It’s Time to Let Go….

My Mom's Bowls

My Mom’s Bowls

Last Saturday, when I was doing everything I could to avoid doing yard work, I had a sudden overwhelming urge to clean out my cabinets. Well, just one, actually.

This happens to me a lot. Both avoiding yard work and cleaning out something, that is.

I was making a dish for an event that night, and I suddenly realized how…unhandy…and unsightly..this overstuffed cabinet really was.

The problem was it was my mother’s serving ware and bowls that was taking up the space. Uh oh. I couldn’t get rid of those! Those were my MOTHER’S!!!!

I sat on the floor and looked at those dishes, wrestling with my conscience.

I examined my feelings.

Did I associate these dishes with any happy memories? No. Did looking at these dishes make me think lovingly of my mom and treasure my time with her? No, again.

This whole thought process took about 90 seconds.

My mom has been gone for almost 3 years, and these dishes have been living quietly in my cabinet.   They were leftover when all my parent’s belongings were distributed among family and friends or donated to charity. I brought them home because they were hers, they were in good shape, and I thought I might use them. I’ve used one of them once. Honestly, I don’t even really like them.

I kept a number of my mother’s things that do make me think of her.

I’ve kept her military uniform; the promissory note from the house they borrowed money to buy back in 1946; her wallet; and her funky jumpsuits she had made back in the 70’s, which I think I’ll wear for Halloween one day.

I’ve kept the basket that she painted when she was going through a basket-painting phase. It makes a great toy box! (Now if I could just teach them to put their toys away…)

The Toy Box

I kept the really funky fondue or casserole dish that I never remember her using, but I always thought it was really neat. (I know, my photo skills could have been a little better.) But you get the picture. (Pun intended!)

The Funky Casserole Dish

The Funky Casserole Dish

And, I kept the little sticker that she had bought but never used just to remind my husband (or any other fellas who visit the Black Dog Saloon) that we’re glad they are around. 🙂

The Manly Sticker

The Manly Sticker

But all these things have a memory associated with them, or they happen to be really cool or unique or meaningful in some way. And I kept a number of other things too, for one reason or another.

But the Corning Ware? Nah. The other serving bowls? Not really. They are just stuff, taking up space. Space that deserves to be filled with something either beautiful, meaningful, or functional.

So I took the picture above of them to have always and remind myself of what they looked like. I will bless someone else with them who may need them more, because that’s the way the world works.

And now, every time I open the cabinet door, my spirit lifts looking at the organized shelves that are pleasing to the eye. (Although my husband may tell you otherwise, my needs are pretty simple.)

And I hope the next person who ends up with her dishes will nourish her family with the enjoyment my mom did us for all those years. 🙂

Flashback Friday: My First Day of School

Me in First Grade

Me in First Grade

In honor of school starting this week and all the adorable “first day of school” pictures on Facebook, I thought it would be fun to reminisce about my first day of school.

What I learned from this is that I really, really need to work on organizing my pictures better. In other words, I couldn’t find the picture I was looking for, probably because I was looking for it.

This, however, will do. This is my first ever school picture when I started first grade (we didn’t have kindergarten in Elmer when I was a kid.)

I remember my first day of school. My dad took me to school in my brother’s Impala convertible. (It was cream, with red interior.) I might have been scared to death and painfully shy (yes, really), but at least I had a cool ride. 😉

I wore a dark green dress with a white collar and black patent leather shoes with gray plastic buckles. With socks.

My teacher, Mrs. Eitel, remembers it too. We reminisce about it every once in a while at the Moose (Lodge).

“I saw an old man bring you to class, and I thought ‘What’s this old man doing bringing his granddaughter to school?” she says. And we laugh.

It’s very simple: I was an accident. Yes, a bona-fide accident. My mother was convinced she had cancer, and swore she would jump off the bridge if it was anything but.

She was mortified to discover it was me.  They were 40 years old! Their kids were grown! And everyone in town wondered what on earth they were doing having a baby at their age. The slogan for Pepsi at that time was “For People Who Think Young” or something to that effect. I quickly earned the nickname of “The Pepsi-Cola Kid”.

Now, if you knew my parents, you would know that I was anything but unwanted. My parents really enjoyed me, and I like to think I kept them young. I know I enjoyed them. Well, mostly. Except for a brief period during my teen years.  😉

And Mrs. Eitel? We laugh particularly because some years later, she was in the exact same spot: nearly 40 years old and having a baby girl.

