It is OK to celebrate small victories

It is OK to celebrate small victories

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I have made some progress in my kitchen and in my health.  These are things that are important to me right now.  I am getting my environment ready to write a book.  I am preparing myself to be healthier when I write.  So tonight I plan to sit back with a nice glass of wine for a mini celebration of my progress.

The trick is to keep going.  A small celebration is OK, but it doesn’t mean I am done working on my projects.  Far from it.  The old me would have stopped, because I got something accomplished.  The new me that wants a more productive life, wants to finish it all. So I am taking a break.  Having a treat, and then getting some prep work done for lunches this week.

It looked like I missed throwing out expired bottles of salad dressing and the like last year.  That makes sense, as a year ago I was under medical restrictions concerning movement.  I was fighting a knee infection, and not able to move around as much as I like to. It was a scary experience, being told to stay as still as possible to prevent spreading the infection, and it was hard to comply.  Yet here I am, working on a deep cleaning project of my house, a year later.

I am back to normal (as close as I get, anyway) and focused.  My end goal is a book.  Then another.  It will take three to write a trilogy.  However, if I didn’t start with my cleaning projects first, they may never get done.  That’s not OK.  I have to be healthy to be productive, inside and out.  So I am not procrastinating about writing, not at all.  I am being realistic.  If I don’t make myself do this first, it won’t get done.  I know myself.  I will get sucked in to my imagination, and not come up for air for days.  Maybe weeks or even months.  The point is, I am doing it.  Working on my home, and working on making myself healthier also.

It is hard to sit at my desk, and not work on the immediate area.  I am creative, and would rather make a mess than clean it up.  I have to focus on the kitchen now, and another project will be my living room/office cleaning.  As my husband and I generally do work on the living room together, I will have help in that room.  Which is good.  I am not living here by myself.  I sent my husband out for groceries while I got ready to tackle the fridge.  I wish I could say I was ready when he got home, but I was in the middle of it.  So he put the freezer things away, and helped a little here and there.  He made me a kaiser roll with ham and swiss.  A regular roll is not on my plan, but sometimes if someone offers to make you something to eat, you have what is offered.

Another reason I do not want to start working on the living room/office right now is that I won’t finish either room.  I get distracted easily, and if I am working on multiple projects simultaneously, chances are one won’t be completed, maybe more than one.  So I have my reasons for working on things in order.  Once the whole house is clean, then I will begin a maintenance routine, something quick and efficient.

In terms of my health, the scale was nice this morning.  I am working harder to stay on plan, so I can start losing weight.  It is so much easier to be lazy about everything.  Last year I decided that what I was doing then was not working, and I decided it was  time to make some changes.  Trim Healthy Mama was in an ad on facebook one day, and I thought it was worth a shot.  I am still working on it, and have lost weight.  If I stick to it, it works, and I do try.  This year I am trying harder, and this will show me more results.

My snack for my celebration will include cheese, turkey pepperoni, some pickles, and that glass of wine.  I have a bottle that has been open a little too long, so I am going to have a glass from it.  Then I will have to go back to the kitchen.  I am not going to finish tonight.  I am going to finish up some dishes, and find some order in the chaos that happens when I clean.  Things move to where they are not in the way until I find a place to put them to stay.  And when I go to bed tonight, I will have a restful sleep after such a productive day.

As long as I continue working on my projects, I can have little celebrations along the way.  And chocolate.  85% cocoa chocolate IS on plan, and something I am also happy about!  Celebrate the little successes along the way, and keep going.  Whatever you are working on, do it.  It will be a giant snowball of positivity when you finish, and when you are on a roll, it’s easier to keep going than to stop.

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I wish I had gherkin pickles.  Oh well, another grocery run in 2 weeks will fix that for me!

I made my husband look at the completed fridge.  Hearing him say, “Nice!” as he looked at the way I have organized our food was validation.  I did a good job.

A Kind Word Goes A Long Way

It was dark when I got up before…

It was dark when I got up before…

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…and made my way to my desk.  As a writer, you learn very quickly that when you wake up in the middle of the night and an idea is floating around in your head, it is best to write it down somewhere before it drifts off into the darkness.  It can take many forms, a dream, a nightmare, a whisper in your ear, and sometimes it could be a word or a sentence forming a complete thought.

I have learned, through my songwriting, that an idea MUST be written down the minute it happens, because the second you forget it, there is no rewind button to find it again.  So I had an idea in the middle of the night, and I came into the living room to write it down.  I have a lamp at my desk, and it is easy enough to do.  I find I sleep better after I write it down, as it won’t be lost when I need to work on it.  This is also true because I don’t fall asleep trying to memorize what I don’t want to forget.

