In Which Our Heroine Wants to Crawl into Her Virtual Life and Stay There

Serenity Now...and Always, in Mizz D's Life

If only my life were really like this picture. Neat, tidy and serene. Always a steaming cup of tea at the ready,  in my grown-up version of a sippy cup (which is the most brilliant thing, really…hie thee to a store and get one, if you don’t have one already). Dollar Store Buddha nearby, for constant  inspiration and meditative focus. Healthy, happy greenery contributing to the ambiance.

While my actual  life can be chaotic, here on my blog – in my virtual life – I can create the kind of world of my dreams. By clearing off my meeting table in my office, washing and dusting the surface, and carefully staging the picture to give you the impression of calm and order. Peaceful, ain’t it?

If the tea bag could talk, this is what it would say about the above photo and caption:

Tazo Tag speaks the Truth of the Situation

(And by the by there, Tazo – what gives with the facsimile of an old-timey,  fountain pen-scratched name on the tag? Am I supposed to actually believe that Esq. Joh…something something…etten penned his signature in approval on this very batch of tea, of which I purchased a portion? For shame!)

August is almost over and I am pretty sure I will meet my purge/organize goal but my strength training goal will fall short of the 5+ hours I wanted to achieve. I am not too happy about this, but I must will learn from this and move on.

So, what happened that I couldn’t fit the workouts in? Well, for one thing, I started with a new DVD of 15 minute workouts and holey moley, they made me sore! More sore than I am used to, thanks to Ms. Jackie Warner and her Power Circuit Training.

And for another thing, I didn’t take good care of myself in the sleep department this month either. Early mornings after late nights equals one pretty hairy accumulation of sleep debt, and lack of energy for physical exertion as the body fights to conserve whatever is left, for daily living. Naps help, but in a “band-aid” fashion – nothing beats a good night’s sleep, as I found out on the odd occasion I got one.

Sore, tired, cranky, uninspired. Yep, that was me in August. Thank goddess the month is just about done. Time to focus on the next.

It’s almost September and soon I will be married for one year. Today I worked on this, as a surprise for JD:

First Anniversary: Paper

Shadowbox featuring our wedding invitation – with leftover papers from its creation, unused place cards, JD’s corsage, my throw-away bouquet (that I didn’t), hairpins from the day and sparkly gee-gaws from my actual bouquet (which is still hanging in my office and too big for the box). I sure hope he likes it!

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Bruno Mars Got It Right

“Today I don’t feel like doing anything. I just want to lay in my bed.” Bruno Mars, The Lazy Song.

  “Everyday I don’t feel like doing anything. I just want to read the Harry Potter Series (finally!) and admire my new crackle pedicure.” Mizz D, The Lazy Week.

Stay tuned, more to come once batteries have been recharged…

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Stuff, And What I’ve Learned from It This Weekend

Lately I’ve had a real problem with my stuff. It’s weighing me down. It leads me to fantasize about losing everything in a fire. Which is a total fantasy, I realize…the reality of it would be devastating. But, being a fantasy, it is incredibly freeing, to think of it all just disappearing and starting over. To have nothing suddenly, but the clothes on my back. And having to rebuild from there. I’d like to think I’d do it differently this time, but like losing weight, if you don’t do the inner work/changes, you get the same outcome again eventually. As I did already. Too much stuff, once again.

You see I was almost in the above fantasy situation once. The conflagration was not a physical fire, but leaving my first marriage. I had almost nothing, compared to what I left behind in my old life. And my new life was incredibly scary, but also incredibly freeing. I remember noticing that I wasn’t panicked or grieving about the lack of stuff in my life. What I was feeling was RELIEF.  All the stuff I left behind was not my worry anymore. I didn’t have to think about it, clean it, dust it, repair it, maintain it, organize it, or try to remember where I left it last.

I could enumerate all of my current possessions in my head easily. I knew exactly where everything I owned was in my shabby rental townhouse.

Of course, soon I started accumulating again. My mom gave me a microwave oven. I bought some furniture to replace the folding lawn chairs in the living room. I bought a spatula so I wouldn’t have to flip pancakes with the paint scraper in my toolbox any more (OK, that was a totally necessary purchase). I remember at the time considering my purchases carefully – did we really need this? I was conscious of not wanting to be burdened down with too much stuff once more. But I also wanted to give my kids some semblance of a “normal” home again.

Then I bought a house. Now I needed even more stuff. Gardening stuff. Lawn mowing stuff.  Snow shoveling stuff. I had plenty of new places to stow stuff. And stow it I did. I made a cozy TV room for the kids to hang out in. I haunted HomeSense and Value Village for cute little inexpensive items to decorate walls, floors and every available surface with. I forgot about the freedom of owning less, in my joy of having my first ever home-all-to-myself to express my personality in.

