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Shedding My Winter Coat in Ten Easy Steps

February 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Ah, my winter coat.  Red, wool, comfy cozy and one size too big, the better to hide my winter rolls.  But, see, when I refer to my winter coat, it’s not actually my red wool coat that I’m speaking of.  It’s my extra 10+ pounds of, uh, insulation that I put on every winter.  That’s right, winter makes me fat.

Now, I am extremely good at losing weight.  I’m a champ at it, when I set my mind right.  I have been known to drop 2 pounds a day.  I have done twice daily workouts and subsisted on protein and vegetables alone.  And why am I so good at it?  Because I am so miserably bad at maintaining my weight.  I do rather well April through September, but once the leaves start turning golden hues and a winter chill sneaks into the morning air, I start blowing up like Violet Beauregarde, or perhaps Harry Potter’s Aunt Marge.  It’s cold, it’s dark and I am lazy.  Cold weather doesn’t invite salads and grilled chicken.  January chill begs for thick and hearty stews and casseroles and delicious things loaded with cheese, gravy and fat.  Christmas cookies, Thanksgiving carbs, Valentine’s candy…was there ever a season more detrimental to the waistline?   Who can blame me for losing my focus?  I even have an impressive list of reasons that it’s hard for me to maintain my workout schedule during the winter months:

  • I’m sick
  • My kids are sick
  • My kids need help with homework
  • It’s too dark to run before/after work
  • It’s Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years/Valentine’s and I’m busy with that
  • I haven’t exercised in a month and now I’m afraid it will make me puke/faint/stroke out

All that is true, but it’s really just a lot of excuses.  Well now, the time has come to pay the proverbial piper.  Spring is almost here, my pants are very tight and I say “ugh” out loud every time I accidentally encounter a mirror.  My winter coat must go and it must go NOW.  So I declare that it ends tonight.  Tonight is my last night behaving like a fat girl.  Tomorrow is a brand new day.  I hope and pray that I’m not the only one with a winter coat, so I’ll share my plan.  I welcome feedback, ideas and encouragement.  Pointing and laughing, however, is discouraged.

 

The modern day gauntlet is mailed to the unsuspecting fatties

 

So, with that said, I declare to all and sundry – Starting tomorrow morning at the painful hour of 5 AM, I shall:

  1. Get up and exercise before work for at least 30 minutes and maintain a “feel like I’m dying” intensity.
  2. Pack 4 healthy snack/meals (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack) for work and not be tempted by anything that is being offered/shared at the office.
  3. Deny my family cheesy, greasy, heavy and/or delicious dinners.  The Chicken Plan is in effect.
  4. Start running again and be ready for the first 5k of the season on April 7.
  5. Religiously record every bite of food in my calorie counting app.
  6. Show my face in my cardio class faithfully unless there is a true and urgent conflict.
  7. Stop baking cookies.
  8. Remember to take my vitamins.
  9. Stop buying so many granola bars, because they’re really no good for a diet.
  10. Step on the scale every single morning, no matter how much it hates me (and it does.  It SO does). 

These are the things I must do.  They aren’t pleasant, they’re not fun, but they’re not optional.  I’m lumpy and out of shape and I am not about to buy one single item of clothing in a bigger size.  The upside?  If I start running again, then I can justify a new pair of nifty cute running shoes. 

Oh, and maybe I can get up off the couch without making that sound out loud.

When Comfort Isn’t Comforting

February 27, 2012 1 comment

I want to speak of loss and grief, and I know this is somewhat of a departure for me, but it’s weighing heavily on me, and so I shall write.

We’ve all experienced times of loss and grief so big that you felt that you would die of it.  If you haven’t, you are either too young to be reading this or you’re living a charmed life.  We all are also familiar with the helpless and awkward moments of talking to those who are in the thick of a tragedy.  I know that I never know what to say in these situations, and I have to assume that I’m not alone in that, since people often say ridiculous things.  Some of the most common platitudes follow and while I know they’re offered with the best of intentions, I want to bring to light another perspective.  I do not always view things through the rosiest of glasses and these optimistic, supposedly soothing, sentiments often just bring a surge of rage when I’m already emotionally fragile.

Sentiment #1 – It’s darkest before the dawn.

What nonsense.  It’s a nice thought when you’re at your lowest, but as we all know, sometimes when things are bad and it seems that they can’t get any worse, they get worse.  And even if it doesn’t get any worse, it’s a cheap comfort to think the sun will shine tomorrow when you’re not even sure you can make it through the night.  When the pain has swallowed you whole, there is no dawn in sight.  You’re just trying to find your way in the dark.