Sometimes a good dream can make an incredible story, or a joke.  For example, I shared this story in October before I had this blog set up, before I had even thought of starting it.

So this morning, my husband tells me a story that woke me up and made me laugh. It was about a lizard named Guano. Apparently, this lizard was bad news. He said he lit granny’s chair on fire, and she was still sitting in it, and he didn’t know whose grandmother it was. Then he commented to a guy; as he saw it looking at him with one of its googly eyes as it was riding down the street on a Harley, that he didn’t know lizards drank Jack Daniels. The guy replied, ” Happens in Montreal all the time.” (We don’t live in Montreal).  Finally, he then asked why the lizard is named Guano, because he obviously is not an Iguana. The guy answered with…wait for it…”We call him Guano because he’s bat shit crazy, man!” And that, folks, is why you should write down your dreams, because sometimes, there is a good story in there, or in this case, a great punch line! It was my husband’s dream, and it was very entertaining!

If I hadn’t written it down the same day it happened, it would have been lost.  A story like that is begging to be shared.  So,  when I have an idea at work, I e-mail it to my personal  e-mail at home, to be waiting for me.  When I have an idea in the middle of the night, I make my way to a pen and paper and write it down.  It is where the song Lucky came from.  We woke up in the middle of the night to a beeping noise.  The battery on our smoke detector was losing its juice, so it started beeping at us to change it.  In the middle of the night, of course.  The first line of the song started in my head, and within a few minutes, I had written the whole song.

If you are a creative person, or if you have a problem in your life that you just can’t figure out, I have two pieces of advice for you:

1) Sleep on it.

2) When an idea strikes, no matter where it comes from, write it down!

You will thank yourself for following these two simple steps, I guarantee it!

Friday the 13th, brought to me by an upset stomach and a wardrobe malfunction

Friday the 13th, brought to me by an upset stomach and a wardrobe malfunction

There are some things that it is prudent to be superstitious about.  Until today, I never really worried about Friday the 13th.  Then again, today was not like any other that I have experienced.

Once in a blue moon, I have issues with my digestive tract.  Today was one of those days.  From when I woke up this morning before the alarm, and even now, the tummy has been off all day.  It is usually related to something I ate, or a virus.  I am hoping for the first one, because it will work its way out faster.  So this morning set the tone for an unlucky day.

Made it to work, safely.  Many years ago, my husband was driving us somewhere on another Friday the 13th, and the wet pavement caused a minor fender bender with a taxi.  Nobody was hurt, just our budget.  Things like this happen, but they tend to stick out in your memory a little further when they happen on a Friday the 13th.

I knock on wood to scare away bad luck.  I don’t walk under ladders.  Some people have routines.  Growing up, there were lots of superstitions in Cape Breton.  Someone was always doing some little thing or blaming the spooks and running the other way throwing salt over their shoulder.

So the tummy trouble was not unusual in and of itself.  Then I made it to my break time. Normally, I make a trip to the ladies room on every break, so I don’t have to take extra breaks for that reason alone.  Some days this works.  Other days, I need the extra trip.  If it’s worse than that I usually stay home.  Today, I decided to go to work, and tough it out.

Don’t be scared, it is not a messy story.

As I was preparing to use the facilities, POP! There went the button on another pair of jeans.  The place it used to be now has a big hole where it was.    So I am thinking that I have 2 pairs of jeans for the next clothing donation day.  Good for my friend, again, not so good for my budget.

In the list of all the things to go wrong in your work day, this is not an optimal situation to be in.  Not the end of the world, in any way, but a small pickle to find oneself in, nonetheless.  I did what anybody in this situation would do.  I blamed the date, and found a paperclip.  I twisted the paperclip in such a way that I needed scissors to break out of it when I got home.  The pants are not too tight, normally, but today I found myself a little more bloated than normal, with the tummy troubles, and it caused this wardrobe malfunction.

So there you have it.  On a positive note, I survived.  The jeans were not so lucky.

Even Storm Troopers want to join our Zumba Crew

Even Storm Troopers want to join our Zumba Crew

A part of my New Healthy Lifestyle that I have been working towards for more than two years now has been adding physical activity into my routine.  At my current job, there was a team for the local Relay for Life Charity event, and I joined.  I have gone to a few Relay Events in the last five years, and that is where I found the Zumba Crew.  The group size ranges from year to year, and class to class.  The core group has remained, for the most part, the same. It is a private group, not that we don’t accept new members, but that it is not based out of a gym.  We meet twice a week, and I have been working at it and getting better all the time.

