What’s Going On?

Hey there, folks! If you’ve been waiting for the next installment of my Camino journal, never fear; I’ll have a new post up tomorrow. Things have been rather hectic as of late. There’s a lot going on in my life, and it’s mostly all very positive. Thought I’d drop by for a second to let you all in on the current goings on, as well as to humbly ask for some good vibes over the next week or so as I embark on some small changes that are going to lead to big rewards eventually. So what am I up to, you ask? Here you go:

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You might not know this (and you’d probably never expect it, since I’m super sloppy here on the blog), but I’m currently enrolled in the University of California San Diego’s Extension program, and studying to obtain a Certificate in Copyediting. Just finished my second of four required courses, and found out yesterday that I got an A! It was a difficult class, so I’m pretty proud of myself. I’ve always loved copyediting, though, and as boring as it might seem to some people, I’ve been having a great time familiarizing myself with the minutiae of copyediting via The Chicago Manual of Style and The Copyeditor’s Handbook.

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My studies at UCSD aren’t my first foray into copyediting; I’ve actually been proofing and editing documents of all kinds for most of my 15-year career. When I decided to study copyediting to make my skill set a bit more “official,” I also had it in the back of my mind that one day I’d like to become a freelance copyeditor. Over the last few months, I’ve been thinking it over, and it feels like the right time to get going. I’m going to be putting together a new site in the coming weeks that highlights my skills as a copyeditor and marketing strategist. I’ve been working a lot on coming up with a name, budgeting for various fees, and creating a plan to get the business underway without costing an arm and a leg. You’ll see more on this soon.

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Via Wildland Trekking. Check out their amazing array of hiking and backpacking tours! There’s something for everyone, in amazing locations all over the world.

The reason I want to be a little economical with the business plan is because I’ve got another exciting adventure coming up. I’m turning 35 in November, and it’s a big deal for me. It’s time to move fully into my power, and make my intentions known to the Universe. The Camino kicked off this inner journey, and I want to make my 35th birthday very special, a physical manifestation of this great spiritual leap. That being said, I’ve decided to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim during my birthday week. I won’t be going alone, so don’t worry about my sanity. I’ve been talking with a tour group that does small group tours with an experienced guide. They provide all necessary equipment and safety measures, so my only responsibilities between then and now will be to get into fighting shape (those packs are heavy, and the days are long), buy clothing, and save up for the cost of the tour. It’s a bit more than I should be spending right now, but I’ve weighed the financial expenditure of going against the emotional cost of not going, and have realized that I’d rather fight my damnedest to get there than give up on a dream. I can’t imagine a better way to see the Grand Canyon OR a better way to spend my 35th birthday, so I’m just going to make it happen. Also, this will be a great excuse to make sure I’m stocked up on all of the clothing I’ll need for my next Camino (aiming for 2017).

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Via the Jazz Half Marathon site.

Talking about getting into fighting shape, I’m also training to run a half marathon in late October. I’d been talking about my pre-35 goals, and one of them was to get back into running, which I used to love. I even ran a marathon a few years back, but health issues and life have set me back a bit. I was so surprised and excited when my friends signed me up to run the Jazz Half Marathon in October, and even paid the entry fee! I’m going to run the race for charity, to raise money for oncology and hematology patients at the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. Expect a fundraising link here on the blog pretty soon – you’re definitely going to want to help those adorable smiling faces!

On top of this, I started working as a hotel front desk agent in February, and I average 40 hours a week at the job. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever had the opportunity to do, and I genuinely love being here and helping people. That being said, there are a lot of other ways that I could be helping the hotel to achieve its goals and make guests even happier, so I’ve been talking with my manager about expanding my role here at the hotel to make use of my marketing skills. We have a meeting on Friday to talk things over a little more officially, and I’m hoping that it will lead to a raise. Your good thoughts appreciated as I move forward with all of these big new projects!

