobble it up.  And yes, I always wear a smug smile on my face as they are scraping the last of the bowl.  I made a single batch because it makes a lot.  I forgot to decrease the spices but I added quite a few more veggies so it worked itself out.

Chili Tacos

2 onions chopped                            2 green peppers chopped

3 cloves of garlic                              2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin                          1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon paprika                         1 bayleaf

Large can tomatoes                        1 can of beef broth (regular size)

6 oz can of tomato paste                 2 beef bouillon cubes

2 pounds of ground beef                 1 1/2 to 2 potatoes – peeled

Brown meat and drain the fat.  Put in veggies with the meat.  Stir in all of the spices and simmer for a few minutes.  Add tomatoes, paste, bouillon cubes and beef broth.  Stir.  Bring everything to a boil.  Simmer a 1/2 hour or longer.  Then shred peeled potatoes into the mix.  You want the consistency to be a bit on the thicker side so this is why it’s either 1 1/2 or 2 potatoes.  ***I came up with a brilliant plan:  Just used frozen (probably thawed) hash browns rather than shredding the potatoes with a cheese grater over the pot.  This is by far the most annoying part for me and I said to myself, “why can’t there be potatoes already shredded?!”  Sometimes my brain shuts down.*

3.  Finally, a cookie treat.  I haven’t made these yet so I could be putting the cart before the horse, however, I tasted one so it’s kind of the same thing.  A co-worker brought in a tasty ball of heaven… without the recipe.  I’ve coveted more of these tasty balls of heaven and still, I can’t get the damn recipe.  He is basically holding it hostage.  I pinterested the ever-living daylights out of it and the best I can come up with is they were Martha Washingtons.  I’m going to give them a go – mostly because I can’t stop thinking about them.  They require quite a bit of butter so I am going to swap this out for coconut oil – I think this will work.  Who knows, I’m still new to this replacing ingredients thing.

this recipe is from Deep South Dish
this recipe/picture are from Deep South Dish

4.  Oh wait!  One more!  I found a gluten-free frozen pizza!  For some reason, I really do love frozen pizza.  I was bummed until my friend sent me to Costco and I found Sabatasso’s.  It only comes in 4 cheese (at least here) so I added yellow/red peppers, some sausage/bacon crumbles, olives and goat cheese.  It was good.  Craving satiated.

That’s all I got – remember to take a rest or something this weekend!

*Instead of the bouillon cube, I used one of those concentrated flavor packets.  The cubes had a bunch of ingredients that I don’t mix well with my stomach.  The dbl batch recipe is listed above.  I still added a single packet to my 1/2 batch.

extra! extra! read all about it!

Today’s post is brought to you by the best cup of coffee I’ve made in weeks.  And my strange shirt with deer on it.  Oh and my tasty cookie with frosting that I had for breakfast.

I’ve had some interesting happenings this week and I figured saving them for one post was a good idea.  That way it seems like I am whining less… hopefully?  The other day Simon woke me up at 4:30 am.  This is not unusual, however, he comes up and walks by my face and IT SMELLED BAD!  Great.  TMI but Simon is a long-haired kitty and at times poop gets stuck to his bum.  I figured this was the issue and quickly got up and scrubbed his bum.

this is a fair assessment of both of our feelings… btw when I looked up “cleaning a cat’s butt” an article stated that a cat’s behind is his health barometer. weird.

Later, I came home and found poop on the floor.  I do feel sorry for the little guy though because about a 1/2 hour later he puked his guts out.  Kitty stomach flu.

(Strange pic ahead!!!)  Then my (male) co-workers and I were discussing birth and the placenta.  We had a disagreement so I looked up placenta online.  And I found this

yep, it’s a teddy bear made from the placenta. I am now torturing my co-workers with it because that’s the type of person I am

I showed my other male co-worker and he said at first he thought it was a pastry teddy bear that just needed some powdered sugar.  I took so much sick delight in telling him what it really was!

