Thursday, July 31, 2008

Maybe I'm Just Getting Old...

I am not one of those who in expressing opinions
confine themselves to facts. ~ Mark Twain

I've been thinking lately (a dangerous thing to do!) about a couple of things that bug me. Well, let's be honest: lots more than a couple of things bug me, but these happen to be in the front of my mind, so to speak. I'm going to put on my Andy Rooney hat for a moment because I'm kinda curious to see if anyone else shares my feelings.

Have you noticed how tricky spammers are getting lately?

Nobody likes SPAM mail. I've learned through the years to just delete it because as of this moment, I haven't found a way to stop it from getting in. 99% gets put into my Spam folder, so it's easy to pick out. But unfortunately, a lot of real email gets put there too, so I can't just blindly delete all of it. I have to sort the wheat from the chaff, as it were.

But the new trend I'm seeing is how well the spam mail is disguised. They're making it look like a politically-themed email. The older I'm getting, the more I'm getting into all things political, so I'm very interested in reading emails about the upcoming presidential race. So if the subject line references John McCain or Barack Omama, I open it...

... and find links to porn sites. Grrrr.

Now while many people might think politics and porn are the same thing, I don't. So stop sending me this junk, ok?

* * * * *

The other thing I want to rant about is not related to porn. It's about women's breasts (hmmm... maybe there is a tie-in.) :-)

Have you noticed that breasts are everywhere, displayed for all the world to see? Don't get me wrong: I love breasts. I happen to have two that I'm very fond of (even if they aren't as perky as they once were!) I think breasts are a beautiful thing and a great part of being a woman.

I just don't want to see them every time I turn around.

I went in to get my hair done last week, and my stylist greeted me wearing jeans and one of those spaghetti-strapped baby-doll tops. She looked fantastic: she's got a figure that I would kill for. She's also got a large, proud pair of ta-tas that were right there. The whole time she's coloring my hair and shampooing me, I kept my eyes closed. Seriously. Because I was sitting and she was standing, her girls were literally at eye level for me and frankly, it's hard to carry on a conversation when all you can see are breasts (and I'm a straight female. Imagine how flustered her poor male and lesbian clients feel!)

This trend to show more and more seems to be everywhere: in the mall, at restaurants. A few months back, hubby and I were having lunch at one of those places that has one continuous bench a long one wall, and small tables with a chair facing it. We were happily munching away when two young women were seated next to us. The gal facing me was lovely and very well-endowed -- and all I could see when I looked her way were her girls. I finally admitted to hubby that I couldn't help looking: they were so right there. Hubby calmly (and wisely) said, "I think that's what she's after - to be stared at."

Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating that we go back to Victorian dress, when women were covered from head to toe. I'm truly not a prude, and I think if ya got 'em, flaunt 'em. But be choosy about when and around whom you do it, ladies. There's a time and a place for everything.

* * * * *

So there you have it. And now I'm curious: what are your thoughts? Am I just getting to be an old fart?

Maybe you shouldn't answer that last question!

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One Step Forward

Dreams and dedication are a powerful combination.
~ William Longgood

Thanks to all of you who posted words of encouragement yesterday. I sure appreciate being able to write out all the conflicting emotions that were going on inside my head over the tutoring experience. I'm feeling much calmer about it today, after speaking yesterday to the folks who run the literacy program. I am prepared now to go back tonight and give Mark the help he needs -- at the more advanced level he's at. It's all good!

MizFit hit the nail on the head when she left a comment, asking about my almost-overwhelming need to hit a fast food joint after I tutored. She wondered if I knew what triggered it:

... the overwhelmingness of the situation/experience? ( I so felt that when I tutored. prepared to help and yet felt wholly inadequate at times...)

That's exactly the feeling had when I left the Work Furlough facility. So anxious, so conflicted. But I did not give in to the siren call of fast food because I knew I was looking for comfort that food could not bring me. I just wanted the anxiety I was feeling to stop, and that's not on the menu at Taco Bell (think of the fortune they'd make, if it were!) Instead, I was comforted by my hubby when I got home, had my fears allied by the folks at the literacy program, and I got lots of support from everyone here in blogland! Thank you.

AND I'm very proud to report that I lost another 2.5 pounds last night at weigh in. That's 8.5 pounds in three weeks. I am one happy camper!

We CAN do whatever we set our minds to!

