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Stepping it Up a Notch March 28, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Birthdays, Fitness, Goals, Uncategorized.
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Six months from yesterday I will hit a milestone birthday — Double Nickels. Generally, I’m not much of a birthday person. I don’t need, or even want, a lot of hoopla. I’m ok with baking my own cake, or cooking up some other decadent and expensive food. Although I certainly won’t turn down presents, I don’t expect them, even from my kids. I do look forward to special calls from my kids (although one son has to ask almost every year if my birthday is on the 27th or 28th — it’s the 27th).

I’m not sure why but this year feels different. For some unknown reason, it seems more important. I know it’s still six months away, but I’m starting to think about how I should mark the day. I’ve thought quite a bit about goals to meet before the big day and I finally settled on one: I want to walk one million steps in the six months before turning 55.

A million steps sounds like a marathon, but that would actually only get me about 58,000. Not bad at all, but not a million. When I did the math, it seemed like destiny:

1,000,000 ÷ 180 = 5,555.55556….

Did you catch that? The number of steps required daily is fifty-five, fifty-five. I think it is destiny. Or more likely just coincidence. Whatever, I like it.

This is my pedometer reading from yesterday. Not a bad beginning, eh? Let me share a little story.

PedometerI worked from home yesterday and I must say I was quite surprised when I checked the pedometer about noon and saw there were about 3500 steps captured. Actually I was more than surprised, I was shocked. Usually on my work from home days I’m lucky to break a thousand steps unless I purpose to get outside and move.  I had been a bit more active than normal because this happened…

Coffee Mess

Silly me got distracted and forgot to put the carafe in the coffee maker and had to clean the counter and mop the floor. I was moving more than normal, but certainly not 3,000 steps more. To give some perspective, a mile at my stride is about 2,250 steps. Maybe there are homes with lots of acreage where one could rack up a mile and a half mopping the kitchen floor, but those homes are not my apartment.

I thought my pedometer was broken and clipped it back on my hip. I checked it a couple of hours later and darned if it wasn’t showing 4,200 some steps. Huh, that is really weird. So I tested the thing. I got up and walked back and forth to the window, counting 100 steps. For the record, it is 11 steps from my table to the window. I did NOT feel silly walking back and forth, not at all. I was testing a theory. I checked the pedometer and there were exactly 100 more steps. Again, I clipped it back on my hip, sat back down and went back to work. A couple more hours and a few more pedometer checks and the steps kept racking up. How could I possibly be adding steps when my behind wasn’t even leaving the chair. I held the thing and rested my hand on my thigh, perplexed. And then I figured it out!

I am a knee jiggler. You know, one of those people who simply cannot sit still and constantly bounce their knee? That person who really annoys you when they’re sitting on the same pew at church, bouncing away? Yeah, that’s me. I’ve always been a jiggler but lately it’s been out of control. One of the side effects of a medicine I’m taking is restlessness and this is how my body has been letting that restlessness free. (Another side effect is uncontrollable yawning — I had that one for awhile, too. I didn’t yawn all the time, but if I was the slightest bit tired and yawned even a little bit, I would end up yawning repeatedly and hugely, totally out of control. Luckily that didn’t last very long.) Unless I consciously think about NOT bouncing my knee, it has a mind of its own and keeps moving. The pedometer was counting every one of those knee-jiggles as a step. I could leave it on my right hip, rack up the points and meet my goal early but I’ve moved it to the other side. Now it is really counting my steps, not my knee bounces.

The true total steps from yesterday is probably closer to 1,500 than 6,320 but, just this once, I’m going to let the knee bounces count towards the total. This is a bit of a stretch goal, but not an impossible one. Now that Spring is finally starting to show itself, I can get out and walk. Winter lasted too long this year and I was starting to turn into a couch potato. Time to step it up.