And I bought books. Lotsa books. Mostly second-hand or sale-bin books. And music. Lotsa CDs. On sale, second-hand, or 2 for $20 (damn you HMV!).

When you buy these things one or two at a time, you don’t quite realize what is going on. Even when you bring them home and try to find space for them, it’s easy to tune out the niggling little voice that says – Whoa, gettin’ a bit of stuff here girly! Time to get things in check, doncha think? It was easy to justify these one- or two-at-a-time purchases.

Till it comes time to organize/purge them. Which I did this weekend. When I looked at my entire collection of (hundreds of) books and CDs and was struck by the years of mindless consumption it represented. And looking at specific types of books and CDs en masse I recalled what drove the impulse(s) to buy them.

All of the career/change your life/find your focus/find your purpose books? Yeah, I wasn’t happy where I was working then and was looking for guidance on how to get out/make changes. Someday, someday…

All the dinner/party music CDs? My wish to entertain more than I was capable of, in my tiny abode (with the even tinier budget). Someday, someday…

All the gardening books? My wish for beautiful perennial/kitchen gardens. Quite unrealistic, as I had neither the money, time or energy (anemic at the time) to create one. Someday, someday…

All the psychology/self-help books? My wish to become a stronger person/better mother/better girlfriend/less afraid of conflict/figure out who the hell I am/why am I the way I am, anyways? Someday, someday…

All the fiction hardcovers I accumulated? Partly a wish to escape into another world, to take a break from my own…partially a wish to someday develop a large library of beautiful books to gaze upon, to dive into when I took a notion. Someday, someday…

All those books on writing/the writing process/creativity/art? Easy. Instead of doing the hard/scary work of trying to write/create something, I could just read about it instead. Someday, someday…

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In short, when I felt I couldn’t do what I wanted/needed to do in my life when I wanted/needed to do it, I assuaged those frustrated feelings by buying a book or CD that represented what I wanted,  instead. For temporary relief.

This is the crux of all impulse purchases, if not most consumerism, in my opinion. We buy a thing to obtain something other than the thing itself, we buy what it represents to us instead.

(As well, I’ve realized for some time now, that when I need to take action on some part of my life, my first instinct is to find -buy, usually- the “right” book and read up on what it is I need to do first. Sometimes this is useful – like reading up on how to repair a leaky toilet before actually repairing it. But for me, often it is just a means of delaying taking action, of hiding behind a book instead of JUST DOING WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.)

So this weekend, I tore apart my book shelves and revealed not only a lot of dust and piles of books and CDs I had totally forgotten I owned, but recollected the reasons and frustrated dreams behind them as well. I’ve consigned about 85% of them to the “To Be Donated” pile I’ve got started in my living room and it feels oh so good, oh so right.

I doubt I will ever be a true minimalist and have a spare, bare and tidy home, and be able to itemize my possessions in less than triple digits. JD and I struggle a bit with emotional attachment to inanimate objects (him more than me, but I definitely have those leanings too). And I love my pretty things and gadgets, especially in the kitchen.

But I can be a lot more mindful about my purchases and my possessions, and that is my goal, going forward towards our new home, our new life. Books can be borrowed from the library. Music can be also, and is found free on internet and regular radio. Both can be stored digitally, freeing up literal and psychic space for other things. Or nothing. Which brings about peace of mind. The most treasured possession of all.

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Fridge Purge; the Ultimate Dutch Bike

Yesterday I went on an epic, sentimental condiment-al journey deep into the recesses of my fridge. At the end of it, I realized one very startling fact. My goddess, I have a crap-load of condiments.  Here’s a sampling of what I found in my fridge:

  • Not one, not two, but three jars of almond butter? What the hell was I thinking? That I needed almond butter, obviously. And a bigger hard-drive for my memory…sigh.
  • Sambal Badjak that expired in 2004.  (That I bought the last time my cousin Peter visited me, at a little shop in the Byward Market, in Ottawa. (Obviously hanging onto this one for sentimental, not condiment-al value – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)  How this missed previous fridge purges, I can’t explain but really…I have cleaned my fridge a time or two since 2005, OK?
  • Red pepper jelly, 2 kinds of apple butter (regular and…drool…caramel), designer vodka-infused mustard, one lonely roasted red pepper floating in its jar, pesto…all things so tasty but that I (almost) never remember to eat or cook with.
  • Expired salad dressings – some bottles, mostly packets from fast-food joints. I always find these every time I clean out the fridge. I think elves sneak them in there, when we’re out. Yep, for sure it’s elves.
  • Flaxseed oil that expired in 2009. Probably didn’t want to throw it out despite the expiration because it was expensive. (Like that makes any sense at all, I know!!) Is this how hoarders get started?!?!
  • Humungous pimento-stuffed olives, from my martini drinking  drinking days (prior to 2003!).  Note to self:  still look good, must remember to use up on pizza…

In my defense, they were almost all on the topmost shelf. You know, the one that you have to bend down to truly see the contents of.  And, no doubt you’ll be relieved to know that most of the condiment jars did end up dumped and rinsed, and in my Blue Box for recycling.

