Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015

I did not like this year.   It was hard.  It was painful.  Still, many of the days were precious, so I stop short of wishing the year would disappear from my memory.

Nothing is all bad.  Every single day, even the worst of days, there were things to be thankful for, things to bring joy.  I looked hard for these things every day.  That felt important.  It still does.

I had two roads to choose. Every person faced with adversity has that choice. I was chose to survive and make every day count. I chose to have faith that I am here for a reason.  I chose to believe that alongside the sadness, there are incredible possibilities.

Many people will pause today to think over their past year and ponder their highs and lows and accomplishments.  I find little satisfaction in that.  I don't even know what emotions I'll be hit with tonight when the new year is rung in.  Apparently, I'm struggling with some of those even now. I hope by this evening I will be busy with something light and fun rather than thinking so much.  I'm really tired of struggling with emotions.  I'd like to request a break.  I've earned it.

The person I was at the beginning of this year is gone.  I'm somebody different and I seem to keep changing. I often feel I don't know myself anymore, but I really like my new self.  I am one smart cookie (and ever so humble)!

Goodbye, 2015. You stole from me and turned my life upside down and inside out.

Hello 2016.  
You'll take me someplace I've never been before.  I'm ready.

Love this quote, but the teacher in me noticed something amiss.
There's a typo in the web address.  I feel for them.
I imagine whoever created it had a really trying year,
so typos are to be understood.  I hope they get their wish.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Was I Walking or Swimming?

Rain again.  The ground is saturated. But since I'm clearly obsessed dedicated to to getting fit, I got in my morning walk.  I started out convinced that my outfit would hold up to the drizzle.  A few minutes into the walk, the heavens poured a waterfall on top of my head.  I was COMPLETELY soaked.  I had to go in and change.  I admit, at this point, there was a bit of potty language going on and maybe some mumbling to myself about joining a gym.

The second time out, I carried an umbrella.  It was a hassle to carry, but I quickly got over that.  I found my happy place and the rest of the walk was fun.  I felt the kid in me coming out.  In my younger days, before cute shoes were a concern, I loved stepping in puddles.  Today, I was wearing rainboots, which are surprisingly comfortable, so puddles were no problem.  At first I acted like an adult and dodged them, but soon found myself going right for them and possibly acting a bit silly. Acting silly is so much more fun than being sensible.

Walking was slow.  There were many slick muddy spots, so I had to be extra careful.  This walk was way more strenuous than dry weather workouts.  I'm thinking about complaining to Fitbit.  I think there should be a way to earn bonus step points for hazardous walks.  I didn't get nearly as many steps today as I would have liked, yet the workout was very good!  Surely, my extra efforts were worth a 1000 step bonus, right?

One more funny bit - I was getting close to the end of my walk and it started to thunder.  I will walk through rain or snow, but I have a healthy respect for thunder and lightning.  Naturally I was at the far end of the property and had to make a run for it.

George: Why are we doing this again?

We now, apparently, have a creek on the property.

The pond is overflowing... again.

This spot was a muddy, slippery mess.

The water was rushing through this spot.  I had fun walking right through it.

By the way, I am planning to get a rainy weather walking outfit asap.  It's great to have a good excuse for buying a new outfit!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fitbit Warning!

There's a dirty little secret about these Fitbits that no one seems to be talking about.  I have found out about it the hard way.  The damned things are addictive.  You heard me right.  ADDICTIVE!

I remember a time (barely a week ago) when I could go out for a normal walk and be satisfied, even if I'd only walked for half an hour.  Not any more.  Now I have a Fitbit and a walk will never again be just a walk.

The first day I wore the Fitbit, I felt I had to meet the 10,000 step goal.  I did.  In fact, I made it to 16,665. I felt so proud.  What a feeling of ecstacy to have done so well!  I should have noticed the 666 is this number. That was a big hint.

The next day, 10,000 wasn't enough. 16,665 wasn't going to be enough either.  I needed to beat the previous day's number.  Once I did, it still wasn't enough. I wondered how I might feel if I could make it to 20,000, so I kept going.  That's the problem with addiction.  You keep needing more and more to get that special feeling.  I knew this was madness, but I couldn't help myself. I made it to 20,199.
You can guess what happened the third day.  20,000 wasn't going to be enough.

At the end of the day, with over 26,000 steps, I was giddy, but also experiencing something a little different.  By the end of the day, instead of experiencing the vim and vigor of an athlete, I felt like a 90 year old woman who had been hit by a mack truck, broken her hip, and then been smacked around by thugs.  Oh, and did I mention I was walking in the pouring rain for a good bit of those steps?