The other night I was attempting to balance my beautiful BLT (minus the L), with a can of pop while getting Simon’s toy for him.  In slow motion my BLT hit the carpet.  So sad!  And no, I don’t do the 10 second rule on carpet especially with a pet.  Plus there was the aforementioned poop issue!

this is exactly how I felt – james you get me

There was some stress at work this week hence the cookie for breakfast.  Wednesday, I got home and locked the door behind me.  It was hermit time.  Thursday when I got done at noon(!!), came home, took care of some things and left for a run.  10 big fatty miles!  It was a great run that boosted my Dopey training confidence.  It was also amazing weather 39* and dry.  To not run would be slapping mama nature across the face!

To be honest, I was tempted to hang on the couch again but then two things happened: a) my friend texted and helped kick my butt in gear and b) I realized I didn’t like the underwear I was wearing so I would get to change it after running and then showering.  I am absolutely serious.

It’s been a strange week.  Monday was the two year mark of my mom’s passing.  I wrote a post about it but not sure if I will ever hit publish.  It’s easier this year than the last and I have conflicted feelings about this.  I know healing is important and I am grateful for it but…

I’m looking forward to heading back to WA on Monday!  I’m going to stock up on my favorite blend of coffee, smother my family in x’s and o’s, run and relax.

get your holiday craft on!

Holiday gift/wish lists are going up on blogs everywhere.  I’m sure others are doing what I’m about to do but I thought I would flex my creative juices along with getting some use out of my pinterest obsession.

Even though I procrastinate like crazy, I love making Christmas gifts.  Finishing them is a completely different story but the following are some ideas I’ve come across or done myself.  Maybe they will provide some inspiration for the person who is difficult to buy for or even the person who already has what they need/want.

1.  Sprinkle or confetti ornament:  I love this idea.  My mom had TONS of sprinkles at the time of her passing and my sister and I divvied them up.  They are crazy cute so this would be a great way to use them.  The clear empty ornament balls are approximately .99 each and sprinkles are $1-$5.00.  This giftie can be used year after year and is easily customizable considering the wide variety of sprinkles.  The link and picture shows how the blogger coated the inside of the ornament with a varnish.  I’m simply going to fill the bad boy with sprinkles or confetti.

I think this one calls for some kind of varnish but I'm just going to fill this whole thing up
ooooo – so pretty!

2.  The tie-flannel blankets:  Yep, these are a great standby!  It has appeal for all sexes and all ages – I think this is one of the reasons I like it.  The flannel isn’t always cheap but JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby have weekly coupons.

aww - my sweet niece and I making my sister's blanket
aww – my sweet niece and I making my sister’s blanket

3.  T-shirts:  at least 6 years ago, my student staff wanted to make t-shirts for a team event.  They got the t-shirts and took a Sharpie to them.  I still have mine and the ink is still visible.  Designing your own t-shirt is easily personalized with a fun saying/design.  Like I said, Sharpies work, I’ve seen bleach pens, and spray paint also works.  I’ve used cotton t’s but tech t’s are also possible.

3b.  Pillow cases, tea towels or any other fabric-y item:  two years ago, I inked some pillow cases for my student staff.  I used fabric pens and a stencil.  They looked good, if I do say so myself.  I actually got this idea from my mom years ago when we did this at one of my birthday parties as the activity and party favor.  Some of my friends still have theirs!

I made 12 of these bad boys!
I made 12 of these bad boys!

4.  Glasses (plates, bowls, whatever):  I’ve seen stemless wine glasses on pinterst that have been painted and they look awesome.  The wine glasses are nifty and mugs are very cute.  The key here is to get the right Sharpie pens or the ink smears and disappears.

5.  Photographs:  My brother is a professional photographer and I LOVE his photographs.  I’ve asked for plenty of them for gifties in the past.  But you don’t have to be a super pro!  My niece also has the eye and has taken some beautiful shots.  If you’ve captured a cool picture, print it and frame it.  Who doesn’t love some art?

get it? she has “the eye”? yep, I’m a dork

6.  Photograph words/letters:  I feel badly for the person who first came up with this idea because now I’m ripping it off… but so have a bunch of other folks so my guilt is mitigated a bit.  Have you seen the collages of words or names spelled out with photos of objects that look like letters?  They are really neat!  This does take some creativity and time but is well-worth it!  My friend sent me the bottom set of pics two years ago after everything with my mom.  There are TONS of ways to create your message!

eyeloveewe6b.  I also love taking a framing mat and cutting the inside out of it in a certain shape or letter.  I made these for my staff once – I took the mats down to Hobby Lobby’s frame section and they cut out a block “W” (this was done very quickly and cheaply by the way).  Then I put pictures and copies of funny memories of the year in the negative space.  Popped it in a frame and yay! a neato gift!  I love a good monogram!

