Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Things I Learned From A Power Outage

Last night we had a HUGE storm here.  There was wind, rain, lightening, and even some hail.  The power went out around 7:00 pm and didn't come back on until sometime after we went to bed around 11:00.  This storm taught me a few things.

- My husband is awesome.  OK, I already knew this one, but I love it when he proves it to me.  I was at an appointment half an hour away when the storm hit, so Hans was home alone.  This wonderful man of mine managed to get the neighbors' dogs over to our house, and then he wrangled seven dogs into the basement.  While down there, he loved on all of them and did his best to keep them calm through this massive storm.  On top of that, he made sure that all seven dogs were fed and water as close to schedule as possible, AND he kept in touch with me to let me know when it was safe to return home.  Like I said, he is awesome!

-The best meal during a power outage is pizza and brownies.  Obviously, cooking was out of the question, so I decided to pick up some food on the way home.  It was late, so most places were closed.  I finally decided to stop at our local grocery store (which makes pizzas).  Pizza is great in the moment, but it also makes a great breakfast, even if it's cold.  Since we didn't know if we'd have power this morning (we did), pizza was a great option.  Brownies are just tasty.

-Pizza and brownies are TERRIBLE for a healthy diet.  I'm a bit of a pizza whore, so that doesn't help, but I was shocked at how I felt after eating the pizza.  Lately, after I'm done with a meal I've felt full.  Sometimes too full, but generally just satisfied.  After eating my slices of pizza and my brownie, all I wanted was more pizza.  I easily could have finished off the whole thing.  On top of that, I was SHOCKED at how hungry I was this morning.  All I could think about when I woke up was food.  I think it might be time to eat some healthier foods.

-I hate air conditioning.  I know this is odd, but it's true (at least for bed time).  You see, I grew up without a/c.  It wasn't until I was 10 that my dad got a window unit for his bedroom, and that really didn't do much for my room.  I learned how to sleep through the heat and the humidity, and I learned how to cool myself off in a pinch.  Last night, Hans slept with an ice pack (he was dying), and I had a glass of ice next to me.  Before drifting off into blissful sleep, I sucked on a couple of pieces of ice.  It cooled me off, and I felt great.  I then proceeded to sleep a wonderful, beautiful sleep through the entire night.  The night air may have been 86 degrees and humid, but I was happy.  If it weren't for Hans, I'd probably use the a/c a lot less.  Dear Lord, please let the power go out more often.  Thank you.

Last night ended up being quite fun.  My only regret is that I wasn't home to enjoy it longer.  Oh well!  Maybe next time!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Making It Easy

Recently, my mom told me about a 24-day flush plan that she's going to try.  Basically it's a 24 day plan with a few meal replacements and lots of nutritional supplements that's supposed to cleanse your system and make you feel more energetic and healthy.  I looked at the products, and they all seem pretty decent (no weird drugs, all things I've heard of, etc.).

As wonderful as all these things sound, though, I do have one major issue.  A person could get all the benefits from this plan by simply eating well.  So, I have to ask myself: Why are we making things so easy?

Here's the thing, making it easy is great for those 24 days, but then what?  Some people may continue on with the program, taking pills, shakes, and supplements to keep it easy, but what about the people for whom that's not an option?  At the end of the 24 days, do they know how to keep their bodies clean?  Are they better off for the long run?  NO!

There's nothing wrong with recruiting a bit of help in your healthy efforts, but allowing something to do all the work for you is no way to get healthy AND STAY HEALTHY.  In an effort to make myself healthier and love my body, I've cut as many processed foods as possible.  I'm working out, eating lots of fruits and veggies, and making sure I get lots of sleep.  In return, I'm feeling better, happier, and all around great.  My grocery bill is actually less than it was, and this is a lifestyle that I could sustain for the rest of my life.  Obviously, a 24-day plan is not something that could be sustained for life.

My making things so easy, we are actually making things much more challenging.  We're costing people more money, and we're not helping them in the long run.  If you are considering something like this, I encourage you to think twice.  If you really need some help, spend a little extra and consult a nutritionist.  You'll learn much more about yourself and about the foods you eat.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Still Feeling Good

Well, we're going on three weeks now of all the changes and I'm still feeling good.  Things aren't perfect, but I'm handling everything much better than I had been.  I'll be interested to see how things are after a few more weeks, but so far so good.

Pushing Myself
I have to be honest about one thing.  Today, I feel awful.  I'm tired.  I'm sore.  I'm even a little cranky.  Part of this could be due to the sinus drainage I have thanks to an extended allergy season (at least that's what I'm saying it is.  I refuse to call it a cold).  More than likely, though, it's due to the killer work out I had yesterday.

