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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Walking in the Light

When the hubs and I got married his family was into a multi-level marketing program, big time. Not that any of us made a lot of money at it, but we drew those crazy circles like we were spreading the Gospel, trying to convert as many people as we could to...I hesitate to say what I'm thinking...The Dark Side. Not that it was The Dark Side at the time, but I was the first to see the light.

Photo by arielmeow.
We were taught to dream big. To see ourselves in, and even to test drive, shiny new cars (my personal favorite was the Cadillac Seville), go to the Parade of Homes and wander through McMansions, or RV shows to see how the cool kids recreate. Before long, I realized that all that wishful thinking did was to create discontent. We no longer were happy with what we had. We only wanted bigger, newer and equated that with better. Sure, discontent was the purpose of the exercise. If you want it badly enough, you can achieve it. But I didn't like feeling that what I had was never good enough. Not one little bit. It wasn't long before I gave up on the MLM scheme and started trying to be content with what I had.

I just finished reading this blog "On Wanting Stuff."  It hit a chord, well maybe a couple. I've long ago given up going to the mall, stopped looking at most catalogs, ended magazine subscriptions. I do still browse Lehman's from time to time. But come on! How can a catalog for simple living be bad?

It wasn't until I read this blog that I realized how far I've come in finding contentment. I see the temptations and the failures. I look at how I can justify tempting purchases and think, "I'll never get there." Seems I'm much farther along than I thought. Sure, I still want an iPhone or in a pinch a Droid. Yes, I can justify an e-reader so I could get rid of some of my book collection. But, I haven't bought any of those things, and everyday I'm lightening the load a bit. I'm still moving out of the shadows and into the light.

Pardon me now while I go find another couple of boxes of stuff to give to charity.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WIP Wednesday

It's WIP Wednesday. I'm still working on test knitting a shawl for The Ladies of Mischief's book.  Here's what it looks like at this point.

It's done in fingering yarn, so I have a long way to go. I'm just knitting away at it.

I also finally got a chance to start watching the NCIS Season 8 DVDs that arrived yesterday. I started with, of course, the special feature on the writers. After several months of tweeting with Jesse Stern and Steve Binder, and the chance to see Jesse and Reed Steiner at NCIS FanFest last fall it was fun to see the writers behind the scenes. I also watched the special feature with the fans in costume asking questions. I was there when some of it was filmed. It was great seeing my tweeps again.

Finally, I have been stalking my new coworker, the one I refer to as R2, on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog. In fairness, she found me first on Twitter. The similarities between us are pretty funny. It'll be interesting to see if it's just on the surface.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What is a trader?

I found another video on being a trader, and I've attached it to my fundraising page. It's been hard for me to explain the thought processes that tie my desire to dedicate my walking to a cause and to make the 1/2 marathon more than just about walking 13.1 miles. The video does a good job making the connection. If I can raise money to support a cause that I care deeply about, it makes the weeks of training, the sore muscles, and the loss of lazy Saturday mornings worth it. Watch the video then prayerfully consider supporting me in my walk.

Friday, August 19, 2011

First Steps

I am uncomfortable. 

Ever have one of those times in your life where everything feels like a drag on your energy? That is where I am now. What makes it worse is when your coping mechanisms become part of the problem.

For me, walking is one of my coping mechanisms. I find that if I start the morning with a walk the day goes better. I usually walk 45 minutes to an hour 3-5 days a week. I think of it as the time I used to spend commuting I now spend it on a healthier lifestyle.

Now that I'm weeks away from walking a half marathon, walking has become yet another  energy suck. For those who have never trained to do something like this, or even for those who have run a marathon, you may not realized how much work walking a marathon takes. It's an incremental process of building up to those 13.1 miles. However, walking one mile takes me 16-17 minutes. Saturday's walk will be 9 miles. Do the math. I spend my Saturday mornings walking and my Saturday afternoons recovering. I want my Saturdays back!!

September 11th I'll be stepping off to walk 13.1 miles. If the way I felt after walking a 10k last fall is any indication, crossing the finish line will be one of the high points of my life. After all, walking around the block was a challenge in the fall of 2009. Right now keeping it moving is as much of a challenge as taking those first steps.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Am I walking like a trader?

I've watched that video we saw at church yesterday probably 10 times now. I've already stumbled onto the path of trading what I have and what I do for more important things. The video gave it a name: A Trader.

I've been walking now for nearly 2 years and I've lost more than 100 lbs. I started walking when I started my new telecommuting job because I didn't want to sit through my one hour lunch break watching TV and eating too much. I started by walking around the block, which was insanely difficult. Little by little I added more distance to my walk. Then I started using Sparkpeople to track my exercise and what I was eating. Next thing I knew, I'd lost 20 lbs.

Using Sparkpeople I realized how much fat I was eating. I would easy run out of fat grams before I ran out of calories. I started looking for lower fat options, fish, chicken, turkey, vegetables. I discovered that, for me, lettuce is the delivery system for the salad dressing. I don't really like lettuce; my idea salad has a lot of other vegetables in it and the occasional piece of fruit.

Eventually, I shifted my walk from lunchtime to early morning because I couldn't get enough walking in at lunch time. The hour lunch break wasn't enough for walking, but I've been learning to use that time to just be quiet. I do the prep work for dinner. Or I close my eyes and unplug from the Matrix a bit.

Last fall I walked New Albany Walking Classic's 10k. This year I'm working on their 1/2 marathon. After I signed up my employer and the pregnancy center I support developed Marathons for Moms. I signed up as a walker. Yesterday's post about being a trader points right here. My job is helping non-profits with their fundraising walks and banquets. I also am walking to raise money for my local pregnancy center. These are things that are important to me. My work is more than a job. Walking is more than a way to lose weight. I'm using both as a way to help others. That makes me a trader.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Are You a Trader?