Until next time...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Healthy Me Check-in and Encouragement

Most of us, swimming against the tides of trouble
the world knows nothing about, need only a bit of
praise or encouragement -- and we will make the goal.
~ Jerome P. Fleishman

It's been another good week for me, as far as healthy eating goes. I've written down everything I've eaten (included that fabulous hot dog and popcorn at Saturday night's movie!) I've stayed within my Points, with a few to spare. But I have to admit that it was tougher this week. I wasn’t quite as calm about it all as I was the first two weeks. Nerves? Hormones? Who knows! I was tempted more often, but I stuck it out. Weigh in is tonight... we'll see.

* * * * *

Last night was my first tutoring event. Talk about an emotional eating experience! I was far too nervous to eat anything before I went, but after... boy, the pull to stop on my way home for some kind of fast-food comfort fix was incredibly strong! I just kept telling myself, "Go home and eat something good there." I made it - but again, the temptation to calm myself with food was really strong (which as we all know, brings about five actual minutes of comfort, then you're back to square one!)

It was an interesting experience, going into this minimum security facility to tutor. The room where we meet is in the men's section and luckily, one of my fellow tutors was there to escort me to the room we're allowed to use. She and I chatted while we set up, then I waited for Mark. Turns out he's a young man of 20, with deep piercing eyes and arms covered with tattoos. I started out by asking him to tell me a little about himself and his goals. One of the things he mentioned a few times is that he loves to draw. And he's really motivated to earn his GED. That's his primary goal at this point, and he's been studying hard on his own to make that happen. He'll be released in December and is ready to pull his life together.

I have to admit to being at a bit of a loss of what to do to help him, however. I had him do some cold reading of material I thought for sure he'd stumble on. He didn’t falter one bit. Even the words I'd thought might catch him up were not a problem. I had him answer the questions following the reading, to check on his comprehension. No problem there: he got every one right. Then I gave him pencil and paper and asked him to write down his goals for me. He wrote a full paragraph, correctly spelled and punctuated. I found myself thinking, "Now what??" I went in expecting to teach this young man phonetics and site words and find that he's a very capable young man. I'm so pleased for him, but I've got a call in to the folks who supervise the literacy program to ask where I go next.

Part of my goal last night was to encourage him as much as possible, and I found that very easy to do since he is so capable. At the end of our time together, we shook hands and he left the room. As I was gathering my things, feeling a bit confused on where to go next with him, I heard the door open. I looked up and it was Mark. He said, "I wanted to show you some of the drawings I did." He brought in two pencil sketches he'd done of eagles, their talons clasping wood in one picture, and fish in another. The drawings were incredibly well done - this guy is really good! I encouraged him to think about pursuing graphic design training after he gets his GED.

Can I tell you how good that felt to me, that he went back to his cell and got these drawings to show me? I left there beaming! It truly reinforced my belief that what most of us need in life is a little encouragement, someone to say, "You bet you can do it!"

One last thing... and don’t you dare laugh! When I'm nervous, I tend to perspire from my head. Well, I was very nervous last night. For some reason, this triggered a hot flash. The whole time I was with my learner, trying to be helpful and encouraging, I'm mopping my face and fanning myself for dear life! He must have thought I was melting - and I was!

So much for first impressions, eh? :-)

Until next time...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Outside the Comfort Zone

Habit is necessary; it is the habit of having habits,
of turning a trail into a rut, that must be incessantly
fought against if one is to remain alive.
~ Edith Wharton

Last night, hubby and I had a fun evening out. We saw the new Batman movie Dark Knight, which was pretty incredible (I'll second those who are voting for a posthumous Oscar nomination for Heath Ledger.) We don’t often go to movies while they're in the theatre, preferring instead to get them from Netflix so we can take potty and stretch breaks when needed. But sometimes, seeing a movie in a darken theatre, with one hundred of your closest friends (yes, it was packed last night) is an experience in itself. Don't you agree that there's something about the crowd that feeds the excitement of an action movie?

The other unusual thing we did last night was having "dinner" while we watched the movie. I don’t think I've ever eaten a hot dog at a movie theatre. I know it sounds silly, but it was so fun (and so yummy!)

What this all made me realize is how important it is to break out of our ruts, to do something different once in a while. How nice it is to see ourselves in a new situation, in a new light (in our case, with mustard dripping down our chins!)