One of my mom's coworkers, Trey, has just started his own personal training company, and one of the things he's doing with that company is something called Sunday Shape Ups.  Every Sunday, he'll lead people down a fitness trail through a local park.  The work out lasts an hour and is only $10, but since yesterday was the first one, it was free.  My mom really wanted us to help support him, so Hans and I headed on out.  At 8:00 am on a Sunday, not a lot of people showed up, but I'm glad we went.  Trey handed me my rear on a platter while I begged for coffee (or mint tea as is my preference).  Today, I am tired and oh-so-sore.  Walking is difficult.

All that said, I learned something about myself through that work out; I am capable of doing so much.  We did things that I never would have attempted had Trey not told us to do it.  We ran (I enjoyed that part), did assisted pull-ups, balance lunges, and leg lifts.  We jumped over beams and ran up really steep hills.  We even hopped over a 4 foot wall (Ok, I really only crawled over a four foot wall, but I'm working on it).  Everything we did I looked at and thought, "I don't know.  Only really fit people can do that," yet every single thing I did and did well (except for that stupid wall.  I'll have to work on that one).  I left with only one thought in mind: SHOWER!  Today I may be tired and sore and cranky, but I also feel good.  Trust me, I'll be doing that one again.  If anyone would care to join me, let me know.  It's bound to be fun!

Up and Running
Alright, I know I said I probably wouldn't talk about this course much until the end, but I have to say that I am absolutely loving it right now.  I love the online support.  I love the fact that I'm meeting women from Utah, New Zealand, England, and Italy.  I love the fact that there's a trainer I can bring all of my questions to.  I even love the lay out of the plan.

Today I was scheduled to run the first day of Week 2, but since I had such an intense workout yesterday I thought about waiting until tomorrow.  Nope!  I couldn't resist the urge to get up and get out there.  I couldn't wait to check that work out off.  So, I dragged my sore, aching bones out the door and got down to business.  It wasn't pretty, but it got done.  I'm really looking forward to my day off tomorrow, but I'm also really looking forward to the next running day on Wednesday.  I hope I feel this way in 6 weeks!

Really, things have been good lately.  I can only hope and pray they stay this way, but with each good day I relax a little more.  Yes, there's still a lot of work to be done.  Yes, I can still get a little overwhelmed.  Yes, I'm dealing with all of it, and I am happy.  Yes!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Self Image

When people look at me, they might see this:

Happy, smiling, confident
 Or this:

Strong, capable, enthusiastic
But what I see when I look in the mirror is most often this:

Yep, that's a cow.
Unfortunately, too often when I look in the mirror I don't see what I hope others see in me.  I see rolls, flab, dimples and even frizzy hair.

I think a lot of women (and plenty of men) feel this way, and I have to wonder why.  Is it due to the advertisements we're bombarded with on a daily basis; the super thin women with perfect hair, perfect breasts, and the perfect ass?  Whatever the cause, it doesn't make me feel good.

I find that the more I feel like this, the more depressed I become.  There have been days where I've been so down on myself that I haven't even wanted to leave my bed.  I've been moody and irritable.  Hans has had to put up with a lot.  I haven't wanted to clean or even walk the dogs.  Forget walking the dogs, I haven't even wanted to hear the dogs.  The most I've wanted is to sleep with a dog curled up next to me.  The worst part is that as I feel like this, nothing gets done.  Since nothing gets done, I end up feeling overwhelmed and then I end up feeling worse...much worse.

After one particularly bad morning a few weeks ago Hans and I sat down and had a chat.  We finally decided that some things had to change and they had to change right away.  I knew that whatever was going on was NOT healthy, and I had to figure out some way to change it.  So, I've implemented a few changes.

-I've signed up for the Up & Running course.
I signed up for this for a few reasons.  First, I've heard of the coach, Julia Jones, for a few years now, and I've liked what I've heard.  Her programs focus on the entire body, not just endurance and not just running.  It's an online course, so I can do things in my own time, but the best part about this course is the community.  There are hundreds of women (only women) around the world who are doing this with me.  This morning, I did the first work out, tweeted about it, and got a response from some of these women cheering me on.  I'll cheer them on too.  It makes you feel good.  I'll tell you now I probably won't post much about this until I'm done with the course, but I figured I'd let you know what's going on.

-I've eliminated all medications.
I really am not on many meds...none for anything life threatening.  The thing is, I do feel that the meds I was on were making me irritable.  I could be wrong, but I've been off the meds for a few weeks now, and I'm feeling better than I have in a few years.  I've never been big for medications anyway (I only take 1/4-1/2 aspirin when I have a head ache) so this wasn't too difficult for me to wrap my head around.  There are some things in the works, but for now I just want to see if being off meds really does make me feel better.