The featured picture above was from Relay For Life 2016.  This is just a few of us.  The photo bomber Storm Troopers in the background looking like they want to be a part of the Zumba Crew really were there.  They were in another group for Relay, and they gathered a lot of attention.  But if you look past the Zumba Crew, you can see it.  They want to join in.  That happens around our Zumba Crew.  We have a lot of fun!

As you can see, one of the Storm Troopers joined in for Zumba at Relay 2016.  It was really fun!  I have come a long way in my healthier lifestyle goals.  I have always finished class.  Not always doing the same thing as everyone else, or keeping the same pace, but I am there until the end.  The first time I did Zumba at Relay, I had two; not one but TWO charlie horses in my calves.  I wanted to quit.  But I thought about where I was, and what I was participating in.  Thought about how it was to raise money to cure cancer, and if you have cancer, and need to go through treatments, you can’t just quit in the middle if you want to beat it.  So I toughed it out.

Since then, I have never had an experience quite like it.  I am grateful for that.  I have had health issues in the past year that forced me to take a break from Zumba.  I am happy to report that I am back, and getting stronger again.  I am keeping pace better, and trying harder at doing the same moves as everyone else.  I  have to do my own thing, sometimes, because I still have a long journey ahead of me to becoming a healthier version of myself.  Something I want people to take away from reading this is that it doesn’t have to be Zumba, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.  But if you pick something you enjoy doing and work at it on a regular basis, you will improve, and you will be a better person for it.

So go out there and try something new.  Or get involved in something you used to like doing.  Make friends.  Have fun.  It might be the best thing you can do for yourself!  Trust me, the best part of my Mondays and Wednesdays is rushing out of work to go join my friends at Zumba Class.  Find your Zumba, and start becoming the best version of you that you can be!

What is a Brain Pretzel?

What is a Brain Pretzel?

A brain pretzel is a term that came to mind one day when puzzling out a problem.  A pretzel is a twisted piece of dough, and the one above has some extra embellishments that suit this term even more.  It’s a description of that moment when you are thinking really hard about something, and your head tilts to the side, and one eye is squinted while the other one is wide open and that eyebrow is pointed straight up in the air.  It is what I imagine is happening to the brain on the inside when a person is struggling to figure out a conundrum.  The look of perplexity on the outside, with twists and knots forming on the inside as the puzzle gets solved.

That is what a brain pretzel is.  This was an introduction to one of many Tish-isms.  It’s not trending anywhere yet, but it could be a game changer.  If it catches on.  There will be more.  Always thinking…and full of surprises.

A Kind Word Goes A Long Way

A Kind Word Goes A Long Way

Well, here I am, on day one of my staycation.  I know, it’s not a real word; but it is in my world.  I am prepping for my only Christmas Craft Show this year, Christmas In The Dobie; I am going to be working on my blogging and I will be working on this site as well.  I have joined a couple of writing groups, in the hope of fulfilling one of my dreams to write a fantasy trilogy.  I am now trying to get serious about this writing thing.  Having this week off to work on projects that matter to me is going to be very motivational when I have to get back to work in a week’s time.

I have just started here.  I have gotten feedback and help from strangers.  That is something I have to say is great.  I am a pantser which refers to me flying by the seat of my pants, not a plotter that plans things out and works in a structured format.  Both styles are successful, if applied properly.  So I am here, blogging, from the seat of my pants, and hoping to have others come along for the ride.

The feedback was constructive.  I am working with advice from someone in another country, and she is showing me how to make this site more user friendly, and to attract more followers.  In the land of blogging, this is what it’s all about.  More hits, more followers, and more opportunities in the land of the internet and beyond.

The comment was very kind.  Having a stranger take the time to read what I have written and quote a part of it in the comment was really cool.  It gives me the courage to keep going.

It doesn’t only apply to the blog.  I have been working at getting healthier too.  When someone notices, and it is real, by that I mean I am losing weight, it feels wonderful.  When someone says that I look like I am losing weight and I am not,  I don’t feel good about the compliment.  So it depends on me sometimes to be in the frame of mind to accept a compliment in the way it is intended.  It is hard to not feel bad inside when it isn’t a real one, no matter how the intended comment was given.  We have all had them, those compliments that people give because they are trying to say something nice and it backfires because it isn’t true.  Until this year, I have never really felt like I had earned any compliments about losing weight.  Because it wasn’t true, not since I went through Weight Watchers with my mom in grade 11&12.