I think the same idea applies when we're trying to progress as individuals. There certainly is comfort in routine, but there isn’t growth. It's important to step outside our comfort zone once in a while - that place that feels safe and familiar - and stretch our wings. We'll never know what we're fully capable of until we do.

All of this thinking about ruts and new adventures is in the forefront of my mind today, as I prepare to do my first-ever tutoring session tomorrow night. I am incredibly nervous, and incredibly excited all at once. I know I will grow from the experience, and I can’t seem to settle the butterflies in my stomach. But I know it’s all part of stepping outside of my comfort zone.

We all get in a rut in our lives. Good emotional health requires that we occasionally do something new to shake things up. I can highly recommend a hot dog and a movie -- just not too often. That treat ate up a lot of my calories for the week. But what a great way to spend them!

Until next time...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ready to Begin

To teach is to learn twice. ~ Joseph Joubert, 1842

I just got word last night that I'm cleared and ready to begin as an adult literacy tutor. Best of all, I have an eager student waiting for me!

I'll be working with adult offenders through the work furlough program of our county probation offices. These folks have been convicted of a minor crime of some kind, but rather than receiving jail time, they were sentenced to probation. They're offered lots of opportunities to improve their lives, making them better citizens who hopefully won't break the law again. One of those opportunities is studying for their GED's. From that group of students, some are recognized as needing individual help learning to read. That's where we volunteer literacy tutors come in.

All I know at this point is that my student's name is Mark, and I'll be meeting with him twice a week for an hour each time, helping him learn to read. He's very eager to get his GED, and has been waiting for my security clearance to come through (background check, finger-printing, etc.) I've not yet met him, but I keep hearing from other tutors that he's enthusiastic and raring to go. I couldn't ask for more in my first assignment!

As I mentioned in a post a month or so ago, I can't image how difficult it is for an adult to step forward and say, "I don't know how to read. Please help me." I love to read, and always have my nose buried in a book or magazine of some kind. What would it be like to go through life not being able to escape into a good novel? Or more importantly, to be unable to read a menu or a perscription bottle or street signs? We take so much for granted when we can read, don't we?

So I'm excited to begin on Monday -- and scared as heck! Every time I misspell a word, or make a blunder in one of my crossword puzzles, I think, "Good grief, who am I to be teaching somehow how to read??" But then I remember that old expression about how in life, there will always be someone more knowledgeable than you, and always someone not quite as skilled. I've had some incredible teachers in my lifetime - both in traditional classrooms settings and out in the world. Now it's my turn to give something back.

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You Become What You Think About

Listen to the Musn't's child,
Listen to the Don't's.
Listen to the Shouldn't's,
the Impossibles, the Won't's.
Listen to the Never Haves,
then Listen close to me:
Anything can happen, child,
Anything can Be!
~ Shel Silverstein

Drum roll, please... I lost six pounds last night at weigh in! Woo hoo! I'm a happy camper!

I've been thinking a lot lately about thinking. Specifically, how our thoughts can make or break us in life. I'm reading a great little book right now (recommend by Rebecca over at Ready Maid) called Being in Balance, by Dr. Wayne Dyer. He has a wonderful way of putting it:

You get what you think about, whether you want it or not.

Pretty simple, but pretty powerful. If you think that making a change in your life (like paying your bills on time, or losing weight, or being a better a friend) is hard, then it will be hard. But if you look at the positive aspects of what you're doing, the experience will be positive. Yep, it's that old Law of Attraction idea: you draw to you the same energy you put out to the world.

I struggle with being too hard on myself, and I know from experience that I'm not alone in that. I am encouraging of others who take a step and fall. But when I do it? Oh boy - the inner tirades begin! But these past two weeks, I worked on letting go of past mistakes and instead focused on how good it felt to be eating healthy again. I created very positive thoughts that translated into very positive actions.

So here's an idea:

What if we all focus on the positive things about ourselves?

Quick! Name all the areas where you think you’re lacking. Go ahead - I'll wait. :-)

You can probably make a long list, can’t you? I’m not smart, I’m not thin, I’m not wealthy, I’m not stylish, I’m not active… I’m not, I’m not, I’m not!

How about listing all the things you are?

Focusing on the positive parts of ourselves is much more of a challenge because we’re used to looking at all the ways we think we don’t measure up. We’ve set a self-imposed standard inside us that constantly points out our shortcomings.