Sentiment #2 – What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

Let’s face it, if you’re upright and even going through the motions, I suspect you already know that you’re stronger than you ever believed.  That’s probably why it didn’t kill you in the first place.  But it can be hurtful and insulting to suggest that your tragedy is going to benefit you in any way.  Yes, you are strong, you are surviving grief and that is no small feat.  You will come out on the other side with more life experience, and maybe you’ll be stronger.  However, I suspect every one of us would trade that strength to undo what was done in a heartbeat.  This doesn’t comfort.  We don’t want to be stronger.  We want our lives back to normal.

Sentiment #3 – Time heals all wounds.

Please excuse me for a moment, but I have strong feelings about this.  What complete and utter horseshit this is.  Time does not have healing properties.  There are wounds that will never heal and it’s absurd and delusional to suggest otherwise.  It belittles your loss and makes light of your pain.  Time absolutely will not heal your wounds.  In time, you will grow and you will learn to live with it.  But you will never be healed.  It will get easier, in time, but it will never be healed. You will be changed forever, and you’ll learn to deal with that, but you’re going to carry this with you forever.

My last opinion on the subject is not a platitude, but it regards hugging.  People want to hug you when you’re in pain.  I appreciate the healing power that human contact has for some people, but I respectfully request that we all remember that it’s not for everyone.  I don’t generally want people to touch me at any time, I’m not a human contact kind of person.  When I’m emotionally crushed and just barely hanging on, I’m like a house of cards and your hug is a windstorm.  Please don’t indiscriminately hug.

I know I can come across as harsh sometimes.  I cannot stress enough that I completely understand that all of these things come from a place of love and concern.  I just think it’s important to understand how they can be perceived.  It’s hard to shrug things off when you’re completely broken and the most innocent, well-meaning comments can turn hurtful and ugly in those moments.  Most of the time it’s best to just to say, “I’m so very sorry for you.  Please let me know if I can do anything.”

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My Blog Name is Lame

February 26, 2012 Leave a comment

I am not comfortable with titles, never have been.  I don’t generally use my work title, I cringe if someone calls me Mrs., and I have a long history of writing things without titles.  I have always felt that a title is much like a label, and we all hate labels, don’t we (smile and nod, please)?  A title defines your work, yourself and everything you’re about.  Well, maybe not really, but in my head it does.  It’s kind of a miracle that I was capable of naming my children, although I my firstborn was nearly here before we managed to settle on a name for her.  And I changed my son’s middle name at zero hour.  So I guess I might never have accomplished that if birth certificates hadn’t forced my hand.

So now on to my current conundrum.  When I started this blog, I spent about five minutes trying to think of a clever name for it, then I threw in the towel and gave it a silly title that is really nothing more than a “secret” code I use for my name sometimes.  I honestly didn’t think it mattered.  Well, I was new to the blogging game and now I see that it is important to have a good name for your blog.  It tells people a little something about you and whether they want to spend their time reading your ramblings.  However, even with that fresh knowledge, I still have problems.

http://www.zazzle.com doesn't have ideas for me, either.

1. I still can’t think of a witty name for my blog.  I still feel like whatever I choose defines me and all my words and I’m not comfortable with that.  Also, I am simply not creative enough.  When I asked my husband for help, he gave me “Frito.”  Thanks, babe.

2. I’m not entirely sure what will happen with my blog if I change the name.  I know WordPress will keep all of my posts, but what happens to my faithful readers?  I do not have so very many, I surely don’t want to risk losing any one of you.

I am starting to feel like I’m stuck with my impulsive blog name.  If I had realized that this was more than a whim, perhaps I would have spent more time on it in the beginning.  Ah well, live and learn.  My blog name may be lame, but it probably would have been, anyway.  At least this way I don’t have to feel bad for putting forth a lot of effort for a stupid result.  I suppose now I should spend a minute working out the Categories option that WordPress has so thoughtfully provided instead.

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It’s Great to Learn, Cause…

February 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Knowledge is power?  Hmph.  Knowledge is a right pain in the heiny, is what it is.

Schoolhouse Rocky's pants are on fire.