Photography Friday! Week 3 – Mostly Kitties

Lots of drama this week, but I don’t feel like talking about it here, honestly. Instead, I’m going to share photos of my cats – yay! OK, and some other stuff.

On Saturday morning, The Man and I cleaned the house, and I washed all of my clothes. Izzy helped:

Izzy Loves Laundry

Later that day, I picked up my new FitBit Flex, then oversaw opening night of my gallery’s new exhibit, Necessary Tangent, featuring the work of Danny Baskin, Martin L. Benson, and Peter Barnitz. This was the third event that I’ve curated at the gallery, and I really enjoyed working with three fantastic artists. If you’re in New Orleans, please stop by to see the show before it ends in a couple of weeks. The works are very affordable, which is becoming a rarity in today’s art scene…

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On Sunday, I spent the day hanging out with The Man. The day started out with this guy, then a shopping trip, followed by a couple of long naps and some TV-watching. Pretty awesome!

Cat in Laundry

Monday was all about work. On the way to the office, I saw that the World War II museum’s newest gallery, the Boeing Center, is finally open!

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On the way home from work, the WWII Museum’s Victory Garden looked too enticing to pass up.

WWII Museum Victory Garden

On Tuesday, I started the day off with a rare morning run. This is how I felt afterwards:

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That afternoon on the way home, the sun was setting on St. Joseph Street in a spectacular manner:

St. Joseph & Magazine, New Orleans

Wednesday morning I awoke to this gorgeous little face. It wasn’t really love, though – just a plea to wake up and give him food. Izzy didn’t seem to care that the bowl was close to empty, so I found her enjoying her favorite new pillowcase once I finally got out of bed. Recently I started using satin pillowcases to help my skin and hair retain moisture, and she’s really into pushing me off of the pillow in the middle of the night. So I gave her a second pillow in an attempt to save my neck. She must have been a diva in her last life, because she sure is now!

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Later that day, I ate a sandwich that made me sick for the rest of the afternoon. I left work early, took a nap, then laid around with The Man for the rest of the day. He left for NYC yesterday morning, and since I was still feeling icky, I stayed home and took it somewhat easy. I didn’t end up taking a photo on Thursday, so here’s one from earlier in the week – my work space at Cathedral!

My desk at work

It’s a little messy, but it’s also full of items that mean a lot to me. There’s a photo of my two best friends and me last summer in Croatia, a funky little painting I purchased not too long ago, a ruby glass cup (holding pens, which is probably not the best idea) from the 1893 Columbian Exposition, a ton of origami pieces that I made way too long ago, the Ultimate Yogi DVD set that I practice daily, and if you look closely, you’ll see my planner in the bottom left corner, proudly bearing a sticker from the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus!

Smashing Wrap Up

I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of this diet & exercise thing, after years of screwing it up. It must have a lot to do with being surrounded by all the right people. My guy is super supportive now that he sees me trying hard and working at it every day. My coworkers are awesome, and when we make lunch plans they make room for my caloric needs. People on Facebook are always there with a great comment or tip, and today I even got an invite to run a 5k next month AND some personal training advice from an old college buddy. I even got enthusiastic comments from a group of people drinking outside my neighborhood bar as I ran by this evening!

Of course, there’s also lots of technology helping me out. From entering in my intake on LoseIt.com every time food or drinks cross my lips, to blogging here and commenting here and there on Facebook, I’ve structured accountability into every move. As soon as I get my new cell phone next month, I’m going to also pick up this app called Gym Pact, that basically pays you for going to the gym. The premise is pretty simple – you bet money that you’ll make it to the gym on certain days. If you don’t go, you lose the money. However, if you do go, you not only keep money, but win a cut of whatever money was lost that day by other people. Apparently most people make around $1 or so a day. Definitely a step up from Stickk.com, where I was just going to the gym because I was afraid to lose money. Nothing like MAKING some dough to really get you going in the right direction.

