28 December 2010

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Tonight is the girls night dinner.  Part of our eat the world adventure, we're going for Persian. And I'm looking forward to it.

I've been indulging quite a bit these last few days. The Holidays are only to blame in part.  You see, I've also just been diagnosed as Insulin Resistant and pre-diabetic.  Thankfully, it appears to be a mild case of insulin resistance, and my doctor is of the mindset that we treat without medicine if possible. So once the holidays, and all their associated obligations, are over I'm starting a carefully regimented diet and exercise program for three months.  Our hope is that this gets the insulin resistance under control and is something that I can adopt going forward, that we avoid drugs to treat.

I'm in favor of this.  Most of the eating will not be difficult. I already follow many of the guidelines when I'm in my normal routine.

But. There's always a but.  I HATE to exercise. Well, that's not completely accurate.  I like the actual exercise, and I like how I feel when I'm done. But when I'm faced with a choice of doing nearly anything else and exercising, well, nearly anything else nearly always wins. For a number of reasons. Some of them are even GOOD reasons.   Come next week, that is going to have to change.

When I write "Gym" on my calendar (yes, I'm old school like that. I like paper calendars. I track everything on paper and electronically. That's another post) I'm going to have to treat it like it is a client meeting. Something I actually must show up for and deliver.  And although I'll be dragged into it kicking and screaming, I know I'll be very grateful, if in the end, it keeps me from being dependent on medicine for the rest of my life.

So, here's to hoping I find some exercise I adore doing.  And that I can balance eating my healthy meals with lunches out with the guys in the office.  Everything in balance, yes?

Best of 2010, Part 1

I decided to do a Best Of list for 2010.  Cliche? Perhaps. But this captures some of the many, many highlights of my 2010.  I reserve the right to add to this list as new things occur to me (hence the Part 1).  This was originally posted on my Facebook, so names of people not on Twitter or in the blogosphere have been removed to respect their privacy.

Best New Music: Mumford & Sons.  I adore their Sigh No More CD.

Best Book about an animal: Homer's Odyssey- Don't ask me why this little cat sucked me in so, but he did.

Best Decision:  There's a three way tie: First, working with Carrie Tallman. We worked through some of my crazy stuff, and I made a new friend in the process. Second, Working with Suellen Germani, and Third, checking out Atlanta HP.   I've met some wonderful new friends through Atlanta HP, and I look forward to any chance to get my geek on. 

Best New Experience: Dragon*Con- y'all, I had so much fun.  Tickets for next year are already acquired.

Best Celebrity Encounter: Yes, there was more than one.   But this stands out the most. Meeting Emily Giffin at a launch party for Heart of the Matter.  Such a class act. Such a great author.  One of my faves.

Best Weekend:  Florida girls weekend - I don't care how old we are. We had a blast at Universal Studios Theme Park in Orlando. No drama, just lots of fun.  I can't wait to plan our next trip.

Best Charity Event: For The Kid Toy Party earlier in December.  So much fun and so many toys for needy kids.

Best Girls Night Out Plan:  Eating the World with my GNO dinner crew.  We were inspired by Jen Lancaster's "Jenaissance"

Best Concert: There were a lot of concerts in 2010. Hands down, the best was Green Day! Such a fun show.  I'll see them any time.

Best Blog/Community- And here we have our second tie.  First, is Bitches on A Budget. Consistently interactive on the blog and on FB, with a passionate community. Rosalyn Hoffman cares about her work, and takes time to read and respond to comments.  

Second is my SAMCRO Community on Twitter. I've never seen so many people excited by a Television show, and taking a personal interest and investment in other friends.

Third is The Belle Beat.  Bunny Belle also blogs about books, but she and I follow each other on Twitter and she's fun to read.

Best Techie Discovery: Twitter.  Y'all. I love my Twitter.  It's kind of my crack.

Best Movie: I saw some good ones. But I'm a fan girl. You know this. So in 2010, it has to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Although Inside Job was really good, and I am now in LOVE with Fight Club since I (finally) saw it.

Best Bullshit Detection Moment:  Any weekend spent with my college roommate. Enough said.

Best Bachelorette Party:  There was dancing.  With a pole. And it was fun. 

Stay tuned. There will be more.

12 December 2010

It's A Renaissance

It's a Renaissance, or
Eating the World

My friend Lisa and I both read Jen Lancaster's My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover if Not Being a Dumb-Ass Is the New Black, or, A Culture-Up Manifesto.