As I've written over the past couple of posts, I've been reading articles from several bloggers on minimalism. I recognize the need to simplify my life and especially to pare down the amount of stuff I have and the number of distractions in my life. This weekend I heard this same message in a Beth Moore word study at Schottenstein Arena and from the pulpit at my church. When you start hearing it everywhere, you know you have to listen.

One of the things that Beth Moore mentioned was that if we are doing a thousand things, how can we expect to do any of them well? Wouldn't it be better to find one or two things and excel at those? I brag about working with 2 computers going with 4 workspaces each, yet I wonder why I feel like I have ADD when I try to only do one thing at a time. I find myself seeking the distraction.

When I think about focusing my energies, I start questioning all the stuff I own that is not part of that focus. I know that I have a pattern of changing hobbies and interests every two years or so, but that doesn't mean I have gotten rid of those materials. Anything that I do longer than that is usually something that I truly love. Looking at my stash, there aren't many things that fit that category.

A video we showed at church this morning suggests trading in the stuff and the distractions for something with meaning. This is where I'm heading. Are You A Trader?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Travel light

I read this piece, The Tao of Travel,  and was highly motivated by Leo Babauta's ability to pack light. I've done it before, not quite to his level, but I've been tempted more than once to throw caution to the wind and go for it: pack the least that I can get away with. This weekend seemed to be the perfect time. I was meeting friends to see Beth Moore in Columbus and staying with them overnight at the home of one of their daughters.

I grabbed my backpack and tossed in my regular travel 1quart baggie, my small makeup bag, a clean top, pjs, socks, and my Bible. Before walking out the door, I grabbed the charger for my cellphone, my knitting, and the wristband I needed to entry into the event.

I am proud to say that I used every single item that I took with me. There was nothing extraneous.  There was, however, something I missed. As I neared Schottenstein Arena the thought occurred to me, "Did you pack underwear?"

Drat!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Simple Black Coffee

It's not what he said that got my attention. It's the title of his blog: Simple Black Coffee. I looked at the title. I looked at my coffee with milk and artificial sweetener and suddenly the latter felt very wrong.

I know that artificial anything is not good for you, but I use the "pink stuff". You know the one that was villainized in reports of rats getting cancer after the equivalent of 80 cans of pop ("soda" for the rest of you) a day.

"I don't drink 80 cans of pop. I'm fine," I rationalize.

Today's coffee is sweetener free. We'll talk about the milk later. After all, I need my calcium.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Finding Balance

I've run across some bloggers lately who are reigniting my thoughts about simplifying my life. I poke at the concept from time to time, but it's never seemed as real as it does now. I wonder if it's because the hubs and I talk about actually moving to the cabin by the lake (CBTL) and we know there is no way all the stuff in this 4 bedroom 3 floor house is going to fit into a 2 bedroom slab.

I started paring things down months ago, although you can't really tell it. It was easy to do after moving my office to a different room, and Salvation Army was coming anyway to pick up my old, too-large clothes. But there is a voice inside of me that keeps thinking that I should be selling my stuff on Ebay or CraigsList. Having worked in shipping for a couple years, I know just how annoying that can be. Add to that photographing, listing, and all the headaches that go with selling things online, I know I don't want to do it. Then I read Decluttering 101: to Sell or not to Sell. It gave me an interesting perspective on getting rid of stuff.

Miss Minimalist talks about the process of selling her stuff and how the loathing of the process now keeps her from buying new stuff. I realized that for me, selling my stuff seems like a penance for owning it in the first place. It's like the stretch marks and hangy skin after losing 100+ pounds are the battle scars for being stupid enough to gain all that weight in the first place. Selling this stuff is the cleansing I need to get me out of the chaos and into a simpler life.

I'm adding selling stuff to the list I've been thinking about. Over the next 6 months I will:

  • scan family photos left by hubs' mom and grandmothers so I can pass the actual photos to other members of the family. 
  • after making as many Christmas and birthday gifts as possible with my craft stash on hand, follow up with my previous plan of purging craft supplies. If they don't fit in the craft cupboard they are gone.
  • reassess what things I really don't want to live without. I may even toy with the idea of a 100 things list. Not sure I'm ready for that yet.
  • start listing items on Craigslist and Ebay.
Not sure how far I'll get in 6 months, but it has to be better than where I am right now. Like losing weight was a one step at a time process, so will simplifying my life. I didn't lose this weight overnight. It took a while find balance between eating healthy and exercising. It's time to seek that balance in other areas of my life.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

When Willpower is Trumped by Bad Habits | zen habits

When Willpower is Trumped by Bad Habits | zen habits

I read this blog earlier in the week and I gave the idea some thought on my walk this morning. Last year I was much better about getting up and hitting the paths for my walk first thing. Then winter hit and it was too cold. That was followed by spring, which was too wet and summer, which was too hot. Still, I plan to walk a 1/2 marathon in September and I need to get strong enough to walk it. What happened to my habit and how can I get it back?

The the aforementioned blog I was reminded that last summer I got out of bed, dressed, and was out the door. This year, I eat a little something, maybe have some coffee, visit with my friends on Twitter, and then wonder where my morning went. That has to change.

This morning, I was dressed in my workout clothes before I walked downstairs. I stretched, filled my water bottle, and was out the door before I had a chance to be distracted. I need to continue this trend if I'm going to finish the half and lose these last 15 lbs. It's time to reestablish last summer's good habit.