Today I stayed within my calorie range, ate pretty healthy things, and most impressively (for me) I still got my exercise in. All day long, I was in a bit of a haze. When I’m starting my period I tend to zone out a bit, and I’m also more tired than normal just because my food intake is drastically lower than my norm. Before I started watching calories, I was eating around 2,000 a day or so, with lots of processed food and no exercise. My body is still getting used to taking in a lot less, and getting more nutrients via supplements and whole foods. All day, I was just kind of dragging, and though I knew I needed to run a couple of miles, I just didn’t see how that was going to happen.

When I got home, I wanted to curl up in my pjs, but instead I put on my running clothes, put together a brand new running playlist for my iPod, and hit the road. The process took me about an hour, and I dwaddled quite a bit, but eventually I made it out of the house. I figured that even if I walked most of the way, it was still better to get out and try it. Instead, I started running and just kept going – I ran the entire way without stopping, or getting a cramp, or even thinking about slowing down. It was amazing!

Now it’s time to get ready and go to bed. I’m going to try AGAIN to get to yoga in the morning. One of these mornings is going to be the magical one where I wake up, get going, and make it a habit. Nothing to do but keep trying!

 

 

 

Resolutions: Update #1

Woman Jogging

Courtesy of Femita.com

Just wanted to pop in and say that I’ve started working on my first and second resolutions in earnest today. I signed up for swim classes this afternoon, and will start back next week. As for running, I ran a little over 2 miles yesterday, and 2.2 miles today, as well. My time is 10 minutes and 22 seconds a mile. I’m going to work at getting just a little faster, maybe 10 minutes and 10 seconds a mile, then add on more distance slowly, trying to work my way up to a little over 3 miles by late January. Hopefully I’ll be in shape to do that race at the end of the month. So far it feels nice to be running again – no major aches or pains, no real issues while I’m running, other than the music on my cell phone skipping a bit tonight. I’ve still got a bit of a cough from my cold, and the excess mucus I’m producing from running outdoors in the chilly air is bothering me just a bit. That’s really nothing, though. Tonight I tried to remember running 26.2 miles a couple of years back, and couldn’t fathom where the mental toughness came from. Maybe wherever it went, it’ll begin to come back this year – who knows?

A Very Good Weekend

I don’t know how much I weigh today. Don’t really want to check; this weekend was a bit debaucherous. One of the biggest rules of trying to make life changes in the diet and exercise department is that every day is a new day. If you mess up, don’t beat yourself up – just have fun, then in the morning, set your intentions anew and get right back on the healthy lifestyle wagon. I had a bit too much fun over the past few days, starting with making a beautiful pot roast with veggies with a baguette and horseradish cheddar on Friday, then continuing through the weekend with a few beers, lots of leftovers, and even bacon and a heaping large cup of gas station cappuccino yesterday. Of course I was pretty ill yesterday afternoon as a result of packing in the meat and dairy like that. Neither has ever gotten along swimmingly in my system, and I was bound to suffer the consequences of a three day celebration of all things that make my insides churn.

So now I’m being good. Today I’ve had soy yogurt with blueberries and honey, an apple and peanut butter, a cup of coffee with coconut milk, some kombucha, and a slice of really good swiss cheese that is giving me a bit of a tummy ache. I’ll probably have sauteed mushrooms and peppers, eggs, and a cup of soup tonight before heading off to spin class. I was supposed to start running again this morning, but forgot to set the alarm and woke up at 8am instead of 6am, killing my chance for morning exercise for today. It was raining early this morning as well though, so didn’t miss much. I’ll try again tomorrow. Thinking of putting music on my cell phone and getting a couch to 5k app so I can start from scratch with intense guidance, since every other attempt at starting slow has put me at 2 miles and aching hips.

