The Ten-Year Challenge

On the social medias this month, the ten-year challenge is all the rage. The challenge consists of posting photos of oneself in 2009 alongside pictures taken more recently, and I think that the only people who are doing it are the ones who really don’t look any different or the ones who finally figured out the right haircut for their face shape and have stopped wearing eyeliner around their entire eyes and looking like the guys in Good Charlotte and as a result they actually look much better now than they did ten years ago. I have not taken part in this challenge for a few reasons, such as I don’t really have many photos of myself from 2009, and because 2009 was not a good year for me hairstyle-wise, and because I do not think I have any photos of myself from 2019 whatsoever. I don’t really like pictures of myself because my eyes always look tired and squinty like I either just smoked a bowl or haven’t slept for weeks, and because when I smile my left eye forgets how to eye and it will be half-closed and weird-looking and appears much smaller than my right one and then all I can see when I look at photos is my right eye which appears freakishly big but it isn’t, the left one is just being stupid and making the right one look bad. All I can really do to mitigate this is to not smile and hope for the best (and also later be subjected to “you need to smile more” comments from people who do not know the struggle of having an eye that does not know how to eye), or better yet, just not take pictures of myself.

My eye that cannot eye.

To me, the ten-year challenge is a reminder of just how quickly time passes, because in my mind 2009 doesn’t actually feel all that terribly long ago. For the first time in my life, this year I have found myself particularly preoccupied with my age. I think this is because I’m turning thirty-five in July, putting me much closer to mid-thirties than early-thirties, which means that all too soon I’m going to be in my LATE thirties and that shit is a little scary.

This whole worrying-about-being-old thing is new to me, because in my twenties I had an annoying coworker who would constantly remind me of how I looked so young and would exclaim not-helpful things like “How on earth did you convince them to let you work here when you’re only 12?!?” Other people in my life were more subtle about it, but enough people would tell me that I looked so much younger than I was that I felt pretty confident that by the time I was in my forties I would just look like what other people looked like in their twenties. Now though, I rarely see myself in a mirror when I don’t look sleep-deprived and squishy in places that used to be firm, and I would be lying if I said that part of my desire to lose weight this year has nothing to do with a faint hope of recapturing some of my youthful look. I had never thought that I would be using the word “haggard” to describe my appearance, and yet here we are. And this is in spite of the fact that I now a drink a ton of water every day and try to get enough sleep and wear moisturizer and sunscreen and actually take off my makeup every night before I go to bed.

Instead of posting photos of myself ten years ago and now, I would like to instead think about how much more awesome my life is now than it was in 2009. Back then, I still lived in California, I had the afore-mentioned not-great hairstyle, I was working a job I hated, I was in a relationship that didn’t make me feel safe or fulfilled, and I felt rather stuck in life. I threw myself into activities like volunteering so that I could do something to make me feel good and also to fill up my time so I did not have any free moments to contemplate the stuck feelings. If I had actually paused to think about it, I would have had to admit to myself that overall I was pretty unhappy. And so when I finally did pause, I began making major changes. I moved to Washington, got jobs at work that I liked much better, and surrounded myself with people who loved me and cheered me on and helped me feel comfortable just being me. I learned to end relationships that didn’t make me feel good, paving the way to the incredible marriage I now enjoy with my husband. My late twenties and early thirties have been all about figuring out what works for me. I may not look better than I did in 2009, but my life most certainly does.

 

 

Motivation Monday: Celebrate Progress

Happy Monday! I’m going into this new week feeling determined and inspired by the hard work I did over the last seven days. Last week felt particularly long and busy, and I still managed to work out for five out of seven days! I was particularly proud of myself on Wednesday, when it took me nearly two hours to drive the 22 miles home from work, and I still rushed to change my clothes and make it to dance. The old me would’ve blown that class off, for sure, but instead I went and it was the perfect way to shake off the stress of my commute.

I weighed myself this morning and I’m down 1.1lbs from my weight last Monday, which makes me really happy! My eating last week certainly wasn’t perfect, but I did find myself making some changes that I think made the difference. Last night I prepared a pasta dish that Bill and I love, and I cut my usual serving in half. On Thursday night, we went out for dinner, and I ordered no rice and extra veggies with my entrée since we had chips and salsa before our dinners were brought out.