While we both laughed out loud at reading the book, Lisa decided she needed to undergo her own cultural renaissance.  So her first item of business was to throw out to our 3 Day Girls Dinner Group that we broaden our dinner out selections and try all kinds of different cuisines.  I adore food, so I was happy to say YES!  We did Thai last month. This month is Persian, and then I'm going to lobby for Indian.

The challenge is that we are all suburban girls. And the best cuisines are not in the 'burbs where we are. But with jobs and kids and spouses and boyfriends, etc, it is hard for us to get to a lot of places during the week.  Logistically this is going to get interesting, trying to find times where we can go explore Bangladeshi, Vietnamese, and African menus.  But we'll make it happen.

The other thing is that we get to go see more plays and musicals and concerts now.  Which I've always loved doing, but its hard getting people to go to things like that sometimes.  Thankfully, this little renaissance means that the Girls are excited about doing more.  We saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra Friday night. Phenomenal show. Great light show, great music, and flashbacks to 80's hair bands.  Once the jerks in front of us left the concert, we had a brilliant time.

Next week is "A Christmas Story" and January is "West Side Story"  and then I get to look for more things to do.

So this is when having friends who are excited about doing new things has its benefits.  I get to do some stuff I already enjoy with people I have a good time hanging out with.

I'm excited to see what we discover this year.

27 November 2010

My Top Albums That Aren't U2

Driving home from the movies tonight, trying to avoid the abysmal loss Georgia Tech seemed destined to receive in the Georgia-Georgia Tech game,  I started thinking about the albums I love that aren't U2. Because if you know me, you know that I'm a huge U2 fan and that any top ten list would be peppered with their albums.  But I listen to more than just U2, so I decided to make  a list of the albums I love, from first song to last.  Ok, maybe not love every single song but a majority of them.  And it isn't a top ten list, just a list in no particular order. There aren't even ten.

1.  Jagged Little Pill Alanis Morissette
Yes, I loved You Oughta Know.  But that song alone isn't what made that album for me.  I think even more than that was You Learn. Either way, I like the whole album.   I just wish I had enjoyed future releases as much.

2.  Crash Dave Matthews Band
The songs that sold this one for me?  Crash, #41, Say Goodbye. A dear friend from college  turned me on to this album.  He was biking across the country for a fundraiser, and sent me  a letter from the road. He said he listened to the CD every night before bed, and it made him think of me. How could I not go out and immediately buy it?  And I fell in love with the CD.

3. Raising Hell RUN-D.M.C
What can I say? This one defined Middle School for me.  It was one of two on this list from that era. The first CD (ok, cassette tape) I had that made my parents cringe when they heard the lyrics.  But even now, when those tunes cross an iPod playlist, I'm taken back to that era.

4. Licensed to Ill The Beastie Boys
The other one that made my parents cringe. The Beastie Boys were a new phenomenon.  If I think about it just a little bit, I can still quote most all of Paul Revere.

5.  1200 Curfews The Indigo Girls
The best of the what I liked about the Indigo Girls, live.  All my favorites of their old stuff in one place.

6.  Chronicle Creedence Clearwater Revival
This one is simple, I grew up listening to CCR. Even now, some days are still just made for listening to them.

7.  Sigh No More Mumford & Sons
The only new one I'll put on the list for now, but I can listen to this over and over. It's the instruments, the lyrics, the whole thing. I just love it.

I'm sure there are more, and I'm sure I'll think, as soon as I'm done here, that oh, this should be  on the list.  So, I'll do a part 2 later.  What are some albums that would make your list?

10 November 2010

The Church of Bruce, Bono, and Leonard

I've read that Frank Zappa said "Music is the only religion that delivers."  I've often said, only half-jokingly, that if I could get the feeling in church that I get from some music, I'd never miss a Sunday.

Music is the balm for my soul. There are songs that I hear, and I react viscerally, from some part of me I cannot name.  I feel a power, a sense of something bigger than me. . When I hear U2's With or Without You or Bad, especially live, well, I just don't have adequate words for how it makes me feel.

And the genius that is Leonard Cohen.  His Hallelujah is one of the most poetic, stirring, moving and sensual songs I've ever heard.  His simple "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in" from Anthem. 

The hopefulness, the feeling that things will be a little better with Bruce Springsteen's The Rising. And the anthem of Born To Run.  Bruce Springsteen performing I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For with U2. Bruce and Tom Morello giving us a whole new take on The Ghost of Tom Joad.  Really, anything in the Boss' catalog.

Johnny Cash, with his "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die" to covering Nine Inch Nails' Hurt in a such a poignant way, with the crescendo of the piano.  The man without whom we wouldn't have much of the music we have today.