Here’s the thing, though.  Those comments aren’t being said to hurt me.  They are telling me that I am looking better, whether it is about the weight or not.  Maybe the clothes are fitting better because my body has changed since the last time I wore that outfit.  Maybe I am happy and as an emotional girl, that shows, and that is what the person is seeing.  Whatever is said, it is being said to encourage me to keep trying, and that is what I have to focus on.

It has taken me a LONG time to realize this.  I have never been good at taking compliments to begin with, and I think it is because I don’t always feel like I have earned them.  That boils down to me being way too hard on myself.  It is the way I am.  I don’t know how to be any other way.

So, I am trying to learn.  It is not easy to change how I react to what people say.  Taking the meaning behind the words is how I will be able to grow as a person, and thrive on the positivity.  I have to filter out the feelings and run with the good stuff.  I am getting better at this.  It is something I have to consciously work at, though.  Everybody isn’t out to get me or be mean.  Some people are.  I am going to encounter negative comments and feedback also.  It will happen.  But that is a different struggle.  Those have to be released into a black hole somewhere in outer space,  as far away from my heart as I can get them.  Otherwise they will drag me down, and that isn’t where I want to live my life.

When I do something creative, like design a new pattern for earrings that is mine from concept to finished product, I feel genuinely accomplished.  Proud of what I made, because it is my work, with my own pattern.  When I get on the scale, and I don’t want a hammer because it is showing that my hard work is paying off, I shout out loud for everyone to hear, and then if someone says something nice, it does what it is supposed to.  It makes me feel good.

Words matter.  Choose yours carefully, and make the world a better place because of them.  If you can help someone today by being kind, please do.  It might be the only good thing that person hears all day, or even all week.  It is nice to have something good to remember that tells you to keep going, and that you matter.  We all do.  If your words come from your heart and are meant to be nice, then go for it.  It’s the thought that counts, and for some people, it will mean more than you will ever know.

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The Black Friday Blues

The Black Friday Blues

I live in Canada.  Black Friday was not always something that happened here.  We used to only have the Boxing Day sales every year.  But, with the world being more socially connected, Canadians decided to try this Black Friday thing.  We have sales.  The purpose in starting it here was to help the Canadian economy by giving shoppers the opportunity to find deals and sales here at home, and in theory it makes sense.

The timing is good.  If you are able to get your Christmas shopping and major household purchases done on Black Friday, you stand to save a good amount of money.  There is a lot of hype about Black Friday.  Now it is going through right until Tuesday.  Sure, I like a good sale as much as the next person , but when you live on a budget, it is hard to plan for such things.

There are times I think about shopping.  I have already written that I can be an impulse shopper.  These days it applies mostly to food.  I have been following a plan, and making my own meals to eat healthier.  When I make food for the week it is called prep cooking.  In a household of 2 with only me on plan, I do the prep cooking on a much smaller scale than I would like to.  One or two recipes a week gets my breakfasts and lunches ready so I am able to stay on track and have a quicker exit to go to work in the mornings.  When I work hard at it, it works.  I have seen the results from the changes I have been making.  It is encouraging to see it work, and frustrating when it gets stalled or goes in reverse. I have been stuck in a rut this past month.  It is that time of year, when the undiagnosed seasonal depression kicks in.

I could have seasonal depression.  I do get gloomy in the winter.  I still go through the motions, go to work, eat, sleep,  repeat, but I don’t have a lot of energy in the winter.  I am also terrified of falling on ice outside.  I have a lot of padding built in right now to break the fall if it happens, but it is not something I have had good experiences with.  So if I could hibernate, wake up for Christmas and New Years, and them resume hibernation until the spring comes, that would be OK with me.  Maybe stretch my legs and get a box of chocolates in February, you get the idea.

Did I do any Black Friday shopping today?  I worked for most of those shopping hours.  After work, I came home and made supper.  There are leftovers, and I am trying a new recipe this weekend.  There was a bit of planning in supper, because the spaghetti sauce will be an ingredient in the casserole I am making tomorrow.  Right after supper we did go down the road to the grocery store.  When I climbed in the car this morning, I was told by my husband to be ready to go get groceries when he got home from work.  He heard a Black Friday ad on the radio while he was warming up the car, for the grocery store.  There is a sale on cheese and chicken.  So we got our groceries tonight.  Sans list, free style.  Which means there will be this or that needed between now and next payday.  But the groceries are done, and a sale on chicken and cheese makes us both happy.

We keep telling ourselves, if we work real hard, and keep paying down our bills, maybe next year we can get to experience The Black Friday shopping in Canada (or get in on the Boxing Day sales).  I don’t know if there will ever be a time that we will be able to do it.  But we keep working hard anyway, because we have to keep paying the bills.  They don’t pay themselves, and they won’t just go away.

