For Fun, IMHO, Personal Growth

New Things.

pexels-photo-775779.jpegWell, we made it. A new year! And with the flip of the calendar page comes mystery and possibility and hope for making the next 365 days better than the last.

For some reason, in spite of the potential January brings, I sometimes get overwhelmed by all the excitement and determined energy around me.

In grad school we called this phenomenon “analysis paralysis.” It happens when you overthink a situation to the point of being unable to take logical next steps. You spend so much time thinking about your options until the thought of actually exercising any option and experiencing a possible consequence becomes ridiculous.

 

This failure to make a decision means that eventually, the passage of time makes your decision for you. It means instead of shopping for a good loan and buying a new vehicle to replace an unreliable one, you end up stranded in your hoopty on a busy highway at rush hour. Or it means you pay overtime plus weekend rates for a plumber when you could have sorted out the clogged drain when you first noticed it.

I’ve spent all of January worrying about which resolution to make, which bad habit to correct, what to do with my time. Maybe this is the year that I budget my time better. Or stop procrastinating. Or spend more time doing and less time worrying.  Am I too late to try?

Maybe not. Maybe my New Year starts February 1, when all the other resolvers start to wonder if they really want to stick with their new things.  Maybe I can cut myself some slack and remember that His mercies are new each morning, whether I’ve analyzed them to pieces or not. I can be thankful that grace is never indecisive.

 

 

 

 

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Living Large, Personal Growth, Venting Spleen

What happened when I started a diet: A cautionary tale.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I’m staring down the barrel of (at least) one family member’s wedding, a multi-decade high school reunion, and a cruise. Not only do I need to boost my stamina and endurance for these exciting events, I would love to feel comfortable in something other than sweatpants at these things.

So I made a plan.  Starting Jan 2, there would be:

  • No dairy
  • No processed foods
  • No bread or grains
  • No sugar

The days leading up to Jan 2 were pure gluttony. Of course I’d made Christmas candy, and bought cheese, and bread, and the list goes on because how can you celebrate holidays without shameless overindulgence? (there’s lots of sarcasm and embarrassment in that sentence that doesn’t come through on the screen, btw)

As I polished off a plate of cookies and let out my drawstring pants another notch, I could feel the dread flooding me like a melted chocolate wash. This was going to hurt. I knew it.

So tried to reframe my eating strategy in a more positive light. Instead of all the “no’s,” I thought about the things I loved that I could eat. For example,

  • I can have all the roasted brussels sprouts I want!
  • Yay blueberries and apples!
  • Steak? Chicken? Yes please!
  • Avocados anytime!

And I looked at old pictures, reminding myself that once upon a time I was healthier and stronger. Wouldn’t it be great to not be winded every time you climb stairs, I asked me. Won’t it feel better to, well, feel better?

January 2 was a long day. Not gonna lie. But I did it. Scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms for breakfast. Garden salad with balsamic vinaigrette and an avocado for lunch. Cashews for a snack. Shredded cilantro chicken over an avocado for dinner. Water and mint tea all day long.

I would love to tell you that it was fantastic and easier than I expected.  Some parts were. Giving up bread, breakfast cereal and pasta wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it would be. Eating vegetables and fruit, it turns out, is still possible to do without adding butter or cheese. And it still tastes good.

Somewhere around the middle of the day I developed a nagging headache, and noticed I was ridiculously irritable.  My filter was in overdrive by dinnertime, I was trying so hard not to rage on my family, our dog, birds outside. It was exhausting and confusing.

The third, fourth, and fifth of January weren’t much different. I adjusted pretty quickly to the eating plan, and I started riding our stationary bike again. So that was good. But this disturbing new She-Hulk personality still lingered.

Then I realized why I was so cranky: sugar addiction. I had been denial about my eating habits for so long, I didn’t really see it. My answer for everything – boredom? thirst? sleepy? stressed? – was to eat or drink something, and that something was usually sugary or starchy. I’d get my quick fix of sugar happy and be on my way.

My body just needed a little time to recalibrate. The headaches and moodiness lasted about a week and a half, and I learned to manage them without turning to a soda (or a chocolate covered cherry).  Epsom salt baths and ibuprofen helped, as did drinking lots of water.

What’s my point? I’m wondering the same thing. My point is not to be discouraged if you change your eating habits and it’s horrible and cranky-making. The detox process stinks, but it’s worth it. You’re worth it. Hang in there.

Anybody else kicking a bad habit this year? How’s it going?

 

For Fun, Personal Growth

Cheese is the perfect vehicle for cheese.

My family gathered ’round the kitchen table early afternoon the day after Thanksgiving. Football was on, the kids were heavy into a foosball tournament, and us grownup-types were snacking and visiting. Waltzing down memory lane over leftover turkey.  It was good stuff. The visiting, that is, not the leftover turkey (although that was pretty good too).