Let me give you a bit of background here.  For the last couple years at work, I’ve been involved in a big ol’ software rollout at work.  This particular piece of software is still not exactly where it should be in terms of user-friendliness, speed, reliability or actually working the way it’s supposed to.  I have spent countless hours babying this sucker and begging users for forgiveness and patience and trying to translate our needs to the developers. (Disclaimer, I am not a computer girl and I don’t write code or anything like that.  My piece of the puzzle was more on the user end.  I just have the unique skill of knowing how to communicate flawlessly with the IT guys and girls.  Probably because I’m married to one, har-de-har. Also, I said “user end.” Ha, I’m cracking myself up.)

Anyway.  I recently got a promotion, which was not only a promotion, but a diagonal (it wasn’t exactly lateral, if you take my meaning) shift to an entirely different division of the company.  Despite my many years sitting in this chair, I suddenly had a lot to learn and not nearly enough hours in the day.  In addition to the pressure of learning my new job, which is actually two jobs wrapped in one, I also have to train a replacement for my old job.  There’s the rub.

My old job was something that I made up one day.  I thought to myself, hey, we need someone to do one, two and three.  Lo and behold, I wrote the proposal and my bosses agreed.  It was pretty awesome, if I do say so, but it was a very fluid job description that ended up morphing into one basic requirement.  Knowing stuff.  I have worked here for a very long time and I’ve been involved in a lot of different aspects and I just know stuff.  How do you train someone to know stuff?  That’s a serious question, because I don’t know how to do it. 

I have to interrupt myself to tell you that I spent a good year of college as an education major, during which time I learned how to teach children to read, basic geography and a touch of psychology.  I also learned that everyone is not cut out to be a teacher.  The fact that I spent one year at this should be telling.  I am not skilled at teaching anyone anything.  I say things one time.  If you can’t remember it, you’d better write it down.  I think everyone should work harder at learning than I have to work at teaching.  I forget that everyone doesn’t learn in the same ways or at the same pace as me.  I am easily frustrated and I mostly think it’s just easier to do it myself than to try to explain it.   I know that’s not fair to anyone, so I’m doing my level best to pass on my great knowledge to my young padawan.  But it’s a slow process that is painful for both of us.

 

In the interim, people continue to ask me things that I haven’t taught her yet.  Oh, I’m not holding out on purpose, there’s just a lot and if I dumped it all on her at one time, she’d still be running for the hills.  Now, I’ve known a lot of people in the workplace who love to hold their cards close to the vest, thinking that their knowledge makes them more important or more valuable.  I’ll tell you this.  I do not feel important.  I feel stress.  I feel frustration.  I feel like I want to plug a flash drive into my brain and dump everything I know.  I wish I had begged for a partner in crime when I started that darn job just so I’d have a backup.  I have a confession.  Sometimes I say, “I don’t know” when what I mean is, “I could figure it out but I don’t have time and that’s NOT MY JOB.”  I can’t do everything, people, and right now my current job has to take precedence over my old job.

 

So my conclusion is that too much knowledge is really more trouble than it’s worth.  It doesn’t make me powerful, it’s my kryptonite.   I could go on, but I’m distracted by the unrelated knowledge I just gained – that spell check recognizes “kryptonite”, but not “padawan.”  I guess the spellcheck people are comic book nerds, not Star Wars nerds. Or maybe I’m actually spelling it wrong, but that seems unlikely.  See what all this pressure does to my brain?

 

Photo courtesy of www.allforthecustomer.com, but it was also in my brain, if that counts at all.

Randomized

February 24, 2012 3 comments

I apologize in advance.  I feel like this post is a copout.  But the truth of the matter is, it’s been a long week.  Not only am I tired, but I also I have frizzled brain cells and a marked lack of focus.  I very much want to share with you, my faithful readers, some of the things on my mind.  The problem arises with my aforementioned brain dysfunction.  I no longer have what it takes to compose a thoughtful and/or insightful blog post.  Actually, I’m rather impressed with my ability to form complete sentences, aren’t you?

So, since I want to empty my head, yet am currently unable to deliver the well-crafted post that you so richly deserve, I shall give you the next best thing.  Please enjoy the cluttered, disorganized, stream of consciousness list of things that have been knocking around in the old noggin this week.