Why I never feel caught up March 16, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Goals, life, Procrastination.
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It’s eleven o’clock and I’ve been up for two hours (woo hoo for sleeping in once in awhile). So far today I’ve accomplished the following:

  • Drank two large glasses of water
  • Drank my daily half-pot of coffee (Mexican Chiapas from Dean’s Beans)
  • Took one batch of yogurt out of the yogurt maker and put another one in
  • Put away about a third of the dishes I washed yesterday (I really hate putting dishes away)
  • Listened to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and This American Life
  • Figured out what I’m making for the bake sale at work this week (raising money for a co-worker’s international adoption)
  • Mixed up some marinade (using the fresh yogurt and this sauce) and added chicken. I’m not sure if this will be dinner tonight or lunch after church tomorrow
  • Made a grocery list for the things I need for the bake sale (since I’ve nibbled away at the chocolate chips I thought were in my cupboard
  • Packaged up the “Clean the Refrigerator/Freezer Chili” that simmered away in the crock-pot yesterday into individual servings and fit them in the freezer
  • Caught up on Facebook and e-mail

Whew, I’ve been busy. I think it was the decent amount of sleep last night (plus the fact that the coffee has not yet been diluted with actual food). I still have more that must be accomplished today (or at least by the end of the weekend but it’s better if I get it done today so I have some time this weekend that I can call my own).

  • Mail a package (I’ve already missed the window for mailing from my little local post office. They are only open from 8:30-10:30 on Saturdays. If I don’t get to the bigger post office (in the opposite direction of where I’m going grocery shopping) it won’t get mailed until Tuesday. If I don’t get it mailed today, it will at least be ready to take to the post office. The label is written and the item is in a box, so I’m more than halfway there.
  • Get those groceries
  • Make one of the bake sale items (the other will be done Tuesday evening)
  • Log into work (I’ll either get up early and do this before church tomorrow (and then nap away the afternoon) or work after church)
  • Do some housework (that one never ends)
  • Pick up the library book on hold (Forrest Gump, the novel. I didn’t even know it was a novel before it was a movie until I saw a post on Reddit this week. I was so intrigued it popped to the top of my reading list)

Oh, and I should probably get changed out of my pajamas at some point.

I used to think I was just really bad at time management and honestly, I’m sure there is some truth in that. I make lots of lists, and I like having a routine, but I don’t do well with a schedule. Plus, I generally under-estimate how long tasks are going to take me. When I’m making those lists, I seem to think it’s reasonable for a Saturday to-do list to be twice as long as what I’ve written here.

Today, after I get all that stuff above out of the way, I’m going to spend some time feeding my creative side and sew. Or maybe I’ll get dressed, eat something , run those errands and sew away the rest of the day away. Those other obligations aren’t going away. I need to remember — no one will die if everything doesn’t get checked off the list today.

Victories! February 5, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Goals, lists, randomness.
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I almost titled this post “Small Victories” but any step forward is progress. Those baby steps deserve as much recognition as the humongous giant steps. I am happy to report the following victories:

  • I took breakfast and lunch to work and drank the free coffee (instead of visiting the Starbucks conveniently located just one floor below me) all of January. The only money I spent on food at work was 84 cents to buy some cheese to put on my chili one day. 
  • I cut back to Basic Cable, saving at least $40 a month.
  • I’m learning to cook in smaller quantities. It it quite the challenge to transition from cooking for six to ten people at every meal to just one, even if that transition takes a few years.
  • My middle son started a new job (technically that’s not my victory, but it’s a huge one for him and I am sharing in the celebrating.)
  • I have exercised in the morning, before getting on with my day, for two days in a row. I, uh, kinda slacked off this past weekend but I’m back on track and rarin’ to go.
  • I unsubscribed from some of that annoying junk e-mail, clearing some of the clutter from my in-box.

What victories are you celebrating? Big or small, each victory deserves recognition and celebration.

Time to get moving January 31, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Fitness, Goals.

I’ve never been the athletic type. I clearly remember the trauma and shame of being the last, or near to the last one picked for teams. I wasn’t particularly skillful. I also remember the freedom of riding my bike with the wind blowing in my face. Riding not to end up at a destination but simply because riding was fun. And I remember running — not very fast, but I could run far. In college I jogged for fun, just because.

Then I became an adult, got married, had babies and became an overweight sloth.


It’s time for me to re-learn the joy of physical activity.

My Very Own Personal Fiscal Year September 1, 2012

Posted by phoenixhopes in Consumerism, Goals, life, New Years, thoughts, Uncategorized.
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Later this month I turn 54, solidly in my mid-fifties, no hiding from middle age. (Honestly, I don’t expect to live to 100 or more so shouldn’t the fifties be called something other than middle age?) The main thing that I think about when I consider my age is that I really thought I’d have my life together by now. Instead, here I am still desperately trying to figure out who I want to be when I grow up.