Only I wasn’t actually eating the leftover turkey. My plate was loaded up with the remnants of Thanksgiving’s cheese tray.  For a cheese-a-holic like me, this moment was glorious, even though since we accidentally tossed the wrappers, I couldn’t honestly identify any of the cheeses on the cheese tray and had no idea what I was shoveling into my mouth.

But anyway.

The conversation was so lively and the company so warm that I was halfway through the pile on my plate before I noticed the lack of crackers and/or vegetables. It was amazing, but it was all. cheese.

My brain wheeled. I’ve been snacking nonstop, though. But how? 

In my hand, inches away from my mouth, was a wedge of hard cheese that had been dipped into a delightful herb-coated goat cheese.  I saw it. I shrugged. I ate.

This is how I discovered that cheese is, in fact, the perfect vehicle for cheese.

 

 

IMHO, Personal Growth

99 Days

In my previous career, my employer was a big proponent of the management principle “measure what matters.” They had quantifiable goals for just about everything, from length of employment to number of phone calls the customer care line answered in an hour to how many Facebook ‘likes’ each post received.

It’s been several years since I worked for them, but some of those ideas stuck with me.  This morning, I had a measurement moment when I picked up my phone and a notification caught my eye.

The text was a daily reminder for my Bible In One Year app.  “Good morning, Kell.  Day 99 is waiting for you.” Day 99.  I’ve read the Bible every day for 99 days. That’s a lot of days. I’m on the threshold of 100. Nearly a third of the year I’ve spent each day deliberately with God.

If this sounds like a brag, I’m sorry. It kind of is, and it’s kind of not.

It kind of is a brag because I’m proud to have begun this new habit. My life has changed because of it, and I’m not just saying that. Seriously. I’ll write another post on the measurable ways my life has changed since I started reading the Bible. But for now, I’ll just leave it at I feel genuine joy in my life more often than I used to.

Another thing that’s changed –  I feel physical longing to read the Bible every day.  No matter what else I have going on,  until I’ve read, I feel incomplete. It’s weird. The closest thing I can compare it to is thirst.  I crave my time with the Bible.

Ninety-nine days later I’m the same, but I’m not.  I’m flawed. I’m selfish, arrogant, impatient, envious. But I’m reading about people from history who are just as flawed as me and God loved them. Forgave them. Taught them. Sent His Son to die for them so He could be with them forever.

Ninety-nine days later I’m finding that the more I read, the less alone I feel in the world.  So I want 99 more days. And 99 after that.  Because after all these years, I’m finally learning to measure what really matters, and it’s not Facebook likes.

 

IMHO, KidLit

There’s a Book for That

I’ve never been a shoe person.  All my life, I’ve needed just handful of shoes to feel comfortable in any occasion. Need to dress up?  Black pumps.   Exercise?  Sneakers.  Is it summer?  Flip flops.  Winter?  Furry boots.  Have a class?  Plain white flats.  All purpose. No muss, no fuss.

Give me a Scholastic book order form, or a library card, and I’ll show you a smorgasbord of possibilities.  Here’s my latest favorites organized by mood, snackfood and/or weather.

“What is the world coming to? Give me hope, please.”   THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN – Katherine Applegate

“I’ll take two pink cotton candies with a side of ridiculous fun.”  ATTACK OF THE FLUFFY BUNNIES – Andrea Beaty

It’s a small world… and all that….KINGDOM KEEPERS series – Ridley Pearson

Perfect for dreary, chilly afternoons. Blankie plus cocoa plus THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE – Jonathan Stroud

What’s your favorite book when you’re feeling sassy?  I’m kinda digging MacBarnett & Jory John’s THE TERRIBLE TWO.   Let me know what I’ve missed.

Uncategorized

The Getting Started Post

Everybody says you have to have a platform if you want to be a writer. All these agents, publishers, writers’ blogs – they all say you have to put yourself out there. Not just yourself. Your best, nicest self. This will help people like you, want to work with you, and even buy what you write.

This presents a bit of a pickle. Even my nicest, bestest self contains some fairly questionable material. A few ill-advised phrasings. And horrible timing, no matter how genuine or generous my intentions may be.

The good news is that if we’re ever at a dinner party together, you and me, you will never be the most awkward person in the room. But the bad news is that it’s hard as all get-out to build a platform on a dicey proposition such as me.

I’m up for it if you are, though. So let’s try this: How about first I tell you all the things I’m not. Then we can move on to the fun writing stuff, which is why I’m here in the first place.

I’m not:

  1. Graceful – but I love to dance.
  2. Mean-spirited (on purpose).
  3. Into reality tv, in spite of having a masters’ in documentary film.
  4. Comfortable with heights or water.
  5. Ashamed of loving cheese.
So there we have it. I feel tons better, don’t you?