My heart breaks a little every time I hear The Pogues' Love You Til the End- and at the same time, it makes me believe in romance.  Elvis Presley  singing You Were Always on My Mind.  The first time I heard Falling Slowly and I had to stop and look up Glen Hansard and wonder how it was I didn't know about him until that moment.

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Pachelbel's Canon in D.No lyrics, but soul stirring none the less.  

I have a soundtrack for everything. The songs that make me want to work out. The songs that make me want to dance. The songs that bring out my inner badass. The songs that make me say it is time to challenge the status quo. Songs that make me want to be a rebel, to find that liberation that only rock and roll brings. Songs that simply make a car trip more enjoyable.  I could go on and on.  I won't. I have a soundtrack to create.

23 October 2010

Mourning What Might Have Been

I got some news this week that put me in a bit of a funk.  Thankfully, nothing serious, and most certainly a first world problem. But still, it caused me a bit of angst.  I’ll get to that but you first need the back story.

Several years ago, I was part of The Crew, a group of friends and alliances formed through a bunch of young singletons moving to the city and conquer the world as corporate drones. We became friends out of necessity, each of us new to the area, with few ties and needing camaraderie.  There were seven of us at the heart of the group, with a few others added in over the years as people moved to town, or old relationships rekindled.

I have very few memories of my first five or six years here that don’t somehow include the Crew.  We spent weekends together, hitting local bars and restaurants; grilling out by the pool; playing ultimate Frisbee; and just being together.  We had our own Holiday dinners together before heading out of town to our respective families. Some of us vacationed together. We spent weekends in the mountains, hiking.   We were, in a lot of ways, our own real life version of Friends or Beverly Hills, 90210 (the original, not the remake), complete with all the variations of relationships that went on in those shows.

I remember thinking several years ago that this would all end, eventually. Or at a minimum, change. We’d get married, change jobs, move, and lose touch. Like the characters on Friends, time and circumstance would eventually cause us to part ways. Yet, I thought we’d connect for weddings and births, exchange Holiday cards, and celebrate major life events.

Despite knowing that most of us would eventually become only Christmas card friends, there are a few people from the Crew I thought would be in my life forever.  Friendships I put a lot of effort into.  This week, it’s become apparent that save for one couple, I’ve been left behind? Moved on? from the Crew.

I lost frequent contact with the person in the Crew that I was closest to.  Someone who, perhaps, I fell a bit in love with at one point. Someone who gave the signals that perhaps he was interested as well, until I learned that was largely his modus operandi. When my personal and professional life settled down, I reached out again to this person, telling him how much I missed our friendship, how sorry I was that I hadn’t been able to put the effort into our friendship as much lately, and that I wanted to make our friendship a priority again if he was willing. Crickets. I’ve never received any response from him. At a Christmas party a couple of years ago, after this attempted reconciliation, I saw him and we exchanged the type of polite, impersonal conversation you share with people you don’t know at a first meeting. 

While it had been evident in other circumstances- a birthday dinner, a dinner when one of our Crew was home from London for a few days-it finally became clear to me at that party that I was no longer a priority with some of these people who I had at one time considered amongst my closest friends.

What it took me a while to acknowledge is that I never was a priority with these particular people. I can see with time and perspective, I always put a lot more into the friendship with these two individuals than they did with me. I chose to not see it when it was going on, because my perceived reality made me happy. I enjoyed being with these people. It filled some void I had, and gave me a pseudo-family.

I learned yesterday that one of these people has married, and the other is now engaged, and I am feeling a sense of mourning. Grief for what I now realize is what could have been.  If our friendship had been equal, if I had been a priority to them, if I had not been largely out of touch for a couple of years because of constant travel and incredibly long work hours, I may have been a part of these celebrations.

If I’m being honest, there was an element of self pity in there as well. With these two marriages, I’m the last of the Crew to settle down. Yes, I’ve got the mortgage and the good job and the home repairs that make you an adult, but I don’t have the husband and kids.  And at this stage of my life, I’m relatively certain that is not in the cards for me, which I am working to be OK with. Still, it makes one feel a bit defective when you feel like all your friends are on board the same train, and you’re standing on the platform, watching that train pull out of the station and leave you behind.  Like I said, that’s a moment of self-pity, and I quickly pushed that to the back of my mind.

So, the point of all this? I’m not sure. Perhaps my own catharsis, closing the door on a previous phase of my life. Solidifying these as nice memories with people I needed in my life for a particular reason at a particular time. People and times I can remember fondly but leave them in the past, where they belong.  Instead, I can focus on the people who are still a part of my life. The people I prioritize, and who prioritize me. Celebrate what is, and what is to come, not mourn what might have been. 