You'd think that would be a supreme lesson and would be enough incentive to get this monkey off my back or at least cut back to something reasonable.  Sadly, no.  I'm telling you, the addictive power of this little gadget is insane.  This morning I woke up feeling fine, but all I wanted was to get outside and get some good step numbers.   I did a morning walk and this evening rushed home for my second walk.  I walked until it was so dark I couldn't see. I didn't want to stop. I'm only at 19,663 steps.   That's a good number, but am I satisfied?  NO!  Now I'm going to have to walk around my house til I have at least 20,000.  And that will still not be enough to achieve my "Fitbit high".

I know I have a problem.  I can't believe it's progressed this quickly.  It's affecting all sorts of areas of my life.  One look at my laundry will give you a clue just how dirty this addiction can be.  I mess up two full exercise outfits a day.  I take two showers a day.  I just don't know where this will end.  

I thought about maybe tossing the fitbit off somewhere (not really, but that sounded good, right?).  I know it would be no use because there are Fitbit dealers at every turn.  I can't believe these are legal!  You can just walk in a store and buy one.  There's not even a waiting period!

My friends might try an intervention, but it wouldn't do any good.  With the shape I'm getting in, they might not be able to catch me.  I'm totally hooked and I don't think there's anything to be done about it.  By the way, my niece, Carly, got me started.  Can you believe it?  Family. Unbelievable. 

You might be thinking about getting a Fitbit (or another similar gadget) yourself.  You might think you are different and could handle it.  Don't say you weren't warned.  

Friday, December 18, 2015

Becoming Fierce

I'm becoming fierce!  When my husband died, my life fell apart and all the plans we'd made crumbled. I had no choice but to quickly start figuring out how to live the rest of my life.  Life is unpredictable.  My life might end tomorrow.  I might live to be 100.  I want whatever time I have left to be good. All of it.  Even NOW, in the midst of grieving.  Life should not be put off for someday.

I've come up with five resolutions to help me become fierce.   All I need to do is raise one finger at a time to remind myself of them all.

Little Finger - Have a Little Fun Every Day, More if Possible
I'll make the best of every chance I have to connect with true friends and family for a bit of fun!  Maybe our work ethic lessons were wrong.  Maybe we should have fun first and work during whatever time is left.

Ring Finger - Push Myself
It's really hard to raise the ring finger on its own, but give it a push and it goes right up.  I will push myself.  I will do more, expect more, and dream bigger.

Middle Finger - Eliminate or Reduce What Doesn't Bring Me Joy
This one is all about telling a few things in my life to GET LOST.  I will look for ways to do less of what is not fun or beneficial.  I'll spend less time on social media.  The old bit, if a little is good, more is better, does NOT apply to social media!  I'll get serious about reducing clutter. I'll spend less time with people who are toxic, negative, or enjoy drama.  I won't accept being mistreated or belittled.   What's left will lead to a more joyful life of substance.   In my old life, I never would have posted a photo of my hand in this position.   The gesture may be crude, but it makes it easy to remember this resolution!  

Pointer Finger - Take Care of Myself First
Taking care of myself is my number one priority.   In order to do all the things I need to do, I need to be in the best shape possible. I can't afford to be sick or weak.   I have no back up. No matter how many people love me and offer to help me out, in the end, there's truly only one person I can depend on  - MYSELF.  I will eat right, exercise, rest, be happy, reduce stress...   I will look out for my health, safety and well-being.  I will be strong.

Thumb - Trust Myself Completely.  I'm Good.
I'll ask for advice when I need it, but I will make my own decisions.  I'm the only one who truly understands my situation and circumstances.  I don't need confirmation or approval. I'm good on my own.  I'm not seeking companionship.  I need time to become strong on my own.    My life can never again be what it was with Rudy.  I plan to make a new life with the new person I'm becoming.

The more I practice these resolutions, the more fierce I will become.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My Brother-In-Law Tried to Kill Me Today!

My brother-in-law, Mike, called yesterday to see if I was interested in going to Pine Mountain for a hike today.  That sounded good to me.  I really want to try to step up my fitness game.

We set off on the Wolfden hike.  Susan and I had hiked to Wolfden back in October, but we didn't do the entire hike.  We did the shorter hike to the den and back.  Mike's mission was the complete 6.7 mile loop.  

He set off at a respectable (breakneck) pace.  I was determined to keep up with whatever pace he set without complaint (crying).  Hiking with Mike is a bit different than hiking with Susan.  Susan and I stop to admire the scenery and take photos and drink water.  Most of the photos I took today were taken quickly while on the move (run).  There was no dawdling.