So here's my challenge for all of us today: take time to write down all of the good things you are. If you’re having trouble making a list, ask a trusted friend or loved one what they see as your strengths. It’s time we start defining ourselves in terms of what we ARE, not what we aren't. Remember Dr. Dyer's words: You become what you think about.

I'm a proud and capable woman who is six pounds lighter today! What are you?

Until next time...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Healthy Me: The Courage to Try Again

Courage doesn't always roar.
Sometimes courage is the little voice
at the end of the day that says
I'll try again tomorrow.
~ Mary Anne Radmacher

It’s been a long time since I posted as part of the Healthy You Challenge. I’ve done lots of good things to keep my mind and spirit healthy and active, but not so much having to do with my body.

Until two weeks ago.

You may remember a post I wrote called I Need Help. It was written on a Monday, when I hit the wall but felt so cynical about trying to lose weight. But the next day, I found the courage to once again put my feet back on the path to respecting and loving myself enough to take care of health.

Today, I am completing two weeks of what I refer to as clean, healthy eating. For me, that means writing down every single morsel that goes into my mouth. It means staying within my allotted Weight Watcher Points.

But it also means working hard to eat a combination of five fruits and/or vegetables every day, to get some amount of a healthy protein at every meal, to make sure I give my body the calcium it needs, and drinking lots and lots of water.

So I’m giving myself a Healthy You Badge (thanks Diana, for creating these!)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I’ll have my official weigh in Tuesday night, and am curious to see what feedback the scale will give me (it wasn’t pretty the last time I weighed.) But the reality is that whatever it says, it’s just a number. I know how much better I feel today than fourteen days ago. I know I haven’t taken a Tums since the day I posted my cry for help. I know that I feel so much calmer now that I’ve taken control of my eating again (can anyone relate to that feeling?)

Yes, I’m hoping for good results Tuesday night, but no reading on the scale can match how positive I’m feeling about my choices again. It's surely one day at a time, and I’m on my way!

Until next time…

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"5 Things" Meme

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter,
and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things
the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
~ Kahlil Gibran

I've been tagged once again with another meme, this time from The Incredible Shrinking Katschi - who posts the yummiest looking photos of the healthy foods she eats! How can I say no to a fellow birder? So here goes...

5 things in your bag:
1. Wallet
2. Planner/calendar
3. Breath mints
4. Bottled water
5. Cell phone

5 things in your bedroom:

1. LOTS of books
2. Wreathe made out of bird eggs (like the one pictured above)
3. A messy closet that needs organizing
4. Two cats that ‘nest’ under the bed
5. A little plaque that reads, Things To Do Today: Breathe In – Breathe Out.

5 things you have always wanted:

1. To be healthy until the day I drop dead!
2. A long, happy marriage
3. Lots of visits with family and friends
4. A cabin in the mountains, by a stream
5. To travel

5 things you're really into:
1. Quilting
2. Reading
3. Learning new things (there's so much I don't know!)
4. Blogging
5. Crossword puzzles

5 people I’m tagging:

Everyone who reads this and wants to play along! Feel free to opt out. My feelings won’t be hurt at all (sniff.) No really, it’s ok… (sniff, sniff.) :-)

Until next time...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love,
the things you are, the things you never want to lose.
~ From the television show The Wonder Years

I was just sitting and sewing a bit, and looked over at my cork board, hanging in the sewing room. It makes me smile every time I look at it.

I love the things pinned on to this board. Much of it rotates depending on what strikes my fancy. I have lots of quotes pinned up, and little mementos of various events. But some things remain constant, including the word "Believe" created in metal and given to me by my cousin Kristi, and two photos of one of my favorite people in the whole world, my ex-brother in law, Chris.

Here are a few close-ups of some things I'd like to share. Click on the images for an even better view...

Don't you just love this little illustration by Mary Engelbreit? It was in the most recent edition of her magazine and I had to cut it out. I love how close these three women appear to be. But I think perhaps what draws me to it most is that little round lady in the front, with the brown curls and big smile, reminds me of me! My goal is to be filled with that much happiness all the time (and a big bouquet of flowers wouldn't hurt, either!)

This is a mini-poster that my dear friend Claudia gave me when my ex and I were going through a painful divorce. I've carried with me and put it somewhere in my home for over 12 years now. The quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, about the strength of a woman, has become one of my favorites. And what a peaceful, calm image.