26 September 2010

Things I Don't Need: The Urge to Purge Part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote about working with a professional organizer.  Let me tell you, it is some of the best money I've ever spent.

I feel so unburdened now, so liberated.  I feel in control of my environment. I feel like I can maintain this. In fact, I have. 

So let me tell you a bit about this journey.  

Entire families live in houses the size of mine or smaller. So how is it that I had no extra storage capacity?  It was a couple of things: as I said in my original post on the Urge to Purge, part of it was laziness and part of it was a sentimental attachment to things that didn't need it.  But one key thing is that I think you have to be in the right headspace to take on this type of effort.  Now, I wasn't a hoarder. I just had too much stuff, and was holding on to things I didn't need. But it was overwhelming to get started on clearing it all out.  It seemed  like too big of a job to start.

But earlier in the year, I got my finances in order, then I worked with a life coach and got my priorities in order.  I think getting my environment in order was the natural next step.  

I worked with Suellen from Creative Order (http://www.creativeorder.com).  Our first meeting, she walked through the house with me, and listened to my goals.  We talked about a plan of attack, and agreed to 4 sessions about 4 hours each.  I secretly wondered if that would be enough. But it was.  We worked through the house room by room. The first thing we tackled was the master bedroom closets.  Remember the "Monica Closet" from Friends? Picture that times two. Or three.  

But we did it.  Here's what they look like now:

The best thing is that since we've done this, I've hung up or returned to the proper drawer or put in the laundry hamper each piece of clothing that comes of off me.  No more piling things at the foot of the bed, or tossing onto the closet floor when I'm in a hurry.

And the guest closet, where the Halloween and Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, and luggage are stored?  It used to be so full that when I had guests, they couldn't actually hang clothes in the closet.  Now?

There are two easy tricks I picked up.  One is a bin that goes up and down the stairs with me. When I need to take things upstairs, they go in the bin, and at the end of the day, the bin goes upstairs with me, and things go in their proper place.  Similarly, when something from upstairs needs to come downstairs, same concept.  This is Magic the Cat trying out the bin:

The other thing is simple storage. Items I need on occasion but not all the time. I needed an easy, but out of the way place to keep them, and keep them organized. The solution? A re-purposed over-the-door shoe rack:

One of the other quick wins?  A re-organized personal workspace.  This is where I pay the bills and shred documents.  Yes, I have a study, but I didn't want this set up there.  Like Suellen said, to be something I'll keep up with, it needs to be an area where I'll use it. So this little unused space in the living room became the perfect work nook.

One of the best things about this effort was the amount of stuff I was able to donate and, for stuff that couldn't be donated, throw out.  See these bins? They all used to be filled with STUFF.  And now they aren't. In fact, they are ready for donation.

That's eleven bins, if you're wondering.

So, like I said, I feel so free now. I feel organized.  I know easily where things are. It is easy to keep things in control because nothing is out of control.  It's expanded into other areas. I've ruthlessly cleaned out and reorganized drawers.  I'm much more discriminating in what I buy, because I realize that now that I know where everything is, I don't really need anything.

Overall, I still think my house is comfortable. You could come in and make yourself at home.  It isn't so perfect that you're afraid to touch anything.  But there's no embarrassment for an overfilled storage bin or too many magazines piled on the coffee table.  They're dropped off for recycling at a local school once a month now.

Suellen was great.  Non-judgemental, supportive, full of ideas, and respectful of my unique style.  I'm so glad I did this, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend hiring someone to anyone with organizational challenges.

To wrap up, I'm going to share with you a list of ten things, in no particular order, that I've discovered I don't need any time soon. I have enough of them, and I know where they are:

1)  Jeans
2)  T-shirts
3)  Purses
4)  Knickers
5)  Shoes
6)  Boots
7)  Bath soaps
8)  Exercise clothes
9)  Socks
10) Linens

28 August 2010

Game On Diet, Week 4

This is it. The last day of the Game On Diet.

I admit it, by this week, I've had a bit of GoD fatigue. So have most of the other players.  I think that is partially because real life has been a bit more hectic this week, and this was just one more thing to have to think about.

But then I think about all I've gained- and lost- from the last four weeks.  Eight pounds, gone. Clothes fitting better.  The chemicals I was so used to ingesting every day in the form of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners have been gone from my life for twenty-eight days now.

I feel better. I'm sleeping more. I'm more flexible because of working out and doing Yoga.  I'm drinking even more water than before.  I'm thinking about why I want to eat, not mindlessly noshing, even on healthy things, any more.

That's the point of the game- to learn balance and to listen to your body. To be kind to yourself.  So it has been completely worth it.