7.  Framed recipe cards:  I love this idea and my friend recently did it in her kitchen – she framed recipe cards that family members had created in the past.  What a wonderful way to honor a relative’s/friend’s memory!  I am so doing this for my own apt with some of my mom’s recipe cards.

8.  Medal hanger, cute decoration and other subway lettering wall hangings:  okay, so that was a TERRIBLE title but bear with me.  A medal hanger really isn’t that tough to make if you aren’t looking for a metal one.  Some wood, and twist in hooks and shazaam!  A medal hanger!  Then you can personalize it however you want!  Even if it isn’t capable of holding 20 medals, who cares?  I also see very cute wooden creations with song lyrics, poems or quotes on them in stores all the time.  Again, these can easily be crafted with a trip to the hardware store and then a craft store.  Did you know Lowe’s and Home Depot will cut the wood for you?  I know you can get the wood pieces at the craft store as well but make sure it isn’t warped.  Sometimes they aren’t in very good shape.

9.  Scrubs, bath bombs and aromatherapy:  There are quite a number of recipes for scrubs and bath bombs online.  I made the scrub/bath salts two years ago and they were adorable.  Aromatherapy is also a useful idea!  Bath and Bodyworks sells this lavender spray to spruce up your linens before bed – it smells wonderful and gives bedding a sense of luxury.  Not to mention lavender promotes relaxation.  But guess what?  It isn’t cheap.   Make it yourself!  Lemongrass has a calming effect, peppermint energizes – the list continues and can be made into spritzes, bath products or a sachet.  What I like about these ideas are once you buy the supplies, you can make several gifts from the stash.

aromatherapy10.  Lawn games:  Have you heard of bags a.k.a cornhole?  This lawn game is wildly popular here in the midwest so a few years back I made my boyfriend at the time his own set.  I did have some help as I don’t have ton of tools.  Then I asked my artsy friend to draw the logo of his favorite football team on it.  Great scott!  It looked fantastic!  You can also make a ladder golf set or a game of washers.

11.  Create an exercise dvd:  either film yourself doing some workouts (this would definitely take a lot of time!) or put together a dvd filled with a variety of routines and/or videos from a bunch of sources.  I’m sure there are some copyright issues here but maybe if you aren’t selling it?  Look into it a bit <— yes, this is my “legal disclaimer”!  But seriously – how is this any different from making someone a mixed tape in high school?!

I wouldn’t say all of these presents are super cheap, which I think is a common misconception concerning homemade gifts.  That being said, there are ways to keep some of the suggestions  on the lower end of the expense scale.  The dollar store has quality options or online stores provide decent deals.  The other expense is your time!  I tried to pick ideas that wouldn’t require weeks of work.  In fact, the lawn game idea is what took me the longest (and cost the most) out of all of the above suggestions.  Oh wait – the word photographs could take some time too.  The other trouble I find with making presents is many options are geared toward women.  A couple of the above are an anyone option but this is tricky.

mine will be a bit better than this!

The biggest thing is not to add more stress to your holiday!  I’m making some this year because I was stumped on gift ideas beyond items that were completely out of my price range.  Or I did find something and am using a homemade gift as a stocking stuffer.  I enjoy the creative process so this is my idea of holiday cheer!

surviving the holiday part 2

I hope yesterday’s post wasn’t too debbie downer.  I typically feel extremely guilty when I can’t/don’t feel as joyous as it seems everyone else is around me.  My hope is by putting it out there it helps me and others  accept it and work with it rather than fighting it.

and then it gets better again – nick miller just gets me!

I figure my action plan for not succumbing to holiday depression is going to be ever-changing.  It dawned on me there is no way I am going to be able to know how I will feel 5, 10 or 15 days from now.  Typically, I like to face things as they come BUT I thought I would give having an outline a shot.  Kind of like running, you know?

1.  I organized a cookie exchange at work.  So far there are 12 or 13 of my co-workers participating!  I’m looking forward to getting some new recipes and doing a bit of baking.