I have no idea who this little guy is. I saw this photo in Parade Magazine a year or so ago, where it had been entered in a photography contest. It just made me grin! How can you look at that face and not laugh? What a great expression!

Finally, I wanted to share a picture of my sewing machine, which means a great deal to me. Not only does it provide hours of enjoyment through quilting (notice that I'm almost done with the prizes for my contest winners?) but I learn something new every time I use it. But what makes it extra special is that it was my Mom's machine. Yep, it's a 1960 Singer - almost as old as I am! It doesn't do any of the fancy things the new machines do, but it sure is a workhorse.

So that's where I spend a great deal of my leisure time these days. I have good music playing when I sew, and light a softly scented candle. I surround myself with things I love, and items that make me smile. Life is too short to do otherwise!

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Silly Stuff

Laughter is an instant vacation. ~Milton Berle

I woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed.

I was grouchy, I was hungry and I had menstrual cramps (I'm 51, for heaven's sake: much too old for this nonsense!) I tried blogging first thing, which always makes me feel good. But Blogger's image upload program has apparently been down for the past two hours. So I used the time to figure out why my previously almost-perfect credit score has recently been dinged -- only to find that a final payment I made in the huge amount of $28 is showing as being 30 days late. The payment was applied to my daughter's account in error, so now I need to jump through the hoops to get that fixed (and my credit score back to where it was. Grrr!)

So what's a person to do, when the morning starts like this?


Being silly can go a long way toward fighting off those blues that can ruin a day started on a sour note. So in that spirit, I offer you the following silly MEME, sent to me by my friend Marsha. I invite you to post a personalized version for yourself, using only the first initial of your first name in your answers. It's not as easy as it looks!

1. What is your name? Pattie
2. A four-letter word: Path
3. A vehicle: Prius
4. A city: Paris
5. A boy's name: Peter
6. A girl's name: Priscilla
7. Drink: Pepsi
8. An occupation: Paralegal
9. Something you wear: Pants
10. A celebrity: Paula Poundstone
11. A food: Pizza
12. Something found in a bathroom: Pills
13. Reason for being late: Pottying
14. Something you shout: Par-Tay!
15. An animal: Panther
16. A body part: Penis (Hey, it didn’t say a body part on ME!)

* * * * *

One last silly thing, then I'll stop. If you're not familiar with LOLCats, let me introduce you to something that makes me laugh each and every morning:

The website is called I Can Has Cheeseburger and it features goofy photos of cats and other animals. What makes them so funny are the captions, written as if the animal in the photo is speaking. I know, I know - humor is very subjective, but I find these things so funny! I subscribe so I get a few LOL Cats in email every morning. It's a great way to start the day.

* * * * *

So here's to lots of laughter in your day! And always remember: never do anything that you wouldn't want to explain to the paramedics! :-)

Until next time...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Simplifying Life

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.

From the Shaker song Simple Gifts,
written by Joseph Brackett, Jr. in 1848

There's a lot of talk these days about finding balance in our lives. I know it's certainly something I'm always after... a way to be healthy yet enjoy good food; finding time for myself vs. time for community involvement... slowing down to smell the roses yet getting everything done I want to do in a day.

I know you understand exactly what I'm talking about.

I can get distracted and off balance from seeing something in my house that I should take care of, or something I want to do. So as I'm doing one thing, I stop and do another thing, then forget what the first thing was as I begin to do yet a third thing.

Again, I bet that sounds familiar to many of you.

For me, finding balance in my life involves two things: slowing down enough to plan my day, and simplifying my life enough to focus on what's really most important. I don't know about you, but I can SO easily get pulled in twenty different directions (I can even do it to myself!) unless I know what I want to accomplish, and follow the plan. And the plan comes out of knowing what matters most to me.

We've known for many months that our oldest would be moving out at some point this year. I knew that when she left, I wanted to make her room into a guest room. When she was here, my sewing room served also as a guest room/home office/library/mess. I let the room get out of control with too much stuff stacked here and there. It's amazing how much stress that kind of chaos causes for me!

So I've finally taken the time to get things organized once again. And I decided it would be a great time to de-clutter and simplify. I donated three huge boxes of books to our local library; I sent another three boxes of miscellaneous stuff to Goodwill. These are all things I've thought I HAD to have around me. But in the end, it was just stuff taking up space in my house and weighing down my spirit. I simplified it down to the things that matter most to me, and I let the rest of it go.