I'm planning to take off the full stringency of the game until after Labor Day- that doesn't mean I'm going back to all the old habits, just adapting them for long term maintainability. Then I'll planning to play again for another four weeks, which should then have it all fully ingrained.  Because I'm in favor of anything that helps me feel better, more balanced. 

Who's up for round 2?

16 August 2010

Game On Diet: Week 2 Recap

Another week down! Another two pounds down!  So I'm happy.

This week was actually a little easier than the first week because I know how to plan and what to expect.  But it was also a little harder mentally because it is hard to be spontaneous following this plan. Monday night, I had a concert to go to, so I took that as my food day off, and I completely enjoyed myself at the show.  But when last minute plans presented themselves Wednesday night, I had to figure out how to get in a plan-friendly dinner.  Then I took the snacking penalty because I had an appetizer with a friend- at least it was healthy: hummus and pita and vegetable sticks.  Yes, it was a penalty, but I was also glad to see that I naturally was drawn to the healthier choice.

I had intended Friday lunch to be my meal off.   I was going to one of my favorite restaurants and wanted to get my favorite dish.  When lunch plans changed, I ate a typical Game On Diet meal.  I wasn't feeling deprived or like I needed the splurge, so I didn't take it.  That's the point I'm getting to- the point of the game- the healthier lifestyle is taking route.  I'm finding I just want to make the better decisions.

I'm still not loving black coffee, but a little vanilla extract in it, or cinnamon, is helping a bit.  The thing I've craved the most? An icy cold Coke Zero.  But I haven't had a single soda, even when it is allowed in the plan.  I'm actually rather proud of myself for that.

The best thing, though, is how much more sleep I am getting. Seven hours is the requisite minimum amount in the game, and I was getting that most of the time. But I was still waking up so tired.  So I forced myself to try each night for eight hours. And I feel so much better.  That is probably the single biggest improvement I've noticed from these two weeks: how much better I feel in general when I am well rested.

So now we're on to Week 3.  I already had the food day off for this week, and the wine I had at last night's concert gave me a fitful sleep last night, so even though it was enough time, it wasn't good sleep. That's impacted my motivation today, but I am powering through it. I figure I did it to myself, so I can get over it and get my head in the game.

We're already talking round 2. I plan to take a week or two off between rounds- it is good to surprise your metabolism once in a while- and I want to have no worries over Labor Day Weekend. So if you're interested in playing, starting the week of 13 September, let me know!

10 August 2010

The Urge to Purge

Much to my mother's consternation, I've never lived by the  "a place for everything and everything in its place" mantra.  I like clean, but I can stand some clutter.  And there's a lot of other things I'd rather do than sort through everything that needs sorting through right when it needs doing.  But it's gotten a bit out of hand lately. Not "I should be on Hoarders" crazy, but "Where the hell did all this crap COME FROM?!" crazy.  And WHY do I need all of it?

That's the point. I don't need all of it.  I may not even need half of it. But where to start?  I can organize a closet if I can do the whole thing at once. If I have to break it up over several days, it stresses me out. But then it becomes easier to not do it. Except I hit a wall. The clutter is driving me mad. I want to simplify, get rid of all the stuff I don't need and I want to be more organized.

So, I hired a professional organizer.  We meet for the first time on Friday.  This is simultaneously liberating and terrifying. I want to be free of the clutter, I want to be more organized, I want to simplify, and I want to live and love more with less.  I just would prefer a magic wand or a house elf to do it and not actually have to involve myself in the process.  I attach a ridiculous sentimentality to some things.  Like gifts I'll never use, but I feel guilty for giving them away because it was important to someone that I have it. 

There are bins in the bottom of one closet I should toss without looking in them. I know I am keeping the contents for some reason, but I can't tell you at all what that is.  I'm sure I'll remember once I start looking through them. And this is where I expect said organizer to look at me as though I have three heads and calmly instruct me to toss it anyway. There's other stuff that will be easier to get rid of.  I just have to do it, perhaps channeling my friend Amanda, label maker and storage bins in hand.

On an intellectual level, I know what needs to be done.  In theory, I could do it myself. But I need that voice of reason to push me to get rid of the things I don't really need, and in some cases even want.  Someone who won't buy into the justifications I give for wanting to keep something.  And I want this to be the start of yet another change.  Something that makes me question purchases in the future- what value will this give me, if I allow it into my home.

Truth be told, I'm excited, along with the dread of actually completing the taks and anticipation of the liberation I expect to feel when  all is said and done.