When working toward a long-term goal, I think it’s important to give myself credit for steps I’m taking along the way that will lead to achievement of that goal. When I was working toward my degree, I celebrated each time I completed a class, knowing that finishing all of them was a big task that was going to take me several months to accomplish. Likewise, if I continue on my current pace (which will be just fine with me; losing around a pound a week is healthy for me), it’s going to take me around twenty weeks to get to my goal weight.  And if I factor in that there will probably be some setbacks, like our upcoming trip to the UK, I can reasonably expect that I’ll be hitting my weight-loss goal right around my birthday in July…six months from now.

Six months is a long time to keep sight of a goal. It seems so far away, but I know that time will fly by much faster than I expect it to. Cheering for myself as I hit different milestones along the way will keep me motivated and help me during the times when these changes feel really hard and I want to revert back to my old lifestyle. And so, I’m celebrating my first week completed and my first pound lost, and I have decided to treat myself to something nice and non-food related like a manicure or a massage for each five pounds lost. I’m also going to continue to make note of the small changes, like choosing veggies over rice at dinner, so that I can remember them the next time I’m eating out and hopefully repeat them and make them habits.

 

Motivation Monday: Make a Plan

I know how cliché these types of New Year’s goals are, but…I am determined to lose weight in 2019.

As of New Year’s Day, I am the biggest I have ever been in my life. I am twenty pounds heavier than I was on my wedding day, and thirty pounds heavier than I was at my smallest. I’m just not happy with how I look and feel at this weight – clothes that I love don’t fit, and I don’t feel confident that I can do all of the things I like to do (like 50+ mile bike rides).

Does the extra weight make me feel as though I am not as worthy of love? Not at all; in 2018 I accomplished long-term goals and my achievements made my self-confidence skyrocket. Could I be happy at this new weight for the rest of my life? Honestly, the answer to that question is no. Everyone has their own perceptions of themselves and I feel that I just look better when I’m leaner.

I know that in order to be successful, I need to make a plan. Last August, I wrote a blog post about going back to what worked for me in the past when I lost weight and maintained the loss – counting calories and sticking to a workout routine. Over the last several months I have gotten better about tracking my food and activity in MyFitnessPal, but I would routinely go over my allotted calorie amount and find excuses to skip working out. What did work for me back then is not working for me now. I still think calorie counting is the best approach for me, but decided that my food and workouts needed evaluating. I also strongly believe that I should only make changes that I’m willing to live with forever, with means crash diets are clearly out and I’m looking to instead make more moderate and sustainable changes.  

A lot of diets center around having a variety of food options, so that the dieter doesn’t get bored. The opposite actually works well for me: I typically like to eat the same breakfasts and lunches every day during the week, so that those meals become routine and I don’t have to think about them. I want to continue doing that. But when I really examined my eating habits, I was able to pinpoint some things that were leading to failures. First of all was my attitude toward breakfast. Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight has heard that it’s very important to eat breakfast, and so I do so religiously. But when I started paying attention to my hunger levels, I found that I’m not actually hungry at 5am when I get up for work, and I was eating breakfast merely out of habit. That also meant I was eating a very light breakfast and not staying full for very long. In January, I decided to try switching it up and eating a more hearty breakfast of eggs scrambled with turkey sausage and bell peppers, but not having my first meal until I got to work around 7am. Probably not shockingly, with this new regimen I am actually hungry when it’s time to eat, and the food I’m eating is keeping me full until lunchtime. Since beginning this experiment there hasn’t been a single time that I wanted a mid-morning snack.

Lunch was the next meal I decided to evaluate. In the past, I had success by making a Shakeology shake with almond milk and bringing that for lunch. I don’t remember hunger being an issue in the past, but lately I noticed that I would have my shake and then feel hungry again almost immediately. This would leave me craving snacks, and more often than not I would give into those cravings. Since my shake wasn’t working for me anymore, I decided to swap it out and have been bringing a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread for lunch. The sandwich I make is only 60 calories more than the shake was, but it is SO much more filling and satisfying. I do still find myself feeling hungry by around 3pm, and when that happens I’ll have a snack, usually a Greek yogurt. Bill and I are pretty good about pre-planning weeknight dinners and cooking healthy meals at home, so I am not planning to make changes there.