And as for my short hair? I would tell my mom I wanted to grow it out. My mom kept telling me, “But you love short hair!”

This always makes me think of the Far Side cartoon where the guy is stuck in quicksand. He shouts to the collie in front of him, “Lassie! Go get help, Lassie! Go get help!”

So ‘Lassie” runs through the forest, swims through the pond, rides the jet plane on her way to get help. Suddenly, about four frames later, she stops.

“Wait a minute!” she says. “My name’s not Lassie!” 😀

How I Lost 30 Pounds

Me and Ekko

Me and Ekko

First, I must tell you that this picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I still have the dog (and isn’t she cute?) and she weighs more than 30 pounds. Especially if you try to pick her up. But I digress.

I’ve spoken with a number of people who enjoyed or were inspired by my last post, where I shared my fitness testimonial. I’m so glad! 🙂 Good luck! You can do it, you just have to keep showing up!

I don’t believe in failure. I believe that each time you try is one step closer to success.

I’ve studied about healthy living and a variety of diets most of my life. I was never good at ‘dieting’. I have some friends who are doing, through a variety of sources, meal replacement shakes. I wish great success to you, and I’m sorry, but those don’t work for me. I love food. Food is living for me.

I have this evil twin who is the equivalent of a bratty teenager sitting on my shoulder. The minute I say, “I’m going to eat 1300 calories a day” or “I’m going to drink 2 (or 3) shakes per day, (or any other thing where I might deprive myself of something), she throws a tantrum, says “You’re not the boss of ME!” and the next thing you know, I’m running for the donuts. Or French fries. (I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like.) Or some other junky, fatty high-calorie food.

Because I know this about myself, and I also happen to be a strategic planner by nature, I set up a serious of strategies to help me deal with a variety of situations in this new lifestyle (way of living) I wanted to lead.

1. Find an eating plan you can live with. Mine happened to be the Paleo Diet (diet meaning ‘way of eating); I have a friend who’s content and seen great success with Weight Watchers. The common factor for both of us is that neither of us felt deprived. Ever. I don’t feel like I’m dieting. I eat what I want. I work out. The weight comes off. Sure, it comes off slower, but that time would have passed anyway, wouldn’t it?

2. Learn correct portion sizes. I know they make charts and stuff which tell you what a correct portion size is. But thanks to my evil twin, when I read them, it all turns to gobbledy-gook in my head. I can’t comprehend it, and I’m a pretty smart gal. Watch someone eat who’s naturally thin and who’s been naturally thin all their lives. See how big their portions are during a normal meal on a normal day. I can guarantee you restaurant portions are NOT appropriate portion sizes. I can make three meals out of one order of shrimp fajitas! Too small a portion size (e.g. starving your self) is just as bad as not enough. Your portion size should be adequate for your gender and level of activity.

3. Stop eating when you’re no longer hungry. In another 15-20 minutes, you’ll probably be comfortably full.

4. If I want it, I eat it. I just don’t do it every day, and I always order the smallest portion. Oreo McFlurry? Sure! Give me the small, please. Hot ham and cheese with fries? The small in both, please. Nachos bel grande? Yes, please, I just had one last week! It only comes in one size, but in this case my spouse helped me eat part of it. And I continue with my normal way of eating at the next meal. I never think, “Well, I’ve blown it today, I may as well junk it up the rest of the day.” THAT is how you gain weight. Moderation in all things…

5. Always carry healthy snacks. I always have something to snack on in case I get too hungry. That’s when you’re the most tempted to eat something that’s not as healthy. Sometimes if I go a little too long, I’ll get a little too hungry. In that case, I’ll play a game with my evil twin: “Okay, let’s eat this (a healthier choice), and if you’re still hungry afterwards, I’ll eat what you want.” (Which is usually not healthy, but most of the time she isn’t hungry later.) 😉

6. Eat a balanced diet. Popcorn is suitable as a snack, but not as a meal replacement. Do you know what my dad fed beef cattle to fatten them up for market? CORN. At every meal, you should be eating a protein, vegetables, more vegetables, and a healthy fat. If you eat carbs, have a carb. You should eat 3 meals a day, and snacks only if you’re hungry. I graze at breakfast, have a mid-morning snack, a balanced lunch and dinner. If I’m hungry in the middle of the afternoon, I’ll have a small snack. The snack could be a slice of ham, some tuna, or a few cashews. Or pecans.