My daughter left her bed but took her linens with her when she moved, so I needed to start from scratch setting up the guest room. The photo above is the chenille bedspread I ordered. The room looks nothing like the one pictured, but you get the idea. The bedspread is soft and plain and simple. My plan is to finish off one of the many UFO (unfinished objects, otherwise known as quilts!) I have going and lay it at the foot of the bed, with a matching pillow at the head of the bed. I've moved my office into the guest room, too - and organized shelves within the closet to keep all my records and files.

The sewing room has been organized as well, with labeled bins for fabrics, notions, and those aforementioned UFO's. I moved my sewing machine under the window for more light, and so I can look outside as I work. Hubby put together a small bookcase in there so I have a spot for my quilting books now. There's even room to add a plant, to bring some greenery into the room.

I'm truly breathing much easier today, now that so much stuff has gone away, and my home is organized. I posted last week about cleaning the garbage foods out of my kitchen. That's made a huge impact on my ability to eat healthy this past week. I'm not fooling myself: I've lived long enough to know that I'll have to do this again in a year or so: being a pack-rat is part of my personality (especially when it comes to books!)

But I've made a vow to work toward balance in my life -- my health, my family, my creativity and volunteer work -- and much of that begins by simplifying my environment.

How about you?

Until next time...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Blew It!

Boy, is my face red.

In yesterday's post, I left off one of the best entries in my Par-tay with Attitude Contest.

Deborah over at A Mountain of Weight to Lose wrote a fabulous post about ADHD: Attitude, Diligence, Habit and Determination. How could I have forgotten to list it yesterday? It was one of my favorites!

Deborah, a public apology goes out to you. I am so sorry, and I hope you can forgive my perimenopausal memory. I use the expression quite often these days of having a "Swiss cheese moment," when my head seems to be full of holes. Yesterday was a major Swiss cheese post! Please forgive me, and email me your address so I can send off a little nine-patch mini-mini quilt for you, as well (

I think they'll be a whole bunch of crow included with your prize!

How embarrassing! Please let me know if I've forgotten anyone else. And thank you, Cammy, for the gentle reminder.

Until next time...

Friday, July 11, 2008

And The Winner Is...

One characteristic of winners is they
always look upon themselves as a
do it yourself project. ~ Denis Waitley

It's time to announce the winner of the Par-Tay with Attitude Summer Blog Contest!

I've taken far too long to do this, for two reasons: 1) It was hard to pick just one person to win the table runner and, 2) I've been trying like crazy to get the table runner finished! You know that old expression, "My eyes were bigger than my stomach"? A version of that applies to this contest: "My heart is bigger than my quilting skills!" I really was hoping to have it done and ready to mail, but there you go: life gets in the way.

So, without further ado, the winner of the contest is:

Every one who entered!

I'm serious! The bloggers who choose to post about how attitude changes everything are all winners in my book, and as such, they deserve a prize. I knew I couldn't do a table runner for everyone (or I'd be sewing until this time next year. Yeah, I'm that slow!) So I'm creating something like this for the runner-ups:

It won't be anything fancy: just a simple nine-patch block done in those fun fruit fabrics. Let it remind you to eat more fruits and vegetables, something we can all improve on (me included!)

Here is the top of the table runner, which I need to quilt and bind...

I'm lousy at taking pictures of my projects, so the color looks really flat. Believe me, the colors are anything but bland! Here's a close-up of one of the blocks:

And this bright reminder of why attitude changes everything will go to:

Rebecca at Ready Maid

Her post about her life-long struggle with weight and self-esteem really hit home for me. By reading the experts, then adopting her own 'can-do' attitude, she's been able to make some powerful changes in her personal life. Rebecca, thanks for being a shining example of how Attitude Changes Everything!

Here is a list/link to all the winners.

Jill at Life with Nature Girl
Karen at Never 2 Many Quilts
Manuela at A New Decade
Terry at Quilt Nut

Please drop by their blogs and give them a note of congratulations. And ladies, please email me your mailing address so I can send your prize to you as soon as it's finished. (

And while you're at it, why not drop by Scale Junkie and thank Diana for thinking up and coordinating this whole Summer Block Party idea. She's the mastermind behind it all, so be sure to toast her with a diet drink, with a fun umbrella in it!

