Saturday, March 30, 2013

Three Month Check In!

Which is the Cadbury one?
Well, I'm about 90 days into my "let's get real about overhauling things" journey and it's time for a monthly summary.  I'm pleased to report that things look much better than they did a month ago.

First up, after the Doldrums of February, I had to get re-committed to my goals.  I did this and yes, I'm back on track. I broke a weight-loss plateau, which was nice, but more importantly, I am able today to look back on a solid month of drinking the amount of water I'm supposed to (just water - I don't count anything else, like my daily coffee fix, or my occasional sodas or tea) and eating at least four servings of fruit/vegetables a day.  (I know that's not enough, but that was my goal and I made it.  In April, I'll shoot for five.)  As silly as it may sound, an app called Plant Nanny is helping with the water aspect of things.  Since mid-March, I've "grown" a pompadoured dandelion and a Devil's Ivy that looks like a very happy celery.  Yesterday, I just started a cactus and I had to give that puppy 24 ounces of water before he stopped sulking this morning.  (Yes, I know how weird that sounds.)

Walking has gotten easier.  I've missed my daily 8,000 steps goal four times this month, but that's okay, too. Remember that I don't take "days off" with that, so every single day I'm trying to fit in those steps.  Some days - whether due to work, play, or just weather (March is changeable indeed!) - it just didn't happen.  Then again, I've made it more a priority, which is especially good on those l-o-n-g office days.  Get up and move - it helps your mind shift gears.

The house - funny story here.  About five years ago, I had my old-school jalousie windows replaced with full glass ones.  I was all about them being far more energy efficient, but when the installer was trying to demonstrate to me how easy they were to clean, because they tilt inwards, I looked at him like he was extolling the virtues of eating buzzard guts.  Wash windows?  Crazy.  Until I gave it a try this month.  I need to call that guy - he's right!  It IS easy, it DOES let in more light, and the whole house looks better!  I'm trying to follow the FlyLady system of "it's good enough and you can do anything for 15 minutes a day" as I declutter and organize the house this year and with window-washing, all I'm doing is washing the windows of one room a week.

By the way, if you're feeling that your house is cluttered, dingy, crowded, and hardly a place of haven from the hurly-burly of the world, RUN, don't walk, to and click the "Getting Started" tab.  Then shine your sink.  I know, I know.  It sounds silly and irrelevant.  Do it anyway.  I found this system just before the New Year and it's mind-blowing.  It'll take me all year to get it down pat, but I've got the basics and I've decluttered a ton (probably literally) in 90 days and I've got my morning/evening routines in place.  And yes, I work full time.  You can still do this and your house can be a place that welcomes you rather than a place you want to hide from.  15 minutes a day.  Don't try to do it all at once.

In other news:

  • Easter is tomorrow!  I have an inexplicable urge to put on a flowered hat and this is an urge I shall obey.
  • There's no joyous Easter without the solemnity of Maundy Thursday and (especially) Good Friday.  On Maundy (Holy) Thursday, we are reminded of the call to serve others that is a hallmark of the Christian faith as the pastor humbly washes the feet of a congregant.  (It's a holdover from the Catholic Church and the newly-elected Pope Francis got this one right.  Wow! Jesuits. There may be some serious shaking up of things with this pontiff.)  My religious tradition also involves a Good Friday service that chills me as with each of the readings, the sanctuary gets progressively darker, until the final words "It is finished" are spoken, the Christ candle is extinguished, and the massive book of scripture is slammed shut.  Congregants then disperse in silence, a far cry from the usual chatter that follows my favorite benediction: "Go preach the Gospel.  Use words if necessary."
  • My drama class finished their examination of Macbeth by watching Kurosawa's Throne of Blood this week.  Yeah, everybody (and there were a few) who sneered and told me that my students couldn't appreciate/handle a black-and-white film with subtitles and even the ones who thought I should show it for the same reason parents give Brussels sprouts to their kids - they won't like it, but it'll be good for them - can please accept my invitation to go take a running leap into the nearest lake.  They got it, it was valued over the BBC "straight" version they saw last week, and several of them loved it.  That made my day.  It really, really did.
  • In scribbling news, a major milestone has been reached in the writing of Wanna Cook? the guide to Breaking Bad that I'm co-writing with Ensley (also known here as FryDaddy).  We have a detailed breakdown of deadlines for the rest, and the whole enchilada is due to be written, edited, polished, and (whew!) handed it for printing in mid-October.  It's going to be a wild six months, but I sincerely believe the bulk is done.  
  • It's a gorgeous, early-spring day, I've got a house that's decently in order, a husband who thinks I'm the best decision he's ever made, two cats with distinct personalities, a dog that could make Scrooge smile, more friends than my house can hold, work I enjoy, a weekly movie show, and a book contract.  On top of that, I have a spa day scheduled Monday with two girl friends and next week is spring break.
  • It's good to count your blessings and run out of fingers.
Happy Easter to all!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

In Praise of Hobbies

"Where the waving wheat
Can sure smell sweet . . . "
Last night, I went to see a community theater production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!  I have to admit, although there are other musicals I like more, I have a weakness for this show that goes all the way back to my fourteenth birthday when my parents took me to see a dinner theater production - believe it or not, I still have the program tucked in a box of mementos up in the attic.

I left humming snatches of various tunes - as I almost always do when I leave a musical.

It was a good production, too.  Musicals are tough to pull off in any event and Oklahoma! has a few special twists to it.  The show itself is historically important and is often cited as the first American musical to use the songs to actually propel the action forward, as opposed to being dropped in to the show to provide a thin excuse to have pretty chorus girls twirling about.  It's unashamedly optimistic and upbeat, yet has that oddly languid Agnes de Mille "dream ballet" sequence at the end of the first act.  It's loaded with stereotypes and a large part of the plot involves the "buying" of Ado Annie, which bugs me in a way that my 14-year-old self ignored.  Still - I like Oklahoma!  (The show.  The state's got some problems, especially in their legislature, which is fond of personhood and anti-science bills. So far, none have made it into law, but try, try again seems to prevail.)

And here's what I really liked about last night's show - community theater.  Look, it's not put on by professionals, and I likes me some Equity razzle-dazzle.  But - there's something gloriously pure about people cheerfully sacrificing their all-too-precious free time to learn their parts, sew costumes, build sets, shift scenery, hang lights, and the half-million other things that must be done by the time the curtain rises in return for nothing but applause and maybe a rose with a spray of baby's breath given by a family member after the curtain call..

We all need hobbies.  That idea of "all work and no play" making Jack a dullard is a good notion to hold up to the light every now and then.  Think of how much more interesting cocktail party conversations would be if they started with the question, "What do you do for fun?"  Not "What do you do?"  Almost everybody I know needs a paycheck and that, of course, eats up the majority of their time.  Not much choice there, so what someone does for a living might be interesting (and heaven knows that all too often we allow ourselves to be defined by our occupation), but what someone chooses to spend their rare free time on - that will tell you something deep and true about a person.

What do you do for fun?