So now I have a sparkling, mostly empty fridge – ready to be filled up with healthy goodies. And no big bottles of salad dressing!!! I think I’ll make my own from scratch from now on, just to prove that the elves are at work here.

New Topic – beautiful, bizarre bike:

Can’t really think of a good segue to these photos, except to say that perhaps elves were at work here too?

Anyhoo, I leave you with a shot of this awesome bike fiets we saw in Amsterdam during our May trip. Say it: “feets” (bonus Dutch lesson in this post, again no phlegm required!). We saw a lot of bikes decorated with plastic or silk greenery/flowers, but this one was OVER THE TOP:

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Close Up of Fiets (bike) , with klompen (wooden shoes) on the "feets" . Note diminutive size of shoes. Who's crazy-talkin' 'bout elves now, hmmm?
Close Up of Fiets (bike) , with klompen (wooden shoes) on the “feets” . Note diminutive size of shoes. Who’s crazy-talkin’ ’bout elves now, hmmm?

 

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The Power Behind Writing It All Down.

July Goal accomplished.

WOOHOO!!!!!

Check the Workout Log Calendar page for details. I lost another 2 inches (5.5 in total since end of May), and am 7 lbs down since end of May also. Seven pounds lost over 2 months may seem like a snail’s pace to some (OK, to me too) but when I put it in context with my schedule, the amount of eating out we did last month, the various July celebrations that involved food (MBA acceptances, birthdays etc.), it’s actually amazing that I didn’t gain weight.

This is an especially sweet victory for me, as July WUZ HECTIC…sigh. Most of my free moments were spent at the golf course or the driving range, helping JD prepare for his Playing Ability Test on the 28th (which he sadly, did not pass…but we are trying again this month!). Usually, when my life goes to the proverbial “hell in a handbasket” (meaning I have little or no time to think/plan/prepare, only to react), all of my goals/dreams tend to be unceremoniously dumped and I revert to pure survival mode…whatever gets me through the day.

But, this month was different. Although I stopped my Couch to 5K Training  (which proved to be too much on top of walking 9-18 holes of golf most evenings, with the ensuing Golfer’s Rash due to the extreme heat),  I managed to do 31 times 10 minute strength training workouts as per my goal. People, I cannot stress enough how major this is for me. It means I can take the CrazyTown exit on my road through this life and still work towards my goals, successfully!

To what do I attribute my success? Extreme willpower? Supreme focus? Superlative time management skills?

No, no and especially NO.

Two words. Blogging and logging.

First, I put it out there, to the universe, so to speak. I blogged about my goal for July.

Then I made sure to update my calendar page daily with my accomplishments. Yep, I stopped just short of giving myself digital gold stars (I would if I knew how, believe me)…but I entered in all of what I did in the July Calendar and that inspired me to just DO MORE so I could fill that sucker up.

And it kept me accountable. I could review it to see what days I missed in my strength workouts and then I could double or triple them on a less crazily overbooked day to catch up.

I also logged my food and exercise at MyFitnessPal.com, a fabulous site for those in the mood to improve their health and fitness by writing it all down. What… you mean the more I move, the more I can eat? Well, sign me up!!!!! Accountability PLUS incentive – what more do I need?

So here we are at August 1 and I am still residing in CrazyTown as JD has signed up for another couple of qualifying tournaments this month (fingers firmly crossed for him!). This time instead of 36 holes in one day, he is playing 18 on the 16th and another 18 on the 30th, in order to get those qualifying scores. Another month of living la vida golf loca.

However, still basking in my July goal success, I am not going to let that deter me from setting August goals.

Goal #1 – Purging/organizing at Chez Mizz D. I am setting a goal of 10 hours this month. 2.5 hours per week. Doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? But it’s 10 more hours than what I am currently doing, so that is, indeed, A LOT.

Goal #2 – Continue with Strength Training. I did just over 5 hours of this activity in July (310 minutes to be exact) and need to keep that up. So another 5+ hours is my goal, at a minimum.

Two goals. One crazy month. It can be done. It shall be done.

Who’s with me? Who else wants to put their August goals out there?

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