2.  I’m avoiding the holiday weight gain freak out – well to the best of my ability.  In a completely unscientific science experiment, I weighed myself the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  Then I weighed myself on Sunday.  Guess what?  I didn’t gain an ounce.  I definitely fall into the hype of “don’t gain weight during the holidays” and start to panic followed quickly by guilt and then their bestie self-loathing shows up.  Sounds super healthy, right?  How am I going to do this?  Stick with my training for Dopey, keep eating normally, putting the scale away again and giving swimming and Jillian Michaels a shot.  Oh and I am going to try not to eat all of my feelings!  I also refuse to let holiday goodies have power over me – if I want a cookie, then I will eat a cookie.

3.  Christmas isn’t the end all be all.  I hope this doesn’t sound harsh but I have the Dopey Challenge to look forward to in Jan!  Last year it was also a trip to WDW and the year before it was a trip to New York.  I think having something planned for January is a good thing for me.

4.  Heading back to WA to visit the fam.  Can’t wait!  Slumber parties, coffee, lots of laughs – it will be a grand ol’ time!

5.  Purging more stuff and moving other items to storage.  My apt is too chaotic.

6.  I’m making a few fun Christmas presents this year.  I’m excited for them – pictures right after Christmas!

7.  Keep in mind a bad day doesn’t mean a bad life.

8.  I’m not going to set myself up for failure.  This means no plans to make cookies for everyone I work with and their extended family, or collect all the supplies to decorate my apt with homemade pinterest-y things or say I’m going to do the runstreak when I know I won’t be able to stick to it.  Looking at all of the supplies for cookies or decorations or tweets about the runstreak just reinforces how I didn’t get it done.  Basically, I don’t want to make promises to myself I don’t intend to keep.

one of my most loved quotes ever!

9.  Watch a ridiculous amount of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Love Actually, Easy A, Pitch Perfect – whatever movies make me laugh and I really enjoy.

10.  Ummm… hmmm… what else?  Basically, I’m going to take it easy and simplify my holiday.  A good chunk of shopping is already finished, I’ve been careful about committing myself to extra activities and I’ve carved out time for myself.

Overall, I like this action plan.  I want to add other fun items but don’t want to make an all out “bucket list”.  These fun things will include going to the Hobbit when I get home with my family, celebrating my friend’s birthday this weekend, meeting my friend’s new baby and who knows what else.  Whatever it is, I am determined to put things in perspective that may be challenging and enjoy what the season brings.

speak it manny!

holidays are scary vol.1

The following isn’t a grinchy outlook on holidays.  I just wanted to put that out there so my message isn’t lost

Yesterday I read a post about how to avoid the holiday season blues.  While I liked the article and it had some good points/advice I felt the advice was a bit… plucky.  Maybe the advice was quality for a case of the “blues” but not so much for those of us who have dealt/deal with depression.

This got me thinking about my own experiences of struggling during the holidays.  It usually starts out with Halloween and the fact that my job has turned it from a holiday I used to enjoy to one I now fear.  Halloween is just a mixer for alcohol at this point and it results in some debauchery and late night emergency calls for yours truly.

vomit

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday as I’ve already professed.  Since I don’t have family close by, I always take the shift for work since others do.  It’s not so bad but it does mean most years I spend the holiday on my own.  I cook a big meal because that is “Thanksgiving” for me but then I eat alone.

Then Christmas.  The Christmas season is lovely albeit the horrific Kay jewelery commercials that play from now until Valentine’s day.  However, it will be two years on Dec. 16th that my mom passed away so the holiday has changed for me a bit.

Essentially, this is NOT a recipe for a lighthearted and fun holiday atmosphere.  The last two years were pretty rough due to my mother’s passing and I really want to avoid my all-out feelings of despair this year since it takes a lot to recover from.  So, here are my suggestions/plans of actions for this year.  Maybe it will help others who don’t feel so jolly when it seems like the rest of the world is.

it’s okay to be cranky even if *everyone* else is trippin’ holiday balls

1.  Lower the expectations: this was suggested in the other article but taking it one step further is important in my case.  Of course lowering the expectation for “the most fantastic holiday season EVER!” is there.  But even more important lower the expectations of yourself to feel you have to go all in simply because it seems everyone else is.  Don’t feel bad if the stockings aren’t hung on the chimney with care or you don’t have elf ears on to go caroling around the neighborhood.  Instead, do something you really enjoy.  I want to bake some cookies for a cookie exchange and make some Christmas gifts.  I don’t want to decorate my apt or get a tree.  I need to avoid any guilt associated with this.