I’ve decided to stop trying to figure that out and simply be who I am today. I am a woman, a mother, a friend, a church member, an employee. I read for fun, for information, for escape and watch movies and tv for the same reasons. I’m an introvert who can sometimes be quite outgoing. I’m single for now (hopefully not forever but I will never again compromise who I am to be with someone). I have trust issues: I’ll trust you until you hurt me and then I may never trust you again. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. I have a difficult time-saving money because there always seems to be something important and urgent to spend it on. I was surprised to find out I like preaching. I tend to over commit. I am a much calmer person when I have a creative outlet of some sort. Sometimes I over think things. I like reading about politics but not so much discussing it. I’m rather competitive and not a very gracious loser. I hate being put on the spot. To sum it all up: I’m a complex person and although most of the time I’m satisfied with who I am, I can see at least some of my flaws well enough to want to work on them.

I decided to see the next twelve months as my very own personal fiscal year. A new birthday equals a new beginning. I want to take stock of where I am and think about where I want to be twelve months from now. My main goal is to be more mindful about my life – am I living a life that is consistent with what I say are my values? Where is my money going? How am I spending my time? How is my soul? What satisfies me?

I’ll use the blog to share the journey.

One step at a time September 10, 2011

Posted by phoenixhopes in Goals, lists, Procrastination, randomness, thoughts.
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When I am feeling overwhelmed, I make lists. Books to read. Knitting to accomplish. Clothes to sew. Spring Cleaning projects to complete (and yes, I am well aware that it is now almost Fall), Closets to organize. Errands that simply must be run. Work projects that never end. Birthdays I don’t want to forget (but probably will). Letters to write. And on and on and on. Writing lists helps me stay sane. If it’s on a list somewhere then I can hope that someday, maybe, if I persevere and my luck holds out, everything will get done.

Lately I found I needed a new list just to keep track of the ever-reproducing stack of lists on my desk. Yes, life is busy and ever-changing. Not that this is a necessarily bad thing – busy is better than bored – but too often the busy-ness of the urgent leaves little to no time left for the gazillion and seven other important things I want to do. Like blogging, for instance.

“Get back to blogging” is high on every list of personal goals I’ve made in the past year. I say that writing is important to me, a way to process the events in my life, a way to move some things from the hamster wheel in my brain to a more concrete format, a way to remember things I would otherwise forget. But do I make it a priority? Not very often. I write in fits and starts, as evidenced by the history here. Of course, I do write things, many things, that never make their way to this public peek into my brain, but even that has been much lower volume than I would prefer lately.

Writing is only one of the items on my “Feed My Creativity” list. Potential knitting projects take up an entire page there is even a line item for “learn to crochet”. I’ve been hit by a sewing bug lately (fed by a combination of weight loss and the fact that sometimes it’s cheaper to sew than buy new clothes) and have an ever-growing list of projects calling to me. There are recipes I want to try, crafty ideas for Christmas gifts, and practicing the magic of making yarn out of wool.

I think I’ve realized that the only way I’m going to get things done is to learn to be just a bit selfish. That’s not always a bad word, you know. Sometimes “selfish” means “take care of yourself too” or “remember to feed your soul”. I’ve spent most of my life focusing on taking care of others (and let me unequivocally state I have no regrets about that!) but I think I’m moving into another phase. My kids are growing up. It’s not that they don’t need me – I think and hope they will always need me – but they need me in different and less labor intensive ways. I’m not obliged to a spouse or significant other so my time has become more of my own. My challenge now is to decide how to spend that time.

All that to say that you’ll be hearing from me a bit more often. How often? Who knows? One little baby step at a time and I’ll get back in the swing of things. My hope is that very soon writing and blogging will become a habit again instead of just one more item on my wish list.

Knitting Progress June 1, 2010

Posted by phoenixhopes in Goals, Knitting.

I learned to knit about five years ago and from the beginning I’ve dreamed about knitting socks. I love the pretty yarns. I love the pretty patterns. I love the idea of wearing a little something I made on my feet. I even love the thought that they will eventually wear out and need to be replaced (weird, I know). But I didn’t make any.