08 August 2010

Game On Diet: Week 1 Recap

Week 1 of the Game on Diet (or as we contestants are calling it, Crazy Game On Diet) is officially over.  I'm proud to say I lost an even (and healthy) two pounds.

No artificial creamers or sweeteners since July 31. I also have not had a soda since July 31.  Sparkling water with no sweeteners is proving to be my salvation there.  It's the carbonation I like the most, although I have craved the taste a few times this week.

There's been several things I have loved about this game so far. I love getting more sleep.  I really approve of any game that says sleep more. I feel so much better with that extra rest.

At the risk of sounding like a nouveau coffee snob, I now completely understand the appeal of French Press coffee. It is the only way I can take coffee black.  

I've adapted pretty easily to the smaller, more frequent meals. Yes, yes, lots of planning. But also noticing that it really does take less food to sate us.

On the flip side, I realized at dinner last night (my meal off for the week) that the game is already giving me a bit of a complex when it comes to eating out.  I stared and stared and stared at the menu until I remembered the point of the meal off: to not feel as though you are being deprived in this process.  It really is important to indulge once in a while.  So I ordered the burger, and loved it. I ate a few of the fried pickles (I'm in the South. We'll fry anything). I left most of my French Fries on the plate.  And when I got on the scale this morning, it was one pound higher than yesterday?! What?  Which goes to show just how much all the bad for us stuff does impact us on a daily basis.  Still, I don't feel guilty for it. Although, I will always make sure my food day and meal off are not right before points submission time in the future.

Now, let's talk about booze. I didn't indulge until it was sanctioned.  I took a penalty last night- I was allotted one drink then through a little misunderstanding on the part of the waiter, I ended up with a drink I didn't order.  I chose to take the penalty points.  It was a deliberate action.  But in my defense, the UFC Fight was on in the tavern we were in, and I got caught up in all the yelling at those crazy men cage fighting each other. Not my sport.  Anyway, it led me to a realization.  I really think that if I hadn't had the sanctioned glass of wine, I wouldn't have been tempted with the others.  So next time I'm out for several hours on a Meal or Food Day off, I'll probably just skip it all together. Save the calories, save my points. Because really? I've not missed it much at all.

So Week 2 began this morning.  I'm going to see Green Day in concert tomorrow night, which means my meal off and potentially exercise day off will be tomorrow.  I'm probably also going to take my sleep day off on Monday, by sheer logistics. I have a conference call at 8AM on Tuesday, so I'm just not sure seven hours of sleep will be possible between the time I get home from the concert and the time I have to be up to make said call.

But overall, I'm having fun, so I'm keeping at it. I'm also already recruiting players for a round 2 in September.

07 August 2010

It's Fun Being A Girl!

I've said before (not here, but in real life) that I'm glad I'm not a celebrity. This week gave me one more reason why.

Emma Watson adopts a Pixie cut and it makes the entertainment headlines, Twitter rounds, and Facebook commentary. Fandom and Entertainment sites host "Love It or Hate It" polls. Keri Russell went super short years ago when she played Felicity and the backlash was immediate and harsh. Same when Faith Hill adopted a bob.

Y'all, changing our hair color and style is part of the fun of being a girl!  My own hair hasn't seen its natural color since the 1990's.  And I've changed styles more times than I can count.  I am so grateful that when I change my hair it doesn't warrant press coverage. I'd never be out of the news.

I started life as a blonde- once I finally had hair.

And all through middle school and high school and college, I went long and too short and then the right short for me.  I made mistakes.  Bad ones. You'll notice there are no pictures of this era posted here.  There's a reason for that.

In 2005, after years of mostly chin to shoulder length styles in a variety of colors, I decided to grow my hair long.

This was my hair in 2007:

I kept it mostly the same length through 2008, but I had a lot of red in the color- not my best look.  That length? Was high maintenance. I have a lot of hair, and it is thick. This is not a complaint but a fact.  That means that it takes ages to get blown dry correctly- more than a half  hour. And then, it must be styled.  So, yeah, it was nice to have it long again, but it was cumbersome.

In 2009, I started going a little shorter, and darker, close to my natural color (I can't actually remember my natural color. I'd have to go back to some college photos, or maybe high school).

Earlier this year, I went a little shorter still, and the blonde highlights came back in.

But this summer, I went shorter than I have since sometime in the mid-2000's.  The only thing this photo doesn't show is the one red streak I had added last time I went to the salon.

This cut?  I'll use the same description as Emma: Liberating.

I can get ready more quickly. It's more natural.  It's cooler. And where I live, that matters in the summer time.  I feel better with it.  