2.  Do you what you need and want to do:  okay, so this sounds pretty selfish but let me put it in context.  Does going to holiday parties make you feel more alone if you are single?  Does going shopping on Thanksgiving eve/Black Friday make you feel guilty?  What about buying your own presents rather than spending money on others?  Well, skip the party, go shopping and buy yourself something – IF THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT.  There are some obligations that are meant to be kept and others can be politely declined.

3.  Be wary of being a hermit:  I’m very good at being a hermit.  Being able to spend time alone is a healthy quality however, I take it to the next level at times.  So, this year, I am working on forcing myself out and about during the craziness of the season.  But I am being selective about how I’m doing it.  I’m choosing to spend time with people who make me laugh.  I’m also fighting (seriously, with every fiber of my being) NOT to cancel plans once it’s time to leave.  I do this.  A lot.  Why?  Because I want to stay home in my sweatpants and avoid all of the anxiety (real and imagined) that’s wrapped up in being out and about.  Most times I have a great time!

4.  Exercise:  this was also one listed in the other article and I know it’s true.  Even when I don’t feel like heading outside I need to force myself to go.  Fresh air is good for you, or so they tell me, and I need to keep sickness, headaches and low self-esteem away.  Exercise can help with all of these.

5.  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors’ goods:  or the fact they have a spouse, or a baby, or a dishwasher or a washer/dryer.  Whatever it is that friends and family members have that seems like it would make life easier or better, try not to let it over shadow what you do have.  I’m terrible about this.  All of those things I mentioned are things I want and feel could make the holiday season more fun (and functional!) but it’s not in the cards for me YET.  I need to remember the YET part rather than getting trapped in the “it won’t be for me EVER” downward spiral.  So far this year, I’ve accomplished this by buying myself lots of stuff since I don’t have to spend it on anyone else.  Sort of a silver lining but it could also lead to buyer’s remorse later so I need more tools in my toolbox to help with this.  Definitely in progress.

patience is not a virtue I possess

6.  Feeling unsettled or out of sorts:  currently I feel the need to rid myself of ALL THE THINGS (yes, I know this goes against my buying of all the things but I can’t always help what goes on in my brain).  I want to purge my spare bedroom of the clutter that I no longer use.  It comes from my feelings of restlessness during the holidays and I’m going to take advantage of it.  The stuff I’m not using is bogging me down.  The stuff I did purchase is actually useful – it’s a nice change.  The other part is, I know I will feel out of sorts and I need to accept it.  But I don’t need to over analyze it.  Easier said then done but I’m working on it.

it happens…

7.  Avoid some of the holiday movies… like the plague:  Hallmark channel and ABC Family air these incredibly dripping with love and holiday cheer movies constantly during this time of year.  DON’T WATCH THEM!  They are completely unrealistic and there is no way in hell I’m going to fall on my ass ice skating and some ridiculously hot guy is going to help me up and three days later propose to me…  While it’s snowing fat fluffy snowflakes with children singing the song from the Grinch.  Even though I know this in my mind, my heart starts to feel badly because maybe if I were better _________ then it would happen!  Lame.  Not to mention, when the movies focus on a generic meaning of the “true spirit of Christmas” and this doesn’t hold true for you, it can be depressing.  And lonely.

The thing is, there aren’t a whole lot of ways to completely avoid feelings of stress, loneliness, sadness or whatever during the holiday season.  And I think this may apply to everyone at some point during this stretch.  What am I going to do about it?  I’ve mostly listed the issues above and now I need to think of an action plan to help keep negative nellies at bay.

I’m going to care bear stare the negativity

I’ll post the list this week as it’s still in progress and I would love to hear some input from all of you!  How do you uplift your spirits during the holidays if feeling down or anxious?

voodoo good luck and a slumbbah pahty!