I also went back to the hydration station today at my local Planet Beach. They’ve got to think I’m insane, sitting in their sauna capsule every day, never getting a tan or any other services. There’s really nothing like it, though. It’s the best thing to the steam of a Bikram studio I’m going to find in this city, and though I’m not sure how much of my sleeking down can be attributed to being heated and steamed into submission for 20 minutes a day, it makes me feel like a million dollars. Now to start working harder on muscle tone every day. If I’m going to be able to swim by the time I go to Croatia this June, I’m going to be wearing a kick ass bathing suit, too!

Day 26

Today’s Weight: 157.6 lbs.

Yesterday was tough. The hydration station (sauna-like pod that I’ve been sitting in once a day) was out of order at my local Planet Beach, so I couldn’t go do any laid back sweating. I was also really bored with everything I had to eat in the house, so the temptation was high to order in some Chinese. On top of that, the thought of going to the gym again for the third day in the row was unbearable. What’s a girl to do on an off day like that?

The answer yesterday was to get the hell out of the house as soon as my work day ended. I decided to take a bike ride to the beautiful Audubon Park in Uptown, then run the 1.8 mile track, and ride back. In all it was a little over 10 miles on the bike, plus the 1.8 mile run, which had me working out for about an hour and 45 minutes straight (I’m a slow biker and runner :-). By the time I got home, I was drenched in sweat and feeling really proud of myself, so I made a slightly larger dinner than I’d intended.

Yesterday’s meals included yogurt & honey for breakfast, a cup of fresh carrot/apple/parsley juice as a snack, sauteed mushrooms on toast with a cup of soup for lunch, and another cup of soup with a fried egg, toast, and a fake sausage patty for dinner. I also had a serving of PopChips and a Red Stripe Light. Today I won’t eat quite so many solid and processed things – I’m going to stick to more veggies and at least two glasses of fresh juice, if not more. It would be great to hit 155 by Sunday.

My boyfriend is away again, and I won’t see him until Thursday. It would be great if I could be under 155 the next time I see him, and even better if I could be 152, which would put me at 10 lbs lost since he left town. I’d be so proud of myself. It’s amazing what just a few pounds does to my figure – you can see the outside lines of my abs now, my face looks thinner, and I just feel so much more attractive and graceful. Probably all in my mind, but I don’t mind keeping it there if I can keep feeling beautiful.

Nighttime Rituals

 

It’s been a long day, and I’d like nothing more than to close my laptop, turn off the living room lamps, and head toward the bedroom. I worked hard today, and accomplished some great things: an important presentation and accompanying handout for my boss, 2 miles on the treadmill, another 45 minutes of spin class, and a full day of staying on track with my diet. I’m proud of myself. I’m ready to treat this tired body to a well-deserved rest period.

But first there are things to be done. There’s the requisite brushing of teeth, accompanied by a 15-minute facial peel (only on Mondays), followed by careful moisturizing. I also have to clean out the litter box while I’m in the bathroom. That completed, I also have to pour a new bowl of fresh, filtered water, not too hot and not too cold, for my eldest cat, making sure she gets the first sip. If the younger cat gets to the water bowl first, Isabel turns up her nose at it. Sometimes I pour her a glass of water and leave it on the counter for her to sip genteelly while her brother is getting his dram on the floor. Izzy’s fancy like that; Murphy – not so much.

Once the litter is cleaned, water has been delivered, and lights are out, we all go to the bedroom. I still can’t sleep, however. I have to play at least one game of Scrabble on my Kindle, and sometimes two. I play at the hardest setting, vs. the computer. The computer is aptly named AI (A-eye), but I call him Al (as in Pacino) instead. It’s more fun to mutter, “Screw you, Al!” when I lose, which is more often than not. Still, one can’t help but try.

The other day, I also picked up a free grid logic game for Kindle. I’m still not sure why it appealed to me, since I was horrible at them as a kid, and not all that great now, either. For the last few nights, I’ve been tasked with completing a grid puzzle, then moving on to Scrabble. Typically I’m dying for sleep by the end of the Scrabble game. I love my Kindle for its lack of back lighting, which makes it just as relaxing to your brain as reading a book, if only I were to read books on the thing more often.

