Slog the Blog

This is a slogging wrench. You hit the stubby end with a hammer.
This is a slogging wrench. You hit the stubby end with a hammer.

Since my last blog post I just haven’t been able to figure out what to write about. Everything seems so uninspiring. I don’t seem to have anything original or clever to say, no brilliant ideas, no aha moments. What is wrong with me? I’m not depressed, but I just have no oomph.

Then, suddenly, AHA! An aha moment. It’s the end of October, the beginning of November. The days are shorter, and my body has not adjusted. I’m still in “missing the long days” mode, and haven’t yet made it into “cozy and creative winter activities” mode.

So I’ll just slog on this week. A few too many games of spider solitaire, a little too much white food*, a few too many snippy remarks at my long-suffering husband.

But I am getting the garden tucked in, I’ve started a blog about learning to recycle, and I’m experiencing the joys of figuring out what health insurance to go with next year.

All is well.

Send me an inspiring story.

*I still have parosmia, and it seems that almost everything that doesn’t smell bad is white. White bread, white potatoes, white rice. I’ve started making jokes about going to the “white food” section of the grocery store. Sounds vaguely racist, but I can’t figure out exactly how.

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Anyone need a bucket?

No, that's not us. But it's our inner, secret selves.
No, that’s not us. But it’s our inner, secret selves.

My husband Ed and I enjoy Argentine Tango dancing. Recently a fellow dancer asked if dancing in Buenos Aires is on our “bucket list”.

This got me thinking about the aphorism: “no one ever says on their deathbed, I wish I had spent more time at the office”. The saying is supposed to shake us out of our apathy, help us overcome our fear of change, and energize us to dream big and reinvent ourselves.

Well, I can say unequivocally that I have gone for the gusto, and the regret that I “haven’t really lived” is not in my future.

I grew up in Mexico City, lived for 19 wonderful years at Twin Oaks Community, and spent 1990 in crime-ridden Philadelphia, where, among other activities, I collected a wide variety of cute little crack vials from the sidewalk around my house.

I have hitch-hiked across the country twice (once with a 2-week old puppy in tow), camped along the Appalachian Trail, and hung out in San Francisco during the Summer of Love.

My work has been deeply satisfying. I happily dropped out of high-school, and still ended up as a rural family physician. I switched careers to go into animal rescue,  and opened the Cat’s Cradle Adoption Center  on a budget of exactly zero dollars.

I have tried to make a difference in the world, providing much free medical care, starting a battered-women’s support group, founding a spay/neuter organization, and fostering lots and lots of animals.

And through it all, whenever possible, I have danced – folk-dance, ball-room dance, swing-dance, and now the subtle and mysterious Argentine Tango.

So I’ve lived a bucket-full of adventure. What I hope to do now are the slow and steady things. The things that people who did their duty rather than following their dreams have perhaps already accomplished:

  • Be a parent. I was unprepared for motherhood, and lousy at it. My daughter is a lovely adult now, and has done more than her share of the work to create the close relationship we enjoy. It is my desire to continue to nurture this relationship. Forever.
  • Be content. Settle in. Enjoy the moment. Even perhaps (gasp!) do a little meditating.
  • Be nice. Sure, to the grocery clerk – that’s easy. But also to those who disagree with me, to my neighbor who hates me, and to my long-suffering husband, even when I’m cranky.

Will I say on my deathbed that I wish I had kept my house cleaner?

Probably.

Now What? — Redux

NowWhatReduxImageHey – not you people out there juggling school and jobs and kids – I mean you people like me –retired, with a hobby or two but no big obligations. Do you ever have a day where you look up after your morning walk, lunch, and a nap, and say to yourself: “Now what?” I sure do. In fact this blog is named after that feeling.

Don’t get me wrong. I like being retired. I have had enough of fulfilling and not so fulfilling work, of dragging myself out of bed on Monday mornings, of being told to “work smarter, not harder”. But I am still figuring out the rhythm of my days.

Today I got a nice reminder of a technique for figuring out what to do next.

I got up early because I had a garden helper coming at 7:30 to help me re-stake tomatoes. That went well, and then I went for a lovely walk in the woods with a friend of 45 years (Hi Gerri!). I was pretty tired after all that, and took a rare after-lunch nap.

I woke up around 3:30 recalling that I had intended to clean up the kitchen and make something with the 10 pounds of tomatoes we had picked this morning. But I felt logy and unmotivated. An incipient headache prevented me from spacing out on the computer. “Now what?” I wondered uncomfortably.

Wandering aimlessly around the house, I realized I really did need to empty the compost, so I grabbed the bucket and headed out to the pile.

And came back an hour later. Emptying the bucket had led to meandering over to check on the pole beans, which led to finding an over-ripe cantaloupe that had to be composted, to pulling up the dead squash vines, to weeding some morning-glories out of the garbanzos…you get the picture. It was cool and pleasant outside, and I felt refreshed and awake.

Back indoors, washing out the compost bucket led to cleaning off the kitchen counters, putting the extra tomatillos in a bag to be sorted (soon?!!), and setting up a toaster-oven-load of okra to roast for supper.

The only down side to this spontaneous burst of activity is that I didn’t put on my bug repellant, and received a few mosquito bites. A small price to pay for satisfaction and contentment.

So my advice to you if you are wondering what to do next is: “How the heck should I know?” But my advice to ME if I don’t know what to do next is: “Wander out into the garden and see if anything happens.”