So what's my point with this rambling? It's that we're lucky as girls to be able to change our look so completely, to have fun with our hair, and to experiment with different looks. Believe me, I've had some misses that I hope never to repeat.  It shouldn't be newsworthy when a news anchor or singer or actress changes her hairstyle or color, especially when it implies it is something that requires votes on whether or not we like it. Who cares?  The only exception to this rule? When something like Britney Spears' shaving her head occurs, because that indicated some deeper issues going on.

So, go Emma, go Keri, go Faith. Go all of us. Experiment. Have fun. Enjoy being a girl and getting to do it! I'm off to paint my nails now.  It's a night out later, after all.

04 August 2010

Game On Diet, Day 4

That's right, y'all. I'm still playing. And I'm still kicking it on points.  I have had to deduct two whole points. But that is it!  I'm in it to win it! Well, I don't care so much about the prize. I want to be able to look back on the game and say I put everything into it that I could and I am glad I did it and  I am healthier because of playing.

I write that because I have been WHINY today.  I'm sick of water.  And hot herbal tea. And iced black coffee.  And I'm TIRED. Which may or may not be related to the game, or my allergies. One of the other players has been in the game before, and she said the first week she played, she felt like I do now, but the second week, she felt better than she had in years.  I'm sticking it out, people!

I've been cooking a lot which I like, but this is not a game you can play- and succeed with- if you aren't willing to plan ahead.  I'm getting creative with some of the dishes.

We're allowed to weigh ourselves once a day.  So far, I am down over a pound.  I'm going for 25 in total, which I know I can't healthily lose in four weeks. But if I play hard, I should be off to a good start by month's end.

I'm doing well on my daily habits, too.  I've managed to write every day. Sometimes it is this post, sometimes it is something else- I just can't count any of the writing I do for work.  So this is a way for me to prioritize something I want to do.

I also had my first encounter with one of my negative habits yesterday. But I caught it and turned it around, so I got my points.

Oh, and I started using the 100 free calories of anything but soda-diet soda-alocohol today.  The purpose of that is so players never have to feel deprived. I think it is a good thing.

My final crazy silly thing for this update?  I've started drinking my evening water out of a wine glass. And I'm starting to discover that the ritual of sitting, relaxing with a pretty glass in my hand is more important to me than what is in said glass. 

So, I would say today was so-so. I got all my points, and I didn't lose any but today's been my least fun day so far.  

02 August 2010

Game On Diet: Day 2

I've made it through Day 2.  Yea!  I even managed the working out today. Go me.  Because although I feel good once the workout is done, I absolutely detest actually doing it.

But let me tell you, this one takes a lot of planning.  I have to take between three and four small meals with me to work. Although I cooked Sunday afternoon, I'm going to have to do another round tomorrow evening.  So this isn't something to be undertaken by the faint of heart.

That being said, it hasn't been that hard (yet) to not have soda or booze. Remind me I said that next week when I have two concerts to go to. Because who doesn't want a cocktail before  a concert? So, there's that.

And mints.  Mints count towards a free 100 calories a day we can have. Which I haven't been doing, but do I seriously have to count popping an Altoid after drinking black coffee?  I consider that a public service.

Sigh. It is what it is.  And so far, I haven't found anything that's been worth compromising points.  

Bring on Day 3. 

01 August 2010

Game on Diet, Day 1

I planned ahead for this diet/challenge.  And by that I mean I consumed as much bad for me stuff as I could in the days leading up to it. That, coupled with two weeks out of town and nearly all meals consumed in a restaurant, and my body was ready for me to get back to something healthy this morning.

There's a lot to think about with a radical lifestyle change like this.  I decided chronicling it here could be a good way to share what I've learned, as well as hold me accountable to the folks I am playing against.

I stocked up at the grocery store yesterday, planning ahead for this game.  So I feel prepared- there's little alcohol or soda in the house, so as not to be too tempted there.  And that's what it is all about for me. A compulsiveness, or an obsession perhaps, that since I have the parameters of the game, I've only myself to blame if I don't adhere to them.    At least in situations where I am in control.

So what have I noticed so far?  For starters, the people I've explained the rules to always want to talk about how easy it will be to lie in this game.  After all, with this group, it is a virtual competition.  But it is true.I suppose any of us could lie.  But really? This competition? If I'm going to lie, I'm going to save it up for something much bigger than this.  And while winning would be great, I think all of us are motivated by something more than just that bragging right.  After all, if I lie about my points but come out of this not a pound lighter and still swigging diet coke, then really, what was the point? I don't need the prize money that badly.