So yesterday I went for a run.  I got up early(ish) and was out running within a half hour.  This is huge for me.  In order to ensure this success, I went to sleep in half of my running clothes the night before.  I am always especially proud of getting of my tukus when I am home for vacation and running.  One small feat for many, one GIANT one for yours truly!

The run sucked.  Can’t sugar coat it any further – I ended up only running half and walking the rest.  I wasn’t very pleased with myself but I WAS happy I actually got out there.  Not to mention, I got to use my beautiful new Garmin!  Yay!  It works like a charm and is very simple to work with.  Considering all of my electronics have jumped ship lately, I cast a special voodoo charm to ensure its long life.  We’ll see how it works.

hopefully my carefully "researched" voodo good luck charm will keep this baby functioning for YEARS!
hopefully my carefully “researched” voodoo good luck charm will keep this baby functioning for YEARS!

I’ve decided to sleep in my running clothes again tonight as well as make some coffee to have ready before nighty-night time.  This should guarantee maximum readiness (and I’ll be less likely to come up with an excuse not to go!).

Last night was our regular “slumbbah pahty”, a.k.a. slumber party.  When my niece was younger, this was how she said it and this is what we’ve called it ever since.  She is now 18, which equals many a sleep over!  First up, errands with my dad where I got a delightful new running jacket (part of my Christmas present) and a nifty new sweater.  These were purchased at Costco.  Have I told you how much I heart Costco?  In case I haven’t, I really do.  A lot.  From there it was onward to my sister’s where we crafted a DELISH dinner!  Cauliflower rice (yes, this is exactly what it sounds like) with orange chicken stir-fry.

I can't even begin to tell you how big this pan of goodness was!
I can’t even begin to tell you how big this pan of goodness was!

We jammed packed this sucker with veggies!  I was pretty doubtful about the cauliflower “rice” but it was really good!  My BIL eats paleo and he made it.  It was also filling – another surprise!  Next was MOVIE TIME!  Also a tradition!!   We watched “Pitch Perfect” and I loved it!  I may have even rewound the last scene to watch it again!  To round out the night, there were a few episodes of “New Girl” and I have no idea why I haven’t been watching this on a regular basis.  She is ME!

slightly distracted by my phone BUT I was having a blast!
slightly distracted by my phone BUT I was having a blast!

Today we rounded out the slumbbah pahty with a yummy pizza lunch with my dad and then out to see “The Hobbit”.  I really liked it!  This whole vacation I have soaked up loads of movie time with fam and it has been such a treat!  My fam and I have always loved movies so it’s been fun.

Oh goodness!  Yesterday, my mom’s bestie made me a sparkle skirt for the marathon!  It’s adorable!  I absolutely love it!  I followed the tips from Healthy Diva and recommend checking it out!

jazz hands - in skirt form
jazz hands – in skirt form

Last, the treadmill is a no-go… at least for now.  I’ve decided to save up for it to make sure I REALLY want it.  I’m known for making hasty purchases since when I want something I tend to want it NOW!  I appreciate all of the advice.  I do think I would like one before the sweatiness of summer.  I would much rather run in the cold than in the humidity so I should take advantage of the outdoors for as long as possible.

Only a couple more days of vacation left!  Sad face…

back in twilight country

Phew!  It  has been a hectic last few days!  I know it’s the holiday season so “busy” is a natural state for everyone.  For me, I was trying to finish up things at work, pack and fly back to WA!  Wahoo!

edward missed me too
edward missed me too

Yesterday, I spent a total of 6 hours flying.  It’s not as horrible as it sounds.  I wore my compression socks (my feet and ankles swell when flying and these are my FAVORITE!) and because both flights were delayed they let us watch TV on the plane for free.  Hours upon hours of watching HGTV?  Yes please!  People all around me were griping but not to sound super elitist but I was simply happy to be on the plane.  I flew Frontier and “Dale” was my first plane’s name and “Carl” was my second.  There was no point in whining.