This week’s new habit to adopt:

              Bring only small quantities of junk food into the house at a time.

P.S.  A big thank you to those of you who, on and off the blog, support and/or join my efforts at self-improvement.

Father, forgive me for I have sinned…

Only $5 and the City loads composted leaves for you. Unloading is by hand -- great exercise! I had help from friends.
Only $5 and the City loads composted leaves for you. Unloading is by hand — great exercise! I had help from friends.

It’s been 11 days since my last confession… uh… I mean blog.

How did the “week” go by so fast? Oh yes, I remember. A friend went on vacation and lent me his pick-up truck for a week, and I was busy getting load after load of wood chips and composted leaves for my garden. Sheer unadulterated happiness!

Then it was time to wash the truck, fill it with gas, say good-bye… and experience “post-truck-let-down”. I’ve been moping around the house for three days recovering.

To remind my thousands of readers, I am working on a 52 week list of new and improved habits around my addictive eating behavior. Weeks one and two set goals to have prepared fruits and veggies available at all times, and to include a fruit or vegetable in every meal or snack. I succeeded in both so far except that today I was in the car and remembered to take a granola bar (all right, all right! It was TWO granola bars!) as a snack but forgot to take fruit or carrot sticks.

The fact that it’s now cherry and blueberry season pretty much makes “prep” a done deal, and yummy summer fruit is real easy to remember to snack on. Check back with me in January to see how this is going.

Each week gets harder, of course, because each week requires a new desired behavior added to the previous weeks’. So…what’ll it be this week?

Prepare two thermoses of water or tea while making breakfast.

This isn’t because I believe in “getting in my 8 glasses a day”. It’s because my body has trouble distinguishing between hunger and other feelings like boredom, fatigue, sleepiness, and thirst. It is common for me to eat a chocolate bar because I am thirsty. Obviously, a couple of gulps of water instead of a chocolate bar is a good thing. And a couple of gulps of water in addition to a chocolate bar at least doesn’t leave me any worse off than I was before.

Hope you’re having a great summer. I sure am!

Ok, Week 2!

to-do-listI’d like to say that, (per last week’s goal), because I prepped veggies this week, I stayed off the couch and didn’t eat chocolate. Hah!

But I did eat a whole bunch more fruits and vegetables. Yay!

I also started a new To-Do List method I got off the Internet from Stever Robbins, the “Get-it-Done Guy”. The method is easy, and uses paper. This is the most successful To-Do system I have ever used. (Note: I am not an organized person.)

I started by writing my initial list in a small notebook, and drew a line at the bottom.

Whenever I  get the urge, I go through the list and do as much as I want of whatever item I want. No prioritizing, no categorizing, no worries about breaking things down into small tasks. I can write a short task like: “water petunias” and cross it off when done, or I can write “clean house”, and as long as I put away one item or scrub something for one minute., I can CROSS IT OFF. (Dontcha just love crossing things off the list?)

Once something is crossed off, if the project is not complete, I put it under the line I drew, onto the “Current” list. The previous list then becomes the “Backlog”.

To manage the backlog: If I go through the whole backlog and don’t work on ANY of the items, they all get stars, and I go on to the Current list. Next time through, starred items must be: 1. worked on, 2. crossed out and forgotten, or 3. put on the calendar for future consideration. This gets rid of the nagging feeling of failure from seeing: “Finish my daughter’s wedding album” week after week, and makes the backlog completely disappear every couple of days.

So…I did keep prepped fruits and veggies available daily this week, and in addition I cleaned some house, did some gardening, and completed several little nagging tasks that I kept forgetting about. It’s been a good week!

Next week’s plan:
1. Continue to ensure availability of daily fruits/veggies already prepped.
2. Every meal and every snack to include a fruit or vegetable.

Wish me luck! Join me if you wish!

Now excuse me; I have to go cross “update blog” off my To-Do list.

Fresh start. And again. And again. And again. And again.

Should I get back into photography? How do you stay in a hobby you're mediocre at?
Should I get back into photography? How do you stay in a hobby you’re mediocre at?

Well I was going to make this a blog about what to do next, now that I’m retired. I went out and bought 4 books on how to blog and make money at it. I hated them all. I didn’t get in on the right part of the curve, and I don’t want to have the self-discipline required. I am through with self-discipline.

Or not. Actually, I still need self-discipline, because too many days are ending up on the couch with an acrostic and a chest full of chocolate smears.

Really the main issue remains, always and forever for me, food. If I don’t feel like getting up in the morning, remembering that I made muffins and I have an unfinished puzzle will do the trick — at least I’ll get from the bed to the couch.

I have less vavoom because I eat too much (and the wrong stuff). I don’t exercise enough because it’s easier to lie on the couch and eat. I’m tired because I don’t exercise enough, which makes me want to lie on the couch and eat. And then I haven’t accomplished much, so I feel blah, so I want to lie on the couch…

But I want to have a more vibrant old age than this. And I am an inveterate starter-overer.

So I have made a list of 52 things to do to help get my food habits under control, to see if self-fulfillment follows. Or at least see if I didn’t deteriorate too much over the next year. (Is the eating the symptom or the cause? Yes.) I will do each one for a week, then (presumably) keep that new habit/plan/idea as I pick up the next one.

I’ll report on it every week. Or not. And someone may read it and enjoy/relate/want to join in. Or not. Welcome.