I collected yarn and itty, bitty needles and tried a few times but I wasn’t successful. The results were way too big, or way too small or too tight or too loose or just Not Right. Downright unsatisfactory. Until now:

I am so happy I could burst. There is something absolutely magic about knitting — One can take sticks and string and turn them into something useful and beautiful. I’m slightly amazed every time it works.

Of course, the process wasn’t without a few bumps in the road. The first was getting comfortable and skilled enough as a knitter. Comfortable is the key word here — often there is a gap between what we know how to do and how comfortable and confident we are doing what we know. Then I had to find the right yarn and the right pattern. If you aren’t a knitter, you would be amazed by the number of choices out there!

In February I received the yarn in a swap sponsored by a knitting e-mail list where I’m a member. At first I tried to turn the yarn into a scarf but it wasn’t willing. I liked the colors and the pattern, but the resulting fabric was too unyielding. A scarf, especially one that is a little lacy, should be flowing not stiff.

The next challenge was to find a pattern. I didn’t want something too plain and also not too challenging. Size was an issue as I have larger than average size feet. Many of the cute women’s sock patterns I found didn’t come in my size and I wasn’t about to adapt something on my first try. I finally settled on this one. I love the patterns on this site but this is the first one I purchased. I found it easy to read and follow and I’m sure I’ll purchase more in the future (her scarves and shawls are especially beautiful).

One sock was finished except for sewing closed the toe when I thought to weigh the sock and remaining yarn. Good thing as I was running a little bit short! The finished sock weighed 52 grams and the remaining yarn only 49 grams. I decided to rip back the toe and find a complementary yarn to finish off the socks. I tried a few solid yarns and, even though they matched one of the colors in the body of the sock, the contrast was just too glaring. In the end, I used a complimentary color and alternated rows with the main yarn. I think it turned out pretty well. Almost as though it was planned that way.

Actual knitting time, from beginning to end was about three months. Of course, I am not a monogamous knitter. I often have a few small projects at hand and am occasionally playing around with new ones. When a project frustrates me, it may find itself in a ‘time out’ while I ponder how to solve the problem. That happened when I ran into the problem of the toes and thought through a solution. Also, the bulk of my knitting time comes during my commute on the train and my attention was also captured by a few books during this time.

I’ll definitely be doing this again and have already chosen the next yarn (Sock #3 here). As this yarn has a lot more color action going on, I think I’ll use a plainer pattern.

Now, if Summer can just get out of the way, I have new, warm socks to break in!

A Happiness Moment February 22, 2010

Posted by phoenixhopes in Books, Goals, life.
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Check out the comments under my last post… the author of The Happiness Project stopped by! I noticed Gretchen’s comment while I was at work today and boy, did that make my day. It was a small act on her part, but she took the time to take a look at my little corner of the internet and leave me a smile. I’ve been grinning ever since.

My Plan March 22, 2008

Posted by phoenixhopes in Consumerism, Goals, thoughts.

I have this silly little idea running through my head about a consumer-free April. I’m not sure where it came from but it doesn’t seem to be going away. I only call it silly because I know it’s going to be difficult. I would like to dismiss it as a silly little whim, but I just can’t.

 For the month of April, I am not going to buy anything, other than necessary food or other consumables, with a few planned exceptions. Nothing new, nothing used.

I wonder if I can make it. Already my heart is racing and my palms are a little sweaty. Is it really that unsettling to even think about not spending money? Out of necessity I’m pretty frugal as it is, although I am aware of a few areas where I’m not as careful as I could be.

 Here’s what’s out:

New or used anything that isn’t a necessary consumable such as food or toilet paper. If it’s something that can wait, it will wait until May. If one of the boys suddenly grows out of, or totally destroys, their shoes (again), that would be a necessity. But if the TV remote breaks (again!), that can wait.

Unplanned eating out. It is just too easy to give in to tiredness or just plain laziness and stop for fast food or call out for pizza. The convenience of the cafeteria at work is tempting, but the money adds up quickly. Truthfully, the only reason I buy food in the work cafeteria is because I didn’t want to make a lunch at home.