Winners, your posts on attitude were terrific!

For me, that's what this journey called life is all about. There isn't a whole lot in this world we can control: we can't control the weather; we can't control the price of gas; we can't even control how fast those of us who give out prizes get the darn things done! :-)

But one thing we have 100% control over, 100% of the time, is our attitude.

May yours always be positive!

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Feeling Hopeful

A woman is like a tea bag.
You never know how strong she is
until she gets into hot water. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

First, I must tell you how overwhelmed I am by the outpouring of support I received from my "meltdown" post. Thank you to every one of you who took time to write some of the kindest, most compassionate words I've ever read.

I am feeling much better about this journey, and took some good steps yesterday to set my feet on the path to being well. The first step was getting rid of the unhealthy food I have allowed back into my life. The full container of ice cream (the real stuff) went down the garbage disposal, followed by two containers of full-fat/full-sugar coffee creamer (which I love, but I seem to drink more creamer than coffee in the morning.) I packed up the cookies, chips, and crackers, and sent them to work with hubby. His staff will gobble them up.

The next action step yesterday was writing down what I ate. As much as I fight doing this, I'm always amazed by the sense of calm I feel when I do it. Maybe it's a feeling of control? Maybe it's about focus? Whatever it is, it helps me to see what I've put in my mouth. I worked on adding more fruits and veggies into my day (who can say no a tomato picked fresh from the garden?) My food day was not "perfect," and I'm ok with that because it's one heckuva lot better than the day that preceded it!

One step, one day at a time.

* * * * *

When I led Weight Watcher meetings, I used to give away to my members a little bookmark I'd made with the ABC's of Successful Weight Loss. I think it applies to any goal we've set for ourselves, any time we're trying to make positive changes. I'm listing my thoughts here from three years ago, to remind me of what that smart woman back then knew:

Accept responsibility for your choices and actions.

Believe that you're worth the time and the effort.

Commit and don't quit until your dreams come true.

Here's to all of us living lives of good health and joy!

Until next time...

Monday, July 7, 2008

I Need Help

Eating everything you want is not that much fun.
When you live a life with no boundaries,
there’s less joy. ~ Tom Hanks

First: For those of you who entered, I’ll be announcing the winner of my contest at some point this week. I promise!

* * * * *

I am the queen of a positive attitude. I believe with all my heart that how we think about the world becomes how we experience the world. So I try to always look at the good in every situation, to smile at others so they'll pass it along to someone else, to stay optimistic.

Well, the queen is having an attitude meltdown and needs some help.

I have issues with food. Some people can’t handle alcohol; others can’t handle gambling. Some people turn to drugs for comfort, others run up their credit cards.

Me? I eat. Waaaay too much. Food becomes little green monster that rules my life.

This is not news. I've had this problem since I was a child. But what continues to surprise me, at the ripe old age of 51, is that I still abuse food - even though I know better. I know it never meets my needs; I know it causes my body tremendous harm. I know these things, yet I eat food that's bad for me, and way too much of it.

I have GERD - you know, that condition they call acid reflux? It gets worse as I gain weight and right now, it's the worst it's ever been because my weight is the highest it's ever been. I had a bad attack at 2:00 this morning, and as I sat here desperate to breathe without the burning, sipping baking soda water to neutralize the acid in my esophagus, I just kept thinking, "Why? Why do you do this? Why did you eat that big steak for dinner, knowing this could happen?"

I have spent my entire life as an overweight person. The only time I have been at a normal weight was when I lost 50 pounds with Weight Watchers a few years back. It took me two years to lose the weight (I had many lessons to learn!) and I kept it off successfully for a little over two years. Then I gained it all back within seven months, and gradually have put on another 15 pounds. I say this only to put things into context...

I know I can lose the weight. I did it once; I can do it again. But what's taken the place of my usual positive attitude in this instance is cynicism. There is a voice inside me that says, "Why bother trying: you're just going to gain it all back again."

Does that sound familiar to anyone?

I hit a wall at 2:00 this morning. It’s time to make changes back to the things that used to feel so good. I loved walking every day; I loved searching out new fruits and veggies to try. I loved watching my medications disappear one by one, as I got more and more healthy (the pill for GERD was the first to go.) And I loved having the energy to live the kind of life I enjoy. I do NOT want to make this journey about the number on the scale. I want it to be about vigor and health, about having the strength to embrace and experience life as I want to live it.