7. Prioritize. If I’m at a buffet, carry-in, or business meeting, I have two goals: to enjoy all my favorites, and not overeat. So I go for the good stuff. If you eat healthy stuff then go for your favorites, you’re either going to eat too much or feel deprived (or at least I would.) So forget the salad and canapés! I eat that stuff all the rest of the time. I go for the yummy stuff, filling my plate only ONCE, and then enjoy a piece of dessert. And I don’t feel one ounce of guilt. If I’m at the Cheesecake Factory, OF COURSE I’m having cheesecake! So I order a healthy appetizer for my meal (Thai Lettuce wraps, anyone?)

8. Exercise every day on vacation. I spent several weeks in Florida, ate and drank whatever I wanted. This is a lifestyle, mind you; I don’t deprive myself, therefore I continue with my lifestyle of mostly healthy eating and the occasional treat. I worked out every day unless it rained. And when I got home, I’d lost a pound and a half. And I ate out often. Like, every day. Seriously!

9. Stay away from trigger foods. ‘Trigger foods’ are foods that once you start, you can’t stop until they are gone. Thin Mints are my trigger food. I open a bag knowing I must consume the whole thing. I’m not content until the box is gone. So this year, my apologies to the Girl Scouts I didn’t buy from.

10. Keep It Simple. I’m a big fan of the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) I don’t count calories. I don’t measure, I don’t weigh, I just eat simple, whole foods without a lot of crap in them. Whatever you choose, keep it simple, easy to remember, and you can do it anywhere.

Now you know most of my secrets. If some of these work for you, great! And if they don’t, that’s fine too. Maybe they’ll inspire you to come up with some strategies of your own. Good luck! 🙂

There’s Always Something Good…

Sunset Behind Daytona Speedway

Sunset Behind Daytona Speedway

Because I’m naturally an optimist and choose happiness most of the time, there’s a large contingent of people out there who think I never get mad. Or am crabby.

I hate to burst your bubble, but that isn’t so. Just ask my husband. 😉

My life has its ups and downs, just like anybody else. I have had days where I  longed to be on a beach with a nice cold drink that looks like a salad and forget about the huge albatross that’s hanging over my head.

Or why I wonder why I ever wanted dogs. Or a house bigger than 900 sq. ft. Or why I ever wanted to leave a job where I didn’t get a paycheck every two weeks.

I’ve been through things that I hope some of the rest of you NEVER have to go through; just as some of you have been through things that make you feel the same way.

I read a book years ago which told me that something good always came out of something bad. Sometimes you just have to look for it.

So I started making a game out of it.

A week and a half ago, after I posted about going to the Leadership Retreat, I came down with a bad case of sinusitis. Like, my face felt like it was going to explode. (I’m sure you’ve been there.)

I missed the whole last weekend of the NEMO Fair and my favorite events. Dang.

I felt tired and draggy for a good part of the week. Dang. It’s hard to be creative when you’re crabby. (See? I told you I was crabby sometimes!)

Every day, I tried to identify something good that came out of it:

I spent lots of quality time at home with my girls, and didn’t have to have someone babysit.

I caught up on all my DVR’d episodes of The Pioneer Woman. (I love the Pioneer Woman.)

I made it most of the way through a large stack of magazines that had piled up during and after our trip to Florida.

I got to spend lots of time at home…and I LOVE being at home.

I’m neurotically organized, so for me…this was great stuff.

It was good that I was able to rest and recover, because I had a really busy week at work. (Which explains why I was a putz and didn’t post the rest of last week.)

I’m not saying that the good things outweigh the bad things. But what I am saying is that usually, there’s something good that happens that might not have happened otherwise.

Sometimes it’s a life lesson that you’ve learned; a relationship rebuilt; a missed event that might have been a blessing in disguise; a loved one who’s suffered terribly may finally be at peace; or a rest that your body needed your schedule wouldn’t allow otherwise.

The old saying “When a door closes, a window opens” really IS true. You just have to look for it.

So try it next time…you might find it changes your outlook just a little.

And what does this picture have to do with anything? We clearly missed watching a beautiful sunset…but look at those colors behind beautiful Daytona. How often does a good opportunity to get a picture like that come along! 🙂