Honestly, my biggest downfall when it comes to food is on the weekend, when we like to go out for dinners and drinks. I love eating out, and I also love high-calorie snacks like popcorn at the movies. I do not have a lot of willpower or self-control when it comes to these things and I know it. I also know that they should be treats, not habits. My goal for the weekends, at least for right now, is to limit them to one splurge. I’m hoping that the promise of one really nice treat will be the incentive I need to plan healthier food the rest of the weekend.

I can also mitigate some of the weekend splurge damage by working out on Saturday and Sunday, and I am determined to make sure I take full advantage of extra time on my days off to exercise. My gym offers Red Hot Dance classes that I absolutely love on Saturday mornings, as well as on Monday and Wednesday nights. There is rarely a legitimate reason why I can’t go to the classes. During the week, I’m tired when I get home from work so I let myself skip class to stay home, even though I know I’ll feel better if I go. On Saturdays, I rarely get up and moving around in time to be at a dance class or anywhere else at 10am, but that is easy to change. To achieve my best results, I really think I need to be workout out 4-5 times per week. To start out, I am going to set my intention at four days a week. I can attend the three dance classes at the gym, and work out with Bill on Sundays. I don’t want to get discouraged, but once I’m comfortable in that routine I want to add a fifth day and work out for at least thirty minutes one day during the week.

The last part of my plan is to be open and honest with myself about my progress and struggles, which includes writing about them. I know that this process is going to be hard. Forming new habits is hard. Workouts are hard. But achieving my goals will make the hard work oh so very worth it. 

 

 

Farewell, 2018

With just under two hours to go, 2018 is drawing to a close. I’m honestly a little shocked that New Year’s Eve is here already; this year flew by so fast!

This year was a year of milestones for us. Goals were achieved and dreams came true.  In so many aspects of my life, I am in a completely different place than I was a year ago, in all the best ways. Here are a few of the highlights:

Bill and I bought a house. To be more specific, we bought the home of our dreams – a beautiful condo in Edmonds. We love our home and our town, and are so excited to have found the place we intend to call home for the rest of our lives. We feel so lucky – it literally has everything that was on our wish list for a home.

I earned my Bachelor’s degree. This was a dream of mine for SO long! I am still in awe that I actually did it.  It was a ton of work, but I am so happy that I never gave up and that I saw it through. I didn’t just do the minimum, either – my final project earned a Capstone Excellence Award! My official graduation ceremony is in September 2019 and I am very much looking forward to celebrating this huge achievement.

I landed a dream job at work and I love it. Since leaving telecom almost four years ago, I had been trying out different roles and departments, but none of them really made me as happy as working in complaints at my last company did (I am aware of how strange that sounds, but I really did love that job!). Once I got tired of working in complaints, I worried that I would never find anything else that I would be that good at. Even though I had briefly considered pursuing a career change to Human Resources, my heart belongs in Regulatory. Ultimately I decided that was the place for me, and started looking in earnest for opportunities. The same week I finished school, I was offered a position with my company’s Regulatory team. I couldn’t be happier. Everything about this job feels right. 

Overall I look back on 2018 and feel that it was a pretty amazing year. Cheers to an equally amazing 2019!

 

Lists

Every December, I have to complete a self-assessment that will be part of my annual performance review and this year I meant to write “I consistently deliver results” but mistakenly typed “I consistently deliver resluts” and spellcheck didn’t catch it so it’s a good thing I proofread everything before I hit Submit because otherwise my boss may have thought I am involved in some sort of strange human trafficking effort instead of completing my tasks.

The end of the year is somehow full of lists to make. On my self-review I list out everything noteworthy that I did at work all year, summarizing twelve months of eight- to ten-hour days in a few paragraphs of highlights. Not mentioned are the day-to-day things that probably did make a difference but don’t warrant a shout-out from myself to myself, like making coffee in the break room when I go in there and the pot is sitting empty, or cleaning up that same break room because whoever took the last of the coffee and didn’t bother to brew a new pot also spilled some of that coffee on the counters and didn’t wipe up the mess, or not murdering the girl who sat a few desks away from me with my mind when she dissolved into yet another fit of tears because someone had the audacity to slight her by only thanking her once in writing but not verbally in a staff meeting for some task she half-completed and then abandoned to her colleagues when she lost interest.

Just as popular as the things-I-did lists are the lists of New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve written some of these lists myself over the years, but more often than not I choose to skip over the whole resolution thing. I am especially not a fan of weight-loss resolutions. It’s an epidemic: people feel especially bad after a gluttonous holiday season, and resolve to get back on track in January with healthy eating and fitness.