I am humbled once again by how hard this process is. When I lost those 50 pounds, I think I got cocky and felt that I’d never gain them back. Hell, I was an enthusiastic and insightful Weight Watcher leader: I had all the answers! I had done tremendous internal work about why I overate – I was cured!

But I’m not cured, and I never will be.

(sigh) The journey begins once again.

Until next time…

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Freedom Isn't Free

Seek freedom and become captive of your desires.
Seek discipline and find your liberty.
~ Frank Herbert

I finished my training to teach adults to read last week, and now I’m jumping through the hoops required in order to tutor through the country probation offices. One of those hoops is getting fingerprinted, as part of a background check they’ll do on me. I had to go up to the juvenile justice center yesterday, and it was an interesting experience. After I filled in the paperwork, they asked me to take my purse back to my car and lock it up. They then led me through a maze of locked doors, into the fingerprinting area. There were doors all around marked "holding cell." As we were finishing, two officers brought in a young man in hand cuffs and made him stand facing one of the doors until we left. He looked so young. I wondered what he'd done.

I just kept thinking of that expression, "Freedom isn't free." Usually we think of that in terms of those who bravely defend our country. But there are prices those of us at home pay for freedom, as well. One of them is following the law. If you can't do that, then you lose your liberty. I can't imagine how it felt to be that young man, facing a cell and whatever the future holds for him.

But there are other prices we pay to be free. No matter what we want in life, we must give up something to get it. I’m thinking in terms of personal freedom here, of making our lives better. And I’m not preaching: this is a lesson I’m thinking about a great deal and am taking very personally today.

If you want to own a home, you have to pay the price of going without the extras so you can pay your bills on time and build your credit. If you don’t want to smoke any more, you have the pay the price of withdrawal until the cravings go away (the good news is that they will go away: it’s 20 years and counting since I smoked!) If you want to live at a healthy weight, you've got to pay the price by committing to the hard and continuous work it takes to get there and stay there.

The greater the value of what you want personally, the greater the sacrifice you will have to make. There are no short cuts, no detours.

Freedom isn’t free. There is a price to be paid if we want to make our lives better. But more importantly, there is a price that will be paid if we do nothing and leave things as they are.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Let freedom ring!

Until next time...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Party's Over

If you don't like something change it;
if you can't change it, change the way
you think about it. ~ Mary Engelbreit

My portion of the Summer Blog Party 2008 is over. The Par-Tay with Attitude! contest is officially closed. Thank you to everyone who entered.

But this doesn't mean people can't continue to post about how attitude makes a difference when you're trying to make positive changes in your life. It's a subject I find fascinating, so I hope you'll let me know if you decide to write something. There may not be a prize involved for focusing on the positive, but the personal rewards are immeasurable.

That being said, there are three more entries in the contest that you've gotta check out!

Nana Karen at Never 2 Many Quilts posted about how attitude made a difference when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Wow! She's a seven-year survivor so I think she knows what she's talking about!

Manuela at A New Decade took time out between running and gardening to write a thoughtful post about how a positive attitude has made a huge difference in this new phase of her life. Happy Canada Day to you, girl!

And finally, dear Rebecca at Ready Maid got in under the wire last night with a great post about why her attitude is making a difference in her weight loss journey this time around. "My body manifested my thoughts." I love that phrase!

Now comes the hard part: choosing a winner. I'm going to take a few days to read over each post again before I make a decision. That also gives me time to work on the runner a bit more (sneaky, eh?) I spent time on Saturday with friends, who helped me pick out the fabric for the borders. Wait until you see it: no one will ever be able to say the runner isn't bright and cheerful!

Happy July, everyone! I'm kind of a patriotic sap, so I love this time of year. Back home in Utah, it's a month long celebration of spirit and pride. We'd start the month with the traditional Fourth of July festivities, but the 24th of July marked the arrival of the Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake valley. It was (and still is) a huge celebration (whether you're Mormon or not) of statehood, country, mom and apple pie!

I know things are rough right now in our country: high gas prices, high food prices, the mortgage mess, flooding and/or wildfires (depending on where you live) not to mention a divisive presidential campaign. Let's all do what we can to help one another get through this, and continue to focus on all that's good in our lives. I believe with all my heart that if we seek out the positive, that's what we'll find because attitude really does change everything!

Until next time...