A stellar combination

  • Chantix commercials will have you believe that people decide to stop smoking because they can keep smoking when they start Chantix.  That sentence doesn’t even make sense to me, so I’ll give you a minute to process.  They decided to quit smoking so they could keep smoking.  Assuming that you’re an adult person who can afford to buy a pack of smokes, you can keep on smoking for as long as you like.  You don’t need Chantix’s permission.  Also, depression, behavioral changes and suicidal thoughts are possible side effects, and that’s SO much better than smoking. I’m not advocating smoking.  It’s a filthy, stinky habit that is damn near impossible to quit.  I’m JUST SAYING.
  • Febreze now has car air freshener clippy things.  You can get two for around three bucks at Walmart and they are spectacular.  Particularly if your car generally smells like you’ve been taking Chantix. I recommend Linen & Sky.

    Smells like someone's been laundering my car.

 

  • People who say, “I’m sorry to keep bothering you,” don’t mean it.  If they were sorry, they wouldn’t bother you in the first place and they certainly wouldn’t continue.
  • If you search for Imagine by John Lennon on Pandora, you may well have to listen to that channel for two days before you actually get to hear Imagine by John Lennon.  In the meantime, you could be treated to Hotel California at least twice, which is as puzzling as finding Journey on your Beastie Boys channel.  I love you, Pandora, but you’re not there yet.

    The only place in the world where Eagles are like Beatles.

 

  • I drink three bottles of water at work every day.  If I fail to finish all three, or, heaven forbid, drink only two, I will be thirsty all night and no amount of water can fix the damage done.  That’s right.  I am a finely tuned machine.  Or possibly an amphibian.
  • It’s almost impossible for me to not to adopt the speech patterns of someone I’m around for extended periods of time.  I’ve not yet determined if this is a universal phenomenon or if I am just incredibly susceptible to the power of suggestion.  I’m aware that this is a pretty well-known manipulation to make people feel more comfortable around you, but since I’m not well known for that particular concern, I am forced to believe that I’m just an interrogator at heart.  Stay tuned for the waterboarding.

Thank you all for sticking it out during my indulgent little nonsensical post.  A good night’s sleep and the promise of a boring day at work tomorrow may just bring a clever and cohesive post.  Fingers crossed, anyway.

 

photo credits: www.chantix-injuries.com, www.thedirtytshirt.com, www.finnmediacompany.com

 

Word To Your Mother

February 21, 2012 Leave a comment

That’s not a clever play on words.  I’m actually here to talk about Vanilla Ice.

Now, while, Queen’s “Under Pressure” may be one of my all time favorite songs, I don’t want to talk about that.  It’s a completely different thing, after all, Vanilla Ice added the “ting” at the end.  Anyway.  I was gifted with the joy of Ice, Ice, Baby this morning on the radio and I thought to myself, “Has there ever been a more glorious example of self promotion?”  We could all stand to learn something from Mr. Van Winkle, not the least of which is the wisdom of changing your last name from “Van Winkle” to “Ice.” 

Let’s examine this gem more closely, shall we?

Way to rock the shaving accident gone horribly wrong. http://www.telegraph.co.uk

He opens with the following.  No timidity here, and no hesitation.  This is clearly a man ready and willing to take control of any situation.

“Alright, stop. Collaborate and listen.” 

Bonus points for using “collaborate,” even though it makes little actual sense in the context.  Not long after that powerful opener, we’re told that “Anything less than the best is a felony.”  Let’s ponder that for a moment.  Mediocrity is not a shame, a waste or even a crime.  It’s a FELONY.  This dude is willing to do hard time if he gives us anything less than the best.  And we should proceed with caution, because his best is also “killing our brain like a poisonous mushroom.”  In fact, if you turn out the lights, he’ll GLOW.   To the extreme, he rocks the mic like a vandal.  He’s so cool, he doesn’t even need to make sense.  But, never fear, if there was a problem, yo, he’ll solve it.

I honestly can’t tell you how much I love this song, and I’m betting anyone from my generation feels the same, although many aren’t willing to admit it.  It takes me back to my teenage years in one fell swoop.  I know it’s cheesy and stupid, but I always sing along, don’t you?  Let’s stop being ashamed of the stupid things that bring us small joys and embrace them.  Let there be no guilty pleasure.  Just own the things that make you smile.  Word to your mother.

Countdown to the Birthday Challenge

February 20, 2012 Leave a comment

I adore making and decorating cakes and there’s nothing I love better than making a masterpiece for someone I love.  Mostly.  Enter my darling little boy, with whom I share a mother/son bond that I never thought possible.  He’s such a great kid and loves nothing better (or so he says) than his mama.  Except for about a month each year, from mid-February to March 7.