Here’s the thing: I like the idea of resolving to take better care of myself. What I hate with a passion are all the people and businesses out there preying on people who want to use the New Year as a starting point to make lifestyle changes. Already, my social media feeds are clogged with “New Year New Me” pledges and those damn MLM’ers (side note: I found out that they’re referred to as “Huns”, because the stupid messages they send usually start out with “Hi Hun!”) are out in droves, peddling their wares to anyone who professes a desire to drop weight in the new year. Guys, diets don’t work. They just don’t. Those pills and wraps and teas will not work. The only thing they’re guaranteed to reduce is your bank balance. Diets like Keto aren’t going to work unless you literally eat that way for the rest of your life, which most people cannot realistically do but even if you can realistically restrict carbs forever you’re probably going to damage your kidneys in the long-run. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to only make changes you’re willing to make forever. End of story. If you really do need help figuring out what to eat, enlist the help of a registered dietician. Unlike the “health coaches” on social media, RDs have actual training in nutrition and can help you get on track to eating healthy in a sustainable way. And, for the record, every RD I know hates Keto too.

A lot of gyms are no better: this time of year, there are all these great introductory prices for new members who sign up for long-term contracts. In the past, when I’ve belonged to Gold’s Gym or 24 Hour Fitness, I could count on the gym being a ghost town in December and filled to the brim with new members come January 2. The issue I have with all this is that by March, only a fraction of these new members will still be going to the gym. I get it: working out at the gym is not for everyone. I myself only have a membership because I like to take dance classes. But people who sign up for these gym memberships at the beginning of the year are often stuck with them even after deciding that they aren’t a good fit, so they stop going but still pay the monthly fee because it’s expensive to buy out of the contracts they had to sign to get the lower prices. I highly recommend that anyone looking for a gym to join find a reputable one that has a month-to-month option, even if that place is more expensive. 

As an alternative to vowing to lose weight in 2019, could we maybe change our approaches and vow to take good care of ourselves instead? Yes, part of that is eating well and moving our bodies, but it also means doing things that make us feel good and banishing harmful things (like diets!) from our lives. It means making meaningful and longterm changes that help us to feel better.

Surely this is better than throwing money at the diet industry. And who knows – maybe at the end of 2019 we can add “did substantial financial harm to diet-product companies by not buying their crap products anymore” to our lists of accomplishments.

 

 

The Exorcism of MLMs

The following is a cautionary tale. It doesn’t matter whether I behaved stupidly and brought these events on myself, or if there was no way I could have known that my seemingly harmless actions would lead to this. Either way, I share this story to protect others from a fate similar to mine. 

This morning I saw a post on Facebook that was shared to a podcast group I’m in by one of the other members. I won’t re-share it here, as I don’t know the original creator, but it was a health and fitness-themed motivational quote and it resonated with me. Huh, yes, perhaps this little saying could be motivation for me when I’m telling myself I’m too tired or it’s too late or I have other things to do and I should NOT throw on a quick video and do a workout in my living room. Okay, yes, I decided, that could actually work to motivate me. Cool idea.

I hit ‘like’ on the post.

*quick pause for ominous “oh no don’t do that why did you do that you should have turned away but you just HAD to go forward and now you’ve kicked off a chain of events that you won’t be able to control” music*

The action of ‘liking’ the post was innocent enough. I’m pretty liberal with my liking of things on social media, especially when it comes to either cool old houses or cute puppies and kitties. Likewise, I enjoy posts that contain sarcasm, snarkiness, or absurdity. I’m not usually a big ‘motivational sayings’ girl, but every now and then something will genuinely land with me and I’ll hit ‘like’.

I wasn’t prepared for the consequences. 

Almost immediately, my morning social media scroll was interrupted by a notification that I had a new message waiting for me on Facebook Messenger. Assuming that the incoming message was from either my husband or one of my friends, I clicked over to check it. Instead, I found a waiting message from some girl I’ve never heard of, and all it said was “Thank you for liking my post.”

Huh? What post? I’d ‘liked’ quite a few things this morning, since as I already mentioned, I’m not stingy with the Facebook reactions. What the heck did she post that I reacted to, and what about it was so poignant that it warranted a follow-up thanking me for doing it? Since I wasn’t going to reply to her just to say “You’re welcome” or anything, I deleted her message and moved back to Facebook to continue my mindless scrolling.