-I've changed my diet.
Summer is a really good time to do this.  There are so many tasty fruits and veggies out there (and boy do I love watermelon).  I've always been a breakfast person, so I've enhanced my breakfast (bacon and eggs instead of cereal), and I'm working on the lunches and dinners.  I'm making a very conscious decision to eat lots more fruits and veggies.  Meals are still simple, but they're a lot better.

-I've started cleaning...a lot more.
I started by just washing the dishes.  I wash the dishes and Hans dries them.  We talk, we have fun, and at the end of the evening the kitchen is clean.  Eventually, I moved up to the bedroom (a place that's always needed some extra attention).  The next morning, Hans got the upstairs bathroom while I got the downstairs bathrooms.  Hans vacuums more than I do, but I dust and clean windows.  It's working well.  And guess what.  I don't feel so overwhelmed!

The changes haven't lasted that long, but I am noticing a difference.  I'm hoping it's more than just me being happy due to summer weather.  I'm praying that these changes stick, because even if the bad moods do come back, these changes help.  My fingers and toes are crossed, but for now I'm happy that I'm currently feeling happy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What The Dogs Have Taught Me

I live with dogs.  I love living with dogs.  It doesn't matter if there's one or 15, I love being around dogs.  Of course, Cody's my number 1 dog, but that's beside the point.  Why do I love living with dogs?  It's simple.  They can teach us so much about life.   So, here it is, a brief list of some of the things my dogs have taught me!

The Pack Stays Together
It is very important for my dogs that everyone be together as much as possible.  Yesterday we all had some time together, and the dogs seemed happy.  However, that afternoon, Hans had to go to work and the the entire mood shifted.  The dogs moped.  Cody sat by the front window, just waiting for his dad to return.  This is a normal occurrence.  When one member of the family is gone, the dogs will sit and wait for his/her return.  When that member returns, there is much rejoicing.  Oh, and if both of us are gone and only one returns, there is excitement, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it rejoicing.  They're only truly happy if we're ALL together.

Greet The People You Love With Much Joy.
I love coming home to my dogs.  Cody in particular is great on a return home.  Whether it's one dog or five dogs, the first thing I see as I walk to the door is a furry head and a wagging tail.  When I come in I'm greeted with kisses and hugs and more wagging tails.  I'm basically treated like a long-lost relative who's finally returned.  Wouldn't it be great if we all acted like that towards our loved ones?

Hard Work Is Necessary
That's not to say that hard work = miserable work.  Hard work can be quite enjoyable.  Here's the thing, though.  Without it, we're miserable!  Cody has multiple jobs.  These jobs include dog trainer (he communicates in ways I can't), frisbee catcher (his favorite), kitchen hoover (yes, he does this on command, and it's his second favorite), and bed warmer.  Of course, the dog trainer is the one that most resembles work, but the others are just as important.  Without those jobs, Cody becomes cranky, feisty, and unmanageable.  His jobs aren't as strenuous as what some dogs have, but they're just as important.  So are the jobs that we as people hold.

Rest and Playtime Are Just As Necessary As Hard Work
This one's kind of a no brainer.  I don't think I'm going to go into great detail on this one.

There's Always Time for Play (a.k.a. Don't Be Afraid To Look Like an Idiot)
The dogs don't worry about what they look like.  They don't care if their hair is in place, or if there's dirt on their paws, or if there's slobber on their snouts.  All they care about is that they're having fun.  My dogs have no trouble getting a laugh out of me.  They're not afraid to roll in mud, dirt, or water.  They love running and running and running as fast as they circles.  They're constantly jumping, running, and falling, and I think they're hilarious.  They may not always be graceful, but they're wonderful.  Maybe if we could stop wasting time and energy on our appearances we'd be able to waste more time on having fun!!

Love Like There Is No Tomorrow
My dogs love me unconditionally, and they show it all the time.  They give kisses and snuggles and tail wags.  I have never had a day where I doubt that my dogs love me.  I can't say that about everyone I know (not even always myself).  Why can't we act this way?

Wake Up Like You Are Grateful To Be Alive
When the alarm goes off in the morning, the first thing Cody does is jump up on our bed and give us kisses.  He buries his head in our arms, and he gives us tons of hugs.  If we decide to hit snooze, he'll go back to sleep quickly (thank goodness), but he's always happy that we're all awake.  He doesn't want to miss an opportunity to say, "I love you!"  Guess what.  That's my favorite time of the entire day.  I may be tired.  I may not want to be up yet, but as soon as I see that adorable face I'm happy.  I'm happy to see him, and I'm happy to be alive.