What would I buy if I had the money?  A new car, it is hard to manage with one car and two people.  A new fridge and stove.  A new bedroom set, we haven’t got that grown up purchase done yet.  Cell phones, yes, you read that right, we do not have cell phones because it is an expense we cannot afford.  Peppermint plants for every room ( I read they keep spiders,  mice and bugs away).  Clothes are a given.  Sneakers for sure.  A new purse and some new shoes.  Make up.  But something I really want is more of those glass containers that I could store my prep cooking in.  We have some, but I was thinking today that if we could Black Friday some more of those, it would be beneficial for the days that I FEEL like prep cooking, I could do more and have some food frozen for the weeks I don’t feel like it.

At least the cheese and chicken freeze well.  Would I buy more of both tomorrow?  In a heartbeat.  I go through a fair bit of cheese and chicken with this plan, and I have to have the ingredients on hand for when I want to cook.  At least when we took the groceries in there seemed to be a decent amount.  It is expensive to eat healthy, and I am trying really hard to improve my whole life.  It is not easy, but it has to be done, and I am the only one that can do it.  I hate coming home from the grocery store and having a fairly large amount of money spent and only 2 bags of food to show for it.  It irritates the Scottish half of me.  If I am going to spend money, I want to feel I got my money’s worth.  Today that worked out OK.  Maybe next year we can start working on the want list instead of scrambling to cover the needs list.  Maybe next year.

I hope if you are reading this you were able to enjoy The Black Friday events on either side of the Canada US border that you got some deals that will make you happy because it was something practical that you really needed, or will use.  The cheese and chicken were very practical for us, and will be put to good use.  It will help me get back on track, and that is more important to me than any sale, because it is going to help me achieve my healthy lifestyle goals.  There is no price tag on my health.

Numbers and Years

Numbers and Years

I do not like numbers.  As a general rule of thumb.  Which I wish was a greener thumb.  I have been known to try to keep a pink polka dot plant and it did not end well for the plant.  I do OK with African Violets, though.  I still have the one from my wedding bouquet.  It was a little scared for a while, but it is happy and growing again.  Five years and counting.

I can do math.  I have taken a calculus course as a part of my Bachelor of Science Degree.  I can manage a budget.  I choose not to, as sticking to a budget when there is a need or a fantastic sale completely ruins the budget, as I can be an impulse shopper.  These days, I don’t get the chance to shop much, other than for groceries and necessities when a need arises.  My husband does manage our budget.  We made an agreement a long time ago that he could do that, and we would absolutely fight about it from time to time.  What that translates to is that when I deem something has caught my eye and I want to buy it, I check and see if we can swing it.  If not, then we may have an argument over the importance of the desired purchase.  I was very clear that there will be times when I am really mad, but it is not at my husband.  It is at the root of all evil in my house, money.  Or the general lack of it.

Don’t get me wrong, we do splurge once in a blue moon.  We also try to plan purchases that are out of the ordinary so we can have the things we need, but sometimes there is a little bit of a wait on those things.We cut costs where we can, and make allowances if things happen.  Because we all know things happen, and they usually cost money.

So you are now wondering, “OK Tish, where are you going with this?”  As you can see, I do tend to not think or write in a straight line.  I am a creative person, and I had a thought years ago about the comment we have all heard at one point in our lives, that time flies.  We all notice that as we get older; the years seem to blend together, and they do seem to go faster.

To someone that likes numbers, this is probably not going to be a mind blowing concept.  But the fact that I came up with it on my own, well that is a different story.  I think that is rather phenomenal. I really go out of my way to avoid as much math and numbers as much as possible.  However, I did stop and think about this concept one day, which does happen from time to time.  Thinking.  I do that more than I let on.

In the first year of your life, you live it all, 100% of your life in that year.  In the second year of your life, you live 50% of your life in it, because the other 50% of your life was lived in year one.  In year 3, 1/3 of your life is lived within it, and 2/3 of your life was lived in years one and two.  So if each consecutive year of your life seems to go faster, if you think about it, it is.  It is a fraction of the time you have been alive.  So the saying is true.  Each year does go faster than the previous one, because it is a smaller percentage or fraction of the time you have been alive.  That’s where I was going with this post.  I can think about things, and come up with ideas, and not all of them are about crafts and jokes.  I do have an intelligent side too.  I don’t always share it, but it exists.  I always tell my husband that I am always thinking, and he usually shudders and says that it scares him.  But I also tell him I am always full of surprises, and he has to agree with that from time to time.  Surprise! I spent time thinking about a mathematical concept, and I didn’t have to.  Who would have figured that one out?  I did.  🙂