"Carl the coyote" was our captain
“Carl the coyote” was our captain

Since both flights were delayed my first flight’s arrival time completely overlapped with my connection departure.  We were waiting to deboard and there was this guy who was also on the same Seattle flight as me.  I knew this because he didn’t stop griping.  Then he was yelling because he wanted to get off the plane.  Classy.  I get off and check the board and he shoves past me (I might be slightly overdramatizing this part – he really just walked past) grumbling and dropping “F” bombs.  I went over to see why and while almost ALL the flights leaving Denver were delayed, ours said “On Time”.  Boo!  I just booked it over there anyway.  Guess what?  They were holding the flight!  Yay!  The dude?  He never showed up.  Karma can be a doozy grumpy man!

Other than that I’ve been rushing around to get ready.  Simon was not pleased about being left and looked forlorn as he sat in my suitcase hoping to stow-away.

mom, please don't leave me!
mom, please don’t leave me!

But when I landed seeing my dad was GREAT!  He has been walking every day and has lost 30-50 lbs.  I am super proud of him!  He doesn’t let anything get in the way of being active and has essentially healed himself of many ailments he had been suffering from prior.  Dad you ROCK!

I talked dad into going to get me coffee.  I told him, "it's liquid gold dad".  he responded, "it's liquid crack"... well, that too!
I talked dad into going to get me coffee. I told him, “it’s liquid gold dad”. he responded, “it’s liquid crack”… well, that too!

Then we stopped at the restaurant my niece works at and met up with my sis, bro-in-law and nephew.  When I walked in my niece came over to me and gave me the biggest hug and said, “Auntie Amy, I have really missed you!”  Yeah, total heart-melting moment.  I adore my niece and nephew.  On Saturday, the three of us are going shopping for my sister and I think it will be a blast.  My nephew asked if it would take a half hour – I told him, “Yes… in ONE store!”  The teenager in him just looked at him but I believe he is secretly looking forward to it!

OH!  Yesterday, before I left for my flight Meagan and I fit in a little over 4 miles at 7 am and then rounded up to 5 with some coffee and a speed walk home.  It was great.  I know I wouldn’t have gotten up early without her so it was a perfect way to start out a day of sitting.  Meagan was a lovely host and even slipped an energy bar and Fiber One chocolate chip cookie in my bag on the sly.  This came in SO HANDY when I didn’t get to eat for about 6 hours!

me not so smart and two challenges for the week!

***Sorry this post is late!  It was ready to go this morning… then today happened.  I should have stayed in bed!

I like to think I am fairly intelligent.  I read a lot, am able to think critically and know that not everything on the internet is true.  Buuuut sometimes my decision-making skills don’t fall under the category heading of “smart”.  Last night was one of those times.

All of last week, I had been feeling kind of crummy.  I’m sure some of it was stress-induced but the plague (or what I’ve deemed is the plague) is going around the office currently, so I think I had a touch of that.  The whole weekend, I was dealing with the stomach flu – boo!  Yesterday, I felt a bit better and felt that going for a run was important.  You know, this whole thing is happening soon and a my weekly mileage total was weak.

I put this as the wallpaper on my phone too
I put this as the wallpaper on my phone too

Okay, this was a terrible idea.  It was cold and misting out.  At mile 1.5 I was pretty sure I was going to throw up.  After managing NOT to redecorate the street, I plugged on, determined.  Why?  I have NO IDEA!  What was I trying to prove?  But in my mind, I kept thinking how some miles were more important in the long run than not feeling well.  Who knows, maybe it was a good lesson that I can carry on when I feel like hell but I am not totally convinced.

it's a fashion statement... albeit not a good one.  I have no idea where their mates are!
it’s a fashion statement… albeit not a good one. I have no idea where their mates are!

I do think I would have wondered if I could have run… my brain likes to play silly tricks on me and I’m sure I would have entertained some internal not-so nice talk about being wimpy.  Of course when I got back, I didn’t feel better and in fact, worse than I had in the morning.  Oh and I managed 6 miles because you know, that was the SMART thing to do!

Well, now that you know you are reading the blog of a slightly deranged woman, it’s time for the challenge of the week!  We are going to mix things up this week with two types of challenges.  The first one is going to be to do a 10 min meditation session (shoot for 15 to 20 mins if you are able!  But I wanted this to be manageable and something we all could do) 3 times this week!  Hopefully, this will add some tranquility to your holiday season!