I could let this post go on and on, but I'm going to cut it off there for now.  I love my dogs, and they have brought more joy to my life than anyone could ever imagine.  I learn from them every day, and I can't wait to find out what else they have to teach me.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

In The Middle

Lately, I've come to a realization.  Apparently, I'm old!  OK, so "old" probably isn't the right word.  However, I'm no longer of college age, and college students view me as older and wiser (bizarre, isn't it?).  That said, though, I also don't quite feel that I'm in the fully-an-adult stage either.  I'm kind of in the middle.

You see, half the people my age are still in school, living with their parents, and going out late to parties that last half the night.  The other half are holding decent jobs and starting their families.  I am the person who's married and running a business, but not yet ready to start a family (aside from my doggy children).  I prefer making jam and baking (I'd knit if I knew how) to partying and staying out late.  I love schedules and I'd prefer to be in bed by 10:00 or 11:00...not 2:00 or 3:00.

So, I have this dilemma.  Basically, there are few people I truly enjoy hanging out with.  The ones who aren't partyers, the ones with a similar mindset, are often tied up with family activities.  Finding friends who are mature but not quite "that" mature is quite difficult, and I'm left with the feeling that I'm missing out on something.

There is one upside to this, though.  I very much appreciate the friends I have.  Those few friends I've made who enjoy board games to drinking and dinners to diapers are a treasured rarity, and I love them dearly.

So, while I may feel stuck in the middle, I'm not too upset.  I can say I am at least past the party-all-night stage (not that I ever really entered it), and I know I have something to look forward to.  For now, though, I'm just going to enjoy the amazing stage that I'm in.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Word to Graduating Seniors

Last night, Hans and I had a discussion about seniors (both college and high school).  More importantly, we had a discussion about their parents.  You see, one of our friends sent a letter to her daughter's high school telling them to lay off the work load for graduating seniors.  The thought was that they'd already been accepted to college, and this should be an easy time for them.  Basically, give them work, but keep it simple.

Frankly, I think this is a load of crap.

I do think there's some merit to things like exam exemption and senior skip day, but beyond that why should the work load lighten?  Don't these budding young minds still have things to learn?  They have a whole summer to slack off, why should they get to start early?

I'll never forget the work load I had at the end of my senior year.  On top of my regular homework (averaging 2-3 hours a night), I had a project.  It was simple in theory...basically research a country of your choosing (mine was Ukraine).  We had to find newspaper clippings, poems, historical facts, symbols, flags, and a video.  Then we had to analyze all of it.  It was all due the week before exams.  Hmm, I think in 3 days time I got about 6 hours of sleep.  On the fourth day, I had to drive to DC for an ensemble performance.  Luckily, I have cousins who live in that area, and I just decided to skip the drive back home and stay at their place.  Too bad my 5 am wake up call turned into an 8 am wake up call (such lovely sleep).  I barely made it back home in time to hand in that lengthy project!  I was frustrated and tired.  I kept thinking, "Why can't we get a break!?  Is this really necessary?  We're already in college!!!"

Guess what, though.  I still look at that project today.  When I met Hans, I used that project to help explain my heritage to him.  I learned more and retain more information than I ever thought I would.  Not only that, but finishing that massive project gave me such a sense of accomplishment.  I was proud of that project and I still am today.  I also learned how to truly relish the break that summer vacation gave me.  Phew!

What these parents who complain about the work load don't understand is how important this work is.  Do they really think that life hands out breaks just because you know what's around the corner?  If these parents were told they were being promoted, do they really think they could quit doing their current job just because they know something better is coming?  Not only that, but do they really think it's that hard??  I mean, I know the hours are long, there's teenage drama, and sometimes it's stressful, but does it really compare to the anxiety of not knowing if you're going to be able to pay your next bill?  Does it compare to fear of losing a child or a loved one?  Heck, does it even compare to the general stresses of life that every young adult goes through...knowing that you have to take care of yourself, pay the bills, keep everything clean, and stay organized?  If these parents think so, then maybe they've had it easy, because in my experience, that project (all laid out for me, with examples, and a dead line) was one of the easiest things I've done.

So, a word to the graduating seniors.  Life is hard.  I wish I could say it was easy, but it's not.  That said, life can also be a lot of fun.  You will get out of it what you put into it.  If you put in that work, study hard, maybe even lose a couple nights of sleep, you will have rewards beyond your imagination.  You will have a project that you can look back on years later, that you can share with friends and family, and declare, "I created this, and I am proud."