Thursday, February 28, 2013

Random Going-Ons

I haven't been able to pull my thoughts together tightly enough around one subject to come up with a blog post in my head this week. I'm working on spending some time being instead of doing. It's not going well. I'm doing a lot, and haven't sat down to meditate but once in the past two weeks. That's okay though, because this is a practice. I seem to be shelving some of the self-care tools that I'd really like to pull out more often, and that's usually a sign of imbalance for me. So hopefully I'll make some time in the next few days for some meditation, both sitting and vinyasa.

Anyways, here are some of the things that have been keeping my brain so bustling.

We got a new mattress! The one we were using before was a hand-me-down from an aunt who bought it in 1980, and I'd been lugging it around since 2005 when I moved into my apartment in Farmville. It was in rough shape, and while I'm a pretty good sleeper and can handle just about any surface, it's really nice to sleep without springs jutting into my upper back and to be able to roll around a bit without the CRREAAAAKKKs waking the Jeffster from his precious slumber. He's so cute when he's sleeping. I did a lot of research, and ended up going with the recommendation of my sister and buying from The Original Mattress Factory because they manufacture the mattresses on their own and have great warranties. We were able to get an orthopedic model. It's only been two nights, but so far it's amazing. The bed set is significantly higher than the old mattress and box springs, so I only have to bend forward half as much to wrap my wet hair up in my t-shirt. That's a pretty awesome benefit.

The same sister who gave me such a great mattress recommendation is texting me silliness right now. She had some surgery done on her foot this morning that's going to leave her off her feet for a few weeks. She texted me that she was awake and told me she's feeling loopy, so I suggested she try to recite, "Irish wristwatch," out loud and see how funny it sounds. I'm going to head over to her house after work tomorrow, and hope to keep her laughing and smiling all weekend. I'm hoping to cook her family up some bit batch meals and get them into her freezer, too.

In health efforts, I'm going strong on week one of the Push Phase in ChaLean Extreme. That's about 35 days into the rotation. I'd like to take some more of my fitness time for yoga in the upcoming week, and I'm planning on grabbing some 25lb dumbbells from WalMart to increase the weight for my squats and deadlifts. It feels awesome to be getting stronger, and my nutritional mood has been pretty positive, with my body craving veggies and other nutrients instead of just the usual sugar and bread (and McDonald's). I'm allowing myself to eat pretty liberally during this Push Phase, since heavy lifting increases my appetite so much. Just trying to focus on eating enough of the good stuff to avoid picking up the bad stuff.

The only restrictions in my diet right now, because I'm actually quite firmly against restrictive dieting, unless you want to give that item up for life - are beverages. I'm on day four of a 31-day challenge with one of my best friends, and my challenge is to only drink water, hot tea, and coffee. And not too much coffee. My reasons are a) I'd done a great job at cutting back my Dr. Peppers to one or two a weekend, for about two years. I've been drinking more and more of them since fall and constantly want one! I'll even drink a Diet just for the fizzy feel, and I think diet sodas are kind of the worst thing in the world. I'm hoping that withdrawal for a month will get me back to where drinking them was a little too sugary, and I'd just sip and be grateful for those sips. Also b) to give my liver a break from alcohol. The alcohol intake hasn't been higher than average lately. I just want to give my liver a break and get her ready for spring. Rest up sweetie, you'll have lots of Shock Top to process soon enough.

I hope anyone that reads is having a great week, and finding some time to BE instead of DO.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Clear away the weeds

I don't have internet at home. I've got my smartphone and usually a pretty good signal with 3G, but still rarely check email, take my conquerclub turns, or do much else beyond scan Facebook and a quick google for, "Why the hell is it taking so long for my sweet potato to bake?" So the first day back to work after a weekend, especially a long weekend like Presidents Day, finds the inbox a little jammed with junk. I can quickly delete about 90% of what comes in, but one thing I always let stack up are my Tricycle Daily Dharma emails. I almost always have time for these little tidbits of wisdom. This morning, I'd racked four Tricycle emails, and I've been casually checking them in between various other internettery. Here's a little bit of one that gave me some pause:

"When you plant seeds in the garden,
you don't dig them up every day to see if they have
sprouted yet. You simply water them and clear away the weeds;
you know that the seeds will grow in time."
~ Thubten Chodron, "Meditator's Toolbox"

 I get frustrated. I easily lose patience, and it sometimes seems like feelings of defeat and guilt are more welcome in this mind than anything resembling positive thinking. So many of us know how we get stuck in cycles of two steps forward, three backwards. Even when the cycles look more like four steps forward, one step backwards, it's easy to let that one backwards step define our sense of identity for a time. There have been times when I'd sit and write all my accomplishments, trying to squeeze some self-love to the surface of my muddledom, and still couldn't let go of the voices that replayed my failures, my shortcomings, the dark spaces in my heart. The weeds that like to encroach on my true, compassionate nature.

I'm sure there will be periods of darkness like this throughout my life. My seeds are not leading me to any finish line. There's never going to be a point where I can step back and say, "Aha! Finally! I can stop focusing so much on self-care and developing compassion. I can stop meditating. I can stop exercising and just go to McDonalds every day again. Finally, I have reached my goals, and now things can go back to the way they were before I opened my eyes." My goals will change. They are changing, and perhaps I'm not doing a great job right now at checking in regularly to see where my deepest longing truly resides.

Regardless, I will continue to plant my seeds, water them, and work on clearing away these weeds.

"Similarly, just do your daily practice and
cultivate a kind heart." 

As I cultivate a kinder heart, I will be able to meet my guilt, anger, and frustration with a kinder attitude.