The other four days, I want to repeat the ab work out from last week.  I really liked it.  Well, I didn’t like it but I know I need it.  Burpees sincerely suck but I also know they add some “oomph” and I need it!  Here it is again:  10 push ups, 30 sit ups, 10 burpees and a .30 second plank!  If you are feeling stronger, up all of them by 5!  Or repeat it twice!

My goal is to lose 5 lbs in the next 5 weeks – right in time for the Disney World marathon.  I know losing weight while training isn’t the easiest but I also know my training has been a bit lackluster so there is definitely room for improvement!  Besides, my dad has been working hard (he has lost over 30 lbs this last year!) and my sister and brother-in-law eat mostly paleo so I will be surrounded with healthy eaters.  For at least 2 of those weeks at least!  The rest of the time it’s going to be up to me…

yes... I must put this away - this waffle iron was a smart and dumb purchase for this carb-aholic!
yes… I must put this away – this waffle iron was a smart and dumb purchase for this carb-aholic!

stress is contagious! fight it!

Yesterday, as I was leaving the office, there was the general hub-bub.  In addition, I felt some angsty vibes.  I am pretty sensitive to anxiety/stress-related feelings so as I was walking out, I had to do a double take as the panic was welling up inside me.  “Am I stressed?  Or am I reacting to the stress of others?”

Of course, there are things/issues occupying my mind but I realized I didn’t have anything to be seriously anxious about.  I walked to the elevator reminding myself that I was picking up on the stress of others and I needed to let it go.  I.was.not.stressed.

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Does this ever happen to you?  I don’t think I am in the minority here.  I’m not sure how and why stress is so contagious but it seems to feed on our insecurities and our desire to want to be part of the group.  I also think our society equates stress with importance.  If you are important then clearly you are going to have higher levels of anxiety because you have a higher clearance level within your world.  I guess?

I’ve thought a lot about balance over the years.  Since I already operate on a higher anxiety level, I’ve realized I need to be attentive to why and how I am reacting to stressors in life.  I always knew physical exercise could be an outlet but I didn’t think it would help ME.  Because, you know, I am so vastly different from the rest of the world!

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Then I started running.  HELLO endorphins!  Wow.  I soon found that running did help to mitigate those anxious feelings.  I slept better, felt better, thought better – I was shocked.  Even now 5 or 6 years later, I am still surprised by how damn good I can feel after sweating my buns off on a run.  Unfortunately, running can’t solve all of my problems (nor can I just drop everything and go for a run *sigh*) and I’ve realized I have to make a conscious choice regarding stress.

Nevertheless, sometimes stress seems to lay it on thick and I’ll feel all wild-eyed, crazy in the wilderness.  Sometimes, it starts to creep up on me and I can feel my heart starting to beat faster.  Other times it’s a sucker punch to the face.  With all of these, the first thing I do is sit up straight and take a few deep breaths.  Then I evaluate: where is this coming from?  Is it really about me?  Am I simply responding to someone else’s stress?  When I figure those out, I start trying to talk myself down to a somewhat normal state.  Then I figure out a time to go for a run.

umm...yes, this is sometimes how I feel on the inside when I'm freaking out!
umm…yes, this is sometimes how I feel on the inside when I’m freaking out!

And yes, I talk to myself a lot!

Seriously, this has helped.  While some stress is healthy, too much can have major effects on your health – mental and physical!  So whether you are prone to anxiety or not, having a plan of combating the “too much stress” zone is important.  Is this a foul-proof plan?  Nope… I still resort to chocolate at times or taking a nap when I don’t want to/can’t deal with the stress around me.  Hibernating works too.  But at least I know I have options in my personal life tool box.

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I’m also proud of myself for getting to this point.  There are still times when I am a basket case but I’ve made improvements!  It hasn’t been easy and it hasn’t been without some heavy conversations with myself.  I also had to let go of some of the shame that comes with admitting that anxiety IS indeed, part of my life and make up as a person.  I’m sure everyone else already knew but I kept trying to shove this aspect of myself under the bed as it seemed so weak and unattractive.  But it’s who I am and fighting a part of who you are is exhausting.  So now, I am working to understand this part of me and come to terms with it.

Maybe something in this post rang true for you!  At the very least, during the sometimes chaos that is the holiday season remember to stop and breathe and not take on the stress of others as your own!  Oh and do something sweaty – that totally helps!

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