You’d think that at this point, eyelids drooping, I’d take the hint and float off to dreamland. Not so much. Instead I must go to the bathroom one last time. Even if I don’t have to. It’s like going on road trips when you’re a kid, when your mom makes you go to the bathroom one last time “just in case.” So I pop into the bathroom again, which wakes up the cats, who until this point were settled in sweetly. Don’t let that sweet and sleepy ruse fool you, though. They’re nothing if not completely calculating and manipulative, and most of all they want TREATS. They want treats all the time, but I got into the ridiculous habit of giving them treats before bedtime, so it’s really all my fault that they demand crunchy snacks before they’ll leave me in peace. I’ve learned the hard way that if I go to bed without dispensing kitty crack, I will not actually be allowed to sleep. They wear tap shoes. Tap shoes with needle-y little spikes.

So. Treats are begrudgingly shaken out. Fights erupt and are broken up. Isabel inevitably gets a few more snacks in during the commotion, and Murphy sulks. I give him one extra when she isn’t looking. Then the water must be changed out again. Everyone purrs. Everyone drinks. I turn off the kitchen lights and race to the bedroom, jumping into bed and fumbling blindly to get the blankets arranged before Isabel arrives a few seconds later. She doesn’t like the blankets covering her, but refuses to move and complains mightily, so I have to make sure to get covered before she settles in. The blankets sorted, I snuggle down and close my eyes.

Light little footsteps at the right side of the bed, padding up toward my head. Whiskers play over my forehead as a nose snuffles in my hair. A tentative bite, fangs lightly grazing my scalp, and then a gargling sound as a mouthful of my hair is lightly shaken and pulled, then released. Done with whatever strange grooming she feels compelled to complete on her human, Isabel lightly settles for the night on my pillow.

Murphy does not arrive until a few minutes later – where does he go in those first moments? As I’m nodding off, I feel the bed shake slightly, then a heavy mass flop itself unceremoniously across my knees. Motorboat purring commences, accompanied by a g-r-a-d-u-a-l stretch and turn motion. He sleeps on his back, and always on a human heating pad. “How uncomfortable,” I think, “I should flip over and kick him off.”

Instead, like always, I fall asleep.

Motivation #4: Currahee

Today’s Weight: 158.2 lbs.

Today’s Health: Not so great.  I feel like death warmed over, actually.  Last night I was starving after my run, and feeling kind of run down, so Dan and I got Chinese food.  There was nothing wrong with the food itself, but apparently my tummy was still not in the mood for spicy stuff.  My delicious helping of Ma Po Tofu has been punishing me ever since, subtly but skillfully.  I’m sticking to bland for the next couple of days.  I don’t think it helps any that it’s Friday and this week has been mentally exhausting.  My body was bound to take a cue and try to give up on me.

That’s OK, though.  It’s not only Friday, it’s payday, and with payday comes GROCERIES!  Woot!  My plan for grocery shopping involves lots of soup, fresh mushrooms, organic eggs, organic yogurt (and no more buckwheat honey – blech!), wheatgrass, more beets, carrots, and apples, and a few other green things – whatever catches my eye.  I’m going to be doing some serious juicing in the coming weeks, and want to make sure that my meals are packed with nutrition and vitality to fuel my endeavors.

Speaking of endeavors, now that my back and hips are hurting considerably less than they’ve hurt in the past TWO YEARS (thank you deep tissue massage and daily stretching), I’m getting back into distance running.  Back in 2009, I ran (hobbled, crawled) in the Chicago Marathon.  The main event, itself, was a mistake for me.  I pushed too hard, too fast, and not only did I not do a great job, I hurt myself pretty horribly in the process.  Now that I’m back in a town with pretty good weather for most of the year (not counting summer), I’m going to start participating in 5Ks again, and hopefully eventually work my way back up to running half-marathons.  I’m starting with the Lakefront 5K on October 15th.  I can already run 2 miles without really breaking a sweat, and I can make it through 3 miles, but I’m going to start working on making 3 miles an easy distance.  Though I won’t be up to speed training in the next 15 days, I can at least make it my goal to finish the 5K, and then plug along from there into making the distance easier and faster over time.  Once I reach a respectable time for me (right now my goal is a 10 minute mile), I’ll start slowly adding on more distance.