Monday, February 11, 2013

I sewed something yall

 I was crafty this weekend! My aunt gave me a Brother 2010 sewing machine in the cabinet around Christmastime. I didn't want to get too involved with learning about it or start any projects until after the craziness of the holidays, then the wedding, and then my parents being in town. But I picked up some more supplies last week with a little surplus in my "fun-money," and got to work on some cloth napkins!

Jeff and I have mentioned that we'd like to find ways to cut back on our paper waste around the house, and I found a great tutorial on cloth napkins that outlined them as a great project to practice sewing straight lines and the art of mitered corners. I didn't plan a blog post on the project, so I only have a few pictures that I took with my smartphone to send to a few of my craftier friends.

I didn't want to spend money on fabric because I'm cheap, this is my first project and therefore might be a little messy, and these are only going to be used by us at home. I figured that if the project was fun enough, I'd work on more sets later on, some nicer ones for home and perhaps a few gift sets in my friends' favorite colors. So rather than purchase fabric, I broke down an old set of full sheets and pillowcases for my napkin material. The fabric is already washed, shrunk, super soft and should stand up well to multiple washings.

I started by using my awesome rotary cutter set to cut 17" squares. I was able to get two from each of my two pillowcases, so four floral squares, and easily got 16 solid green squares from the top sheet after I'd ironed it and cut the hemmed edges. Cutting the edges was pointless because I would have trimmed them with the cuts I used to square the pieces. I can't imagine how long it would have taken to mark and cut perfect squares with only my shears. I now understand why the rotary cutter, mat, and ruler are essential to quilters.

After my squares were cut, I laid the ruler diagonally across the squares and marked my fabric 1-1/2" in on each corner. I looked at a ton of different ways to do mitered corners, but this advice on the Fiskars website seemed more simple, and I was excited to use my rotary cutter for more snips!

The picture above is the wrong side of one of my floral squares from the pillowcases. Below is one of the squares from the green sheet. These squares had no right side or wrong side, which made things even easier. Yay! After marking the 1-1/2" corner marks, I turned the ruler diagonally and lined it up with the inch marks on the mat to cut 1/2" corners off the squares. This removes excess fabric that can make your corners look jacked. I was following the tutorial's advice to square the fabric, mark it 1" in on each side of the corner, and then use those marks to snip your corner. But I'm using a regular inkpen because our local Wal-Mart doesn't have any sewing pens, and it eventually left a mark on the mat that I could see.

Above is the square laid out with the ruler indicating the corner I'm about to cut free. I was sad when I finished cutting and realized it was time to iron and sew. Cutting is so fun with the rotary tool and mat. Jeff was amazed by the self-healing mat.

It took me three hours to get my machine to stitch! I'd messed around with it a few times in January, then had my aunt show me again how to thread the top and load the bobbin when she visited a few weekends ago. But I still kept getting it wrong. Twice I got up, quit, and walked away. But then I'd settle into my huff on the couch and look at youtube, and eventually was able to piece together the right advice from several videos about other models. There aren't many videos online for my model, and Brother doesn't offer the manual online like it does for so many others.

Once I figured the machine out, I felt confident to start pressing my hems since I'd be able to stitch them right afterwards. I folded each corner into that little mark from earlier, which ended up being about 1/4" hem. My iron is awesome for pressing. I love it. I had to refill the water after each napkin, but I guess it's normal for an iron to steam through that much water quickly. After pressing in each corner, I pressed the edges in 1/4", starting on one side and working counter-clockwise around my square. I did both folds on each side at once, and now that I'm thinking about it, I remember reading that it's better to first fold the first hem all the way around, and then go around again with the second fold. I'll do that with my next batch. Spoiler alert: I only finished two napkins yesterday. Eighteen to go haha.

I liked the way the corners came together once I had all my hems pressed. None of them were perfect, but I'll get better as I get more practice. It was my first time stitching anything other than practice seams on the machine, too, so while the stitching isn't very pretty (and I still can't figure out how to get my stitch to zig-zag... it's set on zig-zag but still stitching straight), I know that will improve greatly with time too.

Here it is: my first mitered corner!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Accept the Unaccepted

This morning has felt a little difficult. I've been out of my routine since Thanksgiving, and I haven't been great at making the best decisions for my mind and body. I've been eating like shit pretty consistently, and it's becoming easier to just reach for a soda. I kicked ass at two weeks of Chalean Extreme, but I've skipped workouts for four days now. This is unlike me. I'm not happy when I'm not moving or getting the nutrients my body has gotten used to.

My parents have been here for a couple of weeks. Mom came out less than a week after we returned from our honeymoon. Ronnie was here a few days later. They've been busting ass on the vacant rental property - they've dealt with discovering two huge truckloads of garbage dumped in the woods on the property and having the heat pump stolen by spiceheads (assumption) one night. They found a new tenant who seems very legit. I didn't have to fuss with any of these issues, and that was such a blessing. But I have to admit that I've been a little antsy to get them out of the house. We just got married! We're just not ourselves when we have to share the house.

They're leaving today and starting their long drive back to South Dakota. I thought I'd wake up excited and gleeful about the idea of heading home to an empty house, other than my wonderful husband and our gorgeous but needy cats. But dammit! I'm going to miss them. I'll miss Ronnie rolling his eyes at me stealing his sodas, and I'll miss Mom being unable to focus on anything other than her to-do list. I miss my folks!

This morning I found myself to escaping to every moment but the present. An argument that I had once with Mom during high school. The excitement of the road trip we'll be taking out to SD later this year. The awkward conversations I'll be having later today with a visiting boss from corporate. I didn't want to sit with all that conflict. Am I happy they're leaving? Am I sad? Does it have to be so dualistic in order to understand the feelings? Do I even need to understand the feelings to accept them? Stuff to sit with today.