March 7 is my little guy’s birthday and every year I spend weeks planning his birthday cake.  I also spend those weeks wondering why my kid hates me so much.  You see, both my kids get the opportunity to pick any kind of cake they like and I will make it happen.  This has always worked out well for my daughter, who has simple tastes and reasonable demands.  The boy, on the other hand, transforms into an evil Iron Chef Chairman with a glint in his eye and a bell pepper in his hand.  His words, every single stinkin’ year are, “I want to challenge you, Mom.”  Challenge?  No.  What he wants to do is to break me.  He wants to see me crying into my fondant at 2am. He wants to hear me say, “I can’t do that.”  Apparently, what he wants is a Walmart cake with plastic crap on top of it, because that’s what he’s going to get if this nonsense continues.

March 7, 2007. The cake that started it all.

When he turned five, I was in the midst of dealing with a wretched back injury.  I had surgery about 3 days before his birthday party, which seems like terrible timing, but here’s the thing.  I was all but bedridden in the weeks leading up to his birthday.  I had absolutely nothing to do with myself except make scads of little video game characters out of fondant and gumpaste.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to do much with the actual cake, so I made fondant figures to beat the band, counting on them to make that cake shine.  I can see my mistake now.  Never again would I have that kind of time to devote to a cake, but there I go setting the bar sky-high.  I may never match this masterpiece, although my little dictator is determined to force my hand in the matter. 

March 7, 2008. The year I wanted to strangle my baby.

The next year, I was stricken with a flu that I was convinced would bring my demise.  I was so sick that I had to postpone his birthday party, which brought its own special kind of guilt.  In deference to my condition and the desire to keep my distance from any foodstuffs, I bought plastic toys to plop on his Pokemon cake.  That’s right, I did it and there is no shame in my game.  I can’t let this go without mentioning that the little Hitler watched me assemble this cake.  I mean, he was standing RIGHT BESIDE ME while I did it.  Then, when it was time to light candles at the party, he whispered in my ear, “The Pokeball is upside down.”  I have no words, only the cry of outrage in my head and my hands twitching at his throat.

March 7, 2009. My hatred for Bowser is second only to my feelings about Peach's hair.

On to his seventh birthday, when a request for another Mario cake brought me a feeling of relief.  At least this is familiar ground.  I’ve done this star-loving little plumber before, this should be easy, right?  Just wondering, when was the last time you piped a thousand tiny lines to simulate bricks and thought to yourself, oh hey, this is easy AND fun?  Yeah, me, too.  This was also the year I swore that Bowser is, in fact, an evil monster and I’ll never tangle with the spiky bastard again.

March 7, 2010. I know Sonic is jacked up. You would be, too, if your legs were made of toothpicks.

Nearing his eighth birthday, my little angel requested a Bakugan cake.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with Bakugan, but they’re little balls that pop open to reveal monster/robot things.  So, he wanted the little balls, you ask?  Oh, no, indeed.  He wanted them opened up.  He wanted me to craft these tiny and intricate figures out of gumpaste.  In what can only be described as my Hail Mary play, the week before his birthday, I convinced him that SuperSmash Bros. would be way cooler.  I don’t think he was convinced by my argument, but I think some small part of him understood that I was putting my foot down on the Bakugan, so to speak.  Well, I have literally put my foot down on them, as well, since they are all over the floor, but that’s another story.

March 7, 2010. This image still stings.

Now, I seem to have not saved a picture of his cake last year.  I painstakingly duplicated the cover of the Pokemon Black and White collector’s edition book, as shown above, thanks to nerdliving.net.  I was up half the night, freehanding those images that make no sense to my brain.  When he woke the next morning and I proudly showed him my hard work, he pronounced it, “okay.”  Yes, I cried.  He made me cry, probably not on purpose, but if you’re going to call my cake, “okay,” you may as well throw acid on me.  With my husband’s gentle guidance, I was able to make some Pokemon-friendly changes and the cake was better than okay by the time we served it.  But, still.

Throughout this long recounting of birthdays, it may have occurred to you that March 7 is upon us.  I assure you, the challenge has been issued.  It’s going to be a Star Wars year which means the little dictator has his father on his side and boy-howdy, don’t those two have some big ideas.  I have generously offered to make a Death Star cake, surrounded by X-wings and Tie Fighters.  Nice, right?  “But Mom, to challenge you, I want you to add Anakin and Darth Maul in a lightsaber duel.”

Why does he hate me?