Running is going to be my replacement for the missing discipline aspect that Bikram once gave me.  I love that both paths encourage looking within to find strength, and for both it’s all basically about putting one foot in front of the other for as long as it takes to get to the end.  While my motivation in beginning running again is to be strong enough to compete in distance races (not to win, just to compete), and I wanted to share that today, I also want to share an inspiring scene that means so much to me.  It’s from the first episode of Band of Brothers, “Curahee”.  For people who haven’t watched the miniseries, I encourage you to do so immediately.  It’s powerful stuff: inspiring, empowering, enlightening in many cases.  Also, there’s added value for connoisseurs of the shallow, like beautiful scenery, costumes, and men.  I’m a huge fan of Damien Lewis, but maybe that’s just my weird taste.

Anyway, to the scene.  The men of Easy Company are in training to become part of the nation’s first airborne infantry at Camp Taccoa, Georgia.  The first episode of the series starts at camp, as their bonds coalesce under the incessant bullying and machinations of their commanding officer, Captain Sobel.  Sobel does little to endear himself to his men, but the group bands together under the informal leadership of Sobel’s second in command, Lt. Winters.  The men of Easy Company end up running a local mountain, Currahee, much more often than their peers in other companies, and “Currahee!” becomes a rallying cry for them, a symbol of the strength of their commitment to each other and what they are literally about to jump into across the pond.  In the moments before this scene starts, Sobel (who has taken an intense dislike to Winters), declares that it will basically be a day of relaxation for his men, and he’d like Winters to make them a heavy, filling meal – how about spaghetti? – to celebrate an easy afternoon.

On a side note, the word “Currahee” in Cherokee translates to “‘We stand alone, together”.  Beautiful, huh?

41 Days: Morning

Today’s Weight: 158.6 lbs, about which I’m happy but not overjoyed.  I flipped through the site last night, looking over all of my old weigh ins, and I keep doing this yo yo thing between 157 and 161.  It made me a little more ticked, and a little less inclined to celebrate something I keep doing every few weeks, then screwing up by bingeing on lovely eats.

So far there’s not much to report for the morning.  I had fresh carrot/apple/ginger/pineapple juice for breakfast, rubbed on a little of the Love Handler on my midsection and arms, and cleaned the kitchen while having a conference call for work.  I’ll be back on the phone in an hour or so with my boss to catch up on her thoughts and plans for the next few weeks, then adding a couple of tiny touches to the company Flickr page and moving on to optimize our LinkedIn presence.  From there it’s on to beef up Facebook, create a Photobucket page, and clean up our CRM.  Fun stuff, all around.

It makes me wish the days were longer, actually, and that I had access to a super-close Starbucks to get my caffeine fix.  I’m drinking a lot of green tea lately for weight loss purposes, but it’s not the same as a really nice cafe au lait.  On second thought, it’s probably better that I’m not close to a coffee shop – I’d pack on the pounds with all that milk and sugar!

Don’t think I’m going to make it to the gym today.  I’ve got a dinner date with a few of Dan’s work friends, meaning that all I’m eating today and probably tomorrow is fresh juice, soup and sauteed veggies to counteract whatever rich, fatty stuff we’ll be seeing on the table tonight.  As much as I really want to see the people that will be at dinner tonight, I’d much rather go to abs class at the gym instead.  Maybe I’ll go for a run or do a workout video during my lunch break – or both, depending on how the day goes.

Catch you a bit later.