Yarn or other craft supplies that are not absolutly necessary to complete a project that absolutely must be completed NOW. Ninety-nine percent of the yarn and related supplies that I purchase is, at some level, an impulse buy and could easily be postponed. Yeah, I know, it’s on sale… it’s a deal… I’ve been wanting to try this yarn and how can I pass it up… but it’s money I don’t need to spend.

Books. Oy, this is going to hurt. Is there anything more pleasant than an hour spent in a bookstore, wandering the aisles, listening for the ones that call out to me? And I do listen and more often than not bring one or two (or more) home with me.

So what is allowed?

Necessary consumables such as food, etc., although I want to be more aware of how I’m spending this money. I need to do more planning for our meals and snacks and then follow those plans.

Planned meals away from home rather than the spontaneous. My monthly Team Lunch. My “date nights” with the boys to Caribou Coffee. Pizza or some other non-homecooked meal for the family once and only once.

Can I be successful limiting myself to only these items? I’d love to confidently say yes, but I honestly don’t know. I don’t waste a lot of money simply because I can’t afford to, but I know I blow it in the areas above. I’ve learned that the best way to avoid “retail therapy” and impulse shopping is to simply avoid even entering a store without an iron clad list in hand. But knowing that doesn’t keep me away from Hobby Lobby or Borders.

I’ll begin this April 1. It’s difficult to resist the urge to run out and stock up now but if I’m honest with myself, what do I really need to stock up on? I already own more books than I could possibly read through in the next month even if things like work and sleep didn’t get in the way. The same thing could be said for craft supplies. There is very little that I really need to add to my life.

Anyone care to join me?

Goals for the new me December 30, 2007

Posted by phoenixhopes in Goals.
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2007 was a year of transition. I began my transformation from an overwhelmed, chronically exhausted, stuck-in-survival-mode, robot of a woman into an overwhelmed, merely tired instead of exhausted, beginning-to-figure-out-my-new-life, learning how to laugh again woman. I learned that often when I faced the ghosts of my past instead of hiding from them, they lost much of their power. I started to live my life instead of merely moving through it.

I want to keep moving forward in 2008 and this is the direction I think I’m headed. I’m still learning who I want to be so maybe some of these goals will change as I change and grow this year. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions — every Resolution I’ve ever made was some variation of “Here is one more thing I think I should be doing that I’m not doing now and most like won’t be doing in two weeks.” Instead of Resolutions that are destined to fail, this list of Goals shows where I am on my journey, and where I’m headed next.

In no particular order, meet some of my goals for the new me:

1. Wear lipstick more often – For years and years I never wore makeup at all. Now I usually wear a little foundation and blush. I’d like to add lipstick to the daily routine.

2. Stick with the budget – At least I have one now. For way too long I just muddled through. I’m still learning to follow it.

3. Finish getting out of debt – I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel here and if I focus, I can be debt free by the end of the year (except for maybe one loan).

4. Do something really memorable for my 5oth birthday – I have nine months to figure out what. I would love to visit the ocean but I’m not so sure that a vacation fits with the getting out of debt goal above. Whatever I do, I want it to be a celebration. I’m done with crappy birthdays.

5. Add some more recipes to the family cookbook. Maybe add some pictures even.

6. Hug my kids and tell them I love them every time I see them (or at least once a day for the ones at home)

7. Fix my sewing machine and sew again – I have projects I’d like to do and I’m beginning to have the time and focus to work on them. Plus one of my boys wants to learn to sew and he can’t learn on a broken machine.

8. Clean out and de-junk the garage. Again.- I’ve moved twice since my divorce and each time I got rid of insane amounts of Stuff. The first move was more about purging the Ex, getting rid of his stuff and loosening the hold he had on my life. In the move this past summer I let go of my old life and started to move forward. There’s still a long way to go. I only want to keep what I really want to keep and not be burdened with all the crap.

9. Learn to knit socks – This time next year may my blog be festooned with pictures of feet in my handknit socks

10. Sit down to dinner with my kids more often instead of simply saying “food’s ready, go get some.”

11. Take more pictures – I have rolls of film waiting to be used (and developed! Don’t forget that all-important step!) plus the handy dandy digital camera. And how often do I actually use them? Almost never.

12. Fix my grill and use it often – The bottom burned out around the drip pan right before we moved last summer. It should be a simple fix, I just need to do it.