She’d sent me a friend request!

The only thing I loathe more than being sent a friend request by someone I don’t like in real life who follows up to mention to me that they sent me said friend request, making it all awkward as I try to come up with some excuse for why I’ll never be approving that request while mentally kicking myself for not blocking this person before all this had to happen, is being sent a random friend request from someone I’ve never met. Who the hell IS this girl? I thought, as I went to stalk her profile.

A quick profile review told me everything I needed to know: she was in the same podcast group as I was, which helped me narrow down which post of hers I’d interacted with. She’s got “stay at home parent” as her job, “Mom and Certified Health Coach” in her bio, and all of her posts are public and are sharing before-and-after photos of girls that have lost weight using whatever MLM* crap she sells online, with some diet quotes mixed in with for flavor (no pun intended….okay, okay, yes, absolutely pun intended).  I couldn’t make out which company she’s peddling wares for, which is undoubtedly part of the idea: if you want to know, you have to reach out and ask her and then you get the sales pitch.

I do not want sales pitches before 8am. Or ever, really. 

Now I knew what this girl was all about. She would message those of us that were foolish enough to hit that dumb like button her post, add us as friends, and proceed to tell us how her products would help us lose weight forever and change our lives! Yay! She would use lots of smiley and heart emoji’s, call us “girlie” or “gal” or some other moniker that would make me want to strangle her with my shoelaces, and enthusiastically and with LOTS of exclamation points tell us all about her life-changing crap that would make us look like Barbie for the absolutely reasonable price of a million dollars a month. Or something like that – you get the idea.

This is not my first rodeo – I fell for these sorts of tactics back in the earlier days of Instagram, before I learned to pay close attention to profiles before I’d like a post or follow someone. These days, if someone manages to make it into my DM’s trying to sell me shit, I simply block them rather than deal with them. I haven’t really had this experience with strangers on Facebook though – usually the MLM’ers there are people I know who either auto-add me to their virtual parties or inundate my news feed with their products. I believe it is absolutely justified to unfriend those people, like exorcising my Facebook feed of MLM garbage.

I really can’t decide which I hate more – random strangers trying to sell me pseudoscience, or the pseudoscience itself. Full disclosure: I have very stupidly tried many different diets, some of them of the MLM variety, which all promise to make you lose weight faster than you ever could with diet and exercise, and the only thing I can promise you about all of this stuff is that it does not work. As I’ve said before on this blog, the only time I was able to reach and maintain a weight I was happy with was when I threw all diet mentality out the window and got myself into the habit of eating reasonably healthy and exercising regularly. Once I put myself on that first diet, it all went to hell and I’ve struggled ever since. Furthermore, people who parade around with titles like “Certified Health Coach” are not doctors or dieticians and they don’t actually have the qualifications to tell you what you should be putting in your body. Actual registered dieticians warn against all of these supposed miracle diets, because they’re not going to do anything but make desperate people shell out money they don’t have for products that don’t work. And I can absolutely promise you that none of that MLM stuff these “health coaches” are trying to sell you is going to lead to any long-term weight loss success, because if it did, everyone would be doing it! If some company out there had finally cracked the code and knew the magical answer to the question of how to lose weight, don’t you think that everybody and their mom would be all over it? 

The conclusion to this story is rather unremarkable – I deleted the friend request and unliked the post that started this whole mess so that hopefully that girl doesn’t find me again. If she does, I can definitely block her, but for now we’ll see if she takes the hint. 

I do still really like her original post though.

 *MLM stands for Multi-Level Marketing and it is a nicer way of saying “pyramid scheme”.

All I Want for Christmas is You (to Help Whisker City!)

The holiday season is officially upon us, and arriving alongside it are the annual pop-ups of gift-giving guides. People came out in the usual masses to shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. From now until the end of the year, we’ll be thinking of our friends and family, trying to find that perfect gift to show our affections and make their faces light up.

This year, I am so incredibly grateful for everything in my life. I have a warm home, all of my needs are met,and I am surrounded by love. Sadly, there are many in my community who are not as fortunate as I am, including many homeless cats. These innocent kitties are looking for a home to call their own this holiday season, and as much as I wish I could, I cannot adopt each one myself.