It took Susan and I about an hour and 45 minutes to make it to the den.  It took Mike and I one hour.  It took us 3 hours and 15 minutes to hike the entire 6.7 mile loop.

The hike beyond the den is not quite as pretty, but it was interesting.  The terrain changes substantially a number of times.  There were a couple of sections of woods where the hiking was fairly easy, but all in all, the hike was challenging - a moderate rating.  Up and down mountains over and over, 13 creek crossings, rocks and roots...   There were two particularly steep uphill sections where I thought paramedics might be needed. 

We crossed roads twice during the hike.  After the last crossover, we went through an area that had been hard hit after a tornado a few years ago.  It was sad, but the area was still pretty in a very unusual sort of way.  The photos I took here are some of my favorites, actually.  I like the colors and the lonesome feel.

To set the record straight and clear Mike's name, he asked if I was doing OK many times.  If I had given him any clue that I was pushing it (praying to be put out of my misery), he would have slowed down or rested or whatever I wanted.  In truth, I WANTED to be pushed.  It was fabulous!!!!  I'd gladly do it again, but not tomorrow.  I may not be able to move tomorrow.

Mike's trying to talk me into joining in on a Grand Canyon hike in 2017.  The really crazy thing is that I just might do it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Anytime Table Centerpiece

Just because I'm being a stick in the mud about holiday decorations this first Christmas as a widow, doesn't mean I have given up on decorating altogether.  I just don't want to pull out holiday decorations with memories attached.  Today, I came up with a table centerpiece I actually like.  It would work with most holiday decor AND it won't have to be put away in January.

I started with a large vintage silver tray.  That was an amazing yard sale find.  I got it for a song.  It sells for big bucks on Ebay.  I did not polish it.  In the to polish or not to polish debate, I fall clearly on the do not polish side when possible. I only polish when there's a glaring stain. That old patina is fabulous.

Next I pulled out some old milk jars in various styles and sizes.

I added cuttings from a tea olive bush. I need to go back and trim a few of them again.  In a week or so, I may change to holly or flowers.   I'll probably keep changing until I'm ready to change to a whole new look.

The arrangement in the first photo worked fine, but then I added tiny lights, as shown in the second photo.  The photo doesn't do it justice.  

The string of lights are wonderful.  They are teeny-tiny.  The cord is a copper wire, which means you can bend them this way and that, plus they look pretty.  The lights have an on-off switch and you can even use them on a timer.  I haven't used them enough to figure out how long the timed setting lasts.  One more thing about these lights - you can use them under water.  They could really add a whole new dimension to a vase of flowers.

I bought my lights at a local store, Collector's Corner (in Sharpsburg, GA).  You may be able to find them online as well, but I don't have info on the brand.

After adding the lights I tried adding a collection of rocks and minerals, but it took away from the simplicity.  My collection was multi-colored.  If I had used only quartz rocks or something similar, it might have been nice.  On the other hand, the lights reflecting on the tray is really nice.

By the way, if I had kids around, I would definitely pull out the holiday decorations.  I don't, so this year, I'll keep things simple and focus on the other aspects of Christmas. I'm keeping busy, too, going to parties and get-togethers and lunching with friends.   Since I'll be able to see so many other people's decorations, I won't actually be missing out.  It's really only MY decorations I don't want to see.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Holiday Decor, Courtesy of God

It's December.  So many people have already pulled out their holiday decorations.  I have looked at my decorations a time or two.  I've pulled things out of storage and put them back away.  They make me sad.  Pity Party, table for one please.  NO, no, no!  That's not how I want to spend the month.  That's not how I want to spend my life.  Find me a happy table, please - a big one with plenty of room for the people I love!

Today, miraculously, I think I found my holiday survival trick.  It doesn't require unpacking any holiday decor at all.   It involves stepping outside and paying closer attention to what's around me.

I try to walk at least once every day.  I tend to get lost in thought and I'm sure I walk past amazing displays, like the leaves in the photo above.  Those leaves were on the ground, just waiting for someone to notice the amazing colors, the shiney spots where the lights hit, and the crunchy sound as you walk through them.  This month, I'm going to try to be more in tune with my surroundings and take time to appreciate the beauty around me.  I'll leave the decorating to God.

I'm so thankful this idea came to me.  It has given me an unexpected and happy way to celebrate the season.  I feel sure the idea wasn't mine.  The inspiration came from above.


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