The second thing I've noticed is that I have not thought of myself in the past as a mindless eater.  Today, however, I realized I may be.  When I was washing off all the fruit I bought yesterday, I was tempted to sample a strawberry or grape.  I stopped myself in time, since it wasn't with a meal.  I would not want to lose points for snacking because I mindlessly popped a grape in my mouth.

I also realized that five little meals a day is going to be a lot.  I slept in this morning, the cumulative effect of a significantly delayed flight Wednesday evening and the lack of ability to recover from that.  So here it is 5:30, and I've only consumed three of the daily meals so far. Fortunately, they are small portions, so I think I'll be able to get the others in.

I also chose today as my day off from exercise this week. Yep, the first day.  But like I said, I slept in today, and I desperately needed to run some errands. So I showered, washed my hair, and headed out the door.  I chose at that time to forego the exercise today. Yes, I know that means I must do at least 20 minutes the rest of the week.  I can do that.

I haven't really missed sodas today, probably because I had a lot of soda yesterday and the idea makes my stomach hurt.  The sparkling water will definitely help with soda cravings.  And I've figured out how many of my aluminum water bottles will constitute three liters each day.

Picking out a good habit was easy- it is to write every day, and no writing I do for work counts for that.  A bad habit was harder.  Why? I already have cut out a lot of really bad habits, and many others are being severely curtailed by the game.  So choosing one of them felt to me like I was giving myself a bit of a bye.  I finally decided that whenever I catch myself focusing on what I don't have, rather than what I do, I will lose my bad habit points for the day if I don't turn that thought into something positive.  I've been working on that a lot lately, and it really helps. But again, it is all about mindfulness.

So that's it. Day one, nearly complete.  This month seems a bit long right now. I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to manage some dinners out and upcoming concerts without completely wrecking my points for the day.  But I'll work that out when I need to.

18 July 2010

Things I Love that Start With B

When I revamped this blog, I decided that it would also include some things that are completely for fun. You already know from The Book Fetish that I love books, but there are a few other things I'm pretty passionate about.

Today, I'm talking about things I love that start with B:  Butter London, Burberry, and Bitches on a Budget.

Thanks to Bitches on a Budget (http://bitchesonabudget.com/) I learned about Butter London Nail Lacquers (http://www.butterlondon.com/).  First, most of the colors have clever British names, which I love.  In fact, my toes are a lovely red shade called "Saucy Jack" right now, and before the night is over, my fingers will be a plummy-mauve shade called "Tramp Stamp."

My fingers are on a keyboard nearly all day long between work and play.  With the base and top coats from Butter London, the colors last longer than most of my salon manis, and that's saying something.  The fall collection in available for pre-order now, and I'm trying to decide which colors I want.

There's a collection in Butter London called 3 Free. These lacquers are free of formaldehyde, Toluene, and DBP and STILL stay on forever.  My favorite in that collection (so far) is a deep metallic gray called "Chimney Sweep."  And for those of us who aren't true Brits, there's a great little British dictionary included in the site that gives some background on the product names.  

Staying in the British and beauty theme (more or less) I'll talk about my Burberry (www.burberry.com).  First, I bought a Burberry tote that is just the perfect every day bag.  My work laptop is small, and this tote holds it and everything I would take in a purse, so I have to carry only one bag to the office.  It's not too big for weekends running errands, though I do carry a much smaller bag for nights out.   And hello, it's plaid! I love plaid.  The style is classic, and although the bag was pricey, it will last a lifetime.  So well worth the money.

But, the other thing I love about Burberry is the fashion house's new cosmetics line.   I adore makeup. I like playing with new colors, trying new products, and would love to have a job where I could play in it all day long. At the same time, I like classic looks, low maintenance make up and looks that can go easily from day to night.  So when I read that Burberry, already a favorite brand of mine, was launching a cosmetics line, I was stalking the internet for more information. 

I ordered three eyeshadows, three lipsticks, and a mascara and I love them.  I bought Trench, Khaki, and Taupe Brown eye enhancers (as Burberry calls them), and Mocha, Ruby, and Deep Burgundy lip colors. Love them.  The eye colors are neutral but provide plenty of definition.  Mocha is a nice, neutral lip color. Ruby is a true red, perfect for day or night, and the color really brightens teeth, too,  Right now the cosmetics are available in the States only through Burberry.com, select Nordstrom's stores, and Nordstrom.com.  But I love them, and will be ordering more.

And to wrap this post, back to Bitches on a Budget. Seriously. Check out the site if you haven't. Buy the book. It's worth it. This isn't a book about getting out of debt. It's about spending wisely, splurging where it makes sense, and learning to live fabulously no matter what our budget. Totally worth a read.