Last year, I began supporting a local cat sanctuary in my community called Whisker City. They are a small rescue dedicated to protecting the lives and interests of unwanted cats, committed to rescuing and rehabilitating abused, neglected, and abandoned kitties. After my cat Angel passed away, I went to Whisker City to donate unused medical supplies that I had left over. I was happy to know that other kitties could benefit from the supplies I had once Angel no longer could, and the volunteers at Whisker City were compassionate toward me and my recent loss while also welcoming me and inviting me to take a tour of their facility and to meet their cats. I’ve been supporting them ever since with monthly donations and a sponsorship of Voodoo, a beautiful Siamese that probably would live at my house now if she particularly liked other cats.

I am not asking for gifts for myself this holiday season; as I’ve said, I have everything I need. What I am asking for, what would mean the most to me and make my face light up, is for my family and friends to please donate to Whisker City. Whether you donate once or sign up for monthly donations, whether you can spare five dollars or a hundred, every contribution helps to take care of these kitties and to keep them safe while they wait for their forever homes. I honestly cannot think of anything that would mean more to me this holiday season than to see a rush of support for this organization that is so important to me.

To donate to Whisker City, check out the fundraiser on my Facebook page, or follow this link: https://www.flipcause.com/secure/cause_pdetails/MzE5NTY=

Thank you and Happy Holidays! 

If It Doesn’t Scan, It Must Be Free

I think too many years in customer service scarred me in some ways.

Yesterday morning, I stood in the usual line to catch my usual bus to go to work, but when said bus arrived it took the driver a really long time to open the doors and let us all on. When he finally did open them, he stood in the doorway and announced to all of us that the meter thing that takes money wasn’t working, so we didn’t need to scan our cards or pay any money. “Just get on the bus”, he explained.

While I felt that his instructions were rather straightforward, this turn of events apparently stirred a deep need in many of my fellow riders to ask clarifying questions or make their glee at not having to pay bus fare known to the driver. “Are you sure I can’t pay you?” one woman asked. “What a nice gift for us!” a man in track pants enthusiastically said.

During these exchanges, I eye-rolled so hard it’s a miracle I didn’t hurt myself, all the while thinking just shut the hell up and get on the bus already, quit stopping in the doorway to act like your stupid joke is the funniest thing the driver has ever heard in his life, oh for the love of god people just freaking sit down already. Lady, he already SAID not to pay, so stop making such a show of searching for coins in your Louis Vuitton knockoff bag and SIT YOUR ASS DOWN ALREADY. My inner voice was getting decidedly shouty.

Naturally, the majority of the people who got on at the next two stops repeated the exact same stupid comments, because of course they did.

When I was but a starry-eyed teenage cashier back in high school, I quickly learned that any item that didn’t ring up would prompt the customer to say “I guess it must be free!” because, yeah, that’s exactly what happens now, Susan. Look at you, finding the hidden free stuff in the store, you clever clever girl! It was at that young age that I learned the valuable skill of pasting a smile on my face and forcing a “haha” while quickly calling for a price check. Another one I grew to know all too well was during my call center days, when customers would shout the very triumphant “Thanks for nothing!” right before hanging up on me when I couldn’t make whatever thing they wanted happen.

Lest I seem completely persnickety, let me pause to say that I really do enjoy funny people and witty comments. On more than one occasion, an angry customer would hit me with a one-liner so good that I would chuckle appreciatively before I could stop myself, and when they’d demand to know what was so funny I would reply honestly that their comment was clever and I appreciated their sense of humor even when they were mad. Those conversations would typically end pretty well, and I think that’s probably because witty people are usually smart too and they can appreciate reasonable explanations even for things they don’t like. The “thanks for nothing” crowd, on the other hand, seemed to feel that reasoning and logic was a lot less valuable than giving them whatever they were demanding.

Perhaps these experiences left me hopelessly jaded and unable to experience the joy that comes with telling the cashier, “Yes, and many things I wasn’t!” when asked if I found everything I was looking for. We all have our burdens, and I suppose this is mine.

Thanksgiving Shopping

Over the weekend, my husband and I decided that we wanted to start working out more than once or twice a week, and pledged to ourselves that we would work out both days of the weekend and at least two days of each week. We dutifully followed through and did Beachbody workouts in our living room both Saturday and Sunday morning, and on Saturday we even had salads for lunch from the salad bar at the fancy grocery store where we went to do our shopping for Thanksgiving, and we feel pretty good about our efforts. Today I wanted to keep the momentum up so I went for a walk at lunchtime with one of my new coworkers. We went to Bellevue Downtown Park and walked around the little trail three times, and I’m pretty sure casual passers-by probably thought that I had something slightly wrong with me because my legs are super sore from the squats I did over the weekend and so right now when I walk is sort of looks like a duck waddle, but not as waddle-y as the real duckies that were playing in the fountains so I guess there’s that. But I also ate cookies and bagel pizza bites and drank some nice scotch over the weekend, because I don’t want to get too healthy too fast, after all. Balance and such.

Anyway, back to Saturday. I haven’t done a proper Thanksgiving shopping in, well, probably ever in my life, because I’ve only ever hosted for the holiday once before, and that was eleven years ago and if I was along for the shopping portion of planning I have zero memory of it whatsoever. I think I’ll remember Saturday’s experience though, namely because it was one of the few times in the last few years that I can recall going grocery shopping without feeling at least a little bit anxious about being in a crowded store. Normally I hate grocery shopping unless it’s during one of those rare times when the store is nearly empty and there isn’t really anyone around me. I’m not a fan of being in crowded stores – I don’t like it when there are too many people in an aisle and I’m not able to walk through it, and I’m constantly feeling as if I’m in the way. But Saturday was actually pretty fun.

We went to Central Market, one of my very favorite grocery stores. I had a huge list of the things we needed to buy, and I was actually able to enjoy browsing shelves and looking at all the different spices and vegetables and available meats at the meat counter. Normally I have a short list of the things we need for meals for the week and try to rush to grab the things we need as quickly as humanly possible, causing myself to somewhat resemble a human tornado. This time, though, I was able to slow down, and thought more about which ingredients would best enhance the flavor of the things I wanted to make, not really giving a damn if I was in some dude’s way while I read each label.

About two hours after entering the store and sitting down with our salads, Husband and I emerged victorious with two shopping carts that we triumphantly pushed through the parking lot. We loaded up the car with what was probably more food than I’ve ever purchased in one trip, feeling pleased with ourselves and very accomplished. I’m super excited for Thursday, when I get to make all the dishes I’ve planned for people I love.

Answering the Call

Remember blogging?

I do. I remember writing my very first blog post back in 2004. That was before I knew what WordPress was, when the platform I used was the little blogging section of my MySpace account (ah yes, I remember MySpace too, and fiercely maintain that in its heyday it was far better than Facebook has ever been). My audience consisted of my friends, because I seriously doubted that anyone else cared about my little MySpace account.

Blogging got more popular and more platforms became available. I switched over to a Blogger account in the mid-2000’s and started writing Angry, Young and Poor. It was fitting at a time where I was coming into my own and finding myself increasingly irritated with the state of everything around me from my boring call center job to the wars that then-president George Bush charged the US into after September 11th. On my blog I could talk about anything from a stupid driver in traffic on my way home from work to how helpless I felt as I watched the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina unfolding on my TV every night, with no resources to personally help the victims. It was an outlet. It helped me figure out what I wanted.

V in the Northwest was born in 2010, when I made the move from Southern California to the Seattle area. I had no idea what I was in for, but I knew that I wanted to write about what I was experiencing. Now this little blog has seen eight and a half years of my life unfold; it’s seen me go through some of the best and some of the hardest times of my life, it’s connected me with other amazing bloggers that I never would have known otherwise (shout-out to you, Jill!). It’s a living history of how I got from who I was then to who I am now.

We bloggers don’t really write as much as we used to. A lot of us have slowed down and don’t post as often as we used to, if at all. Some lucky bloggers are published authors now, and tell their stories in their books. People tend to use Instagram stories and YouTube rather than traditional blogging to share their lives and their stories. But what about our blogging community? What about the connections we built and the good that we’ve done?

Today Jenny Lawson, writer of the Bloggess, posted a call to all bloggers to celebrate our community and to reach out to each other. She encouraged us to write, and that encouragement was just what I needed to start working on this post. I thought of all the blogs I love, of all the writers in the blogging community that I love. Some have gone silent, and I miss reading their posts. Others are still here, sharing their lives with any who want to read what they have to say. So here I am, inspired to start writing more, just in case some of you missed me too.